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!

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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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Toasty warm drinks!

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been so put off any type of dairy (even lactose free, as I am lactose intolerant)! I read an article a few weeks ago about dairy and someone wrote that pus is in dairy and quite honestly, true or not it just makes me feel sick every time I think about milk now. I have been veggie my entire life and don’t often opt for dairy as it makes me quite unwell, but over the years lactose-free substitutes have become readily available and made life a little easier. Alongside this there is (at the moment anyway) a huge interest in being vegan, which for me is fantastic! I walk into a supermarket and am met with about ten different types of milks (or mylk) made from all sorts of weird and wonderful items, (I mean cow boob milk is gross the more I think about it).

Anyway, this blog isn’t about my dilemma with dairy, it’s about warm drinks and the fact I have been drinking as many as possible these last few wintry weeks. One of my favourite since Christmas has been mulled (hot) apple juice. As much as I love a warm tipple now and again, I do prefer my drinks alcohol free for the most and this is just heavenly after a long day at work.

Think Cinnamon, cloves, oranges and mixed spice

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Warm Mulling Syrup

My wonderful friend Emma made me a few different yummy treats as a gift. Mulling Syrup being one of them. I like to drink mine with apple juice from Innocent

I found a wonderful recipe on BBC good foods which you can find below:

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  • 250g caster or granulated sugar
  • 2 oranges halved
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ nutmeg freshly grated
  • small piece ginger sliced

Mix all in a pan with 1 litre of water and voila! I love to then use it with apple juice instead of wine, but I am told wine is equally as good!

Bubbly chocolate in a cosy little mug 

There is nothing I love more than hot chocolate. Everyone thinks you need to have it with warm milk, but I think its much tastier with coconut milk, soya or even just plain hot water.

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Deliciously Ella 

Another thing you need to watch out for if you want a vegan hot chocolate is the powder (if you use instant). Make sure it doesn’t have lactose / dairy or whey in it and you’ll be good to go. One of the best ones I use is goody coco from Lidl. If you want something a bit more up market that doesn’t contain refined sugars and rubbish is to use raw cacao date syrup and cinnamon.

However, for me I most recently discovered sweet free from choc shot which is full of goodness and yummy, but it does taste a little different from normal hot chocolate which I think is a good thing in many ways. It takes the edge off the sugar cravings so if you’re going refined sugar-free then even better! I also think it’s a fab thing for weight loss as its very low in calories coming in at under 15 calories a tsp!choc

I do love my warm drinks if you hadn’t guessed already and I think they are one of the best ways to beat any situation good or bad. If I am feeling down to sad a hot up of tea, mulled apple juice or hot coco. I remember when I was younger and used to get upset or sad the one thing that I could always make myself feel with was probably tea. So next on the list is the magical and famous tea!

There are so many types of tea, some people argue that there is really only one true type which is English Breakfast / Assam or the type you have with milk. For me there are quite literally hundreds of types. Enough for me to start an entire blog on (or Tea-sta-gram page?)! When I worked for Danone Waters I made friends with a great guy who ended up going to work for Tetley. Thanks to him I have lots of types of tea in my cupboard that I got to try before they went out on sale in shops! It really does pay to be a tea lover and know someone in the tea business.

Tea cures everything, good bad or happy

For this very reason, I have decided to end my blog with a selection of mearlgreyy favourite teas starting with earl grey!

Earl grey is a normal black tea with bergamot orange and citrus fruits mixed in together with a little lemon and grapefruit thrown in. It is floral and delicate which makes it a perfect tea for people who don’t like the strong darkness of a builders tea.  It’s a mixture to me of both herbal tea and normal tea. You can drink it with milk, lemon, straight or if you’re a bit odd cold.

Next on my list is the standard chamomile tea. My mum had an enormous bag of this chamomileteain the tea cupboard at my parents house and she gave me a pot full. I love it. All you need to do is sprinkle a few buds into a cup add hot water and drink. It’s a relaxing tea that is full of goodness. It is an anti-inflammatory for the skin, soften lady pains and induce sleep. A few things I am sure you can relate too!

 

Another favourite of mine is Blackcurrant and Vanilla. You can get these from Lidl. 5201350_31They are super posh, so don’t be fooled by the whole ‘Lidl’ thing. They are so yummy and taste great.

Another type of tea you can try is mixed fruits, Tetley do a huge range of teas which are fantastic. Some are full of vitamin C and for colds and flu, others are fruity and just for flavour so I would recommend going over to their website and checking them out!

 

However, don’t feel like spending lots of money of these teas, as they can get pricey. If you have time and want to know exactly what you’re drinking then you can make your own teas with dried flowers, fruits and all sorts! It’s very easy, you can air dry them over time or on a low heat in the oven if you don’t have a dehydration machine!

Continue reading “Toasty warm drinks!”

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…

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

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!