Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Twelve posts of Christmas #7 - My Christmas party dresses

I can't believe it's already 29th December... why do good times go so quickly? As you'll have read in my Christmas Plans blog post, the last week has been packed full of lovely experiences with family and friends. It's also been packed with an insane amount of food, but that's another story (and another blog post).

I thought I'd focus my seventh post of Christmas on the dresses I've worn this month for various festive occasions. Everyone loves an occasion to wear/buy a new dress, right? Also, after all the aforementioned food, I might not be fitting back into these dresses for a while so it's probably best to make the most of them...

I wore this dress to Neil's work Christmas party at the beginning of December. Although they're not very clear in the picture, the dress is covered with glitzy black sequins and has a pretty lace overlay. The belt brings the dress in nicely at the waist which is the exact shape I like. It's from New Look (just like everything else I ever wear) and I bought it from last year's Christmas party range.

I wore this dress to my own work Christmas party as I wanted a change of colour - I ALWAYS wear black dresses on special occasions. It's lacy, it's a fit and flare shape, it has pretty sleeves... everything I like in a dress! I bought this dress in a New Look discount event before Christmas, and it's now discounted even further.

And lastly, I wore this dress on Christmas Day... another one from New Look. Although I look slightly deranged in this photo and the lighting is a bit odd, I absolutely love this dress. The subtle pleats ensure that it's a very full skirt and the monochrome element makes it look more striking than your average black dress. 

I also love the accessories I wore to all my Christmas occasions - again, all from New Look! The black accessories were bought last year and the silver bag is now out of stock, but you can find the sparkly shoes here

What dresses did you wear over the festive period? Let me know if you've blogged about them, I love reading about other people's outfit choices!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Twelve posts of Christmas #6 - My favourite Christmas decoration

So, at the time of publishing this blog post, Christmas is over for another year! However, at the time of writing, Christmas was well and truly on its way.

Yes, this post is scheduled. After reading my Christmas Plans post, you'll realise that I won't have much time to blog during Christmas week so I've been preparing posts in advance because I'm a freakishly organised individual.

I've already blogged about our Christmas tree, but I wanted to write a separate blog post on my favourite stand alone Christmas decoration. I fell in love with this decoration as soon as I saw it at a Disney outlet store in September, so we brought it back from Florida with us. It cost a measly 20 dollars! I think you'll agree that it deserves a blog post all to itself...

It looks so beautiful on our fireplace and I'm so happy with the quality of it. It's difficult to tell from the photo but it's all pretty and glittery, and the detail on it is phenomenal. I'd expect nothing less from a Disney product, of course. 

We've received lots of Christmas cards up since putting up our decorations, so my card from Neil is now sitting proudly next to my favourite decoration!

Do you have a favourite Christmas decoration? Is yours also Disney themed? Let me know!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Twelve posts of Christmas #5 - Christmas plans!

Just one sleep to go!

I'm so excited about our plans for this Christmas. My Christmasses have always lasted about a week and a half because I'm a festive fiend, but the Christmas period is extended even further now that we're married and visit both sets of families and friends over Christmas.

The fun starts on Christmas Eve... Christmas Eve has always been one of my favourite days of the festive period. This will be the first Christmas Eve I'll have spent away from my parents' house, so Neil and I have lots of plans to make sure it's a special one. We'll open our presents from each other as well as eating festive snacks and watching a cosy film which is yet to be decided. I'd usually watch Santa Claus The Movie on Christmas Eve with my family but I might not subject Neil to that again this year... I think it's essential to have watched the film from a young age to truly appreciate it!

This year, we're spending Christmas Day with Neil's parents and sister. They live around the corner from us so we'll walk over with our many bags of presents early on Christmas morning. I had an idyllic vision of walking to their house on a crisps and frosty Christmas morning, but it looks as if it'll be pouring with rain! We're going out for food in the afternoon at Miller and Carter which I've never done before on Christmas Day, so it'll be a really unique experience. My in-laws also have two dogs and a cat so there'll be lots of extra festive excitement which I won't have experienced before. I'm excited about sharing Christmas Day with my in-laws and sharing in all their Christmas traditions, and I'm also excited about the food (surprise, surprise)!

On Boxing Day, we're travelling to West Wales for a second Christmas Day with my parents and my brother. We'll all open our presents when we arrive, then we'll sit down for Christmas dinner followed by a few films and (most likely) lots of chocolate and mince pies. I don't see my family very often so I can't wait to catch up and slip back into our old Christmas routines. If it's anything like old times, we'll spend the evening playing with / reading / watching the Christmas presents we've had so far!

