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Friday, 30 December 2016

Made Me Happy This Week

made-me-happy-this-week

This passed week has been as perfect as I think it possibly could have been. Christmas was wonderful, and even though I've been sick for basically two months I was fine on the day...a little sniffly but, fine. We spent the day opening presents, laughing with friends and family and then watching Christmas TV and films at night with a table of cheese and After Eights. We've spent the days since relaxing, having late lazy mornings with long leisurely breakfasts, the occasional visit and lots of cosy evenings on the sofa -just how the festive break should be. Things are now of course winding down as we head to the New Year this weekend. I've already started to pack away some of the Christmas decorations, and yesterday I made a huge pot of mac n cheese to use up some of the pile we still have in the fridge. I'm truly amazed at how fast this year has gone by, so here is the last 'Made Me Happy' post of 2016.

1. Snacking on all the Christmas Chocolate!

2. How the kitchen is currently full of the smell of honey mustard ham. We decided to space things out and cook our Christmas ham closer to New Year, I'm so glad we did! The amount of food around the 25th was more than enough without adding a ham!

3. How it is more than acceptable; expected really, to be in pyjamas for entire days between the 25th and the 1st.

4. Paul. He is honestly and truly the best and most wonderful part of my life, he somehow manages to make each Christmas better than the last.

5. Homemade waffles for breakfast with Paul's new waffle maker.

6. Helping Paul build the Lego set he got from my mum for Christmas.

7. Starting to think about plans and events for the year ahead, and already making notes to keep me on track.

8. Feeling so happy and thankful that we have such amazing friends and family who spoil us each year.
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Saturday, 24 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Eve

Christmas-Eve

Happy Christmas Eve!

A few days ago in a post about Christmas traditions I mentioned what we do on Christmas Eve and how we head out to delivery presents. Well, after me saying how I would miss it if we stopped...it didn't happen this year. It did for Paul, he spent the afternoon out visiting family and friends and exchanging gifts. I on the other hand spent the day at home, in pyjamas staying warm. I haven't been feeling too great and in an attempt to make sure I'm as good as I can be for tomorrow, I was told to stay home. But on the plus side I got ahead with the prep for tomorrow and, I am feeling a little bit better.

Thankfully our night has ended the same way it always does, chinese take out for dinner, Christmas films on the TV and cuddled up on the sofa full of excitement for tomorrow.

I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow, what ever you may be doing. Be sure to make the most of it and enjoy yourself.

...Only one sleep to go!
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Friday, 23 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Happy Festive Things

Happy-Festive-Things

The house currently smells of sweet and savoury cookies, cranberry sauce and gingerbread spiced truffles. It will also soon smell of spiced nuts, once they're done that will be everything finished for our Christmas hampers. All ready to be delivered tomorrow. Plus, there will be plenty of extras for us to nibble on too! Can you believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve?? It's crazy to think, and to be honest I'm a little sad that the build up is almost over. Of course Christmas day is wonderful but the build up is just as fun and there's that excitement that comes from the anticipation while you wait for the 25th to get closer and closer. These are just a few of the fun festive things that have made me happy throughout the month of December.

1. Advent calendars and the slight chocolate addiction they have left me with. I'll definitely miss my mini chocolate each morning before breakfast.

2. Warm, sweet and spicy candles that are basically the smell of Christmas. We have some fresh scented ones ready for the new year but for the next few days I'll continue to make the most of them.

3. The glitter that covers every surface of the house. Paul's stopped asking me "why do you have glitter on your face?" and just accepted that it comes with the season.

4. Christmas songs being played everywhere you go -I'll miss them.

5. The slightly excessive collection of cheese that's in the fridge throughout December, and cheese and crackers for snacking on.

6. The Christmas coffees that are far too tasty for your own good.

7. Spending the evenings watching Christmas films and cuddling up in festive pyjamas.

8. Our Starbucks Christmas drink wear that comes out each year, we've got so many now that I think they'll soon need they're own cupboard.

9. The Christmas adverts on television, I've loved so many of them this year.

10. My festive pyjamas that after this week will go away for another year.

What's made you happy through December?

