Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Lifestyle

My Favourite Things

Okay, I won’t pretend this is a post I’ve written today or last night as I am currently in London. Well, I’m actually not, this is scheduled. In fact it was written back in October… But for you reading this, I haven’t written it live due to London. That was more complicated than it needed to be.

 

Today’s Christmas Countdown song is Step Into Christmas, and what better song for the day I go to Winter Wonderland for the first time ever?? You can probably guess just how excited I am for this, I’ve only been planning it since 23rd August! A little bit of Elton John is good for everyone.

 

Today’s Blogmas (Day 10) is all about why I love this time of year. Just in case you missed it, I love Christmas. Absolutely adore it. I think Mary, Nuala and Jason are well aware of this, as are quite a few of you on Twitter… but just in case anyone missed it, I truly do think Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year!

 

The clock strikes midnight on the barrier between 30th November and 1st December and it’s like my body goes into action without me even being awake. The music starts that morning (who am I kidding, the music has been around for ages but now it’s acceptable to play it out for everyone to hear), the decorations come out of hiding, and I can put my Christmas pjs on. All this before I even hit proper Christmas spirit!

Everywhere you go, multicoloured lights line houses, roads, shops and everywhere else you could think of! Whether they’re warm white, bright white, all one colour, or multicoloured, they just add a sense of excitement that isn’t around the rest of the year. Why do we only put these up for Christmas? They’re gorgeous, and make everything so much more pleasant to look at. Stuck in traffic? Enjoy looking at all the lights around you! They’re fun, bright, and are a trademark of Christmas.

As I said yesterday, a lot of children associate the turning on of the Christmas lights in their towns and cities with writing their Santa letters. Watching children get excited for what Santa may possibly bring them, queuing for their local grottos in the hope of seeing the big man and asking him in person for their most desired present. If you have any young children in your family or friend groups, ask them what they’re asking Santa for this year! It’s heartwarming to know that this still continues even though time has progressed and so many more children are getting technology related presents, they still want to ask Santa to get it for them.

Let’s take a minute to just appreciate the music at this time of the year. There are so many different Christmas songs, and so many of them have multiple covers of them! You could never get bored of them! I personally alternate between Christmas Carols or Hymns and the usual pop songs we get at this time of year. Hopefully during my song countdown to Christmas your favourites will appear but please feel free to comment with your favourites and whether or not you agree with a day’s choice! In my mind, there’s something for everyone in a Christmas playlist. Even those of you may not celebrate Christmas can surely appreciate some of the music?

The cooler air brings in yet more jumpers and boots – and it’s finally acceptable to wear my Christmas jumpers around university! New scarves, with matching hats and gloves, become must-have accessories. You can see your breath in the air, and it becomes even more difficult to get out of bed in the mornings. Everywhere sells fluffy pyjamas and socks and thermal clothing becomes a necessity. There’s a chance of snow, even if it is a small chance! I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones we used to know back when I lived in Forfar. Global warming has a lot to answer for!

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Shopping now becomes a case of every man/woman/child for themselves – survival of the fittest if you like. People dash from shop to shop, muttering under their breath when they’ve to wait in yet another easily avoided queue and questioning whether they really need to get their second cousin once removed a present this year before deciding yes and buying yet another pair of Christmas socks.

Christmas markets spring up all over the place, their stalls filled with exciting food, drink, and other such things. The mix of smells, the sound of music mixed with happy conversations, it’s all just brilliant! Plus, they always seem to be in the cute little cabins. To be honest, I’m so excited for today’s trip to Winter Wonderland. Hopefully you’re all following me on snapchat to see what it’s like!

 

Overall though, I would have to say my favourite thing about Christmas is the fact that families make an effort to see each other and spend time together, even if just to watch Home Alone for the umpteenth time as it’s shown on TV. Children everywhere begin to listen out for Santa and have their eyes peeled for any sign of snow. Christmas day arrives and families around the world try to put any arguments on hold until we all celebrate this time of year – some for religious reasons, others just because of the symbolism of peace, love and giving.

What do you love about this time of year?

 

Only 15 more sleeps!

 

Ktkinnes xx

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Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Lifestyle

Dear Santa

Hello my lovelies! Tonight I board the bus to London and I have never  been so excited for a road trip. In fact, the last time I did a road trip this long was back in 2009 when we drove from Belfast to some southern part of England for a family wedding. But we’re getting off topic. It’s yet another day closer to Christmas Day! And to celebrate, today’s song is 2000 Miles. Quite appropriate, is it not?  I mean, yes, the journey from my flat to where we’re staying in London is only 400 odd miles (of course I looked it up, why wouldn’t I?) but it’s still one heck of a long journey! Again, it’s not my favourite song but I am sticking with the list I found on the Independent’s website of the top 50 Christmas Songs as voted by the public – so take it up with those they interviewed if you don’t like it!

