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My Scrapbook Story

I have always loved scrapbooking. I don't remember a time in my life when I wasn't hoarding little notes, old train tickets, and other mementos from days out, in the hope that one day I'd have the time to stick them all into a scrapbook. My Mum bought me a gorgeous new doughnut-covered scrapbook from Paperchase for Christmas last year, which gave me the perfect excuse to sit down and record some memories. It is by no means finished yet, and some of the pages that I'm going to show you today are very much a work-in-progress, but after receiving so much encouragement from the lovely friends with whom I have shared my scrapbook, I decided to give you all a little sneak peek...

The first section of my book commemorates my day out at Cheltenham Races with some of my gorgeous blogger friends. I printed out some photos that we had taken on the day, and combined them with cuttings from the race day programme. I used old birthday gift wrap for the background of one of the pages, and simple additions like travel tickets from the day and my winning betting slip made these pages really come alive! You may notice a sticker from my friend Ellis's online shop there as well!

I must also admit that my scrapbook is by no means in chronological order, as directly after my #BloggersAtCheltenham experience, I stuck in my mementos from the Winter Ball that I attended back in December of 2016! I used some custom-made snowflake stickers for the background, as well as including the ball programme, some photos and frosty blue writing to stick with the wintry theme! This page is really simple but oh-so effective!

Next up comes a couple of pages dedicated to my participation in the #beechat snail mail scheme, which I've been a part of for over a year now! I write to four or five other bloggers very regularly, and I cut up some of the first letters I ever received to form the background for this page! In the envelope on the right hand side, I placed some of the letters which are most special to me, so that I can keep them safe and take them out to read them! The left page was designed to look like the front of an envelope, using brown paper and an old stamp (obviously I'm covering up my address)!

Now, I told you that this book was definitely not in chronological order, and we're actually going on a throwback to 2015 for these photos! The left hand page has a photo from a feminist shoot that I took part in, where the idea was to write across your body the message that you have for other women on International Women's Day. My message read "You define beauty, not Barbie", and I also had plastic-surgery style hatchings across my neck and face to show just how unrealistic Barbie's proportions really were! For the background to this page, I used flecks of multicoloured paint, which turned out so well. The right hand page shows mementos from another uni ball that I attended in 2015.

On these pages, I decided to stick on some of the academic awards that I won during my time at Oxford and turn this into a page celebrating achievement and self-love. I wanted to remind myself that I am absolutely capable of being engaged in the academic work that I am still doing, so I cut out letters from a newspaper to spell out "YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH" and then I found other positive adjectives throughout the paper and cut these out as something to look back on if I'm having a down day.

On the left here, we have a Beauty and the Beast themed page, which has fake flower petals on to allude to the Beast's rose! I went on a solo date to see Beauty and the Beast and I wanted to commemorate the beautiful film with something equally eyecatching in my scrapbook. I'm really proud of this page, but I need a little something extra to finish it off, I'm not sure what yet! I decided to do something a little different with the photo of Belle and the Beast, slicing it diagonally all the way across and then sticking the strips onto the page. I really like the effect of this, you can still see what the photo represents but it gives the page an extra summin' summin'.

The photos above show some of my most recently created pages. In November, I went on a trip to the Hepworth Wakefield art gallery with my PhD funding body and I was blown away by their exhibition of Alina Szapocznikow's work. Szapocznikow is a 20th Century artist predominantly interested in the human form. She was incredibly inventive, using casting to create works that were at the same time cute/beautiful and somewhat grotesque. I found her art so interesting that I just had to create a few pages inspired by this exhibition viewing. I purchased some postcards of her sculptures from the gallery, and cut up a flyer about the exhibition for some extra imagery!

And finally, the remaining photos just show some backgrounds that I've created, ready to stick things on to! Using a colourful background instead of leaving the page just plain white is a super easy way to jazz up a scrapbook. Gift wrap is my favourite thing to use - you can stick it on to cover the full page, or cut shapes out of it like the circles I made below! I've also saved everything from paper bags which Etsy orders are delivered in to tissue paper from shoeboxes for backgrounds! Once you start getting creative, there's no end of ways to re-use things that would otherwise just go in the bin.