Two Sleeps Til Christmas!
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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Dog Clothes

dog-christmas-jumpers
Christmas-dog-clothes
christmas-dog-clothes

First of all, let me introduce you to Sookie. She's been in many pictures posted on this blog over the years but I've never really given her a proper introduction. There will be a proper post telling you all about her in the new year, but for now she wanted to share her festive outfits with you...ok...maybe it was me who wanted to share.

Sookie has always been one of those dogs who doesn't mind being dressed up, although she does draw the line at hats! And in fact, in winter it's actually beneficial for her. Because she's so tiny she does get cold very easily, so a little jumper is good for her...and at Christmas why not let it be a festive one. She has three mini jumpers, one of them I couldn't find for these pictures but it's exactly the same as the grey one, only red. I absolutely love her little Christmas one, it's my favourite of all she has, and the one I like her to wear most often in December. Her 'Santaas Little Helper' t-shirt obviously doesn't give as much warmth but my mum couldn't resist buying it when she seen it.

So that's Sookies Christmas wardrobe for this year. She has had these for a while now so I can't like to any of them for you or even remember where they're all from. I just thought it would be fun to share because I think she looks adorable.

What do you think of Christmas dog clothes?

christmas-dog-clothes

Three Sleeps Til Christmas
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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Outfit

christmas-day-outfit

top: River Island -sale!
skirt: Zara
boots: Kurt Geiger -sale!

When I was little I had a party dress that even to this day I remember loving dearly. It had black puffy sleeves, a purple body and a big black skirt covered in glittery purple polka dots. I remember getting ready for a Christmas party at the end of a school year, putting on my black tights and black sparkly shoes -my love for velvet was born that day. And it will forever be my favourite fabric for the festive season.

I still love getting dressed up for Christmas, some years I will spend the whole day in pyjamas, with my hair tied on top of my head and not a scrap of make up on -but this year I wanted to dress up a little. Mostly because I am so in love with my Zara pleated skirt that I knew when buying it that it was going to be my outfit of choice. And as a nod to my 5 year old self, I wanted something velvet to go with it. My criteria was fun and festive, but also comfortable enough for the Christmas dinner making and all day snacking. After a while of searching I found exactly what I wanted in River Island and I got it for £10! A bargain for such a lovely little top. I can't wait to wear this on Christmas day, but as I'm sure we're staying home the boots will most likely be off!

What will you be wearing on Christmas day this year, or will you be in your pj's?


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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Non Alcoholic Drinks

christmas-non-alcoholic-drinks
christmas-non-alcoholic-drinks

I'm not sure if I've mention to you before but I don't drink alcohol. I used to, I'm not against it, I haven't had a bad experience -nothing like that...it's just not something I personally enjoy so I stopped. I drink mostly water, but at Christmas time there are so many drinks with alcohol that I feel a little left out. Mulled wine always sounds so wonderfully festive and warming, but I'd personally like it without the wine, and it's the same with cocktails! So many sweet refreshing cocktails that I had to start making my own. These are my favourites, one hot and cold version of the same drink...but both very simple!

My Mulled Apple Juice...
For each serving you need 3 parts fresh cloudy apple juice, and one part cranberry juice. Add this too a pan and on a low heat, start to warm it through with 4 cloves, 2 or 3 slices of apple, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick. I sometimes like both, but it's totally up to you. Let it warm for at least ten minutes to let the flavour of the spices come through. After that it can be kept warm on the lowest heat, and served when you're ready.

My Apple Cocktail...
The is so simple I feel silly even explaining it to you, but here we go. To a chilled glass full of ice cubes fill pour over some fresh cloudy apple juice, add in a few thin slices of fresh apple and slowly top with a little cranberry juice. The two wont mix right away, giving you that fun effect you get with cocktails, plus it looks really pretty. Add a festive straw and you're done!

The mulled drink is just as warming as mulled wine so you don't have to miss out, and the cold one is so refreshing! What do you like to drink at Christmas?

christmas-non-alcoholic-drinks



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Monday, 19 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Pudding Cookies

christmas-pudding-cookies
christmas-pudding-cookies

The name of these cookies is slightly misleading as apart from appearance, they actually have nothing to do with Christmas puddings. I'm not a fan of Christmas pudding, I don't like any of the fruit or alcohol but they do look so lovely and festive with the holly on top, that I thought I'd try to incorporate them in my own way but with something much tastier. For this bake you can use any cookie recipe you like, it's really more about the decoration. They make such a sweet things to have out for guests that might pop round, or four your own nibbling over the festive period.

christmas-pudding-cookies
christmas-pudding-cookies
christmas-pudding-cookies

Ingredients:
150g room temperature butter
1 egg
225g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
100g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
150g chocolate chips

christmas-pudding-cookies
christmas-pudding-cookies
christmas-pudding-cookies

-Preheat the oven to 160°C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

- In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar and then beat in the egg.

