Bumper Christmas Friday Favourites 9th - 29th December 2017.
Well flippin heck this seems a bit alien doesn't it? It seems like a million years ago I last wrote a blog, scheduled a tweet or did anything on social media that wasn't just browsing and the break was uhhhmazing.
My break from proper work is extending well into the first week of January but I am back with my bumper Friday Favourites from the past three weeks, and the last one of the year as promised. I have loved the time off but also found myself sitting in front of Christmas TV with my fingers tapping away itching to get back online. But I resisted until today so I had some proper time off and I am ready to get back into the swing of things in the new year.
But enough about what's to come, here's 33 yes THIRTY THREE favourite moments of the last 3 weeks that have passed.
1. University Catchups.
This seems like a lifetime ago honestly. Just after my last Friday Favourites my housemate from university who lives in Bristol hopped over the Severn on the train for a festive little day out. She's recently got engaged and it was the first time I'd seen her since so we talked weddings pretty much all day, had a meal at the Harvester and had a festive wander round the local McArthur Glen shopping centre. It's funny, she's been to visit plenty of times but with limited time and money we tend to stick to Cardiff so it was nice to have the time to hop up the motorway and go somewhere different, and we picked up a few last minute gifts too. And for the first time in forever we're not leaving it months apart to see each other and have already booked in a day at hers in January!
2. The First Real Tree.
The 10th of December marked a very special day in the Craddock/Rees household - the day we got our first real tree together. I already own not one but three fake trees (6ft, 4ft and 3ft if you were wondering) and Joss mistakenly thought if he expressed an interest in getting a real tree from the site up the road I would be content with that. Now we have four trees up and he's realised his mistake. We had a really cute day getting the tree, it was snowing and there was a gigantic flood we battled to go to the shops and get a tree stand and some grub from Tesco and then we went to the PYO tree place down the road and with a height and budget in mind we found the one. We managed to squish it in a Citreon C1 and it's attacked us with needles approx 10 thousand times but it's the first of many years of tradition I hope.
3. Decorating Day.
The day we bought the tree we also decorated the house from top to bottom and Joss was very patient and accommodating for all my grotto needs. He was out in the dark on a ladder in the snow pinning our fairy lights to the front of the house and he helped me move basically every bit of furniture in the house out to fit in the trees and didn't whinge once (ok maybe that's a lie) about the amount of baubles I've accumulated. I actually got a really grotty cold that day that knocked me out for a few days which was minging but I was glad it didn't take hold until the evening when it was nearly all done. You can see my 2017 decorations here.
4. Christmas Blog Series.
Well well well I actually pulled it out the bag didn't I? Long gone are the days I can dedicate myself to 7 days a week blogging but I was determined to do a 12 days of Christmas blog series since I had the idea last January. I was never going to commit to Blogmas and I had grand plans of having the whole series planned and pre written beforehand...and I managed to schedule a grand total of 3. But never the less I got them all out, written the night before, all live at 6am for 12 days and I was really happy with what I put out there. I wanted a mix of content that all felt relevant and tied in nicely to the rest of my blog and I enjoyed writing them all. But by far the biggest blessing (#blessed) was my photography. I'd taken the flatlay shots in late November but took the content images as I went and honest to god my new(ish) camera has upped my images ten fold.
5. Shopping Date.
Mid month when Joss' work was winding down to a close he and I took the day off and went to do our Christmas shopping. Having been so hectic busy with cider selling and babysitting and travelling in November we'd maybe bought about 6 things? So we decided to do it all in one day and we shopped in Cardiff, Culverhouse Cross, Llantrisant and Bridgend and we smashed it. We got it all done in one day and anything we couldn't find we ordered online and I went and collected it the following week and the only person we went overbudget for was my niece (but she's worth it). We also had our annual tradition of a TGI Friday's in town on shopping day and we came back v pleased with ourselves. Our bank cards, less so.
