I’m a bit lacking in Christmas recipes this year – I usually like to start testing and photographing them (getting myself firmly in the festive spirit at the same time!) during November, but lying on a beach in Hawaii until the end of October meant I felt firmly un-Christmassy until last week. There’s been no edible gift testing (so who knows what my colleagues will end up with!), we’re even well behind normal consumption levels of Pigs in Blankets.
What I do have, though, is this festive pizza. And I’d like to think it makes up for all the other lack of festive recipes coming up in this space. It’s crunchy and cheese, rich and decadent, and really delivers a punch of festive flavours. The honk of blue cheese always reminds me of festive cheeseboards (and one particular hour-long car journey with W’s family and some potted Stilton, not something I care to repeat!). Cranberry sauce just because. And the sprouts.
Brussel sprouts are so reminiscent of childhood Christmases where I’d be made to eat “just one” – and actually this continues now as I still hate the things served up with a Christmas dinner. Shredded onto pizza, pasta, in a salad then fine. Steamed or boiled and covered in gravy and they are my foo of nightmare. But they DO work on pizza.
As it’s a no-tomato pizza it runs the risk of becoming a little dry, but we’ve both spread the base and dotted spoonfuls of mascarpone over to add some creaminess. It’s also fab with walnuts to replace the bacon for a veggie pizza.
Recipe (for one)
1 ready-made plain pizza base (or make your own, my recipe is here)
1 rasher of bacon, diced
8 brussel sprouts, base removed and finely shredded
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 tbsp of mascarpone
25-50g blue cheese depending on your taste, you could substitute for brie or even mozzarella if you prefer
1 tsp cranberry sauce, to serve
Fry your bacon in a small amount of olive oil or butter until crisp, then add the sprouts. Stir fry for a minute or two. Meanwhile spread 2 tbsp of mascarpone over your pizza base, and season with black pepper and the grated nutmeg. Scatter the spouts and bacon over the bacon, dot over more mascarpone, and sprinkle over the blue cheese. Bake for around 10 minutes at 200C, then serve with a drizzle of cranberry sauce.
I imagine this would also work well with leftover sprouts from the big day itself, certainly a step up from Bridget Jones’ mum doing a turkey curry buffet!
Just a quick note from me to say I’m now signing off until the New Year.
If I’m honest, the last month or so has exhausted me. I’ve been emotional and teary, and quite frankly a joy to live with. I’ve tried to do far too much, overworked myself in my career, my study, my blog. I’ve set the bar for myself too high and the beaten myself up when I ‘failed.’
I desperately need to recharge my batteries.
I have a whole fortnight off work. I’ve cut down the studying I planned to do (see, too much of a control freak to let myself have proper time off!). I’ve swiped my blog schedule clean. As of 1pm on Friday I’m officially out of the office, and will at least reserve a few days for total rest and relaxation.
The plan is to catch up on some zzz’s. Eat far too much food. Drink lots of wine. Catch up with friends and family. I might be feeling more unfestive than I ever have before, but I’m also looking forward to this Christmas period more than I can remember.
So to all my lovely readers, have an absolutely lovely Christmas, a very merry New Year, and I will see you (hopefully refreshed and replenished!) in 2017! x
I was in two minds about publishing this post. On one hand, I hate to think like I’m bragging, when in reality I’m hugely grateful for any gifts I get given. I also worry about whether I’ve missed anything out, and in doing so will offend someone. On the other hand, I love reading other people’s ‘what I received’ posts, and this blog is meant to be a reflection of the type of posts I’d want to read. In the end however I decided to do this as a huge thank you to those who bought me a gift, those who wrote me a card, or even those who just wished me a “Happy Birthday/Christmas” or “Congratulations” last week. If I’m forgotten to mention anything then I’m truly, truly sorry, but I can say hand on heart everything I have received will be treasured.
I was thoroughly spoilt for my birthday at the start of the month. I’d spent a relaxing few days at home the weekend before, where I was treated to my favourite homemade curry by W’s dad, followed by a lovely roast beef dinner by my parents. My dad also made the most amazing cake for me! Gift-wise I was so touched by everything I received; some new PJs (much needed!), a lovely berry-coloured cape which I’ve hardly taken off over the Christmas break, a totally ‘me’ scarf and a paperback version of my favourite book. W’s parent picked me up my first (?!) Christmassy jumper, a cute Joules jumper that looks exactly like Tee-J and is so cosy (Joules jumpers are a little pricey but totally worth it and there’s often some great discount offers available – like up To 45% off selected jumpers and cardigans!), alongside a sleeve for my Chromebook. I also was gifted some cash to treat myself with (I picked up a lovely pair of heeled ankle boots from Asda and the Real Techniques Bold Metals Gift Set). My Nan also treated me to some tabletop studio lighting, it’s making food photography much easier!
