Thursday, 30 June 2016

Birthday haul #3 - gifts I can use

An advanced warning - this will be my longest birthday haul post by far! After writing my 'gifts I can gaze at' and 'gifts I can wear' posts, I realised I still had loads of presents left to blog about which could all fit in under the 'gifts I can use' category. I'm so fortunate to have had so many lovely gifts, and it's definitely been a 30th birthday to remember for many reasons.

To kick off this post, I had an exciting present from Nicola which I'll be able to blog about at a later date once we've made use of it - afternoon tea for two at Cardiff's Angel Hotel! As you should know by now, I'm a huge fan of afternoon tea and I can't wait to visit this venue.

Next up, I'm going to give you a little tour of my bumper gift crate from Sarah - think pink! Sarah thoughtfully bought loads of pink gifts for my birthday (I assume you know by now that it's my favourite colour!) and packed them all neatly into this pretty pink basket.

When I excitedly took a closer look, I had to split the contents into two photographs because there were so many.

My favourites in this first pile are the Forever Friends socks, the heart-shaped cookie cutters
and the Powder Love shower gel. And the wine, of course! 

As for this pile, I absolutely love the frame and the message inside it,
the tealight holder and the patterned cards.

I always love receiving toiletries for my birthday and I had quite a few toiletry-based gifts this year. I never have to buy myself any new toiletries as my friends and family kindly replenish my supplies every birthday and Christmas! 

Toiletry bag from Sarah (different Sarah to the one above!), Soap & Glory goodies
from Neil, Guess Girl perfume set from my sister-in-law, and a bottle of
Guess perfume from my sister.

Soap & Glory miniature set from Amy with a beautiful accompanying bag.

My hot chocolate obsession was also satisfied on my birthday with some delicious Whittard hot chocolate and marshmallows from Neil's pets (I know, they're very clever), and Twinings hot chocolate from Sarah. I'm especially excited about trying the Salted Caramel flavour... I love a decadent hot chocolate! 

I also received a couple of mugs to drink my copious supply of hot chocolate from - you'll already know plenty about my love of mugs if you read my recent 'Disney mugs' blog post. 

Tigger mug from Neil, shaped like a honey pot! 

Pretty personalised mug from Nicola and Osian. 

Nicola also bought me the cute presents below which are already on display in my bedroom and kitchen. I'm a big fan of cushions, particularly cushions with teddies on them, and the wine glass is such a lovely keepsake to remember my 30th birthday. I'm looking forward to using it next time I crack open the Prosecco! 

I also had a few edible treats for my birthday from Sarah, Chris and Neil... as you can see, the Tangfastics didn't last long enough to be photographed properly. Standard. 

This really was the birthday that kept on giving, and I had two sets of birthday presents a few weeks after the big event from friends I hadn't managed to catch up with earlier in the month. 

Disney-themed Lindt chocolates and a Tinkerbell photo frame from Claire.

Yankee candles and a diary from Catrin.

I'd obviously like to say a huge thank you again to all my friends and family for these amazing gifts, and the ones in the previous two posts. I couldn't be more grateful and it's lovely to feel so appreciated. 

I also received lots of pretty cards for my birthday so I've decided to blog about those next for two reasons - I love receiving cards as they're a nice personal touch, and continuously blogging about my birthday is one way of making sure it doesn't come to an end! 

Have you written a 'birthday haul' blog post lately? Send me your links if so, I'd love to read them! 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Birthday haul #2 - gifts I can wear

Following on from my 'gifts I can gaze at' post, this next instalment of my mini birthday haul series focuses on gifts I can wear.

Firstly, let's focus on one of my biggest loves... jewellery! I received some really lovely jewellery for my birthday and I've worn every item quite a few times already. I had three exciting bags to open on my birthday morning...

The beautiful Tiffany & Co bracelet is from Neil's parents and came all the way from New York. They bought me the matching 'Tiffany Blue' necklace a few years ago so this is a great addition to my collection. I love the elegance and simplicity of this bracelet and took great pride in wearing it all day on my birthday. 

