Tuesday, 31 December 2013

MEMORIES: A look back at 2013

New Year's Eve has rolled around once more which means before the celebrations start for seeing in the New Year it is time to take a look back at the past year, the ups and downs and the happy memories. This year I'm also going to include a small selection of some blog posts from Bits and Bobs in the past year that are particular favourites of mine which you may want to take a look at! Any captions in pink under the photo's also link to a full blog post about that particular thing if you would like to have a look.

2013 has been a year for...

...exploring places new and old 

Black Country Living Museum / Tropical Butterfly House / Dudley Zoo / Portsmouth
Liverpool / Stratford upon Avon / Wales / York

...saying goodbye to uni and becoming graduates 

 Goodbye uni / Hello graduation

...cuddles with this little fur ball (unforunately she isn't mine, she's Josh's!)

Eating my camera / Enjoying night time fuss / Cuddles / She loves squidgy face really!

...places like this softening the blow of moving back home

 Random pretty cottage in a woods near me / Newmillerdam / Abandoned rail tracks / Pretty old church near me

Favourite blog posts of 2013
A day in the life - the first one of these posts I did. I like it for the memories it brings back
30 random facts - a chance to get to know me a bit more!
Creative Minds - the moment I realised I am actually more creative than I give myself credit for
Is going to university worth it? - Josh and I tackled the subject of whether to go to uni or not
Is a journalism degree worth the time and money? - Josh and I discussed our opinions or journalism degrees
Keeping an active mind whilst unemployed - My tips on keeping motivated and finding things to do whilst unemployed
Graduation - a photo diary of my graduation 25/11
Who am I? - a look at my life and who I am at this moment in time

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Happy List: The Christmas Edition Part 2

This Christmas Happy List is one for the Christmas I had with my family, part one of the Christmas Happy List with Josh can be found here. Again I'll be showing presents so again I'll say that I'm not showing off, I love seeing what other people got and I like to look back on these things myself.

So this second Christmas was on Christmas Day of course! The morning was spent visiting my mum and my grandparents and then in the afternoon my stepsister, her husband and my niece came for dinner. It meant we didn't open present until later on but that was OK as it was so cute watching my niece unwrapping presents although she wasn't too sure what to do! Although this time around with presents I knew most of what I was getting I still loved everything, so thankyou to all my family for getting me such lovely things!

Tree and presents / My Dad's homemade mince pies (the only mince pies I'll eat!) / Little cutie opening her presents (they're not all her's although she did try opening them all!)
 More of my Dad's mince pies / All my presents / Chocolate / Beauty stuff

Dress and bag / Books, blu rays and DVD's / Beatles calendar and The Beatles Live at the BBC 2 CD

Don't forget you can check out part one of the Christmas Happy List here. If you've done a post about your Christmas leave me the link in the comments, I'd love to have a look.


Saturday, 28 December 2013

Happy List: The Christmas Edition Part 1

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, filled up on amazing food and received some lovely gifts. I've decided to split my Christmas Happy List into two parts as I pretty much had two Christmases, one with Josh and one with my family so I've decided to share some photo's and my presents from both Christmases. There's going to be a lot of photo's on each post so get comfy! I'll do the usual disclaimer now that I'm not showing off by posting my Christmas presents, I love seeing what other people got and I like to look back on these things myself.

My first Christmas took place over a few days with Josh, we spent a couple of days watching Christmas films,eating chocolate, waking up early and just lying talking then napping through the day. Perfection! We had our Christmas Day on Christmas Eve so we woke up early in excitement and enjoyed a bacon sandwich before unwrapping our presents from each other. We later watched The Muppets Christmas Carol and Polar Express. I loved all my presents from Josh and was really spoilt by him, I'm so lucky! Most of the things he got me were a complete surprise, he always does so well at picking out presents and I love surprises!

Unwrapping presents / Enjoying a Christmas drink / More unwrapping / Sporting a new onsie Josh's parents bought me / Josh with his new Beatles books / The funniest photo of this little fluff ball to date (she's enjoying all the wrapping paper!) / Rocking our Christmas outfits / Presents from each other / Beatles Monopoly (such a nerd!)