 

 

For Blogmas Day 9, I thought I would share my Christmas wishlist with you all today – my letter to Santa if you like. I remember years of getting excited for this part of Christmas. As soon as our birthdays were over, Rachel and I would rush for the Christmas edition of the Argos catalogue to go through it and see what we could ask Santa’s elves to make for us that year.

 

When we lived in Forfar (east coast of Scotland for the many of you who won’t know where that is), every year we went to the lights being turned on. It was a great night, and all the families went. We would have an early dinner, wrap up warm, and meet in the town centre with our Santa hats or reindeer antlers on. There would be lots of Christmas music and a parade, during which Santa would pass through and you could run up and give your letter to him or his elves in exchange for a chocolate bar! After that, Santa would go on stage and turn on all the magical lights, before promising to reply to us as soon as possible and reminding us all to be good girls and boys unless we wanted coal!

rachel-christmas
Rachel on Christmas Day 2015

We moved to Lisburn when I was 8, and yes I still believed in Santa at that age. I was heartbroken to discover Santa’s helpers wouldn’t take my Santa Letter! At this stage, Mum and Dad started to ask us to type up our letters to Santa and Dad taught us that when he was little, he had sent his letters up the chimney to Santa! I was apparently quick to point out that Mary Poppins might steal the letters and Mum told me that if the fire was lit when the letters to Santa were put in the fireplace then Mary Poppins would know to leave them for Santa. It all made sense to me! The next obstacle was to make sure my letter didn’t get mixed up with Rachel’s… you can imagine how awful that would be if Santa gave me her Babyborn stuff and she got my Gameboy!

 

As I’m sure you can imagine, we stopped writing our letters quite some time ago, however Mum does still ask for a list of ideas and then she’ll pick and choose from the list. This year, I have no big thing I’m asking for, and so I’ll either get more of my little suggestions or money, depending on how much she spends on Rachel.

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And so, just for old time’s sake, I wanted to write it as a letter to Santa. It’s fun! You should definitely do it too!

 

Dear Santa,

Firstly, how are you? It’s been so so long! In fact, I think the last time I wrote to you, we still had the desktop computer in the little room – boy has a lot changed since then! You see, I had the unfortunate experience of growing up. I know, I know, we all have to at some stage, but one thing no one ever warned me was that you could still be judged and laughed at for being excited for Christmas as an adult! I’ve really missed getting to enjoy and discuss the magic of Christmas with you. Speaking of, do you remember the year it was too snowy for you to land on our roof and so you landed on the driveway and the reindeer left their hoof prints? Rachel and I were so excited! How are Dasher, Dancer, Donner, Vixen, Cupid, Comet, Prancer, Blitzen and Rudolph? I’m still saving up those carrots Mum tries to feed me at dinner so I can give them to the reindeer!

I would like to hope that I have been good this year, I promise I tried my best! If you are in agreement, would it be okay to ask for a few things this year? The main things I would wish for can’t be made by your elves unfortunately, so I won’t bore you with them. If possible, I would like

  • A new electric toothbrush
  • Mark Hill shampoo and conditioner (yes, I still use these after all these years of you giving me them!)
  • Any book – you know me well enough to pick a good story!
  • Pyjamas – a girl can never have enough
  • Sock – same rule as above. These can be fluffy or normal.
  • Calendar
  • iTunes voucher – yes I’m still using these.
  • Bubble bath and bathbombs
  • Contact lenses – those things are expensive if you can only wear them for a few hours before having to bin them!
  • Cosy scarf
  • Outfit for Christmas Day or New Year
  • No7 Translucent Setting Powder

As always, these are just a few suggestions and you are more than welcome to pick and choose from them!

I really have missed our annual chats. The mince pie and coke will be on the coffee table by the door. Dad still suggests giving you a whiskey to keep you warm but you don’t want to be caught driving under the influence of alcohol!

 

I’ll always believe,

 

Katie B.

 

 

What are you asking for this year? Is there something you get every year? Let us know in the comments below!

 

16 more sleeps!!!

 

Ktkinnes xx

Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Lifestyle

Looking back

Nostalgia is kicking in big time today! Welcome back to Life with Ktkinnes for yet another day of Blogmas. Can you really believe I’ve lasted a week? Yes, I have another exam tomorrow, but my mind keeps jumping to London and how excited I am to spend the weekend away, exploring a new city and spending time with the girls I’ve spent the last 108 days talking to. It’s crazy when you think we only started GRLPOWR 106 days ago!

