Five Favourites - December

blissful days with family and friends
having another six days off work to do almost nothing
thoughtful christmas gifts, like my 'pocket scavenger' book from Tom and the felt slippers my Mum made for me
the news that Tom's Dad has been recognised in the New Year's Honours list and awarded an MBE for services to HM Coastguard. Very excited for him (and very well deserved)
having time to while away hours on my pinterest and find inspirational quotes and pretty things

img credit: flickr

So you're feeling too fat to be photographed? - this blew my mind and has really changed my thinking
Ruby Wax on mindfulness, busyness and how to have a happier, calmer 2014
New Year's Revolution - a practical kit for getting the best out of your 2014 (found via Lyzi)
Will be using this 'green smoothie formula' graphic to make some healthy smoothies in January!

the little nomad // rose and whimsy // the style box // tori's tales // joy felicity jane

I hope you all have wonderful New Year's Eves and celebrate the coming of the new year in style (my style is eating party food, drinking something sparkling and playing games at a friend's house - can't wait).  I am excited for the coming of 2014, I love that the arrival of a new year gives me renewed motivation and excitement to examine my goals and get things back on track.  I'm particularly enthused about scoffing all the Christmas chocolate (to get rid of it!) and then getting back into fitness, I think I've rested my sprained ankle long enough and I'm going to have a slow, steady dabble back into running as well as having an exercise bike and a couple of new fitness DVDs arriving.  I've been dedicating a lot of time to thinking about the changes I'd like to make in 2014 and I'm sure I'll be blogging about them over the next few days.  Until then, happy new year!

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A bespoke wedding ring

I'm feeling pretty horizontal about wedding planning, mainly because it's 16 months away which seems like an awfully long time.  As I've mentioned in a previous post, once we've booked the caterers and the photographer, I'm not really going to put a great deal of thought into much more than that until it's at least a year away (for a start we need to save a bit more money).  One thing that is way down the list is wedding rings.  I'm much more excited about the prospect of cakes and desserts, wedding favours, bridal shoes and even DJ playlists than I am the wedding ring.  But having given it a bit of thought, I've clearly got my priorities wrong, as long after the cake crumbs are swept away, the mason jars and ribbons are sold or passed on and the shoes are lost to the back of the wardrobe, the wedding ring will still be worn.  In fact, it's weird to think that those bands of white gold or silver will wind around my finger for the rest of my life.  So maybe I should dedicate more than a passing thought to it, and consider what Tom and I might like them to be like.

This was further prompted by a fun email that popped into my inbox recently from Wedding Rings Direct, telling me about the 'Going Bespoke' Blogger Challenge, where a handful of bloggers have been asked to think about what their wedding ring would look like if they custom designed it using a bespoke wedding ring service.

The idea of a bespoke ring rather sets my heart a-flutter - all of the elements of our wedding that we've discussed so far have been things that we like and are very 'us'; we certainly have not tied ourselves to any details or pre-requisites just because they are 'traditional' and instead we're just having things that would make up our vision of the perfect day.  So having wedding rings that celebrate our personalities and preferences would certainly fit with that - I love the idea of having something different and unique.

Being a lover of the written word, it's no surprise that I love the idea of an engraved wedding ring.

img credit unknown // contact for removal

'together forever' ring - white gold - £373

I have always loved the rustic look of hand stamped engraving like in the first photo.  I also love it when rings are engraved on the inside, it feels like it would be a secret that only the two of you would know. My friend has his wedding date engraved on the inside of the ring so he never forgets his anniversary.  This is another interesting reminder...

Of course I also love anything to do with nature and woodland, so something with trees, leaves or branches would be beautiful. Some of the hammered silver rings look like bark anyway and would be perfect for someone like Tom who wouldn't want anything fussy.

On the theme of rings with interesting details, my Dad also told me about a technique they use to make swords, called pattern welding.  Pattern welding is where you forge weld together different pieces of metal of different composition.  He suggested it would look really effective for a ring, perhaps with rose gold and white gold.  He showed me these photos - the technique creates amazing patterns and would look beautiful on a ring.

