Browsing Category

Lifestyle

Lifestyle

Lunch date with a fully loaded brioche

I think sometimes we can get carried away with the amount of work we have to do. When there are work deadlines to meet, blog posts to write and social media platforms to manage, life can get pretty hectic. I talked about how I try to fit in blogging and working whilst also ensuring I have time for myself in my how I juggle everything post. I believe that making time and allowing yourself to be able to relax and unwind is so important.

This year I made the resolution that I’m going to relax and treat myself more and I fully intend to make it a priority. I may find the time during the evening to sit and catch up on one of my favourite TV programmes, but to make the effort to actually treat myself, by running myself a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book, or going out for a meal or to the cinema with my other half, is something I haven’t been doing anywhere near often enough recently.

I can see why people decide to go on date nights. Making sure we spend quality time with our partner and loved ones is something that can seriously slip in our busy lives, which is such a shame.

Last week, Dan and I decided it would be nice to go out for lunch and to do a little shopping. We visited a big garden centre and mini shopping village nearby and visited the restaurant for some lunch.

I chose a herbed focaccia with brie and cranberries, which arrived with a boatload of crisps!

Dan, on the other hand, chose possibly the most impressive sandwich I’ve ever seen!

The fully loaded brioche sandwich was pretty huge and it tasted as good as it looks. Of course I couldn’t resist trying a bite!

To take a break from work during the week and have a nice lunch together was so refreshing. Sometimes I find I get so laser focused on working and blogging that I forget to take breaks and do something different.

To go for a lunch date during the week made a nice change. It reminded me yet again of how important it is to make the effort to have free time available for you to spend with those you love without distractions. Apart from taking a couple of photos of our food (let’s face it – I couldn’t let that immense sandwich go without a quick photo could I!), we kept our phones away the whole time. Sadly, this seems to be a rarity nowadays, and it made such a nice change.

Sometimes all it takes is a little break and some quality time with someone special to make you realise how important it is to make the time.

Lifestyle

Luxe letter January 2017

To you, my beautiful reader, I wanted to chat a little with you. I adore it when my favourite bloggers share snippets of their lives with me and provide a catch up and so I thought I would do the same.

A luxe letter to my readers every month.

Let’s start off by saying that I’m not usually a fan of January. At all. To me, it signifies the end of Christmas, a bare house with all of the decorations taken down, the realisation that we have many more cold Wintery days ahead and that the warmth of late Spring and Summer are a long way away. It can seem a little depressing.

This year, however, things have been incredibly different. My determination to become a more positive person and to think of life as being easy, rather than always focusing on the negatives, has finally started to pay off. It’s a struggle sometimes; my worry and anxiety does get the better of me rather frequently, but I’m much better at dealing with it nowadays. I find it so easy to enjoy the small things every day and to realise how many amazing things I have to be grateful for.

Gratitude is so underrated. Little do people often realise the incredible impact it can have when we practice it every day.

I have to say that there has been one major negative thing that has happened to me this month. We were all set, or so we thought, to move house within the next few months. However, things haven’t worked out the way we expected them to and to cut a long story short, we have realised we can’t move home for possibly another year. To say I was disappointed is a complete under-statement. I shared with you my hopes to move house soon in my resolutions for 2017 post and we were determined and extremely excited that we were going to be moving.

Whilst still being a little shocked at the situation, being able to look at the positives in everything is a real blessing. I’m so grateful that we have a house we can call our own, with a lovely garden and neighbours we can depend on. Also, the delay in our move may well result in us being able to acquire a house we will truly adore in our favourite area. Moving now, on the other hand, may have resulted in a home not quite so nice and not in the area we love, so maybe in the long run, I will be truly glad that we were forced to wait.

In the meantime, we are making the most of our current home and enjoying cosy nights in with a glass of bubbles and candlelight, whilst we hibernate from the cold. I find candlelit evenings in the Winter so joyous. I’ve recently brought some more candle additions into our home and they are such an easy and cheap way to bring a luxe ambience into your evenings.

I would like to finish this January luxe letter by saying a very big thank you to you, my amazing readers. I’ve completely fallen in love with blogging. I have so many things I want to write about, so many ideas in my head, and so many words flow out whenever I sit down to write. Sometimes, you begin doing something and it feels so easy, so natural, and like something that you want to do again and again. That’s how writing this blog now feels. You just know when something feels right and like it’s made for you and you’re made for it.

