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.  

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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 

Autumn, Fashion, Food, Slow Living, Style, Travel

The Best Autumn Day

Oh Autumn I cannot get enough of you! I know some people can’t wait for summer, for bare legs, bonfires, beach trips and sun kissed skin but for me there is no better season than autumn. I spend the summer months waiting in anticipation as autumn creeps closer and closer. Although I was watching very careful autumn in Oxford definitely suddenly appeared. It seemed one day it was beautiful September sunshine warm enough for ice cream and sandals, and then over night the temperature dropped by 10 degrees and the bright orange and mustard colours began to appear in every tree. It seemed autumn was especially prevalent in Hereford last weekend when we went up to do wedmin, and I couldn’t contain my excitement. We had decided to spend Friday and Saturday inside doing wedding jobs and then take a day off to enjoy the season outside on the Sunday. Luckily we were blessed with the most amazing weather, my absolute favourite type – bright blue skies, cold crisp air and low golden sunshine. It was glorious.

We decided to go back to one of our favourite spots to go walking in Hereford, the Brockhampton Estate and were extremely excited (well as least I was, not sure about Russell) to find out it was apple day! The National Trust definitely put on some of the best events and this was one of them. We enjoyed wandering around the house where we tried spiced mulled apple juice and sat in the 1950s sitting room – my outfit that day definitely blended into the surroundings. I’m wearing my lovely new dress from Lindy Bop that I got in the sale, I wanted some clothes in more autumnal colours and this definitely fitted the bill. We then wandered through the court yard where the cider pressing had been going on and got a good whiff of apple. After having a look around the shop we went in to the orchards and spent the best part of an hour jumping around trying to grab the shiniest juiciest apple on each tree. I have never actually been apple picking before so it was a new experience for me and I absolutely loved it. We decided to get one of each variety we thought looked the nicest including a massive apple almost the size of my head.

After carrying our apples back to the car we went to the lovely little tea rooms in the old apple store, we decided to continue our theme and bought a cider for Russell and an apple juice for me with a scone to share. By the time we’d finished it was almost five o’clock and the sun was beginning to descend and glow golden over the fields. We enjoyed a walk around the grounds and even stumbled across a private Georgian mansion which I decided must be Netherfield Park (I really wanted to knock on the front door and ask for Mr Bingley).

To end our day we piled back into the car, turned the heating on and drove part of the way back to Oxford stopping in the Cotswolds for the most amazing meal at Bitter and Twisted in Chipping Norton. I love living so close to the Cotswolds, everything was lit up with beautiful fairy lights and for the first time this year it started to feel really Christmassy.

What I Wore…
Dress – Lindy Bop | Cardigan – M&S | Shoes – New Look
Fashion, Slow Living, Style, Summer

I Want To Live Where The Green Grass Grows

I’m back! Sorry for the lack of posts in the last two weeks, it wasn’t planned but when I went on holiday for a couple of weeks I decided to take a break. I had planned on posting whilst on holiday but I soon decided actually the best thing would be to have a bit of time off from the online world and I really enjoyed spending the week just chilling on the sofa with a book and walking round the beautiful hills of Keswick. I’m sure I will do a post on my holiday in Keswick and share some of the photos I got but for now I wanted to share these gorgeous photos Russell caught the other night.

We decided to go for a picnic after he finished work as the weather in Oxford continues to be bright and warm so the two of us grabbed our picnic rug and some fish and chips and headed over to Shotover. Its a beautiful park on a hill that over looks Oxford and its a great place to watch the sun go down. We sat in the warm evening sun enjoying its golden light whilst catching up, we are both really excited for our wedding but it does tend to dominate your life and so it’s quite nice to take a bit of time away. After taking one week of my two week holiday to do wedmin it was nice to actually not talk about it and just enjoy each others company.

We love being able to get away from the business of the city and enjoy a bit of calm, I have started to enjoy our time in the city more but I still spend my days longing for open countryside however, evenings like this help to keep my cravings at bay.

Dress – Old | Sunglasses – Tribe
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.