Christianity, Lifestyle

His And Mine Are The Same…..

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” – Withering Heights (Emily Bronte)

Tomorrow I am getting married. A whole year of planning, preparation, crafting and praying has lead up to this moment. People keep asking me if I am nervous and how I am feeling, the truth is I’m not really nervous at all. Whether the day goes exactly to plan or whether there is a huge hiccup doesn’t really matter to me, the only thing that matters is that I get to marry my best friend, the love of my life. Right from the beginning planning the wedding although fun, has been a chore to get through, something I had to do in order to marry this amazing man. I know the day will be lovely but I cannot wait to exchange our rings and become man and wife.

Never have I doubted that this wasn’t right, straight from the moment I met him at our church I felt something I couldn’t explain. It felt like a force pushing me towards him and I acted quicker and more confidently than I had ever done before. I just knew he was meant for me, when I look back now I think it must have been God pushing me in that direction, it took me three weeks to fall in love with him – both a shock to me and him. But I always knew our destination was here, marriage was always where we were headed and now I cannot wait to finally promise that I will love and cherish him for all eternity. He is the kindest, most loving, Godly, worthy man I have ever known. Our connection is so much deeper and stronger than I have ever felt with another human and the only way I can describe is by using this beautiful quote from one of my favourite books – Withering Heights “Whatever souls are made of his and mine are the same”. We are the same. And tomorrow we become one forever.

Photos taken by Sarah at Salty Sea Photography 
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Book Review, Books, Lifestyle, Slow Living

Cosy January Reads

Its that time of year again. The time of year most people hate but I actually love, winter and autumn for me are the best as I love nothing more than snuggling under a blanket, hidden away from the cold weather outside, reading a book. I like the dark nights that make warm baths and early nights acceptable. I love hot chocolate, home made soup and stew bubbling away in the pan whilst scented candles burn and fairy lights flicker prettily. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring and summer too but nothing can beat that cosy hygge feeling I get to indulge this time of year. One thing I also love about this time of year is the feeling of a fresh start, a new beginning and a time to start following those dreams and learning new things. For me a big part of January is putting things in place to help me reach me new year goals as well as reading and learning as much as I can. I love to read books that will inspire me for the year to come and encourage me to try new things. With this in mind I have created a list of books I am looking forward to reading over the next few weeks. This time next week I will actually be married (woohooo!) and on my honeymoon so a lot of the books I’ve chosen with the idea of being able to read them quietly snuggled up in front of the log burner with my husband. Let me know if you have any new year reads you’d recommend, I love to add books to my list of to read!

The Little Book of Hygge – Meik Wiking
I bought this book before Christmas with the intention of reading it during my week off however I was bought another book about Hygge by my wonderful fiancè an so I read that one instead but have been itching to read this since. I am really interested in the Danish concept of hygge and how this can be applied to a Christian way of life. The whole cosy concept is exactly what I love about this time of year and one of my new years goals was to learn more about slow living and taking time to be present which is exactly what this little book talks about. It has the most gorgeous cover and the inside is full of pretty pictures and practical advice. I am really looking forward to taking this on my honeymoon!

8 Women Of Faith – Michael A.G. Haykin
This book was given to me by my soon to be sister in law and I am really excited to get to read it. It is a series of 8 small biographies of famous women who were devout Christians and how they faith influenced their lives and work. It is an inspiring book for men and women alike encouraging them to live out their faith. I am super excited to get my teeth into this one.

The Life – Changing Magic Of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
I know this one has been circulating for a while and although I bought it almost 6 months ago now I haven’t gotten down to reading it yet. This year however is all about slowing down and creating space to live and after moving into a new flat that is lovely and petite I decided to read up on minimalism and simplifying your home. I love to learn about new things and then create something that works for me so I am hoping this book will teach me a lot about minimalism which I can then add to the things I’ve learnt about hygge and create something that works for me.

Soulfulness – Brian Draper
I am so excited for this book! When my anxiety was getting particularly bad I started to learn a lot about mindfulness however I found a lot of the literature was very person centred. I found that I could apply some of what I learnt to my life and allow God into it but I really wanted to read about mindfulness from a Christian perspective. This book came out in the summer and I quickly snatched it up, but again with the wedding and busy life I haven’t had chance to read it yet. I am hoping with my new years resolution of taking life slowly and calmly I will be able to enjoy reading and learning from this book.  

