Tuesday, 30 December 2014

December Favourites

 Hello there! Where has December gone? I cannot believe that it is nearly 2015 and I can then say the words 'I finish University next year'. Lets just ignore that fact for now. As it is the end of the month, here is a round up of all the things that I have been loving for the past month. Let me know what you have been loving in the comments!

 I have been an instagram user for quite some time now (for those of you who don't know what instagram is it's effectively twitter but with photos). However throughout December, as I have now had more free time on my hands, I have been loving looking through my instagram feed and seeing everyone's photos. Many an hour has been spent refreshing the 'explore' section and seeing who else I can follow! (if you do have instagram, my username is @jesslouisekeen- cheeky plug there!)

Michael Buble's Christmas Album
 I was never a fan of Michael Buble. I will now however freely admit that I am a fan. I don't know if it's the fact that I've now succeeded in to the 20 age bracket, or something else, but throughout December (and a part of November) I loved listening to his Christmas album. I will have to extend out to see whether I like anymore of his music, or whether I just like this album alone!

 I'm being a bit cheeky here and adding this one in, although I've only been enjoying them for about half of the month. Although we have a fireplace in Sheffield, it's been blocked up as it is a student house. However, on coming back home, I have loved to simply sit by the fire as it's getting darker and colder outside with a hot cup of tea. 

 For me, this is what the month has been leading up to! I have been drawn to anything that has been to do with the festive season. Whether you are religious or not, I still think that this is such a lovely time as you get to spend quality time with your family! I have overly consumed myself with food over the past few days, and so it will be nice to get back to normality again!

Jingle Bells by Barry M
 For me, this is the best time of year to whack all things that are glitzy- especially nail varnishes! The one that I have been loving this month is this one from Barry M called 'Jingle Bells'. I haven't used it on it's own, as I think this would take a while to build up the nail so that it was completely covered, but it looks lovely over other colours; especially berry toned ones. (Here I've paired it with Barry M's 'Raspberry')

Country Walks
 A part of coming home, means that I can now take out Tilly on walks again! It's lovely when you have that morning where it's sunny, but there's a crisp feeling to the air. Ironically though, the longer the walk I seem to take her on, the more energy she seems to have when she returns home! As a part of my Christmas presents, my parents bought me a proper pair of walking boots, and so I look forward to being able to go out into the peaks again when I return to Sheffield! (or probably just using them to walk to uni if it happens to snow!).

Taylor Swift
 I think I've been a bit late to jump on the bandwagon for Taylor Swift's new album '1989'. I have always liked Taylor Swift, and this album is definitely in a new direction. For me, when I listened to the previews I thought I wasn't going to really like it, but luckily I was able to borrow the cd off of my friend Megan (who also has a blog so check her out here!). My favourite songs from the album are 'Welcome to New York', 'Style' and 'Out of the Woods'.

 At times I seem to have a love/hate relationship with tea. I'll go through phases where I absolutely love it, but then revert back to fruit tea. However this month has definitely been a 'I love tea' month. I had used up my box of Yorkshire Tea and went onto PG Tips. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about this transition, but I am now used to it! Do you have a favourite brand of tea?

 I have watched A LOT of films this month. Whether they be Christmas related or not, I've been watching them. I think it's just the time of year where it's so horrible outside, that you just want to snuggle up under a blanket and watch a film. On Christmas Day, we sat down to watch 'Arthur Christmas' which none of us had seen before. It was actually really enjoyable and I will be adding it onto my Christmas film list for next year!

James Bay
 I've only just realised that a lot of my favourites this month have been music related. James Bay is a relatively new find- I discovered him through iTunes on the 'upcoming artists' to watch out for list. If you're a fan of Ben Howard, I definitely think that you will like him. My favourite song of his is called 'If You Ever Want To Be In Love'. He has a new album coming out at the end of March, and I definitely think I will purchasing it! (or at least adding it to my spotify playlist!)

So there you have my favourites for the past month! I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year! 
What have you been loving throughout December?

Love Jess xxx

Saturday, 27 December 2014

#52weeksofhappiness-Week 32

 Hello there! How has your week been? I don't know about you, but for me this last week has just flown by.  I really cannot believe that I have been back home for over a week now! It's been nice as I've been able to take a break from doing course reading or work for essays (which I shall resume again on Monday!). I went back to work at the hairdressers on Monday and again on Christmas Eve where we all dressed up! I really enjoyed going back into work, and seeing not only those that I work with, but also all of the customers too. 
 On Tuesday I went to see Thomas at his house. Having now lived together for the past few months, it is really strange living apart now! We spent a while wrapping up gifts, and let me tell you, his idea and my idea of wrapping are completely different! I can guarantee that when we do live together full time, I will be the one who does the wrapping (I do love doing it too). 
 Of course Thursday brought about the appearance of Christmas! Wednesday saw the last advent calendar chocolate for another year (I cannot believe that next Christmas I will only have one semester left at uni-ahhh!!). I had a thoroughly enjoyable day with my Mum, Dad, Grandad and of course the doggies. I of course ate too much food, and am continuing this on into the weekend. Today my Aunt and Cousin came to visit which was really nice as I hadn't seen them since the summer! As I am off to see my Nanna and Grandad tomorrow, this has definitely been a family filled week which, for me is one of my favourite parts about the festive season!