6. Wedding Outfit.
Ok so no this isn't an actual outfit I'm wearing to a wedding but it is the most delightful cardigan I have ever bought so that's fun. I am not a huge fan of dressing up, of Halloween costumes or of themed parties but I am a massive fan of Gatsby and flapper dresses so I wasn't too horrified when an invite for a 20s themed wedding party slipped into my inbox (from a v familiar face to you all.) Whilst out in Cardiff shopping with Joss on our Christmas present day I literally walked round a corner to find a sale rail of black, spangly, spaghetti strap flapper dresses in Primark and they only had my size in stock. Fate I kid you not. I snapped up a dress, a handbag and the most extra earrings ever for about 15 quid and literally all I need now is the dreamboat pair of shoes and I am done and I am buzzzzing.
You might recognise this image from my 2 hearty recipes post in my Christmas series but right after I had a cold Joss obviously caught it off me and was feeling a lil sorry for himself. I was feeling much more alive by this point so I cooked us my fav meal at the mo - the sausage and bean hotpot. Because I figured we needed feeding up (feed a cold, starve a fever and all that) I added extra bacon and cheese and omfg so good. Joss said he wished I'd made double so that's high praise and another reason you should check it out and make it yourself here.
8. Squad Secret Santa.
Four days before Christmas we fell apart. FOUR DAYS. We agreed to do a secret santa at the end of November so there wasn't too much time to have to keep a secret santa for but four days before the big event we cracked and made predictions. Turns out we'd all very cleverly worked out who had who because we're obvs masters of wizardry but bloody hell I haven't laughed half as much as I have when all the messages were coming through. The horror from those who didn't want to spoil it, the NEED TO KNOW of everyone and then the final predictions, made all the funnier because they're generally some of the most hilarious gals I know and everything we say is a typo or an in joke.
9. Last Cider Sales.
Our last cider selling day of the year came a week before Christmas and we officially sold out. That's it, no bottles left for 2017 and the disappointment for people who'd run out was real. Joss and I worked the last event in a town local to my Mum's which is always a nice event to work and despite the lil bit of rain and the jesusfuckingchristitscold weather we had a good day. I warmed myself up with chips from my fav local chippy and we decorated the stall within an inch of it's life with tinsel and Joss' Mum and brother popped down to see us and it was nice to end the selling year on a high.
The last weekend before Christmas we made the annual road trip up to Birmingham to see Joss' extended family. We always end up having to take about 3 cars and Joss and I travelled in mine (he drove up, I drove back) and my sense of direction didn't fail me again and I got us there and back purely on memory. We always have the loveliest of times up there, the fire is always going and the drinks are flowing and the tiny living room is just full of all his siblings and cousins and aunties and uncles grandparents and kids and partners and it's truly one of my favourite things about the Christmas build up.
11. Craddock Christmas.
The day after we went to B'ham, a week before Christmas we had a festive evening in with Joss' family. His brother was back for a fortnight, there was 7 of us round the table for tea and they waited for me to come home before they started <3 We decorated the tree they'd picked up a few days prior and we listened to Christmas music on the tv and Joss' Mum made the yummiest stew ever with allllll the dumplings and it was so good and so cosy.
12. Cake Making.
Ok technically we made the cake a few weeks ago. My Mum always makes a traditional Christmas cake that only her and her brother like and this year my niece helped to make it. I always always decorate the cake with my brother (we've been known to do a festive Walking Dead cake complete with Christmassy body parts) but this year we let my niece do it herself. I helped her cut out the shapes and use the icing but we let her create whatever she wanted and this was the masterpiece she produced. The next Mary Berry I'm sure you'll agree.
13. Wedding Bells.
Oh hello there's a squad wedding in 2018 and guess who's going to the Sussex coast with these gems to celebrate it? I think we all got truly emotional when we got an invite to Effi's wedding - when you realise those internet friends you made who became real life friends really are pals for life and I am genuinely humbled and honoured they want us on their big day. I am buzzing to get down there, to stay with my gals again, take loadsa photos and maybe have a wander on the beach and spend time with my loves. Now if we could arrange a meet up in the meantime that'd be ideal.....
I think it was the Thursday before Christmas when I officially signed off work for my holidays. Being self employed it's hard to know when to stop, or if to stop at all and I don't remember taking a proper break last year like I have in 2017. I put my shipping announcements on my shop, logged out of my Instagram and had a day at home and it was blissful. It was Joss' last working day so he was out of the house (although he popped home at dinner and made toasties yummmm) so I settled down on the living room floor and created a wrapping station. I had every bow, ribbon, gift bag and reel of wrapping paper out and a mountain of presents and I caught up on some pre Christmas festive telly like most expensive presents and I wrapped everything for everyone in 4 hours. It looked like a Christmas tidal wave under the tree but lordy I had a nice day.
