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Clearly today is New Year's Eve and tomorrow everyone will be making new years resolutions that they will surely break in the next week or so. I, however, would like to take a minute to reflect on the year past, and let you in on some of the things I've done, and the things I've learnt.
As you may or may not know, 2015 was a hard year.
My first and second visa applications were rejected.
We moved temporarily into my parents house in Toledo.
My family and I were in a huge car accident, leaving two of us in the hospital for three days, and the other two severely battered.
My husband and I spent six months apart, waiting to apply for and know the outcome of my third attempt at a visa.
We found out my father-in-law was ill with cancer in January, and he died in May.
We also found out that our family dog isn't doing so well, and has an enlarged heart. Much like Buddy, I probably won't get to say goodbye to him.
However, it was also filled with joy and inspiration.
We had Christmas and New Years together as a family, all of us.
I started a job as a nanny, and watched a little boy grow up to actually talk to me through baby sign language (which I taught him, together with his mother!) and run around the house in the span of 9 months.
I met his mother, Rose, who I am so thankful to call one of my dearest friends.
When Rose moved, I got to meet some of her friends, and her friend's dogs called Cooper and Lewis! We quickly became best buds...the dogs and I...and some of her friends too!
David got a job five days after he went back to England to be with his dad. That's amazing.
I started a blog, and quickly averaged 1,000 views a week.
I reconnected with some very dear friends who I went to high school with, and still talk to them weekly, even though I am now located in England. They are the ones who make me laugh and tell it like it is.
I was able to be in my best friend's wedding as a bridesmaid and watch her say 'I do' to her soulmate. We spent many a nights talking about our lives, about the wedding, appreciating the time we got to spend together, and planning a trip to England for her to come and visit.
I started a business which grew into something that I was insanely proud of, and I watched my confidence grow with it.
I went to North Carolina to see one of my other friends. She welcomed me with open arms, opened up her home and showed me around her town ever so graciously. We quickly became best friends and talk daily about this blog and pretty much anything and everything else that happens in our lives.
I got my visa and moved to England to be with my husband.
I purchased a new sewing machine and got to work making bags, and was accepted to three craft fairs.
We adopted a rescue pup from the Birmingham Dogs Home. Her name is Jessie. She is the sweetest thing and gives me so much joy.
We got to spend time with our friends here in England, many who I haven't seen in two years.
I'm sure that so many more GOOD things happened, these are just a few of them. I honestly cannot wait for 2016, because I know that so many more good things are in store for us.
This year, I've learnt not to give up. To not always focus on the bad, because sometimes there will be so much bad that you will feel like you can't breathe. I've learnt that friends will always be there when you need them. However, they might not be the friends you thought would be there, and that's ok. I've learnt that English people and American people will sometimes call the same thing something different, and that's ok too. I've learnt that not everyone will like you, and you will not like everyone (but honestly I think I knew that from before). I've learnt to be open, to be patient, to be understanding, to persevere. I've learnt to drive on the wrong side of the road, and to use my left hand to start the car (it feels so wrong). I've learnt that not everyone is kind and not everyone does the right thing. I've learnt that even though you talk to someone everyday, you still miss them. I've learnt that it's ok to let them know that. I've learnt to take chances and take risks, but I've also learnt that it's ok to say that something is not working and to change it. There's no shame in that. I've learnt that you'll go far being kind, but sometimes you need to be firm to get anywhere.
So basically, I've learnt a lot, but I haven't learnt it all.
I know that everyone is up waiting for the ball to drop, SO...
What did you learn this year? What were your best memories?! Leave them in the comments below and let's ring in 2016 with all the positive vibes!!!
Here's to 2016!
Hey guys, it’s been a while. I know I say that every time but truly, it has been a while. I’m writing to you today about cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies?! If you said “me” to that question, we officially can’t be friends. I don’t need your negativity in my life. :p When I bake cookies, I usually stay away from your typical favorites. It’s not because I don’t like them, it’s because everyone has someone in their life that makes the BEST kind of them. I am only competitive when it comes to games, so I’m not looking for a cookie show down of any sort. I decided I would try and tackle a chocolate chip cookie, the one I found online boasts that it’s the “best chocolate chip cookies”. I don’t know about all that, but it’s a drop recipe so I was willing to give it a try. I was looking at it and immediately wanted to adjust some things to make it a little tastier (in my opinion). Read on to see how things turned out!