Most people sleep the day after Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but we'll be continuing the catching up with a visit to my friend's house to exchange Christmas gifts. I'm incredibly excited about the present I've bought for her, and a blog post will probably follow on it. It's THAT good. Neil and I will most likely have a night in after we get back to Penarth, but that might still change... so many people to see!

On the 28th, Neil and I will be having a day in with our very own Christmas dinner and a chance to catch up on all our Christmas presents. I'm hoping to have a colossal lie in and a relaxing day in my pyjamas with our Christmas tree lights. I'm also envisaging eating lots of Pringles, if I'm not sick of them by then. Actually, scrap that... I'll never be sick of Pringles.

The morning after our quiet day in, we'll be driving back to West Wales to see my sister, her husband and my two nephews as they'll be staying at my parents' house for a few days. Cue yet another present exchanging spree... I can't wait to see my nephew's little faces when we give them their presents! Our second day at my parents' house will almost definitely consist of more eating and more films as the two just go so perfectly together.

I'll be seeing more friends the day after, then we'll finish the year with a meal at the Mint and Mustard with Neil's parents and sister on New Year's Eve. I'm not usually a big fan of NYE and don't enjoy spending it out in town with crowds of people, so going out for a nice meal will be a welcome change.

After all that, I think I'll be asleep for most of New Year's Day!

What are your plans over Christmas?

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Twelve posts of Christmas #4 - Christmas candles

I can't believe I'm already on my fourth Christmas post... time is flying and there are only three sleeps to go!

I'm fairly obsessed with Yankee candles and they've got some lovely Christmas specialities, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites with you as part of my Christmas series.

I had a couple of Christmas candles from Neil this time last year and I saved Christmas Treats for the beginning of December. This candle is a little sweeter than the ones I usually buy but it smells lovely - a mouth-watering mixture of vanilla frosting and shortbread. These large candles always last us well over a month, and this one made the living room look extra cosy as well as making the house smell of food. This can never be a bad thing.

On to the next featured candle... Rainwashed Berry isn't strictly a Christmas candle but I always have a jar ready for the Christmas season. It's my absolute favourite Yankee candle and it's probably the strongest smelling candle of the lot. Although it's marketed as a burst of summer berries, I think the scent is better suited to the winter as it's so warm, cosy and inviting.

And lastly for this year, we bought ourselves the amazing Savour the Season a few months ago as soon as Asda started stocking the Christmas range. I can't even explain how good this candle smells. It's Christmas in a jar! It has a strong smell of cinnamon with a bit of cookie dough thrown in... a combination of two of my favourite scents. Coincidentally, it goes perfectly with a glass of mulled wine. 

We also bought a pretty tea light holder from the Yankee Candle shop in Bath last year which is brightening up our fireplace. It looks so pretty when coupled with our large Yankee Candle of choice - candles make every dark and dreary winter night a bit brighter!

What's your favourite Christmas candle?

Friday, 18 December 2015

Twelve posts of Christmas #3 - My advent calendar

A lot of people stop buying advent calendars when they move away from home. Not me!

1st December has always been my third favourite day of the year (behind Christmas Day and my birthday, obviously). It's the day when I can officially start eating chocolate every morning for 24/25 days and, more importantly, it's when the official Christmas countdown starts.

I usually go for some kind of Disney-themed advent calendar so I thought I'd have a change this year with a Maltesers 'Merryteaser' calendar.

There's a piece of moulded chocolate behind every door rather than an actual malteser, but the chocolate tastes like Maltesers rather than cheapy advent calendar chocolate. I'm generally happy to put up with the cheapy chocolate as it's all part of the experience, but having a better quality chocolate is a bonus! Each chocolate is vaguely shaped into some kind of Christmassy symbol, but I usually eat it too quickly to take any notice of what it represents. 

There's also a Christmas joke behind each advent calendar door. I won't lie to you... they're not good. 

I obviously instagrammed my calendar when there were two weeks to go until the big day, and I'll almost certainly be instagramming again once I get to the 24th and get to sample my mini reindeer. 

Do you still love advent calendars? Which one did you buy this year?

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Twelve posts of Christmas #2 - Favourite Christmas films

One of my favourite things about the Christmas period is snuggling up with the Christmas tree lights on and watching a Christmas film (or several Christmas films). I also have an annual ritual where I sit and wrap presents while watching a festive film and eating a big bag of crisps... I'm definitely a creature of habit.

I thought I'd list my top ten Christmas films as part of my 'twelve posts of Christmas' series. Do you agree with any of my choices below, or do you have any to add?