My favourite thing about scrapbooking is that you can really let your imagination run wild and create some really beautiful pages! You can add extra texture using paperclips and glitter, punch holes in the pages to add on tags, and use pencils, crayons, and felt tips to decorate as well. One important thing to remember if you want to start a scrapbook is this: you can NEVER do it "wrong"! Your creation will be entirely unique and purely yours, and you can make your scrapbook look however you want it to! You could follow my lead, or take it in an entirely different direction! Just go for it!

I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of my creative outlet! Do you have a scrapbook? Tell me in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x

Winter Hair Hacks Busted*

It's not news to anyone that winter can be hard on your hair. During the colder months, the frosty temperatures outdoors combined with dry warmth inside from fires and radiators can leave your locks in a bit of a state, with breakages and split ends being common. However, help seems to be at hand as every year, beauty bloggers and YouTubers everywhere share their ultimate haircare hacks for the winter season, which will hopefully mean that nothing as dramatic as a hair transplant will be necessary. But do these hacks REALLY work? After the success of my beauty fads busted post, today I've put some popular tips and tricks to the test to see which I'd really recommend.

Starbucks Christmas Cup Craft

Ah, Pinterest. It's easy to scroll through page after page of beautiful looking crafts thinking "oh suuuuure, I could totally recreate that at home." Well, after my latest browse through those hallowed boards, I decided to put this confidence to the test and give a Christmas-themed craft a whirl. And I had all of the materials readily to hand. It's hard to resist a delicious frothy soy hot chocolate on a cold day, so I've been indulging in a Starbucks or two lately to curb the winter chill. But instead of throwing my cups away, I have kept them and turned them into a magical Christmas tree. Yes, you heard that right. If you're a Starbucks-aholic or a Costa craver, this is the festive craft for you.

Party Season Preparation

We're now halfway through December which means that Christmas party season is in full swing! Whether you're getting glammed up for your office Christmas knees-up, or if you've got a big New Years Eve event on the cards, often it's the getting ready which is the most fun part of the night! This year I've gone all out with my primping and preening (because WHY NOT?!) so prepare yourself for a mammoth post where I share all of my festive favourites! There's something for everyone, from a perfect recipe for silky smooth legs to luxurious skincare to keep you glowin' even if the snow's a-fallin'. Are you ready? Let's get started!

My Very Vegan Christmas Dinner

vegan christmas dinner food ideas

For many people, it's not the prezzies that are the highlight of Christmas Day but the Christmas dinner! Traditional festive fayre consists of a roast turkey dinner, stuffing, crispy roast potatoes, pigs in blankets and (of course!) sprouts, followed by a large helping of Christmas pud! However, things are a little different for me this year. About six months ago, I decided to become vegetarian and I haven't looked back! I've felt so much happier and healthier with a meat-free diet, and in January, I'll be taking on the Veganuary challenge. I'm not alone - the vegetarian and vegan movements are growing by the day. But that doesn't mean that the ever increasing army of veggies and vegans go hungry on Christmas Day, there are plenty of delicious options out there! To prove this to any doubters, I decided to put together a delectable and 100% vegan Christmas meal that will satisfy even the most discerning tastebuds! Keep reading to discover my cruelty free Christmas!

Blogger Book Nook #4: Christmas!

christmas book adult inspiration reading

Snow may be falling and wind is rattling the Christmas lights hanging outside, but you're all tucked up and toasty in your pyjamas by the crackling fire, a frothy hot chocolate in one hand and a festive read in the other. Sounds pretty perfect, right? In honour of this most wonderful Christmas season, this month's Blogger Book Nook theme is festive reads! Every month, Tabitha and I put together a reading prompt for the Book Nook, encouraging the club members to pick up a book and share it on their blogs. There's also a related Q&A which you can fill out if you decide to write a post on your novel of choice. It's never too late to get in on the action, so click over to our Facebook group to join the bookish community! For now, let's dive into my festive read with the Q&A and mini review!

festive reading christmas books adult

1. Do you have an all time favourite Christmas book? If so, what is it?

While I do have an all time favourite Christmas film (Elf, obviously - I love it and watch it religiously each and every Christmas), I don't have a festive read that I pull out every year. Instead I prefer to read something new each Christmas - the title I've reviewed a little later in this post is a new one to me, and I've also ordered A Dog Called Christmas, which I'm hoping that Amazon will finally deliver before the big day!! 

