Monday, 31 August 2015

Things I'd Like to Achieve in 2015/2016

Is it just me who gets that feeling of a new year come September?  I guess with a new school year just beginning and nothing much else going on at this time of year it seems a good as time as any to look at things with fresh eyes and consider it a new start.  January can be such a bleak time of year and with us all recovering from Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations, resolutions for the year ahead can often be overlooked.

I've not been one for setting myself goals or new years resolutions for a couple of years now, but secretly I actually miss doing them.  So having considered all of this, I have decided to set myself some goals to aim to achieve between September 2015 and August 2016.      

So my goals for the year ahead are:

1.  Attend at least one type of workshop or course and learn something new.  
I quite enjoy learning and studying, so whether it be something academic or creative, I just want to learn a new skill of some kind.  

2.  Join a yoga class.
This is something I've wanted to try for a while now and have just never got round to it.  Hopefully having set this goal it will be something I will actually get round to achieving.

3.  Read at least 6 books.  
I know this doesn't sound like a lot, but I've become such a slow reader so this is a challenge I'm quite looking forward to. If I manage to read any more than six then that will be a bonus, I'll be thrilled but I'll be thankful for just the six.    

4.  Learn to write calligraphy.
I love the idea of being able to attach fancy gift tags to presents so improving my handwriting, learning calligraphy would definitely allow this to happen.

5.  Love myself more.
I've never been one for beauty routines and I'm not saying it's something I want to become obsessed with, but it would be nice to take a little bit of time to appreciate and pamper myself a bit more.

6.  Complete at least one craft project each month for a whole year.
I think this is the one I will struggle with the most.  I really enjoy being creative and making things, yet I never seem to be able to find enough time to actually sit down and produce anything.  If I can just try and make one thing a month that has got to be doable surely.

7.  Create monthly goals / to-do lists
As with the seasonal lists I used to create I'm going to attempt at writing monthly ones for each month of the year including some seasonal tasks as well as general day to day tasks.  I found I was often repeating things year to year when creating these per season as opposed to per month so it will be interesting to try this new format. 

I feel as though I should be adding more to this list but I'm struggling to think of anything more to add.  I guess by creating my monthly goals though I will be able to add to these anything else that I may think of throughout the year.

If anyone can suggest any ways to help me achieve my goals I'd love to hear from you.  Likewise if you have any suggestions for things for me to add to my monthly lists or even whether you have created your own resolutions, I'd really enjoy reading them.

 ~Gem x

Friday, 28 August 2015

August Round-Up

Do you ever get that feeling that a particular month has just flown by, yet on the other hand you think about something that happened right at the beginning of the month and it feels as though it were a lifetime ago.  That's exactly how I'm feeling about August.

It's been a bit of a funny month to be honest.  I've not really done all that much and I haven't been anywhere special.  The weather hasn't really helped, we've been having our fair share of showers here in Essex, so there has been a lot of time spent indoors.

I had hoped to fit in some more baking but I've just not got round to it.  The month isn't quite at it's end yet though so I may try and squeeze in a quick bake over the weekend (I'm sure this need from baking is being encouraged by The Great British Bake Off, are you watching it?) It's a long bank holiday weekend after all.

I've no plans for September as yet but I'm excited for the new month ahead all the same.  I always look to September as being kind of like a new year.  I guess with the start of a new academic year, and it's near enough the start of a new season, I'm a big Autumn fan too which always helps.

Farewell August.  See you next year.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

My Top 10 Movie Choices

I'd much rather sit and watch a film rather than TV programmes, although as you know from my recent post about TV programmes I've been enjoying recently that isn't always the case.  I have quite a few favourite films, I don't think I could settle on just the one.  So this is my top 10.

The Notebook ~ Nothing beats a good old fashioned romantic and this is definitely one of those.  The first time I watched this film I was really surprised by the ending, I honestly didn't see it coming and it had me in tears so if you've not seen this film yet and you decided to watch it, make sure you have the tissues at the ready.  

Miss Potter ~  Since visiting the Lake District a few years ago I discovered a love for Beatrix Potter and her stories.  This film is a beautiful tribute to the woman herself, the magic of her stories are brought to life, Renee Zelweger plays the part fantastically.  A superb film to watch alone or with the kids.