As I’d been told I was being whisked off on a surprise weekend away, I didn’t expect anything from W, but he still presented me with a lovely selection of chocolates from Cocoa Amore. They didn’t last too long!
My housemates were, as always, complete babes and gave me some perfect bits and pieces. A Milani blush in the most gorgeous colour, some chocolates, slippers, handcream and some vouchers to treat myself. I couldn’t ask for better friends!
Already feeling rather lucky, it was soon time for Christmas. If I’m honest Christmas was extremely overwhelming this year after everything that had happened, I’m quite pleased things are starting to calm down now if I’m honest! That said it was super magical to spend some quality time with our families – and it was the first year W and me spent the whole of Christmas together! The day was quite relaxed, staying at his overnight and giving each other stockings in the morning, heading to church before driving over for lunch with my parents – a full on feast of goose, turkey, two types of stuffing, pigs in blankets, and of course the obligatory sprouts!
Again I was completely spoilt; a stocking full of little gifts from W, then some gorgeous pressies from family and friends. My stocking included some of my favourite chocolates (Strawberry Creams taste of Christmas to me!), a few festive t-shirts and the most gorgeous scented candle. I was also super excited to receive a ‘fiancee’ Christmas card…especially given it was brought in October presuming I’d say yes! My mum put together a collection of bits and pieces to pamper myself in the New Year – I’m quite picky when it comes to things like this, but she got all my favourites. She also picked me up a shiny new frying pan, something I’m probably far too excited about! Alongside this my family also brought me and W some cushions – a “W”, “&” and “C” ready to start furnishing a flat together in the (hopefully) not too distant future. I’d picked out a few makeup bits from my Nan, choosing MAC Diva along with another makeup brush. And again W’s parents and family spoilt me rotten – some healthy cookbooks, a gorgeous ASOS scarf to name just a few bits.
Always a fan of Secret Santa’s, I took part in two this year. The first was with my lovely housemates, where I received a chunky tartan scarf, gorgeous mug and some hot chocolate to fill it. I also took part in the #FDbloggers Secret Santa, receiving some delicious pecan nut butter, and some rather interesting chilli and hemp flavoured chocolate – I haven’t been brave enough to try it yet!
And of course, the best present of all – a fiance and the promise of spending the rest of our lives together.
I’m such a lucky, lucky girl! Not only did I receive some gorgeous gifts, more importantly I got to spend plenty of time with my nearest and dearest. The perfect festive break!
How was your Christmas? What gifts did you receive?
Just a quick note to say I’m taking a break over the next week or two. Despite a really busy university term I’ve been posting four or five times a week (even over this last exam-filled week), and needless to say I’m exhausted.
I’m writing this in advance, but yesterday night I was intercepted in London by W as part of my birthday surprise and (I’m hoping here!) whisked off for a romantic weekend. I’m sure by the time you read this I’ll know where I’m going…and I look forward to sharing the adventure in a few weeks. But for now I’m going to make the most of my time with my family, focus on finalising revision and getting some exciting content scheduled for the new year. I’ll still be on social media over the next few days, so if you want to try and find out where I’ve been whisked off to check out my Instagram or Twitter.
I’ll be the first to admit it; I’ve found it very difficult to get into the Christmas spirit this year. In actual fact, I’m still not totally there. Probably something to do with the two exams (disguised as coursework, of course) and two assessed lectures left this week. Thanks final year…
We have, however, decorated our house with not one, not two but three Christmas trees. Admittedly one is in Libby’s room, but it all looks so lovely and festive that even the scrooge in me has been won over slightly. All this has been done on a tight student budget, so there’s no excuse not to get even a little into the festive spirit…
In the conservatory, a.k.a my favourite room of the house, despite it being bloody freezing most of the time, we have a white tree (not my usual taste, but it was so cheap last year I couldn’t resist!), decorated with white, silver and pink. Girly but I reckon it also looks quite sophisticated – and it looks great in that particular room.
We’ve gone more traditional in the lounge, a proper green Christmas tree (a bargain from Argos in second year, this is it’s third Christmas with us!) decorated with red and white. There’s cute hand-knitted decorations, sparkly ones, lights, it really is rather lovely. And we’ve even filled our fireplace with baubles, put Christmas cards up, and generally made it Christmassy.