Lifestyle, Slow Living, Travel

And the adventure begins….. | 2017

Happy New Year! How weird it is to be in 2017 and yet how right, 2017 is especially exciting for me because in just two short weeks I shall be married to my best friend and the love of my life. For me New Year is always an exciting time of year, the scent of anticipation hangs in the air and anything seems possible. I do believe that you can make a change to your life whenever you want but the end of a year and the beginning of a new one is always a great time to reflect and think about where you are going. This year I am feeling a lot more settled and so it has almost been easier to start planning some of the things I wanted to achieve in 2017. I am definitely open for surprises and spontaneity and being led by God, but I also think its important to give yourself a few goals to motivate yourself. I love to read other peoples goals for 2017 so I thought I would share some of mine with you all.

Nourish:
In 2016 I started to get a lot healthier and I lost about half a stone in weight. It wasn’t everything I wanted to lose but it was a beginning and the start of some healthy habits I’m hoping will stick. This year I would like to lose a bit more weight and get back down to my natural healthy size, I want to keep up with my swimming three times a week and start doing some more yoga. I’ve also just started to buy my meat locally and a big goal of mine is start ordering a local veggie box to be delivered. I really enjoyed eating seasonally as its not only good for me and my body but also for the world around us. I’m hoping to continue to cook and bake and learn more about food along with my husband (eek!) and we’d also love to grow our own veggies and herbs.

Create:
This year is going to be another year of creating the life I want to lead. I definitely feel I am getting closer and closer, I now have a job I love that allows me to use my creative talents all day long and still have time off to do some writing. My goals this year are to finish my novel, write my children book and publish a few articles. I have been lucky enough to be asked to write for a care magazine so already 2017 is going to be the year of getting published! I also want to try to develop my blog more and see where that takes me.

Slow:
A big thing for 2016 was to learn to slow down and start living a more simple life, I definitely feel like this is something I have really started to do but I know there is still so much to learn and develop. I am enjoying learning about concepts like Hygge and Minimalism and how these can be applied to a christian lifestyle. My goal for 2017 is carry on developing, to make sure I spend time outside on walks with Russell, to read as much as I can, to bake and cook from scratch, to knit my own jumper and spend less money. I will be moving in with my then husband in two weeks and I think 2017 will be all about creating a life the two of us enjoy and learning to be present in the moment together.

Travel:
Something I think I would encourage all Christian couples to do is wait until you’re married to go on holiday just the two of you. Russell and I have never been on holiday just us and we are so excited to spend a week together away on our honeymoon. We get to kick start the year with a relaxing week in the Lake District and we are hoping to follow that with a few other trips. Both of us really want to travel and so my goal in 2017 is to make it to Amsterdam and Germany together and a few places in Britain like Bath and The Highlands. I know they aren’t the most exotic places but they are parts of the world I have always wanted to visit and I can’t wait to explore them with my Husband

Spiritful:
A big thing for 2017 will be developing a stronger relationship with God. I learnt so much about Him and myself in 2016 through reading, praying and spending time with my small group. I am excited to see where he takes me this year. I am also wanting to continue with my morning yoga and meditation, I devote this time to God and I find its a really important part of my day and really helps my anxiety. I know a lot of Christians will disagree with Yoga but for me I think we can learn so much from other cultures and concepts if we let God come into it and focus on him then it is a form of worship. I also want to learn more about mindfulness and how this can be done in a Christian way.

I am super excited for everything that will happen in 2017 and I hope you too are dreaming up some goals and plans for this year! 