I can only hope that you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it. To know that people out there are reading what I have to say and taking the time to comment on my posts and and follow my blog is the most incredible feeling, so thank you.

Thank you for being here.

Inspiration Lifestyle

How two little words can change your life

I’ve always been so organised and good at decluttering, or so I thought. There always seemed to be possessions I was clinging onto that I just couldn’t let go of, and I didn’t know why. That old dress that I didn’t particularly love but couldn’t seem to get rid of and the mugs in the cupboard that I’ve never liked but felt guilty to throw away.

I learnt 2 little words some time ago. They have significantly decreased the amount of possessions I was holding onto. But they’ve introduced more to me than more free space in my home and less possessions. It’s more than just objects. They’ve introduced to me a whole new way of living. A new way of seeing everything around me.

What are these life-changing words?

Spark joy.

Marie Kondo very kindly introduced them to me with her KonMari decluttering method in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Little did I know that beginning to declutter my home would have quite such an impact on the rest of my life too.

You see, only keeping hold of things that ‘spark joy’ is applicable to everything in your life, not just the physical objects around you. Once you begin to see how incredible it is to only have things that bring you joy in your home, you will want to continue this new-found lesson to change everything in your life.

I began to clear out my emails, unsubscribing from anything that I didn’t need or want to be subscribed to anymore. I was fed up of receiving countless emails every day I had to sort through. Why not give myself an easier life and drastically reduce the number I had to look at every day?

I started to clear out my laptop. I’ve got so many documents, photos, music, and sites bookmarked. It can be hard to find things when there are so many different folders on my laptop containing so many things I don’t need and photos I don’t even like. It’s so time-consuming going through everything and it’s something I’m still working on, but the feeling of relief is already starting to show.

Perhaps one of the most important things I came to realise is the importance of surrounding myself with people that ‘spark joy’ and to not concern myself with those that don’t.

I do find that sometimes this can be easier said than done. There are some people in my life who I consider to be toxic but who I am unable to completely reduce ties with, for whatever reason. The best I can do is to limit the amount of joy I lose through any involvement with them. When they say things to try to bring me down and spread negative energy, I choose to keep my head high, laugh it off and head straight back to those who support me.

I fell out quite some time ago with someone who was close to me. It hurts to not see them and speak to them anymore. I knew that it was a toxic relationship and that it was best that I no longer saw them. At the same time, through the years we had had so many good times, so much laughter, and so to lose that was incredibly difficult. I even reached out to them, ready to attempt to forgive and put the bad things aside and to try to move forward. But they didn’t want to accept the olive branch I held out.

At the time, that was incredibly hurtful and I was very upset. However, I can now see that, even though there were so many happy moments, that person was toxic on so many occasions. They were unsupportive, letting me down regularly, not having my back when others would say unkind things. I’ve come to realise what a relief it is that I no longer have to deal with any of that. I can remember the happy times fondly and be grateful that the negative energy is no longer in my life, and instead focus on people who truly do spark joy.

The spark joy ethos has helped me to see things in complete clarity for what they are. It’s helped me to move on from things and people that were holding me back, it’s cleared my home of anything that I didn’t truly love, it’s pushed me to minimise and simplify, and it’s constantly moving me towards a home and life filled solely with things I adore.

Living a luxurious life may be seen as purely owning expensive, luxe items. But that isn’t the case. It’s about a great deal more than that. A luxe life, to me, involves a home filled with my favourite things, being surrounded by amazing people who support and uplift me, and more free time in which to treat myself and enjoy the moment. And those two words ‘spark joy’ do so much to encourage that.

Two very small but extremely powerful words.

Lifestyle

Resolutions to make 2017 my best year yet

Last year was a rollercoaster year for many of us, me included. You can read here about some of my 2016 highlights and what they taught me. There were some fantastic highs for me over the course of the year, as well as things that didn’t go as planned, one of these being moving home.

We’ve been wanting to move to a slightly bigger house in a particular area for a few years and every year, I have been so hopeful that this will be the year we move, but it just hasn’t happened yet. We feel extremely lucky to have been able to buy our first home in our early twenties, but the location isn’t right for us. We would love to move to the area where my Mum and Dad live, where I grew up and where Dan and I got married, so it’s a special place to the both of us and every time we visit my parents, it just feels like home. I’m so excited that it’s looking very likely that we will finally be able to return there within the next 12 months, which is one reason why I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.

 

Resolution 1: Try to worry and stress less

I’m a terrible worrier and so I usually find that the welcoming of a new year is tainted with a little trepidation as to what the year ahead will bring. What if bad things happen? What if this year isn’t a good one for me and my family?