It can be really hard to decorate a student house for Christmas on a tight budget, but I reckon we’ve got it down now – invest in a cheap tree, big boxes of baubles are around £5 from ASDA or Wilkos, or ‘borrow’ from parents’ lofts. We’ve not spent a fortune, but our house looks so festive. I definitely can’t wait to have my own proper ‘grown-up’ tree though, I’m almost tempted to drag W shopping for decorations in the January sales…
Have you decorated for Christmas yet? What colour scheme have you gone for? Let me know if you’ve blogged about it!
Some girls love the process of getting ready, of slowly putting their makeup on and carefully doing their hair. I’m not one of those girls. I like to throw it on quickly, give my hair a quick curl and volume boost, and run out of the door. Yep, that usually involves laddered tights, chipped nails and smudged lipsticks but as I don’t drive these are problems easily fixed en route.
Christmas and New Year was no different for me. Both days were quite relaxed, time with my loved ones, but I still wanted to look relatively nice. Okay, NYE didn’t last, I was in a duvet on the floor by 10:30 as I felt dreadful. But the thought was there. Anyway, on those kinda days/nights I want a really quite makeup routine. Preferably something I can do without a decent mirror, and even more ideal if I can throw it on top of makeup I’m already wearing.
The Hourglass Ambient Lighting palette is perfect for this. A quick dusting over 10-hour old foundation and it looks freshly applied. A sweep of the highlight and a blend of the contour make me look polished. And all in under 60 seconds. Layering it up a bit more, with a little concealer, this can be all I need for a base too. I love it, and am dreading the day I hit pan.
A simple eye make up is all I feel like if I’m wearing the makeup all day. Don’t get me wrong, I love a smokey eye, but all day?! I’ll only rub my eyes and ruin it! I just go for a thick coat of a good mascara, Bourjois is currently mine (and probably the rest of the blogging world’s) favourite.
And it wouldn’t be festive makeup without a red lip, would it?! This little beauty from MAC is one a lot of people haven’t heard of, but I fell in love at first swatch. A glaze finish, it’s moisturising and sheer whilst still packing in some intense colour. This is a red lip that’s appropriate to visit your grandparents in, though don’t give them a kiss as it does transfer. Hot Tahiti is a warm-toned red that is simply stunning. It’s great on its one, but I also love it to touch up my Revlon Matte Balm when it starts to fade. A handbag essential, and I’ll definitely be on the hunt for more glaze finishes.
That’s my look this season, effortless and fuss-free. Are you a fan of throwing on makeup in a rush, or do you prefer to take your time? Have you tried any of these products? What was your go to make-up bits over the festive season?
I really wasn’t going to do one of these posts. I’m a relatively private person, opening presents in front of those who gave them actually makes me really nervous; not because I don’t think I’ll like the present (the vast majority of people know me so well that I always get something I love!) but because I worry my gratitude will seem false. I’m also really, really slow at opening presents too, it drives my family mad! But I received such lovely, lovely gifts for both Christmas and my 21st that I couldn’t help but share. I hope it goes without saying that this certainly isn’t a bragging post, but more of a thank-you post to my nearest and dearest who gifted so wonderfully. I love you all, and I hope you love your gifts!
And, y’know, I’m really nosey. I’ve loved reading through what other people got, so I thought I’d do the same!
I haven’t photographed everything (living between three different houses has it’s complications!), and I probably won’t manage to “list” everything, but I’m truly, truly grateful for everything I’ve received.
I couldn’t pick a best present, even if my life depended on it. I loved my 21st surprise – instructed that I’d need warm and sensible clothes with decent footwear, it was something I’d got nowhere near guessing! My 50mm camera lens will be getting a lot of use over the coming months – note that it looks huge here as I have it attached to a mount adapter. A Le Creuset roasting dish extends my (orange) collection. I love the brand, they look stunning, cook things beautifully and are blissfully easy to clean. Expensive, but I reckon they are worth gradually buying. I only wish the casserole dishes weren’t so heavy, as I physically can’t lift them! And W amazed me again with an engraved white gold locket. A sentimental present that fits into my everyday life, I love it.
