My hygge home

It’s official! I now live in an adorable, old house surrounded by beams in a quite little town just outside of Oxford overlooking spires, pretty old houses and at night the cutest of sunsets.

Moving from a London Kensington flat was not an easy decision for us, moving from a city that had everything. Parks, coffee shops on every corner, jobs and friends to somewhere alien and new.

The decision came after Jon’s contract ended at the Natural History Museum in London. Even though I had been offered a wonderful job at Kew Gardens, we decided that the only real reason we were staying in London was to be in London!

But, truth be told, since both of us had more or less done everything we wanted in London and Jon’s contract had come to an end we decided it was time to move elsewhere (with good train links back of course)!

Where to go?

The big question we had to ask ourselves, was where do we go? We seriously discussed Norway as an option and also Australia, but because my Norwegian isn’t good enough and Jon has already used his work holiday visa in Aus we decided (for now at least) to save up and live in the idyllic county of Oxfordshire!

Firstly, can I just say how shocked I was at what you can get for your money outside of London! I feel like a princess in a castle (I suspect I literally could be if we moved to Scotland or Wales). It’s been incredible and I haven’t missed London much at all, and it isn’t like it’s difficult to go back.

My home

Having a home is so important and I feel you can be at home anywhere as long as you’re made to feel welcome, relaxed and at ease. Well, that is exactly what we felt moving into our new home. It’s big, bright airy and full of character. So I’m going to share a few of my hygge home comforts with you!

Candles

If you go back through my blogs, you’ll see I’ve dedicated an entire blog to candles!

Woodwick candles and Green & Black Easter eggs!Candles are incredible and no home should be without them! Here I’ve got our Green & Blacks Easter eggs (gifted by Jon’s lovely Mum) with my Wood-wick candle that crackles like an open fire and smells like fresh ocean air! It’s blissful!

Fairy lights & Fluffy Blankets

img_7621As I type this, I’m sat snuggled under my pink Zara Mohair blanket watching Jon play on his PS4 with the fairy lights glittering away in the background.  I find fairy lights so soothing and relaxing. They bring a small amount of happiness to a home that wouldn’t be there otherwise, so why would you want to be without? I even have cute little fairy lights round the top of the bookshelves in our hallway, LED of course as I wouldn’t want to burn the books!

img_7617
Wooden beams with fairy lights and a Lego dinosaur!

Pictures

 

So many homes don’t have pictures hanging on the walls and I don’t understand why! Blank walls are for conference rooms and swimming pools, not homes! There is nothing more sterile than a vastly empty wall. Even though we’ve only been in a matter of days, I’ve already insisted we hang our pictures up and here is a small selection for you to see the difference a picture can make!

img_7611At the top we have Jon’s map on the left and a picture of Milly on the right. To the left of the map we have a feature opening which is entirely glass and almost a picture of the hallway in its own right. You can also see the next picture (Wrendale Hamster) which we have next to the stairs in our hallway!

 

It’s really not expensive to get pictures for your home. You can get personal ones like we have on our side table, or of our dog Milly, or more fun and general ones like the map or hamster. The Wrendale hamster is actually a birthday card from my parents that I had framed and the map Jon got in a charity shop for £6. I really think they look great and work well with the characterful home we’ve found ourselves in.

Kitchen

It’s true, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Without a decent kitchen you really don’t have a home and therefore it’s essential, I think, to have a warm welcoming kitchen for you after a day at work.

I always make sure there is some nice bread in the bread bin and some homemade goodies for Jon in the cake tin!

On my cook-book rack I like to keep fun books such as this Pride and Prejudice themed cook book, once belonged to Jon’s Grandma. I do however use it when cooking as it’s a great way to stop your book getting dirty and covered in oils and sauce!

Since I share my home with someone who loves to cook, Jon has a lot of say about where things go in the kitchen. If it were up to me I wouldn’t have all the oils out, but he likes them there so it’s where they stay! I do still get to squish my Wrendale tea coffee and sugar pots, and a spice rack into the scene!

The little things

This is something I’ve written a blog on before. The little things are what really make a house a home. These could be gifts from loved ones, funny photos or memories in handmade cushions or even just those little touches you like!

