Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

I hope your NYE is lovely, and that your 2015 is brilliant!  Here we'll be having a cosy evening of games, yummy food and bubbles, before leaping into a brand new year.

A few quotes for the happy occasion (RK, you know how I love my quotes!):

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin." — Mother Teresa

"Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true." — 
Lord Tennyson

 "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."  — 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Image source

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: The Review

This review is becoming something of a yearly tradition....you can find the reviews for 2007200820092010 , 20112012 and 2013 by clicking through. It's always nice to take stock at the end of a year and see what's happened over the last 12 months.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?

I got married.  I have a husband!  And he's super.

See? :D


2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?

I didn't really have a resolution - this year was very much about getting wed!  Next year, I'm going to be getting a little more ambitious...

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

The older I become, the more babies there are.  No complaints here, I love me some baby cuddles!  There have been several newbies who I've loved meeting this year.  Looking forward to being naughty Auntie Claire to 'em all!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year, but several people I love have lost people.  So sad.

5. What countries did you visit?

England, Scotland, Spain.  It's been a quiet one!

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?


More sleep, more gumption.  It's going to be a busy year.  I've got plans!

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

16th August, when I got to marry my best friend and the most wonderful person I know.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

The wedding being as nice as it was!  Matthew and I worked hard and saved hard, and it was so lovely to have it all come together.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Allowing others to tell me who I am.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I'm waaaaaay too heavy at the moment.  I'm looking forward to eating less, moving more, and losing some pounds before the honeymoon!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Books, cocktails, coffee and gifts.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

As ever, my loved ones.  They are superb.  I have been so overwhelmed with the wave of love this year.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Mean girls.  Some of whom were not girls. Yeah, you still meet them in your thirties, it turns out.  Line drawn below it all now, thankee muchly.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Savings, wedding, savings, honeymoon, savings, books, savings, travel, savings, fun times.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Weddings, cats, and girldates.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Shake It Off, by Taylor Swift

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?

Happier.  Fatter.  Richer (not hard, given how much we had to belt-tighten for the wedding).

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Reading, napping, letter writing, exercising.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Worrying about things beyond my control.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Cosily at home with Matthew and the cats.


21. Did you meet anyone special in 2014?

Some lovely JLL girls.  A lovely new colleague.  Lots of babies!

No 22 or 23...hmmm!

24. What was your favourite TV program?

Nashville, Scandal, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?


I don’t believe in hate.

26. What was the best book you read?

I enjoyed David & Goliath, Yes Please and Americanah.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

That Taylor Swift is flawless.


28. What did you want and get?

Love, friendship and laughter.

29. What did you want and not get?

Hair that makes sense.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?

I've seen such a run of rubbish movies at the cinema this year.  The Lego Movie was cute though.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I helped backstage at a kid's drama evening.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?


More professional movement/growth.  That's a priority for 2015!

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Smart, classic, shiny (where appropriate).

34. What kept you sane?

Matthew and the bridal squad.  Oooooh, and the cats!

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


Meh.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Women's rights in particular and human rights in general.

37. I have only just noticed that there is no 37....hmmmm....

38. Who was the best new person you met?

All of them.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.


Life ain't a track meet, it's a marathon (to quote Ice Cube #oldschool).

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

'The players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off'


T-Swizzle forever!




Rather than adding eleventy million pictures to this post, I thought I'd make a little slideshow of a bunch of instagram moments and some of our wedding photos (the song dubbed over was sung at our wedding too!).  Thanks, 2014, you've been lovely.  Thank you to each and everyone of you for the joy and loveliness you have brought into my world this year!

PS I *love* that the shot the video has frozen on is me goofing off.  Always keeping it real, baby...

Monday, December 29, 2014

A fresh start.

Image source: reppublica.it


I'm so excited for 2015.

There are so many things afoot, both offline and online life-wise.

I'm super excited for our honeymoon.  For changes in how I work.  For re-arranging a few priorities.  For trying a few new things.  For friends getting married, having babies, and setting their workplaces alight with their talent, skill and gumption.

I'll be writing more about my plans when I write up my New Year's Resolutions, but I wanted to write about some blog changes here too.