- Add your flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda and mix until you have a smooth but thick dough. If it's too dry and doesn't come together add a splash of milk to help it along.

- Mix in the chocolate chips and make sure they are spread evenly through the mixture.

- Divide into 12 just slightly larger than golf ball sized lumps of dough and space them well on your trays as they will spread. Give them a press to flatten them out just a little, and then bake for 12 minutes.

-When your cookies are completely cool, melt your white chocolate and start to spoon over one half of the cookies. It doesn't have to be tidy, the messier the better so it give the impression of the cream on top of a Christmas pudding.

- Before the chocolate dries, add any decoration you like. You can use sprinkles or cut out some shapes of your own. Leave on trays for everything to dry and then enjoy...I would recommend with milk. 

They would also make rather sweet last minute gifts if you're still stuck for presents, or just as little extras.

christmas-pudding-cookies
christmas-pudding-cookies

Six Sleeps Til Christmas


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Sunday, 18 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas Traditions

Christmas-Traditions

One night last week Paul and I found ourselves having a conversation all about Christmas traditions. Having never thought of ourselves as people with much in the way of traditions, we sat chatting away until we found that actually, we are! We soon realised that there are quite a few things that we now do, each and every Christmas that if we were to stop, well, we would miss them dearly. It's also made me realise that I'd like to make more! Now we have our own home there are a few things I'd like to add as we go on through the years, and possibly look back at this post and make some additions. For example: I'd really love for us to have outside lights, that we wrap around our apple trees. It's something I've been meaning to do since we moved in but there didn't seem much point until we had our extension finished. These are a few of the things we've done for that long now that they can definitely be called 'traditions'. 

- Bacon Rolls.   Every year, for as long as I can remember we've had a bacon roll for breakfast on Christmas morning. Funnily enough it was something both Paul and I did when we were younger with our families, and it was something we kept going when we started having our own Christmas mornings. We've come up with so many different ideas for Christmas breakfast over the years but in the end we always come back to bacon rolls.

- Milk and Cookies.   I may be in my 20's, and have fully accepted that there is no jolly man in a red suit making a visit to our house but I still love the little tradition of leaving out milk and cookies for him...and of course a carrot for Rudolf. It's such a lovely through back to being little and coming down to find Santa had been and enjoyed the treats you left out for him -even if I do know it's Paul enjoying the treats these days.

- Christmas Eve.   It has become a day of playing Santa for us. We get up, we get ready, and we head out to deliver gifts to our friends and family. Even though some years it can mean us being out much later than we've planned to be, I know we'd miss it if we stopped.

- Chinese Food.   For each year Paul and I have been together, we've had Chinese food on Christmas Eve. We pick it up on our way home, get in, change into pyjamas and watch as many Christmas films as we can fit in to the evening. Though one of them always has to be Muppet's Christmas Carol!  

- Christmas Cards.   Our tree usually goes up on the 1st of December, although this year it went up a week or so before. When the tree is up and decorated, we sit down by the twinkling fairy lights and write out all of our Christmas cards. This year because we've been busier than usual we haven't finished handing them out...but at least they're written.

- Christmas Decorations.   Each year as Christmas starts to pop up in stores and the new decorations are everywhere Paul always likes to by me one. Even though it's usually quite early in the year, he knows how excited I get and it's leaves me looking forward to all the festivity that will soon be happening. 

Everyone's Christmas is so different, we all have different ways we like to spend the day. What are some little things you would consider traditions?

Seven Sleeps Til Christmas!
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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Apple and Cranberry Sausage Rolls

cranberry-and-apple-sausgae-rolls
cranberry-and-apple-sausgae-rolls
cranberry-and-apple-sausgae-rolls

It just wouldn't be a Christmas party without sausage rolls!  It's one of those things I remember from being very young, at end of school Christmas parties or any family gatherings when there was buffet style food served. They will forever have a place as traditionally Christmas for me, along with chocolate coins, shortbread and Terry's chocolate orange. Even now it seems to be one of the first thoughts when you think party food. And while when we were younger I'm sure they would have all been shop bought, they are so easy to make you're self that it seems a shame not to. This is one of our favourite festive recipes, the apple and cranberry give sweetness, while the sage keeps the savoury you want from a sausage roll. 

