Thursday, 31 December 2015

December 2015: The Monthly Round Up

So in less than 24 hours it will be 2016, how crazy is that. And to put into perspective how fast this month has gone, Christmas Eve was a week ago today. 7 days has passed. I'll just let that sink in a little. What have you done in that time you're probably asking yourself. If you're like me then eaten too many chocolates, spent days opening the fridge to cold meats and party food which didn't seem to be disappearing, and woke up each morning wondering what day it was or even what date it was. I have loved this month, even the bad parts, but I have to say I'm looking forward to a fresh year with hopefully some new beginnings and a little more luck. 

The Good
I always find that December is the month that no matter what you make time for your family and friends and I have spent the majority of my month doing so. December is such a special month and makes you appreciate those you have surrounding you. 

The Bad
Coming down with a horrendous cold four days before Christmas what not what I had envisioned. But that huge supply of Christmas tissues I received  from Jason's mum (an annual tradition) has been put to good use. Just call me Beth the green-bogeyed-snot-monster. TMI?

The Ugly
Waking up on one of those in-between-Christmas-and-New-Year-days to see that York has been flooded. Luckily we're on the top floor so if the water reached us then we'd have a bit of a problem on our hands, but it still left us worrying that we had no electricity and my chocolate ice-cream would have melted, priorities. {In case you were wondering we have electricity and the chocolate ice-cream is safe!}

The Weird
Daffodils in December. You heard me. Morrison's are selling bunches of daffodils, and tulips for that matter, in December! Madness! I very nearly bought some until I reminded myself that spring isn't for another three months yet. 

The Wonderful
You can probably guess this one, and it only really needs a one word answer, Christmas. I will say no more. 

Another month, another year. December is definitely my favourite of them all but it's time to dust away the cobwebs and prepare for January. In other words, get moving Beth as you have guests arriving very soon to celebrate New Years and you're still in your pjs. Until 2016 sailors!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Winter: five favourite Instagram accounts

This time of year is one of my favourite times to spend endless hours scrolling through Instagram. I love seeing how people have decorated their house for Christmas, or how they've been for a muddy walk followed by a spot of baking. I get some serious house envy and #futuregoals so it's time to share these accounts with you so you can join in in wishing you had an open fire to light after a wintery walk, leaving your hats and gloves to dry off in front of it. 

1. @lolypopp3
Just look at this feed, doesn't it make you want to cook up a storm of treats in the kitchen and make some dreamy hot chocolates. Or go and find that perfect #bobblehat and find places to pose. 

2. @cookiesncandies
Everything about this feed is perfect- the colours, the content, the captions. Every time a new post appears on my screen I just want to jump into a car and go and find a pretty village to explore

As a fellow country bumpkin I like to think I have something in common with this Instagrammer. Her posts are normally something you'd find on Pinterest, so as you can imagine I obsess over her feed. 

Emily is a user who has set up her own business sharing her skills on how to take beautiful photos and I want to sign up to every single course she runs ever. 

I'm an avid flower lover so when I stumbled across this feed my eyes lit up the room. She creates beautiful botanical arrangements and you all need this on your feed. 

There you have my top five for the winter months. There is nothing better than scrolling down to see pictures of wreaths, freshly baked gingerbread and crisp country landscapes. I'm off to Tesco to buy the food for our Christmas dinner with friends, how exciting!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Throwback Thursday: Christmas as a kid

So this past week I have been helping out in the lower school my mumma works at, primary school to all you two-tier-systemmers, and it has been glorious. I can tell you now, if you struggle to get into the Christmas spirit then go and volunteer in a school for their last week of term, that'll change your mood. From Christmas caroling to festive films to taking a coach full of kids and staff for an afternoon at the pantomime #hesbehindyou. Being a part of all this took me back to when the biggest decision of the day would be choosing what Christmas picture to colour in or crossing everything in hope that your name would be pulled out of the hat to open the advent calendar. It was a pretty magical time back then, so I've compiled a list that will bring those memories flooding back and leave you wishing you were seven once more. Editors note: This is written by a 90s kid so may be more appropriate for any fellow 90s babies. 

