Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year Promises To Myself

1. WRITE. My Auntie and Uncle bought me this beautiful keepsake journal called My Life Story for my 18th birthday. I filled some in the year I got it but then with going to uni and other commitments I got out of sync. I really want to start jotting bits and pieces in it again this year as it would be the most wonderful thing to look back on when I'm old! It's got an amazing set of features to document, such as a world map to mark where you've been, a sketch of the human body to mark any piercings, tattoos, birth marks and scars, and numerous 'favourite' categories like recipes, festivals, exams, adventures and photographs. I've obviously also got the One Line A Day journal from Matt which I should be able to incorporate into my daily routine!

Butternut Squash, Sage & Pine Nut Pasta, Pinterest
2. COOK..My Mum bought me this adorable polka dot, fabric cool box as a little Christmas extra. She thought it would be perfect for taking my lunch to work in and she's right! I usually just grab a selection of snacks from the cupboard- things I can eat quick as I don't always get a long break at school- but I rarely make a proper sandwich or something substantial. 2015 is to be the year of yummy, nutritious packed lunches for me. I've made pasta the night before school once or twice which was nice, so I'm determined to do that again but be a bit more experimental with ingredients (no more butter, pepper and cheddar cheese). I'd also love to try my hand at some delicious fresh salads. This lunch bag is great as it has the actual cooling foil lining and it's really spacious inside.

Liberty Nike Trainers, Pinterest 
3. EXERCISE. I know 'work off the Christmas treats' is on most people's resolution lists, but I genuinely have wanted to take up some kind of exercise for months. I am going to make the time for it this year- I either want to find a local Yoga or Pilates group that I'd feel comfortable going to, commit to some extra curricular activities at school (there's a range of sports for staff including Badminton or Football!) or start running again. I know I can run; it's just all about willpower for me! The thought of it makes me happy, as I love to breathe in the fresh air around my house in all the lovely fields. But getting out and doing it is a different story. I think I'm going to make a running playlist, something I haven't tried before. I'm also convinced that if I buy some cool Nikes, I'll want to use them! I'm looking around to get a good price at the moment. I'd love to incorporate some fitness posts into my blog if the working out goes well; I'll keep you posted! 

4. READ. My reading list grows as the year goes on. I have alway been an avid reader and that's predominantly why I loved my university course- I got to test trial so many innovative books that were out of my comfort zone. I'm planning to stock up, read or re-read and make notes on every secondary English text this year in preparation for my teacher training! I do also just read for fun and relaxation though- there are some books I read only in the bath, and some I read when I want to look intellectual in public! My Nan lent me this Morpurgo book before she passed away, and she loved it, so I'm looking forward to picking up this one.

An idyllic vintage shop, Pinterest
5. HUNT VINTAGE. I'm currently obsessed with scouring for vintage bargains online (I got no sleep last night looking!) and my final resolution is to put as much of my passion and time into Patricia Mary Vintage as I can this year. I want it to be successful as it's in my nan's name and memory. I'm pleased to have sold 4 items since opening in late October, especially as research shows that some Etsy owners don't take a sale for six months or more. I already have a handful of one-off, covetable items lined up, to be listed from January to the start of spring (thinking weather appropriate). One of my dreams would be to open a real world (non cyber) vintage treasure trove one day.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Feeling Very Spoilt (Understatement)

I can't even describe how overwhelmed I felt when I unwrapped my Christmas gifts! Most people who know me always say: "You're so easy to buy for". I don't know why that is but I have to agree that everything I received is just me in an object!! My main and surprise present from my parents was a gorgeous vintage dressing table with an attached mirror, which they had painted and tidied up. Mum has also lined the drawers with pretty floral fabric, making it unique to me! It was so lovely to receive this as my old chest of drawers was knackered and I could lay all my beautiful new things on my new, wide-topped one. I love collecting housey bits for me and Matt's future house. My parents also chose me an amazing oil painting of a glass of flowers, by the artist Ena Cox. Something really special that I received was a blue china teapot with a cute knitted tea-cosy on it. I got quite teary opening this as my lovely nanny had chosen it with my Mum and asked her to put it away for me just before she passed away in the summer. It will take pride of place in my kitchen when we get our own cottage!

