Thursday, 27 November 2014

'Thursday' Bliss

Oops! So much for being a regular Wednesday feature, eh? But my 'Thursday' Bliss this week is filled with lots of inspiring, creative things. Just you wait and see...

1. New Beginnings. Last week I began my new job at a local small family run fabric store and I couldn't be happier. It's been strange adjusting to a new job and finding a new daily routine but, I feel so much happier and relaxed already. The Mr is much happier too, as we get to spend more time together and I'm not as sleepy when I walk in the door. Not to mention the fact that we'll get to fit in lots of family time over Christmas as I will no longer be in a shopping centre environment surronded by frazzled Christmas shoppers.

2. Feeling Creative. As you can see from the image above, my recent days off have been filled with much creativity and lots of exciting new projects. The other day, I spent an afternoon pattern cutting and it felt great. This was the first time I've done any kind of pattern cutting work since I graduated University 4 years ago! My creative brain is still whirring and buzzing, which is definitely helped by being surrounded by lovely creative folk everyday in work too, and fingers crossed, long may it continue.

3. Colder weather. Yes, it is finally here! My favourite type of weather is cold, crisp mornings with a bright wintery sun burning through. I love getting wrapped up every morning for the walk to work, stuffing my mittens in my pocket as I head out the door, and pulling my wooly hat tight down over my ears. And what's even more lovely is snuggling up on the sofa with the Mr in the evening, with hot mugs of tea, a blanket and a hot water bottle. (Our old flat is really that draughty.) I don't even mind, wrapping up in jumpers and snoods, and fixing frequent cups of tea to keep warm at home during my days off.

4. Cosy Cinema Date Nights. These are my favourite thing to do with the Mr. We are proper movie nerds, and have been known to attend several times a week. God Bless Cineworld Unlimited Cards! There's nothing quite like, snuggling up in our seats, with a bucket of popcorn clutched to my chest as we get lost in the latest blockbuster. And it's definitely the time of year for great movies too. On our to watch list at the moment we have... Hunger Games, Paddington, The Drop, The Hobbit, St Vincent, Black Sea and Exodus:Gods and name a few.

5. The countdown! Well, are you at all surprised that I've slipped something Christmas themed into this here blog post. Along with my dear friend Ms. Wall. I am an avid Christmas lover, and begin a discreet countdown in my head waaaay back in September when I begin the gather the first few gifts for my mahoosive family. Now, is the time for the real countdown to begin and thus, I have been making lists galore...planning food shopping, writing coming events on the Calendar, and doing little bits of  housework here and there to make sure the house stays spik and span over the festive season. Now, please don't mistaken me for one of those super hardcore Christmas lovers who puts their tree up in early-November but, I certainly do love all the preparations, if only to harness my excitement that little bit more once December 1st comes around.

There we have it. My weekly round up of "bliss". Is anyone getting excited for Christmas yet? Anyone?

See you soon,
Hannah. x

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wednesday Bliss

Well, well, has been a funny old week. I started off feeling super festive, then that disappeared into an achy exhausted haze, and now I'm feeling quite Christmassy again. It's quite tiring really. 
This last week, I've not only left my job of 3 years working in retail, but I've also embarked on a new venture working (on a much smaller scale) in a local fabric store. It's been tiring adjusting to the new working pattern but now, I've settled in for the evening, while the Mr cackles on the phone with his best friend, giggling like a couple of little girls (not annoying in the slightest), I've got a chance to reflect on what has happened, and compile my list of Wednesday Bliss.

Here it is. Enjoy...

1. Candles. From the dinkiest tea light sitting in a cleaned out jam jar, to an expensive Christmas scented votive from The White Company (I treated myself with gift vouchers), candles have been bringing me great comfort recently. They're the perfect way to help me relax in the evening, with a cup of tea or hot chocolate, and no other light other than that from a comforting film on the telly. Candles can bring great solace in even the darkest of times. From power cuts, to romantic meals, and even just a good old snuggle on the sofa. I seem to have shares in tea lights at the moment, and will most definitely be saving the posh clove and orange scented ones for nearer to Christmas.