Christianity, Lifestyle, Outdoors, Slow Living

My 2016

It seems ages since I last sat down to write a blog post, it has been almost two months since the last time I posted and not blogging has felt a little bit like Im missing something. I feel a bit strange when I’m not writing, like theres a big part of me thats been tucked away in a corner somewhere. I know I should have prioritised it over the last few months but it seemed as though September started and my life moved into the fast lane. No sooner had I begun my new job, I was then starting a new course and the wedding jobs suddenly all needed to be done. It has been a completely manic few months and although we have had some time to relax over Christmas I am definitely looking forward to our honeymoon week. We have nothing planned other than relaxing and chilling out far away from everyone up in the beautiful Lake District. 
But enough of our plans for 2017! Today is about looking back on 2016 and all the things I’ve learnt over the last 12 months. I really enjoy other peoples yearly reviews and last year I did my own on the blog and I found it extremely therapeutic, I would really recommend each year looking back on what you achieved in the year gone by and setting some new goals for the next year.
2016 started off very differently to any other year as I had just left uni and had no idea what to do next. I knew I needed a job and luckily after lots of interviewing and applications I managed to land a job in beauty – an industry I though might be right for me and my future career. I worked as a skin care expert at The Body Shop, I love The Body Shop for everything they stand for and the difference they have made not only to the environment and animal welfare but also to the beauty industry itself. They have shown that it isn’t all superficial but can instead be about making a difference to our world and there products are actually amazing. I think had I really wanted a career in beauty this would have been the company but I soon discovered retail really wasn’t for me. The long hours and stressful days didn’t help my anxiety at all and I began to save up money so I could take some time out of work to figure out my next move. 
The summer was my time out from work to try to focus myself and figure out what I wanted from life. I also really wanted a chance to get some real writing done, my dream is to one day be a published author and so a lot of my time was spent writing my novel, creating blog posts and sending out articles to magazines in the hope some one would publish me. Unfortunately I heard nothing back from the magazines but I know most writers struggle at the beginning and the key is perseverance. 
It wasn’t a completely wasted summer at all though, not only did I write a lot and learn more about writing, I also applied for a course in Creative Writing at Oxford University. I had been thinking about going back to university to study something I actually really wanted to study but was struggling to find something in Oxford. Luckily my fiancé did some research and found the Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford. I never thought in a million years I would get in to Oxford University but after an intense interview they offered me a place on the course. About the same time I also applied for a job in a care home. I had worked in care previously and something that had always been important to me was to have a job that made a difference to peoples lives. I found the job of Activity Coordinator at a care home in Oxford completely by accident and decided to go for it. I’ve now been doing the job for three months and am really enjoying it, its created lots of exciting opportunities for the New Year and fits perfectly round my course at Oxford. 
And of course this year has been very focused on one thing in particular – our wedding. I’m not going to lie it has been a pretty stressful, tiring and as times anxiety inducing experience but I am really excited to have got to this point. In two weeks time I will be Mrs Bearn and all the hard work of 2016 will have been worth it. 
Lots of other wonderful things have happened in 2016 and I feel I am in a much healthier and happier place than I was last year. I have started to lose weight healthily, we have moved to a village outside of Oxford which we love, I go swimming two-three times a week and I have made lots of new friends at the church we moved to in April. I definitely feel like God has taught me a lot this year and lead me into a deeper relationship with him. He has brought all aspects of my life together and I am feeling a lot more settled than I was this time last year. I am super excited to see what 2017 brings, I hope you all have a lovely New Years Eve and I will see you next year! 

What I Wore…
Top – Joules | Jeans – M&S | Jacket – Rydale 

Lifestyle, Outdoors, Scotland, Summer, Travel

For Nature Made Her What She Is

It feels so amazing to be back in Scotland! I cannot tell you how excited passing the Welcome to Scotland sign on the motor way makes me. I’m not sure why but this is just where me and Russell feel most at home and once here its like we start getting back to being ourselves again. I think it probably has something to do with being back in the countryside, neither of us are really city people and so getting back to nature is definitely something we relish. I also love how the changing of the seasons is so much more apparent here, there is no mistaking it is September, you only have to look at the plum tree practically falling over with fruit to see that harvest time is well and truly here. 
These photos were taken in the village where Russell’s parents live. It is one of my favourite places in the world due to its quiet calmness and extraordinary scenery. I feel so blessed to be able to come and stay here, we are surrounded by woods, beach and fields meaning we can pretty much take our pick for doggy walks. The sunshine was incredibly beautiful on this day and we decided to go down to the beach to enjoy bask in its warmth. 
I really can’t wait till we get to move to Scotland, this is definitely my souls happy place. 

What I Wore…
Top – Red Herring | Jacket – Fatface | Jeans – New Look | Wellies – Hunters
Food, Green, Lifestyle, Outdoors

Foraged Jam | A Recipe

One of the things I wanted to do whilst on holiday was to cook and bake some things I’ve been meaning to try for a while but just haven’t  had chance. Jam is one of those things I’ve always fancied making but just never got round to, so when I saw a ridiculous amount of blackberries just going spare on the side of the road in the village we now live in I decided foraged fruit jam was much more fun than just buying the fruit. I love this time of year when all the fruit trees are perfect for picking and you can often find your local park becomes a haven for foraged fruit and blackberries are definitely a favourite.

Having never made jam before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was actually very easy and tasted pretty good if I do say so myself. Of course the only way to serve it was on a homemade scone with a massive dollop of clotted cream, what can I say, I’m very British at heart.

