Saturday, 30 December 2017

Bullet Journal Set Up 2018

Hopefully you'll have seen my post in September about starting a bullet journal and after starting one mid-way through the year, I'm excited to be starting a fresh in a whole new book for 2018. My previous journal was lined, and whilst this was absolutely fine for starting out, I am definitely on the side where I want to use my journal as an artistic outlet and so this year I have gone for the cliche Leuchtturm1917 journal which is dotted. Even just from the set up I've found that the dots allow you to draw lines, and for doodles it's a lot more free and doesn't leave a massive line cutting through the image. I mentioned this in the other post, but my previous notebook did not have numbers and I'm so glad this one does as it will make it really easy to find certain spreads that I need.

Recently I've seen a lot of videos around setting up a bullet journal for the new year and so I thought I would share mine with you to hopefully provide some inspiration, and as a way for me to go through what formats I have found work for me etc. I'm fully embracing the bullet journal as a way of keeping track of what I have going on, as since my previous post my filofax snap broke and so this now holds information on all aspects of my life in one place.

I've kept the 'Books to Read' spread as one of my goals for next year is to read one book a month. As a English Lit student I used to read so much and although it's great that I can now read whatever I like, I think it's one of those scenarios where you have too much choice you know? I miss being told what to read and discovering new gems of literature that I wouldn't have chosen whilst walking into the bookshop. If you have any recommendations for books that you love and couldn't put down whilst you were reading them I'm all ears as I would like to read a range throughout the year. Alongside this I have created a 'Places Travelled' spread to keep a track of the different days out or trips that Tom and I take throughout the year.

For Christmas I asked for some new felt tips that I could use for my bullet journal, and I was lucky enough to be gifted with a set of 50 Crayola Super Tips. As a nice visual and a way to test out the different colours, I drew a thick/thin line of each colour on a page, as well as sticking different washi tapes in that I have. Obviously this could be done with any material and at any time of the year, but I think this type of page will be great for inspiration for designing throughout the year. 

As my filofax is no longer in use, for the 'future log' I have drawn out a month to a page and can refer to these throughout the year when booking events, or for putting reminders of things that need renewing in a certain month. On each calendar I have drawn a balloon on each date when there is a birthday, and have put details of these and any other information below the calendar.

Something I want to do this year is have a title page for each month and I'm going to work out what the best way is for me to draw out each week of the month. For January I've gone with splitting one page into weekdays, and then on the other page after the weekend I have left a section for our food shopping list for that week. I'm not sure how much I'll use the weekday spread as whilst I'm at work everything I need to do is on google calendar/on a notepad I keep at work. I don't know in future months if it will become more of a week to one page spread and then have a to-do list/shopping list on another page. What's the best way you have found in your journal to write out the weekly spreads?

At the moment that's all that is in my bullet journal and how I do things will change throughout the year but I hope this has provided some inspiration for your journals! If you have any posts on setting up a bullet journal or any examples of spreads you find particularly useful please link them in the comments. I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops throughout the year and having a record of the year to look at come this time next year.

As this is my last post of 2017, thank you to everyone for all of your support and for continuing to read my ramblings - bring on 2018!

Jess x 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The most festive week

Wowee how did it become Christmas Eve Eve already? (Yes Tom that is a thing). As it's so close to the time where the big man Father Christmas visits, I thought I would get another festive post in whilst I can until next year! I always think the run up to Christmas Day is the most exciting part, and Christmas Eve is my favourite day (excited yet sad it's already tomorrow!). I can't remember how close to Christmas Day school used to finish, but at uni term would always finish the weekend before and so it was weird last year to be working right up to the 23rd. Back in the summer I saw a video of someone going to Edinburgh at Christmas, and so after asking Tom nicely if we could go, I booked the time off work and booked our trip away. It was wonderful to finish work for 2017 on the 15th, and Edinburgh did not disappoint. As we were going further up north we went via Durham to visit Tom's brother Lewis who is at uni there, and this was really lovely as we hadn't been to Durham in a couple of years.
 We stayed overnight in Durham before making our way to Edinburgh. I had been once before when I was a lot younger, and Tom had never been before so it wasn't a familiar city to either of us. Funnily enough I realised that we were staying in the same hotel as I had previously stayed in with my parents, and we think Sheffield is hilly but Edinburgh is on another scale. Following google maps to our hotel we had to walk up about 200 steps (sorry you had to carry both suitcases Tom) but we eventually made it and as we arrived late afternoon we went to see the new Star Wars at the cinema. If you've been a reader for a while you'll know how much of a curry lover I am - I think I have found my new favourite Indian restaurant (called Bombay Bicycle Club, and yes I did make Tom go there because of the name) and I'm gutted that it's 4 hours away from Sheffield so I can't just pop there next time I fancy a curry.