Chocolates from Josh and his parents / Books / Blu Rays / Baking stuff

Lush Snow Fairy perfume / Accessorize set from Josh's parents / Pretty dress / Beatles Monopoly / Love Me Do Beatles Record and The Beatles Live at the BBC CD

I had the most perfect few days with Josh just relaxing and playing Beatles Monopoly (I won!).

If you've done a post a post about your Christmas leave me the link in the comments, I'd love to have a look.

P.S part 2 of the Christmas Happy List can be found here!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas books for the young and the old

I recently dug out my collection of Christmas books from when I was a child, added to this a couple of books that are classed as children's books that I've picked up in recent years and I actually have quite a nice little collection of Christmas books to maybe pass on to any children I may have in the future. I don't see anything wrong with enjoying children's books as an adult. Nearly all Christmas books released for adults are chick lit ones if you like that kind of thing fine but it just isn't for me.

I still like the magic of Christmas and I hope that is something that never goes away, obviously Christmas as an adult is so much different to Christmas as a child but the fact a still enjoy is something I want to hold on to forever. Children's Christmas books provide the magic and the sense of wonder and escape that can't be found in adult books. So with that in mind I've picked out my three favourites from my collection to go through in a little more detail.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Whilst this isn't a children's book it has been turned into one by many people, the copy I have is an illustrated version by Michael Foreman that I have had since I was a child. I would however say that my version is probably for older kids as it is the complete and unabridged version. I read this book every year and I'm actually hoping that Santa will be bringing me the clothbound copy of this book this year!

Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien - Again this is another book I've had since I was a child. In at are letters that Tolkien's children received every year from Father Christmas with notes from a polar bear and an elf too! I can only imagine how excited Tolkien's children would have been to receive one of these hand written letters from Santa each year. As a child it is wonderful to read and believe that Santa wrote those letters. As an adult it is equally as wonderful to read and marvel at Tolkien's creativity and devotion to his children in writing those letters to make Christmas even more special for them.

Nut Cracker told by David Walser illustrated by Jan Pienknowskie - For this I am talking about this specific version of Nut Cracker illustrated by Jan Pienknowskie because it has to be the most beautiful version of the book in existence! I was actually given this as a gift a few Christmas' ago and it never fails to impress me.

 I thought I'd give you a little look inside these books too so you get a bit of an idea as to just how nice they are.

Top row - A Christmas Carol / Middle row - Letters from Father Christmas / Bottom row - Nut Cracker


Sunday, 22 December 2013

RECIPE: Christmas Biscuits

Another Christmas baking recipe for you today, this one is actually based on Lisa Faulkner's Christmas biscuit recipe in the book Recipe's from my Mother to my Daughter however I changed a few things in it to suit my tastes so I'll be giving you the recipe I used.


250g butter
70g caster sugar
70g soft brown sugar
300g plain flour
2 egg yolks (dependent on size of eggs 1 may be enough)
2 teaspoons of ginger
2 teaspoons of cinnamon

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together then add the egg yolks
  2. Sieve the flour and spices into the mix and fold in to make a dough
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for two hours
  4. Roll out the dough and cut into desired shapes then place on a well greased tray and put in the fridge for 30 minutes (this stops the dough spreading when it gets hot). Meanwhile preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180c / 350f
  5. Once chilled place in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden. The biscuit will be very soft when you take them out but don't worry they harden up as they cool. For this reason it is best to leave them to cool before removing them from the tray

These biscuits were super easy to make and extremely tasty, the perfect treat in the run up to Christmas. Definitely make sure you chill the dough though it makes it much easier to work with.


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Happy List #96

The last Happy List before Christmas! I will be doing a Happy List Christmas special though with festive photo's and presents. 

As usual I like to take this time to have a little catch up, so there's a few changes to Bits and Bobs that I would like to highlight. I'm not sure how many of you know but I actually have three blogs, this one, an online portfolio one which mainly houses my book reviews and a '60s inspired one. I've been doing a little thinking and I've decided I'd like to close down the online portfolio one and '60s inspired one as over the last few months I've spent a lot of time on Bits and Bobs and I've found a passion for blogging I never had before. With this been a personal blog and a lifestyle one I'd like to be able to write about lots more things on here including my love of books and the Beatles, both of which are currently a little hidden away on other blogs. With starting a new job in January it will also be easier for me to just have one blog. For many reasons I don't have to need for two other blogs anymore. I'm excited to introduce more new things on here with the closer of the other blogs and I hope you all enjoy it too!