Yes I have a family of emojis didn't I mention it? The Friday before Christmas my cousin and my uncle made the long ol' haul down from Manchester to Wales to see us for the day, drop off our Christmas cards and gifts and see my niece. I was 12 when my cousin was born and she was nearly 12 when my niece was born so I can see our relationship reflected easily in theirs. I used to loooove going to see my cousins and to play with her when she was a toddler and now she does the same for our mad little one and we had a really great time. My niece loved it and when she was gone we picked up a takeaway from the local chippy and all sat round the table at my Mum's laughing and reminiscing and telling stories till late.
16. A Big Ol' Catchup.
On the Saturday before Christmas I rounded up some of my friends and we went down to the seaside for an evening in of cheese, snacks, a lot of Prosecco and lols. Not all my school friends were home this Christmas so the group of 7 was reduced to this motley crew of 4 and it was soooo good to see them. These are the friends I've known since we were 12 or 13, the ones that stuck together with school and have managed to maintain a friendship now we're SEVEN years out of there and spread out across the UK. And we did it the only way we know how - in a friends house that holds a million memories for us, from falling off the walls drunk to stumbling back there after nights out. One of my fav places to be.
17. Christmas Eve Hilarity.
Side note - the cards are completely unrelated to this segment but are hilarious and I bought them from Native 21 on Etsy if ya looking.
You might be forgiven for wondering why this is on my favourites list when you read the rest of this tale but it did make me chuckle, I took it all in good humour and found the whole thing hilarious, it made for a good anecdote and made me thankful for my brother and my car. Whilst driving my friends home on the Saturday night (the aforementioned booze wasn't drunk by me, don't @ me) I had a phone call from my brother. My drunken pal answered and put me on loudspeaker to my drunken bro who told me he'd found my drunken boyfriend in town on his own and could I come and get him. Cue me and him not being able to hear each other so screaming down the phone to each other to find out where they were and half hour later I rock up in my childhood town to find them all. Joss and my future sister in law were in a bus stop sharing sob stories about love, my brother and his friends were all well on their way to being merry and bloody hell how I laughed. I took Joss home, got him inside and in bed then did the 40 minute round trip to drop my friend home, coming in at 1.30am. I then spent the next 2 hours up listening to everyone being sick, eating some crisps and making sure they didn't die and it was not the start to Christmas Eve I imagined but christ it was a humorous one to look back on. Also made a good Insta story so all's well that ends well.
18. Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve morning I left the sleeping sickies in bed and went on my merry way playing santa. I popped into my Mum and Dad's for an hour and had breakfast with them and then I went to my brother's inlaws for an hour too. There's nothing like a house full of family to get you into the Christmas spirit and it was full of my niece's grandparents, great grandmother, parents, auntie's, great aunties and uncles and second cousins and everyone was swapping presents and my niece was running round in a glittery dress and one slipper. Despite not being my in laws or my relatives they've always gone out of their way to make me included as part of my niece's one big family (something I can never thank them enough for) and I dropped off my presents to them and picked up mine in return and it was a great way to kick off the festivites.
19. Party Food.
My family do very little on Christmas Eve, my Mum cooks the turkey and we sometimes watch a film but it's not a big affair in our house so I normally spend it with Joss' family. They always celebrate it early, in the past few years we've even swapped presents as Joss would work Christmas Day and they always have a feast of party food. Joss' Dad normally cooks it all and this year we had a mountain of nibbles like loaded potato skins, mozzarella bites, sausage rolls, cocktail sausages, cheese and salad and it was v v good. Oh and we gave Scooby his Christmas present early too.
I'm not afraid to say it - I make a mean Christmas tree biscuit. If I get it spot on they're SO moreish and I alway make a few batches so I an give some to my parents, grandparents and Joss' family as well as having some to nibble on ourselves. This time the first lot went a little tits up when the oven dial got knocked and cooked them (burnt them to a crisp) at a cheeky 230 degrees. Luckily the second batch were much more successful and everyone complimented them yet again. Get the recipe here!