We spent our time walking around and exploring (we were going to go on the sightseeing bus and go in the castle but both were an extortionate price) and ended up walking about 20 miles over two days. This included going to find the real life (though technically dead) Tom Riddle in the Greyfriars churchyard as rumour has it this grave inspired JK Rowling for her Tom Riddle; going around the Christmas Market, thoroughly enjoying a chip on a stick, having a go at the Christmas tree maze, and going to the National Museum of Scotland. 

The festivities did not stop in Edinburgh though, as on returning home we took our annual trip to Chatsworth to see the house decorated in this years theme 'Oh Dickens it's Christmas!'. Normally we go during the first weekend of December so it was weird going three days before the day, but it was as fab as always and we're getting a lot better at navigating the maze! 

I have felt very festive this week and I'd like to make a Christmas getaway more of an annual thing (though not for actual Christmas) - what are your favourite places to visit in the run up to Christmas that I can add to my list? I hope this has added to your festive feeling and I would highly recommend a visit to Edinburgh or Chatsworth at this time of year (get planning for next year!). As this will be my last post before Christmas Day, I hope you have a wonderful one and see you next week for my Bullet Journal set up for 2018!

Jess x 


Saturday, 16 December 2017

Christmas Shoeboxes

I feel incredibly lucky that Christmas has always been a happy time for me and not a time of worry or stress, as I know that this is not the reality for a lot of people around the world. I was at the Student's Union the other day and I saw that they're collecting shoeboxes for the homeless in the area and I thought this was a really good idea and one that I wanted to get involved in. Previously I've made a shoebox for someone in need in another country, and I'm happy that this format has become local to my community. They had separate lists dependent on who would be receiving the box, which was helpful as sometimes what you want to donate isn't always what is required, and so I knew that what I chose from the list would be much appreciated.

I chose to make a box for a dog, which included:
- Christmas Dinner selection food trays
- Two Jumbone chews
- A pack of Dentastix
- A pack of poo bags
- A rope toy

I don't know if this is something that's nation-wide, but I'd have a look on google to see if there's any charities collecting shoeboxes nearby. There's loads of other ways you can get involved aside from making a shoebox, such as donating to a foodbank, donating your time, or having a big clear out before Christmas and taking any unwanted items to a local charity shop.

Christmas has always been my most favourite time of the year, and if I can do something to make someone else's Christmas an enjoyable one then I'm all for that. A bit of time and effort on your part can make a massive impact on someone else. It would be great if you could leave other ideas in the comments so that I, and everyone reading this post, can get involved in one way or another.

Jess x 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Month in Photos | November

How has it been a week of December already? You know the drill by now, end of the month = round up of the month. So let's get on with it so you can go back to your Christmas films ok?

1.//The sky continued to be beautiful this month despite the rain at times 2.//Lucy surprised me by taking me pottery painting as my birthday present 3.//Animal Crossing Pocket Camp came out which is amazing but where's Tom Nook? 4.//Our old housemate Adam came to stay and he and Tilly finally became pals 5.//Tom and I went to see Scouting for Girls and I felt 15 again 6.//My parents have moved and I've been reunited with them and Max 7.//Even at the age of 23 I still felt the fear of Father Christmas walking around the garden centre 8.//Tom and Tilly have been as cute as always 9.//Speaking of garden centres, our local one had an AMAZING selection of Christmas bits, without a scary Father Christmas

I can't believe the next one of these will be my last one of 2017! What did you get up to in November?

Jess x

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

Now I don't know about you, but one thing that gets me super excited for Christmas is the music. You can be sure that I'll be blaring out the tunes on repeat in December to the point that I'm glad I don't have to listen to them again for another year once Christmas Day has been and gone. I always ask Tom not to hum a Christmas tune unless it's at least Autumn as it will make me too excited haha. Because Christmas is big deal to me and with that the music, I always love to find out what everyone's number one Christmas song is. December is merely a few days away and so I wanted to share with you my top songs for the season to get you in the mood and possibly add some new bangers to your Christmas playlist.