Book wise, I received several chicklit novels from Mum (a tradition!), Us by David Nicholls- which is actually really chunky and a lovely edition, How To Be Parisian (yay! I'm finally jumping on the bandwagon with that one!) and a super sweet recipe book called Grandma's Kitchen Journal. I also opened a lot of notebooks and gorgeous stationary, which is great as I get through jotters like there's no tomorrow. I can't wait to take my adorable The Tiger Who Came To Tea diary to school- which was from my auntie.
Beauty wise, I was again really spoilt- I now have numerous hand creams which I am definitely going to do a blog post on, a huge Benefit gift set including miniatures of all their classics from Matt's family, a Zara Rose perfume from Mum (a regular for me now!), Marc Jacobs' Dot and a Jack Wills bath set from my auntie, uncle and cousin which came with the cute striped eye mask.
Matt's family bought me two gorgeous Pandora charms- a gingerbread man and a candy cane! Matt got me numerous lovely bit and pieces, including the khaki roll-neck ASOS jumper I cheekily asked for, a pair of lo-top, oxblood coloured converse which go with just about everything, and another big, fat Yankee candle, this time in the scent 'Fireside Treats'. It smells good enough to eat! For the first time, he chose me a dress which is gorgeous and very Parisian; the look he said he was going for! It's a classic, navy, cap sleeved shift with a daisy trim on the neckline. Matt was also thoughtful as always and had me a mug personalised with pictures of all my closest ones and my late nanny, which made me cry again! He also put together a jar in which he'd put little slips of paper with things he wants us to do together in 2015. He hand-typed them all on the typewriter I bought him for his 21st which was really touching. I feel like I am listing so much here (this is what I mean by spoilt!!) but Matt also got me the One Line A Day Five Year Diary I'd picked out in my diary blog post a few weeks ago. The funny thing was he didn't even read that post!

The two adorable fluffy owls above were from Matt's Mum- Matt and I have a thing about owls and so she said that they are me and him and they are to go in our future house! For now, they're both on my bed as we didn't want to separate them! I'm the blonde one! Two more of my favourite gifts were an ultra-chic pair of burgundy-brown heeled boots from H&M and two iPhone cases Mum found me online. She thought the Shakespeare quote one was funny as I'm a teacher but I have been mistaken for a pupil- she thought I should show the kids this to scare them off!

My favourite sister in the world
Truly and honestly, I received so many generous and precious gifts. There's too many to list here and I feel bad to leave bits out but I'm so unbelievably grateful for how hard my parents and close ones work to give us a memorable Christmas time. Though this Christmas was strange without my nan, I still have memories made from it. My Grandad stayed over on Christmas Eve for the first time ever. Mum cooked us a steak and homemade chips dinner and a yummy, wreath-shaped pavlova (deliciousness pictured!) The next morning we all opened our stockings together on Mum and Dad's bed, then went to my auntie and uncle's for the afternoon/evening and ended up playing silly games as per. My Grandad organised a round of Bingo in honour of my nanny, who was the bingo money 'hander-outer' at their local Bowling Club. I love the family all being together at this time of year and just chilling and eating ridiculous amounts! I'll leave you with a picture of Genevieve (who loved every minute of Christmas, especially all the cheese, beer and wrapping paper) with a mini, chocolate version of her that is now in my belly. The diet starts next week!

  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! xox

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmassy Days In Kent

Doors to houses I envy in Sandwich!
As much as I adore nights in by the fireside, I think the Christmas holiday is the time to get out and about, to soak up the crisp air and all the festive goings on in your local area. I don't know about you - it must be all the festive cheer- but I'm also happier to spend money on little bits like lunch out or that unnecessary, indulgent coffee around Christmas time. This week I've spent the last two days before the final door of my advent calendar on the 24th (weep), seeing friends, generally wandering and treating myself to bits and bobs and yummy food and drink.

On Monday morning, I had a leisurely stroll round my quaint local town of Sandwich, just by myself, as I wanted to look for any last minute Christmas gifts in the four charity shops there. I ended up finding two adorable, traditional gifts for my best friend's baby boy, who I can't wait to meet next April. I can't really say what they are yet as I've wrapped them up for her for Chrismas day! I was also so pleased to spot a gorgeous shearling trimmed denim jacket, and in my size- I've been wearing my Dad's for ages on dog walks but it was obviously massive on me! It's in perfect condition, has a cute mustard lining (I love that colour at the moment) and it will be super snug while making a nice change to my smarter leather jackets or blazers. Plus it was only £5!