Now that little piece of news is out of the way I'll get on with the Happy List! These past few weeks have been filled with lots of fun things. Josh and I had a day out in York, we love visiting York and it was so festive, I've also done a few Christmas baking projects which I've really enjoyed as it had been a while since I'd done any baking, Josh and I have also had a few other days out bowling and seeing the Bootleg Beatles as well as celebrating our 6th anniversary. Why can't every month be as fun as December?!

Christmas biscuits / Bootleg Beatles / Mulled cider in York / Ginger cupcakes

Bowling / I won! / Drinking slush at bowling like a child

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and eat lots of lovely food!


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

6 Years

To Josh (and anyone else who doesn't mind a couple of minutes of anniversary chat!)
Today you and I have been together for six years. We never did the whole dating thing, I was only 16 and well you just didn't have a clue! So when you asked me out I kinda just got stuck with you without knowing what I'd let myself in for (it's OK you turned out to be a decent guy!) 
In the past six years we've spent time together at college until you finished, been on holiday together and settled for mini breaks when we could no longer afford holidays, moved in together and attended university together, then three years later moved out and back to our parents and are currently dealing with living apart, we've graduated together as well as many other things. 

I'm excited to see where another year will take us and what it will bring, although Josh you know I have my fingers and toes crossed that we'll be living together next year! 

 A nice loving photo right there!

Thankyou for six amazing years, for everything you do for me and for giving me so many different names over the years that on the rare occasion you call me Lauren now, it just sounds too weird!

Lots of love from Lel, Pancake, Floofy, Bobbypin, Lion and Leeli (I figured I best stop here because the list of names could have gone on forever!)


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Our small but cute Christmas decorations!

For the past few years Josh and I have had our own place to decorate but if you're a regular reader you'll know that we're back at our parent's homes now. Not ones to let this get in the way of festive fun we've kind of gone to town on decorating Josh's bedroom, I stay at his more than he stays at mine and we open presents at his so it made sense to put our stuff up in his room. We haven't been able to put everything up as his room is a shoebox bedroom so we only have a 3ft tree in there! However we've managed to get our nice decorations on the tree, a couple of a other decorations are scattered around the room and we've even made some new additions this year! I love buying really nice decorations, ones that we'll keeps for a long time so it's always nice to add this collection.

 Our tree and presents
 The first nice decorations we bought each other / Red jingle bell from York (we have a silver one too) / Personalised bauble to Josh for our 5th anniversary (it has a message on the back)

Candle carousel with our names

Reindeer from York Christmas market / Star from ebay / Snowglobe from Birmingham Christmas market / Robin from Grandma's Cottage Gifts

So they are our small but cute Christmas decorations! Fingers crossed next year we'll have our own home to decorate in Christmassy things!


Monday, 16 December 2013

The Bits and Bobs Survey 2013

This is the first time I've done anything like this so I would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to answer some question about Bits and Bobs through a survey which looks like this:

I've put a lot of time and effort into Bits and Bobs over the past year and I'm hoping to make it even better in 2014 (even though I will be starting a new job!) and your input is very wlecome. You can access the survey here! Thankyou for taking the time to respond.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Bootleg Beatles

On Thursday evening  Josh and I went to see The Bootleg Beatles, who are if you hadn't guessed it a Beatles tribute band. We're talking a tribute band like no other though, they're pretty famous and their shows usually sell out, we went to see them at Sheffield City Hall which holds over 2000 people and it was sold out! It is the second time we've seen them however the last time we went was four years ago and I was ill so it was nice to go and see them without feeling poorly! Josh's parents surprised us with the tickets a few weeks back as a graduation present as ever since the first year we went we've talked about seeing them again. It was such a good night, I mean for a Beatles fan what's better than been surrounded by other Beatles fans and listening to your favourite music. They really did put on an amazing show.

Seeing the Bootleg Beatles was our kind of night out and I left feeling very happy!


Friday, 13 December 2013

RECIPE: Ginger Cupcakes

I recently did a little bit of Christmas baking, I wanted something gingery but not gingerbread men so I decided on ginger cupcakes complete with ginger buttercream frosting! They're very tasty if a do say so myself.