2. Blanket scarves. I'm such a wuss when it comes to being cold. I'm not one for cranking up the heating to tropical temperatures in January but, when I get chilly it really ruins my mood. My colleagues from my previous job bought me a lovely blanket scarf and matching hat as a leaving gift, and I'm not ashamed to say, that I have worn them every day since. They're so soft and snug, and perfect for keeping those early morning chills at bay, especially when I'm walking to work over the Taff Bridge. Cor, those winds that whip down the river are evil.

3. Fairy lights. Again, I am all about the comfort this week. I'm not sure if it's from the sheer exhaustion of starting a new job, or just the fact that my body is slowly going into hibernation mode but, I'm in love with all things twinkly. A little sparkle here and there, dangling from a lamp post, or strung up between the doorways of local shops as the evening draws in. I can't help but feel a little of the child-like excitement within me, bubbling up in anticipation for Christmas. Which leads me nicely onto...

4. Christmas Markets. Cardiff Christmas market opened the same evening that the lights were switched on in the city, and it feels positively magical. The smell of hot roasting chesnuts, and bratwurst cooking on an open wood fire wafts through Cardiff like a Christmassy fog. Some of my favourite vendors are back this year, and lots more new ones too. The Mr and myself are planning our date night around it next week, with yummy pork and stuffing rolls, then a hot chocolate before we head off to pick up a few pressies for family too.

5. My husband! I know, this is a bit of a cheesy one but, he really is a lovely chap. That's why I married him! At the moment, I am feeling all the more appreciative of the fella that drives me crazy on a daily basis purely down to the fact that the last week or so has been pretty hectic. At the moment I love nothing more than chilling in the kitchen prodding at something bubbling in a saucepan for tea whilst he sits at the table asking me about my day. It's little moments like this that often get missed but, for some reason, today, I'm feeling pretty appreciative of them...and even more so for him. 

So, there you have it. My list of Wednesday Bliss. Now, come on, share and share alike. I want to know what you've all been getting up to lately.

See you soon,
Hannah. x

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Wednesday Bliss

Ok, so I know the photo makes you think otherwise but today I'm going to try and steer clear of the “Ermagerd-its-nearly-Christmas” vibe and focus on a different list of seasonal treats that are currently making me happy at the moment.
And I'm thinking I like the title of this post enough to make it stick, so from now on these little weekly ditties will be known as “Wednesday Bliss”. How does that sound?

Here goes...

1. Rain! Wait, wait, wait...before you go thinking I've completely lost the plot, let me explain. Being an honorary Welshie, this is one of those things that I've just had to make peace with. It rains here... a lot! So in an attempt to see the silver lining, I certainly am thankful for rain. Be-it walking into work in my wellies and putting the kettle on to thaw out in the staff room before my shift starts, or returning home from a long day, discarding my boots on the door mat and slipping into a pair of clean PJ's...these are definitely some of the perks of perpetual rain at this time of year.

2. Stews & Bakes. A pan of slow cooking lamb, blipping away in the slow cooker, or the smell of a lightly browning Shepherds Pie in the oven. This is the perfect time of year for these seasonal treats. My particular favourite combinations at the moment are a Chilli con Carne style mix, topped with sweet potato mash and baked in the oven. Or celeriac mash and cheese, on top of left over lamb. Yum! This is making me hungry already.

3. Sewing. One of my favourite hobbies by far. I knew that long before I turned my back on the fashion industry. As much as I love sitting in front of my sewing machine, piecing together a dress for myself, or a pinafore for my niece, I much prefer hand-sewing sitting in front of the telly. With a cuppa to hand, my sewing tin perched on the arm of the sofa, and a comforting film to watch, I find it's the perfect way to unwind in the evenings.

