Blogmas # 7 Super Easy Hot Chocolate

When the weather starts getting colder and the nights get darker I love to snuggle up in the evening with a hot chocolate. I have recently found my new favourite way of making it with a slightly festive twist. This is super simple, but with a bit of a twist as I like to use the Innocent Hazelnut Milk rather than dairy milk.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Innocent Hazelnut Milk
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Green & Blacks Hot Chocolate Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Teaspoons of Sweet Garam Masala (This can be swapped out for any other spice you like)

Method:

Pour your milk into your pan and place over a gentle heat.

Add in the hot chocolate powder and cocoa powder and whisk into the milk.

Once this is all combined, add in the vanilla extract and the spice of your choice. I really love the sweet Garam Masala as it gives it a rounded Chai flavour rather than just the cinnamon.

 

What is your favourite festive twist on hot chocolate? I would love to try out some other recipes!

 

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Blogmas # 6 Stocking Fillers for Her

Following on from yesterday’s stocking filler ideas for Him, here are some stocking fillers/small gifts for her! I have linked a few things that I really love as an example for each one (non of which are affiliate links).

Fluffy Socks: No matter how many pairs of fluffy socks I already have, I always love receiving fluffy socks (especially Christmas themed ones!). Topshop have some really pretty patterns and they are really soft!

Candles: Again, this is something I absolutely love to receive as a gift and also love to pick out scents for other people. There are just so many different scents and I always find something new to try! Yankee Candle always do really nice Christmas stocking filler sets too!

Mugs: Especially around Christmas, there are always so many options when it comes to mugs and I think they make a great gift because they can be so personal. I love this one from Prezzy Box: https://www.prezzybox.com/for-fox-sake-mug.aspx

Custom Decorations: There are so many options for customised Christmas decorations and I really love the item of getting these for friends with some of my favourite photos of us all! Not on The High Street has a really nice hanging decoration that is customisable: https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/sophiavictoriajoy/product/personalised-hanging-photo-decoration

 

Blogmas # 5 Stocking Fillers for Him

I thought I would put together a little list of some stocking fillers for the men in your life. These are things that my dad, my brother or my boyfriend would love. I have included a few links so you can see some examples!

Table Top Sports Game: This is the sort of thing that my dad loves and is always something fun to play on Chirstmas Day/Boxing Day.  The Works have a Foosball version which is very similar to the one I bought my dad last year! https://www.theworks.co.uk/p/activity-toys/tabletop-football/5052089255906?CAWELAID=720011340002669535&CATARGETID=720011340002488683&cadevice=c&gclid=CjwKCAiA0O7fBRASEiwAYI9QAh9026vRfNaV14RGLa_vXSliEo8ZPG1P9QCWG4V0fyrIGw13MBCrlBoCGcoQAvD_BwE

Christmas Socks: Socks are always a winner and in my family we love to find the craziest Chirstmas patterned ones we can find! Asos have a really great selection this year!

Christmas Hats: Along with the Christmas socks, this is also one that my family love. I have bought them from Primark and Sainsbury’s in the past, but H&M have some different ones this year! https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/productpage.0697456001.html?gclid=CjwKCAiA0O7fBRASEiwAYI9QAuvbdE2sj-g2Sde4Ddai7H8RrBTaX32s23WS6A_1SqD5GUfrezYtERoCVZwQAvD_BwE&ef_id=W-xClQAAAPxUNdI4:20181126185933:s&s_kwcid=AL!850!3!296852201991!!!g!309247138059!#modal-1

Magic Tricks/Puzzles: This is one that my boyfriend loves. Most supermarkets have these around christmas in their stocking filler section but Amazon is also a great place to look!

 

Blogmas # 4 – Winter Favourites

I really love reading other people’s favourites so I thought I would put together a list of my November/winter favourites for this year.

Elisabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream: This is one of my favourite products all year round but especially in the winter. I have the tube version, which I carry with me wherever I go, and the tin, which I keep in my desk drawer at work. It is the best lip balm/moisturiser I have ever used and it stays on your lips for so long.

No7 Moisture Mask: My skin has got more dry over the past few months and now that the weather is colder it has become even more so in places. This mask really makes my skin feel nourished and moisturised. I tend to use it once a week, usually on a sunday, and I can see a difference in my skin straight away.

E45 Cream: Again, another product for dry skin but at this time of year, especially this year, my skin does get really dry. I have had a couple of eczema type patches this year and this has cleared it up in no time.

New Look Burgundy Corduroy Dress: Every since I bought this in late September it has been one of my most worn pieces. I love to style it with tights, a black polo neck/long sleeve top and black boots.

Yankee Candle Sparkling Cinnamon: I always love cinnamon scented candles in the winter, but this one by Yankee Candle has a strong scent, without being overwhelming. I bought it last year but it is still going strong!