Ingredients: (makes 16 sausage rolls)
2 sheets of roll out puff pastry
12 good pork sausages -about 640g
1 apple -diced into 1cm cubes
1/2 a small onion -finely chopped
1 teaspoon of dried sage
1/4 teaspoon of salt
60g dried cranberries -finely chopped
1 beaten egg

apple-and-cranberry-sausage-rolls
apple-and-cranberry-sausage-rolls
apple-and-cranberry-sausage-rolls
apple-and-cranberry-sausage-rolls

-Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a large baking sheet -or two smaller ones, with greaseproof paper.

- Remove the skins from the sausages and add the meat to a large bowl, then add the chopped apple, chopped onion, sage, salt, and dried cranberries. Mix all of this together with your hands until all the ingredients are well combined. It really is easier to do with your hands, I like to use gloves so the meat doesn't get under my nails.

-Roll out your sheets of puff pastry so they are landscape to you, and with your filling make a line all
the way down one side. Making sure to leave at least one inch between the filling and the edge of the pastry.

(*the shapes on top are completely optional but it is a nice way to use up the extra party...plus it's Christmas. There will be a spare inch or two along the length of your pastry. Before or after rolling it up you can cut out some shapes to put on top.)

-With your beaten egg, brush the pastry either side of the filling and start to roll it up into one very long sausage roll. Brush the top with more beaten egg and if you're adding shapes you can stick them on now.

-Cut in to eight little sausage rolls and carefully lift onto the baking tray. Bake for 22-25 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.

They will keep for a couple of months in the freezer too! After rolling them up, but before brushing them with egg, cut them up and lay them in a freezer safe container. Lay sheets of greaseproof paper between each layer to stop them sticking, and then when you're ready to use them you can bake the straight from frozen. Just add 5 minutes to the cooking time. 

I love them hot, straight from the oven, but they are also nice cold with salad and mustard. We are even thinking of making them a little larger in size and serving them as this years Christmas starter. 

apple-and-cranberry-sausage-rolls
apple-and-cranberry-sausage-rolls

Eight Sleeps Til Christmas
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Friday, 16 December 2016

Made Me Happy This Week

made-me-happy-this-week
{that little face!}

One thing I enjoy so much at his time of year are the mornings. This morning, as the sun was rising the sky was turning all different shades of pink and purple, I couldn't help but sit and watch it with my giant mug of tea. It was a lovely way to start the day. Can you believe that next weekend it will be Christmas?! I'm so excited, but at the same time sad that there's so little of the build up left. We're planning to pack as much festive fun into the next week as we possibly can, one thing I'm really looking forward to is a Christmas afternoon tea that Paul booked for us. the menu looks lovely and the place it's self is beautiful.

1. Fairy lights around the house, basically anywhere I can put them.

2. Cheese and crackers is honestly the only thing I want to snack on around this time of year and Paul's just as bad. Because of this I've lost count of how many cheeses we have in the fridge at the moment.

3. Woofins! What are they you ask? They are muffins for dogs, and they smell just like gingerbread. So much so that I've been temped to try one...but I wont!

4. Raffaello's. The box I mention a few posts ago is now gone, but they were very tasty.

5. Christmas candles, I'm going to miss them when they're all finished.

6. The self service machines at Tesco are saying "Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas" and it leaves me with the biggest smile. It really is the little things.

7. Breakfast for dinner when we don't know what to eat.

8. My Christmas card from Paul, he writes the sweetest things.
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Twelve Days of Christmas - Festive Socks

Christmas-socks
Christmas-socks

I love Christmas socks!

I love all kinds of novelty socks but at Christmas they make me even happier. I haven't managed to find a Christmas jumper this year, most seem to be slogans or silly puns and to be honest, I prefer the more traditional styles. You know... the ridiculously garish completely unnecessary jumpers, or the more traditional Christmas designs with fair isle and reindeer, that really could be worn all Winter. Because I'm lacking in festive knitwear, I've made sure my feet are fully embracing the season and I thought I'd share the few I've pick up so far this year.

