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 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Pumpkin Garland

 Halloween is a mere three weeks away, and I wanted to do something a bit different for a Halloween-related post this year. For the last couple of years Tom and I have bought a pumpkin each and spent an evening carving it, but you know what? [Don't hate me here] I find carving pumpkins tiresome, icky, and what is up with that smell? It's great if you love it and if you're like Picasso with the knife, but I think because it was never really a big thing that I did as a child, I don't have that nostalgia surrounding carving pumpkins. I thought I'd make this pumpkin garland as a way to still honour the Halloween pumpkin, but without the ickiness. 

You will need:
Orange wool/yarn
Green pipe cleaners

Start by wrapping the wool around three fingers repeatedly to create a ball until you're happy with the amount of wool - obviously the more you wrap the bigger the pumpkin will be! As a rough amount you would want it wrapped round at least 100 times but when you've made a couple you'll be able to tell when it's enough. I found it easier to wrap the wool straight from the original ball rather than try to cut off a specific amount and then get it all tangled.

When you've wrapped it around enough times cut the wool from the original ball. Cut a separate piece of wool - about 10 inches - and put this through the centre of the ball that you've made (it's easier if you can put this through whilst it's still wrapped round your fingers) and then tie this in a loose knot before pulling the ball off your fingers and tightening the knot. I would then tie another knot to ensure that it's secure. 

Once you've tied your knot your wool ball will have started to resemble a pumpkin. Taking a piece of pipe cleaner, thread this under the knot you've made, twist the cleaner together so that you have a stalk, and cut to size. You will now have a pumpkin! If you find that the ball is too oblong, you can play about with pushing bits of wool into the middle until you are happy with the shape.

Using the strands of wool from the knot you made previously, you can tie this around the twine and cut off the excess wool to create the garland. Repeat this process until it is the length you want!

I enjoyed making these pumpkins a lot more than trying to carve out a real pumpkin, and as always let me know if you recreate this. I hope that you have a fab time however you choose to celebrate Halloween, whether that's just having one of those Smarties pumpkins, or if you go all out with the decorations, the costume, and the face paint!

Jess x


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Month in Photos | September

Woweeee! September has been and gone, October is here, my birthday is coming up and autumn has well and truly arrived. The end of a month can only mean one thing; a month in photos post!

1.// Tom started a new job which means I can see him at lunchtimes! 2.// We made our first roast of autumn and I'm very glad roast season is here 3.// After a slug invasion Tilly has moved to sleeping under our bed but one night she tried to claim my pillow 4.// The weather has been all over the place but it made a nice rainbow on Tilly's walk 5.// Autumn has well and truly arrived and that's fine with me as it's my favourite season, but if my cold could leave that would be grand 6.// The Student's Union has got a Krispy Kreme stand which could be my downfall 7.// Tom, Adam and I went mini golfing and I won both courses and made it onto the leaderboard as Jessica 'Kean' 8.// Tilly had her haircut so she's all schnauzery again although it made her grumpy for a while 9.// I popped that IKEA cherry and finally got to go to one - it's quite a unique place isn't it?

What did you get up to in September?

Jess x

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Four years

 This week I've been hit with a big sense of nostalgia for starting university. Four years ago on the 21st September I moved away from home for the first time to Sheffield and started my degree. I think it's crazy (in a good way!) how four years ago I moved from a small village to a massive city, and had no idea how the next four years would pan out. This would be that moment in a film where something small happens and the person then has a massive flashback as to how their life has changed since that one moment haha. I think the nostalgia has hit this week as now working at the university, I've seen all the new freshers come in this week, and that along with seeing photos on timehop every day has made me really think about the last four years.
 You would have thought that this would have happened last year when it was the first September after I graduated, but I think that although I knew it was freshers week,  because I wasn't at the university I didn't see it on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to go back to being a student and have to do it all over again, but seeing all the newly formed groups of people going round, joining societies and finding their favourite spots in Sheffield hit a soft spot. I was actually asked if I wanted to join a society the other day which was nice that they still think I look young enough to be a student! This September I've also had to say goodbye to many pals who have completed their masters and Tom's joined me in the world of work so I truly feel like I have left my student days behind me.
 In four years I have lived in three different places; lived with 9 different people, had countless opportunities and gained a myriad of pals along the way, completed a degree, moved in with Tom and Tilly and now I'm working back where it all began. I guess the point of this post is to emphasise how  a lot can change in a relatively short space of time and in ways you don't even realise it will. I had no idea on coming to university what my life would be like at the end of my degree and after - I doubt I would have thought that I would have continued to live in Sheffield after finishing my degree and I had no idea what I wanted to do career-wise as I chose to do English Literature purely because that was the subject that I enjoyed the most.
 To those of you currently at university; enjoy it. Enjoy the opportunity to find yourself away from your parents, enjoy the discounts, enjoy the lie ins, enjoy the deep drunken chats, enjoy the wealth of opportunities available to you. I wonder what life will be like four years on from today?