Over Christmas we chatted about the sort of thing I would like and he sketched out what a pattern welded section might look like on a wedding ring, I think it would look stunning.

I think a wedding band, with a patterned, intricate exterior and something engraved on the inside would be my dream, bespoke wedding ring.  I'm now getting excited about what it might look like, and I think it's romantic that it's something Tom and I can plan and decide together.  

Wedding Rings Direct are also running a Pinterest competition whereby you can win £300 towards your dream wedding ring, so if you're getting married next year or in 2015 like us you might want to give it an enter!

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{this post contains collaborative links}

A Christmas present - my new lens

Just a short post today as I'm still away at my parents' enjoying mulled wine, movies by the fire, new slippers, dog walks along the beach and long lie-ins.  Amidst all of that, and the fact that I'm feeling so relaxed I can barely remember what day it is, I'm afraid blogging has taken a bit of a back seat.  I am unashamedly prioritising some much needed R 'n' R.

But I thought I would share a little bit of testing I've been doing with the Christmas present from my parents, the Canon 40mm pancake lens.  I've been nosing around my parents' house for little details to capture with it, and I am absolutely head over heels for the dreamy blurriness.  Their house is a treasure trove of little vintage finds and cosiness and I'll loved capturing the things that catch my eye.

Knives and forks Hyacinth Fairy light Candles Flowers Lilies Cocktails Bottle Croissants Eiderdowns Garland

I usually edit my photos before I post them but in the interests of a quick post, and the lack of Photoshop, these are straight from the camera.  I hope you like them - it really is such a fun lens to play with.  I took it to the beach with me this morning but I'll save those photos for another day.

Hope you're having a wonderful Christmas period and making the most of putting your feet up and slowing down for a while.

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GHD Air Hairdryer Review

Last week I went to a different hairdresser's than usual after buying a Groupon voucher for a cut and blow dry.  I've been going to the same salon since we moved to Christchurch but recently I've decided that their prices are a bit expensive (it costs me about £130 for a cut and blowdry and T-Section highlights) and decided to look elsewhere.  I was a bit concerned when I googled the salon as I could see it was very small and in a residential area, and when I turned up it transpired that it was actually a little wooden building in someone's back garden! I needn't have been worried however as the hairdresser was actually really lovely, and she gave me a full consultation on what I wanted and how I could achieve it, something I've never really had before.  The best bit was that she was completely honest with me about my hair condition and explained that the reason I'd been growing it for so long and not seeing much change is because the combination of highlights and daily straightening has left my hair quite badly damaged (in contrast, the other hairdressers always tell me what great condition my hair is in!).  She did a Moroccan Oil treatment and gave me some tips on how to improve it (more Moroccan Oil, less straightening and a different way of getting my highlights done).

Since then I've been making lots of effort to minimise the impact of heat on my hair and generally treat it better.  So when I was recently contacted by Best British Bloggers to ask if I wanted to review the ghd air hairdryer I was very interested.  After reading reviews I was impressed by the fact that the ghd air claims to provide a 'salon finish' in half the time of other hairdryers due to the 'high pressure air flow'.  In the Amazon reviews people claim to be surprised that it dries hair much quicker despite feeling less hot, and that their hair feels much smoother and silkier afterwards.  With all this in mind I was excited to give the hairdryer a go. I've had the same hairdryer for about eight years, one that my Mum bought me for Christmas one year, and never thought of upgrading, but in all my efforts to be kinder to my hair it's good timing to upgrade my hairdryer to a model that claims to expose it to less heat.