2. Are there any books from your childhood that you associate with Christmas time?

I absolutely loved reading as a child; my sister, brother and I would regularly decimate the shelves of our local library, reading everything we could get our hands on! In terms of Christmas stories, I remember quite a few, including J.R.R. Tolkein's Letters from Father Christmas. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen made me cry! I'm sure I had a pop up book telling the story of a postman delivering Christmas cards as well but I can't for the life of me remember the title!

3. Which book are you hoping to find in your stocking this year?

Although it's not Christmassy in the slightest, I've also recently been reading Naomi Alderman's The Power, which has totally blown me away! I am so invested in the book and it is masterfully written - I'm about two thirds of the way through at the moment and I don't want it to end! Therefore, I'd love to receive another of her books for Christmas, perhaps Disobedience or The Lessons, which is set in my former home city of Oxford. 

4. Have you ever received a book at Christmas that you still have on your book shelf unread?

I feel super guilty for admitting this, but one year my Mum gave me a copy of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse and I never actually finished it! I am confident that I still have it on my bookshelf at home, so I will have to dig it out and complete it when I head home for the Christmas break. 

5. Where is your favourite place to curl up with a book in the wintry weather?

Whilst I'm still at uni, my bed is the place to be! I love wearing my cosy Primark socks, wrapping a blanket around me and cuddling up with a book and a cup of chamomile tea before heading off to sleep. When I'm at home, my favourite place is next to the woodburner in the lounge, with a dog on my lap! Just perfect!

christmas festive read reads novel books

Mini Review

No prizes for guessing that for this month's theme, I picked up The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. This was a Richard and Judy bestselling book, so I was excited to find out whether it lived up to expectations. I can tell you now that it most certainly did! 

The story is set in the 1920's and follows an elderly couple, Mabel and Jack, who left their hometown after Mabel gave birth to a stillborn child, as being part of a large community full of children was just heartbreaking for poor Mabel. They relocated to a remote farmstead in Alaska where Jack set to work farming the baren land, which was fruitful in summer but utterly desolate in winter. The couple struggle to make ends meet but on a rare moment of fun and frolicks between them, one night they form a little child out of snow outside their house. In the coming days, some strange happenings occur on the farmstead. A little girl is spotted wandering the woods, accompanied by a fox. Mabel and Jack are beside themselves - is this little girl real, or a figment of their imaginations, just like the snow child story that Mabel used to read as a youngster? 

What I absolutely adored about this book was that it was never really clear whether Faina, the little girl in the woods, really is a magical snow child or whether she is real. Even as events in the book transpire and you begin to suspect that Faina might be a real girl, something pops up to surprise you, making you wonder all over again! Despite the fact that even at the end, this is not cleared up, I did not find the book unsatisfying as it just added to the magic and mystery of the whole thing. I would not hesitate to recommend this book as I was utterly enchanted by it.

christmas read reading novel ideas 

Don't forget to head over to the Blogger Book Nook Facebook page to join in the fun, everyone is welcome! A big thank you goes out to Fleur, Abbie, Gemma, Beth, and Hannah from our lovely little community for penning Book Nook posts for last month's theme, they were a delight to read!

What are you reading this month? Any Christmassy recommendations for me? Do comment below!

Until next time,

A x

Winter Sun with Clickstay*

winter sun holiday ideas warm december

There's nothing like wintry British weather to make you crave a getaway. When it's dark by 4pm and the wind is blowing the sleet into your face as you shiver your way back from work, sunning yourself on a beautiful beach in Cyprus, or in a stunning villa in Thailand becomes ever more appealing. As you'll know from my Best Christmas Ever post, I'm no stranger to a little bit of winter sun. Back in 2012, my family and I went on a holiday to the sunkissed island of Cape Verde over Christmas, and we had an absolutely amazing time! Winter travel is something that I'd recommend to anyone, so today I've teamed up with Clickstay to share the destinations at the top of my travel bucket list, where sunshine in December is 100% guaranteed!

winter sun holiday vacation europe