4. Reminiscing. This time of year, I always feel particularly nostalgic, not only due to the fact that it was almost 7 years ago in December, at a festive school reunion that my husband asked me if I “wanted to be his girlfriend” but, we recently received our wedding photos from our photographer. Going back through them all and having a good giggle has definitely been good for the soul, and we're feeling very lucky and looking toward the future already.

5. Peace & Quiet. I'm the kind of person that definitely enjoys my own company. When you're working in a job where you talk to people all day, with background music included, sometimes it's nice to have silence. The Mr will often walk in from work, whilst I'm making dinner in complete silence and comments on how strange it is not to have the radio or the TV on in the background. Today I was relishing in the peace and quiet, while I sat hunched over my coffee table, sticking old postage stamps onto luggage tags to make gift tags for Christmas (sorry, couldn't resist a little mention), and it was just what I needed. Bliss!

What have you all been up to this week? What's your Wednesday Bliss? I'd love to her from you.

Until next time...
Hannah. x

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Art of Writing Christmas Lists

Hello lovely readers...
The time has come. I am now in full on Christmas mode! The cookery shows are being set to record on my TiVo, the food lists are being stuck on the refrigerator and the Christmas Market is being assembled in Cardiff city centre. Eeep!
So what better time, to shift those Monday blues by starting to write your Christmas list. If you follow these simple steps (and are on the 'nice' list of course), then you're sure to get what you asked for.

Here goes...

List your wants & needs - Start off with two lists, wants & needs. Wants could be the more luxury items, or things you wouldn't necessarily buy for yourself as they are too much of an indulgence to justify, like perfume or an designer lipstick. Needs, could be anything from a new pair of headphones to replace the ones you left on the bus, or a new pair of slippers so you can chuck that grotty old threadbare pair in the bin, finally.

Little & Large – Why not list a few small items too? That Revlon nail polish you spotted on your lunch break, or that ridiculously cute white Chocolate Snowman in the window of the German Deli, you know you couldn't justify buying for yourself. Or maybe even some posh chutney and pate sets you've seen in John Lewis that you're dying to try out when you next have friends over for dinner.

Don't be greedy! - Yes, we know you've been druelling over a Mulberry handbag for years but realistically, if you can't afford it yourself, is anyone in your family likely to be able to afford it too? If you've really got your heart set on something luxurious then why not suggest a couple of family members pooling their money together in order to get said item for you, so as not to break the bank in the process.

There's no shame in vouchers – I know some people often turn their noses up at receiving gift vouchers, thinking they are a bit of a cop out when you don't know what to get someone but in some circumstances they can be great. If you're a bit of a book worm and have a tonne of novels you want to get into, why not ask for book tokens? Or if you're a bit of a chocoholic like me but really can't justify buying your 18th chocolate penguin before December has even started then why not Hotel Chocolat, or Thorntons vouchers, then you can get your fix without feeling guilty (much!).

Dare to dream! – It's Christmas after all. You don't have to be sensible all the time. If you've always wanted to try your hand at a monster lego project, or complete a 2000 piece jigsaw, or fly a remote control helicopter in an open is your chance! Christmas is all about surprises, and imagine that feeling of being a kid again, opening your favourite toy and playing with it throughout the holidays. You're never too old to have that tearing off the paper and cheering “Oh my goodness! It's just what I wanted!” moment.

Now we've got the prep work out of the way...go forth and write Christmas Lists. Then all you need to do is find a nice fried with an open fire, who will let you leave your letter in their hearth for Father Christmas to collect. Eeek!

Can you tell I'm excited yet?

See you soon,
Hannah. x

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Hump-Day Happiness...

Ok, so I'm not 100% on the title of this feature but nevertheless, I think it would be nice if this became a regular feature on this here blog. I'm the kind of person who likes to have nice things to constantly look forward to. So in writing these regular blog posts on a Wednesday, making a list of things that are currently making me happy, or events I may be looking forward to, it is definitely helping me toward slowing down and appreciating the simple things in life. Therefore, without further ado, here is my list of things which I am particularly fond of at this time of year/this week...