1. November. Mum has picked up the latest Argos catalogue. You spend, what feels like, hours on a Saturday afternoon circling the things you would like for Christmas. 

2. The boxes of Christmas cards have arrived in shops and you spend ages trying to decide which one's your favourite, studying all of the pictures of the cards on the back thoroughly. {I always chose Disney ones, normally Winnie the Pooh, without fail. Woolworths was a godsend.}

3. Once your Christmas cards were bought, your evenings were spent deciding who you were writing them to and what one they would receive. Not forgetting to draw festive pictures around their name and class before posting them in the Christmas letter box. 

4. Feeling like the postman when you and your friends were asked to sort through the cards and deliver them to the right classes. Then feeling super popular when your teacher gave you the biggest pile you'd ever seen. {Yes, I'm fully aware there are three points about Christmas cards, but they were one of the main parts to Christmas}

5. Forever wishing that you got the fake finger in your cracker at the school Christmas dinner rather than the plastic mustache that pinched your nose. 

6. Religiously learning your lines for the school play every night for a week then freezing when it's your time to announce that "the dance is about to begin". Yes my skirt may have fallen down that night too, thank god for a petticoat. 

7. Singing super loudly to Away in a Manger, whilst dressed as a star in the Nativity, secretly hating on your best friend who got to play Mary. 

8. Watching the clock hit 2 o'clock as that's when school stopped for the day and Christmas activities begun.

9. The Christmas school disco meant you were dressed head to toe in glitter. Glittery nails, glittery dress, glittery tights, glittery shoes.

10. Watching your mums face light up when you hand her piles of homemade crafts. That was the grandparent's presents sorted. 

11. Wearing your Santa hat to school and making everyone jealous as they forgot their's, or vise-versa.

12. When someone gave you a present that you didn't buy for resulted in you having a mini-meltdown and awkwardly mumbling that you left their's at home- Mum's always saved the day, usually with bath bits and chocolates. 

13. Getting a present from your teacher was the best feeling ever even if it was just a pen or pack of bubbles.

14. Getting to leave school early on the last Friday of the term and feeling fabulous as you walk out with arms full of presents from your BFFs.

15. The annual trip to the panto was a firm favourite. True fact: I once bit into the plastic spoon instead of the ice-cream and nearly choked, scarred for life by interval ice-cream. 

16. Having to take it in turn each year as to who gets to put the angel on the top of the tree #sisterprobs

17. Going with Mum to do the Christmas food shop was a game of how many times could you ask if you could have something in a super-sweet voice before she finally snapped. 

18. Not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve and worrying yourself silly that you might see Santa and he wouldn't give you your presents.

19. Characteristically running into your parents room too early, hanging onto your stockings and shouting "HE'S BEEN" to be told to go back to bed for another half an hour.

20. Christmas day means one thing- that new Christmas outfit you haven't been allowed to wear yet but yo can finally strut your stuff in. 

21. Going to bed super happy on Christmas Day as all your new presents are piled in the living room and you know exactly what you're going to play with first thing in the morning. Plus the Boxing Day buffet was/is delicious.

Just writing this is making me feel tingly! Hope this post makes you feel nostalgic, kids, appreciate it while you can, it doesn't last forever- she says whilst she is getting ready to go to a Christmas pre-school party that includes a visit from Santa


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

What's on my Christmas tree?

I always feel that everyone's Christmas tree tells a story. Whether it's full of home-made decorations made by the grandchildren or decorations passed down the family tree, each one is unique which is why I wanted to show you what I've got hanging on my tree. Just remember, we're not here to pick out how skinny my tree is. You can read about why we haven't got a real one this year here

Gold & Copper Baubles
These beauties came from one of our new found garden centers about half an hour away. If Jason had his way, our theme would be multi-coloured everything but fortunately he eventually agreed that a gold and copper would look nice after circling round the different sections multiple times. The packs we chose gave us a nice mixture of glittery, shiny and matte and are a perfect size- not too big or not too small. 

