Friday, 29 November 2013

Give thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends! Hope everyone American or not has enjoyed the celebrations for this day. As I've grown older I've definitely become a lot more sensitive to the world & the people surrounding me. I observe, notice & appreciate more and more what is happening around me. Maybe it's my faith, growing up knowing Jesus but I know I am noticeably more thankful for what this life has handed to us. 
I listened to a sermon a few years ago & was challenged to write down/think about 5 things I am thankful for each day, even if it's something as trivial as 'thank you that we have running water', etc. It's really opened my eyes to all the good that we have and how good life is even when everything feels like it's crumbling and crashing down around us.

The above picture was taken on our recent holiday to Yorkshire (more photos to show soon!). Whenever Sam has our camera & I ask him to take a photo of me he starts off quite seriously & then continuously clicks so we end up with a series of me pulling stupid faces or belly laughing! This was a belly laugh! I had to use it for this post because before we went on holiday a friend prayed that the holiday would be full of rest but also fun, that we would laugh continuously with each other and enjoy each other without any of the seriousness of the things we've been through the last couple of months & that's exactly what we did. We laughed SO much together! The week was SO full of joy!

We had gone on a cruise holiday back in June as our summer holiday but also in the hope to escape a lot of emotions we weren't dealing with. We had so much fun, met some firm friends & created some incredible memories but once we returned home all the emotions & 'stuff' was still there. I'd started counselling and God began to really transform our lives so this little getaway was certainly a precious one where we were fuller, happier & more joyful people. God showed us so much of Himself in the scenery & the things we got up to. We both came home feeling fully rested and restored through God. It was a special time...

...and so, I am thankful for a million things.

for belly laughs with my husband, for good coffee & cake shops, for English pubs, for the scenery God painted for us, for the friends & family we have surrounding us with support and unconditional love, for the home we live in, for the time we are living, for the glorious Autumn weather, for knitted mittens and chunky snoods, for our health, for stability, for healing & rest & for God's perfect promises & love.

What are you thankful for this year?


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Currently in November

Thought I'd start a new series of 'currently in...' to share some of the things I've found that I've enjoyed or has inspired me. 
Inspiration for this blog series came from Katie Shelton of Skunkboy

Dreaming up new adventures with Sam for the new year.

Beginning to share my experiences with anxiety when I've been too afraid to in the past.
Appreciating these last few months that have been a huge process of healing and overcoming.
Eating relatively healthy foods before all the 'too-good-to-avoid' food enters my house! 
Watching season 3 of Grey's Anatomy. I recently started watching this series and although it took a while to get into I'm kinda hooked! There are 9 seasons streaming through my lovefilm & the show is still going on tv. Good job I can watch them in the background while I work...
Loving layering up in this cold & frosty weather.
Planning what edible gifts we're going to make this year for friends & family.
Working on possibly redesigning my blog a little.
Enjoying my home. At this period in our life this home we live in feels so God given to us that I can't help looking around each day and thanking God for where we are at the moment.
Ordering a whole lot of Christmas presents. I prefer online shopping over Christmas, the crowds are too much!
Wanting to start a lot of new craft projects.
Drinking a lot of hot chocolate. 
Looking forward to a date tonight with the hubby.
Celebrating life! Life is pretty sweet at the moment.
Wishing you all a jolly good Wednesday!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Our honeymoon video

Hey guys.
While we were away on holiday I had a little time to put together the clips I took on our honeymoon! Only 2 1/2 years later. Ooooops!
At the time I only had an iphone 3 so the quality is not too good & I wasn't expecting to make a video so there is SO much that is not included. I wish we had captured more but I didn't take too much notice of what we filmed. At least this gives a little snippet into our adventures travelling the world for 3 glorious months!

Song: Andvari - Sigur Ros 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Home Tour: Bedroom

Hi there!
Finally ready to share some pieces of our home. We live in a rented space but we've been able to do a lot to our little home without causing too much work for when we one day move out. 
Here is our bedroom. 
When we moved in this bed was already here & since we don't own our own bed yet it worked well enough for us. The walls were all white but pretty scuffed up so after trying out this statement wall I painted over it with Eygyptian Cotton - Dulux. I did love the statement wall - when I first painted it - but then it became a little garish plus I wanted to put up more photos & that was just not going to work. I love the colour we chose, if you can call it a colour. It's an off white/pale grey and works really well with the bright white woodwork. We decided to use it through the rest of our home in the places we were able to repaint. 

The metal initials were given as a gift for our engagement. They are from Urban Outfitters and we spray painted them gold. :o) The Elvis print & Jack Vettriano prints are from a shop in Spain we bought on holiday. Other others are prints I've created with favourite quotes or images taken from Pinterest.

We each have a cub on our bedsides. Mine is a tiger & Sam's a lion. The first nickname he ever gave me was 'little cub' and it kind of stuck. Both little cubs became our wedding cake toppers! 
I made the coasters that you can see here.