What you need:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
1 ½ cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
3 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together butter, white sugar, brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then stir in vanilla. Mix together the cream of tartar, salt, baking soda, and flour with the wet mixture. Once combined stir in the chocolate chips. I like to add half of the chocolate chips and mix it with a spatula, then take my hand mixer and mix in the rest on a low speed. Drop by spoonfuls (I used the ½ tablespoon measuring spoon – It makes around 5 ½ dozen if you use the size I was) on an ungreased baking sheet. I baked mine for 11 minutes, but I would start at 8-9 depending on how hot your oven gets and the size of them. I let them rest on the baking sheet for a couple minutes and then transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Are these the BEST chocolate chip cookies? Probably not, but I quite like them. They’re the very first I’ve ever made from scratch so I’m fond of them. I think I could probably play around with the recipe a bit in order to REALLY make them something special, so don’t be afraid to do it yourself! This recipe was so easy you’ll have to make sure you try out this recipe and let me know how it works for you!
Happy Holidays guys!!!
Hopefully everyone had a fabulous Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate!) and got to spend time with those you love. This holiday season has filled me with so much love and so much inspiration for the new year to come! I cannot wait to see where 2016 takes me (it HAS to be better than 2015, that's for sure) and hope to be able to share some exciting news soon!
My favourite part about this holiday season is that I got to see so many people I love, even if it was only on Skype. I'm feeling really lucky that I got to speak to or message so many people over the holidays. So blessed!
We had family come from Stoke to have dinner with us, and they even brought their little puppy! Jessie wanted to play all..the...time..., and the puppy did not- so that wasn't fun. BUT overall Jessie had a good time and got to socialise with a little pup!
I skyped with my parents in the states and got to watch them open the gifts we got them (ours haven't come in the mail yet)! It's so exciting to be able to buy presents for your parents, since they took care of you for so long. Its nice to be able to pay them back a little.
Before Christmas, David and I went to Cambridge to see our friends Jo, her mum Ann and the kids! We always have so much fun! This time we made some gingerbread houses (photos below!) and took a walk around the shops in Cambridge. It rained all day, but we still had loads of fun. We had a lazy tapas lunch and went back home to watch Christmas movies and play uno!
As you can see, most of my favourite things this week are not actually things, they are people and the moments that I've spent with them.
That said, I DID get a super thoughtful and fantastic package from one of my most dearest friends!!! It contained everything I love, and was brought to tears upon opening it. Not because of the things inside it, (but I mean, they were SPOT. ON.) but because they were so incredibly thoughtful. She got me a new scarf (to match my new coat!), a pineapple t-shirt (because I love pineapples! They just look like summer), more clear nail polish (because I said I was nearly out!), a notebook with gold foil embellishments (GOLD!!! I swear I JUST included that in one of my I Heart Monday posts), a replacement pair of earrings (because I lost one of my original ones when I went to Ireland in July for a wedding), and a personalised gift for me to open when I'm having a bad day! Every single gift was meaningful and special. That's what meant the most to me.
The last things are things I have made. Not to toot my own horn, but man I did pretty well! I was LOVING bunting (plus its everywhere in England) so I thought I would try my hand at making one for Christmas. Now I can't wait to make more! AND I think they'll be available in the shop in early January!
If you would like a custom bunting made, let me know!
The other thing I have *just* made is a larger version of the faux leather fold over bag. I have sold so many of these, that I thought, maybe I need to make another one, but bigger. After I saw my friend's sister at the park one day with her faux leather bag she bought from me- totally stuffed FULL of things for herself and her kids (it wouldn't even fold over!) it confirmed my idea, I NEED to make a bigger version.
Totally forgot about all that until today when my MIL asked me to make her a new bag, and what she was describing was sort of like the bag I had in mind all those weeks ago. So I made it! She picked the print, which I also love!