Jess x 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Starting a Bullet Journal

  Now I may be late onto the bullet journal bandwagon, but also I don't think a lot of people I know have a bullet journal, so maybe I'm not that late? Anyway, a while ago I decided to buy a new notebook with the intention of using it for planning out blog content etc. as I use google calendar at work, and a filofax for my personal appointments so didn't need one for those things.
 I'm not too sure how I found myself in the depths of bullet journal posts/videos but suddenly I was and I decided that I wanted to make my blogging notebook into a blogging bullet journal and this meant I could have another creative outlet where I could make tasks a bit more exciting and make them look nice. I've been using it for about a month now, so I thought I'd share with you how I've been using it, and to ask fellow bullet journal users if there's any pages they'd recommend I could include!
 I'm going off the hope that you have some idea about what a bullet journal is, but basically it's a different system for keeping on top of tasks and managing a diary, but you make it as you go along rather than filling out a preset diary. I really like the fluidity of having a bullet journal as you can have your standard pages, but then also include things like lists, or I've used mine for recipes, quizzes and keeping track of my #ourtwentysomethingautumn photo challenge from Gwennan!

  It was only after buying my notebook that I actually got into looking at bullet journal related content, and so mine's a little different as the pages are lined when in a regular bullet journal they're square or dotted - I can see how dotted would be helpful but equally I love the outside colour of my notebook and I've had no issues with using lined paper. What I would like that the standard bullet journal notebook has, is numbered pages. I cannot be bothered to go through and number every page myself, and I can see how helpful it would be to find different lists and things that aren't necessarily related to a month by finding the page number.

 I've found having pages like the future log and birthday list near the front really helpful, and I've also included a books to read page where I've drawn out a bookcase and have written in some titles I want to read, and once I've read them I'll colour them in. As someone who did an English Literature degree, my motivation to read since graduating last year has seriously been lacking and I'm hoping this will push me into reading more.

 I also have a blogpost ideas page which is so helpful for when I have those moments of inspiration of posts that I might want to write in the future but that might not be relevant at the time (e.g. autumn related posts in the summer months).
 I've seen in videos that a lot of people seem to have different trackers, whether these be expenses, mood, habits...but I found this to be too demanding as I would need to remember to fill it in every day and I would always forget and then have to try and think back to certain days; I think it's great if you do want to keep track of something specific but for me I just found it too time consuming.

 Despite using my filofax for personal appointments, I have actually found myself including them in a monthly spread as I like to see what I have coming up over the month, and it can't hurt to have a reminder in more than one place can it?
 I'm still trying to find out what the best way is for me to lay out what I need to do for my blog post schedule, so if anyone has found a way that they'd like to share I'm all ears!

 I think at the moment I'm enjoying having different kinds of lists and things all in one place that I can make look nice and I'm enjoying doing something away from a screen you know?
 I'm still getting used to using a notebook in this way and finding out what pages work well for me and which don't - if you have any blogposts on how you use a bullet journal please leave your links below; I'd love to have a nosey!

Jess x

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Month in Photos | August

 I had started this post out as a cuppa catch up post, but I don't know what it was, but there was something about the type of post that I wasn't enjoying and as this is my hobby I should be enjoying it you know? I like looking back and seeing what I've been up to, but the format of the cuppa catch up just wasn't working for me. So that being said, I'm going to try and start doing a 'month in photos' post as it's a nice visual way for you (and me!) to be able to view the month in a quick and easy way.