The prints in the frames were taken on our honeymoon and the middle one I created myself on photoshop with the lyrics to 'Come thou fount of every blessing' which my brother & older sister sang at our wedding.
Other prints that you can just about see are gifts from friends.

The striped pillows and the bedding is ikea & the others are handmade.

They'll be a lot more I'd like to add here or there or would have done differently but I think as far as rented spaces go we haven't made it look too shabby!
Thanks for taking the tour! Let me know if you see anything I didn't mention in the comments & I'll be sure to reply!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Homemade patchwork quilt

So I did a list a few months back of 4 big project goals and I already achieved some of them. I did not one but two statement walls in my home & then I painted over them again because although I really liked them I decided I like neutral best, plus I wanted to put more photos & artwork up so those walls needed to be sacrificed. They were both a great project while they lasted, no regrets! I got to be creative & then I got to be creative again in a different way!
Anyway, another big project goal was to make a quilt. I've been wanting to make one for a while so what do I do for my first quilt making attempt?? I go & make a freakin' king sized one for our bed! 

I used Rachel's tutorial which you can find here (for the quilt) then here & here (for the binding). Bare in mind that I'm a little impatient & maybe didn't match all my perfectly cut out squares corner to corner. That's okay though because I love how desperately handmade it looks! Hah. Rachel is an expert so I would follow her instructions! At least read them before instead of after like I did. BUT her tutorial for the binding is genius. Most clear & precise instructions ever. 

I used all the material from the table runners leftover from our wedding day (awwwww) plus a few other fat quarters I picked up from craft shows. 

I'm really rather pleased with how it turned out. 
Because it was so huge & wouldn't run through my sewing machine as smoothly there was a lot of unpicking, redoing, unpicking, redoing and a whole lot of loose or clumped up threads but I have to say I'm very proud of it & very proud of myself!

We use it on our bed but it also visits the living room so we can snuggle in it too! 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Understanding & beginning to overcome anxiety

So we're on holiday at the moment, a much much needed holiday for rest and restoration out in the English countryside with fresh air, wind, chilly sunshiny mornings, hills and quiet.
I've wanted to write this post for a while but somehow daytimes get busy, in the evenings I'm with Sam & I could never write this while I had any kind of distraction around me but let's be honest it's not an easy one to write.

First things first I've been dealing with a whole lot of anxiety issues. Why write about it now? Why out in the open? I have noticed lately other bloggers writing about this subject and found myself in awe at how open they can be about the things they have been through but what I'd found incredible was how they had overcome it or at least were beginning to overcome it and I found it so encouraging and hopeful that, although weeks/months later, I feel ready to share my story & hope that it encourages even one person.

18 months or so ago I began waking up with nausea, sometimes even physically being sick. Oh great...I can't possibly be pregnant! Drs appointment booked, 'no, not pregnant....are you stressed?', 'not in the slightest' I replied but that was the only apparent solution for then. I feel like I've dealt with stress pretty well. I've never let much bother me, even with school exams I knew it was something I just had to do so why waste emotional energy worrying about it...and that's how I've been through most things. I'm not a worrier. Blood tests and other tests for anything and everything done but nothing was wrong. Ok, that's great but what's going on? Nausea for months now? My health for months was deteriorating in a way I had never felt before but nothing in the slightest obvious. There was no external sign that anything was wrong, it was all internal. I hadn't felt 'well' in six whole months.
A very long story short (spanning 9-10 months) I had two jobs, two jobs that I really enjoyed to begin with but began to get very unhealthy & dangerous (in a mind manipulating, verbal abuse kind of way) & neither ended very well.
I wrote THIS post after the second one ended and that is how I genuinely felt, even when I read it back now I know I truly meant every word & I'm even encouraged myself to remember that's how it was but in the midst of all that and in the weeks after I still knew something wasn't okay and life began to stop. I began to drift one day into the next and I began to hurt, my mind stopped trusting, believing, living. We moved house in this period of time & I was kept very busy building a new home for us, redecorating rooms, completing DIY projects and filling the rest of my time with social media. Life was okay but it was not good. The sickness still came and went over those long months but it became something that I no longer reacted to. It became part of my life & I dealt with it in whatever way was easiest including avoiding people, events, going out of the house. I was safe inside & my sickness was controllable. I was in control....

Then one day I heard something about anxiety. 'Whatever that is...' Long story short (again) I went on an anxiety course that was provided by our church. I went & I really didn't want to go. When I was there I wanted to go home but then it began to all make sense. I was understanding anxiety and it was like someone had written the course for me. Someone finally gets it! We worked through THIS workbook and seriously anyone struggling with anxiety this is a hugely helpful tool which allows you to understand your anxiety, work through it & rethink it! I could not recommend it more.
This course was definitely helpful for me but because it was done in a group I knew I needed to delve deeper & get more specific. 
With a little encouragement from a few people I finally went into counselling with someone I trusted & had known for years. This is not to say you need to know your counsellor and have a personal relationship as well as a professional one but for me it was really helpful & I knew I would be able to be honest & open and that's the important thing. The sessions included some really intense prayer time too which was extremely important for me to process through some of the things that happened to me & were spoken over me. 
I write about it so easily now but believe me to even be able to submit to counselling was a huge thing for me. I believed it came with weakness, embarrassment and shame but now I see how much strength, boldness and bravery that took to get to that point and it was the best thing I have ever done. 