Christmas-socks
Christmas-Socks
Christmas-socks

The adorable Rudolf slipper socks were found in Tesco late one night and they had to come home with me. They're so cosy and warm, and the little rubber spots on the bottom stop you slipping and sliding all over the place -although that is quite fun sometimes. My elf socks were another supermarket find, but in Asda this time. If I can't be an actual elf at Christmas time, then at least I can dress my feet up.

The other three pairs are all from Topshop, one of my favourite places to buy socks -they have so many adorable designs. I picked up a novelty penguin pair, a traditional festive design and a Star Wars set. Now, I know what you're thinking -Star Wars isn't Christmasy...and you're correct! But, the new film comes out this weekend and they are very sparkly which does make them a little festive.

Christmas-socks

Nine Sleeps Til Christmas
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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Spiced Orange Hot Chocolate

spiced-orange-hot-chocolate
spiced-orange-hot-chocolate
spiced-orange-hot-chocolate

It wouldn't be Christmas without hot chocolate and this year I've been making one more than any other, spiced orange hot chocolate. It's ridiculously easy to make, incredibly tasty and it leaves you with the option of also snacking on the left over chocolate orange segments. There's something very festive about a Terry's Chocolate Orange. It brings back so many memories of finding one in my stocking, and when I think about it, it's really the only time of year I eat them.

Ingredients: (per mug)
4-6 segments of chocolate orange
enough milk to fill your mug -3/4 full
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
5 cloves
freshly grated nutmeg

spiced-orange-hot-chocolate
spiced-orange-hot-chocolate

- Pour your milk of choice in to a small saucepan, and on a low heat start warming through.

- Add in the spices and and when the milk is hot add in your chocolate orange segments. I like 5 in my mug but it's totally up to you.

- Keep stirring to make sure the chocolate doesn't stick or burn and when it's all melted pour through a sieve into your favourite mug.

I like mine with freshly whipped or squirty cream on top, and sometimes some extra chocolate shavings. It such a lovely warming drink, perfect for cold winter days or evenings in, sitting by the Christmas tree. We've been having them as treats some nights after dinner, that does however mean that we've also been eating far too much of the left over segments.

spiced-orange-hot-chocolate

Ten Sleeps Til Christmas
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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas - Christmas at Lush

Lush-at-Christmas
Lush-at-Christmas
Lush-at-Christmas

Lush is at it's very best at Christmas time. You walk in to a store and are met with the most friendly staff, clouds of glitter and scents of cinnamon coming from the bath bomb demonstrations. I pick up little bits from Lush all through the year -The Comforter bubble bar is a favourite in our house, but at Christmas time I like to pick up extras of the ones you can only get at this time of year.

-My absolute favourite Christmas bath bomb, and possibly my favourite bath bomb of all time is Golden Wonder. It's shaped like a Christmas gift tied up with a bow, and then covered in fine gold glitter. The inside however is a bright teal blue that looks beautiful while it fizzes away in the water. And then, at the very end you get a little burst of tiny gold stars that disappear into the bubbles. It has a citrus scent, so I like it when I want something Christmasy but not so heavy on the cinnamon.

-The Magic of Christmas (I love that name), is a new favourite and not something I picked up before this year. In fact, I'm convinced they've slightly changed the scent because last year I didn't enjoy it as much. It looks so very festive and it has a cinnamon stick for a handle...I mean, could things get more Christmasy? It leaves you with mountains of cinnamon scented bubbles and on the first use, a little bit of gold shimmer too.

-Butter Bear is one that always looks so sweet sat in your bathroom, even though my ones are always missing there little brown noses. It's a much more subtle bath bomb, and is packed full of cocoa butter, leaving your skin lovely and soft. It's one I love to use after a day of being out in the cold, those days when you feel as if the only thing that could possibly warm you up is a nice hot bath.

-The Star Dust bath bomb reminds me of all things frosty and frozen. It's fine coating of silver glitter makes it shimmer just like frost on those ice cold mornings. As it fizzes away in the bath the water becomes a beautiful pale blue and you're met with a lovely sweet vanilla scent.

I think before it's all gone for another year I'll have to go back and pick up one or two more. Do you have a favourite from the Lush Christmas range?

Lush-at-Christmas

Eleven Sleeps Til Christmas


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