1. Santa Claus the Movie
This is my favourite Christmas film of all time and, for me, it's totally synonymous with all things Christmas. For as long as I can remember, my brother and I have watched this film on Christmas Eve with a load of festive snacks. It's wonderfully old fashioned and unintentionally hilarious, and it'll ALWAYS be my favourite Christmas film.

2. Home Alone
I must have seen this film about fifty times and it never gets old. I always wanted to live in Kevin's house when I was younger and now I just wonder how much their mortgage must be, but that doesn't make the film any less appealing. I love the plot, love the soundtrack, love the acting, love the setting... what's not to love? 'Why are you dressed like a chicken?'

3. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Yes, Home Alone 2 deserves its own separate entry. Although I marginally prefer the first instalment, Home Alone 2 comes a very close second. I love the Christmassy New York scenes, not to mention the fact that the two burglars should definitely have been killed by Kevin's antics at least five times each by the end of the film.

4. Miracle on 34th Street
This film makes me well up (several times) every time I watch it. Such a traditional film which is heart wrenching at times, and with a lovable non-tacky Santa Claus as a bonus. The ridiculously far fetched ending makes me love it even more!

5. Nightmare before Christmas
I'm never sure if this film should be classed as a Halloween film or a Christmas film, so I always watch it in between the two. It's such a clever film with an excellent soundtrack, beautiful imagery and imaginative characters. 'What's this? What's this? There's colour everywhere!'

6. The Santa Clause
I haven't watched this one as many times as the top three but it still makes my top ten. I love the fact that the opening scenes are a lot more authentic than other Christmas films... everyone can relate to ruining the Christmas dinner! This was one of the first films I ever saw in the cinema and I'll always remember laughing hysterically when Santa fell off the roof!

7. Muppet Christmas Carol
So much love for this film... another one I used to watch with my family from a very early age. We have a lot of in-moments we love about this film which no one else will be able to fathom, such as 'squashed baby face' and 'Spirit? Yes? Nothing'. Ahhh, good times!

8. Arthur Christmas
The newest film on the list, but definitely worthy of a place in the top ten. My husband and I saw this film in the cinema a few years ago and immediately fell in love with it. Although some of the the old films can never be beaten, it's good to see that lovely Christmas films with a bit of longevity are still being made.

9. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Although I must admit that I haven't seen this film for about fifteen years, it used to be a Christmas staple when I was younger. I remember finding the whole thing totally hilarious and I eventually wore out the video tape on which it was recorded!

10. The Holiday
Not strictly a Christmas film in the same sense as the others, but it takes place at Christmas so I'm sneaking it in at number ten. This is definitely a feel-good film which always makes me feel cosy and Christmassy... it also initially makes me think a house swap might be a good idea (for about ten minutes).

What's your favourite Christmas film?

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Twelve posts of Christmas #1 - Our Christmas tree

Although I've barely blogged for the last few months due to being insanely busy, I'm going to attempt to publish twelve posts over Christmas. There are so many Christmassy topics to blog about and I'll have a few weeks off work, so it should hopefully be an easy goal!

I thought I'd start with something I'm extremely excited about... our new Christmas tree. We bought a very basic tree last year as we were short of money after buying a house and getting married within a few months (I wouldn't recommend it!), so this year we decided to treat ourselves to a nicer pre-lit tree. We learnt our lesson last year as it was very stressful trying to string flimsy lights evenly around a 7 foot tree!

We went for a 6 foot tree this time with frosted branches and decorative pine cones, and I absolutely love it.

The white lights are so pretty and understated and they really show off the beautiful decorative branches. Some of the frosted tips are white and others are silver and glittery... I'm just in love with every aspect of this tree! 

We've built up a decent collection of Disney baubles so far between Cardiff's Disney Store, Disneyland Paris and Florida's Walt Disney World. They make the tree look extra special and magical.... who doesn't love a Disney Christmas? 

Without a doubt, my favourite Disney bauble is the one pictured below which we (carefully) brought back from Florida this year. Isn't it beautiful? 

Our plain red, turquoise and purple baubles fill in all the gaps, as well as our silver snowflakes. I'm hoping that we'll eventually have enough Disney baubles to fill the whole tree, but for now I think the plain baubles complement our Disney treasures nicely.

I love coming home from work after a long day, putting on my Christmas onesie then settling down on the sofa next to the Christmas tree. It makes the living room look so festive and cosy and I'm already dreading the moment when we'll have to take it down. Can't it just be Christmas in my house all year round?

