Friday, 29 December 2017

Christmas 2017

This blog post is being published on a Friday rather than a Thursday because I got my days mixed up... perils of that very confusing week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The latest terrible Nationwide advert calls it Chrimbo Limbo, and I'm inclined to agree with them on this occasion.

After blogging about my pre-Christmas celebrations last week, I thought I'd focus on Christmas itself for this post. It's been a really busy few days but we've had a lovely time celebrating with family, friends and Jessie!

Neil and I had a quiet Christmas Eve together and opened our presents from each other in the evening after our Indian takeaway. Jessie also opened her stocking on Christmas Eve to make sure the excitement was spread over a few days for her too. She was overjoyed about suddenly having lots of new toys to play with, although her exuberance isn't very apparent in this particular photo.

On Christmas Day, we headed over to Neil's parents' house to spend the day with them and Neil's sister. We all opened our presents throughout the morning then went to Miller & Carter in Cardiff city centre for Christmas dinner. We had five courses in total, including this beauty of a turkey dinner, and it was all amazing! I was completely unable to eat for the rest of the day which is unheard of for me.

On Boxing Day, we drove to my parents' house for round two. We had another lovely day with more presents, and a tasty dinner cooked by my brother. The cookery genes clearly passed me by and went straight to him! We stayed overnight as my sister, brother-in-law and nephews were arriving the next day and we wanted to make sure we saw them before we left. We also called in to see Nicola and Osian on our way back to Penarth to finish off our Christmas visiting. Jessie was well and truly played out and slept all the way home!

As always, I had lots of really lovely and thoughtful gifts from family and friends. I painstakingly photographed them all before putting them all away yesterday as I wanted to make sure I included them in this blog post! I might blog about a few presents separately, but I thought I'd give you a bit of a summary in this post.

Gifts I can wear - two Pandora charms and a ring, a new coat, three pairs of pyjamas, three pairs of cosy socks, Cath Kidston bag and purse, two scarves and two shopper bags.  

A girl can never have too many toiletries. 

Gifts for the home, including four new Disney Traditions figurines and five mugs! 

The edible/drinkable gifts. Diet will start in March. 

I can't believe Christmas is over already, but I've still got just over a week off work with lots of exciting plans, so all is not lost. 

What did you get up to over Christmas? Have you blogged about your Christmas presents? Send me your links if so! 

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Ten days of pre-Christmas celebrations

December is my favourite month of the year. Partly because it contains Christmas Day, but also because the build-up to Christmas is just as exciting as the day itself for me.

As I've enjoyed quite a few pre-Christmas celebrations during the last ten days, I thought this would be a very appropriate topic to blog about with just four sleeps to go before the big day.

One of my favourite Christmassy traditions is the annual office Secret Santa lunch with my colleagues. We all bring in a different item of food (the food list is planned with military precision to avoid duplication), we exchange our Secret Santa gifts, and we partake in a quiz and laugh a lot. I was so happy with my thoughtful and completely perfect gift this year... 100 collectible postcards from Disney's Golden Age! I can't wait to frame some of these beauties over the Christmas holidays.

A few hours after our Secret Santa lunch, we went out as a communications team for a few cocktails at our new favourite bar - Be at One. When the menu is about 30 pages long and the cocktails seem to be 'buy one, get one free' whenever we go there, what's not to love? Although we didn't stay out late as we were working the next day, it was lovely to spend some time with the team outside of work and to indulge in some very delicious cocktails on a school night! 

A few days after our Secret Santa lunch, it was time for the annual work Christmas party. We went for a meatylicious meal in Viva Brazil, followed by drinks at Kongs/ Two brand new places for me! The Prosecco was flowing and it was a great evening with lots of laughing and catching up. I even bought new sparkly shoes and a sparkly bag for the occasion. If you can't wear sparkly shoes at Christmas, when can you? 

We were supposed to go out to Neil's work Christmas party the night after my party, but we were both exhausted so we had a Saturday night in with two massive Papa John's pizzas and Home Alone instead. I then continued the excessive eating the day after by driving to McArthur Glen to meet Sarah in Frankie and Benny's. I had a cajun chicken wrap but didn't photograph my food... I must have been REALLY tired! 

On Monday evening, we went to Tony's in Penarth with Sophie and Bryan as we hadn't caught up with them for a while. We had a lovely meal (I went for pasta rather than my usual pizza, due to the pizza overload over the weekend), then we all went back to our house to play Monopoly on the Nintendo Switch. Jessie was ridiculously excited about having visitors... there was a lot of barking, leaping and general over-excitedness on her part. 