21. Festive Bedtime.
I very cleverly waited to put the festive bedding on till Christmas Eve in anticipation Joss might have a few more drinks than he planned and I was not about to get sick on my bedding. On Christmas Eve after we'd eaten alll the party food with his family, I popped on the christmas duvet that my brother's fiancée bought me last year and we gave each other an early present - both sets of Christmas pjs. Mine are from Primark and 100% worth the 12 quid they cost, they are sooo warm and soft and v much recommended for these cold nights. We stuck on the last Harry Potter and ate the remainder of our advent chocolate and it was the perfect start to Christmas.
22. Harry Potter.
This deserved it's own slot because it's been a regular feature on our favourites for weeks now. I decided a few weeks back I wanted to re-watch the Harry Potter films and decided we needed to make time to do so. It just so happened to be 8 exact weeks till Christmas when I chose to do that so we fitted it into our busy schedules that once a week, preferably on the weekend we'd watch a Harry P film in bed with some snacks and the fairy lights on and no phones or laptops and that we did. We finished the last one on Christmas Eve and they're as magical as always and I cried as always and we liked it so much we've decided to dedicate a night every week to the same thing, and slowly work our way through our ginormous film and boxset collection.
23. Surprise Gifts.
Soz for the completely irrelevant photo of us with the tree - I didn't take a picture of what I'm about to tell you. Christmas for me and Joss is a completely different thing with completely different traditions and timings so we never spend the whole day together, in fact he used to work it so we didn't see each other at all. Despite living together we didn't see each other until 4pm on Christmas Day this year and I sneaked out of our house and left him sleeping at 7am when I went back to my Mum and Dad's. The night before he'd been talking about how he's never had a Christmas jumper and how he wants one and I said "we'll have to write that down and remember to buy you one next year". Low and behold when he woke up on Christmas morning I'd left a parcel for him at the foot of the bed like a veritable Mrs Claus and inside was a Christmas jumper for him to wear that day.
24. Christmas Presents.
I mean why even pretend one of the best things of the past few weeks has been presents? Christmas means so much more to people than the gifts but let's not forget people spent their money on you, thought about you and chose you something carefully and you've done the same for them. This year I had an absolute mound of presents as my family took on board my love of little and cheap and Joss didn't do half bad either. We had some brilliant gifts from some brilliant people and I am pretty excited to get stuck into these two beauties for 2018.
25. Family Times.
Yeah I didn't take a photo of this either soz. It's hard to escape the fact this is called a favourites post and I have found 33 of them from the past 3 weeks and I am sharing my highlights but it's important to remember these are my highlights. I had a particularly tough Christmas Day this year, something I was fully anticipating and whilst I in no way want to elaborate I want it noted that I chose only to share the best bits on here and if you're feeling like you had a shite Christmas and everyone else had a great one, it's likely you're not alone.
That aside, in the afternoon I went back to my house to spend the evening with Joss' family and grandmother, aunties, uncles, cousins and siblings and whilst it took me a little while to get into the swing of it I ended up having a really good last half of the big day. We swapped gifts and we played Articulate which I was a boss at and got 16 points all on my own and then we spent hours in the evening watching home videos of the kids when they were little. I didn't even know they had home vids and I got to see them all as babies, when they lived in Birmingham with the thickest accents ever (which they've all lost), see relatives that passed away before I got to meet them, the dogs as puppies, the houses I never went to and the people I know as adults, as kids. It was exactly what I needed and I was very grateful for this second family I have.
26. Second Christmas.
This was my proper Christmas Day, it just so happened it was on Boxing Day. Myself, Joss, my brother, his fiancée and my niece spent 11 hours at my Mum and Dad's celebrating Christmas all over again. We do it properly with a second dinner, swapping presents, crackers and games and then turkey sandwiches for tea and it was just the best. Gareth and I are well into our pub quizzes at the moment and I think between all four of us we received about 8 games ranging from cards against humanity to exploding kittens to pub quizes and quicktionary and we're already planning a games night for NYE.