I then went to meet three of my friends in our local city of Canterbury, where we went to a wonderful place called The Chocolate Café. It is definitely a place inspired by Bruges, and the whole café just sang out 'luxury chocolate'. The colour scheme was brown with dark wood and quirky décor; there was even a glass panel in the floor with a Christmas tree in it! We had a teeny but characterful round table (it had a sketch of a grand-looking couple holding hands beneath a lamppost on it!) and we all ordered something different to get a real sample of the quality food and drink. I had a delicious blueberry tea, a flavour I haven't tried before, while one of my friends had a very nutritional Matcha green tea - she said it was interesting but not great!! My other two friends went for classic milkshakes of cinnamon and chocolate. They looked amazing. My tea came with the cutest touch- an egg timer especially for black tea, so you know when to take the teabag out. I've never seen one before! Food-wise we ordered various Italian style cold dishes- I had a lovely mozzarella, goat's cheese and rocket focaccia with balsamic dip and an olive. My friend had the yummiest looking slice of cake ever- a green tea cake! When paying I clocked the incredible selection of hand-made, artisan chocolates, but sadly I was too full to sample them! I will have to go back with my boyfriend Matt, especially as they do gluten free cakes (still quite a rarity for independent cafes!) and he's a coeliac.

Monday was rounded off nicely with a cocktail or two at a trendy local bar, run by New Zealanders. Their French Martinis and even their mocktails are delicious. On Tuesday, I took two university friends to another charming place called The No Name Shop in nearer Sandwich- a homely French delicatessen and bistro. Downstairs is an authentic collection of counters selling cheese, quiche, freshly baked breads, cold meats and patisserie. We ate upstairs at a round tiled table (they were packed so we had a table of eight for three of us!), where we ordered hot drinks and a light lunch of brie and bacon baguette, croissant and warm scones with butter and jam. As usual, we nattered all afternoon and it was the perfect way to spend Christmas Eve Eve!

Photo from The Lane


Seeing as I won't be posting tomorrow, all that's left to say is Merry Christmas everybody! Have a well-deserved, wonderful break from blogging and I wish you all a happy, healthy 2015!!


Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Merry Christmas from W7 Cosmetics

It felt like Christmas had come early for me this week when W7 Cosmetics sent over this generous handful of samples. In my little package, I received their:

  • Angel Eyes Out On The Town Eyeshadow Palette 
  • Chunky Cheeks Blush in Paris
  • Skin Fresh Concealer in Fair
  • Boom! Big Bold Eyes Kohl Crayon Eyeliner in Black
I hadn't heard of W7 cosmetics before but I am genuinely so glad I have discovered their products. Their PR girl Olivia just happened to send me four things that are currently on my makeup replenish list. Though I use the Maxfactor Face Finity All Day Flawless Foundation on an everyday basis, I've been looking for a concealer that would actually cover the dark bits I get under my eyes in the mornings. W7's Skin Fresh Concealer in Fair absolutely does the trick. It glides on really easily and is just the right thickness of formula: it isn't too obvious a cover-up, it rubs in in seconds and it doesn't leave a greasy feel to the skin or fingers. This shade, which is the lightest available is pretty perfect for me, and could even work for sunnier months blended with a bronzer. I put this on my blemishes and dark circles about 11am and I touched it up around my eyes at 6.30pm as I was going out. This was only because I reapplied some eye makeup and smudged it so used a face wipe under my eyes. I think it would have lasted all day. You can see the exact formula and shade swatched below!

Moving on to the Chunky Cheeks Blush in Paris, which has to be my (close) favourite of the four products. I chose a Topshop powder blush for Christmas from my sister yesterday, but now I'm so glad I've got this one and will have two to choose from in the new year! This blush stick is just loveliness; the thick pencil look reminds me of Clinique's chubby sticks, not to mention the packaging colour and the hue of the actual blush are gorgeous. When swatched it comes out fairly bright and bubblegummy but when applied properly to the apples of your cheeks it is the prettiest, softest rosy pink. The Chunky Cheeks Blushes come in three other city-themed shades: Tokyo, New York and London. In all honestly I'd be excited to try them all! This stayed on all day. It seems like there is an awful lot in the stick and so it's fab value for money at £4.95.