I hope that you, like me, had a wonderful week whether celebrating Christmas or not!
Let me know in the comments what made your week!

Love Jess xxx

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

2nd Year so Far!

 Hello there! I thought that I would dedicate today's post to my second year of University so far. Firstly, is it just me, or has this year gone by super quickly? I know they say that time is meant to go faster as you get older, but I'm not that old. I think it will be easier if I split this into different 'sections' so I can focus upon one thing at a time; so let's get on with it!

Living in a House
 One of the main differences between my first and second year of University, is the fact that I lived in Halls last year, and now live in a shared house with 4 other people. From my perspective, we've been really lucky as we've all got along really well and haven't had any major arguments (unlike other houses I've heard about!). We actually like the house/each other so much that we've signed to live on there for another year. I definitely feel that it was the right decision to move out of Halls. I will always have a place in my heart for Ranmoor (the student village that I lived in) but it wouldn't be the same without all of the people who lived there last year!

 If you didn't already know (where have you been?!) I study English Literature. A year and half in (I cannot believe I'm half way through my degree!) I still love it. Sure I'll complain about the amount of reading I have to do, or the fact that I am made to try and understand the difference between 'signs' and 'signifiers', but I definitely made the right decision when choosing my degree. I can definitely see how the first year is more of a 'settling in' year, as this year they have upped the amount of reading that we have to do. And of course this year actually counts towards our overall degree, which I think a lot of people felt when we were having to write our first essays of the year! I'm looking forward to a little break over Christmas (although I do have essays to write/an exam to revise for) but I'm really looking forward to starting new modules next semester!

 In the first semester last year, you met so many people that you don't even remember half of them. This year, the friendships that you build on, or the new ones that you make, seem to mean more (I mean you do actually remember their name for one). You meet people in seminars and think, 'were they here last year?' and what's nice is that although people do have their close friends, just because you're no longer in first year doesn't mean that you won't meet new people! 

Actually living
 I didn't really know what to title this section, but this seemed the most appropriate. Now that I feel a lot more settled in where I'm living, in my course and in who my friends are, I've felt Sheffield feel a lot more like home. Not that I didn't feel settled last year, but I think the fact that I have been there for a year, and probably now that I actually live in a house, Sheffield is definitely a part of me. 
 I feel a lot more at ease with my surroundings, and just the general goings on. You no longer need to think 'gah where is that building?!' when you receive your timetable (unless you have to walk all the way to the Medical school!) You know what events to look forward to, and to get tickets for (last year I missed out on going to Chatsworth at christmastime). You know where the best places to go (or not to go) out are and just generally feel like you know what you are doing! 

Here are just an assortment of photos from my year so far! 

So there you have it! My second year of Uni so far- thank you to everyone that has made it special :)

Love Jess xxx

Saturday, 20 December 2014

#52weeksofhappiness- Week 31

 Hello there! How are you? This week for me has been suuuuuper busy! It all started off last Saturday night, where I went to the final Pop Tarts of the year (if you didn't already know, this is a Union club night where they play all the cheesy classics and you can sing to your hearts content). However as they were playing christmas songs in the mix, when they played 'I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday' they replaced the word 'Christmas' with 'Pop Tarts' and now that is all I can hear when that song is played!
 On Sunday evening I went with my housemates Ross and Adam to a candlelit carol service at our local church. I say local, but after a 40 minute walk we finally arrived and might I add it had been raining the whole way! This was really enjoyable and there was so many people. Luckily we got the bus back and then watched my favourite Christmas film 'Santa Clause' with Dudley Moore as Patch the elf. What's your favourite Christmas film?
 On Monday evening I went to the 'Wig and Pen' for a meal with the society committee. It was really lovely being able to spend time together that wasn't at an event or in a meeting! On Tuesday I met up with some course mates and we got take away curry and watched Elf (yes I know I only watched it the week before!). As we've all been so busy this term, it was really nice being able to spend time with them again!
 On Friday morning Tom and I made the trip back to Suffolk for a few weeks over Christmas. Our train was all on time again hooray! It was so nice coming home and seeing everyone again, and I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks at home!
Selfie before Pop Tarts, or should I say 'Threlfie' (as there's 3 of us!)


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Festive Treats

 Hello there! Following on from my DIY Christmas decorations post last week (which if you missed you can catch up here) this post will be the recipes for some of my favourite festive treats! These are two super easy recipes, that taste super yummy and always get me into the festive mood. The two recipes that I shall be sharing with you are for mince pies, and cheese straws!