I personally love glitter, magical things and anything that takes me away from reality somewhere I can relax and dream! Here are two little touches I’ve picked from our new home to share with you.

img_7618The first picture is of a cluster of mushrooms made by Jon’s dad, these are really sweet and special to us different ways. To me they remind me of my Grandad as he used to turn wood in a similar way. But for Jon they are a solid connection to his Dad which is really special and sweet. I just love how they sit on the old beams. It’s as if this little bit of wood was made to hold them!

Whilst this is, theoretically, a Christmas decoration. I like to keep it up throughout the year. It’s a beautiful reminder of history and the past. These balls made from paper used to be all over people’s houses at Christmas time in the 1920’s and I think should come back into fashion! My Mum bought me this in 2017 for our London flat and I just love all the detail and golden edges. It’s so sweet!

If you have a new home and want some inspiration, feel free to get in touch above it visit me on Instagram @lucyblackall. X


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my new hygge home! Please follow me to keep up-to-date with my blog and future posts! X

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Bed socks rock!

There is nothing I love more than getting back home after a long tiresome day an slipping into something more comfortable. Sadly for Jon that doesn’t mean lingerie as he’s found out the hard way, and actually means oversized jumpers sometimes my baggy joggers and a pair of bloody good socks!

Even when life gets though, I can always count on a cosy night in with my boys, snuggly blankets and cup loads of coco!

I’ve collaborated on this blog with one of my closest friends Aurora who has kindly supplied me with genuine insider knowledge about the best bed socks (as well as some beautiful pictures).

So if you hadn’t guessed, I love bed socks! I love slippers and I love big chunky cosy knitted slipper-socks and especially love new ones!

Here are just a few of the best ones Aurora and I have picked out! We actually (between us) own all of these and more. I have more bed socks than regular socks, which is genuinely ridiculous considering that I have two huge draws of socks…

Where to get cosy socks?

1) So, we are starting with the best on our list as the rest are in no particular order. These are the magic cashmere socks from The White Company… These socks are so soft and cosy, it is said once you put them on, you’ll never be able to wear another type of sock again.

2) Laura Ashley – I bought some beautiful pink and white wool socks here a few weeks ago in the sale. They’re so soft and pull up just above my ankle. They’re incredibly soft and cosy, but I just cannot find them online. Here’s to hoping they bring them back next Christmas!

3) Hygge House do the best selection of hygge loungewear! If you’re looking for cosy and fun head over and check them out!

4) Christmas markets! Last year I got myself the cutest little pair of alpaca wool socks a lady made from her own herd of alpacas, as you do… they were about £25 but handmade from a farm who raise and love their pet alpacas! Part of me was so jealous, how incredible is that? To have pet alpacas!

5) Home made socks! Both Mum and Kaja have made me the cosiest socks in existence! Here’s one of Kaja’s her way out to grab groceries in her beautiful home made socks! They’re so cosy and teamed up with a pair of cosy joggers, who wouldn’t want to wear them! Maybe though, don’t go for the hat…

Can a place be Hygge?

Hygge is a feeling you can’t fake or make happen. It is those little moments in life you feel entirely at ease and relaxed somewhere. That place could be snuggled under a duvet with friends sipping hot chocolate and gossiping about old times. It could be watching a silly movie with your sister or best friend or spending much treasured time with your parents over dinner. Whatever it is, it is a personal feeling, one that can not be falsified!

Hygge is a wonderful thing, I experience it with my Norwegian friends more than anyone, as they known how to hygge like no other – but more recently us Brits have taken on this Scandinavian word and embraced it into our lives!

So the point of my post is, can a place / city or location be hygge?

I’ve always been nostalgic about Oxford, not just because I went to University there and met my best friends there, but because the city itself offers so much charm, character and comfort. Oxford is a city I smile about, laugh about and feel happy about for thousands of reasons.

One way to think of Oxford is to take all the amazing bits of London and squish them into one little city, there you have it – Oxford!

With more relaxation, bikes and people holding books more so than anywhere else in the country, Oxford is is a little bubble of joy that I think, you just can’t escape! It makes me feel bubbly and warm just like the feeling of hygge!