I want to move my writing and my work here further up my to-do list.  Much like the quote above says, what you do when you procrastinate is often what calls to you the most.  And me?  I read and write.  I doodle and plan.  I tweet and pin.  And it makes me very, very happy!  Now, I know that this doesn't pay the bills, and I'm eternally grateful to have a job in teaching that I enjoy, that I'm fairly good at, that fulfils me in awesome and tangible ways.  Each day spent with the badgers of 4R and 5W is a treat.  This coming year, however, I really want to put writing and blogging at the very centre of what I do.  At weekends, in the evenings, during breaks from school.  I want to work on my craft, to learn to code, to push myself, to write things and share things and fail and make mistakes and throw myself wholeheartedly into the entire undertaking.

It's scary to talk this way.  I could be very content and safe and guarded, but instead I want to put more of myself out there.  It feels like a season for taking risks, for leaping without months of looking, for building and creating and daring.  I'm terrified.  I'm excited.  I'm inspired.

I hope you'll stick with me through this journey and would love for you to keep in touch via my various online haunts.  As well as here you can find me on twitter, facebook, instagram and pinterest (I make sure each stream has different things happening at different times, never fear!), and if you're a bloglovin' person I'd love for you to follow me there too.

Oooooh, and expect a blog redesign in February - fresh starts abound!

Here's to a brave, exciting, busy new year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Because...kitties

I love that whenever I get the camera out, they all assume it's for them....


"Laundry?  Blogging?  Really, Claire?  Surely you could be making some chicken?"


BLUE STEEL

 "Whatchoo doing down there?"


"No, I'm not up on the side.  Again.  Nope."

*sniffs bowl, looks on disparagingly as human lifts her down and then cleans side*


Wee cutie.


Extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme close up.

Man I love our very silly furbabies!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Leftovers: Turkey in a Wine and Cream Sauce (a lazy day recipe)

I love to cook, and especially when I get to use good quality, fresh ingredients.

Sometimes, however, it's chilly outside (so you don't want to leave the house), you've been in PJs all day (so you better not leave the house!) and you have a fridge full of leftovers.  Those days call for a lazy day recipe.  So behold, a quick recipe for turkey in a wine and cream sauce, with trimmings!


You will need:


Leftover turkey (we probably had 200-300 grams worth)
Frozen sweetcorn and frozen peas (1 cup each)
White wine
Onions (white/yellow if poss - the red ones can make the sauce a little pink!)
Butter
1 can each of Campbells cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup (I keep these in the cupboard for occasions just like today, when reading/watching sports/napping were much higher up the priority list than venturing out to the shops!)

The sides are up to you.  We had mashed potato (Matthew's favourite!), cold sliced stuffing, pigs in blankets (we had a spare pack left from Christmas day), broccoli, carrots, and chicken gravy.

Fill two pans with water (one large, one small).  Put the larger one on to boil immediately.  This will be for your potatoes.  Salt the water, then peel 3 - 6 potatoes (depending enturely on how much your crowd like potatoes!).  The smaller one will be for any veggies.  If you're doing pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon for thosewho've never encountered the phrase!) or stuffing, you'll want to have the oven on the heat too.  Add the potatoes to the water and the items to the oven, then lets make some sauce!
  

Very roughly chop some onions (we're lazy day cooking here!) and put in a pan with a decent drop of butter.  Cook over a medium heat until turning transluscent.


Add a festive glug of wine.

Then add another.

Stir in a cup of frozen corn.


And some frozen peas.

Hurrah for deep freezers!


Dice up your leftover meat and add to the pan.  You will want to increase the heat here to ensure it's cook through fully - tummy bugs are never fun!

This is a good time to start the water boiling for your side veggies.


 Grab your cans of soup, open, decant and stir through.

Praise your Southern/Lancastrian grandma for her Florida/Georgia cooking tips.



Pour yourself a glass of white while everything simmers through.  Put your veggies in, make up a little gravy, mash your taters....and serve.


It may not win any beauty pageants, but by gosh it was tasty!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Our Christmas

Our Christmas was cosy and homely and sweet and lovely.  A calm day full of good food, sweet memories, brilliant winter sunshine, far too many presents and a pile of kitty snuggles.  From first awaking (late) to dropping off after a few cocktails, it was wall to wall festive fun.  A truly special Christmas.  Here's a few glimpses of our day.


Poor Matthew has not been well for a while, so a big Christmas lie-in was definitely required.  Leela-paws came to join us for a snuggle - she loves solo time!


 Fry and Poppet were very interested in the happenings occurring in the kitchen!


