Tuesday, January 30, 2018

2017's Secret Santas

I did three Secret Santas at Christmas, which is fewer than normal but I just wasn't feeling Christmas last year. Usually I'm really up for it and love getting gifts ready for people and wrapping them up all fancy. But, I didn't feel the same. I think making Lee's blanket meant all my energy was focussed on that, and it left very little room for anything else. Poor Lee ended up doing most of the wrapping and sorting things out for Christmas, which I'm really grateful for.

But, I did sort out these Secret Santas and I had fun doing them, so I'm not sorry I signed up for them. I hope that the gifts I sent were well received in return!

First of all was this parcel from someone through Emma's blog, it came from Ireland but I'm not too sure of the sender. It was book based, so The Princess and the Suffragette was off my wishlist. I LOVED A Little Princess when I was little so I'm really excited to read this sequel. I also got a notebook, some tapes, a face mask, some chocolate, some moisturisers, and a little purse, all of which are things I like and have already put to use! The hair clip on the top left will look lovely on a special occasion, too, I'm sure! Thank you for my gifts, if you're reading this! 

Secondly, I got this parcel through Janet's thrifty gift swap, which long time readers might remember from previous years. Everything in this swap is supposed to be second hand or handmade or thrifty, which makes it a lot of fun to put together. This parcel came from Hope and I was so spoilt! There are three books, ones which all look intriguing and which are all, I think, second hand. There's a mug with a cat on it, which is my favourite kind of mug! The box underneath the mug has Christmas stamps and tapes in, which will be so useful next year. There are scented candles shaped like reindeer, and a handmade card and more tapes. And then the green thing is my favourite thing, it's a handmade quilled Christmas tree, and it was made by prisoners at a women's prison sold to make money for them. I absolutely love it, and it's great that the money for it went to such a worthy cause. Thank you so much for this whole parcel!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

My New Office Chair

For Christmas my mum and stepdad bought me a new office chair. This may not seem like a big deal, but I spend a lot of time in my "office" so I need a comfortable chair. I had a big desk in the attic with my laptop, TV monitor, printer, all my stationery and craft stuff, all of that business. It's my den!

My old chair was my dad's. He'd got it for his office at work only a few months before he died in 2008. It looked a bit like this, a proper posh leather executive thing. When we cleared out his office my mum considered taking it, but it was too big for her home office, which is tiny, so I took it. For nearly ten years I've loved it and really liked the fact that it was my dad's, so I'm really sad to have lost it.

But, it was knackered. We'd had to replace the legs twice and the leather was starting to peel, and the hydraulics didn't work so it was getting quite uncomfortable to sit in. So I asked my mum to buy me another for Christmas, which she did. She got it from an office outlet place in Wakefield which offered free delivery and couldn't have been nicer to her. She put a bow on it for me for Christmas, haha

I really like it, it's really adjustable which is great, I've been faffing with all the settings until it feels perfect for me. I like the colour, too. I'm sad to have lost my dad's chair, because it was his, but I did get to use it for ten years, and I do now have a really fancy brand new chair to replace it.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

My New Happiness Planner

Just before Christmas I bought myself a Happiness Planner, because I'd seen a review of it on someone else's blog and decided it sounded like it would be perfect for me. I liked the rose gold version but it was sold out, so I bought this mint and silver one instead. I also got some notebooks and a to do list pad, because I basically got them for free after applying a coupon.

They arrived just after Christmas and I was really pleased with the packaging - it felt like a really luxurious product and a real treat for myself. The notebooks and to do list came separately. The notebooks are wide ruled, which is good for me as I have quite big handwriting, and the to do list is a really gorgeous mint colour to match the planner. I might carry sheets from the to do list in my handbag to use when I'm out and about, and also maybe to use as shopping lists?

The planner itself came in a gorgeous hard box, which I will use to keep the planner in to hopefully keep it looking nice. The box is also mint and has the branding on it, which again feels like a really luxurious thing and like the company have taken their time to make sure all their products look good.

Within the box I found a number of things! The planner, of course, plus a gorgeous thin pen, also mint, that writes beautifully. Then there were some paperclips and two binder clips, which will come in useful for keeping things in the planner, like the to do lists, for instance. Then there were some sheets to fill out, some which reflect on 2017 and some which are for goals for 2018. I haven't filled them in yet, but I will!