Makeup wise and my lovely mummy bought me the Hourglass Ambient Light palette way back in September. Hidden in her wardrobe since, it’s every bit as beautiful as I remember. A dream to apply, I can actually contour and highlight my face even without a mirror. Again, expensive. But nothing I’ve used before even gets close to living up to this. I also spent some of my money from W’s parents in MAC on the way back to Surrey, picking up another lipstick. I’m slowly building up my stash, and seem to be picking up less popular colours. Let me know if you’d like to see a post!
One of my most lusted after things of 2014 was a set of heated rollers, and W’s parents so very generously gifted me the Enrapture set for my birthday. I’ve only used them once so far, and considering I did it on my own the results weren’t half bad. My placing was slightly off, I probably should have reheated halfway through, and I definitely noticed the lack of hairspray, but I’m already on my way to being in love. Far easier than curling tongs, and I do feel vintage-ly glamorous!
This Cath Kidston timer has been on my wish-list since I first spotted it months ago. What is strange is that it wasn’t bought by my boyfriend (who had heard me witter on about it). It wasn’t purchased by my parents, who know that it’s the spitting image of our dog. Nor was it bought by anyone who had actually read my wish-list. Nope, my landlady bought it for me!
Candles are something I’ve seriously got into in recent months, and I received loads to add to my burn-list. A lovely scented one from a university secret-Santa, a log-fire scent one from Will, and a selection of mini-tins from my parents. Shoreline is an amazing scent, but all of them are pretty gorgeous.
Not strictly presents, but some lovely treats this past month too. I recently won a competition run by Curry’s with my post about living with nightmare housemates, and my prize was an ASUS Chromebook. It arrived in time for my birthday, and it’s so lovely. Not a substitute for a laptop as it doesn’t run Office, but great for blogging. I’ve left it at my parents and now don’t have to lug my laptop up and down the country virtually every other weekend, but it will be perfect for university next year! And a massive (7kg!) parcel from The Leather Satchel Co arrived two days before Christmas. I’ve found out I’d achieved a massive figure in my affiliate account (which is now closed, so no discount code at the moment I’m afraid – I’m still looking to work with the company though so keep your eyes peeled!). I ordered my mum an extra present, and myself two beauties from the sale. Will is getting a custom bag too, once he’s decided on colours! This patent taupe satchel has been on my wishlist for a year, and its’s every bit as stunning as I imagined. I love it…though I’m now running out of storage space. I think I’m up to seven satchels now…
Recipe books always feature heavily in my present pile, and this year was no exception. Though I’m having to stop asking for them now until at least after university, as I’m threatening to become overrun. Oops. I received this year’s GBBO book (of which I’ve also made some delicious peanut cookies), lasts year GBBO finalist Ruby’s book (surprisingly scientific, I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into this one) and Paul Hollywood’s Puds & Pies (rabbit pie is on the menu as soon as they are in season!).
One of the main things on my birthday list was a Brown Betty teapot, and my parents certainly delivered with this absolutely perfect one. A two-cup pot, this is just right for long, lazy afternoons. Though I must say, the giant one requiring two handles is definitely going to be mine at some point during my life. My children better like tea! Will bought me a mug (which, although mean, I have to agree with) which is going to live at the office, and he made (yes made!) me some gorgeous hot chocolate. Added to this, he pulled out all the stops with a giant bottle of hazelnut syrups. Cosy nights in for a few months are sorted!
Added to these amazing presents are the shower gels (including my all-time favourite Bodyshop Olive scent), the chocolate, the nail polishes, the photoframes, the beautiful photo canvas, and the stunning Zara scarf (so cosy!). I was utterly spoilt, and I’m so thankful to all my friends and family. I only hope my own presents matched up!
So, a very Happy New Year. I hope you all had an amazing Christmas, and that Santa treated you well. What gifts did you receive?
Today I finally, finally, travel home for Christmas. I’d like to say it will be a relaxing week but that would be hugely optimistic. I’m meeting friends in London for lunch and Winter Wonderland on my way, then going straight out for my sister’s fifteenth when I get back. Tomorrow I’m lunching at W’s and dinnering with my parents. Monday brings hospital appointments and ice-skating. Oh, and presents need to be bought and wrapped, and cards need to be delivered. I’m exhausted even thinking about it! But I am so looking forward to being back with my favourite people for just over a week. I’ll be back for a four day weekend over New Year’s too, which might be a little more chilled – though it still involves W’s 21st!
All this rushing around, combined with last week being horrendously busy at work, means that I’ve been feeling under pressure to get blog posts written. I’ve always sworn to myself that the moment I feel pressure is the moment to step back, so that’s exactly what I am doing. I don’t want to force out a substandard post and icky photos. I’d sooner put whatever time I do find spare into improvements for next year.