Life As We Know It ~  I actually went to see this film at the cinema and just had to buy it as soon as it was released.  I've seen it endless times and yet it still has me in fits of giggles.  It's a film that really runs your emotions through the mill and really makes you appreciate what you have.

P.S I Love You ~ Ah where can I begin with this film.  I just LOVE it.  It makes me cry, it makes me laugh.  This takes love to a whole new level.  I'm a huge fan of Cecilia Ahern's books and this film has done the story great credit.  

Atonement ~ I ended up watching this film was due to a book club choice.  I just couldn't get into the book and thought rather than giving up altogether, I would watch the film so I would at least get the gist of the storyline.  I'm so glad I watched it.  A brilliant plot and a film that James will happily watch with me as it isn't all gushy due to the front line action.

You've Got Mail ~ Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, what is there not to love.  I would so love to own the little book shop around the corner, it is so sweet.  This film is a rime example of how you can't always judge a book by its cover.  Mr Fox comes across as being a real nasty piece of work but behind it all he is a loving man at heart.

Eat Pray Love ~  I read the book before I watched the film, both are fantastic.  I'm a big Julia Roberts fan, she is in some incredible films and is a superb actress.  This film secretly makes me want to escape from life to find myself, although I would want to come back to some of it so not sure it would work in quite the same way.

Calendar Girls ~ This film always makes me want to do something good for charity.  I've always fancied joining a WI or something similar and what a laugh it would be to create a calendar like this.  Would you do it?  

The Twilight Saga ~ Wow, wow, wow.  Having only watched this series quite recently, I've no idea how I had not shown an interest in it before.  I was glued to the screen, sat on the edge of my seat with my breath held waiting to see what happens next, I bloody loved it.  In fact I may have to settle down to watch them all again soon.

Saving Mr Banks ~ A classic film brought to us from Disney about bringing the film Mary Poppins to life from the authors draft to the big screen.  It certainly makes you think about the process and the work that goes into it that bit more.

So there are 10 of my favourite films.  Do we share any favourites?  Or can you recommend any must watch flicks?  I'd love to know your thoughts.

~ Gem x

Monday, 24 August 2015

Bath & Beauty Products I'm Loving Right Now

I've recently discovered a new brand while shopping at Home Bargains, not quite sure why I've overlooked it until now, but I'm glad I've picked it up and finally discovered it.  Firstly Creightons Vanilla and Macadamia Cocoon Shower Burst.  I cannot tell you how divine this stuff smells.  It also lathers up pretty good too.

Another of their products I'm using and loving is their Keratin Pro Shampoo and Conditioner.  Again the smell is amazing and it leaves my hair feeling so soft and shiny. 

Lastly onto a fragrance and a product I have been using for a few months now, Suddenly Diamonds from Lidl.  It actually reminds me very much of the perfume Ghost and is a fraction of the cost at £3.99.  I've used a few beauty products from Lidl and Aldi in the past and have always been impressed, they are definitely worth giving a go. 

It just goes to show that you needn't spend a fortune on beauty products.  

~ Gem x

Friday, 21 August 2015

Apple Cake Recipe

I like the idea of baking and always enjoy it when I get started, but never seem to get the time to do it as often as I'd like, especially as there are so many other things that I like to fill my time with too.

On Sunday I made time to do a spot of baking.  We had some apples that needed using up so an apple cake it was.

My Grandad used to make a mean apple cake, it's something my Mum inherited too, I must get the recipe from my Mum because it's a good one.  I'll share it with you some time.  For this particular bake though I turned to BBC Good Food and used this.

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 115g unsalted butter, diced and chilled, plus extra for greasing
  • 115g light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 6-8 tbsp milk
  • 225g Bramley or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 100g sultanas (optional)
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar (optional)

  1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Mix the flour and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour using your fingers, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the light brown sugar. Beat in the egg followed by 6 - 8 tbsp of milk – you want to achieve a smooth, thick batter.
  3. Add the apples and sultanas and mix to combine. Scrape the batter into your prepared tin and gently level out. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  4. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool further. Best served still warm with a little custard.

After devouring this bake it really makes me think I should do it more often.  Do you have a favourite bake that you could recommend?