1//. Tilly's been very cuddly this month and seems to have suddenly turned into an old doggy who is set in her ways, despite only being five. 2//. I've spent a good few Saturday's hanging out with my bestest gal pal Lucy which has included shopping, facials, and yummy food. 3//. My wonderful friend Alice came to stay and it was like we had never been apart despite not seeing each other for over a year 4//. I was without my phone for a week at the start of the month 5//. My parents were up in their caravan and I popped over to see them and take selfies with their dog Max 6//. A flipping Domino's has opened on our local high street which could be the downfall of mine and Tom's bank balances 7//. I went back to Suffolk for a few days and we took a day trip to Cromer to see the sea - I miss the sea 8//. I love living near the Peak District but the Suffolk countryside feels so homely 9//. Whilst Tilly was being a grumpy doggy at my parents' house Max became my doggy pal


 Let me know what you thought about this format for a monthly round up; but writing it I've enjoyed it a lot more as it's more of a snapshot of the month rather than an giving an overload of detail! If you have a monthly round up in photos, or just a favourite photo of the month, I would love to see it and the short description behind it! Link me @jesslouisekeen.

Jess x 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Starting University Gift Guide

 A few weeks ago in the UK it was A-Level Results day. I can remember my results day like it was yesterday, but it also seems like a lifetime ago at the same time. I cannot believe that four years ago I found out that I was going to university and I made a big trip with my parents to The Range to buy all the supplies I would need for moving away. I have a more detailed list of the basics such as pots and pans; but today's post is around gifts that are not an essential, but would make a lovely gift for someone going off to university and I've found gifts for all budgets. Right; lets get into the selection shall we?

 If you've been a reader for a while, you'll remember that a big part of how I made my room at university homely was to have photos and artwork on my wall. Although this print from UncommonGoods* is targeted as a gift for an anniversary; I thought it would be a great gift for someone going off to university as for the majority of people it means moving away from home. I thought this would be a lovely reminder for someone that their family are only a call away if they start to feel homesick. 
 Whilst searching the site I also found this wooden duck with spotted wellies - how adorable is it? - and I thought that this wouldn't be something that the person going to university would buy themselves, but that actually it would make a good decoration and make their room in Halls that bit different. If you want to go that bit further UncommonGoods do a range of gifts that you can personalise and also have a selection of gifts for individuals graduating if you know someone at the other end of the spectrum of their degree. I really like that as a company they pride themselves on creating a positive impact in the workplace in order to create a positive impact outside the workplace; you know that you're buying a gift from some good eggs in the world. They have also created the Better to Give program which means that at the checkout you are able to select a non-profit organisation that UncommonGoods will donate $1 to - currently they have donated over $1,000,000 since starting the scheme in 2001 - so you will be able to do some good in the world too! 

 I bought myself a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 last year and it's taken me a while to get used to which settings I need in which lighting - I have a few examples of where I tried to take some photos outside on the trip Tom and I took to London back in March that are waaaaay over exposed and too bright - but I've finally managed to get the hang of it and I think this would have been great to have had from the start of my degree. If you know someone who already has one of these cameras, another gift could be a bag to carry it in - I used to just put mine in my bag but as it's white it got dirty really easily - and I bought this b-e-u-tiful bag from amazon and it's so handy as it also has a pocket at the back where you can put your photos whilst you're out snapping. Depending on your budget an alternative could be to buy some film for the camera to ensure that they have a supply ready for freshers week!

 A perfume or body spray would go down well and is one of those items that I found you only thought about once you'd moved away and realised you hadn't brought your supply from home. The Zoella Blissful Mistful is a good high street option to go for as it's nicer than the body sprays you used to overuse as a thirteen year old, but without the price tag of a perfume - obviously you can go for whichever scent/brand you like and you can tailor it to any budget.

 Another product that I found you only realised you needed once you discovered you didn't have one, is handcream/body moisturiser. I got this pot of Sleepy body lotion from Lush as a part of a gift set, and it was limited edition but I've recently seen that it's now available in the smaller size that I have, or in a whopping big pot! I've seen that people say that this has been helping them get to sleep, and to be fair it might have helped me but I'm someone who has no trouble falling asleep so I can't vouch for how good it is for those who struggle to drift off. That being said, it's a wonderfully nourishing cream with a sweet and subtle lavender scent and as it's from Lush you know that it's been freshly made and will be a lovely treat for the recipient. 

 Now everyone going to university will need a notebook and for lectures/seminars the only paper I would use were the Oxford Campus notebooks as the paper is suuuper soft and anything else felt like sandpaper in comparison; but a small notebook would be handy to keep on top of to-do lists or I always valued having an academic diary that I could take into uni to keep track of deadlines. For pretty notebooks the first place I'd check out would be paperchase as they have so many to choose from, or you'd be surprised how nice the stationary in supermarkets is now!