The planner itself is huge! So thick, obviously there is a page for every day of the year but I hadn't quite realised how much space that would take up! I don't feel like I would carry this planner around because of its size, so it will live on my desk. I do still have a date diary which I could pop into my handbag if I needed to.

The beginning section has a bunch of pages with either quotes about happiness or more questions to answer. I did a couple of pages but haven't totally filled them in yet, mostly because I haven't totally solidified my 2018 pages yet. There was a good page though about doing things that make you happy and how often you'd like to do them. Mine are fairly simple - I want to go swimming twice a week, I want to read daily, I want to cook something new or exciting weekly, and I want to go to the cinema once a month. Those all feel like really achievable goals!

Each month has an 'at a glance' view at the beginning, which I have used to write down things like birthdays and trips. Then each day has several sections, including what you're excited about today, meals, main focus, schedule, to do, notes, good things, and your hope for tomorrow. The sections aren't huge but they're big enough, and I'm pleased that the schedule section isn't huge, because I often don't have anything to put in there! I like having to think about a "focus" and a hope for the day after, too. It feels positive! It really does feel like a happiness planner!

Okay so enough rambling from me. Here's some photos:

The box the planner came in, the writing is silver

The notebooks and to do list pad. The notebooks have a space at the top of each page for a date, and are then lined

I love the geometric patterns!

This feels like a really lovely pad in and of itself, it would make a nice gift 

And this is what the to do pad looks like on the inside - the three sections are headed "Must finish today", "must do today" and "might do today"

The planner itself, the bottom bit is silver

Look how thick this thing is! It's huge!

And here are all the extras that came with it - sheets on the bottom that I need to find space on my walls for, clips, a postcard, and the pen. 

My one criticism so far is that I wish the planner had a loop for the pen to live in - otherwise it's a bit hard to keep track of, especially as it doesn't have a clip and keeps rolling away! Otherwise, though, I'm really enjoying my planner so far!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Books of Month - December

I read six books in total in December and started another, which I'll finish in 2018. I didn't meet my Goodreads goal of 80 books, so I've adjusted for 2018 to 60 books as I'd like to meet that and maybe surpass it. I did read 70 books, which is a very good number!

Anyway, these six are what I read:

As always, my book reviews are here.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Films of the Month - December

I watched 14 films in December, which seems like a lot but I guess Christmas is a good time for watching films! In 2017, I watched 136 films, and went to the cinema eight times, which has got to be a record for me!

Of those films, I had never seen 75 of them before, which is over half. I had seen 61 before.

Stand out films were: God's Own Country, Joan Didion The Center Will Not Hold, The Last Jedi, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Logan, Hidden Figures, and Lion.

I'm hoping to watch a similar number of films in 2018. I seem to have an unlimited list of films I yet want to see! I would like to go to the cinema once a month, because I really do enjoy it. My friend Sam goes all the time so I should take myself out of the house in an evening sometimes and go with her. To that end, I've signed up for the Odeon newsletter, so that I can see films that are coming up. We'll see!

Here's what I watched in December, anyway:

Dough - this is a really cute film about a failing Jewish bakery and a young Muslim boy who starts working there and makes some "special" brownies. It's fun, watch it. I think it was on Netflix.

Miracle of 34th Street - I've never seen this so I thought I would watch it. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either

The Boy With the Topknot - this was on the BBC and is adapted from a true story. I really liked it, Sacha Dawan was fabulous for one.

Sylvia - obviously I am a Sylvia Plath fan, gosh. This biopic about her relationship with Ted Hughes is really well done.

Deck the Halls - this was hanging around in Netflix's festive favourites section and it seemed fun, and it was. I liked it!

Scrooged - one of Lee's favourite Christmas films, it is a classic

The Last Jedi - I wanted to see this as soon as it came out, instead of waiting until the week between Christmas and New Year to see it. We managed to see it on the first Tuesday it was out. I really liked it, although it was overly long. Rey is still my favourite EVER.

Mamma Mia - I've only seen this once and I'm not sure why I wanted to watch it again, but I did. It's frothy fun, and it looks so beautiful. 

