Second advent weekend of 2016.

My second advent weekend was very different from what I’d imagined it to be. I certainly didn’t think I’d spend the entire Sunday morning sitting in the ER. But I have to say that everyone was really nice and kind and I’m now on the mend so hopefully things will continue to improve. Despite that uncomfortable and rather painful Sunday morning, the weekend as a whole was very nice and festive. Here are some photos to give you a better idea.

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I set up our Nativity scene.

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It’s definitely something I can’t imagine my Christmas without. It was made by my mum’s grandfather and it was maintained and repaired and improved by her father. I always think of my gramps a lot when I’m setting it up.

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I’ve got a new headband!

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Just kidding.😉

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The small tree we’ve got in the hall has been up for about 2 weeks now. It’s very bright and pretty this year.

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It wouldn’t be December without an advent calendar!

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Saturday morning was a frosty one.

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Smoked salmon, avocado, croissant, yoghurt with home-made festive granola and blueberries. I love Saturday mornings!

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I made a wreath for our front door for the first time ever. For some reason I’d always thought I’d hate it, or at least find it boring. Wrong! I had so much fun making it I think I’ll make it a tradition!

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Not bad for a first try, eh?

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DSC_4922This was Sunday brunch, after I got back hom from the ER. I basically just whipped up an omelette with veggies – I’d been starving by then because I hadn’t eaten all morning.

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And then we started baking!

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We’re now about halfway done with our Christmas baking, which is pretty good going!

What festivities did you guys get up to last weekend?

First advent weekend of 2016.

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On Friday, we brought home our advent wreath. Lots of red berries and pine cones this year. I love it!

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We also made the first eggnog of the season!

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On Saturday, I put on some Christmas music and wrapped some of my presents. I’m not finished yet but I’m definitely at least halfway through all my wrapping. There are I think two or three presents that I haven’t received yet but I hope I will do by next weekend so I can finish up.

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And I had a very cosy evening in.

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On Sunday, I had my skates sharpened first thing in the morning (yay!), helped my mum pick a new coat at Marks&Spencer and then we had a cup of coffee at Tchibo. And 2 mini donuts.😉 (The picture is actually from last week but you get the idea.)

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We also bought these gorgeous Narnia-like lamp decorations for our tree.

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And then I had this amazing, sparkly (late) brunch in bed.

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Then it got dark.

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And I lit the first candle on our advent wreath.

How did you spend your first advent weekend? Are you feeling festive yet?

The Charles Dickens Museum.

If you are currently in London or are London-bound some time soon, I have a tip for a pre-Christmas outing: the Charles Dickens Museum. It must be lovely at any time of the year but at Christmas it’s just pure magic. They literally deck the halls and they go all out. Stepping inside the house is like stepping into The Christmas Carol.


First things first. That house is incredible and I want it.


The kitchen downstairs.


A banister I’ve always dreamed of just so I could decorate it like this.


How gorgeous is that Christmas tree?


Are you feeling festive yet?


I loved the wrapping paper, too.


This was the children’s room.


There was a quote from A Christmas Carol on the wall there which I obviously had to take a photo of.


What sealed the deal for me was this little gem of a garden. There’s a little cafe there and you can sit either inside or outside in this garden.


It was a bit too cold to sit outside so we had our tea (and brownies) inside. It’s a very nice and cosy café and it gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, the one which stays with you despite the nippy air outside.

Make your life easier this Christmas.

Christmas Day is exactly 5 weeks from today and next Sunday is the first advent Sunday. That means that the most magical and wondrous weeks of the year are here.

Every single year, I hear so many people complaining about one or more of the following: lack of time, ideas and/or the Christmas spirit. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed instead of excited. However, I believe that it’s possible to do something about the stress and certain negativity that people feel in the run-up to Christmas.

Here are some of my favourite tips for a stress-free and magical advent time.

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1. HAVE A PLAN. Make a list of things you want and/or need to buy. Plan your meals. Plan your activities. Then go through the list again to see if you still like all that you’ve got planned. Adjust accordingly.