The surprise in the Clogau bag was a very thoughtful gift from Neil. I bought a forget-me-not necklace from Clogau a few weeks ago in memory of my grandmother who passed away in February, and Neil bought me the matching ring for my birthday. It's very dainty and detailed... I'm now saving up for the matching earrings as it's such a pretty collection! 

The Pandora charm pictured above is a pretty four-leaf clover from my Irish colleague, Edwina. It's so sparkly and fits in perfectly with the springtime charms on my Pandora bangle. Staying with the Pandora theme, my parents gave me money for my birthday which I spent on the beautiful 2016 Pandora Club charm. You can see the four-leaf clover on my bangle below, as well as the intricate heart-shaped Club charm. It has '2016' engraved on it so I thought it was the perfect thing to buy with my birthday money. 

When I went home to celebrate my birthday with friends and family last week, I received another Pandora charm from Nicola - this one will also fit in perfectly with the charms on my bangle! 

In addition to my jewellery gifts, I also received a pink Fiorelli bag from Neil. I fell in love with it when I saw it on a recent trip to Clarks Village but, as I'd also fallen in love with a yellow bag, Neil said he'd buy the pink one for my birthday so that I could have both. This is my fifth Fiorelli bag... I just can't help it, they're so pretty and come in such beautiful colours! 

And, of course, no birthday would be complete without some Disney pyjamas. As my birthday is at the beginning of the summer, it's the perfect chance to stock up on new summer pyjamas. I had the Jungle Book pyjamas from my parents and the Little Mermaid pyjamas from Neil. I can confirm that both pairs are very comfortable!

So, to sum up, I love receiving gifts I can wear. Check back soon to read my last blog post on my birthday presents - gifts I can use! 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Birthday haul #1 - gifts I can gaze at!

I turned 30 a few weeks ago and I've already blogged about my lovely birthday weekend. I've been completely overwhelmed by all the thoughtful gifts, cards and surprises I've received from various friends and family members so I thought I'd write a few blog posts to share these gems with my readers.

Although this birthday seems to have gone on for weeks as I've had lots of presents, cards and meals at different times, here's the haul I opened on my actual birthday morning...

Having to arrange your presents neatly before you tear into them is such a #bloggerproblem, isn't it? Not to mention photographing everything after you've opened them... I just tell myself that it'll be worth it when I've published all my posts! 

I'm going to start this mini series by blogging about the birthday gifts I received which I could happily gaze at all day long. It won't surprise you to discover that this post is almost entirely Disney themed...

Chip and Dale Disney Traditions figurine from Neil,
and a Bambi figurine from my nephews. Very cute, I think you'll agree.

A Belle figurine from Nicola. How beautiful is this?! 

Jungle Book canvas from Chris. I can't wait to hang this up!

In addition to these beautiful gifts, I certainly had something to gaze at when I went out for a belated birthday meal with Nicola and Sarah (my best friends from school) last week. I was spoilt rotten with a giant balloon, birthday badge, more presents and a surprise cake - my eyes were like saucers! 

I need to tear myself away from gazing at these gifts to write my next blog post at some point... check back soon to read my post on birthday gifts I can wear! 

Friday, 17 June 2016

My favourite local walks

I'm very fortunate to live within walking distance of some amazing beauty spots. We've been for lots of walks over the last few weeks due to the excitement of seeing that elusive sun on a regular basis, so I thought I'd post some photos from our four favourite local walks.

Cosmeston Lakes Country Park 

Penarth Clifftop

Penarth Pier (more photos in a recent blog post)

Alexandra Park

The sun seems to have disappeared this week but I'm hoping it makes an appearance again soon so that we can go for more picturesque walks. What are your favourite local beauty spots? 

Monday, 13 June 2016

My latest find... jewellery by Ted Baker!

I've always admired all things Ted Baker from afar while wistfully thinking that most of the beautiful items were way out of my price range. However, I recently made the joyful discovery that the designer brand's jewellery is very affordable for the most part which meant that I had to treat myself to a few pieces.

I order my Ted Baker jewellery online as there isn't a store in Cardiff, and every item is elegantly packaged in a branded box. I love a good strong brand, particularly when it's brightly coloured!