God's Own Country - I had the chance to see this again at a cinema in Bradford, and I really wanted Lee to see it on a big screen. It's so sparse that to have all your attention focussed on it is the best way to see it. I picked up loads of details that I hadn't seen the first time. It is so lovely. 

Daddy's Home - Netflix recommended this to me, it's a bit of fun and Mark Wahlberg is pretty good in it.

The Fugitive - we watched most of this while with Lee's dad just before Christmas. I've never seen it, but I liked it. Harrison Ford is a dish obviously. 

Thor - my stepdad had this on over Christmas and I watched probably half of it. It's not my cup of tea, but it looks pretty good.

10 Things I Hate About You - I love this film but I hadn't seen it in forever. I'm still so upset Heath Ledger is dead, he's such a dish in this

84 Charing Cross Road - we happened to catch this on New Year's Eve while we were away, so we sat and watched it. I really liked it! It's very cute, I would recommend it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

December 27th and 28th

On December 27th and 28th my aunt, uncle, and cousins were visiting from Surrey and Leicester, so it was time for us all to get together. On the 27th we went to my grandma's house, where we had two delicious meals, swapped presents, and played some games. It was really good fun and I enjoyed myself.

I didn't take many photos on Wednesday, and none of my outfit, but I was wearing my grey chiffon spotted Scarlett & Jo dress. My cousin Peter came to stay at ours for the night, where Ivy was very pleased to see us after she'd been abandoned for two days. Here's some photos from Wednesday:

Peter and me. He's the youngest of my cousins, but he's 19 now and at university in Bournemouth...

Lee and me

Reunited with my one true love, Ivy. She looks demented here!

On Thursday it was our turn to host. I'd volunteered, but it was still a bit of a challenge to fit ten of us in our tiny living room. We managed it with our dining table and my small craft table, although I ended up sort of sitting in the kitchen doorway. 

We made pulled pork burritos. We'd put the pork to cook in the slow cooker overnight and then I shredded it with forks. We had tortillas, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, rice, potato wedges, and salad. Wow! It was yummy. Then for afters we had two types of cheesecake. It was really nice to host people.

Because I knew the house would be warm with so many people, I put this new dress on that I got in the Yours sale a few weeks before Christmas. It's sleeveless and very summery, but it's really nice to wear and it has pockets! I put on this really old New Look jumper over the top, the colour matches one of the shades in the dress. I will definitely have to take this outfit on holiday somewhere warm!

Sorry about the blurriness of the photo but it's the best I could do!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

What I Wore Boxing Day

I plucked this dress out of the wardrobe while looking for the one I'd worn on Christmas Day, realising I hadn't worn it in ages. I think I've only worn it once, when I got it (in July 2016, ish?). It's the style of dress I wear and I really liked it on, so I'll definitely have to wear it again soon. Mind you, don't I seem to be saying that with all my dresses recently? But then, on the other hand, I do feel like I've been stuck in a bit of a style rut recently and maybe that's because I've been wearing old favourites instead of unearthing all of these forgotten gems.

The material is a bit on the scuba side of fabric for me, but it's still soft enough for me to wear. The lace on the top is really stretchy which makes it comfortable and soft to wear. Plus, I really like the floral pattern!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Boxing Day 2017

I always really enjoy Boxing Day because it's so much less stressful than Christmas Day but you still have the excuse of doing nothing. We went for my grandma again, and had a nice snacky lunch. After cleaning up from that I asked if we could play the vinyl that Lee had bought me. He bought me Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and some Libertines singles. Under my mum's turntables are her own 45s in several record boxes, so I went through those picking out ones I wanted to listen to. My mum is a big fan of singles and I remember going through her singles a lot when I was little. She has them all numbered and indexed, and some of them go right back to 1970 when my mum was around 12. There are a few in that belonged to my dad, but he was more of an album person.

It was so lovely, spending the afternoon with my mum swapping over the vinyls and chatting about music. Then my stepdad got a phone call from his brother, who was ill. He's been rushed to hospital twice and he was feeling the same. So my mum and stepdad rushed off to his house and Lee, my grandma and I decided to start on a jigsaw. I bought Lee one of those jigsaw holder things for Christmas so we wanted to try it. Fortunately, my mum and stepdad weren't very long - they'd taken my stepdad's brother into hospital where he remained overnight. I hope he'll be okay as it's quite scary.