2. DON’T AIM FOR PERFECT. Instead, make it your goal to make your Christmas YOURS. It doesn’t matter if you’ve cleaned your windows or made as many kinds of Christmas sweets as you used to (or as your friends have). Christmas is not a competition.
Let yourself be inspired but let go of the idea of perfection. A perfect Christmas is the Christmas you fall in love with, not the one you see on the telly or that other people tell you about.

3. DELEGATE. The preparations are perhaps the best part of Christmas when you’re a grown up. But you really don’t have to do it all on your own. Let your family be a part of the process, too. That’s when all the best memories are made.

4. SWITCH UP YOUR ROUTINES. I often hear people arguing that they have to do this or that just because it’s a “tradition”. Personally, I think it’s rubbish. What good is it to keep traditions you don’t like? Either I love the tradition and want to continue it so I give it my best shot, or I don’t like it, in which case I fail to see why I should keep it at all.

And anyway, how do you think traditions even came about in the first place? Someone must have started them! And then somebody else continued them because they liked them. I think it’s best to leave behind all the traditions you don’t like. Make your own and see if they catch on! Every little new thing you do could be a beginning of another amazing tradition that might continue for generations!

5. SLOW DOWN. Take time to just relax with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and a good Christmas film. It is so underrated and people tend to see it like a waste of time. It’s not. It’s in the calm moments you can really see and appreciate the beauty of the season.

6. FALL IN LOVE WITH THE PROCESS. Don’t think of the preparations as something you have to do. Make it something you love doing. It’s entirely within your power to do that. Put on some Christmas music. Light up a Christmas candle. Wear your favourite Christmas jumper. Go ice skating. Get excited!

7. FIND YOUR CHRISTMAS SPIRIT. So many people are disappointed because when they grow up, Christmas isn’t what it used to be. Once again, it is entirely up to you to make it magical again. It won’t be the same as it was when you were a child. But it may be just as amazing, in a slightly different way. Accept the change and make some new Christmas memories. The good news is that eventually, you won’t have to try anymore because you’ll learn to love Christmas in a whole new way and the Christmas spirit might just come naturally.

8. BE GRATEFUL Instead of focusing on what hasn’t worked out, focus on everything that has. Take a moment to realise how much there is to be grateful for.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to add? If so, please share them in the comments! And do let me know how you’re getting on!

First snow of the year.

Last year’s winter was way too warm. Almost no snow at all, no frosty days. This year, the first frosty and snowy days actually came at the beginning of November and I couldn’t be happier about it. We’re now headed into some warmer weather for the next week or so but I’m still very much holding out for a proper winter with snow and ice this year. Ever the optimist, aren’t I?

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I love seeing this first thing in the morning. This was, however, a couple of days before the first snow day.

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A week ago, I woke up to this.

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I love winter light.

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Had to have my coffee outside even though it was really cold.

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It lasted only about one day but it was beautiful. Have you had your first snowfall of this winter yet?

A window to autumn.

I want to get in one more autumn post before it gets all Christmassy here.🙂

Every autumn there’s this magical time window when the trees are displaying all the colours. This year it seemed exceptionally short and I almost didn’t manage to take photos of it. Luckily, 10 days ago an opportunity arose and I’m so glad it did because now, most of the trees I photographed are completely bare. So let’s give it up for autumn, one last time this year.

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Obligatory: don’t blink. It’s only doormant.

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I loved this.

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I love it this time of the year.

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I made sure to photograph the trees so they look fluffy.

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My favourite alley: almost bare but still gorgeous.

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A touch of autumn.

I know that autumn is not over yet but as every year, come November 1st all I can think of is Christmas. It’s my favourite time of the year and I am a big fan of starting early and enjoying every single second.

However, I did decorate my working space for autumn, like I do every year, so here are some photos before I start taking it all down and start putting up all those Christmas lights up. (I can’t wait!)

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I got those bats off ASOS about a month ago and I’m so happy with them! There were enough for this board AND the board in my classroom and they just look so cool.

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I can’t do autumn and winter without candles.

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I wanted to put up a jar with fairy lights like I did last year but the fairy lights went missing and I never managed to locate them.