Continue reading “Looking back”

Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Lifestyle

Katie Tries Fashion

Well anyone who knows me even slightly will know that this post is more than slightly out of my comfort zone as I have awful fashion sense, and my idea of dressing up is a sparkly top with my slightly less see-through leggings and some heeled ankle boots that are in serious need of polishing. So you may be wondering why I decided to go with something like this. One answer – Christmas Jumpers!

 

As I’m sure you’re aware, we’re now onto day 7 of my Blogmas posts and with that some our 7th song in the countdown of Christmas Songs. Now, I would be lying if I said I prefer this original version compared to the Michael Bublé one but then again who doesn’t love his voice? Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was first released by Darlene Love back in 1963 – that’s even before my mum was born!

 

 

The lyrics resonate with a lot of us at this time of year. Whether we’re the ones away, or our loved ones aren’t with us, there’s always someone somewhere waiting for that person to walk in through the door, throw their bags to the ground, and hold them in a bear hug. No, just me? Sorry, emotions showing again!

 

Anyway, this year I finally achieved the dream of having a new Christmas jumper to wear each day of the week and so I thought I’d show you them all! Now, as I’ve been gathering them for a few years, unfortunately I can’t guarantee that they’ll still be being sold in their respective shops. Also, please excuse the photography, I’m still so new to actually including pictures in my blog, and I really didn’t want to be in the pictures!

 

 

My newest jumper from Primark – it lights up!
My first ever Christmas jumper. From Next a few years ago
The best Christmas song, written on a tshirt, makes it a Christmas tshirt! Bought from Primark

A cute “”tis the season to be jolly” short sleeved top! From Next, 2015
Last year’s addition to the collection – and it sings! Bought from Primark last year
Best bought in the Boxing Day sales, this beauty cost me only £1.50 from M&S
Not a proper Christmas jumper but the penguins make it festive!

I have more at home but I forgot to bring them to Glasgow. 

Ktkinnes xx

Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Food, Lifestyle

Food Glorious Food

As we start Day 6 of Blogmas (that word still looks funny), I decided to share my Christmas Dinner with you all and how I prepared for it, cooked it, and just the general fun I had on Sunday. It was a magical day, and it really set the mood for Christmas Day! All that would’ve made it better is snow…

 

And yes, I just had to put in a bit of Michael Bulbé. While cooking, I found it very helpful to have some Christmas music playing, and a large glass of wine to hand! So without further delay, here we go:

 

Being paranoid about forgetting something, I started my shopping list back around the 14th of November. To do this, I found it best to sit and make a meal plan. The actual planning can be the slowest part for me as I have to think everything through fully to make sure it’s all gluten free for Nuala, no tomatoes for Jason, and not too creamy for me. I think Mary might actually be the easiest to feet out of the 4 of us… that’s a strange thought… Anyway, I’m getting distracted! To plan my meal, I wrote it out as if we were are a restaurant. That way, I could go through and see exactly what I was cooking. The next step for me was to write out the individual shopping lists for each course, before finally combining the lists into the ultimate food shop, remembering to omit the things I already have in the flat. All this can be seen below.

 

Menu and shopping lists
Now, I like to use Tesco Delivery, but you’re free to go shopping or try a different supermarket, but if you were to use Tesco to buy all these items as I did, You could expect to spend about £72 to feed four people with plenty of left overs. This would work out at roughly £18 per person for a 4 course meal plus whatever’s left over.

 

Once again, I found myself at the planning stages. Yes, I had all my food on its way, I had fully planned the food, but the next step is to figure out timings. This is crucial when it comes to cooking a dinner of this style and size. I like to work backwards in this situation ie figure out out what time you would like to be sitting down to each course, and subtract times from then to figure out when each thing should be done. It also helps, especially when in a student flat, to figure out which dishes will be needed for each course, however I won’t bore you with that side of my planning. Just know that it took me a good three hours to figure it all out, especially tying to work out how on earth I managed to fit them all in the oven last year!

 

Now, as you can see from the schedule attached here – christmas-cooking-schedule, for a dinner on Sunday I started preparation on Friday. This may seem a little stupid to you but the terrine I decided to make as a starter was actually a 3 day thing. If you’d like to follow my schedule, feel free. However, below I have included the 4 courses, their required ingredients, and how to make them. Hope you enjoy!

