Saturday, 20 December 2014

Trying to relax at Christmas

The words Christmas and stress seem to go hand in hand for me at the moment. There's social events most nights, presents to buy, I've got a cold and I'm really looking forward to a whole day off with nothing to do. There isn't just one super cure for a stress free and relaxing Christmas, but there are a few simple things we can do so it doesn't get the best of us.

Make a list and check it twice.
I always find that writing things down helps clear my mind. I have a card list, present list and food list which all get ticked of and give me peace of mind. I also write all parties and things I need to attend in my diary so I won't forget anything. When writing your to-do list you could rate the items on it in order of importance. If the less important things don't get done, don't stress out.

Giving up control isn't always the easiest thing to do, but it can make a big difference. I like to control the menu over Christmas but I don't drive so going to pick up the food can be difficult for me. I've asked Martyn to pick up a few bits for me. I've had to learn to relax when he comes home with Aunt Bessie's roast potatoes instead of regular potatoes which I roast myself. It's not worth worrying about.

Make time for friends.
A couple of hours chatting with the girls and a glass of wine can make a huge difference to my mood. December is busy in work because the students using the library have deadlines so I can feel a little a little run down and not in the mood to socialise. As soon as I see my friends any worries just seem to dissolve away. 

Eat, drink & be merry.
And don't worry about the consequences until 2015. It's Christmas, don't fret about calories and fat content. I stocked up on lots of lovely food from M&S and baked a cake before inviting some friends over to share it all with. 

Remember you count 

Last but certainly not least: remember that you count too. Don't forget about yourself amongst all the hustle and bustle of making everyone else's life special. When you are out shopping or at home take some time to thank yourself for a job well done. I've been reading a book in bed and getting my lovely Pied a Terre scented votives and diffusers out to create a relaxing atmosphere.

I  have Iris & Vetiver, Plum & Black Amber and Fig Leaf & Cassis scented candles, I can't pick a favourite. It's nice to treat yourself to something luxurious like this or a new hand cream or nail polish.

Reed diffusers continuously scent my home,  I always stop and appreciate the scent when  I walk past the diffuser in my hall. 

When all else fails, remember to take a deep breath. It definitely isn't the end of the world if it all doesn't end up exactly how you imagined. As long as you get to see your loved ones and enjoy the biggest roast dinner of the year that's all that really matters. 

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

#SimplyBeReal - My fashion nightmare

The Simply Be campaign named #SimplyBeReal has made me chuckle a few times already when I've seen posts about it on twitter. Illustrators have been recreating the 'real moments' women experience in everyday life. Fashion doesn't always to go as planned and I've had a fair few fashion disasters in my life so I had a hard time narrowing it down to one moment to bring to life in an illustration.

I've been working in the library sector for over five years now and what I wore was never a problem when I worked in public libraries with low shelving. I started working at a University library just over 4 years ago (you can read about that here) and that's where the problems began...

My job is a bit more physical than people imagine, I'm crawling around on the floor fixing problems with computer cables and shelving books on step ladders. My embarrassing fashion moment came when I was shelving some books in the library up on one of the high shelves whilst wearing a rather short skater skirt. A patron walked past and whispered to her friend that she could see right up my skirt and I was mortified. My face turned a violent shade of red and I've not been able to wear short skirts to work since.

I'm a midi skirt fan now and only wear dresses below the kneed to avoid any further embarrassment. 

My illustration was created by the wonderful Anke Weckmann and I love how she has captured me and my story. What to you think?

I would love to hear your funny stories, fond memories and fashion mishaps so please share them with me in the comments or by using the #SimplyBeReal tag.

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Monday, 15 December 2014

St. Stephen's Basilica - Budapest (& my apartment)

this is a picture of St Stephens Basilica in Budapest

One of the highlights of my trip to Budapest was visiting the Basilica. It was named after King Stephen I, the first King of Hungary who brought Christianity to his country who was canonised after his death.
A slightly bizarre feature (to someone from non-Catholic country like myself) of the Basilica is the saint’s mummified hand on display in one of the chapels, which is paraded every year on the national holiday of St Stephen’s Day The inside of the Basilica is stunning with a magnificent gilded dome which you can climb top get a panoramic view of the city.During the early 1900s the relic was taken to the Sigismund chapel in the Buda castle and remained there until 1944. During World War II, the Holy Right and the coronation jewels were taken and hidden in a cave in Salzburg. Later they were found by the US army, which delivered the Right Hand to the archbishop of Salzburg for safekeeping. It was returned to Hungary, right on time for the procession of August 20, 1945 by three members of the American Military Mission. It remained in the safe of the Basilica until August 20, 1987, when the Holy Right chapel was dedicated. I think the coronation jewels were only returned to Hungary after the end of the Cold War, they were safely stored in Fort Knox.

