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!

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!

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

The Gift of Christmas Magic

It’s a well known fact amongst all who know me that I simply adore the festivities that Christmas brings! It’s the little things I love. The fun in finding gifts for loved ones, seeing the decorations go up all over the world, enjoying endless Christmas parties, dinners and snuggling up under great big blankets sipping hot chocolate watching Love Actually and other festive favourites.

It isn’t always easy for everyone this time of year, things can start to get pricy and there is always the worry that the gift you buy someone won’t be appreciated. I’ve come up with a sure-fire way to avoid those festive disappointments and make sure everyone finishes the holidays happy and fulfilled!

Everyone has different views and opinions on gifts but I think they are a brilliant way to show that we care and appreciate people and have spent time and energy thinking of something to give them to make them happy. I am not a huge fan of the ‘last minute’ gifts as it seems slap dash and can often lead to forgotten friends or stressed individuals as you can’t find what you had in mind for someone a month prior.

The best advice I can give you this time of year is to plan early and think about why you get someone a gift and what they me an to you. I am quite a sharp individual and would never send a card to someone or give a gift unless I genuinely like the person or am taking part in something fun and festive. It isn’t about how much you spend or how much someone else is spending on you but about thought and feeling. It doesn’t even matter if someone else doesn’t get you a gift because the gift to you is knowing you’ve made that person feel special and happy, even if only for a moment of receiving something.

Christmas gift ideas

My ultimate gift ideas are listed below! I like to really think about them and get something unique and memorable for that individual!

Gift boxesTwinings Decoration 5

This year my best friend and I decided to create gift boxes for each other from our countries, this is a great way to show you care and appreciate someone because you have to put in time and thought whilst also thinking about who they are as a person and what they might find funny or cute. I added the cutest gift to Carina’s box which was a tea bauble for her to remember England and hang on her tree. Now every year she can have a little something to decor-1005488_w1020h450c1cx320cy270ate her tree and remind her of the country she used to call home, and when I go to visit her over Christmas I plan to fill it up again with surprise gifts and get her to open them after I leave! Little things like this won’t set you back and often turn out to be a real crowd pleaser! You can pick these up for just under £10 in lots of retailers (check out Amazon for a huge selection)! You can also make your own hot chocolate ones like these cute little ones I found on Pinterest!

I am also making these for a few other people, but because Carina is the only one who has opened hers I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but my advice is think about the individual, hobbies and what would make their day!

Gifts from your place of work

This probably sounds like a boring idea for someone working at a bank or law firm but you can often find something for sale at this time of year to give to your family. For me, working in a Museum is a godsend this time of year as we are often gifted by our companies with extra discount in the shops, and as my Museum is the V&A – well! Expect something cultured and fun if you’re part of my Christmas list circle! For the rest of the world who don’t work in a Museum, you are still not at a loss as I have worked in corporate companies and always been able to find something fun even if its a freebie or entry to something they’d otherwise be unable to attend, you will find its very much appreciated.

Gifts online

This is a really easy way to buy personal gifts for everyone! A few sites I love to use are: EBay, Etsy and Amazon! This year I’ve used all three for gifts which are unique and fun. I hadn’t used Etsy before, but I have to say it’s so incredibly fun and full of handmade items and unique fancy things you’d never get anywhere else. They’re also full of varied prices too!

Home made

You can make some incredible home cooking gifts for people! Cookies, coconut ice, brownies and all sorts!

You can also pain glass, draw pictures and make felt animals if you’re good at those things. My partner and I have taken to the crafts and created some wonderful little things this year, one being a felted hamster we’ve put on our tree!

Home comforts

Cosy home comforts for most of us are more or less the same.

  • Hot drinks in pretty mugs
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Warm fires
  • Cookies
  • Warm muffins
  • Wine
  • Pet snuggles
  • Friends and family …

The list goes on and on! So for this cold weekend in November, be you in England at home, Norway sledding or Canada reading a book here’s my favourite blueberry muffin recipe for everyone to try!

You will need need the following ingredients and utensils…

Utensils:

  1. Mixer OR strong arm and wooden spoon
  2. 1 mixing bowl
  3. 2 other spare bowls (can’t have enough)
  4. 1 sieve
  5. Muffin cases
  6. Muffin baking tray
  7. Scales
  8. Wire rack
  9. Spoon or three (I like soup spoons for this)
  10. Apron
  11. Oven / dragon

Ingredients:

  1. 110g butter / vegan butter
  2. 250g plain flour
  3. 250g golden caster sugar
  4. 2 eggs / vegan ‘no-egg’
  5. Splash of milk / vegan alternative
  6. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. Half a vanilla pod
  8. A pinch of teaspoon salt
  9. 200g + fresh blueberries (more the yummier)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180ish degrees / gas mark 4. Set out the muffin cases in the muffin tray and put on the side.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the golden caster sugar, a dash of salt and mix it all together.

Eat a blueberry (vital)

Then mix together the butter / milk and vanilla pod extract until smooth.

Eat another blueberry

Pour both bowls into one and add in the remaining blueberries!

Mix all up together gently so as not to mush the blueberries.

Get yourself two spoons and scoop up a big dollop of mixture and then use the other to push it into the muffin case. I’d suggest filling them around half full and make sure there are an even number of blueberries distributed throughout.

After you’ve done this and licked any remaining ingredients off the spoon, give the bowl to a child or dog to lick of you feel generous, or like Jon and I, sit down and lick the bowl whilst the muffins cook.

Bake them for around 15/20 minutes or so. Set a timer to check them after 15 minutes as some ovens vary. My mums for example is a big range and can take minutes, it’s literally a dragon!

When they’re done you’ll know as they’ll start to crack on the tops and go a beautiful golden brown.

Leave them to cool on a wire rack, or like me an upside down pizza tray, as I left my wire rack at my friends house!

It’s vital you leave them to cool, you may end up with blueberry burns if not and trust me, that’s not something you want to be explaining to your friends at lunch the next day…

So whilst waiting for them to cool, tidy up, pop on the kettle and get ready to cosy up under a blanket and eat some scrumptious muffins!