 150g soft brown sugar
150g self raising flour (or plain and add baking powder)
150g butter
3 eggs
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon milk
Decorations (optional)

For the frosting
150g icing sugar
150g butter
2 teaspoons of ginger

  1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180c / 350f
  2. Cream the softened butter and sugar together then add the flour and ginger
  3. Beat in 3 eggs until smooth and add the milk
  4. Place mixture in bun cases and bake for 20 minutes
  5. Whilst the buns are cooling mix up the ginger frosting and leave it set and pipe on when the cupcakes are cool
  6. Add decorations if desired (I used holly leaves and holly berries)

These are the perfect festive treat and are so light a fluffy. If you've made any festive treats this year let me know in the comments!

P.S could you please fill out my small blog survey here. It will only take a few minutes and will help me make Bits and Bobs even better in 2014! Thanks

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Winterlicious Tag

I really wanted to do another Christmas themed video along with my Christmas wrapping haul one this year but seen as I already did a big Christmas tag video last year I wasn't sure what to film, then I found the Winterlicious tag and figured that would be perfect! You even get some jolly music half way through and some very awakard I'm not sure what to do right now dancing, aren't you lucky?!

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you aren't already and click to watch on YouTube for all the extra info!


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

DAYS OUT: A day in York

York will always be one of Josh and I's favourite places to go, not only is it a beautiful city but it was the first place we had a break away together so it will always have a special place in our hearts. It's definitely up there with one of my most favourite places ever. It's been quite a few years since we last visited York so a little trip there on Sunday was very much welcomed. I love York at any time of the year but there's something extra special about it in winter and I was very excited to visit the Christmas stores and add to our small, but growing collection of nice Christmas decorations (i.e not cheap Poundland ones!) I also developed a love of mulled cider whilst we were there too, so tasty and festive. I even went on an old fashioned carousel, well you have to re-live your childhood now and then! It was so lovey walking around once it had got dark and seeing everything lit up with the Christmas lights.

York, you made us feel so happy and festive!


Monday, 9 December 2013

5 Favourites: Winter Lounge Wear

If dressing up on Christmas day isn't your things (if it is you can view my selection of Christmas dresses here) or you like to invest in some new pj's around Christmas then I have the perfect 5 favourites for you today. There's nothing better in winter than having some warm, snuggly pj's to get into at the end of the day so here are my five favourite pieces to keep you warm!

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

My favourite is thing leopard print set I love that the hood has a face and ears. The purple fleece top looks super snuggly though too.

Do you prefer staying in your pj's on Christmas or getting dressed up?

 You can keep track of all this years Christmas posts with the red Christmas 2013 button to the right!


Saturday, 7 December 2013

Happy List #95

Happy Lists seem to have taken a bit of a back seat here on Bits and Bobs but it's not to say I don't enjoy doing them, I find myself blogging about most things I do so I don't like to repeat stuff but it's nice to have a little catch up now and then!

The first piece of news that has to make it to the top of the list is the fact I have a job finally! I start in mid January as a teaching assistant in a primary school, I'm so excited and it's going to be a great opportunity as I am really thinking about doing teacher training so I can't wait to get started!

Since the last Happy List I have had quite a lovely few months, apart from the occasional worry over jobs (which is over now, just got to find Josh one!) I've been focusing on my blog a lot and hope that once I'm settled in my new job I can find a good balance between work and blogging. I've also bought and wrapped all my Christmas presents so I'm very organised this year. I actually went for something a little different this year and you can check out my Christmas wrapping haul video here. I suppose the other big bit of news is that I graduated and had a lovely weekend with my family and Josh family and I was very glad it was a moment Josh and I could share.

Graduating / Coventry / No matter where I am or what I'm doing Lexi has to be with me! Good job I love her! / Making my own Christmas gift tags


Friday, 6 December 2013

Who Am I?

A while ago I was catching up on some blogs when I came across Alice's who am I post and it really got me thinking about who I am at this moment in time. I thought it would be good to write some stuff down, nothing too serious mind but I feel it's something I could look back on.

So who am I?

I am an only child but I have an older step sister I love very much. I'd like to think I don't suffer from the only child stereotypes but the reality is when I found this I had to agree with most of what it said for only children!

I'd love to be creative in terms of drawing or music but the fact is it's never going to happen. I favour more academic subjects and will always be a massive history nerd, a bookworm and a little bit of a geek.