GHD Air Hairdryer
GHD Air Hairdryer

I actually wasn't prepared for quite how impressed with this hairdryer I would be.  The first thing I noticed that was different about this one compared to my old one is that it is a full on blast of air! It was like drying my hair in a hurricane! I'm not surprised by the other reviews that said that it dries hair quickly as it really does blast a lot of air out, it's not wildly hot it just feels like a lot of velocity.  My hair was dry much more quickly than usual and I must wholeheartedly concur with people saying they noticed a difference in their hair afterwards.  It felt like a salon blow-dry, my hair felt bouncy, silky and smooth.  I didn't need to then go on and straighten my hair extensively like I normally do, I just gave the ends a quick tidy up with the straighteners and I was done.

I'd definitely feel happy shelling out the money for this hairdryer, it really does generate amazing results and I can't wait to carry on using it, it might be exactly what my hair needs!  If you're looking for something to spend Christmas money on and you're in the market for a new hairdryer I'd definitely put this on the list, you won't be disappointed.

As well as all the amazing products on the GHD website it's also worth checking out the hairstyles inspiration page - I'm definitely going to carry on trying to grow my hair and I'd better stay committed in order for it to be nice and long for our wedding (it's probably going to take me until 2015 to grow it!), but I do always get tempted by the stylish, short, bob and pixie crop haircuts.

Have you tried the GHD Air Hairdryer?

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{hairdryer was gifted, all opinions, as always, my own}


Kate and Ted

Happy Christmas Eve! This is a scheduled post as I'll have my iPad but not access to a computer whilst I'm in Weymouth so I'll be keeping on top of my blog reading but not writing any blog posts. I've been meaning to post this outfit post for a couple of weeks, I can tell this because I've since gone through a bit of an appointment-orama and had my roots done, hair chopped and my nails shellac-ed, so this is a bit of a 'before' photo.  But none of this matters as this was the first outing for my rather swoon-some new Kate Spade bag that I bought at Bicester Village.  I'd love to tell you that I saw it and fell in long immediately, and that I snatched it off the shelf like some kind of bag hungry behemoth, but what actually happened is that I couldn't decide between this one and one in Michael Kors, and my very patient friend Kate followed me as I went between the two shops (basically walking the length of Bicester Village) many times before settling on this one.  One of the clinchers was that on the final trip back into Kate Spade a nice man on the door gave me a 25% off voucher.  Now if that isn't fate, I don't know what is.

Like a child who wants to play with all of their new toys at once, I'm also wearing another Bicester Village purchase, a jumper from Ted Baker.  I love the colour, and it has elbow patches and zips on the shoulders. What's not to like?

jumper: ted baker {from outlet} // shirt: pull and bear via asos £16
jeans: vero moda {old} // boots: office {old}
bag: kate spade {from outlet}

How are you all spending your Christmas Eve's? I'll be with Tom's parents and his sister and niece and nephew giving them their presents, I can't wait! Because we're seeing so many people over Christmas it really feels like it extends the celebrations over a few days which is really nice.  Of course I can't wait to see my parents on Boxing Day too.  I hope you're all having wonderful Christmasses! Can't wait to read all of your blog posts about what you're up to.  It really is my favourite time of the year.

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Not another fox dress

I don't think I've particularly hidden the fox/woodland creatures obsession I've developed of late, so I have a sneaky suspicion that there may be some foxy items in amongst my Christmas presents this year.  I felt particularly sorry for my brother, who thought he'd found me an amazing fox dress on ASOS, only for my Mum to tell him I already owned it (he'd ordered this one, which I already have of course!).  He then told my Mum, not to worry, he would send that one back as he'd found another one... it turned out to be this one, oops! My parents were discussing with Tom recently how I'm particularly difficult to buy for as I buy myself so many things.  I guess the fox dress saga would suggest that they are right!

This little number is my fourth fox dress, I guess I really can't help myself! This was kindly sent to me by Mistral Clothing.  They are a brand I've never heard of before but they have some lovely things - they are quite Sea Salt/Joules-y, with lots of pretty dresses, knitwear and coats.  I've worn this dress a few times to work, I really like that it's got long-sleeves and they came in handy in the two weeks where our boiler wasn't working! I have abandoned black tights for the moment and am braving the nude tights (stop press - exciting update right there!) I've really gone off black tights and sometimes I think they rather ruin pretty dresses.