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Hallowe’en was very low-key this year but at least we made this amazing pumpkin pie. Too bad there were spiders all over it.😉

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I’m very happy with our wreath.

How did you guys spend Hallowe’en this year?

Monsters are real.

In July we visited the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. I have to say it exceeded all my expectations — and they had been pretty high to begin with! I don’t want to give away too much but let me tell you this: when you are actually standing there and facing the real life Weeping Angels or Daleks, it is both amazing and incredibly frightening. It was so easy to get lost in the moment. I can only imagine how the children feel about it. (By the way, there were only adults in my group. :D)

I’ve got some more photos from there to post but as it is Hallowe’en today, I wanted to share some of my photos of the monsters.

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There’s no better way to start this post

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Would I make a good Weeping Angel? (Don’t answer that.)

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And then there were the Daleks.

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The Silence.

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The hand bot fro The Girl Who Waited and the peg dolls from Night Terrors.

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The Clockwork droids from The Girl in the Fireplace.

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The Ood, the Scarecrow from Human Nature/The Family of Blood and the Hath from The Doctor’s Daughter.

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Davros.

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The teller from Time Heist.

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The Foretold from The Mummy on the Orient Express. (One of the creepiest ones there.)

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The Cybermen.

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Davros again.

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I hope you have a wonderfully frightening Hallowe’en! Have fun, stay safe and see you in November! And don’t blink!

Autumn brunches.

Brunches are probably my favourite part of the weekend. I don’t get to have slow mornings during the week so I always make sure to enjoy them during the weekend. It’s when everything calms down and I’ve got the time to enjoy the company of my family.

And it’s no secret that I like to photograph my food as well. So here are some of my favourite brunches from the past few weekends.

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Figs with blue cheese and pine nuts on rye bread. Possibly one of my favourite things to eat ever.

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Salmon, hard-boiled eggs, soft cheese, yoghurt & home-made granola with raspberries and pain au chocolat.

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Simple cheese & ham with red bell pepper, yoghurt with home-made granola, corn flakes, figs and cinnamon and home-made plum jam.

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I actually eat this for brunch, lunch and dinner… and I could have it every day, I’m not even kidding. This is a courgette, spring onion, leek, red bell peppers, tomato, bacon and eggs.

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It’s really easy to make – you put everything in a pan in the order I described above – don’t chop it up in advance, just cut up the courgette and put it in, then do the same with the spring onion and so on. That way all your veggies will be done just right and they won’t get soggy at all.

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Same food, different day, because it just looks so pretty.

If you’ve got any idea for an autumn brunch, please do share!

Plum & amaretto crumble.

Apple strudel and plum crumble are probably my two favourite puddings in the autumn. They smell and taste like autumn and I never tire of them.
A couple of weeks ago I found a great recipe for a pear & amaretto crumble and I tweaked it a bit and made the most amazing plum crumble… two weekeneds in a row now.

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Ingredients:

For the crumble:
90g oats
150g Italian almond biscuits (I used these from Lidl)
80g flour – you can use wholemeal, spelt… whatever you fancy
60g walnuts
50g brown sugar (the original recipe had 150g but I think it’s way too much)
pinch of salt
150 ml melted butter

For the plums:
as many halved, destoned plums as it takes to cover the whole of your baking dish
60ml amaretto
cinnamon
2 tbsp flour
dash of brown sugar

Instructions:
Heat the oven to 190C fan.

Melt the butter. Put the walnuts and biscuits together into your food processor and whizz until smooth. Then put the mixture and all the rest of your dry ingredients into a big bowl, mix it all together and then add the butter. Work the crumble with your hands until it starts to clump together.

Put the plums into a bowl, pour the amaretto over them, add the flour, cinnamon and a dash of brown sugar. Use your hands to mix it all together and then put them into the base of a baking dish. You can sprinkle it with a bit more cinnamon – I always do because there’s no such thing as too much cinnamon.
Scatter the crumble over the plums and make sure that you have an even layer, that’s very important. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

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Personally, I love to serve it with vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt but it’s all up to you of course.

What are your favourite autumn desserts?