Have you blogged about your Christmas tree? Send me your links, I love having a nose at everyone else's Christmas decorations!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Favourite wedding suppliers #5 - Fabulous Welshcakes

Yes, I realise that this is a ridiculously delayed blog post... I got married 15 months ago! However, I ate a welshcake from the lovely Fabulous Welshcakes a few days ago which reminded me that I still hadn't got around to blogging about our beautiful wedding favours.

We spotted a Fabulous Welshcakes stand at a wedding fayre fairly early on in the planning process and decided (after eating too many samples) that welshcake favours would work really well at our wedding. I arranged everything by email with Jo at Fabulous Welshcakes and all my questions were dealt with quickly and efficiently. We decided to go for a sealed bag of three heart-shaped welshcakes for each guest, with three different flavours - traditional, lemon and white chocolate, and dark chocolate and orange. We also ordered gluten free favours for our guests with dietary requirements - nothing was too much trouble for Fabulous Welshcakes.

We collected our favours from the Cardiff Bay store the day before the wedding and took them home to tie on the ribbons. Although Fabulous Welshcakes offered the option of supplying and tying the ribbon themselves, our colour theme was very specific so we sourced the ribbon ourselves. We did have a 'wedding panic' moment when we ran out of ribbon halfway through tying the favours, but luckily we found an identical shade in Cardiff Market!

Our favours looked beautiful on the day and everyone commented that they were a nice touch and something very different (and very Welsh!). Most importantly, they tasted amazing.

I'm now craving a welshcake... why isn't Fabulous Welshcakes open at 6pm on a Sunday evening?

Sunday, 1 November 2015

My Pandora discovery

I've recently discovered the wonder of Pandora... I know, I'm very late to the party!

My Pandora story started back in June. I wanted a nice bracelet for my birthday which I could wear on special occasions, and I decided that a Pandora bracelet would be a good option as I could keep adding charms to it whenever I fancied a change. A Pandora bracelet is also the gift that keeps on giving as family and friends can continue to buy Pandora additions for special occasions (not that I'm hinting here, of course).

As you're about to find out, one bracelet turned in to many more Pandora goodies...

The love affair started after my birthday in June when I bought my very first bracelet and charm with my birthday money. There were two types of charm bracelets available so I went with the pretty bangle type along with a sparkly 'B' charm to start me off.

Neil bought me another charm for my birthday a few days later... then there were two! I'm a big fan of stars so it seemed an obvious choice for my second charm. 

A few months down the line, after bestowing much adoration on my bracelet and its charms, I decided that I'd actually prefer to keep my charms on the classic charm bracelet and wear the bangle on its own. Cue the purchase of my new bracelet! This bracelet was my present to myself after achieving a promotion in work, and I bought a cute little daisy spacer to go with it. I thought I'd go for the heart shaped clasp rather than the traditional barrel clasp as it was a little bit different. My love for Pandora was definitely growing (and costing me more money)! 

As you'll already know if you're an avid reader of my blog, we travelled to Florida's Walt Disney World in September. I was extremely excited about the shopping possibilities as I knew there'd be plenty of beautiful Disney Pandora charms available at the Disney parks. After a LOT of deliberation, I decided to go for a Mickey Mouse pendant charm and a Walt Disney World ball charm. The ball just seemed like the ultimate Disney souvenir for my bracelet and I was smitten as soon as I saw it. 

I now had five charms on my bracelet. They were all moving around of their own accord and gathering next to the clasp, so I decided to buy a couple of clips to keep all the charms together as well as to keep them safe. Although I initially thought I wanted clips in the same shape and size as the Walt Disney World charm, I really liked the smaller Firework clips when they were suggested by the super friendly store assistant. My bracelet finally looked tidy and symmetrical, and there was no longer any danger of losing my precious charms! 

I promised myself that I wouldn't buy myself another Pandora charm until after Christmas... then I started looking at Pandora rings. It turns out that there's a whole range of beautiful Pandora jewellery which is just irresistible! I thought I'd buy myself a ring as a pay day treat this month as I've been working so hard, so I scoured the website beforehand and went for their beautiful delicate bow design. The photo below doesn't do it justice as it's a lot more sparkly in real life, but you get the idea.

I definitely won't be buying any more Pandora jewellery before Christmas (I promise), so I'm hoping there'll be a Pandora bag or two underneath the Christmas tree on Christmas Day. 

