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Uni friends

Out for Bangladeshi food in ST Andrews on my 23rd birthday – so young!

I’m signing off early this weekend to drive to Bonn for a weekend with two old flatmates from uni, Hannah and Ellie. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, so despite the long drive this morning (winter tyres on two days ago so I’m prepared for anything!) I am excited to finally leave.

We’ve not lived in the same country since we graduated, spreading out between England, Germany, Belgium, South Africa, the USA… we’re a mobile bunch I guess. So the chance to be in the same room together for a whole weekend? There’s nothing quite like it.

So happy Friday, have a wonderful weekend and I hope you find many moments to enjoy your friends.

I have an immense love of handwritten letters, cards and postcards. As grateful as I am, especially now, for all the many instant ways I have to connect with friends and family, there is just nothing quite like the feeling of opening the postbox and discovering between the bills and flyers for pizza delivery, a small stiff envelope with my name scrawled in pen across the front. The joy that rises inside me in that moment is one of the greatest everyday highs!

Usually I don’t make it up the three floors to our front door before the letter is out of its envelope to discover who is the wonderful person to have take the time to send something. Because this is why it is so special: someone cared enough about me to find a piece of paper or card to write on, sit down and write something funny or encouraging, find an envelope, look up the address, check again how to spell my surname, find a stamp and then make the trip to the post box.

That’s why every handwritten envelope that appears in my postbox holds more significance than its size and weight would suggest. And why I also love nothing better than sitting down with a cup of coffee and taking the time to write to someone I care about. Because I like to imagine that the smile on their face when they come home to the letter lying on the door mat is about as big as mine is when I slide it into the postbox at my end.

My friend Ellie is making one of her new years resolutions to write more handwritten letters. So this week’s Friday favourites is for her: here are some of my favourite ideas for things to send in the post!

Ideas to send in the Post

1. Send a bouquet of balloons to someone you love! Victoria at a subtle revelry came up with this idea to write your message onto balloons, then send them (without blowing them up first!) in an envelope. They’ll get a lovely surprise when they open the letter and blow them up. And who doesn’t love balloons?

2. Tea bags! (Or loose-leaf if your friend is a tea-snob…) This is something I have done a few times before. Find tea bags that are individually wrapped – there was a tea shop opposite the building I used to work in that sold individual Kusmi tea bags. They are perfect for slipping into an envelope with your letter, and the recipient gets to have a lovely cup of tea while reading all your news!

3. Recipes. This is another favourite of mine if I am writing to a friend who I know likes to cook or bake. Buy some recipe cards like these gorgeous ones from the Rifle Paper Company, and slip one in to the envelope with you most recent favourite recipe… gingersnaps anyone?

4. Cute notecards are of course a basic necessity. I am a little in love with these typewriter parrot notecards from Quill and Fox (which I recently discovered is owned by a friend of a friend… small world!)

5. Confetti!!! Yes it may make a bit of a mess, but how much fun! You can easily make your own of course but I found this confetti by etsy seller The Lonely Heart, made from the text of Pride and Prejudice which I find just a little exciting…

Do you have any good ideas for things to send in the post?

 

p.s. Happy Epiphany everyone! May your day be filled with wise and divine revelations.

I’ve not always enjoyed breakfast. For years I would skip it because I didn’t generally feel hungry until about two hours after I woke up. Now though I am hungry as soon as I’m awake and am slipping down the stairs while Rasmus is still in the shower to see what there is to eat.

This morning it was a quarter of a cantelope melon, which we ate slurping the juice that ran down our chins. It was followed up with one of the luciabrød, leftover from Wednesday, and some orange juice. Simple but good.

Do you eat breakfast? I know lots of people skip it or just eat toast every day of their lives. But in the last year or so I’ve been a little inspired to make breakfast a bit more creative. We don’t eat the same thing every single day for dinner, so why would we do it for breakfast?

Now the daily choice nearly always includes yoghurt with nuts and dried fruit, or cereal, or some kind of bread I’ve made recently (the fruit bread I made at the weekend was perfect breakfast food), fruit (cantelopes, clementines, kiwis…) and maybe if I’m feeling energetic, eggs. And lazy weekend mornings provide even more scope for breakfast: pancakes! baked eggs! breakfast burritos!