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

TV Programmes I Can't Get Enough Of

I've never really been one for getting into TV programmes, or for watching that much TV all together to be honest with you.  At various times of the year there may be one or two programmes that I settle down to watch.  However recently there are a fair few programmes that I've been enjoying.

First up is something I've just started watching on Netflix.  Up until reading Victoria's post about Netflix and what she has been watching recently here, I'd never really paid it much attention.  However she mentioned a programme called Once Upon A Time, and it just seemed to grab me.  I thought I'd check it out for myself and now, well, I'm hooked.  I can't get enough of it.  I didn't think I would take to it like I have, but I'm a girl and I'm a sucker for a fairytale.  If you've not seen it I'd really recommend checking it out for yourself.

image from Google images

Next up, a programme I've been enjoying on Monday evenings at 9pm on Channel 4, 24 Hours in Police Custody.  I've always had a bit of a fascination with prisons, mind you I'd never want to be in one, nor would I want to have to visit anyone in one.  Perhaps it's the whole thing of getting a glimpse into a hidden world, I'm not quite sure.  This programme gives you an insight into all the behind the scenes work that goes into investigating crimes and their suspect, it's bloody brilliant.   

Image from Google Images

Another on my list is One Born Every Minute every Wednesday at 9pm again on Channel 4.  Trouble is, I can't seem to watch this without blubbing, no matter how hard I try so the tissues always need to be handy for this one.

image from Google images

Then lastly we have the Great British Bake Off, have you been watching it?  I've dipped in and out of it in past years but this year I'm loving it and make sure I catch up with what's gone on each week on BBC iPlayer. as it happens to be on at the same time as OBEM.

image from Google images

Evenings spent indoors at home in front of the TV really make me feel as though Autumn is beginning to kick in, I know it's still a little early but it's definitely on it's way and I have to say, I'm kind of looking forward to it.

Do you have any programmes you can recommend to keep me occupied during the looming autumn evenings?

~ Gem x

Monday, 17 August 2015

An Instagram Update

It's been a little while since I did my last Instagram update so here's a little insight to what I've been uploading on there since my last update back in June.

Pretty lavender attracting the bee's in the grounds of our home. 

Raindrops on the bedroom window.

Beautiful sunset across the wheat field.  We are always spoilt with the most stunning sunsets here. 

Stormy skies, and we've been seeing plenty of those recently.

 Raindrops in the garden.

And more raindrops. 

 Welcoming the start of August.

We've been having a regular visitor to our garden over the past few weeks.  I've named him Harry
 (well at least I think he's a he).

We celebrated our friends wedding at this lovely venue, Leez Priory in Essex. 

I placed an order with Heart Vintage UK, it was wrapped beautifully. 

And this is what I ordered, I'm so pleased with it. 

Personalised with our wedding date. 

The geese will soon be migrating.  They have been settling down in the field next to our house, it has been so nice watching them of an evening, especially against the stunning sunset. 

I love seeing the reflection of the sunset against the reservoir.  

See I told you we get spoilt with the sunsets here. 

I literally fall in love with them all over again each time the golden and pink colours paint the sky with their beauty.  It really is enough to take your breathe away. 

There has also been a lot of pottering about at home, admiring little corners.  I am a true homebody and I love surrounding myself with little treasures.  We used this sign as part of one of the many little displays at our wedding, it takes me back to that day each time I see it stood on our dresser.

If your on Instagram, do pop on over and say hello, I'd love to see you there.  You'll find me here @GemsCountryLife.

~ Gem x

Friday, 14 August 2015

Hyde Hall Flower Show

Last Sunday we headed over to RHS Hyde Hall for their annual flower show.

I'd hoped to visit Hampton Court Palace for their flower show earlier in the year, but unfortunately never got there, so this was the next best thing.

A few weeks prior we had been to the National Flower show at Hylands House which was  real disappointment, I wasn't too sure what to expect from this event but had hoped it would be better.

Thankfully it was.

I loved the effort that had gone into all of the miniature gardens showcased by each of the different growers.

I especially liked the use of props and gardening paraphernalia within them.  

It also meant we were able to wander round the main gardens too, which were beautiful in the glorious sunshine (unlike today's weather)

Very inspiring and a really great day out.

~ Gem x