I’ve always been a worrier, it’s just in my nature. My Dad worries about things sometimes, although he never tells me, I know that he does, and my Grandma (my Mum’s Mum) was always worrying about something, so I seem to have inherited it from both sides of my family!

I’ve been working hard at trying to be more positive for the last couple of years and I’m really happy with the start I’ve made. You can read a little about my journey to be more positive and why I regularly tell myself that life is easy here. Worrying does nothing to improve a situation, in fact it just hinders it, so I know that making further inroads here will do nothing but benefit me. I’ve learnt that adopting a positive attitude and outlook on life can completely transform your world, which is why I believe this resolution is so important for me.

 

Resolution 2: Relax and treat myself more

Related to my first resolution is making sure I relax and take the time to de-stress. As someone who really struggles to switch off, I want to focus a lot more this year on treating myself to real down time, where I can truly calm down my constantly racing mind and treat myself.

I want to be able to put down my laptop and phone and run myself a bubble bath with a glass of wine, read a good book whilst sipping a hot chocolate, and maybe start to meditate, or just simply take the time to sit in the peace and quiet with just my thoughts and a journal and some scented candles. It sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?

Often it’s the simplest things that we don’t take the time out of our busy lives to do that can make the biggest difference to our happiness and well-being. This downtime feels like a great luxury to me and costs nothing, so I’m sure it’s something I can easily fit into my life that will be oh so worth it.

 

Resolution 3: Get super organised

When I told my Mum that being more organised was one of my resolutions for the year, she said ‘but you’re already so organised’. And she’s right, I am. But I still feel there are a few things I could be even more organised with, particularly blogging. I seem to put it at the bottom of my list of priorities, but it’s something I really enjoy doing, a passion of mine, and so I want be able to enjoy the whole process, rather than always rushing to try to get posts finished. I always have a never-ending list of half-written blog posts and ideas I want to act on, and in 2017, I’m going to allow myself the time to finish them and to post more often.

I also find that I sometimes put things off and I’m very good at procrastinating; I can easily spend hours on Pinterest and Twitter, when really I should be getting other jobs done first. Hopefully, by getting lots of tasks completed before I head on over to social media, decide to look on shopping sites etc, I can manage my time better and feel on top of everything. Here’s to hoping!

Like I mentioned before, I’m already very organised, but just prioritising some of my time even better can make all the difference.

And there you have it, my 3 resolutions for 2017. I feel that having them written here in a blog post will be so useful to me to refer to in the future and to remind myself of how important they are.

Have you made any resolutions this year? Whatever your resolutions, goals and thoughts for 2017, let’s make it a luxe year full of happiness, joy and abundance.

 

Lifestyle

My 2016 highlights and what they’ve taught me

I can’t believe that 2016 is coming to a close already – where on earth has the time gone? It really does feel like every year goes faster and faster. I remember when I was a child thinking that a year took a really long time to go by, but as an adult, the opposite seems to be the case.

The last few years have been pretty tumultuous for me, with a lot of difficult times. However, this year has been a little better, although full of difficulties, all the same. I thought that it would be a nice idea to think of the highlights of 2016. I’m all about positivity and, to me, thinking of the good things that have happened for me throughout the year is a really nice way to see out the year before welcoming in 2017.

 

Putting my blog out there and reinventing it

I started a blog in September 2015. It was something I’d wanted to do for a long time, and I made the decision to completely focus on my home and DIY and to just keep the blog to myself while I figured out how to design it and to just generally get to grips with the whole blogging process.

I created social media accounts for my blog in June, which felt like a scary move for me, not knowing how anyone was going to feel about my blog, and the possibility that people might tell me that my writing/photos/whole blog was awful! It was also pretty daunting to create social media accounts from scratch and to begin with no followers. I’d read many a post by other bloggers saying not to worry about only having a few hundred followers and that it will soon grow. Nowhere did I read anyone talking about literally starting with 0 followers, and so it felt like I was a million miles away from reaching the kinds of numbers anyone was talking about. I do agree that it’s a good idea not to concentrate about the numbers of followers/page views and so on that you have, but I think when you first start out, having such low numbers everywhere can still be a daunting prospect.