Ingredients:
Foraged black berries or any fruit you like
The same weight of caster sugar as fruit
A squeeze of lemon.

Recipe:

1. Put all your fruit in a pan on the heat with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of water, just enough to stop the fruit sticking. Leave the fruit to simmer until the fruit has stewed, I liked leaving a few lumps in as I like a bit of fruit in my jam.

2. Once the fruit has reduced down add your sugar and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved heat the jam up to 105 degrees. Once hot take off the heat, leave to cool a little then put it into a clean jar.

3. Leave the jam to cool completely and enjoy the satisfying pop of the lid when you open it.

Enjoy!

Lifestyle, Slow Living, wellness

Simple Goodness

This month has been all about simple pleasures for me. I left my job at the beginning of June (which you can read about here) and started working from home as a freelance writer. This has meant many changes including learning to be strict with my time and being purposeful with my day as well as relishing in the fact I can go to work in pjs. It has also meant a massive cut in income as I am now living off savings, obviously this is quite hard but it has also been quite good for me as I have learnt more about enjoying the little things in life. My goal is to live a slow life and having less money has meant I’ve learnt to appreciate everything a lot more and so although difficult June has been very beautiful. And so I decided to do a sort of monthly favourites for June but focusing on the simple things in my life this month that have made it good.

1. Watching The Rain – I wrote a whole post on rainy summer days which you can read here, but for me watching the thunder storms in June has been amazing. I love the way it sounds, smells and looks as water cascades from the sky and falls out of the gutters of my house like a water fall. I find it very calming its helped me to enjoy being still in the moment.

2. Reading The Simple Things Magazine – If I could create my own magazine which had everything I loved in it this would be it. I came upon it completely by chance and I am so glad I did, I love to be able to sit down in an afternoon and read a whole magazine but I often find there are never any I want to read. I am really not interested in celebrity gossip, or how to lose 10 stone in a week or finding out about the latest sex tips. I like to read interesting articles that make me think and to learn new things. I want it to be relaxing and enjoyable and relatable and that is exactly what The Simple Things is. It is a lovely magazine all about enjoying The Simple Things in life such as food, travel, friends and nature. I would highly recommend you go and pick yourself up a copy!

3. Baking For My Friends – I used to bake a lot before I came to university but after putting on a lot of weight in my first year and then losing it again I became quite scared of making anything bad to eat. But having a little more time to myself now I have really enjoyed getting back into baking and have started to learn how to bake delicious and healthy cakes as well as the unhealthy ones. Although I try to lead a very healthy lifestyle I think having the odd treat is part of what makes life good and sharing that with my friends has definitely made it 10 times better. These cupcakes were baked especially for my bible study group and we really enjoyed them.

4. Doing Yoga – Whilst I was working full time I struggled to fit my exercise in and so now I am working from home I find it a lot easier. I love doing yoga, it really helps to calm and centre me as well as give me a good stretch out. I also use my yoga time to pray starting off with a bible study before hand and then continuing in conversation with God as I go. Its honestly the best way to start the day!

5. Watching The Harry Potter Films – I was lucky enough to get to go to Harry Potter Studios in London for my birthday this year with my fiancé and once we got back we wanted to watch all the films again. So we decided to watch all 8 in order and its been really nice just slowly watching them over the last month or so.

I’ve had a really amazing June and I’ve got a lot of exciting things coming up in July so look out for those. Let me know in the comments below the simple things you’ve enjoyed this month. 

Lifestyle

Things To Do On Rainy Summers Days

Lets be honest a summer spent in Britain normally means as many rainy days as sunny ones and although I complain about the weather as any normal British person should I do love a good summer rain storm. We have actually been having quite a few this past fews weeks down in Oxford and so I’ve suddenly found myself with an excuse to keep cosy and snuggle down on my sofa. I thought I would do a post on all the things I love to do when thunder strikes.

1. Watch The Rain – when I hear that first crack of thunder I always get excited. I don’t know what it is about thunder storms that make me happy, the dramatic noises, the way everything sparkles or the smell of fresh rain but whatever it is I love them. So one of my favourite things to do is simply sit on my sofa with the two french windows open into my garden and watch the down pour. I find it’s like watching the ocean or a flame, very soothing and calming, I enjoy being still and sitting in the present moment watching Gods creation.

2. Go For A Walk In It – this is definitely one of the funnest things to do. I love a good rainy walk in my wellies and waterproof. I like to go out with absolutely no make up on and just feel the rain fall all over me without a care in the world. One tip would be not to wear jeans though as me and my fiancé experience during a rainy walk, it makes things a lot harder.