 

Starter – Pork Terrine

Ingredients:

  • 200g skinless duck breast
  • 200g skinless chicken breast
  • 150g pork loin fillet
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 250g thin rindless streaky bacon
  • 1kg sausage meat*
  • 150ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp parsley
  • 2 tbsp tarragon
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • butter
  • salt and pepper to season

Method:

  1. Mix the duck, chicken, pork, garlic, brandy, 2 tbsp thyme, oil and pepper in a large bowl. Cover this and leave it to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
  2. Drain the meats and cut them into small chunks before browning them on the stove. Season, and then leave to cool.
  3. Grease a loaf tin (roughly 1 litre in size), and arrange the bacon on the base and sides – double layering the base, and leaving enough over the sides to fold over the top.
  4. Soften your sausage meat with cream and the rest of the herbs before mixing in the now cold meat. Scoop this into the loaf tin, pressing down well, before covering with more bacon over the top.
  5. Heat your oven to 180C (for a fan oven) and double wrap the top of the terrine in foil. Place the loaf tin in a large deep-sided roasting pan and pour boiling water up to half way.
  6. Bake for one hour before removing from the oven and leaving to cool. Place this in the fridge overnight.
  7. Place the tin in a pan of just boiled water in order to soften the bacon. Once softened, you should find it easy to remove the tin from the terrine.
  8. Slice and serve with salad.

 

 

The next part is the fun part. Ever watched your parents stress on Christmas Day and wonder why? It’s because there are so many elements to the main course and half the time they aren’t even eaten! Here’s how I prepared the main course:

 

Turkey:-

Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey crown (most come with it written on the side how many it serves)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chicken stock

 

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Our oven is a little strange with temperatures so I always adjust the temperature to match the oven. Only you know your oven so go with your gut instinct!
  2. Mix, in a small bowl, your maple syrup, orange juice and thyme. This is your glaze.
  3. Put your turkey crown in a roasting tray – piece of advice, a disposable one is perfect for this and you’ll appreciate it when it’s time to do the dishes. Generously brush the skin with the glaze. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour chicken stock into the roasting tin around the turkey up to a depth of around 2cm (roughly 500ml). Again, depending on the people you’re cooking for, you might want to check your stock cubes to see if they contain gluten!
  5. Calculate your cooking time. Allow 20 minutes per kg plus an extra 70 minutes. Of course, a lot of the turkey crowns now come with this already calculated and written on the packaging so check there to save yourself any calculations!
  6. Place your turkey tin in the oven and remember to re-glaze every 20 minutes or so. As you can see, I’ll be setting timers for everything!
  7. When time is up, remove your turkey from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. To check your turkey is cooked through, check the juices are running clear.

 

Roast Potatoes – Now this is one that you can easily cheat – buy a pack of ready made and shove them in the oven! However, as a family we always have homemade roasties on Christmas Day. And with Nuala being unable to eat the ready made ones, I get the fun of making my own!

Ingredients:

  • approx 650-700g potatoes. Maris Piper work best in my opinion
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp flour (gluten free in my case)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (notice that here’s your first problem – two different temperatures for things that need to be done at the same time!) and peel and half your potatoes. For larger potatoes, you may wish to quarter them.
  2. Put your empty (yes empty) roasting tray in the oven to preheat.
  3. Parboil your potatoes for 8-10 minutes on the hob in a large pot of boiling water.
  4. Drain your potatoes and dry them, before tossing them in the mix of flour, oregano, turmeric and salt and pepper.
  5. Pour your oil into the hot tray and stick it back in the oven for 5 minutes. Allow your potatoes to sit out in the open during this time as it helps crisp them slightly.
  6. Add your potatoes to the oil and toss them so they’re fully coated in the oil. Roast for approximately 40 minutes, remembering to turn them half way, and take them out when golden and crispy.

 

Mashed Potato – Again, this is something you can cheat by buying the ready made stuff. Alternatively, you can make your own in advance and then shove it in the microwave for 10 minutes before serving!

Ingredients:

  • 900g potatoes (can use the same ones as above!)
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

  1. Peel and cut your potatoes, same as in the roast potato section.
  2. Pop them in a pot and pour in enough water to cover them.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, lower the heat so it’s simmering until the potatoes are soft (about 15 minutes) and drain.
  4. Return the potatoes to the pot and add your milk and butter.
  5. Using either a masher or an electric beater, mash the mix until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Carrots and Parsnips – Now, at home we tend to have this mashed and so it’s cooked the exact same way as the mashed potato recipe above (without the milk and with extra butter) however as a flat, we prefer the roasted vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 250g carrots
  • 250g parsnips
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Method:

  1. Peel your vegetables and preheat your oven to 220°C. As with the roast potatoes, put an empty tray into the oven to heat.
  2. Slice your vegetables into halves or quarters, so they are all a similar size.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the oil, honey and mustard. Add your vegetables and toss thoroughly to evenly coat the pieces.
  4. Place them on the hot tray and roast for around 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Note: I tend to cheat for this and instead, I only mix the mustard and the honey, before adding the vegetables to the same tray as the potatoes! Saves on dishes, and means I save a little oil!