Things that make me hygge in Oxford:

Coffee shops – The missing bean is the coffee shop centre if Oxford! It’s the cosiest and cutest of the coffee shops overlooking one of Oxford’s famous colleagues. With chai lattes on offer, who could resist?

Museums – There are dozens of museums in Oxford, but for me the Pitt Rivers and NHM have to be my all-time favourite! They’re both in the same building and offer so much in he way of fun and education whilst being polar opposites!

Parks – Oxford is so unbelievably green, every turning leads you to somewhere new! My favourite park is Christ Church Meadow as it offers a river, a glimpse into the botanical gardens and a little tour of all things Oxford. If you have time to kill and fancy learning about the history of the city you can explore the parks, architecture and all things Oxford on a freewalking tour!

Punting and peddle boats – nothing says oxford like a good old punt! You can rent these from a few different places, but the most popular is to the side of Magdalen College where you can get up to all sorts of watery fun!

Cinemas – I used to write reviews for the Phoenix picture house when I studied as a student in Oxford, it is a really cute cinema in the city centre offering a wide range of films from blockbusters to Art house! There is also the classic UPP on Cowley road that offers a classic take on what cinemas used to and still should be!

Cocktail bars and pubs – My goodness where do I start and end with this one? I’ve gotten so used to London prices I couldn’t believe my luck when I went back to Oxford to find you can get a cocktail for £5 in happy hour or £6.95 normally at The House tucked away down an alley in Oxford! With hundreds of bars and pubs on offer I’d also recommend the Turf Tavern, the most hobbit friendly pub I’ve ever been too!

Shopping – This has changed so much since I lived Oxford, there is a new HUGE shopping centre now that reminds me of Westfield in London. So you have no real reason to leave the city anymore! Alongside this, the city is filled with the cutest of shops from independent ones such as Arcadia opposite the Oxford Union to Blackwell’s bookshops dotted all over the place so for me, there is a shop for every occasion, not to mention the Christmas Market every year!

So what do you think? Can a place feel hygge to you? Oxford certainly does to me!

Winter chocolate

It’s a thing, winter chocolate is most definitely a thing. We have hot chocolate, advent calendars, Lindt Christmas decorations and teddies not to mention warm melting lava cakes (curtesy of Kaja)!

When I was in France last week I had so much hot soya chocolate (and normal milky chocolate as apparently dairy-free isn’t a well-known thing out there?) I could burst! I am so in love with hot chocolate or as the French say, chocolat chaud.

Since maturing into a fine young lady and moving away from my girly hot chocolate days of whipped cream and sprinkles, I moved over to chai latte, which in itself is a little cup of cinnamon happiness. I can’t quite explain what made me have a hot chocolate almost every day in France but I’ve got the bug now and even bought myself some chocolate powder to make it at home.

As a lactose free (which means dairy free for the most) individual due to lactose intolerance, I don’t get to eat as much chocolate, dessert or tuck into hot drinks as often as I’d like too, so I’ve come up with alternatives to help me manage which you can read about below!

This is the most adorable of hot chocolate designs I was presented with in France! Look at his little face!

So you ask, what do I do to manage my choco cravings and how do I cope? Well, for the most part I just have alternatives. I drink lactose free milk, try to have more coconut milk, soya and juices when I can, but find the transition to vegan more difficult than I anticipated.

When it comes to treats I have dark chocolate a lot and found I didn’t mind the change much as I was feeling better due in myself as well. There are so many types of vegan chocolates out there that you wouldn’t even know were vegan and taste just as yummy!

For Christmas Jon’s Mum got me some adorable dark chocolate stars covered in raspberries from Cocoa Loco! These aren’t advertised as being dairy free, which I think is good, so in a way they’re accidentally dairy free. They were so yummy and the raspberries on them just added to the yumminess! They are a fair trade company too which makes it all that tastier in my opinion.

I also had a Mini Moo vegan chocolate Santa which meant I didn’t miss out on any festive treats!

Candles will never be dull

I would bet that every single person who reads this post has candles in their home or has owned them at some point or another.