 Buy a mug. Everyone needs a mug. I find it's nicer to have a drink out of a mug that's pretty or that's a gift rather than one of those you've picked up for free, and somehow the drink tastes better too? Now Tom and I are in no way short in supply of mugs but when I saw this mug I had to get it as it has an illustration from Wrendale designs which is a design company that I have been in love with for years, and actually in terms of shape and thickness of china, it's such a good mug to have your morning cup of coffee from. If you're looking for a large mug I would always go for one from Cath Kidston and they always have loads of designs you can choose from.

 The final gift in this guide is a bit random, but if you're a lover of coffee then you need to try the chocolate covered coffee beans from Costa. In a previous job one of my colleagues brought these in one day and they're perfect for when you're lagging a bit in the afternoon and need a pick me up but don't necessarily want to drink a whole coffee. I think these would be perfect (in moderation guys) to get through those stints in the library or that 9am lecture after a late night.

 Woweee that was longer than I expected it to be! Now obviously these gifts could be given to anyone but I thought it would be nice to use my own experience of starting university four years ago (cry cry) as to what would have been a good gift to receive. I hope this has inspired you if you are in need of a gift for someone starting university - or if you're in need of gift ideas in general!

Jess x 

*This post is sponsored by UncommonGoods. All opinions and words are 100% honest and my own. No affiliate links have been used. For more information please see my disclaimer

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Living Without a Phone for 195 hours

  So last week I accidentally dropped my phone and to cut a long story short it ended up with me being without a phone for 1 week and 1 day - 195 hours to be exact - until the nice man at apple replaced it for me. Those who have been reading my blog for a LONG time might remember my Digital Detox post; it's safe to say that I have not kept up the detox and that I really noticed the lack of phone in my life.
 As soon as I had left my phone,  I genuinely felt a bit of anxiety over the fact that my line to the outside world had been taken away and that I didn't know how long it would be for. I never realised how dependent I actually am upon my phone. I think aside from the fact that I suddenly couldn't contact anyone - this became difficult when I was trying to arrange to meet with friends for lunch and couldn't say 'on my way' or 'where are you' - it was that I couldn't listen to my music in the car or on the walk to work/walk home and both Tom and I missed listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks at bedtime. It also made me realise how many photos I take throughout the week and I had also just reached a full year of completing my 1 second a day video.
 This sounds like such a minor problem and I know there are so many more important things going on in the world, but I wanted to write this post more to just share my thoughts on realising how reliant I am on my phone and on technology as a whole. I think having grown up with the rapid expansion of technology and social media throughout my teenage years - part of me is thankful it wasn't prominent in my childhood and that I have the memory of dial up - has had an effect on me as for the last ten years it's been a part of my life. It's so strange to think that children today will not know a life without social media and that the technology will just keep expanding. I think it's amazing what we can do and I have no idea what we'll be able to do in another ten years time.
 After a few days I had gotten used to not having a phone and having to rely on Tom setting my alarm in the morning. I was relieved to finally get a phone back but not having a phone did mean that I did a lot more scrapbooking and I started a bullet journal (of which I shall be doing a dedicated post on very soon!) The experience has taught me to be more aware about how much I use technology and how reliant I am on it and to not drop my phone again (!!!)

Jess x

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

National Trust Lyme

 Waaaaaaay back in September last year, Tom and I took a trip to Hardwick Hall after my parents sent Tom and I a free pass to go to a National Trust property. After this trip, we decided to buy a young persons membership each as it was around £30 and had we not had the free pass, our trip to Hardwick Hall would have cost about £20 so we knew we'd make our money back in no time.
 Recently we took a trip to visit Lyme - I thought my parents had gone there when they came to look after Tilly whilst we were in London but I found out afterwards it was actually somewhere else lols. Lyme is near to the Manchester area which meant that we got to drive across the north of the peaks to get there which was a wonderful way to go!
 It was a beautiful day, and the garden was especially gorgeous - as a child I always preferred the property side of places like this and used to get bored walking around the garden, but I've found that I've actually really grown to love looking around the garden - especially when it's such a glorious day outside.
 After having had weekends back to myself (and tom will soon will as well!) I love to be able to go to places like this for a day out and to get out of the house and explore somewhere new. I'm quite lucky in that there's so many places to explore nearby - other National Trust places, or going out into the peaks. I'd like to be able to go further afield out to the Yorkshire moors but this might need to be as a weekend away!