Mince Pies

-150g Plain Flour
-35g White Flora
-40g Stork
-25g Caster Sugar
-Pinch of Salt
-Jar of Mincemeat


Saturday, 13 December 2014

#52weeksofhappiness-Week 30

 Hello there! How are you? First of all, I cannot believe that it is time for week 30's post. It doesn't seem five minutes since I started writing this blog! A big thank you must be made to you who read it and leave lovely comments; thank you!
 On Saturday evening Tom, Ross and I sat down and watched what is in my opinion, the best version of A Christmas Carol/Scrooge (the 1951 film with Alastair Sim playing Scrooge). They both seemed to like it, so I hope that I converted them over to this version! 
 Uni-wise, this week has actually felt like the last week, and I keep having to remind myself that I have another week to go! My highlight of the week was the fact that my parents came up for a couple of days to visit me. They did bring lots of gifts and food goodies (especially homemade coconut ice and fudge!) but aside from that it was lovely as I was able to spend some time with them, and show them around Sheffield. On Wednesday after I had finished at uni, we went to the Christmas Market and had a walk about town. We did make a stop off at Patisserie Valerie for tea and cake! My mum and I shared a chocolate mousse one, while my dad had a berry mousse cake. In the evening we went, with Tom, out to Loch Fyne. This is predominately a fish restaurant, but they did have other options too. None of us had ever been here before, and Tom and I felt especially fancy! I would definitely recommend going to one if you can! It was sad to say goodbye to them, but I'll be back off to Suffolk on Friday!
 On Thursday evening my house and I had our Christmas meal. We all had our different cooking job, and we were all so impressed with how well it came together! I really enjoyed being able to cook and eat all together with my house, as this is a rare occurrence. We exchanged our secret santa gifts, got dressed up in costumes, and ended the evening through watching Elf.

The best people in the world.

What made you happy this week?

Love Jess xxx

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

DIY Christmas Decorations

 Hello! One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is decorating my room and the house for Christmas. Being a student, I had to have a look round, but a lot of places (especially supermarkets) do really nice decorations that are cheap! Last year as I was living in Halls, I didn't want to buy a tree or anything, so decided to make my own! It's really easy to do and looks really effective, so I thought I would do a step-by-step guide so you can recreate your own! All you will need is an old magazine.

 Take your old magazines and rip off the front and back covers. 

 Take the top right corner of the first page and fold it over the the spine.

 Then fold the page over again go that it is in line with the spine (as shown below).

 Repeat this process with the rest of the pages.

  I then realised that I should have folded over the bottom triangles so that it could stand up! I just went through and did this for all the pages- make sure you do this from the beginning!

 This is what it looks like about half way through!

This is the final product! Don't they look really effective? It's quite therapeutic doing this, so stick on a programme or a film, and get making!

 You can leave them like that which I have done this year, but last year I printed out pictures of baubles and stuck them on with blu-tac. These are really nice cost effective decorations!


Saturday, 6 December 2014

#52weeksofhappiness- Week 29

 Hello there! How have you been? This week marked the beginning of December (seriously- how is it December already?) and we can now officially discuss Christmas hoorah! My choice of advent calendar this year is a 'Where's Wally' one that I got from M&S. Each day when you open the tab, there is something that you have to find within the picture. Now, let me tell you, this is not as easy as it sounds! 
 On Sunday I began to get (even more) into the Christmas spirit with a trip to Chatsworth. I did a blogpost about it on Tuesday, and if you missed it you can catch up here. When I was walking round having a look at the brilliantly decorated Christmas trees, all I could think of was how great would that job be to decorate them all? 
 We put our Christmas tree up on Tuesday so our now our lounge is looking very festive. (Check back on Tuesday for a step-by-step guide on how to make your own tree!) On Wednesday I ventured to Waitrose with my friend Lucy to have a look at their homeware and Christmas things! We ended up having lunch there too, and we each went for a pasty and of course we had cake. I had a giant looking Bourbon biscuit, but I ended up giving some to Lucy as I was full! 
 If you haven't been able to tell by now, this week what has made me happy is that it is the run up to Christmas! I always think the run up is the best bit- full of excitement and there's always so many events on that you can go to. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, I think everyone still gets caught up in the 'jolly' atmosphere! 
 I forgot to mention in last week's post about what Tom and I did for our 'D' date night. It was Tom's turn to choose, and we did some dancing! No we didn't go out and properly dance, but we looked up Just Dance videos on Youtube and danced that way. It was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to being able to play the actual game again when we go home.

What made you happy this week?

Love Jess xxx


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Christmas at Chatsworth | Alice in Wonderland

 Hello there! On Sunday Tom and I went on a 'Give it a Go' trip with the Student's Union to Chatsworth. As it's getting nearer to Christmas, the house was decorated with the theme of 'Alice in Wonderland'. Whenever I've been before it's always been in the summer, so it was lovely to see it at a different time of year! This is honestly one of my all time favourite places to visit, and I'm just going to let the photos do the talking!

 If you get the chance to go to Chatsworth, whatever the time of year, I definitely would! We had a lovely day, and the weather stayed bright and dry throughout. We even had the chance to go to the farm shop which I had never been to before!
What are your favourite places to visit?

Love Jess xxx
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