I'm painfully shy and hate having to talk to people. This isn't me been rude I've just always been shy and more of an introvert. Get to know me though and the chances are you'll have a hard time shutting me up! I'm a talker but I'd like to think I'm a listener too.

I'm a night owl. Sometimes I feel that going to bed is me wasting time. I want to up and doing stuff. I prefer to write blog posts at night as I feel much more creative then.

The above been said though, don't cross me in a morning, I am not a morning person. Having a Dad and a boyfriend who are morning people is very hard.

I am a very sensitive soul. Joking aside though I cry at everything, tv, films, books, magazine articles. I cry at sad, happy and romantic things. I'm a very emotional person.

I am a South Yorkshire girl born and bred. I had a brief fling with the West Midlands for three years whilst T uni but my heart will always lay in the North, I do however have a huge dislike for my home town. There are far better places in the north and Yorkshire to live than here!

Academically I am fairly intelligent but I completely lack common sense. I can be pretty ditzy. Just the other day and all seriousness I called an artery an archery... Real smart! 

I also asked Josh to pick some words to describe me without him seeing this post to see if we had any similar points, this is what he came up with...

Small, funny, talkative, geeky, emotional and loving. It was good to see we'd agreed on the talkative, geeky and emotional points. The funny and loving ones were interesting to see, I find myself hilarious at times and often laugh at my own jokes, I don't mind laughing at myself either if I've done or said something really ditzy. It was nice to see that someone else finds me funny though. As for the loving, it's not something I've ever thought about but now it's been pointed out to me I suppose I am quite loving, I have a lot of love to give to people and I'm very caring! And finally as for the small point well I suppose he's right being small is who I am, I've always been the short one of a group!


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

5 Favourites: Christmas Dresses

On Christmas Day I like to get dressed up as we always go visiting other family member on Christmas Day morning. I think this will probably change when Josh and I live together and we get to spend Christmas together as most of the day will probably be spent in Christmas pj's and a Christmas jumper. I've always had a nice dress or something to wear on Christmas Day I like to keep things simple and comfortable, I find a loose fitting dress is essential with all the food! I actually bought my Christmas dress a few weeks ago, a green velvet shift dress although it is out of stock at the moment so I can't link you to it. If you like to dress up on Christmas Day too here are my five favourite Christmas dresses.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

My favourite dress is the first one, I love how a simple black dress looks much better with some gold sparkle in it!

Do you like to dress up on Christmas Day or do you prefer to be more cosy and comfy?

 You can keep track of all this years Christmas posts with the red Christmas 2013 button to the right!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Lauren's Lists: Things to look forwards to in December

As I'm sure it is for many people, December is a busy month for me however the good news is it's all fun stuff, yay! So of course the topic for this Lauren's Lists had to be thing's I'm looking forwards to in December.

  1. Putting a little tree up at Josh's with all our special decorations onit
  2. Seeing all the presents under our little tree
  3. Going to York for the day
  4. A date night consisting of bowling and Indian food
  5. Sheffield Christmas market
  6. Seeing Bootleg Beatles
  7. Our six year anniversary
  8. Watching lots of Christmas films
  9. Our Christmas Day (Josh and I swap presents on Christmas Eve)
  10. Christmas dinner
December is without a doubt my favourite month for so many reasons, Christmas been the obvious one! 

Don't forget I'd love it if you joined in with this feature so let me know what you look forwards to in December or leave me a link to your post. You can view previous Lauren's Lists here.


Monday, 2 December 2013

Christmas Wrapping Haul and Ideas

This year I wanted to do something different with my wrapping, every year I buy rolls of wrapping paper and matching tags and that's it. Whilst there's nothing wrong with that I wanted to try my hand at something a little more creative this year. I had a good idea of what I wanted to do, traditional looking brown paper parcels, so I hit Ebay to look for some craft supplies and came away with ribbon, twine, Forever Friends postage stamps and a rubber stamp for gift tags. Next a bought some brown parcel paper and some plain brown tags and I had everything I needed to make pretty looking parcels! Whilst it has been more expensive then just buying wrapping paper I'm pretty pleased with how the presents are turning out!

Creative Christmas wrapping
I've made a haul video so you can take a closer look at all the things I bought for my Christmas wrapping. Everything but the tags and paper is from Ebay although I haven't linked to the sellers as there's sooo many out there the things are easy to find!