27. Cuteness Overload.
Big props to my future sister in law for capturing me and my niece on Boxing Day because I will treasure those photos forever. I've said it before I'll probably say it again because I can't explain my bond with that little girl but we've been her childcare 2+ days a week since she was 12 weeks old and it's not so much an auntie niece relationship as one that everyone has pitched into raising her whilst her Dad went to work and her Mum smashed university and I think this picture captures it. My niece is now 2 and a half and she chose all her own Christmas presents for us this year (and kept most of them a secret) and on Boxing Day when she was handing them out she said "merry Christmas Auntie Gwennan" or whoever the recipient was and gave them a massive hug and a kiss and omfg we melted. She did it off her own back, nobody asked her to do it, she was just enjoying the day and it made it all the more special.
So my squad secret santa this year was the delightful Mel and she absolutely bossed it (we all did FYI). The rest of the girls knew what I had and instructed me to open it on Boxing Day and film my reaction and I did and it didn't disappoint. As well as chocolates and festive face mats she'd gone and made me a lil mask of Neil Buchannan from Art Attack (don't ask) and created us all, and Santa, out of sprouts and stuck them to a headband and I died laughing. If you remember her birthday in the Party Barn in September you'll know I created all of us out of icing for her cake and now she's repaid the favour with something I can wear and I shall treasure it (and lol at it) always.
29. Coffee Dates.
Everyone is complaining about the lull between Christmas and New Years but I have been loving mine and barely been at home. Before a FOURTH roast dinner in 3 days at my Nan's I met up with one of my best pals in town for a hot chocolate and a tea and a big catch up. If you read my friendship post last month she's the one I didn't meet till year twelve and I adore the very bones off her. I had 3 cups of tea, we put the world to rights, we talked about everything and she just gets me to my core. I cannot put my love into words <3
30. Snowy Adventures.
Yesterday I braved the cold and met up with my friends from my Foundation course from way back in 2011/2012 for a snowy adventure in the valleys. We went to uni together in the valleys and we try and meet up as much as we can and this time we went to New Tredegar and Blackwood and made the mistake of trying to take a shortcut over the mountains. You might have seen my Insta story but there was no road and much snow and much more ice and we screamed a lot and laughed even more before we were able to turn around and go another way and it just sums us up to a tee. Nothing is done in halves, we always have a laugh and I never know what to expect next when I see them.
31. Pub Quiz.
After I'd come home from the Valleys we had a quick bite for tea and then rushed straight back out to our local town for a pint with a group of friends. Sadly illness plagued nearly all of them and they couldn't come at the last minute and it ended up being the same girls from Saturday night but with Joss in tow and whilst we were walking to the pub feeling a lil sorry for ourselves, my brother and his fiancée drove past. Idk if he's stalking me or it's just coincidence we keep ending up on the same nights out but they reminded us there was a pub quiz on in one of the pubs in town so we changed our plans and went there instead. We were on opposing teams to my brother and his friends but we managed to come a respectable 3rd place and they only got to 2nd place with 3 points more than us.
32. Chores Day.
Bit of a weird one I'll grant you but we spent today mooching around town doing some chores and spending some vouchers and it was actually really nice. We've had a hectic few days so we slowed down and went to Ikea to spend some vouchers we'd had for Christmas, bought Joss a satnav and me a phone in the January sales, had a cheeky Burger King for dinner and stocked up on party food. Tomorrow we're hosting my family at ours for a party pre NYE tea so we got all the goodies in and got some fresh bread and milk and fruit and veg and it was a really chilled out afternoon which was v much needed.
33. Big Fat Quiz.
We recorded this on Boxing Day when it was on and tonight we were supposed to go to the pub with friends but Joss is minging ill so we decided to sack it off and stay in with these guys and a big bowl of cheesy pasta. I always enjoy the Big Fat Quiz of the year and it didn't disappoint yet again and FYI Big Narstie is the absolute highlight. Watch on All4 if you missed it!
So that's it! The last Friday Favourites of the year is done! I'm not sure if I'm bringing this back for 2018 in it's current format or if I'll change it up a bit or even get rid altogether but for now, here it is in all it's bumper glory and I hope you had a wonderful festive period.