Hot Spiced Apple drink from Costa: As with every year, the Costa Hot Spiced Apple drink is one of my favourites. It tastes a bit like mulled cider but more sweet, and as soon as it is released I start to feel a lot more festive.

Mac Lipstick in Russian Red: Once the festive season starts, I love to bring out my red lipstick again and this one is my favourite. It is a matte finish and is really pigmented. It can dry out your lips if you wear it all day, so I tend to use my Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream underneath to prevent this!

What are some of your winter favourites? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @placesserenity!

Blogmas # 3 – Christmas Decorations

When it comes to Christmas, I love decorating my bedroom to match the season. With just a few small touches you can really make a room feel festive. Whilst I still live at home or at my boyfriends house, I am very limited when it comes to decorating so these are the little things that I really find make a difference.

My favourite thing to do when the festive season draws closer is to change my bedding over to my christmas set. The one I currently have is from Primark and is a brushed cotton feel, which is really snuggly for the cold winter nights! I also swap out my cusions, which are usually mint green to match my room, to red ones and change my mint blanket to a red and white tartan patterned one (also from Primark I think!).

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I have fairy lights in my room all year round as I think they give a much nicer atmosphere than the standard ceiling light, but at christmas I add a few more sets in to make it extra twinkly!

Another thing I love all year round is candles. Anyone who knows me knows that I always have so many candles that I haven’t even started burning yet because I just can’t resist buying them if there is a scent that I like! Once it starts getting colder, I always bring out my Christmas candles, which are mostly Yankee Candles, and take away the more summery scents. Some of my favourites are the Sparkling Cinnamon and Snow in Love.

 

Every year, I bring out my tiny little Christmas tree that I bought from my local garden centre a few years back. I always struggle to find decorations for it because it is so small so if anyone knows a good place to get really small christmas tree decorations, let me know!!

Which things do you change up in your bedrooms/houses to make it more festive?

Blogmas # 2 – Winter Dates

My boyfriend and I are always looking for new date ideas and nice days out that don’t cost a bomb. Some of these ideas are a little more pricey but I thought I would be nice to put together a list of winter dates I love or would love to go on.

Winter Wonderland / Christmas Market

Last year we went to winter wonderland for my birthday and it was really lovely to have that mix of a Christmas market and a funfair style environment. This does cost a bit more than a traditional Christmas market which would be just as, if not more, festive! We are going to the Christmas Markets in Edinburgh later this week so I am really excited for that!

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Kyran enjoying his mulled wine at Winter Wonderland.

Ice skating

There are so many outdoor ice rinks around during the festive period and they always have Christmas music playing in the background. Even if neither of you are that great at ice skating, it’s a really fun activity to do and there’s always the chance for a hot chocolate after!

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Ice Skating at the Tower of London

Winter walks

Around where we live there are lots of nice country walks and pa. We love to wrap up and take my family dog out for a scroll!

Cosy Nights In

These are my favourite kind of dates because they are super simple but it is so nice to just spend some time together. For these sort of dates, we usually set aside a specific day or evening with no other plans and cook a nice meal together. Lately, we have been rewatching all of the Harry Potter films so this is also something we like to do!

Garden Centres/Farm Shop

This one might sound a little bit lame, but I love spending a Sunday afternoon wandering around a garden centre when all of the Christmas decorations are out. Our local garden centre has a lovely coffee shop and farm shop too so there is a lot to look at and wander around! When the Christmas decorations are out and there are so many gifts to look at, there is such a festive atmosphere and I love it!

Blogmas # 1 – Introduction

It is the 1st of December which means it is time for Blogmas! For anyone out there that doesn’t know, Blogmas means that I will be posting every day up until Christmas. I know some people do post all the way up until New Year but, for now, I think I will only be doing up until Christmas day!

I love Christmas and my birthday is in December so it’s always a lovely month for me. This year, I thought I would take on the challenge of Blogmas and get back into the swing of blogging properly! I have a trip to Edinburgh and a few nice days out planned this month so they should be fun to capture!

If there are any specific posts you would like to see or blogs also doing Blogmas that I should check out, leave a comment or tweet me @PlacesSerenity.

University: Why I Chose Open Uni Over Conventional Uni

As briefly mentioned in a previous post, I am starting Open University in Januray. University has always been quite a big question mark for me and up until only a few months ago, I did not think I would ever go. I wanted to do a little series surrounding my uni journey so I thought it would be good to start with the reasons I chose not to go to conventional university and why open university felt like a better option for me.