 

Brussel Sprouts – the bane of all Christmas dinners. Who actually enjoys these? And yet I couldn’t count it as a Christmas dinner without these! So here’s how I make them slightly more tolerable.

Ingredients:

  • 15 sprouts halved length-wise
  • 1 and a half tbsp butter
  • 1 and a half tbsp oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in the oil in a pan over a medium-high heat.This is where I miss my gas hob at home! Do this until the butter is ‘foamy’
  2. Reduce the heat a little before adding the garlic. Cook this until it is lightly browned and then take it out and bin it (yes really)
  3. Add sprouts cut-side down, cover and cook without stirring on a medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Serve them up!

 

For the GravyPigs in blankets and Stuffing I would recommend just buying ready made or powers that you just add water to for the gravy and stuffing. It saves a lot of time and hassle! Follow the instructions on the packaging and keep quiet when people compliment your skills on these three things!

 

Dessert – Chocolate Mousse

The penultimate course! Our flat is filled with a strange mix. Nuala can’t eat anything glutenous, Jason tends to like most things but can be quite straight when telling you his opinion on something, Mary isn’t a fan of mixing sweet and savoury, none of the three of them like Christmas pudding, and I really am not a fan of cream. So we’re a bad bunch to make dessert for! This is why I settled on a nice mousse.

 

Ingredients:

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100ml whipping cream

Method:

  1. Grate 50g of the chocolate and set it to one side.
  2. Melt the remaining chocolate in a bowl before stirring in your alcohol if you are using it.
  3. Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks.
  4. Spoon in half the sugar, whisk into stiff peaks again, add the rest of the sugar and whisk again.
  5. Whip your cream in a separate bowl.
  6. Fold your melted chocolate into the egg and sugar mix. Once fully folded in, fold in the cream and two thirds of the grated chocolate.
  7. Spoon the final mixture into individual cups and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.
  8. Serve with the remaining grated chocolate sprinkled on top, and if you’re feeling fancy add a strawberry or some raspberries!

 

And finally – Citrus Crush.

This has become a traditional pudding that I make. Actually, while writing this post I’ve just realised that I need to find new dishes to serve the mousse in as I had planned on using the dishes I use for citrus crush! Whoops… Anyway, this is a recipe for what can only be described as something somewhere between a sorbet and a slushy but it is so so tasty!

Ingredients:

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 300ml water
  • 2 grapefruits (halved)
  • 4 oranges (halved)
  • 2 limes (halved)

Method:

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the water in a pot on the hob. Remove the sugary water from the heat and leave to cool.
  2. Juice the fruit and sieve the juice into the now cooled sugar water.
  3. Pour this into a container, roughly pour in 2-3cm in depth but I find this doesn’t overly matter.
  4. Freeze this for 2 hours. Remove, and ‘fluff’ (I mash) it with a fork.
  5. Return it to the freezer and now fluff every half hour between now and serving. I tend to forget so I don’t think it overly matters but just as long as you give it a chance to fully freeze. Mash it before serving though!

 

 

And that brings us to the end of a very long Christmas Dinner Recipe! I hope you find it useful, and if you do decide to try making it let me know how it goes!

 ​

​Ktkinnes xx

Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Lifestyle

A Girl Can Dream

So this wasn’t an original Blogmas post, and while writing it I had no clue what day to put it on. But I was listening to Christmas music, and having a moment of pure Christmas spirit, when I found myself daydreaming about my dream house at Christmas. I’m very aware I have never described my dream house to you, but trust me when I say that it would be incredible at Christmas.

As I’m sure you’ve realised now that you’re reading, this post is Day 5 of Blogmas! And in keeping with our Christmas Song Advent Calendar (I should really think of a catchier name for this…) today we have one of my favourite songs of the season. It’s bouncy and sounds so happy, and it distracts you from its anti-war message that actually never is out of touch with modern day life. There’s always some war somewhere with soldiers wishing they were at home for Christmas!

 

But now, onwards with the dream decorating!

To start with, I would love a white pebble-dashed house with a red front door and a stained-glass window above it in the shape of a semi-circle. It would also have a large door size window beside it to allow light into the hallway. So to decorate the outside, I would put up a light up snowman something like the one below (found here) beside the front door. Another simple thing that can’t be ignored at Christmas is the wreath on the door. Now, I am actually very fussy about my wreaths so I’d probably go for one like this.