**These are merely in alphabetical order not preference order - these are also the versions that I prefer and so they're not necessarily the original**

A Spaceman Came Travelling - Chris De Burgh
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Michael Buble
Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End) - The Darkness
Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty McColl
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Nat King Cole
Here We Come A Caroling - Disney
Holly Jolly Christmas - Michael Buble
I Believe in Father Christmas - Greg Lake
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Andy WIlliams
Last Christmas - Wham!
Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys
Merry Christmas Everyone - Shakin' Stevens
Mistletoe and Wine - Cliff Richard
Santa Claus is Coming To Town - Jackson 5
Sleigh Ride - Disney
Stay Another Day - East 17 
Step into Christmas - Elton John
One More Sleep 'Til Christmas - The Muppets
Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney
Up On the Housetop - Disney

I hope you agreed with some of my choices... I would love to know yours! 

Jess x 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Tanya's Christmas

December is next week; it's raining outside, I've got a cup of tea, and I've just finished reading Tanya Burr's new release Tanya's Christmas. If you there's one thing you should know about me; it's how much I get into Christmas - as a child I think I once sent a letter to Father Christmas in May! Around 2012 I started to get 'into' watching YouTube, and I love the content this time of year - especially Vlogmas and seeing everyone's run up to the day as this is the best part! One whose Vlogmas I always watch without fail is Tanya's because she gets into the season just as much as I do. When I saw that she was a releasing a book all about Christmas I knew that I had to preorder it, especially as I love using recipes from Tanya Bakes so much. That all being said; it's not like you need to have watched Tanya's YouTube channel or read her blog to be able to enjoy this book; just a love of Christmas!

The book is beautifully presented and you get enough inspiration from looking at the photos alone. The book follows ideas of how to prepare for the season, through to the big day (including a timed Christmas Dinner schedule) and goes up until new year's day. It's split into seven chapters that cover gifting, baking, crafting, how to throw the perfect Christmas party...there's a great variety and it manages to encapsulate a range of topics that make up Christmas. What I really liked was how when you reach the chapter about Christmas Day there's hints to different crafts or recipes that have been in previous chapters which wraps the book together well. I've found a lot of ideas that I want to try out and I know this will be a book that I will return to in future years. I like that you can dip in and out as you like, and could read it in any order (although there's still something that makes me uncomfortable about doing this the first time round so I did read it in order), and that it not only covers things you can do for yourself and your family, but also your doggy.

To be a blogger cliche, this would make a great coffee table book (not that I keep any books on my coffee table as it's not big enough lols) and this would be great for visitors to flick through at this time of the year. It would make a good Christmas present but I think ideally you want to have it at the start of December - maybe as the first gift in your advent calendar treasure hunt - so you've got time to a. read it, and b. be able to use some of the tips or recipes this year. I'm looking forward to trying out some of the ideas in this book and will definitely feed back how they go! (I especially like the look of those Moscow Mules).

I'd love any recommendations you have for books that you like to read at this time of year to make you feel festive - I definitely need to get back into reading (more on this soon) and with it getting darker earlier and I'm going away later in the month (which will involve a long train journey) I'm looking for something new to read!

Jess x

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Advent Calendar Treasure Hunt

 Look. I know it's only November, but December is under 6 weeks away and this is something that you need a bit of time to do as you need it ready for the 1st! This year just to take enjoying the run up to Christmas to another level, I've created an advent calendar treasure hunt for Tom (all the girlfriend points to me plz). I think this is a great way to be creative in a different way (it's hard trying to think up 24 rhymes for clues on finding places!) and it can be done on any budget and for any person. 

 I've told Tom he's not allowed to read this post so no spoilers to him please, but I've bought him a gift for the 1st, and then for the other days I'm going to hide a chocolate coin. Aside from the fact I have Tilly and so couldn't hide all the chocolate for the month, I think because obviously the person will be going about their day in your house, it's best to hide the chocolate/gift one day at a time. It's good to plan all the days out in advance and write down where the hiding place needs to be so you can refer to it throughout the month - coming up with clues can be tricky but it means you can get creative and throw a few funny ones in there. Obviously it's up to you, but I've tied some of the clues in with things that we have planned throughout the month, and thought about the different places we'll be and where I can hide the chocolate coin there. 