So Amanda, if you read the blog, this bag should be perfect for you! :)
This bag is about 14 inches wide, 11 inches tall (when unfolded it's 16 inches tall), has a pocket on the back, a zip closure, boxed corners so it holds a bit more and stands up on its own, and an adjustable strap. LOVE.
Please excuse the photos, they are horrible, but I cannot wait to share.
That's it for this week's I Heart Monday! What are you loving this week?! Leave all the things in the comments below and share your favourites!
Oh, and leave me some love too,
You ever feel like it's only Monday and this week has already kicked your ass? Yeah. It happens, and it's happening to me. There never seems to be enough hours in the day for what I want to do. Plus I like to eat so I can't just skip lunch like some people do to become more productive.
Never mind that. You need to shake it off, get up, and make the rest of this week your bitch, cause it's nearly Christmas!
Christmas always reminds me of all the things I am grateful for. Not because I get presents, but more because I get to GIVE presents. I love seeing the look one someone's face when you present them with something that you have picked out JUST for them. I love the 'Christmas spirit' that everyone seems to have around this time, and it makes me feel so grateful for the friends and family I have in my life. I'm sure I say it all the time (probably in every single post), but I'm so happy that I have kept in touch with so many people from Shanghai, and the states. People say 'It's a small world' but I really believe it. With modern technology, I can talk to my friends in England, the states, Thailand and China multiple times a week (or daily!) without having to pay a fortune. I am so lucky. So many of my friends are going through a hard time at the moment and I just want to jump through the phone and give them a huge bear hug. I know I cannot fix everyone's problems, or make everything better, but I CAN just be there. Even if it's just to listen. Sometimes the best gift is just to lend an ear.
Here are the things I am loving this week, and hope they inspire you to think about all the good things in your life at the moment, no matter how big or small they are.
I follow the account @randomolive on Instagram and I love love love her hand lettering. She's got a shop with classes as well if you are interested in improving your lettering skills! Pretty sure she doesn't even know I exist, but I so much enjoy her writing. It's truly beautiful. # GOALS
I've opened my etsy shoppe again and am getting around to photographing and posting all the items I have hanging around/left over. At the moment there are embroideries, and I have all the bags photographed, I just need to post them! Check out the shoppe by clicking on the 'shoppe' link at the top of the page or just click here.
I have a sale on at the moment, 25% off all custom embroidery hoops, any size, for the whole month of December! THE WHOLE MONTH! Perfect for a bookshelf, wall hanging, baby's room or in the entryway. Next month will be a different sale, for the whole month! I can't wait to tell you all!
ADELE 25. I love her new album and have had a car concert every single time I have to go anywhere. I'm sure David loves my car concerts too (props not to be honest), but it's still happening anyways. I especially love when you are stopped in traffic and the car next to you is staring at you (with a hint of disgust) because you are not only belting out every song, but also doing heartfelt hand motions. And by 'I love this' I mean that it is super embarrassing and might've happened to me a couple of times on my trip to Cambridge last week.
Plus the otter was way too cute not to include it.
It's the little things right...or in this case, the big things. 'Cause I love me a big ol' coffee. I'm still trying to find the perfect at home coffee blend, but at Starbucks I am loving the Chai Tea Latte for Christmas. Chai always makes me feel like Christmas, that and peppermint. I think the Peppermint Mocha is my next try! What's your favourite seasonal coffee?
My last one is super random, but really, aren't all my posts?! These are the tiles from the bathroom in a pub here in Solihull called Walkabout. We went there last night to watch the NFL. The tiles were so pretty that I had to take a photo of them. Gorgeous!
That's all for me this week! t's Christmas time, so share the love...what are you loving at the moment?! Comment below and spread the love!!
Last Sunday I was in a craft fair with my friend Jo, and we had loads of fun. Although we both only sold one item, we got to see lots of other things for sale and had a lovely chat! I'd say it was a good day.
Sunday night I headed to Cambridge (my first long drive in the new car!!!) to see my other friend Jo, and her family. I taught with Jo and her husband Ian when I lived in Shanghai. They came to our wedding last year, and now that they've settled in England, we can see each other more often! She needed help decorating her classroom and arranging the room, and I didn't have much to do this week, so off I went!