Next up, the Boom! Big Bold Eyes Crayon. I personally really struggle with applying eyeliner, so much so that I rarely bother to put it on. But this chunky kohl liner, which is categorized under liquid, is just amazing. It is ridiculously simple to draw across your lids and the width of the crayon creates just the right thickness line. It's also got a subtle charcoal shimmer to it which really stands out on your eyelids. Again, the liner is so generously sized that at £4.95 it's much better value for money then the thin kohl pencils you buy at say Rimmel. I like the effect of those products but the pencil tends to break off pretty easily and so isn't long-lasting as a makeup staple.

Finally, the Angel Eyes, Out On The Town Eyeshadow Palette. W7's larger palettes are all great dupes for the Urban Decay palettes- in fact, I definitely fancy picking up the In The Nude set for a bargain Urban Decay Naked replacement. The Angel Eyes palette though is full of seven earthy tones. Beginning at a porcelain hue, it works its way through to camel, bronze, cocoa, dark grassy green then midnight grey. There are two shimmer shadows and four mattes, all with a velvety touch. I swatched all of these on paper (see below) and liked the effect of all. Last night, as I went out for a meal, I opted for the first nude shade and layered the third, sparkling bronze on top. This is the perfect size palette to pop into your clutch bag for touch ups (if needed- I found they stayed on fairly well) and the shadows also come with a decent quality soft double-ended brush.

If you like the matte feel and look then these four cosmetics were made for you.



Thursday, 18 December 2014

'The Little Bag of Happiness'

My 21st birthday vintage cake stand, dried flowers from my garden & The Little Bag of Happiness!
As a Christmas gift from my wonderful boss, I received the loveliest little thing today- as well as some wine, which I can't wait to chill with, naturally, having just broken up from work! This 'Little Bag of Happiness' is literally what it says- it is the cutest, simplest idea and really encapsulates what this time of year should be about. I'd actually spotted these already at Not On The High Street and wanted to buy one for someone, though I didn't know who for at the time! It comes in this beautiful, hessian, drawstring bag printed with a "To" and "From:". Inside is a bundle of well-thought-out bits and bobs, as listed on the accompanying card. It's just a really unique idea for an inexpensive but quite personal present and is perfect for that someone special. I think my favourite thing in here is the marble, as we all joke at work that we're a bit mad, but I love the idea of each piece. I will treasure my little bag and take a peek at it when I'm having a down day!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Our Traditonal Christmas Cottage

Our country cottage
Traditional bauble

The sweetest Christmas card from Matt's family! 
Our Eeyore from a visit to Disneyland Paris one Christmas
The very special Nanny Pat decoration
We finally got our tree on the 13th!
Our winter essential
A Christmas pud I made at primary school :')
Toy soldier
Adorable Cath Kidston birdie bauble
Mum's handmade Liberty London bauble 
Gen getting into the Christmas spirit!

With one week tomorrow to go until Christmas - my favourite day of the year - here's a peek into our house and all its festive decorations! It's all about being cosy for us at Chrimbo- our gorgeous open fire is an absolute necessity. We open our presents and eat a special breakfast in the lounge on Christmas morning, by the warm fire. We don't hang stockings on the fireplace as we tend to have big red Santa sacks that wouldn't fit! We so sadly lost our traditional little stockings that we had when we were growing up, though I'm just hoping they've been tucked away in the attic somewhere and we will find them one day! Mine had the print of the inside of a doll's house on it- it was adorable. 
I love our tree- we always have a real one. This year I think we managed to accidentally choose the fattest one we have possibly ever had! It's definitely poking over the sofa arm a bit more than usual. Some may say it's weird but I think the best place to sit at Christmas is up at that end of the sofa as I love feeling the branches on my shoulder and I love to look at the pretty baubles. These are a handful of our Christmas tree decorations; it's so lovely to get out the same baubles as we've had since I was born and hang them up year by year. This will be our first Christmas without my Nanny, and we always said that this brown-haired, smiley angel decoration looked like her, so naturally this one's become everyone's favourite.
What are your Christmas traditions? xox