That said, there’s a few Christmassy tags I feel quite tempted to do, so if I do pop up it will be unscheduled, and rather festive. We shall see! But for now, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas, and no-one has been naughty enough to get a lump of coal in your stocking!
I love giving presents. I love to put thought and effort into the gift, wrap it nicely (though it still looks horrific), present it with a smile. I feel so happy when someone loves what I’ve bought them. But that often makes the process of actually buying the present horrendous for me. I constantly stress over choices, obsess about what they might already have, and generally just freak out. Buying for my boyfriend is the worst, and I am sure he’d possibly say the same about me!
Small gifts often go down really well, especially alongside something more sentimental, something homemade. I was trying to knit him a scarf this year. As in, I have been trying since January. It’s not gone well, and if he can wrap two rows of hole-y thread around his neck, I’m sure he’d be grateful. But anyway, he’s some ideas for stocking fillers for you man, or bigger gifts for any other guys in your life.
Technology is always a good bet for a boy! Something different also goes down well too – and I reckon those who “have everything” will love a living room keyboard (Logitech*). Connecting with your TV, it really enhances viewing experiences. More practical and not as exciting, I’ve also included an external hardrive. I wasn’t going to include this, it’s actually part of an insurance post coming in the New Year, but my boyfriend got hold of this one* when I received it and I think he would rather like one himself! Though perhaps with 2TB we can share…
Going different, and this water bottle with in built filter is a great little stocking filler. I have a bug bear with tap water, as I know I actually get physically ill in different parts of the country due to water. I have one of these which I use for work, and it really does seem to make a difference. Mine’s from Water To Go*, and I highly recommend it!
Now for toiletries. Christmas is the time of year where you fill your bathroom cupboards for the next few months! I’m quite picky on guys scents (Paul Smith is my favourite!), and was worried this Ted Baker Gift Tin* wouldn’t be too my taste – but I actually really like it. Nice and fresh, and not too masculine that I can’t borrow it (ahem). They have some great sets with wallets in too, and they’re damn good value. Far nicer smelling than the female version I remember of my teenage years…
So there’s guys stocking fillers…and that’s perhaps not the best way of putting it! Now I better get cracking as he unhelpfully has a birthday right at the beginning of January, and all my ideas have proved impossible.
Do you hate shopping for presents? What have you got your man this Christmas? Any clues for a twenty-first present?!
I’m not a huge jumper fan. I rarely wear jeans, I live in floral dresses and skirts (and pyjamas…) and cosy cardigans are my go-to cover ups. But there’s something about a festive jumper that screams Christmas, and for a few weeks I’ll happily live in one. I tend not to go too festive, and I still tend to accessorise with tartan scarves, but these are my wardrobes concession to festiveness. Excuse the slightly yellow light – the new lightshade in my room might look pretty, but isn’t helpful for blog photos!
Not strictly a Christmassy jumper, but I’m so glad I splurged on this Terrier number from Joules (one of my favourite shops!) last year. Not only does it match my fur-baby, the cashmere makes it feel wonderfully soft and luxurious – as it should for the price I paid (especially considering the assistant neglected to give my three-year NUS card back, and I never saw it again). The colours make it suitable to wear whatever time of year, and it looks great dressed with with smart trousers as well as thrown over jeans.
Sorry to say, but I failed at taking a photo of my real dog against my jumper-dog! Real dog just wouldn’t sit still for the camera, so his feet are the best I have! See here for the likness!
Next up and I couldn’t resist included my boyfriend in his festive jumper. A classic reindeer in a lovely berry shade, this was a bargain from New Look. I think men’s jumpers are so much nicer than womens – especially this year as there’s far too many pastel colours around! M&S have some lovely ones this year, there’s one I’m desperate to get him but being short on funds makes this unlikely…sorry my love!
Now for my favourite festive item – not a jumper, but a ridiculously oversized cardigan. It’s unbelievably a Size 8, and from Warehouse, but I’m afraid you’ll only pick this one up by rifling through attics as it’s actually older than me! This was one of my mum’s 18th presents many years ago, so many that it is officially a vintage piece. I’ve loved this for years, and I finally bagged it two years ago. Perfect with skinny jeans, and it acts as a festive dressing gown on Christmas morning too. Oh, and its warm enough to wear without a coat. I love it!
Are you a fan of Christmas jumpers? What one are you wearing this year?