I could focus on increasing my following, but to be honest, I’m much more bothered now with making sure I enjoy what I’m writing about, putting out what I hope people will see as good quality content, rather than lots of posts I’m not totally proud of, engaging with like-minded people, and just getting my blog to be something I love. My twitter following is slowly growing over time, which is great; as for Instagram, well that’s a different story entirely. For some reason, I’ve never been able to really get into Instagram and I think that maybe working a little harder to at that platform would be a good resolution to make for the New Year.

I got to a point this year where I found that I was really enjoying blogging, but I had fallen out of love a little with my blog. I felt too constricted just talking about my home and DIY because as much as interiors is a huge passion of mine and wanted to continue blogging about the subject, I also felt that there were so many other topics and issues I wanted to discuss, so I took the step of completely reinventing my blog. I changed the name, the layout, I moved from Blogger to WordPress and I decided to begin writing about all of the things I had been wanting to write about for a long time.

I’m happy with the direction I’ve begun to take my blog in, but I feel like I still have a long way to go to get it to be how I want it to be. Designing a luxe life without the luxe budget is what I hope to focus on a great deal more in the new year.

I feel so blessed and grateful to have received some lovely comments and feedback on my blog and to be getting increasing numbers of visitors to my little blog, which is so rewarding and fun when I’m writing about topics I love. I think that I’ve often put blogging on the back burner because I have so many other things going on in my life, but I enjoy it and love engaging with everyone, so I would like to focus on it more in 2017.

 

Road trip around France

The only holiday we had during 2015 was a small city break in England, which was lovely but very short, and this year we really felt that we wanted to go on holiday abroad. Dan has never been to France before and I haven’t been for years, so driving down to France and doing a little road trip sounded like a great idea.

I don’t remember every doing a road trip before and it was really good fun and amazing to visit so many new places and see so many sights all on one holiday.

It was a little tiring at times, especially for Dan who did a great deal of driving, and we did kind of feel at times like we might need a holiday to recover from our holiday! However, I’m so glad we did it and we both agreed we might drive down to France again at some point. It felt like a real adventure and it was nice to be able to take our own car and be able to buy and bring back what we wanted to, without the restrictions of flying.

I’m very good at saving money, but sometimes I’m not so good at spending it on things like holidays, and I think this trip made me realise that I need to make more of an effort to stop worrying about spending money to go on trips away where we can explore different places and relax too. The last few years have been full of working hard and saving hard for a new home, but we are hoping we can finally move house in the next few months, and so then at least I won’t have to be quite so focused on saving so that we can move to our ideal location. I find it hard to use our well earned money for experiences and I think that holidays, days out and so on are something we need to do more of.

Sometimes I can be so intent on looking towards the future that I forget to enjoy the here and now and to live a little, so in 2017, this is something I hope to improve on.

 

Being asked to be godmother

One of the best things to happen to me this year was being asked by my best friend to be godmother to her baby. We’ve been close friends ever since the start of high school. Whilst other friends have drifted away and lost touch, we have always remained good friends. She relocated a while ago to start a new job a few hours away from home, which was a really sad time for me because I knew we wouldn’t be able to see each other very much. However, I knew we would stay in touch and when we do get to meet up, it means we have so much to chat about and catch up on and it makes the time I do get to spend with her more precious.

I was over the moon for her and her husband when she told me they are expecting their first baby. The baby is due to arrive in early 2017 and even though he/she hasn’t made an appearance yet, my friend asked me to be godmother. I feel that being asked to be a godparent is such an honour, which is why it means so much to me, and I can’t describe how thrilled I was in that moment, and still am now to be honest. To know that out of all her family and friends, I’m one of the people she trusts the most to take up that role means the world. It’s at times like this that I realise how lucky I am, that even though my best friend lives miles and miles away, that we still have each other as friends and that we can still share special moments together. I can’t wait for the baby to arrive and I’ve got my fingers crossed that one day she will be able to move closer to home so I can see all of them even more.

 

I would like to say to everyone reading this that I’m so grateful to all of you for reading my blog posts/following me/leaving me such nice comments. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’m looking forward to everything that’s to come in the new year. I sometimes approach a new year with trepidation of what it will bring, but this year I’m pleased to say I feel more positive about it and even excited for what will happen in the coming year, and I hope that you are also able to feel the same.

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and prosperous new year, with lots of fun and laughter along the way xx

Lifestyle

How to juggle everything and still have time for yourself

I lead a very busy life, as do many people. I have to juggle so many different things every day, and it can be hard to remember everything that needs doing and all the deadlines I have to meet. Dan works full time, I work part time for several clients and we also run a part time business together, which means we spend a lot of time working. I also run this blog by myself, which of course takes up more of my time every week. Not to mention running our house and looking after our 2 cats and dog, who need feeding, walking (the dog, not the cats!), taking to the vets, and who are generally a bunch of fusspots who want my attention all the time.