So here on this rainy dreary Friday morning are some pretty pictures to inspire your breakfasts over the coming week…

Breakfast Inspiration

 

1. Martha Stewart’s bacon, egg and toast cups;  2. Tartelette’s parmesan roasted asparagus, tomatoes and eggs; 3. Daily Dream’s toast and jam; 4. Joy the Baker’s lemon raspberry breakfast rolls; 5. Ohdeedoh’s snowman pancakes; 6. Muesli, yoghurt and fruit (source unknown) via Bkfst; 7. Corrine E Rossi’s grapefruit and egg on toast.

p.s. if this has just wet your appetite for more, I found a great tumblr blog yesterday, just stuffed full of beautiful breakfast photos… click here to look

 

 

I’m feeling grateful for a lot of things this week. Moving house and country can be emotionally exhausting sometimes, but there are so many blessings in it too. Sneaky blessings that slip their way in as the door is closing and you almost don’t notice them making themselves at home. So today for my friday favourites, I’m just practising naming the many things I am grateful for in this new place…

  • I’m grateful for advent, for the expectation that I’ll slow down, think more, pray more, remember what is important as we wait through these dark winter months for the light to come again.
  • I’m grateful for our new home, which is warm and welcoming and already feels like ours.
  • I’m grateful for modern technology that helps me keep in touch with so many loved ones – for early morning skype calls, surprises sent by text, emails reminding me I’m missed.
  • I’m grateful for my first friend here in Luxembourg, for her fun company as we figure out this brand new country to us and make trips to Ikea.
  • I’m grateful for all the good food and drink we consume, for the variety and taste, for the start of the clementine season which fills me with four or five of those delicious orange beauties every day.
  • I’m grateful for the sunshine. It seems to be a rare occurrence at this time of year in Luxembourg, so every time it breaks through the low grey clouds and fills our flat with warmth, I drop everything I’m doing and rush to sit in the patch of sunlight on the floor. This tends to be in our study which is the one room still looking like a bomb hit it, but I love the sun so much that I am content to sit surrounded by precarious piles of books, dvds, bags of cables, boxes of stationary and crafts…
  • I’m grateful for my husband. This adventure is so much more exciting and less lonely to do it with my best friend.
  • I’m grateful for mothers who send their children gifts in the post for advent. We have the best two women in the world as our mothers. Please try not to be jealous.
  • I’m grateful for things to look forward to. My future is full – a dear friend coming to visit, a quick trip back to our old city, a Christmas lunch planned for new colleagues and friends, the long drive back to Oxford for Christmas with my family. With so much to look forward to, it is impossible to feel empty.

Well, we’re five days into advent which means the Christmas music has been playing for five days (on and off, I don’t want to get sick of it, so it still gets mixed in with a little Civil Wars, a little Ben Webb, a little Weepies).

I am loving the website, Noisetrade, at the moment – I find so much fantastic new music there and it’s all free! The artists themselves put it up for free, usually either as a way of growing their fanbase or as a thank you to fans. If you love the music, you can leave a “tip” for the artist, but it’s not required (but do it anyway – making music this good requires serious talent and effort).

Noisetrade has an insane amount of Christmas music happening at the moment and it’s mostly all folksy, alternative versions of the much-loved classics, which makes me love it even more. So here to help you with your own Christmas playlists, are some of my favourites to add to your collection today:

 

 

Sojourn – A Child is Born

Beta Radio – The Songs the Season Brings

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors – A Neighborly Christmas

Branches – Merry Christmas

Laura Cooke – Christmas. in a Day

Lauren Melendez – A Very Ukelele Christmas 

Folk Angel – Christmas Songs

We Three Kings – The 12 Songs of Christmas

Zach Williams & the Bellow – A Little Christmas Cheer

 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Wishing you a restful and meaningful second Sunday in advent.

This week has been all about friendship.