Jess x

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Crunchie Fudge

If you have never visited Jane's Patisserie before, then drop everything (once you've read my post lols) and hop on over to have a look and bookmark it straight away. My friend first introduced me to Jane's site a few months ago, and I immediately loved it - there's so many different recipes and they all look SO GOOD. I saw this Crunchie Fudge recipe a while ago, and as an avid crunchie eater (I think it might be my favourite chocolate bar?) I knew that I just had to give this a go as I love fudge, and it didn't look too hard to recreate.

I used a square brownie tin, and this made 25 squares of fudge (obviously this will change depending on how big you want your pieces of fudge to be!). I halved the recipe on Jane's website because I didn't think my tin could take much more fudge, and I'm glad I did because I think double this would have been too much for me personally, but that's up to you!

1/2 tin of condensed milk
200g milk chocolate (I used Dairy Milk as I find this melts well in a saucepan)
13.5g butter (this would be exactly half but near enough is fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
62.5g icing sugar (again near enough is fine)
150g crunchie bars

<<To make>>
Line your tin of choice with baking paper - you can rub some butter on the sides so it sticks if that's easier - personally I find that it is!
Chop up your crunchie bars into pieces - there's no need to be neat with it as it's good if the chunks are different sizes.
Chop up your milk chocolate, and put this in a saucepan along with the butter, the condensed milk and the vanilla on a low heat and continuously stir until the ingredients have all melted together. 
Turn the heat off, add in the icing sugar and stir in well! It might seem like the icing sugar isn't combining, but if you keep going you'll find it suddenly all mixes in together.
Jane's recipe says to let the mixture cool, but as I'm impatient (lols) I tipped in 2/3 of the crunchie chunks and I didn't find that the mixture went bad from being warm or anything, so it's up to you and how patient you are as to how long you wait! Stir this through and then pour into your tin.
Sprinkle on the remaining third of the crunchie chunks and press them in to ensure they stick to the mixture. Pop this into the fridge to set.
I found the mixture had set after a few hours. Once it's set you can take it out, chop up your pieces, and dig in!

Because of the high quantity of chocolate I kept my fudge in the fridge, and although it was super tasty when I first cut it up, I actually found I preferred it more the next day as the texture had becomes even more fudgey. 

When I was a student my housemates and I loved it when my dad sent me some fudge he had made as it was SO TASTY and I'm super happy that I've been able to make my own. This will definitely be a recipe that I use again and again, and if you love fudge you should definitely try this out! I'd like to use this as a base recipe and try it out with a different chocolate bar another time. Maybe even a festive one with green and red M&M's (too early?)

Jess x

Monday, 7 August 2017

Cuppa Catch Up July

 One part of me thinks July seemed to go on forever, another part is whaaaat where did July go and how is it time for a cuppa catch up already. So you know the drill; go put the kettle on, make a hot beverage, and let's have a catch up!
 July started with a week off work whilst I moved between departments, which meant that I got to spend my week with Tom and Tilly. This included walks, mini golf (I finally beat Tom at one of the rounds) and having time to relax at home! However, before I knew it, the week had come round, and it was time to start my new job (!!!)

 Below is currently the view from my desk and I love being up high enough to look over Sheffield. I've been settling in for the last few weeks and getting used to being in a different department and walking to a different building in the morning! It was a bit weird in the beginning but I'm getting used to having a new role and the different dynamics of things. Tilly had her haircut this month and I was able to pick up my completed coasters that I made last month - I'm really pleased with how they've turned out and they've come out flat so I can actually use them! 

 You may have seen on my instagram that the 27th July is a special day for me. It's the day where all the way back in 2009 Tom and I spent the day together for the first time, and it was the day where I gained a new best friend. I can't believe it's been eight years since that day - in some ways it seems like a life time ago but in others I can't believe it's been that long already. It's weird when I meet someone new and I tell them how long Tom and I have been together, as it reminds me actually how long it's been, and that it's quite uncommon for someone aged 22. I also like it though because it reminds me how grateful I am, so Tom, if you're reading (which you will at some point as I'll eventually make you) thank you for being my best friend for the last eight years. 

 Since we've come back from our holiday, we've been going to our local pub quiz every week with a few friends, and we had a stint where we won every week which meant free pizza, but a couple of weeks ago our friends were away on holiday, so it was down to Tom and I to hold down the fort. Suffice to say they seem to have made the quiz harder over the last few weeks, but in fairness to us we did pretty well! 

  Although I've been enjoying summer and don't want to wish the year away, there's a part of me that's happy it's coming to autumn as that means cosy jumpers, roast dinners and my favourite limited edition lush bath bomb being in the shops again. 

What did you get up to in July?

Jess x 
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