I don’t actually know how I manage to fit everything in. I have to be organised, that’s for sure. I feel like I have finally found some ways that help me to successfully juggle so many different things whilst also managing to have some time for myself, so I wanted to share a few tips that I have found help me.

 

Tip 1: Plan your week

I don’t tend to write huge to-do lists or goals for the week. I probably should, but to be honest, I just can’t be bothered. However, I do make sure I plan out my week, preferably on the Friday beforehand, so that when Monday morning arrives, I know what I’m doing on each day.

I like to plan to get lots done at the start of the week, so I feel like I won’t be in a mad panic by the end of the week, wondering how on earth I’m going to hit all my deadlines. No-one likes a last minute panic, especially me. I get stressed if I feel I haven’t got enough time to get everything done, so making sure I leave myself enough time to finish things is really important to me.

 

Tip 2: Get everything done at the weekend

If, like me, you tend to work mainly during the week, I find it’s a good idea to get lots done at the weekend. I try to get all the cleaning in the house done, scheduling (more on that in a minute), write my blog posts and do house admin. I find it so satisfying to sit and relax on a Sunday evening, maybe watch TV, read some blogs and watch Youtube videos, knowing that I’ve achieved a lot over the weekend and that I can start the week with no stress of things I haven’t got done.

Tip 3: Schedule

I guess this applies mainly to other bloggers. I find it a great help to schedule tweets in advance. I use Buffer’s free service, which I really recommend. Social media can take up so much time, so I use Buffer to schedule tweets promoting my blog posts, which means I have more free time to engage with everyone on there and to write non-blog related posts, without having to worry about promoting my blog. You can now also use Buffer to schedule Instagram posts too, although you have to manually post in real time yourself, but it’s really helpful being able to have your photos with captions ready to publish.

There are also various paid scheduling services and packages available for Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets, if you think it would be worth it for you.

 

Tip 4: Clear out life clutter

When I did a big declutter using the KonMari method, I found it inspired me to clear out other clutter than just the physical items in my home. Fed up of receiving so many emails every day, I went on an unsubscribing spree. I also finally persuaded myself, mainly due to the amount of spam I received every single day, to create a new email address and to be more careful who I provide the new address to. I now have so many less emails to sort through, which saves me time every day and has the added bonus of meaning I’m less tempted to spot things I want to buy!

I’ve heard stories of people completing the KonMari method and decluttering friends and even husbands from their lives! I have to say though that this doesn’t surprise me. Waving goodbye to anything that doesn’t bring you joy in your life, including toxic friendships and unhappy relationships, and simplifying your life can certainly result in a happier and less stressful life.

 

Tip 5: Take good care of yourself

I’m a big advocate of self-love and looking after yourself and I believe that if we are happy and healthy, we are going to be more productive and achieve so much more. Getting a good night’s sleep is really important to me. I find that if I have a good night’s sleep every night, I get so much more done than if I’m tired. Drinking lots of water and eating well also makes me feel much more energetic than if I eat junk food all the time. When I’ve got lots of different work deadlines to hit and I need to be rushing around all day, having lots of energy is so important!

I also try to make sure I find some ‘me’ time. I find that putting on some fake tan and painting my nails in the evening makes me feel I’m spending some well-earned time for myself. Having a bubble bath is a great way to relax at the end of a busy week, especially when combined with a glass of wine and Youtube videos! I like to get as much done throughout the day as I can, so that I can take some time for myself in the evening guilt-free – I find it makes it so much easier for me to relax, knowing that I’ve achieved a lot earlier in the day. As someone who struggles to switch off and calm my mind, I find that this certainly helps.

 

I’ve found that these 5 tips really help me to stay productive, meet my deadlines and still manage to relax at the end of the day, which is something we all need to make time for.

Lifestyle

I’m having a present ban this Christmas. Here’s why you should too.

I really enjoy buying gifts for others for Christmas and of course I also love to receive them – who doesn’t! Like I do every Christmas, I will put time and care into browsing for gorgeous gifts I think my close friends and family will be thrilled to open on Christmas Day.

However, I believe that buying Christmas presents for the whole of your family, all of their partners and their children, all of your friends and their partners and so on, well, it just gets to be too much. Christmas gift-giving can spiral, meaning so too does the amount you spend and then, in turn, the amount of gifts you receive back also spirals.