White Gold Hearts
I must admit, my mum has bought many of my Christmas decorations this year, including this set from Next. For only £5 you get 12 heart baubles, 4 glittery, 4 matte and 4 with an individual letter spelling 'l-o-v-e'. They're not quite as gold as my round baubles but they compliment them wonderfully. 

Copper Stars
I absolutely love these. There was only two in a pack, and quite honestly I wish I bought more, but never fear, they come from the garden center my sister works at at home, so I'm sure I can put a few more through the checkout. They're a deep copper colour but just look gorgeous on the tree. 

Glass Baubles & Angel
As part of my Christmas present last year, Jason bought me this beautiful glass bauble from This year we have decided to start the tradition of buying a new glass one every year, so our second one for the collection was from the garden center I previously mentioned. It adds a little story to the tree and words can't describe how nice they look when you hang them in front of a fairy light. Our angel was a present from Jay's family after attending the York Minster Carol Concert and she's so delicate but reflects the light gorgeously.

Wooden Decorations
Currently my wooden decorations stand at a pair of ice skates and a reindeer. The skates we, again, bought last year in the sale and suit us perfectly as we like to make it an annual tradition to visit an outdoor rink. The reindeer on the other hand is beautifully hand-crafted by my good friend Cam and his girlfriend Demi. When he first posted that he was selling them I didn't even hesitate in buying one and I'm so proud to hang it on my tree- it received many a compliment from the in-laws too when they paid us a visit. If you want one, you know you do, then head over to their Etsy page!

Copper Decorations
I then have a few odd copper decorations that my mum picked out which add a bit of individuality to the tree. They hang so nicely among the rest of the decorations and I always feel it's nice to have the one offs dotted around the branches. 

Disney Princess Chocolate Decorations
How could I not feature Disney on my tree? I have to say, I didn't buy these myself, they were another gift from my mumma bear but I love them. Each one has two different princesses on and they fill the gaps between my branches. Not to mention they taste super yummy! (I think these were a Primark purchase)

I'm now back at my home in Bedfordshire enjoying spending some quality time with the family! Not long to go now folks until the big man comes down the chimney!


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Little Things #12

How is it less than two weeks till Christmas! I feel like December is the month that goes the quickest and I so wish it didn't! This week has been a manic one of Christmas shopping and prepping but as you're reading this we will have driven home for Christmas singing our hearts out to Christmas songs. Although I'll miss our little flat and our own space, I'm looking forward to being home over the Christmas period enjoying the good food and festive fun! But for now I'll leave you with what's put me in my happy place recently. 

1. Lakeland's KitchenAids are complete heart-eye emoji. I can't help but be drawn to them every time i'm in there. Once I have saved enough up for my country house it will be the first thing on my Christmas list. 

2. The in-laws left the tub of Quality Street here and living with a lactose intolerant boyfriend has meant I've enjoyed munching my way through them all. 

3. I finally made a light and fluffy sponge cake for Jason's last day of placement, which apparently went down a treat. I also made some super yummy mince pies which tasted delicious with a glass of mulled wine. 

4. My Christmas shopping is just about finished, just a few more bits and bobs to get then they are ready to put under the tree. 

5. Once Upon a Time took a turn this week and had all the feels whilst munching on my plate of nachos. It kills me having to wait a week until the next episode! #Iwillfindyou

6. We experienced our first flat fire alarm at 10pm on Thursday evening and it turns out when the fire alarm goes off in one building, it goes off in the other 10 buildings too. We did manage to finally meet our neighbours though, and turns out they have good taste in their pjs. 

7. Last night Christmas came early to the flat. We cooked a mini roast dinner, watched Miracle on 34th Street {favourite Christmas film} and opened our stocking presents. December 25th I'm ready for you. 

Have a super dooper week and soak in absolutely everything Christmassy. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

York Festivities

Picture this- cobbled streets, Christmas huts, twinkling lights, carol singers. Are you feeling festive yet? If not you need to take a trip up to the grand old city of York, that'll soon change your mood. Last weekend saw the 'in-laws' come up for a visit which meant a packed flat and sleeping on an airbed for two nights, but I had my teddy bear sheet so that was okay. We managed to squeeze so much in that it was no surprise I was tucked up in bed at 8pm on Sunday night feeling very tired but very happy. This time of year there is so much to do in York that realistically you need a whole week to soak it all up, but you can do it all in one weekend if you try. Due to having the grand-parents here too we didn't quite get to do everything Christmassy York has to offer, but I've done it the past two years so that makes up for it. 