this is a picture of the dome at St Stephen's Basilica in Budapest

this is a picture of St Stephen's Basilica in Budapest

this is a picture of St Stephen's Basilica in Budapest

It really was breathtaking. I'm not a religious person at all but the scale and beauty of this building really took my breath away. I was definitely deeply moved by my surroundings. There is a small fee, 200 HUF to enter the church (less that £1) and if you want to climb the dome like we did then there is a 1000 HUF fee which is around £3 but well worth it. After climbing lots of winding stairs to the top of the dome we were rewarded but amazing panoramic views of the city. It was very grey and cold for most of our stay but the views were still spectacular. You can see as few at the Buda hills and make out all the major landmarks.

this is a picture of the view from St Stephen's Basilica viewing platform in Budapest

Our apartment was only a two minute walk away from the gem that is the basilica. We booked it through airbnb and really enjoyed our stay there. It was a very good price, the perfect size for a couple and had everything we needed. I would highly recommend a stay if you're considering going to Budapest. The host was from the UK and moved to Budapest with his Hungarian wife, he kindly picked us up from the airport and gave us a quick tour of the area.

There was plenty of space for four people/a family too as the one bedroom apartment also had a sofa bed.

airbnb apartment Budapest

If you want to read more about my trip to Budapest make sure you keep an eye on the Budapest tag. Have you been anywhere exciting recently? Please leave links below so I can get some travel inspiration.

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Festive party look - JD Williams/Joanna Hope Blurred Spot Jersey Dress

spotty black wrap dress JD Williams

Dress: c/o JD Williams - Necklace: gift from Sarah - Bag: old from Miss Selfridge

If I was going to design my ideal dress it would be sit just below the knee (why is everything so short now at the moment?), it would have sleeves and I wouldn't need to wear a slip under it to be more modest. This Joanna Hope dress ticks all my boxes, hurrah!  I love anything polka dot but this is a bit more sophisticated than my usual navy and white ditzy polka dot print of choice and I'd like to think the gathering on the side highlights my waist without the need to wear a belt. It's available in sizes 12-32 from JD Williams which is great news, nothing worse than finding a dress you like and finding out it only goes up to a size 14. JD Williams have got some lovely partywear this season, I've got my eye on a navy blue velvet dress from their collection.

I've been wearing this dress to work with flats but I'll be wearing it to end of term drinks paired with some heels and a clutch, it makes the perfect work to night out transition dress.

statement necklace

Both the necklace and clutch are old favourites that I've dug out to complete the look.

spotty wrap dress

I love this bag and it has been so well used. It can be a clutch or shoulder bag, very versatile and the neutral colours match most things.

This is a photo of a black and cream clutch bag

What will you be wearing for all your family occasions and Christmas parties this year?

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Budapest at Night

this is a picture of the Chain Bridge in Budapest

I have to apologise in advance, you are going to be so bored of Budapest once I've finished with it. I've got about six posts lined up about it and I might even attempt to make a blog about my trip there with tips for people going there for the first time. I arrived back home from my holiday in Budapest on Thursday and I've been looking through the photos and wishing I was back there every day.

It's a beautiful city and they really know a thing or two about lighting up their buildings to make it look magical at night. It was dark in Budapest at around 4pm everyday so a lot of my photos were taken at night, here are a few of my favourite photos of my new top destination:

The photo above is of the gorgeous SzĂ©chenyi Chain Bridge which is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest.  Designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark, it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary, and was opened in 1849.

The Parliament building (above) is just over 100 years old. The building was inaugurated on the 1000th anniversary of Hungary in 1896, and fully completed in 1902. The Budapest Parliament building is the third largest Parliament building in the world. It was loosely based on our own Parliament building in Westminster and it is the same height as the St. Stephen's Basilica to show the equal importance of the state and church in Budapest. 
During the Communist era a large red star was added to the central tower above the dome of the building but was removed in 1990. There is a beautiful square on the other side of this building with a   memorial to the 1956 uprising and some museums. 

Lots of these photos were taken on our last night in Budapest where we rode trams 2 and 19 down each side of the river taking in all the sights for the final time. The photo below is of the other end of Budapest and shows the Gellert area and the green bridge which links it to the Jewish Quarter. Martyn and I loved just wandering around the city (even though it was very cold) with a mug of mulled wine in our hands and making the most of the views from both sides of the river.

Make sure you keep an eye out for my posts about the Christmas markets in Budapest, Andrassy Avenue, where I stayed and some a round up of all the sights I saw coming over the next few weeks. If you want to take a look at more photos of my trip in the meantime head over to my flickr album (warning, lots of goofy photos of me and Martyn in there) where you will find 300+ photos. 

Have you ever been to Budapest or hoping to visit in the future?

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