It’s all too easy to end up spending hundreds and hundreds of pounds on gifts alone, before you even start thinking of all the other things you want to buy to celebrate the festive season. You also end up receiving a huge amount of items in return that you have no idea what to do with, accompanied by the burning question of where on earth they are all going to fit in your home, particularly if you have a small house, like I do.

And where’s the fun in that?

Last year, I suggested that maybe we should implement a present ban for certain members of Dan’s family (he has a much bigger family than mine, as in, ten times the size) and just buy for their children. Dan agreed that this was a really good idea that would save all of us money, and time too. However, our idea was rejected by his relatives, with them insisting that they needed to buy gifts for us because we don’t have children so it wouldn’t be fair and they would feel guilty.

The result? Dan and I in turn felt guilty not getting them gifts when they were going to buy for us and so we forked out more money to buy them presents, and their partners too, as well as buying for their children. The cost spiralled, as did the time spent trying to find ideal presents and get them all wrapped in time.

Christmas should be a time for spreading joy, not financial difficulties

We had made a well-intentioned decision but guilt on all sides meant everyone ended up, yet again, buying a large number of presents.

We have since found out that one relative couldn’t actually afford to buy Christmas gifts and has ended up in a large amount of debt, with the cost of Christmas greatly contributing to this debt. Buying us Christmas gifts that we didn’t need ended up causing more upset and worry.

Christmas should be a time for spreading joy, not financial difficulties.

This is why I have decided that this year, we will again be implementing a present ban and we will be making it clear that we really won’t be buying for these relatives, in the hope that they realise we don’t want them to buy us anything. The best gift they could give us is the knowledge that they aren’t spending money completely unnecessarily on us that they can’t afford, without any guilt or worry whatsoever.

A much happier Christmas for them and their children, and what better gift could they give us than that?

I wanted to mention in this post that I was inspired to reduce the gifts we give by this blog post by Martin Lewis at Money Saving Expert. This fab poem sent in to him also makes for a great read.

 

Lifestyle

The best birthday food

For the evening of my birthday, Dan and I decided to go for a meal together, just the 2 of us. You can read about what we got up to for the rest of my birthday here.

We chose to visit The Orange Tree Bar and Grill in Newcastle-under-Lyme. It’s always a popular restaurant and we enjoyed eating there previously, so we thought we would try it for a second time.

The Georgian listed building the restaurant and bar is housed in has been extended with a contemporary glass extension.

img_3738-photoshop

We were seated in one of the booths that run all the way across one side of the glass extension, with diamond bevelled mirrors above our seating and stunning large feather-encased lighting above each booth table.

Diamond bevelled mirror

I’m not a big drinker, so I was happy for Dan to have a drink, whilst I enjoyed a mocktail. I chose the strawberry and apple fizz – strawberry puree, strawberry sugar syrup, fresh apple and lime juice topped with lemonade. Really tasty and served in a cute mason jar-style glass.

Strawberry and apple fizz

Having been slightly boring on my last visit and choosing a burger, we both chose to go for something different and to try the skewer boards, opting for the teriyaki beef.

Teriyaki beef skewer board

Served with fries, salad with feta cheese and olives, and a cute mini saucepan containing extra teriyaki sauce (perfect for dunking!), the skewer was as tasty as it looks!

Teriyaki beef skewer board

We weren’t done there though!

We went for a meal with my Mum and Dad a couple of days later to continue the celebration of me being yet another year older. Choosing one of our favourite restaurants, we visited The Orange Tree’s sister restaurant in Stone (quite close to Stafford), The Wayfarer.

When we visit The Wayfarer, we always have sharing starters between the 4 of us, which are always delicious, but they always mean we have no room for dessert! On our previous visit, I had seen a sharing dessert platter being delivered to a nearby table, and I decided it would be nice to try this rather than having a starter, and everyone else agreed this was a good idea, and so we moved straight to the main course.

Baked salmon fillet with mussels and linguine

I had the baked salmon fillet, served with mussels, linguine pasta, samphire, white wine and saffron sauce with tomato and red pepper concasse. Tasty, creamy and one of my favourite mains here.

Following my generously portioned main course, I wasn’t sure I could manage a dessert, so I was relieved to be sharing it with others! The sweet sharer for 2 was huge – with two servings of most of the puddings and each portion wasn’t small either! Unfortunately, my Dad couldn’t be tempted to join in, so my Mum, Dan and I battled our way through as much of it as we could!