1. Christmas markets
Obviously this would be on the to-do list of what-to-do-at-Christmas-in-York. There's so many parts to this year's one it will probably take you a day to get round them all, but prepare for crowds of people who like to suddenly stop in the middle of the path or who walk at 2mph. 

2. Thor's Tipi
This is new to York this year but it is the perfect place to sit around an open fire with a glass, {plastic cup} of mulled wine and a bratwurst sausage. Beware it does get very busy and you may not get a spot round the fire, unless your inner lioness is ready to pounce at any moment.

3. Winter Wonderland
Set a bus ride/ car drive outside of York at the designer outlet is a miniature Winter Wonderland. It has some classic fairground rides, Santa's Grotto and a Christmas tree centered ice-rink. It's all good fun, so long as you don't fall over!

4. Helmsley
This gem of a town is a place we discovered a month ago and was the perfect destination to take the family too. Recently winning 'Best high street of 2015', the town has a wide variety of independent shops that fill your time. If you go at the right time of year you'll get the added addition of their annual Christmas tree festival in the church. This year the theme was 'panto' and there were some super entires. 

5. York Minster Carol Concert
This is a must. It sells out every year and after attending on Saturday night I can see why. The band was incredible, the choir was incredible, the atmosphere was incredible. The carols were the best way to get in the festive mood and my experience was made even better when meeting one of the readers, Mariam Margoyles, aka. Professor Sprout from Harry Potter. {Yes, I may have just stood there in silence when she was trying to talk to me, I don't cope well with fan-girling}

This weekend there is an ice-sculpture trail around the city so we're heading out tomorrow to wander round followed by an early Christmas in the flat before heading home for Christmas! Have a lovely weekend. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Mince Pies

Nothing beats a nice, home-made batch of mince pies at Christmas, and the best thing is they're so easy to make. If you don't want to make the pastry yourself then you can buy some ready-made stuff and you're already halfway there! If you're reading this post and feeling inspired then check out the quick and simple recipe below. 

375g plain flour

260g softened butter
125g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 jar of mincemeat 

1. Mix together your flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs then add the caster sugar to the mix.

2. Add the egg into the bowl and mix all the ingredients together until it forms together like a dough.

3. Once it's come together, be careful not to over mix, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. 

4. Whilst it is chilling, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees. Grease your muffin/cupcake trays and lightly sprinkle your surface with flour. 

5. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out to around 3mm thick. Using your choice of cutters cut out bases and fill your trays. {But don't use all your pastry as you will need some for lids}

6. Scoop your mincemeat into the bases being careful not to overfill- you probably want the to be about half full. {Top tip: If you don't like mince pies, who are you, then you can replace mincemeat with jams and they'll taste just as yummy}

7. Next roll out your remaining pastry to the same thickness as before. If you're wanting completely closed mince pies use a smaller version of the cutter you used for your base. We used a mixture of stars, holly and lids but it's up to you what you want to do!

8. Place them in the oven for 15 minutes/ until they are golden brown then take them out and leave to cool for 5 minutes. 

9. Eat them all whilst they are still warm. Or you could eat one or two then share them out, whatever floats your boat really. 

I hope you enjoyed this quick and simple recipe, I'm off to make myself a cup or tea, pop the television on and tuck into one of my mince pies!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Deck the halls

What a weekend. I can safely say I've had three days full of food, festive activities and family. Jason's parents and grandparents came up to visit, so we crammed as much Christmassy things as possible into the three days they were here. What did we do you are asking? Well, all will be revealed over the next few days! Before they arrived last Friday, I got to work decorating the flat, sprinkling a bit of magic all over and thought I'd give you lucky people a glance as to what my place currently looks like in all it's Christmas glory. {Disclaimer: Before we start I will just say this is Santa's Grotto on a budget, if I had more money it would be resembling the Harrod's Christmas store.}
Yes, my Christmas tree is the skinniest tree in the world but we live in the 20th Century so no trunk shaming allowed. (We would have got a real tree but it's only going to be up for a week before we head home for Christmas so we went for the artificial option).  And if you wanna know what's on my Christmas tree then there will be a new blog post coming your way very soon!