 

Now, I would love a big hallway that I could put a tree in. I don’t mind whether or not it’s a real tree, but the one in my hallway would be a very traditional one. Think warm-white led lights, gold and red baubles, pine cones, some fake snow, and a fairy sitting on the top of it, and the tree would be on a white, glittery, circular sheet to give a snowy effect.  Under here, I would store presents to give to friends and extended family so that as they left after visiting, I could hand them their presents on the way out. I’d then replace them with any presents I received. The rest of the hall would be decorated with a string of fairy lights around the top of the room that I could hook Christmas cards over! Although, thinking about this, I would probably have to hole-punch the cards and hang them from ribbon (again, gold and red to match the theme) so that they weren’t a fire risk and so they could be read slightly easier. Any pictures in the hallway, and the large mirror I would have up, would have a sprig of mistletoe or holly above them just to add a bit more festivity to the area. The hall table under the large mirror would have a nativity set sitting on it, and there would be tinsel intertwined around the legs of the table.

In the living room, the bigger of the two and therefore the one kept mainly for hosting, would have a tree in the window. This tree would have all the other colours of baubles on it, multicoloured fairy lights, and a star resting on top. Of course, this one would also have the candy canes, chocolates, and crackers on it too. I can’t even begin to list the variety of novelty decorations I would love on it but basically anything that didn’t count as a ‘classic’ or traditional decoration would be on this tree. Here, I would keep some fake presents just for decoration, as well as any presents for unexpected callers. Did someone mention unwanted presents? It’s not regifting, it’s recycling! The fireplace would have a long garland draped over it, and a bowl of my homemade potpourri in the middle. Of course, what fireplace would be complete at Christmas without stockings hanging from it? Little snowglobes and other ornaments would sit on the tables. I’ve included a few links at the bottom to the room decorations shown below.

In the smaller, cosier living room, I would have my Disney tree. Now. My parents, when they first got married, collected a lot of Disney Christmas decorations (look out for some of them in a later post) and I have always looked at them longingly. I am well aware that Rachel and I are going to have to split them when the time comes to divvy up our parents’ things, but in my dream home, and on this tree in particular, I would have every hanging Disney decoration ever invented. Again, this tree would be covered in multicoloured fairy lights, but underneath it would be all sorts of Christmas toys and teddies. In both this room and the previous one, I would have fairy lights strung around the room to hang cards from. This would also be the room where I would proudly display all my advent calendars! A girl can never have too many, can she? And since money is no object, you can bet I would have as many different calendars as I can possibly put up. However, I would have one refillable calendar that I would put an activity or task in so that each day I could aim to do something either for someone else or Christmassy. Again, I would have a garland and stockings on the fireplace in here, and more little ornaments resting on coffee tables, but I would also have mistletoe and holly hanging from the bookcase in the corner.

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My study, well technically it’s just a mini library but shush, would have a small tree sitting on the desk, and just little ornaments dotted around the place. I’d have Christmassy throws on the seats, and Christmas cushions on the window seat that I would of course have. The dining room would have a Christmas tablecloth over the table, and festive cushions on the seats. There would be more fairy lights around the ceiling, and lots of little candles everywhere in both these rooms. I would have a yule log centrepiece with a long advent candle in it. The placemats and coasters would all be Christmas themed, and there would be more little ornaments dotted around the place. In the kitchen, all the crockery would be replaced with Christmas themed crockery. Cutlery would all be either plain silver or have red plastic handles. Again, there would be a festive tablecloth, and Christmas tea-towels around the room. I’d have little baubles dangling from the cupboard handles, festive smelling washing up liquid, and Christmas cookie jars would replace the standard utensil jars on the counter.

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In the bathrooms, I would have Christmas toilet roll, and festive hand towels to match the festive soaps. I would definitely have the Santa toilet sets that you can now find in all the random shops and online, and in any bathroom with a shower curtain, I would replace the curtain with a Christmas one! Is there anything else you can do to decorate a bathroom? Each bedroom would have a mini Christmas tree, either on the windowsill or on the dressing tables. Of course, there would be festive bedding and curtains to match, and fairy lights around the ceiling again. Finally, outside I would have a snow machine, creating my dream of a white Christmas daily.

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How would you decorate your dream house? I feel like I’ve missed so much but I genuinely can’t think of anything else right now!

 

Ktkinnes xx

 

http://www.marksandspencer.com/frosted-christmas-arrangement/p/p60056219?prevPage=plp&pdpredirect – flowers and candle

http://www.marksandspencer.com/noel-letters/p/p22473126?prevPage=plp – noel letters

http://www.marksandspencer.com/santa-snowglobe/p/p22473594?prevPage=plp – snow globe

Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Lifestyle

Santa’s Sweet Sleigh!