Candles used to be used for light, warmth and in some cases as signals and have been around for over 5,000 years. They were often made of tallow (animal fat) and beeswax. Nowadays most are made from paraffin (in lip balm / body butter) due to demand.

If I could choose something that’s been around for 5,000 years and I use regularly and hasn’t evolved much, it would be a candle. They’re exciting and we live in a time where we’re lucky enough to create scented ones, col so used ones of all shapes and sizes for very little money! You can even buy electric candles – that’s just how popular they still are.

Candles for gifts

I always think, you will never go wrong giving a candle as a gift. My elder brother for example loves candles with a wooden wick. They make a beautiful crackling sound and are so cosy and wintery it’s fantastic. I even have the best picture to support this from Wood Wick themselves who have clearly noticed the trend in men enjoying scented candles as much as us ladies.

There are quit literally thousands of candles available on the market, Yankee candles are for those of us who like full and strong scents. You have IKEA and Tiger for the basic scentless candles for dinner celebrations or for those who prefer their room smelling au naturel.

You can even propose to someone in a candle as you can buy candles with jewels inside! What clever clogs thought of that! I was so excited when I heard about these candles I immediately wanted one for myself!

Candles and moods

When I’m sick or down, find myself having just one of those days… I like to light candles and play music or read a book and instantly feel much better. They are so perfect for creating a relaxing and Hygge ambiance in most places and are something a lot of hipster restaurants adopt.

Candles are great for girls nights in, dates, ceremonies, spooky movie nights and all sorts! They’re fantastic mood setters and something I expect we will continue to years for centuries to come.

Pretty as a picture

Earlier this morning I saw a video on YouTube of candle-art . It’s really quite beautiful and something you should check out if you have a spare minute. It’s a way of sculpting candle wax basically and adding a wick to set alight!

The flames of the candle themselves are also beautiful and not something to be forgotten. I recall a few years ago my Mum buying me a candle that when you lit the wick it shone the most beautiful colours. When set alight, it shine in a different selection of rainbow colours which was quite spectacular! There is also a selection of candles you can buy similar which (I got for my brothers birthday a few years ago) you pop on top of a birthday cake and they shine rainbows!

A lot of people I know and follow on social media use candles to as previously mentioned, set the mood. They also do this for pictures and take some wonderful photos of candles and use them to give feeling and meaning. I would 100% recommend you having a look and also seeing what you could do with your candles this time of year!

New Year – top 10

Every year we end one to start another. All things come to a natural end and all things are born fresh and new from somewhere.

For most people, New Year is a time to start fresh and change attitudes, jobs, houses, start families, get pets or travel around the world even. For me it’s an amazing opportunity to tick another year off my list living a happy and fulfilling life surrounded by blankets and cups of tea, the little things we all take for granted.

Instead of looking back on areas in my life I should (and most probably won’t) improve on, I tend to look back on things I’m proud of and achieved. Life isn’t easy for any of us, even those of us with arguably better opportunities financially or physically, because everyone battles something and not one of us can truthfully claim to be perfect.

This year I’m proud to say I went another year being me, I’m true to myself, listen to my heart and most importantly have gained more experience and understanding about life and the world.

My top ten experiences from 2017

  1. 2017 was the first year I lived with a boyfriend and happily snuggled under blankets sipping tea in our own home.
  2. It was the first year I understood how important the body is and the impact foods and medicines can really have and that looking after our shells is vital.
  3. In 2017 I defended myself properly and didn’t take any foolishness from anyone! Something that yes is new to me.
  4. It was the first time I visited Eastern Europe, I adored parts of it and found the nature and scenery breathtaking, it also opened my eyes in some ways and made me realise how fortunate I am and my life has been.
  5. I tried my first deep fat fried mars bar. They’re actually incredible, don’t judge. It’s like a chunky chocolate crepe.
  6. My best friend from school had a baby and got married and asked me to be maid of honour – Also, I adore her her little boy George!
  7. I quit my city job because it was making me ill and started a career in Museums (weird huh?) also the best decision of the year as Jon got an incredible job at a museum also!
  8. Carina came to stay with me in England for the first time. Aurora and Kaja did also but it’s a traditional thing with them which makes it super special! The girls are all Norwegian and some of my best friends from University. It’s so wonderful when your friends come to stay and make the effort to do so, but when they fly across the globe to do so it makes a huge difference.
  9. I got used to sharing everything, a bed, sofa, bathroom and blankets. Jon even bought me a heated fleece blanket for Christmas, true love!
  10. My family are with me and I spent a great year visiting them all at home, theirs or having them visit me. One of the highlights was ice skating at Christmas!