Of course we were so busy that I didn't take ANY photos of her classroom when it was finished, and I call myself a blogger. Fail.
But- we did all the bulletin board, cleaned the place up, organised all the materials that were left by the previous room occupant, and the kids were so excited to help! It was really a great Monday.
After we were done moving everything around we went to the quirkiest little pub and had a mulled wine. Every wall was filled with signs and the entire ceiling was outfitted with mugs and beermats. So cool. We then headed home to make some bangers and mash and then we played a friendly game of uno! I have no idea how two kids can beat me so badly at uno, but they did, and I was the sorest loser.
I had such a good time visiting friends. It's so nice to see people you knew in another country, in another country. I am so lucky to have seen so many friends that I used to teach with in Shanghai, in other parts of the world.
That's my trip to Cambridge and the craft fair on Sunday. Not terribly exciting to other people, but I had a blast and cannot wait to take more little trips in the future (and I promise to take more photos!!!).
Leave me some love!
They say, the days are long but the years are short. It seems like the days are short and the years are even shorter, hence the reason I have yet again forgotten my I heart Monday post. I even put it in my calendar on my phone, with a reminder the day before.
One of these days I will get it right, but there is just so much going on! Here’s a quick catch up-
I have another craft fair this Sunday, December 6 (as if it will be sixth on Sunday already-see what I mean? It’s going too quickly!) and I am super pumped! This week I’ve been making loads of embroidery hoops, and still have a couple more to make. I’ve gotten materials for bunting as well and am super excited to try my hand at that. Last but not least, I’ll make some more Christmas cards. Hoping it will be super busy and loads of fun.
For David’s birthday, I’m making him a blanket with all his old rugby shirts. I’ve only just started today but have gotten all the big ones sized, cut, and ironed with interfacing. Next I have to work on the little squares and then its just sew sew sew sew. Exciting but loads of work. I’m putting a nice snuggly fleece on the back so it’ll be super warm when I…I mean…when HE uses it. :) Jessie is doing a great job at helping don't you think?!
Last week was Thanksgiving! I have never made a whole Thanksgiving dinner before, complete with the turkey, yams, green bean casserole, homemade biscuits, and pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. This year was the year I decided to have a go, and I think it really turned out well! This was the most food that I have ever cooked at one time in my whole life, and thankfully (see what I did there) I did not burn anything! Win!
I’ve been thinking and thinking and I think I will open the etsy shoppe again! I’m sure that I say this every week, but I am really excited to take some quality photographs of my handmade goods and get them on the website. It’s time.
I Heart Monday….and Tuesday!
The first thing I am loving is more of an idea. I stumbled upon this link (if you think I got it from you, do let me know because I cannot remember who shared it on Facebook) and thought it was such a good thing to start. The gist is that you keep a ‘commonplace book’ for all your ideas, thoughts, quotes that you find, parts from a book you are reading that you just love (or wish to reflect on), or even conversations you have that you would like to remember. I have a notebook that I know will be perfect for this! My biggest problem with these kind of notebooks, is that I want them to be ‘pretty’. I tried to have a sketchbook that I could paint, draw, doodle and sketch in, but always was too worried about making it look pretty, and not really letting myself go and explore. I think this is the perfect solution, as you are really just jotting down your ideas and things you would like to remember. I cannot wait to get started!
David and I were in one of the local department stores recently, and found a bed frame/headboard as well as a side table on clearance! We snatched that up and I am obsessed with it. Reclaimed wood, that rustic feel. Yes! I cannot wait too get it set up
Bunting, I am loving anything bunting at the moment! There are loads of free templates that you can download and print off, some seasonal sayings and some are just letters so you can make your own! Below is a link I’ve been looking at (but haven’t actually put it up yet!) and I love just how they look. You could easily make your own- maybe I’ll so a DIY on this soon!
Technically thats a lot of things that I love this week, and after a close scare and a quick trip to the vet, I’m leaving it as it is and am going to bed!!! Plus, gotta save some for next time!
Leave me some love!
I'm Tory, the creator behind The Barmy Fox. My current loves