Sweet sharer for two

Beautifully presented and all homemade. Truly tempting. I don’t know how my Dad didn’t succumb!

Sweet sharer for two

Passionfruit bavarois, raspberry sorbet, roasted pineapple Eton mess with coconut yoghurt.

Sweet Sharer for Two

Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate and brandy truffles, Baileys mocha cheesecake, and blackberry sorbet.

There was something everyone would like, and we all had different favourites. The highlights for me? Definitely the sticky toffee pudding, which is always a firm favourite of mine, the fruity and zingy passionfruit bavarois, and the refreshing raspberry sorbet.

The most incredible end to my birthday celebrations for this year.

Lifestyle

Birthday traditions

I still can’t believe yet another birthday has been and gone. It feels like hardly any time at all since my birthday the year before – where is the time going? It really does seem to be true that the older you get, the faster time appears to go.

Dan and I have developed a birthday tradition. For our birthdays, we go to Cheshire Oaks, have lunch at Pret a Manger in between shopping, and then go out for dinner in the evening. My birthday this year was no exception – we debated what to do and on the morning of my birthday, I decided we may as well do what we usually do because it always equates to a nice trip out.

Cheshire Oaks

We spent the morning browsing the outlet shops, finding some bargains along the way. My friend is having a baby and I found the cutest baby outfit in Gap, which I can’t wait to show her! I was dying to send her a photo of it but I want it to be a surprise, so I sent my Mum the photo instead!

After debating whether or not to try somewhere different, we settled on our usual lunchtime habit when at Cheshire Oaks of eating at Pret a Manger. All of their food is so tasty and freshly made, which I think makes all the difference.

Pret a Manger baguette

Prosciutto baguette and a chocolate and popcorn bar? Yes please! Delicious food as always. I wish there was a Pret a Manger closer to where we live.

Pret a Manger popcorn bar

After lunch, we did a little more shopping at Cheshire Oaks and some other nearby shops and then we nipped into Marks and Spencer on the way home. I picked up some pyjamas and a pair of slippers.

Dog slippers

Aren’t they the cutest? They’ve even got heart-shaped noses! I couldn’t resist!

I had so many amazing presents from my lovely friends and family.

Pink roses

I love L’Occitane products, so it was a nice surprise to receive this adorable set with the sweetest emery boards and lip balms and hand creams – perfect for this time of year when my lips and hands get so dry.

L'Occitane gift set

My parents always get me the most amazing gifts, even though I tell them every year they shouldn’t get me anything, they are beyond generous.

Fudge

I do think my Mum had an ulterior motive with this box of fudge, which was so delicious, as she was all too happy to share it with me. I didn’t even get the chance to take a photo of it until half of it was gone!

Another year gone, another lovely birthday. Maybe next year we’ll do something different, but I quite enjoy our little day trips!

Lifestyle

Switching things up: why I knew I needed to relaunch my blog

A little over a year ago I started writing a blog to document the developments we have made to our home. We had bought a house that needed a ridiculous amount of work doing to it, and we had been on quite a journey and learnt so much. I had wanted to begin writing a blog for quite some time, but I hadn’t been sure what to write about, what to call it and how on earth to go about starting creating my own blog.

When I finally took the plunge, I had no clue what I was doing. For that reason, I decided to keep my blog to myself and not share it on social media etc, so that I could develop a writing style I was happy with, to get to grips with how to design it and so that I could get it to be something I was happy with.

I only created social media accounts for my blog a few months ago. I felt that I still had a long way to go and I was scared that people would think my blog was awful, but I decided I needed to stop worrying about what other people would think of my writing and just put it out there. It was scary, but it needed to be done.

i-knew-what-i-wanted-my-blog-to-become

I have really been enjoying blogging and becoming a part of the blogging community, but for quite some time now, I have been wanting to include other aspects of my life and passions on my blog but I have felt unable to. I wasn’t happy with my blog’s name or the design of it anymore and I wanted to take it into a different direction. I felt too constricted by the perimeters I had set, and I wasn’t completely in love with my blog. I knew that this had to change; I knew what I wanted my blog to become and I felt an overwhelming desire to create it.

One year on from setting up my blog, I felt this was the perfect time to switch it up, and to develop something that I was really passionate about. I still want to talk about ideas for interiors and DIY and how I have been designing and renovating my home, but I also want to discuss and share other tips, ideas and aspects of life that have had a big impact on me and who I have become.