Mistral dress
Mistral dress
dress: mistral clothing, £54.99*
boots: new look {old}
necklace: gift from alex :)

I'm not sure these photos really do the dress justice actually, I hate that when you have something you really love and the photos don't quite show how nice it is!  I guess half of my hang-up about these photos is that I haven't really straightened my hair today as I'm trying to be a bit kinder to my hair so I tried to just blow dry it and leave it.  It doesn't look quite as styled but, whatever, it's Christmas, it's lucky I even got dressed today really....

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Pre-Christmas party food day

As I've mentioned on here previously, this year we are spending Christmas Day with Tom's parents before going to mine on Boxing Day.  Since the house is looking so lovely and Christmassy, and I had a couple of early Christmas presents to give them, I invited my parents round for a little pre-Christmas celebration today.

I love inviting people round for food and celebrations, it feels so special to be able to welcome people into our home, especially when it's looking so cosy! (Are you bored of photos of my lounge yet?)

Christmas room

I was excited to give them a couple of presents from Treat Republic, who do great personalised gifts and other really special presents.  They kindly recently gave me a £30 voucher and I thought my parents both deserved a little treat. These two were nestled under the rather overflowing pile of presents under the tree.

Presents Presents

But when my parents arrived, the first order of the day was cocktails! (Never mind that it was only half 11, it's Christmas!) A couple of years ago, Tom went surfing at Kimmeridge and came upon a sloe berry bush on the way back to the van.  He picked them and has been brewing it in gin to make sloe gin for quite some time! Today it was time for the sloe gin to make its grand entrance, and it did so in a delicious cocktail with tonic, fresh mint and blackberries.

Sloe Bramble Gin

And then it was present time! For my Mum, a beautiful baby piglet watering can (£15.75*) and for my Dad, a personalised beer tankard (£14.95*).  I think both of them are excellent value, and both of my parents were thrilled with their gifts.  Thankyou Treat Republic!

Pig and glass

Of course it's not a proper Christmas celebration without some party foods.  These M&S mini Christmas tree pizza bites were pretty special....

Christmas tree snacks

Tom also made some amazing sweet potato, feta and spring onion bites which were divine.  As well as mini Croque Monsieurs, oozing with bechamel sauce.

Croque Monsieur Bites

After some pork and cranberry sausage rolls and lots of crisps, I made a festive twist on Eton Mess, Cranberry Mess, made with cranberries and oranges.  That was also delicious (if I do say so myself!)

Cranberry Mess

We played games (I bought a celebrity name game thing from M&S), watched YouTube videos on TV, listened to Christmas music, drank cocktails and Bucks' Fizz and generally had a wonderful day.  Then we loaded up their car with all of the presents to take to their house for Boxing Day.  There is an awful lot of presents! It was such a perfect day and I'm definitely feeling very festive now.  After the house was cleaned and tidied this morning I had a long shower and hopped out of the shower feeling really happy and content. I'm really excited to have a nice amount of time off work and be able to share it with amazing friends and family.  It's such a nice feeling to be nearly on top of the to-do list and be able to go away for Christmas feeling like everything is sorted and balanced.  I am feeling like a very lucky and grateful little lady at the moment. Life is good.

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And breathe...

So yesterday I finished work and have a blissful 16 days off.  I've mentioned having time off over Christmas on Twitter and I keep seeing people tweet that they're fed up with people saying that they're done for Christmas as they're working Christmas Eve/Boxing Day/only having one day off.  So I just want to say right now, that I am not sorry, and that I DESERVE IT! I worked in retail all the way through Uni (at H&M) and then for a few years afterwards so trust me, I have worked my fair share of Christmas Eve's and Boxing Day's, along with having a boyfriend who has worked almost all of the Christmas Day's we've been together due to working for an emergency services.  So I will be enjoying every second of my 16 days off and spending it drinking lots of Bucks Fizz, eating sweet treats and enjoying time with friends and family.

