Wonderful Wednesday 29 - ☆ Highlights of 2016 ☆

28 December 2016

I joined Sally's merry little bunch of Wonderful Wednesday bloggers in March this year knowing that it would be a good exercise to push myself to blog more regularly and look for the happy moments in a week. Some weeks have been easier than others (and I know that some weeks I haven't managed at all) but it's been a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to all the snippets of wonderfulness I'll find over the course of next year. This week, joining in with Sally, I'm documenting my highlights of the year. In a year with so many national and international low-points, I'm looking at the wonderful moments closer to home because, in the wise words of Albus Dumbledore, "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light".


Moving house... As tiring and stressful (and dusty!) as moving house can be, moving house back in March was one of the best decisions we made this year. We had lived in our old flat for almost four years and although it was a shoebox, it was a delightful little box (the first place we lived in together) and we loved the area, which probably made us stay there for longer than we should have done. I had a 4 hour commute to and from work each day which was not good and I was exhausted constantly. My new commute is about 40 minutes (nothing in London terms!) and only one train rather than 4. We've also got more space and a garden, and the glorious thrill of having more time in the morning and evening still hasn't worn off. Granted I had huge plans for the garden which didn't even get a look in this year but next year, I'm looking at you to get me more organised. Bring on those home-grown veggies.

Discovering tasty gluten free cafés... Visiting the Gluten-Free Shop and Café in Norwich is such a highlight from last year and I can't believe I haven't made it back since. The shop was full of so many gluten free treats and bread that tasted like I remember it tasting! There was also an amazing café and, as I said before, it's still a thrill to be able to go into a restaurant and have your pick of the menu. You can find my review here if you're thinking of popping along yourself.

Another highlight was Beyond Bread bakery in Fitzrovia, London, which I have been back to a few times already this year. It's the perfect brunch/lunch spot with an array of delicious items to choose from - the pastries are a particular favourite.

Being a little thriftier... Helped by the fact that we moved away from an area filled with tempting little coffee shops, places to eat and a rather large M&S food store, the latter part of the year has felt slightly thriftier as we've really worked to make our shops go further. We pulled out the slow cooker as the evenings drew in and it's been lovely coming home to a tasty stew after a cold commute home. Hopefully next year will be even better on that front (particularly if I put my money where my mouth is where our vegetable patch is concerned!).

Holidays... Both of our holidays were family-filled this year - Germany at the end of May to visit my sister in law and her husband, and Ireland in August for a family wedding with some additional days to discover a little more of a country that means so much but that I haven't visited in years.

We're not sure what we're going to do for our holidays next year but I'm looking forward to sitting down and planning them, and discovering some exciting new places.

Lots of family time... Since I moved back home from Japan in 2008, I've lived quite close to my parents and a lot of other family members, which has been a lovely treat. I've enjoyed getting to know them as adults, if that makes sense, and this year we've enjoyed lots of meals together, trips and time just talking. Bring on more of that next year please.

London adventures... As frustrating as London can be, as crowded, dirty and expensive, it's still a wonderfully exciting place that we're not ready to leave just yet. There are still so many places to discover, which we've been able to do this year, new exhibitions to enjoy as well as taking in old favourites. This year's highlights have been watching Top Hat at the BFI on Valentine's Day, the Harry Potter extravaganza at the House of MinaLima in Soho, Taming of the Shrew at the Globe, the Lambeth Country Show, Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds exhibition at the British Museum and today's visit to the Geffrye Museum - the museum of the home in Shoreditch.

London itself was looking pretty beautiful itself today too - look at that mist!

Christmas 2016... Christmas gets an entry all to itself, as I expect it would every year because I love it so. This Christmas has been slightly different as the day itself was just spent with my mister and his mum. It was lovely to plan and cook our own meal, and it was a wonderfully relaxing day...but just a little quieter than usual, when you're used to the noise of a big family Christmas! We made up for that though by having all of my mum's side of the family over for a buffet on Tuesday evening and that was enormous fun. In previous years, working right up to Christmas has meant coming down with whatever bug is going round that year, so this year I saved some annual leave to ensure I could have a couple of days off leading up to the holiday period to rest, plan for Christmas and get the house ready, including time to bake and do a few crafty things. I feel thoroughly relaxed - here's hoping that I can carry that feeling well into 2017!

Happy New Year to you all and I hope you have splendid New Year's Eves, whatever you have planned. The mister and I are at home this year with a dear friend, planning a fabulously special meal and cocktails to welcome in 2017.

See you next year!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasminMartina and Lynsey 

Wonderful Wednesday 28

21 December 2016

Today's little list of happiness marks my last day at work until 2017! Need I say anymore? I am so very ready for this break and Christmas! Things have been no less hectic at work (do I ever say any different?) but I've taken Thursday and Friday off, so even if it entails effectively working those days tacked on to the other three (!) it'll be so very worth it.

On to the good and great...including Christmas trees, paper chains and not getting pneumonia (woo!)


♥ Days off and short weeks... As I said last week, I had a few days off from Wednesday to Friday with very little planned save for Christmas shopping, preparing the house as much as possible and some long-awaited pottering. It was every bit as wonderful as I'd hoped for. I relaxed properly for the first time in months, probably since we went on holiday in August. We have company for most of the Christmas holiday so it was lovely to have a little time to myself to get organised. There was cleaning, baking and wrapping of gifts, together with copious of tea and episodes of Gilmore Girls. And this week is also a short one - just three days - I could easily get used to this!