1. Pumpkin Streusel Muffins!!! Holy cow, these are good...and the recipe for them comes from lovely friend, Lisa's, blog called Sweet 2 Eat Baking. Lisa is an amazing baker with such an incredible imagination when it comes to recipe ideas. I would love to spend the day in her head, thinking up all the incredible flavour combinations and ideas she comes up with. I made these muffins this Sunday, just past, and took them to my mum's for dessert after Sunday lunch. They were devoured with a cup of tea, and a healthy dollop of creme fraiche on the side. She even asked me to leave a few behind for the next day. Next on my 'To Bake' list is Lisa's recipe for Toffee Apple Pudding! Phwoar!

2. Winter Pyjamas, Yes, they are finally out. In all their fluffy, brushed cotton glory as I heave my PJ drawer open in my bedroom. Yippee! These chilly evenings, and even colder mornings are finally calling for bed socks and dressing gowns, and snuggly sets of pyjamas gently toasting on the radiator, just waiting for me to dive in. How I love to hibernate.

3. Christmas Cake. Well, I had to get something Christmas related in here, didn't I? In an attempt to have a slower, more thrifty Christmas, I have gradually been gathering the ingredients for my Christmas cake over the past few weeks. A bag of sultanas in our weekly shop, popping to the deli on my lunch break for some candied mixed peel, nipping into the local mini-mart on my way home from work for a bag of ground almonds. I've been determined to save some pennies this year and using what little spare change I have left in my purse to purchase little bits here and there, and it's really making a difference. Try it. You might be surprised.

4. Gun Powder, Treason and Plot! I've always been fascinated by the story of Guy Fawkes, ever since my Primary School History lessons. One of the things that I love about our British Heritage is that we can keep a festival going 400 years after it happened, when nothing really actually 'happened' in the end anyway. I love how each family has it's own traditions when it comes to Bonfire Night, be-it trooping down to the local rugby club for a community run display, or simply sitting in your living room window with all the lights off watching everyone else's fireworks in your street. My favourite tradition was several years ago, whilst I was in Uni. I would be in charge of the baked potatoes, and all our friends would congregate in our kitchen picking their favourite toppings before wrapping them in tinfoil, and tea towels then we would trek across the field opposite our house and sat at the top of the hill by our Uni which overlooked the river Medway. We would watch all the fireworks for miles around,whilst eating our steaming hot jacket potatoes and drinking maybe a can or two of cider, before finishing off in our 'local' for a night cap, all chilly and rosy before heading home to bed. Bliss!

5. Pretty Nostalgic Society. And last but not least is something I am particualry passionate about. This organisation started life as an independant magazine for vintage lovers and history geeks, such as myself. It has now morphed into the wonderfully retro 'Pretty Nostalgic Society' becoming a some-what co-operative for those who are passionate about crafting, baking, making, using traditional methods, up-cycling, recycling and just generally a less consumeristic lifestyle...and more importantly supporting local makers, and small British industries. Created by the lovely Nicole, Pretty Nostalgic is about to launch it's first compendium in December, as an official society, and as a Pretty Nostalgic Pioneer, I cannot wait! And, even better, if you're watching those old purse strings as much as I am at the moment, then you can now get a Quarterly Subscription so you don't have to fork out a lump sum of money to get your mitts on the new mag. What are you waiting for?!

So, there you have it. My weekly round-up of seasonal and not-so-seasonal things that make me happy. What is making your week particularly enjoyable so far? I'd love to hear from you.
And if you've got any suggestions on what I should call this weekly blog occurance then I would love that too. Answers on a postcard...or in a comment. Whichever floats your boat.
Or you can get in touch with me on twitter or instagram too.

Hannah. x