I know, I hope that every week is about friendship. And it is. But for some reason, maybe the combination of one of my best friends being back in town for a short time, and the shower we threw for another wonderful friend, this week has felt drenched in friendship. Which is a lovely lovely feeling. There have been coffees and brunches and afternoon teas and evening dinners (double date sushi tonight – yey!) and it is just wonderful.

More and more I am realising that friendship needs to be spontaneous. It can be hard with busy schedules to plan things but sometimes you realise, hmm, I have no lunch plans today and that is the moment to call your friend and say “let’s grab a baguette and walk around the park kicking leaves”.

And I’m more and more about simple entertaining. Forget the elaborate table decorations (although I love the pretty!) and just be together. So today celebrating friendship is my favourite… and here are a few inspirations I’ve gathered from around the web of how to do just that:

1) Breakfast dates. My new favourite time to meet friends is for breakfast. No, I’m not really a morning person, but even friends who work full time can do a quick morning coffee and croissant before work starts. And somehow the idea of half hour quality chat with someone I like gets me out of bed better than anything else.

Casey, guestblogging at IartU, came up with “breakfast on the go”, perfect for morning rendezvous!

I can almost guarantee you that if you promise pancakes at 8am tomorrow, half a dozen friends will turn up on your doorstep on time, despite the early hour. Photo from Bump Smitten.

2) Lunchtime Picnic. I am also strongly of the opinion that picnics should not just resigned to summer. The parks are stunning at the moment in all their autumn glory, and should be enjoyed at every opportunity! Pack a thermos of hot coffee or soup, wrap up warm and enjoy getting out of the office/house and letting the wind blow away those cobwebs!

Picture source unknown, via Cindy 

3) Afternoon Tea. My friend Ellie is the biggest advocate for afternoon teas that I know, and I am firmly in her camp. It is one of the things I miss most about the UK. Whether you do it in refined ladylike style with delicate china, or instead with big mugs of tea and generously proportioned slices of cake, afternoon tea is the perfect excuse for friends time.

This cafe in London does traditional afternoon tea, or “men’s afternoon tea” with beer, pork pies and scotch eggs. Splendid! By Zoe.

Take the kids with you! Kelle found this adorable tea shop in Florida and she and her girls dressed up in hats and gloves for their afternoon tea session. I love it!

4) Wine and cheese evenings. Yes, it sounds a bit snobby, but really there is nothing easier or more relaxing than a wine and cheese evening. Just buy a few fancy-looking bottles from the supermarket and some interesting looking cheeses from the cheesemonger (if you’re lucky enough to have one down the road like us) and, bobs your uncle, the party is ready! It doesn’t harm at all that the wine will radically help in the “relaxing” part ;)

This birthday party looks bliss. Cheese, crackers, candlelight and cake. What more could you want?! From Monkey in LA‘s blog.

Ok, so this is a “Dark & Stormy” cocktails and cheese night, but the concept is the same, just with spirits rather than wine, which helps with the relaxing even more! Photos by The Blue Hour via A Subtle Revelry.

My Grandpa is going in to hospital for a hip operation on Monday. All of his twelve grandchildren live far away from him (he lives up in the middle of the Scottish Highlands!) but we’re planning to bombard him with cards and letters and small gifts to remind him that we love him and are praying for him.

I was thinking of what I could send him that he would appreciate (he’s a dignified old Scottish gentleman who hates having a fuss made over him!) and decided I’d make this week’s Friday Favourites post all about him. So here’s my favourite things to send to Grandpa to wish him “Get Well Soon!”…

  • The days are drawing in and Scotland’s not known for being exactly warm (and my Grandpa not known for wasting money on heating) so a Liberty hot water bottle may be needed!
  • Long recoveries can be boring, even with three of your four offspring visiting to cook you meals and make sure the garden doesn’t get too overgrown. A new crime novel, his favourite musical and a sudoku cube should keep Grandpa amused for a few hours.
  • All the children’s books about hospital visits that I read when I was little promised ice cream after whatever procedure was being undergone. Mackies honeycomb ice cream is the BEST ice cream in the whole wide world, and is always on offer at Grandpa’s house, so we’ll make sure the freezer is well stocked.
  • And yes, I know alcohol and pain meds are not necessarily a great combination, but you can’t take Scotland out of the man. A dram of Macallan 12 year single malt should speed the recovery…!