♥ Shetland... I started watching this after Jasmin mentioned it in one of her Wonderful Wednesdays. I do like watching crime shows and this basically focuses on a policeman solving murders on Shetland, with extended shots of the gorgeous rugged Scottish Islands. We've been thinking about a trip to Scotland for a while and this is only feeding that thought - wild and remote please!

♥ Christmas tree... I waited as long as I could to try to ensure that our little tree stays green and verdant for as long as possible over Christmas, but this weekend we finally chose our Christmas tree! With a little more space than last year, we were able to get a slightly larger tree than the previous ones and I love it. I absolutely adore dressing the tree with the little decorations we've accumulated over our years together, as well as some of the lovely new ones I've picked up this year. It was particularly helpful as I'd been to the doctors on the Saturday morning for flu and pneumonia jabs so was feeling pretty under the weather as a result - nothing that choosing and dressing a Christmas tree couldn't fix (and if I don't get flu or pneumonia, so much the better!)

Also, the delicious Christmas tree smell that greets me as soon as I get home in the evening.

♥ Wrapping Gifts and Christmas Movies... I don't know how much more I can add to this one but I'm really enjoying doing both at the same time, it's so cosy.

♥ Crafty shenanigans... I love the homemade elements to Christmas and over my few days off, I dug out my origami paper and made some paper chains for the first time in years! There was something very therapeutic about it, carefully slicing the strips and stringing them together. I've hung them up on every available surface and will be sad to take them down in a few weeks' time!

♥ Herbal Treats... A few weeks ago, the lovely Eleanor of the Salted Tail blog did an interview with the owner of Bloom Remedies, an aromatherapy company based in Cornwall. I never used to have issues sleeping but stress isn't a great help in that department so I decided to treat myself to one of the Serenity Slumber sets, which contains a pillow spray and pulse point roll-on containing a mixture of lavender, geranium and ylang-ylang. It arrived on Monday (a little pre-Christmas treat!) and I tried them both straightaway that night, feeling instantly soothed by the delicious scents. It may all be in my mind but I slept so very deeply and woke feeling refreshed...which is rare this time of year, particularly when I'm in need of an extended rest!

Roll on some excellent sleeps over the Christmas breaks - small pleasures indeed!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasminMartina and Lynsey - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wonderful Wednesday 27

14 December 2016

Now if you weren't already feeling the Christmas spirit, I have no doubt that that image will ensure that you will be ready to deck the halls, partake of several yule logs and carol like nobody has ever carolled before....or perhaps not. Isn't it terrifyingly great thought? The Victorians certainly knew how to send great tidings of great joy.

You find me in a very chipper mood today, my lovelies, as I'm now off work for a few days (the rest of the week in fact) - back on Monday but only for a short week then too! Here are some of my highlights since my last Wonderful Wednesday (last week's was missed after I hilariously stressed my way to a pulled neck muscle, you heard it here first folks. Stress is not good). On to the joy!


♥ Christmas carols... My brother sings in a choir and the Saturday before last, they were performing at the Victoria & Albert museum, a favourite place anyway but even more so accompanied by a selection of my favourite carols. We stayed for the whole set, which they reprised twice and which meant I could hear In the Bleak Midwinter twice which is my favourite of all carols ever!

♥ First mulled wine of the season... How can you possibly top listening to Christmas carols in the V&A? By following it up with some mulled wine, of course. I can't believe I'd left it so long this year but it was worth the wait. Sweet, with a hint of spice and so warming on a really cold day. It was worth the wait.

♥ Cosy podcasts...I've been going through a phase on my commutes home and downloading some cosy podcasts for the journey - starting with Nigella's Christmassy Sound Bites, before progressing on to the Desert Island Discs back catalogue. It's amazing how many there are available to download and enjoy, and how much has happened since they were recorded (JK Rowling's, for example, was just after the release of the 4th book in the Harry Potter series). I've listened to PD James and am desperate to read some of her novels now, and have Daphne du Maurier, who I already adore, queued up for tomorrow (after I finish with Lord Denning's episode from 1980 - legal high fives all round, he's fantastic!) Just listening to the opening music makes me feel instantly calmer - very necessary over the last few weeks!

♥ Getting organised...I've written all my Christmas cards, done most of my Christmas shopping and have reams of lists for the smaller details. For perhaps the first time ever, I feel on top of things - famous last words?!

♥ Short weeks...Ahhh I've been looking forward to this week for so long now - I'm off now until next Monday (and next week is another short one!) I don't have anything wildly exciting to do, more along  the lines of the getting my hair cut and picking up some last few bits types of tasks, but it's so very wonderful to have the luxury of some annual leave to spare at the end of the year to help me relax into Christmas. I'm hoping to do a little baking too...and and (and!) we're getting our Christmas tree at the weekend, so actually, scratch that line above - I have lots of wildly exciting things to do!

♥ Homemade Cottage Pie... I worked really late on Tuesday making sure I'd completed everything I needed to before setting my out of office message. It was cold and drizzly on the way home, and I had to wait a little longer than usual for my bus but opening the door when I got home, I was greeted by the delicious aroma of hot cottage pie. 10,000 top husband points to my mister - I don't know if I'd have done the same if he was about to have a 5 day weekend! ;D

And on that note, I hope you all have wonderful rest-of-your-weeks!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasminMartina and Lynsey - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

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