I finished work for Christmas on Tuesday and Neil randomly had the Wednesday off work, so we took the opportunity to go in to Cardiff to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I was slightly lost for parts of the film as I'm not a Star Wars fan and haven't got a clue about the back story, but I thought it was a pretty good film overall. Also, I love love love BB-8. 

Lastly, to finish off this very Christmassy ten days, I went for afternoon tea with Jo in my favourite place - Pettigrew Tea Rooms. We've both had a rubbish couple of years in many ways so we thought we'd treat ourselves to afternoon tea just before Christmas. I had to get my slice of cake boxed up to take away because I was too full to eat it after my massively indulgent hot chocolate, sandwiches and scones! But don't panic, I ate it a couple of hours after I got home and loved every bit of it. 

I'll be blogging about our actual Christmas celebrations next week, if I'm not in a food coma by then... in the meantime, hope all my readers have a lovely Christmas! 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Jessie's first Christmas

The build-up to Christmas 2017 has been even more exciting than usual because... *drum roll*... it's Jessie's first Christmas!

I was getting quite stressed (me? stressed? surely not) about not being able to put up any decorations in case she chewed them/ate them/ran off with them, but she's actually been very well behaved on the whole. We've agreed not to talk about the occasion when she grabbed Piglet off the tree and sprinted around the living room for a solid 90 seconds with him in her mouth.

We decided to go for a slim Christmas tree rather than our usual huge tree, and we thought it would be wise to place it on a coffee table rather than putting it on the floor at easy jumping height. Although I really miss our big tree, having a smaller tree does have its advantages... this tree is entirely filled with Disney decorations as we've now got enough of them to fill a small tree!

Of course, I just had to get a few personalised items to mark Jessie's first Christmas. A Christmas tree decoration and a stocking seemed like the obvious contenders, so I browsed Etsy for those specific items for an embarrassing length of time. I eventually bought the Christmas tree decoration from JayneTappDesign and the stocking from Little Stitches. We're also considering buying a doggy Christmas jumper, but we're not sure if Jessie will take kindly to that idea and we should probably take her feelings into account.

I think the main festive disappointment for poor Jessie has been that she's not allowed to play with any of these new exciting things that have suddenly been deposited around the living room. I was expecting her to be a nightmare with the stockings in particular as they're just hanging there so temptingly, but she's only gone for them a couple of times. However, she did come to the end of her tether when she wasn't even allowed to play with the box the Christmas tree came in. Enough is enough! 

We've bought quite a few Christmas gifts for Jessie already and I still want to buy a few more... I need to remember that other people will buy her presents too. In my defence, she does need some new toys as she's destroyed quite a few of her old favourites in recent weeks since she's discovered the full strength of her adult teeth. We just need to make sure that all boxes, wrapping paper and everyone else's gifts are kept well out of her reach!

I mostly can't wait to witness Jessie's excitement levels over Christmas. She gets excited about mundane things like frozen carrots and crunchy leaves, so her Christmas excitement will be off the scale. 

Have you got any more ideas on how we can celebrate Jessie's first Christmas? Let me know! 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

An ode to my festive pizza

I never thought I'd write a blog post about a pizza... this one really was that good.

I went to Bristol at the end of November to meet up with a few of my university friends. We did some Christmas shopping then went for lunch as soon as it was socially acceptable to do so. Food is one of our common interests as a group! 

We decided to go to Pizza Express as Amy had a few 2 for 1 vouchers, and we all love a bargain nearly as much as we love food. As soon as I glanced at the menu, the festive 'Maple-Glazed Gammon' Romana pizza caught my eye. 'How amazing does this pizza sound?' I exclaimed. I then realised that my excitement could only be shared with one member of the group as the other three are vegetarians and definitely wouldn't have fancied a maple-glazed gammon pizza. Fee and I didn't bother to look at the rest of the menu; the maple-glazed gammon pizza had to be ours! 


Honestly, this is one of the best pizzas I've ever had. The big chunks of maple-glazed gammon were really tasty with just the right level of crispiness, and the goat's cheese (the only ingredient I was unsure about) was a great addition. However, the lumps of spiced apricot chutney were the best thing about this pizza. The sweet yet spicy flavour provided the perfect balance for the saltiness of the gammon and goat's cheese, and I only wish there'd been more of it! The garlic oil and Gran Milano cheese finished it off beautifully, and I was genuinely gutted when I eventually finished eating. I love Pizza Express which means I always have high expectations, but they've really outdone themselves with this beauty. 

Although this pizza was quite expensive at £14.60, it was massive and well worth every penny. If only it wasn't classed as 'festive' so that I could order it all year round! 

So there you have it... an ode to my festive pizza. Will you be rushing to Pizza Express as soon as you can to try it out?