We gave my niece a very traditional baptism present at the weekend: a book of bible stories for children. Oh and a Donald Duck soft toy because everyone needs Donald Duck in their life from an early age. (Did you know his name is Anders And in Danish?)

Her farmor and farfar (paternal grandparents) gave her a beautiful art print of the Noah’s Ark filled with all the animals on top of each other inside it. It was really lovely and it got me thinking of other good gifts for a baby baptism, Christening or even a baby shower or birth too I guess. So I went looking for ideas (any excuse to have fun with pinterest…) and found these:

1. This beautiful family tree image can be customised with the baby’s name and family members. $65 in evajulliet’s etsy shop.

2. A sweet rain cloud mobile to hang above the crib or changing mat. $45 in leptitpapillon’s etsyshop.

3. Reading is so cool! You can buy this print with either a little boy or little girl. $20 indazeychic’s etsy store. (I have her “So very happy” print in red and I love it!)

4. This may be the most stylish crib I’ve ever seen. If you’re feeling generous, it’s R8500 fromWeylandts in South Africa.

5. This adorable hippo is actually a bookend and you can buy him with his friends giraffe, lion and dinosaur. $58 from Serena & Lily.

6. Every baby room needs a uniquely shaped lamp, oui? This mushroom lamp by Egmont is £70 from Bodie & Fou.

7. These moccassins are made from real elk hide to keep those wee feet warm and stylish at the same time. $60 from Freshly Picked.

8. Christian Jackson has made a great set of minimalist fairytale prints. This Goldilocks print is my favourite. $21.35 from Imagekind.

Oddly, I have found myself thinking about Christmas already this week. I think it’s because when we said goodbye to my family on Sunday afternoon, it was “see you at Christmas!” Our families live a long way apart so we’ve been alternating Christmasses and Easters with them, and this Christmas we’ll be in Oxfordshire with my family. So the last few days since seeing them all, I’ve been imagining what food we’ll cook, what presents to buy, how to decorate the dinner table, the family traditions to remember…

Oh, and also what I want for Christmas :) It’s never too early to start your wishlist, right?

So this week, some of my favourites (and you’re all more than welcome to buy them for me as Christmas presents!):

  1. Punjammies! These beautiful pyjamas are made in an after-care facility for women who have been rescued, released or escaped from a life of forced prostitution. They’re good value and you know that by buying and wearing them, you are helping give hope to a woman who so very much needs some.
  2. I love the grey and pink pattern of this Donna Wilson blanket. This one is probably also inspired by the fact our boiler has been broken for the last few weeks, creating a very cold apartment. Another blanket to snuggle in would be so welcome!
  3. I would love these reusable fabric decals for labeling your food jars from Love Mae. How much cuter would our kitchen look with these! She also has lots of fun decals for children’s rooms if you have kids bedrooms to decorate.
  4. This “We can move mountains” printed tote bag from Yoke is both gorgeous and inspirational. What more do you need for all your shopping trips?
  5. These earrings from Stray Dog Designs are actually Christmassy without being twee. I love them, so if someone wants to spend that much on a pair of earrings for me…

It’s been a stunningly beautiful week in Brussels. It feels more like June or July than the end of September, so despite my pinterest boards and blog reader popping up with autumn inspirations on all sides, I’m not quite ready to let go of summer yet.

This week I have been loving…

  • Fresh flowers. I bought a big bunch on the way home two days ago and they make such a difference to the flat. I love having something so beautiful to look at all day.
  • This wee cherub. I got to spend a delightful morning today strolling around the park with her and her mama.
  • Brussels. Yesterday I met up with someone who just moved to Brussels, and gave her my own special tour of central Brussels, which reminded me of all the great corners there are in this city.
  • Surprises. Walking downstairs in our apartment block earlier this week, I bumped into this guy. It says something about our neighbours that the surprise was not as big as it might have been…
  • Gungor – yet another band I discovered via one of Ben Webb’s comments on facebook. Their sound is so ethereal and bold at the same time, if that is possible? With music, I think yes.