Requisite Christmas selfie - as we don't spend the season with our families we like to send a few goofy pics to make them smile.


We went for a walk to the QE2 park before dinner - such a lovely way to work up an appetite.  Olympic level Christmas fun!



Loved sharing our first married Christmas together.


All ready for Christmas dinner a deux!


I concocted this cocktail, which I would compel you to try....

Christmas Yumminess

Add a healthy amount of ice to a shaker.

Add 1/4 cup gin (I used Tanqueray 10), 2 tbsp Chambord and 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Shake in a way that I would describe as vigorous, and the cats would describe as too darn loud.

Pour into a glass and top with chilled tonic water.

Delish!  


After watching a lot of very silly stuff (Community, Modern Family, Community, The Office) we had a late night snack (M: trifle.  C: leftover sandwich for the win, my friends!) and then headed up to bed.  Poppet decided our bed was her bed too.  Well, it was Christmas.

How was your day?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve



Wonderful.

Here it's been a day of errands and prep and tidying.

An evening of silliness and relaxing and cosiness.

And now it's time to tuck in for a long winter's nap.

Merry Christmas, everyone.  May it be exactly what you like - whether that be a good book and a cup of tea, a massive family gathering, snuggling up with your favourite person, or anything and everything in between.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Our house at Christmas

Decorating for Christmas is one of my favourite things.  I love our home anyway, but filled to the brim with sparkles, fairy lights and cards?

It's even better.

Here's a few shots to show off this year's shininess.  Mum, look!


This beautiful decoration crowns Davina, the tree in our bedroom.  It was made by our sweet friend Emily, who is obscenely talented when it comes to crafting!  You can visit her on etsy or notonthehighstreet to see other beautiful things she has made, crafted and sketched.  So clever!  I love seeing what Emily devises for gifts.


Round here, cat decorations are clearly going to happen....


As are badgers!  We've had the top badger for a couple of years, and now his girlfriend has arrived.  Thank you, Shona!


Davina tree, replete with a pile o' gifts.


We have little things dotted hither and thither.  This wreath tops our first stairs.  The cats are hypnotised by the ribbons!


I really like our stockings - by the time I shot this Matthew's was away to be filled....now mine has 'disappeared' too!


Dave the tree in all his glory, in our sitting room.


We are so lucky - many of our friends know how much we like decorating for Christmas, so decorations are often gifted to us.  This pretty wooden owl decoration is one of two my sweet friend Eileen brought back from Frankfurt for us.


Our very clever friends James & Laura made these beautiful 'love and thanks' baubles as their wedding favours (they wed earlier this month - congrats again, lovelies!).  Such a pretty addition to the tree.


I'm a sucker for an initial!  These were new this year.



Our trees feature lots of badgers...


...and our trio of cats even make an appearance!


Every mantel and shelf is beladen with cards and lights and little knicknacks.



Even Lizzy-fish joins in!

Wreaths on inside doors as well as our front door.


Love my little advent nativity.


In the dining room we do put decorations up, but try to make sure they are fairly kitty-friendly as it's very much their stomping ground.  Poppet LOVES knocking over Christmas cards.


I love our new ice bowl!  So shiiiiiiiny.


Christmas in the kitchen consists of a countdown - and a very festive bottle of wine (thanks, Katie!).


So that's our Christmas decor 2014.  To have a glimpse at 2013, 2012, 20112010 and 2009, please just click on through.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve, all!

Life Lately (According to Instagram), part 2

More scenes from the December loveliness:

Love our silly stockings!

Our lovely school tree.

Fry, our 'dog-cat' is loving all the attention he' getting with my being home.

We went to the most beautiful wedding last weekend.  Gorgeousness all round.

Twinkling fairy lights make my heart soar.

Hearty soup on a cold night.

So. Many. Christmas. Cards.

Davina tree.

And rest.

Hi, I'm Claire...

Hi, I'm Claire...

About Me

I believe in 80s pop, 90s teen movies, and proper thank you notes. I just like smiling...smiling's my favourite.

I write here about London, food, books & travel, and a lot more besides. I'm never happier than when having adventures, cooking for friends, or lost in a good book.

If you'd like to work together, or if you'd just like to say hello, my email is: countrymouseclaire@gmail.com

Please note that on occasion affiliate links may be used in this blog. All items received for review or paid posts will always be disclosed.

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