Now this is definitely a journey I am still on but the tools I have been given to understand myself better & understand the way I think has very much changed my life. I am myself again. I have freedom and I see more freedom ahead of me. 
Last week I was watching some terrible daytime TV while planning blog posts, not thinking about anything to do with anything I'd been through when suddenly I had this image of myself up a hill, in a secluded spot, the space and air open all around me and I saw myself sobbing. Sobbing really hard. In reality my eyes suddenly started to water but I shook it off pretty quickly wondering where on earth that came from. Then I was reminded of how much freedom I am still promised by God, how much more He has for me, that His love is SO deep, SO wide, SO strong and nothing but good is promised to me. 

'Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free' - John 8 v 32

I am not glad that everything happened, in fact I wish it had never have happened BUT God makes all things work together for our good (Romans 8 v 28) and I have truly seen that in action in my own life this past year. I see how I'm a stronger better person, I even see how it will make me a better parent when we eventually decide to start our own family. Sometimes things still hurt but I'm in a good place with the knowledge to know how to deal with it. In all the pain of times past today I feel really good. If tomorrow is a bad day, that's fine. God is with me.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading, for listening.
And I leave you with this which spoke to me in a thousand words:

"Grow strong in your weakness. Some of My children I've gifted with abundant strength and stamina. Others, like you, have received the humble gift of fragility. Your fragility is not a punishment, nor does it indicate lack of faith. On the contrary, weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me to get you through the day. I am developing your ability to trust Me, to lean on Me rather than your own understanding. Your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when. My preference is for you to depend on Me continually, trusting Me to guide you and strengthen you as needed. This is how you grow strong in your weakness".
- Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. (women's edition)

Friday, 15 November 2013

Chocolate banana truffles

Sam loves pretty much anything 'chocolate banana' so I had to find something different I could make other than a chocolate covered banana!
Type in 'chocolate banana' into pinterest & you'll get a ton of nice recipes. I came across this truffle recipe but it didn't work as well as it looks in the pictures so I'll type up my version with a few things I picked up on the way. I also doubled the recipe shown in that link & used milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate for the coating to mix it up a little.
They were mindblowingly delicious! seriously! This really is a recipe to try & I know I'll be making these again for Sam. We enjoyed them after dinner one evening....and maybe even enjoyed them before dinner too....but I'm not telling...

For the centres: 12 ounces dark chocolate, a cup heavy cream, a cup mashed ripe banana, a teaspoon vanilla extract. For the coating: 200g milk chocolate.

- Lay a sheet of cling film over a tin so that when you pour the mixture in it's easy to pull out.
- Crush up the dark chocolate in a food processor.
- Heat the cream in a saucepan until it's steaming but do not let it boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate & let it sit for a while then blend together in the food processor until combined.
- Add the vanilla essence & the mashed banana and process until smooth.
- Pour mixture into your tin & chill in the fridge overnight. 

I found that the mixture although firm was too soft to work with so I would pop tin into the freezer for a couple of hours before either cutting out in circles like the original recipe or rolling into balls like I did.

- Melt the milk chocolate (or dark again if you prefer) and dip truffles in until covered. 
- Place truffles onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, decorate if you wish with sprinkles and chill in the fridge until solid.
- After ours were ready I dusted them with a little gold.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Life lately...

Lots of changes and new ideas popping up in life lately. I've been really busy the last two weeks working at my parents house de-cluttering, cleaning and redecorating in time for Christmas. I think we'll only get the downstairs done with new stairs and landing but we'll see. It's a job that's needed doing for years and I've had fun playing interior designer the last few weeks - using my university degree somewhat! Hence the no blogging too. I definitely miss it when I don't get round to it but I'm really excited for the coming year. I have so many ideas for this blog including a little makeover and some fresh ideas on what to blog about, DIYs, outdoor adventures etc! Sometimes I have so many ideas I can't even get started. *sigh*

^^ Succulents. About the only plants I can keep alive! ^^

^^ I made a king sized quilt with this fabric. Loved quilting but doubt I'll be trying a king sized one again any time soon. Too big but enjoy it being on our bed & using it to snuggle on the sofa! ^^

^^ My handsome man! Look at those eyes..^^

^^ Beer brewing & bottling. Sam's new hobby. Maybe something I'll get him to write about on here? I don't know yet.... ^^

^^ SO loving autumn. It's for sure my favourite season. I felt like we had SUCH a long hot summer this year (unheard of!) that I have really appreciated the chilliness, rain & colours of these last few months. The only downside is catching lots of coughs & colds. Boo to that! ^^

^^ Momma came over with tea & flowers when I ran out of tea bags. What a mom! ^^

^^ Autumn outside my window ^^

^^ painted our dining room chairs bright yellow! love how they turned out! ^^

^^ little reminders ^^