Thursday, 3 December 2015

December goals

On the third day of December Christmas sent to me, a promise of the Christmas tree. It will be travelling up tomorrow with Jason's parents and as soon as they arrive it's going up! Unfortunately we're having to stick to the skinny, artificial tree my Mum dug out of the loft but as we're heading off home for Christmas next weekend it seemed like a waste of money to buy a real one to then neglect. So we're saving a Christmas tree's life and making do for this year. It doesn't mean my tree will be any less pretty though! Anywho, we're already three days into December which means we should probably get going on my goals for this month, which I warn you will be very festive. But, first things first, lets reflect (again)

1. Write my Christmas list
2. Read 2 (or more books)
3. Keep upright when walking across the stage at Graduation
4. Make the flat as Christmassy as Santa's Grotto
5. Start Christmas shopping
6. Have plans for Bonfire night

7. Cook lots of casseroles and stews

I did it, almost. Once again I haven't stuck to my book goal, which is very unlike me, but I'm really struggling to get into the book I'm currently reading as once I start I won't give up. However, I did manage to not fall over at Graduation, Christmas has already begun in our abode and my Christmas shopping has been started. So, I didn't do too badly last month. Now the pressure is on for December, although I don't think I'll have any trouble with these ones:

1. Bake some mince pies
2. Go to a carol concert
3. Finish my Christmas shopping
4. Drink lots of mulled wine
5. Have a Bratwurst hotdog from the Christmas market
6. Stuff myself full of good food
7. Spend lots of time with family and friends
8. Host an unforgettable NYE party
9. Finish my book! 

I don't think any of those goals are unrealistic really, and will probably be achieved without realising it, but it's good to have it in writing! Right now I'm off to head into town and continue with my Christmas shopping, check back soon for some more festive fun!


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Monthly Round Up: November

Happy December 1st! It's finally acceptable to have chocolate before 7am and play Christmas songs with the volume on max! I can't wait to fully indulge into everything Christmassy but first it's time to reflect. As Tim and Ann once taught me, reflection lets you track your journey in life and fall asleep whilst looking after a stone. November was a strange month, a bit like a roller-coaster with many ups and downs, and twists and turns and loop-de-loops. I can't say it's one I would like to re-live, but there were many good parts to even out the bad parts. 

The Good
Winter is finally upon us. A bit of a strange sentence coming from someone who is always cold but I enjoy winter this side of Christmas. It adds that bit of magic to the festive build up. Once January hits it can do one, but for now I'm enjoying layering up under woolly jumpers and big scarves. Not to mention the huge Christmas market that is covering the city!

The Bad
I've only managed to do a small amount of my Christmas shopping so far. I've never been so unorganized. Part of this catastrophe is due to the small amount of money I have sitting in my bank with December rent just round the corner *cries* but the other half is due to having no idea what to get those really awkward family members who have everything already. 

The Ugly
Resident hamster, Bramble unfortunately passed away at the start of this month. She was found sleeping next to her food bowl, girl had priorities in life. On the upside, we do now have a new addition to the family. Willow- Webb hamster #5. 

The Weird
I suppose the weird thing about this month was how much bad luck two people can have in the space of two weeks. Car breaking down, stepping in dog poo three different times in the space of two days (Jason, not me), delayed trains, no hot water/heating, the list goes on. We musta done something awful in a previous life.

The Wonderful
I finally graduated and was reunited with all my chums. Storm Barney may have been trying to triumph the day but we trooped on, windswept and wet, and it was a lovely day. Not to mention followed by a weekend back down South too! 

So there we have it, the many highlights of November, now onto the best month of the year, December! Hope you enjoyed this post, I'm off to dance around my flat to Christmas songs whilst I attempt to think up ideas for the nearest and dearest!


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