We’ve made it to Blogmas day 4! Is anyone else mildly surprised I’ve made it this far? Just me? Whoops…

The next song in our Christmas Countdown is Frosty The Snowman. Now I’ll be honest and say that when I went on YouTube to get the link for today, I discovered a mini film tv show thing back from 1969 where the song actually seems to come from! So if you find yourself with a spare 25 minutes today, please be sure to check it out! But for the rest of us, here’s my favourite version!

Now that we’re into the main body of the post, I can talk to you about the Santa’s Sweet Sleighs I made last year for our Christmas dinner as a flat. Actually, today’s this year’s dinner so it’s quite fitting that I put this in here! Anyway, yes. This is the sweet sleigh I made:

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Santa’s Sleigh
These were actually quite fun to make, and the other 3 seemed to enjoy them! I tried to research the best way to make these last year and actually found it quite difficult so hopefully this will help any of you looking for something different this year.
I started out using these build yourself boxes. The first one was a little difficult to figure out but once I got the hang of it it was fine! I also bought 3 sets of the Smarties Santa and 2 Reindeer from a local supermarket and a box of 8 candy canes from the nearby Poundland. These were then stuck together and attached to the box as seen above. Of course, you can use any chocolate Santas or reindeer however these suited my student budget the best!

It was then time to think about what to put in the sleighs. I knew I wanted some sort of card game per person as these would fit perfectly in the boxes and they were great for killing time between courses! As typical students, I went with drinking game cards such as Fuzzy Duck, Blotto, Gargle and Legless from Hawkins Bazaar. These cost approximately £3 a set and were definitely worth the money! I then filled around this game with sweets, including a “sack” of coins – chocolate coins!
Overall, I would say I spent around £10 per Santa sleigh however it was definitely money well spent as we had great fun with the games and still play them on occasion! If you don’t want to have to think about sweets, a simple and cheap solution is to buy a tin of quality streets or celebrations and fill the sleighs with these.

Hope you find this helpful! Only 16 sleeps left!
Ktkinnes xx

Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Lifestyle

My Christmas Decorations 2016

Oh I’ve been looking forward to this post for ages! Last year I did something similar, and to be honest a lot of the decorations are the same, but it’s my favourite part of Christmas and now I get to share it with you all! If you have me on snapchat, I’ll probably have bored you to death with my little pics and videos of it all but I wanted to gather them all in one place for you all to see. Also, as it’s the third day of blogmas, we have our third song in the countdown of Christmas songs!

 

Now, I won’t go into detail about these pictures, but if any of you would like to know where certain things are from, or if you think something would look better in a different place, drop me a comment below or tweet me @kvburton657 !

 

As well as these few pictures, I have a little video of the wall way! Please bare with me as I figure out how exactly to video these things, edit them, and actually publish them!

 

 

How are your decorations looking?

 

Ktkinnes xx

Posted in Blogmas

Buying presents as a student

 

 

Hello and welcome to Blogmas Day 2! Today’s song on the Christmas countdown is I Believe in Father Christmas – quite an appropriate one given today’s topic! As we now have just over 3 weeks until the big day, and student loans are beginning to look a little low, most of us begin this panic of what to buy everyone. Secret Santa presents need bought, there’s family to think of, and then there are those of you who are lucky enough to have significant others to buy for as well.

 

Do not fear my friends! Below is a list of what you can either buy or make as a present for even the pickiest of people. Of course, there are so many different options that I won’t be able to list them all but hopefully something will come into your head!

 

  1. A photo book. With the app Free Prints, you can order 45 free photos a month, all size 6×4, and only pay postage on them! Then either buy a few cheap frames from your local pound shop, or buy a scrap-book and stick them in with little messages relating to the picture. It’s a really personal present and shows you care. Best part? It can all be done for less than £5! If you give your invite code to family and friends, you gain an extra 5 free prints per month, so if this is something you’re interested in, why not use my code and then share yours? Mine is ‘kburton15’.
  2. Christmas decorations. From snowglobes to Santas, to snowmen and more, you can never have enough Christmas decorations! Again, your local pound shop, or Primark can often have lovely little things you would never have thought of. I personally like scouring the charity shops in my areas as it means I’m donating to a good cause too.

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  3. Homemade potpourri . I actually made this for my aunt and uncle last year and it’s still smelling strong! Just google homemade Christmas potpourri and there are so many to choose from! Pop it inside a sandwich bag and tie with some ribbon, and it becomes the perfect gift. Of course, you can always buy a cheap but nice dish to put it in too. Pictured below is the potpourri I made them this time last year. The picture was taken in August and when I went visiting in November it was still there and smelt incredible!
  4. Gloves. If you’re anything like me, you will constantly be losing at least one of a pair. You can never have enough gloves, and there are often some lovely ones in Primark, Dunnes Stores, and there are even some great bargains in TK Maxx!

