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 
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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
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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 
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Cupcakes
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)

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

Icing
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
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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
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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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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
Twine

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

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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
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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 
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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
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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 
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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
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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
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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
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