My first purchase was a pair of rose gold heart studs which I stumbled upon by accident, closely followed by the silver heart studs and the rose gold rosette studs. All Ted Baker jewellery comes in a little pouch which is handy for keeping the pretty earrings clean and safely paired up in my jewellery box. 

A few weeks later, I took advantage of a 20% offer to buy two rose gold necklaces as I continue to build on my rose gold collection. As well as the stylish pouch, every Ted Baker piece comes with a bright cardboard sleeve to store your pouches safely. 

I bought the rose gold rosette necklace to go with my earrings, and I immediately loved the shape and style of the pink enamel button necklace. It's perfect for my pink days! These Ted Baker necklaces have a cute Swarovski crystal at the end of the chain which add a little something to their overall look. 

Do you own any jewellery from Ted Baker? Or did you also think their jewellery was out of your price range? Take a look here

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

My 30th birthday weekend

It was my birthday last weekend... I turned 30! Don't you just love it when your birthday falls on a Saturday? I enjoyed a whole weekend of lovely activities so I thought I'd blog about what I got up to.

My Friday evening started well when I got home from the gym and found Neil baking a summer fruits cake. An excellent start to every weekend! It was a total surprise so I found the whole thing very exciting.

We continued our weekend of indulgence later that evening with a couple of glasses of wine in the sunshine while we waited for dinner to cook (hence the R2D2 kitchen timer). I love sitting out in the garden on a quiet evening... it makes me feel relaxed, which is often a difficult feeling for me to achieve.

We tried Tesco Finest's 'two dine for £10' deal for the first time on Friday night and decided on potato wedges, beef and pulled pork pizza with salsa verde, and mango and passionfruit torte. All three options were amazing! 

I woke up early on Saturday morning to squeal excitedly and to open all my presents and cards. 30 or not, I'm like a child when it comes to my birthday. I'm planning to write a separate post on my fantastic presents so I'll save all those photos and descriptions for a later date. Taking the perfect photos of all my gifts before finding a home for them is definitely a #bloggerproblem and took me a good half an hour!

When I went downstairs later that morning after getting ready, Neil had a surprise waiting for me in the kitchen... our very own afternoon tea! He'd gone to loads of effort and made cheese & tomato and ham & mustard sandwiches, as well as the star feature of the homemade summer fruits cake. 

After eating the delicious sandwiches, scones and cake and drinking our fruity green tea, we hopped on a bus to Cardiff Bay for the afternoon. Cardiff Bay is one of my favourite local places to visit, particularly on a sunny day. We wandered around for a couple of hours to take in the sights, and I had a very decadent hot chocolate in Cadwaladers! 

We sat in the garden for half an hour after getting back from the bay, then I went to get ready for my surprise birthday evening meal. I decided to wear my Christmas sale dress from New Look for the first time, along with a couple of my new jewellery pieces (more on those in my upcoming 'birthday haul' post). 

I was very pleased when Neil drove me to Miller and Carter as it's one of my favourite restaurants and always feels like a special treat. We ordered the bread sharer to start then I had a tasty fillet steak with all the trimmings, washed down with a glass of Prosecco. Top marks! 

Neil had yet another surprise planned for me on Sunday afternoon... Llanerch Vineyard for Sunday lunch! The weather was beautiful so we were able to walk around the vineyard and soak up some sun after our massive meal. I had the butternut squash and ginger soup to start, roast sirloin for my main, and lemon posset for dessert. It's fair to say that the whole lot was spectacular and I can't wait until our next visit. We sat in the conservatory section of the restaurant, right next to the window, so we enjoyed a nice view with our lunch!

After we got back from Llanerch Vineyard, my in-laws came around for an hour to sit in the garden as it was such a sunny evening. It was lovely to relax in the sun and chat for a while about what we'd all been up to over the weekend. After they'd left, we finished off our day with a stunning evening walk to Penarth Pier. The beautiful views and the tranquil experience encouraged us to go for evening walks more often! 

I feel so fortunate to have had such a great birthday weekend (good planning, Neil), and I'm looking forward to going to visit my parents and friends in West Wales next week for part two of my 30th birthday celebrations. You definitely haven't seen the end of my birthday blog posts... watch this space!