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  5. Socks. Again, a bit like gloves, but these are things that no one likes to buy themselves. I don’t know about you but even just one new pair of fluffy socks brighten up my day.
  6. Fudge or shortbread. A quick search online will quickly give you so many recipes for this and you also have the fun of taste testing! Homemade treats always go down well, as it shows you’ve actually spent time on their present rather than just grabbing the first thing you see.

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  7. Personalised calendars. Again, these do cost money but they’re nearly always on sale at this time of year as everyone makes a mad dash to buy them for the start of the new year. Upload pictures for the person, add in any key dates you think they should remember, and Bob’s your uncle!
  8. Hidden compartment book. Okay so if you’re anything like me this idea of this is great but actually creating it may hurt a little. Head to your local charity shop for a hardback book and use this tutorial to make a little hiding spot for anything your recipient may want to hide, whether it be the last chocolate bar, keys or their phone!

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  9. What (Name) Likes canvas. Do you have The Works near you or a similar shop? These places sell canvases that you can paint and decorate. To be honest, I got this idea from a present my amazing flat mates got me for my 21st, although they didn’t make it. Not that that makes it any less great, but this way probably would’ve been a lot cheaper! Pick up a paint sample from your local DIY shop, or you may find you know someone with left over paint in their garage from their recent home decoration. Paint the canvas and allow it to dry before writing in permanent marker ‘What (Name) Likes’ across the middle and then list all the things you know they like in different sizes and directions. They’re sure to love it!
  10. Board Games. Once again, get down to your local charity shops and have a search for their board games. There’s nothing better than sitting down with friends or family to play a board game on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day, and it’s something they can play at any time. A lot of these games probably won’t have even been used!

 

So there you have 10 ideas that you can consider! One thing I would recommend is looking at whatever deals and offers are on. Whether there’s a 3 for 2 offer you can take advantage of, or if something’s half price, any way you can save money is a great idea! Personally, I love looking on Groupon, Living Social, and Wowcher to see what deals there, and one of my friends pointed me in the direction of Wish! Although I would recommend Wish for if you aren’t in a rush for presents as the delivery time can be ages. I placed an order on September 28th and by October 9th still hadn’t had it confirmed!

 

Hopefully I’ve helped even a little bit. If you’ve any suggestions that you think I should’ve included please feel free to mention them in the comments below!

 

Have a great Friday, and try not to murder anyone when doing your Christmas shopping this weekend!

 

Ktkinnes xx

Posted in Blogmas, Christmas, Lifestyle

On the First Day of Blogmas…

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog during my favourite time of the year! Let me just say now, in case I accidentally offend anyone, I am a major fan of Christmas. Growing up in a religious family, I of course understand that it isn’t all about the aesthetics of it all, however I myself am not as religious as the rest of my family and so spend the Christmas period celebrating family and friendships. It’s this time of year that I like to take a step back from it all, or as much as I can considering there are exams to worry about, and thank whatever deity happens to exist, if one does exist. For my religious opinions, either ask me through my little Contact Me page that now exists, or take a read through my posts in August 2015 after the death of a relative.

 

Wow that was slightly more morbid than it was supposed to be! Anyway, let’s get back to the festivities, shall we? Last year, I attempted to (and spectacularly failed at) posting a Christmas Songs Countdown. Well, it’s back for take two this year! Along side this, I will be blogging daily and sharing all sorts of Christmassy fun with you all. So, to get things started, in at number 25 we have Christmas Lights by Coldplay.

 

 

Personally, I wouldn’t have picked this song but that’s purely because I’m a big fan of the classic Christmas pop, or possibly a bit of Bublé, am I right?

 

Today’s topic for the first day of blogmas (I swear I will stop using this word, it doesn’t look real does it?) is 10 Things to do to give back  this Christmas. As we all know, Christmas is a time of love and giving and so this year I have come up with ways to give back, even just making someone’s day brighter. I might even treat it as a challenge, see how many I do this festive season.

  1. Provide the homeless with a warm meal
  2. Donate unwanted clothes and blankets to the local charity shops
  3. Buy from the small, local shops instead of the large chains – even just your food for that day
  4. Simply hold the door open for at least one person.
  5. Give up a seat on the subway for someone who needs it more

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  6. Buy the person behind you their coffee if the barista allows it
  7. Do the dishes or another chore for someone without being asked to.
  8. Spend time with your older relatives where possible
  9. Be kind to someone you dislike
  10. Offer to wrap presents for your friends/family

 

Of course, there are so many other ways to give back, there aren’t only 10. So what would you add to the list?

 

Have a wonderful 1st of December!

 

Ktkinnes xx