Yesterday was mufty/dress down day at work and it was such a novelty to be a bit more casual, as well as partaking in our annual McDonalds Christmas lunch.  Though I must admit I was slightly concerned when I ordered four people's meals and the man behind the counter asked me if I wanted to eat in.

McDonalds lunch

It might be the last time we're all together for Christmas at the office where we work as the site is closing next year, so we all took dress down day very seriously.  There was a bear costume, a reindeer onesie and this idiot even brought out the penguin kigu...

I was a super tired Rosie yesterday so I dipped out of going to our headquarters Christmas Party in order to tick a few errands off the to-do list and catch up on sleep.  I've been waking up at 6am every day for some reason so yesterday I took advantage of the extra time in the morning and fixed my Malteser's fudge which hadn't set when I made it the night before.  It turns out that the answer really, always, is 'add more chocolate'.  I used this recipe and it always works - the first batch was my fault for getting cocky and throwing in too many ingredients!

I also managed to do two different food shops after work yesterday - my parents are coming around for a Christmas lunch tomorrow so we've got loads of party food (from M&S) and snacks (from Sainsbury's).  We're also going to be attempting a few recipes from my Good Housekeeping Christmas recipe magazine.

I must admit, I don't think I'll be able to top this afternoon's kitchen creation however, I whipped up a batch of Peanut Butter fudge and it's definitely the best fudge I've made.  I'll be putting it in jam jars and kilner jars with Christmas ribbon and luggage tags and giving it to friends and family - that's if there's any left! Once it's in the tin you sprinkle it with sea salt - so delicious!

Peanut Butter Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge

Today I've also been doing the last of the Christmas wrapping (whilst watching Home Alone 2) - I love wrapping presents but I must admit I am looking forward to clearing away all of the wrapping paper, sellotape and ribbon and having our dining table back to normal!

There is a rather crazy amount of presents under the tree - I can't wait to pack them all up and take them away with us to visit our families.  The one on the right in the cellophane is for me, from my friend Kate. I have a different present to open every hour on Christmas Day and they are all labelled with the hour to open them at! I met up with my friend Nicole for Christmas present exchange on Tuesday too, she got me some amazing presents including the most beautiful silver lighthouse necklace amongst other treats.

Christmas tree and presents Christmas tree and presents

I have actually been rather spoilt with early Christmas presents and some beautiful cards too.  This amazing hamper turned up for me on Wednesday from Trek America, who I've been chatting to recently and will be working with next year.  All of the gifts were individually labelled - the Yankee Candle is a 'Congratulations' candle on our engagement and the bowtie is a present for Bodhi, it attaches to a US flag collar, it's brilliant!

Hamper from Trek America Christmas onesie

Bodhi loves his new collar!

I did the last trip to the Hermes dropoff and the postbox yesterday with the last few Christmas cards and parcels.  We bought our Christmas cards from M&S but we also got some printed of Bodhi in his Christmas pudding outfit via instajunction.  I was sent a £25 voucher a few weeks ago and got a set of cards and some magnets.

Instajunction magnets Instajunction cards

The cards and magnets are lovely and I'm really thrilled with them.  It took me a few days to order however as the website kept crashing and giving error codes, hopefully they've ironed out the technical issues now. They took about nine days to come which isn't too bad for custom printed products.  I've put a few of the magnets in with Christmas presents as I think they're a nice little touch and something people don't often order themselves.  Instajunction do a few fun products I haven't seen on other instagram printing services like cufflinks and charm bracelets, obviously it's too late for Christmas but they're worth a look for birthdays and so on.

Hope you're all feeling ready for Christmas now - I have a few other things to share with you before I go away on Monday but other than that it might be a bit quiet on here for the next week or so.  Rest assured I'll still be keeping in touch with what's happening in Blogland on my iPad whilst I'm away though I probably won't be able to post much, I'll be far too busy lolling around in my onesie and watching Christmas films for that!

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