 To create my treasure hunt, I bought 12 sheets of A6 card and 12 envelopes and I cut both of these in half. With the envelopes, I stuck them down before cutting them in half so that you have to take the card out landscape way where you've made the cut, rather than having to actually open the envelope.  I also know Tom opens envelopes by completely tearing them apart and so being able to just take the card out will be a lot less messy and will mean that he can peg the message over the envelope when he's found the coin. Before the 1st I'm going to stick some ribbon or twine along our DVD bookcases (this is in place of a mantelpiece as we do not have one lols) and I'm going to peg each of the days along this and then Tom will be able to peg it back up with the message once he's completed that day.  I thought it would be a lot nicer to actually see the clue hung back up again rather than put it in the bin, and this will become a Christmas decoration in itself.
 This is such a versatile make that every one made will be different, and once you've thought of the hiding places and clues, the actual creation of it doesn't take very long! I would love to see if you create one or and please tell me who you would make one for and what you would hide!

Jess x

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Month in Photos | October

1.//Halloween came and went, along with this pumpkin garland 2.//I bought a super cosy duvet cover and Tilly loved it too! 3.//The beautiful autumn colours came out 4.//My mum came to stay the weekend before my birthday which involved IKEA; Meadowhall, going to the theatre, and lots of food 5.//I took Lucy to Derwent Valley for a walk with Tilly and it reminded me that I need to go out into the Peaks more often 6.//Tom and I had an appointment at the dentist so Tom decided to clean his teeth as we walked along the road 7.//I turned 23 and took a trip to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park where I saw a Polar Bear and was very happy with how much space the animals had and what the park is doing to help conserve them 8.//We were brave and let Tilly off the lead and she didn't run away 9.//My instagram became filled with picture of all the beautiful skies I saw throughout the month

Where oh where has November suddenly appeared from? (Not long until C Day now!)

Jess x

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Apple Crumble Cupcakes

 One of the first things I learnt to make in food tech in middle school (aside from how to put milk and milkshake powder together - although I'm not really sure how that's 'cooking'?) was an apple crumble and this was something I would make for my parents and grandparents. This was also a dessert that wasn't chocolate that I actually enjoyed!
 That being said I haven't made a crumble in years, but when I saw a recipe for apple crumble cupcakes I just knew I had to try them, especially as we are fully into autumn. I'll be honest, these do take quite a while to make as there's lots of bits to it that you need to do, and to make this recipe quicker I'd actually leave out the crumble bit and have them as apple cupcakes - for me the autumnal taste comes from the mix of cinnamon and apple together and the crumble is an added extra.

2 eggs
230g self raising flour
155g sugar
125g butter
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
Apples (this depends on how many you want but I used two)

75g golden caster sugar
100g butter
140g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
75 g soft brown sugar
150g butter
300g icing sugar
2 tbsp milk

<<To make>>

Peel, core and chop apples into small cubes.
Place in a saucepan and cover with hot water, simmer for 5 - 7 minutes until soft and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180-200C (the recipe said 170 but I baked them on gas mark 6 as I knew they wouldn't cook quickly any lower and apparently this is equivalent to 200C - go with what you know your oven works best on)
For the cupcakes, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy; then add the eggs and vanilla and mix together.
Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and gently mix together until combined.
Fold in the apple mix and spoon into cupcake cases.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the mixture springs back (in my oven they actually took about 25)

Whilst the cupcakes are baking, you can make the crumble mix and then put this in the oven with the cupcakes.
Rub together the butter, flour, cinnamon, vanilla to a breadcrumb consistency, and then stir in the sugar.
Bake on a lined baking tray for 5 - 10 minutes until golden.

Leave the cupcakes and crumble mixture to cool.

Once they have both cooled, it's time to make the icing. The recipe I followed put some icing on the cupcakes, then a crumble layer and then they piped on some more icing but I am not gifted in the piped icing skill and so another time I would make less icing and miss out the top icing layer.

Beat together the butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.
Add in the icing sugar a bit at a time and add some milk if necessary.

Put a small amount of icing on top of each cupcake, and then add some crumble to the top. I found it was easiest to do this by putting the crumble mix in a bowl, and dunking the cupcake in to make them stick to the icing. You can then add an extra swirl of icing (if you have the skill to) and sprinkle a few more crumble bits on and they're ready to eat!