We had some more food - leftovers from Christmas Day. After we'd taken my grandma home my mum, Lee and I played a board game which was fun. I have a few photos:

Lee bought me a Terry Barlow mug for Christmas. Do you follow Terry Barlow on Twitter? It is hilarious, I sometimes can't speak for laughing about it. 

Some of my mum's vinyl 

She owns pretty much every single T-Rex ever made, but this one was my favourite because Marc and Mickey look so beautiful 

And here's part of my mum's indexing, can you see the dates from almost fifty years ago?

Doing the jigsaw with my grandma. I wasn't really involved, hence my tablet also on the table! I did help to find some edge pieces though. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

What I Wore Christmas Day

I had got a new dress from Yours that I wanted to wear on Christmas Day, only when I put it on my bra was visible under it, so I need to sort out a different bra and I didn't have time. I'd recently been reminded of this dress, so I pulled it out of the wardrobe and put it on. The silver details add a nice bit of sparkle. I really must not let it languish in the wardrobe for another two years - the last time I remember wearing it was here. No wait, it's much longer ago than that - almost FOUR years ago. Wow!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Christmas Day 2017

We got up bright and early and got ready then go to my mum's for about 9.45. My grandma wasn't there yet because she'd woken up late and hadn't finished her breakfast, so my mum and I went down to pick her up. We tend to take ages to eat an entire meal on Christmas Day - we ate our starter about 1pm and then did eat our main meal until about 6! Oh well! It was all delicious.

I got some lovely presents and everyone loved what we'd bought them. I got my mum a gorgeous mirror that flashes between green and gold, and both her and my stepdad absolutely loved it and are planning to put it on the dining room wall so they can see it every day. My grandma collects a certain type of Derby porcelain and I picked up a milk jug and sugar bowl in an antiques shop near my house in her favourite pattern. It turns out they're quite rare - they're both over a hundred years old! She was impressed.

I took a few photos:

Lee wearing my festive penguin t-shirt over a plain black one of his own

The table at my mum's, doesn't it look nice? 

My grandma under Lee's blanket. She's 91!

My mum has two cats, brother and sister Ruben and Millie. This is Ruben ready for his dinner please.

I never had Screwball Scramble when I was little, even though I really liked it and wanted one. So my friend Jacqui bought me one! We all had a go, it's fun!

Lee bought me a daft photo of Harry Styles, which has absolutely gone on the wall next to my desk, I love him

Lee also bought me this bracelet, isn't it lovely?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Christmas in Durham

The weekend before Christmas we always go up to Durham to see Lee's family, and obviously this year it just happened that it was the 23rd and 24th of December. We set off on Saturday and went straight to a pub to meet Lee's dad and stepmum. It was lovely delicious food, but the service was a bit rubbish. Still, I'd go there again for definite.

Then we went to Lee's mam's for a bit. His stepdad and one of his brothers were also there, but that's far fewer people than are often in that house! Everyone was ill so we didn't stay long, we went back to Lee's dad's where we were spending the night. Lee and I both got changed into pyjamas and we sat chatting to Lee's dad and watching films. It was a nice relaxed night!

On Sunday morning we went to Lee's mam's, where eventually there were loads of us - all of Lee's four siblings, nieces, nephews, and our friends Paul and Lianne. We had a buffet and opened presents since we weren't going to see each other on Christmas Day. Lee's mam bought me a lovely new purse and a bunch of Lush Snow Fairy stuff, and some other bits, and Lee's sister gave us some cinema vouchers which is really good as we'll enjoy using them. It was a lovely day, we didn't end up leaving Durham until it was nearly 8pm.

We stopped on the way home for food because I'd had a lot of alcohol and needed to soak it up a bit. There was a Burger King open in a services, but it took so long we ended up getting it for free! It was so good, haha. We came home and pretty much got straight into bed ready for Christmas Day!

I took a few photos:

The sky on our way to the pub 

And the sunset as we left

Lee's dad's Christmas tree

Youngest niece T doing some glueing, bless her.

Lee building a marble run for youngest nephew T

He was pretty pleased with it!

And here's my eldest niece L, she's just turned 13 and is now just about the same height as me!