Lifestyle:

When you think of university and the way it is potrayed in the media, everything appears to revolve around the social life. I really like the idea of going to university and having a wider circle of friends from different backgrounds with different interests, but I didn’t really feel like the “freshers” lifestyle would really suit me. I am quite an anxious person when it comes to going out drinking, unless I am with close friends, so the idea of freshers week was terrifying. I know that this is not the lifestyle for everyone, but it just really didn’t feel like it suited me. Open University can be done alongside work and can be done anywhere. I really loved how I would be able to fit my degree in around my normal life without it taking over too much.

Direction:

I have never really had a clear career path or direction I wanted to go in so university, for me, seemed like it would not necessarily be as beneficial as it is to others. I was worried that I would choose a degree, end up really not enjoying it and would then have paid for something that I wouldn’t be directly using. In the last 6 months or so, I have had a slightly clearer picture of the direction I would like to take and decided to apply for a degree in Psychology and Criminology with OU. I really liked that the process was so simple and there was a lot of support available if you needed help chosing a course.

Money: 

After 6th form, a lot of my friends went off to university but I found an office job to earn some money as I was still deciding what I wanted to do. After a while, I became really used to the idea of working and having that source of regular income. The fees for a conventional degree felt very scary to me and I would also be losing that full time income that I got used to having. With Open University, the fees are not as high as with conventional university and you can split this up so you only pay for the modules you are studying that year. For my first year, I am only taking 60 credits, which is the equivalent to half a years full time study, as I will be working full time alongside this. This meant that I was only paying for the modules I was taking, which for me made it feel much less intimidating.

I am really excited to start my course in late January and I would l really like to do some updates later on to document how I am finding it.

If you have had any experience with Open University I would love to hear how you have found it!

 

 

Making a Room Feel Like Home

Currently I am living between my parents house and my boyfriend’s house but I am desperate to get our own place soon. I have found it quite difficult trying to make a room into my home and make it somewhere that I want to spend a lot of time. There are a few things, however, that I have found to make a small difference in the atmosphere of a room.

Candles:

Candles bring a really warming vibe to the room along with the scent of your choice. I really love the Yankee Candles Wax Melts because they provide scent for much longer!

Fairy Lights:

I have always loved fairy lights and will put them anywhere I can. In my bedroom, I have a photo wall that is also covered with fairy lights that then wrap around the headboard of my bed. I very rarely turn on the main light in the room as the fairy lights give a much more subtle and cosy glow to the room as well as looking pretty!

Photos:

One big thing for me in any room is photos. I love having access to all of my photos on my phone at any time of the day, but I also love having physical copies. My photo wall in my room is full with pictures of my family and friends that remind me of the amazing things we have done. I am a very nostalgic person so this is a perfect reminder for me for all of these events.

Bedding:

I think this one can be pretty underrated, but bedding can really transform a room. Soft, comfy bedding really helps to make a room feel like home whilst making the room look cosy.

I would love to hear what you do to make your home/room feel like home!

Skincare Routine/Products I love

When it comes to skincare, I have become much more routine in the last year or so. I have finally found a combination of products that work for my skin and that is something I think is worth sticking too! My routine is mostly made up of Clinique products (not an ad, but I wish!) as there are so many customisable routines and combinations with their skincare that it just works the best for me. I have dry/combination skin after having quite oily skin for a long time, so I have really had to change the way I look at skincare to get the best out of my skin. 

Cleansing/Exfoliating:

Clinique Take The Day Off Balm – I massage this onto dry skin to remove makeup and wipe clean with a warm muslin cloth (I like the Liz Earle ones best!) This really gets rid of all traces of makeup and doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight, or overly greasy as it turns into a light milk once in contact with water.

 

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap – After taking off my makeup, I use this to wash any other dirt and excess makeup away. This facial wash comes in different formulas for different skin types and I have the Dry to Combination. 

Clinique Toner – After cleaning, I put a pour a little bit onto a cotton pad and run this over my face and neck. This helps to take the last bit of dirt off my skin and exfoliate.

SkinCare Cleansing

 

Moisturising:

Clinique Moisture Booster and Clinique Moisture Boost Intense Gel Cream – I use both the moisture boost serum/gel and the Gel Cream from the same range. My skin has become a lot more dry over the past year or so and this combination really helps to stop my skin feeling dry and tight.

Soap and Glory Speed Plump All-Day Super Moisture Marvel – My Clinique moisturiser was running out and I wanted to pick up a cheaper alternative so this is what I picked up. This has a slightly thicker texture compared to the Clinique one, but it is really moisturising and is great to put on before makeup as it soaks in really quickly.

SkinCare Moist

Face Masks:

No7 Moisture Boost Face Mask – I like to use this once a week, usually whilst in the bath. I spread a thin layer all over my face and leave for 15 mins. 

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If anyone has any great skincare recommendations, please share in the comments!