Have you discovered the wonder of Pandora yet? If so, are you as obsessed as I am? I'd love to hear about your recent purchases!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

New Look meets Disney World

I've recently been to Florida's Walt Disney World... you'll already know this if you follow me on any of my social networking channels. You'll also know that I'm mildly obsessed with New Look and buy most of my clothes there these days. I did most of my holiday shopping in New Look as a result with some excellent bargains along the way, so I thought I'd post photos of some of my favourite New Look outfits. It's also a great chance to share some holiday photos on my blog seeing as I haven't had time to blog about the holiday yet!

So here goes... I should really be on commission for this post, I'd earn a fortune.

I stocked up on vests and shorts from New Look before going away,
and bought these cute white trainers for £5 in the sale!

This beautiful maxi dress was £7 in the summer sale.

Also a sale purchase... it's difficult to tell in this photo but this dress
has got little white polka dots all over it. Such a lovely colour!

Possibly my favourite pre-holiday purchase. LOVE this dress!

Another pair of shorts and a vest... Neil and I didn't
colour coordinate on purpose on this particular day!

And yet another New Look vest and pair of shorts. Reasonably
priced and so comfortable.

I bought this dress a few months ago - definitely one of my favourites.

A sale purchase from last year which I hadn't had an opportunity to wear yet!

Our last evening in Walt Disney World and another
new dress from New Look...

Another sale purchase from last year which I hadn't worn yet.
One of my favourite holiday outfits!

Can you tell that I really loved the colours of New Look's shorts this year?

And more New Look shorts...

I bought this dress last year - always a holiday favourite.

New Look must rub its metaphorical hands in glee whenever I have a holiday coming up! Where's your go-to place for holiday shopping?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

My August in Instagram squares

August was a super busy month, as you can tell from my lack of blog posts (again). How is it September already?! However, all is not lost. As my Instagram feed has been kept faithfully up to date, I thought I'd write another monthly update using my Instagram photos as it's such a good way of summarising in squares. It turns out that I did (and ate) quite a lot in August... 

1. We went to Bar 44 in Penarth for the first time. As we went on a Sunday, we decided to go for the Sunday roast sharing platter. It was spectacular, as was my Nutty Brazilian cocktail and my cheesecake. It most definitely needs to become one of our regular haunts.  

2. I went away to North Wales to work at the Eisteddfod for six days. I was surrounded by beautiful views! It unfortunately rained nearly every afternoon while I was there, but the evenings were gloriously sunny. 

3. We did lots of painting in our house... we now have four freshly painted rooms. I love my pink living room wall the most!

4. I went for a lovely walk on one of my days off when we had a rare day of sunshine. I took about 40 photos but I think this one is my favourite...

5. I finished off my holiday shopping in trusty New Look and Primark. So many bargains in this photograph!

6. We visited Clarks Village for the first time and I loved it. I saved £54 on the goodies below which was actually more than I spent, so I definitely can't argue with that.

7. We went for a meal at my favourite curry house... Balti Cuisine! They love us there because we just keep coming back... and back... and back.

8. We went for a long walk to a very cloudy Cardiff Bay Beach... it was pretty cold and my short dress and flip flops certainly weren't appropriate for the occasion. 

9. We spent a less cloudy day in Cardiff city centre and I bought myself a new Pandora charm! It's becoming an expensive obsession and probably deserves its very own blog post at some point.

10. I went home to my parents' house for a few days. I spent hours chatting and laughing with my parents,  spent time in their beautiful garden, and met up with my best friend from school and her handsome little boy.

11. I went out for my friend from work's leaving do... I was driving so had lots of fruity (and sugary) mocktails! I used the occasion to wear one of my favourite dresses.

12. Neil and I had a little treat in Costa... sometimes I just can't say no to their tiffin.

13. I had a lovely date night with Sarah which consisted of food, an epic catch up, and Trainwreck at the cinema. We go to Bellini's every time!

14. Neil and I went to Nando's for the first time since our wedding. It's more expensive there than we remembered, or perhaps we're just more tight these days. A mortgage will do that to you.

15. I went to London for the day to visit Ice Bar and to see the Alice's Adventures Underground show. I absolutely loved every minute of it (apart from the tedious bus journey there and back), and I won a £40 gift voucher from Ice Bar as a result of my photos and enthusiastic captions! 

16. We hosted our first ever dinner party at our house which meant I got to use my beautiful heart shaped dipping bowls. They're possibly the most Instagrammable pieces of crockery I own.

17. We finished off our freshly painted bathroom with this pretty set of canvases. Very calming and bathroom-y!

18. Lastly, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary at the end of August... that deserves a post all to itself so I'll blog about it when we get back from holiday at the end of September (if I ever have some free time!). 

What did everyone else get up to in August? Did you also write a blog post which summarised your month into Instagram squares? Send me your links if so :)