As you can see, not all of my top ten are incredible and exciting, but to me they show growth and change in me as well as happiness and fun. I might not have included every detail (that’s what Instagram is for), but I certainly included a few key moments that mattered to me.

I’m really excited for 2018 and the year ahead to see what it might bring! What would your top ten of 2017 be and why?

Pets at Christmas

I am pretty sure our dogs, cats and small little pets don’t have the faintest idea what we are doing come December. We cover our house in lights, tinsel and all sorts of decorations not to mention adding a beautiful green (or pink perhaps) tree for our cats to jump on and burry themselves in.

Dogs Basil decorates himself

If you haven’t noticed from my previous blog posts already, I am completely festive crazy and I love any excuse for wrapping up presents, a good party or cooking a fancy dinner (also, give me a blanket and a cosy cup of hot chocolate, a movie and my best girlfriends and I’m good to go)!

Most years my dogs have to put up with my festive frivolities, I love to cover them in tinsel or LED lights and make them sparkle for however long it takes them to rip off the decorations and chew them up. My childhood German Shepherd Basil however, put up with my love of all things sparkly. As you can see in the picture above he would quite happily sit there and let me decorate him Capturewhereas Henry, our German Shepherd Puppy (the newest addition to the family) would prefer to take baubles off the tree and eat them (as caught in the photo to the left). 

When Christmas comes about at the house, my dogs take to helping themselves to all sorts. We currently have three beautiful dogs who have very stubborn and individual personalities.  Since getting Milly, who is my younger brothers dog almost three years ago now, we have moved the Christmas tree into the dining room at the front of our house opposed to the Living-Room, where the dogs are allowed freely! This prevents them all destroying the decorations and gives some breathing space to the room we use the most. It also means that the log burner in the Living-Room doesn’t droop the tree so its a win-win for us, not so much the dogs who think Christmas has quite literally come early and they have a big green bush to destroy!

Cats

I don’t own a cat myself, but I did grow up with a big fluffy black cat called Gladice! I’ve read lots of stories online and in papers about cats climbing Christmas trees, knocking them over and all sorts of funny things.My older brother and his wife have a cat, she’s the most I spend with a cat until I get my own and when it comes to Christmas trees she’s particularly dull. I know in the future Jon would quite like a cat (hoping we can get a dog first to be honest, so I can walk with purpose more). If we ever did get one, I’d probably be that person who takes a photo of my cat with an antler headband on or try to wrap it up if it sat on my paper!

Pet gifts

My parents have almost always given gifts to our pets for birthdays and Christmas, and why not! Our pets are part of the family and make us happy 365 days (unless they poop on the rug…) of the year, so why not treat them (and us) to extra toys, treats or a special day out walking somewhere!

I’ve noticed in upmarket food stores such as Whole Foods, they’re selling pet advent calendars, Christmas dinners and the cutest stockings for our pets. Little things like this are adorable and something I’m all for, but I’d much rather make my own Christmas foods for my pets as they’re cheaper and often much healthier!

Small pets

Last but not least….

There are so many types of pets people keep nowadays, more so than ever before and also different to ever before! I have a pet hamster called Walter, my best friend has a hamster also (who is almost the same age as Walter). I have other friends with guinea pigs, lizards, snakes, hedgehogs and even tortoises!

For us, Walter gets spoilt every day of the year (usually by Jon)! At Christmas he gets a little hamster cake which is homemade and always a hamster version of a roast dinner (raw vegetables and a slither of fruit)! I swear if I ate as well as my hamster ad ran in a wheel for half the night, I’d be my dream body shape.

Don’t forget, if you get a pet for Christmas it’s for life! Love and care for it constantly for the remainder of its life and if you can’t, I’m always here to help.

Have a woofing good Christmas,

love Lucy x