3. Cosy Up With A Book – I love reading be it in the winter in front of a fire or lying in the grass under the sun in summer so a rainy day is a perfect excuse for me to chill out on the sofa with a book. I love to open a window and let the sound of the pouring rain soothe me as I’m reading.

4. Get Creative – Be that singing, dancing, writing, colouring or baking whatever floats your boat! I love to colour on a rainy day and I have recently discovered a love for making floral crowns. I can happily spend a rainy afternoon crafting away at my dinner table. You never know what you might come up with!

So there you have it my rainy day activities! What do you like to do in the rain? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Book Review, Books, Lifestyle

What I Read | May

One of my big resolutions this year was to find more time to read. I love reading, I always have but when you’re working full time and planning a wedding and also trying to write your first novel there isn’t always a lot of time for reading. Or should I say there isn’t enough time for watching tv, exploring pinterest, catching up on other blogs and reading. But as I said in my previous post about my night time routine I have been trying to turn off screens by a certain time, not only has this helped me sleep but it has also given me an excuse to tuck up in bed with a good book. And so I find myself reading more than ever before and catching up on a few books I’ve been meaning to get into for a while.

The Little Shop Of Happily Ever After is definitely going on my list of feel good books. The author Jenny Colgan is one of my absolute favourites and I am now nearly always bound to buy her latest release. This book however was given to me by a friend after she read the back and decided the book was clearly specially written just for me (I love finding those books) and I have to say I agree with her. The Little Shop Of Happily Ever After is about a quiet book worm called Nina who after losing her job at the library in Birmingham decides to buy a van and turn it into a travelling book shop and move to a tiny little village in the Scottish highlands. The book is a story of self discovery, creating the life that makes you happy and romance – everything I ever need in a book.

I am never disappointed with a Jenny Colgan book but this one was particularly special due to the fact it was written for and about book worms and about the changing power of books as well as being set in beautiful Scotland. It was both hilarious and heart wrenching and definitely caused me to think more about what it was I wanted in life. I like a book that makes me think and this one not only caused me to wonder about what I wanted from life but also encouraged me to go out and get it. The protagonist is so relatable, simply a girl who bucks up the courage to follow her dream and inspired me to do likewise. Colgans amazingly realistic portrayal of the Scottish countryside, community life and the stark contrast with the city life of Birmingham made it all the more relatable. Having lived in suburbs and cities all my life I could totally relate with that feeling of utter peace and calm the countryside of Scotland brings. I really really enjoyed this book and it just goes to show how well my best friend knows me, it really was a book written just for me.

Food, Green, Health, Lifestyle

The Trout Oxfordshire | Restaurant Review

Now that I have a full time job Russell and I find ourselves going out for dinner quite a bit and I thought I would share a few of the amazing places we have been to. After a few stressful and difficult months at the end of last year we made the decision that in 2016 we would try to enjoy living in Oxford a bit more and make a conscious effort to go on dates rather than sit in and watch Harry Potter. Me and Russell are both very foodie having been brought up in families where food is the centre piece to family life and every special occasion so its no surprise really that one of our favourite dates is trying new restaurants or popping over to a pub thats had a very good recommendation. The Trout was one of those pubs we’d heard a lot about, walked past on a walk along the Thames path and almost stopped to have dinner at numerous times. But it wasn’t until a beautiful hot sunny day in Oxford that we decided quite randomly to go and sit in the sunshine and have a drink by the Thames.

The Trout is a lovely little gastro-pub situated right on the bank of the Thames and just in front of beautiful Port Meadow in Oxford. They have a large patio on the front which has always been full every time we’ve gone past as its a real sun trap and perfect for a drink with friends or a lazy summer meal whilst you soak up some rays. We were lucky enough to find a table right by the river so we could watch the water cascading down and even share our dinner with a few ducks who hopped onto the wall to say hello.

Russell and I are lucky enough to share the same taste in food and so we often find we either order the same thing at a restaurant or we like to share food and try each others. Although we both love a good burger we decided to try something a little bit different at this pub and the Sticky Platter was just perfect. It was essentially a sharing platter of different meat and was absolutely delicious, full of flavour and spice with amazing home made chilli jam and tzatziki to dip into it was the perfect summer meal.

We really enjoyed The Trout and seeing as it’s only about 10 minutes from us I’m sure we will be going back over this summer.