I am so unbelievably excited to start LuxeStyle. I’ve got a teensy bit of an obsession with luxury and how to obtain a luxury lifestyle even with a small budget, and with how to create a happy, joyful and stylish life. I’m hoping to be able to encompass all of this into LuxeStyle, with large amounts of inspiration and motivation to boot.

Everyone wants a home and life they love with a large dose of luxe thrown in for good measure. So let’s go about creating it.

 

Lifestyle

How to organise recipes the easy way



I used to keep recipes that I had taken out of magazines/leaflets in a ringbinder folder. I also had several cookery books, where I would turn the top corners over for the recipes I was interested in cooking. In addition, I would have recipes that I had saved from the internet stored on my laptop.
 
This meant that I had recipes stored in different places and any time I felt like cooking something new or that I hadn’t cooked for a while, I had to look through books, a folder and also my laptop. Not the simplest system!

When I did my big declutter last year, I decided that while I had previously found storing recipes in a folder to be the best way to organise them, this wasn’t the best method. I wanted to get rid of the paperwork and folder in my attempts to make more space in our small home and I also wanted to amalgamate recipes from their different homes, so that they were all in one place.
 
I had the idea of storing all of my recipes on my laptop. The though of typing up all of the recipes in my folder was a little daunting but I knew it would be worth it in the end. I also knew that a lot of the recipes that were stored in my folder I probably wasn’t going to cook for whatever reason, maybe because they didn’t appeal to me much anymore or the ingredients were proving a little harder to find than I had anticipated. Don’t you just hate those recipes with weird ingredients you can’t find!
 
I also decided to start going through some of my cookery books and type up the recipes I thought we might want to make in the future. I chose to keep a few cookery books that I have made lots of different recipes from/that I just didn’t want to get rid of, but it seemed silly to keep the ones I have barely used, and I did have several that we just didn’t use.

Recipe-books-on-their-sides 
Recipe-books-pages
Saving recipes onto my laptop meant that I could store them according to the type of dish e.g. pasta recipes, sausage recipes, lunch recipes etc. 

Now, when I have a joint of lamb in the fridge, I can browse through the lamb recipes that are stored together in a document on my laptop and maybe look through the 4 cookery books I own. 


I back up all of the recipes onto my memory stick, so we can put the recipes onto my husband’s tablet, which we can use to view the recipe we are using while cooking. A tablet is much easier to fit onto our small countertops while we are cooking, rather than a bulky ringbinder folder. I would sometimes take a recipe out of my folder so that I just had the one piece of paper in the kitchen, but then I would have to file the piece of paper back away again and then put the folder back in it’s place upstairs. It is so much easier to just view the recipes on our tablet instead.


And there we have it – an easy way to organise recipes and save precious space in the house in the process.

Lifestyle

A Cheshire birthday

It was my husband’s birthday this week and so we decided to have a day out.

Our first stop was Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, where we wandered around the shops and popped into Pret a Manger for some lunch. We also travelled to the next-door Coliseum Shopping Park, only to find that most of the shops were shut due to bad flooding from the day before!

We lazily wandered around the shops in Chester, before we got caught in the biggest rainstorm I think I may have ever seen! It literally came out of nowhere and we were so glad we could go back to the car without having to be out in the rain. There was thunder and lightening and everything. It was pretty dramatic!

Thunderstorm outside The Grovenor Hotel

Do you see the white ribbon on the car? A newly married couple were leaving The Chester Grosvenor Hotel behind us to jet off on their honeymoon. The groom happily announced he was glad to be going to Ibiza as he dashed for the car. Oh how envious we were!

We stood there waiting for the rain to pass, until we got fed up of waiting and decided to head for home and find a restaurant for dinner on the way back.

We decided to try a restaurant in Tarporley, and we found a gem of a place called Piste.

Shabby-chic-decor-Tarporley-restaurant

There was a lovely shabby chic feel to the decor with candles in Laurent-Perrier champagne bottles giving it a romantic vibe.

Non-alcoholic-mojito

No alcohol for me as designated driver, so I went for a mocktail instead – this non-alcoholic mojito was minty and lemony and so refreshing.

Beef-shin-meal

We both opted for beef shin, which was really tasty. But just wait for dessert.

Brioche-pudding-and-ice-cream-in-brandy-tuille

I had Cheshire ice creams in a brandy tuille and the birthday boy had brioche pudding with white chocolate sauce. And boy did it taste as good as it sounds!