Jess x

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

23 Things

Tomorrow I will be turning 23, and to mark the occasion I thought I would round up 23 things that I have learnt before turning 23. Now obviously I've learnt a lot more than this but I thought this would be a fun post to make and to see if you agree with me!

1. I love to travel and to have trips planned to look forward to - Tom and I will never be out backpacking around Thailand, but we love exploring new places.

2. To make the perfect cup of tea, put in the teabag and hot water before the milk. Can't go amiss with a biscuit either.

3. Your bedroom should be a safe haven and there's nothing better than fresh sheets and fresh jammies.

4. Christmas is my favourite time of the year and I hope that the excitement I feel every year never leaves me.

5. I like to spend time with people, but I also enjoy my own company and sometimes need an evening by myself to recharge by watching YouTube, having a bath and chilling out.

6.You can fall in love at a young age. At the age of 15 I doubt many people really believed that I loved Tom, and would have put it down to hormones or something, but I can't imagine what the last 7 years would have been like without him by my side.

7. At school you think that you need loads and loads of friends, but it's so much better having a group of bestest friends that you know you can always rely on to make you cry with laughter.

8. I LOVE having a dog in the house and I thoroughly like to spoil Tilly.

9. I really enjoy 'trashy' TV - I even got Tom into watching Coach Trip to Zante and I really enjoyed Made in Chelsea until all of the original cast left. Sometime it's good to be able to watch something that doesn't take much thought and just zone out for half an hour.

10. Family means a lot to me. I love watching old home videos and I've taken the time to make my own of different trips Tom and I make together.

11. I can keep house plants alive but plants in the garden are a bit hit and miss.

12. I go through phases of eating something all the time and become obsessed with it, but I then reach the point where I've had too much of it and don't eat it for months.

13. I love eating berries but I cannot stand anything that's berry scented.

14. I've been a victim of fads - why was it in fashion to have thin eyebrows? I'm still trying to grow mine back.

15. You should be proud of what you like and don't change or pretend to like something just to impress someone else.

16. I don't think I'll ever be able to over watch Harry Potter.

17. How good is it when you buy a dress or skirt and then finding out it has pockets.

18. When people ask the question, 'what one food could you not live without?' my answer will always be cake.

19. You can never have too many jumpers or blankets.

20. FRIENDS will never not make me laugh out loud.

21. Take the time to find out what you enjoy doing, and ensure that you make time to do something you enjoy during the week.

22. You should always try out new things, whether that be food, an activity or a new TV programme.

23. You should look after your skin, because as skincare guru Caroline Hirons says, you only get one face in life.

All gifs are sourced from Giphy.

I've enjoyed being 22 and I'm looking forward to seeing what 23 brings.

Jess x

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Perfect Autumn Coat

*FYI this is not a sponsored post I just really love this coat. 

I had been on the hunt for a coat that was warm but not a full on winter coat and would see me through the autumn weather.  I decided I wanted a knitted looking coat with a faux fur collar, but after searching for absolutely ages, do you think I could find one that I liked? 

Eventually I managed to find this coat from Pull & Bear, which was a company I had heard of but I had never bought anything from before. There was the dark grey one that I went for, or they had a lighter grey version. When I found it I thought all my coat dreams had come true. It was only then that I discovered they didn't have my size in stock for this colour and I didn't want to settle for the lighter version. After days of checking to see if it had come back into stock in my size, it eventually did! I was then worried that because I had been after it for so long that it would be a disappointment when I received it but I was anything but disappointed. 

After picking it up from the post office and opening it when I got home, I knew instantly that I was going to keep it. Oh my it's literally like putting a dressing gown on but being able to get away with wearing it outside. The collar and the cuffs of the sleeves are super soft and cosy, and I like that you can fold the cuffs over to show the fleecey bit if you want, or you can fold them down and keep your hands nice and toasty. The actual coat is a lot thinner than the fleecey bit so it's not overwhelmingly warm and is great to wear with jumpers.

My go to outfit with this coat has been a pair of Topshop Jamie Jeans, a burnt orange/copper jumper from M&S, my big blanket scarf from amazon, and my Nike trainers. You know that I love autumn and I especially love those days where the sun is shining, you can wrap up warm and go for a walk in the countryside, and this coat is a fab addition.

Jess x 
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