A Very #BlogClub Christmas !

I went to my first Bristol Blog Club meet-up, run by Bonjour Blogger, back in March and meeting and getting to know the blog club ladies and of course reading their fab blogs has definitely been a highlight of my 2014. Last Wednesday Blog Club had a Christmas mixer at Betties and Baldwins hair salon. Generally we focus on a particular blog related topic (and cake) but this event was more about hanging out, drinking Presecco, eating mince pies and feeling festive! There was a raffle with some excellent prizes from The Body Shop and Bristol Hippodrome amongst others,  silly fun with cracker toys, a considerable amount of chat about Zoella, dozens of photos taken, Cadi from Betties and Baldwins was hand all evening providing suitably seasonal mini-manicures and we all went home with a goody bag of Lush products. So all in all a pretty good night!

'Betties and Baldwins' happens to be where I get my hair done anyway and I highly recommend them. With a name taken from a Clueless reference they basically already win at everything, but also the salon is run by lovely people who are super skilled with their scissors, the place looks amazing and they have the best playlist of mid-2000s RnB a girl could wish to listen to while getting her hair did! Check out their work on their website here.
Last photo via SW Blogger Network 

Thanks to the #BlogClub & SW Blogger network ladies for organising another great night, B&B for hosting, British Corner Shop for all the delicious grub and Lush for the goodies. Check out the links for the bloggers who joined in with the evening's festivities below and add them to your reading lists post haste! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Blog Clubbers and look forward to seeing you in 2015! xx

A Daisy Chain Dream

Black Heart Creatives Blog
Bonjour Blogger
Briar Rose
Crafty Wife
I Love Crafty
Mermaid Gossip
Nothing Too Ordinary
Saints On A Plane
Sammy Jones

Worn // Moonset Dress by Isabel Knowles. Check out the lookbook for her gorgeous new collection here.

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Playlist : Winter Winds

I'm a big fan of Christmas music, not necessarily the cheese they pipe out in shops (although there's a  time and a place for a bit of Mariah!) but with Spotify at my finger tips the last few Christmases have been soundtracked by all manner of festive tunes from different genres and eras - but there's plenty of time for that.

This is a playlist of seasonal songs that aren't quite Chrismassy but make me feel suitably festive all the same, perfect songs for cosying up with a glass of something mulled on a cold night. So if you're not quite ready for Christmas tunes just yet then hopefully this wintery playlist will see you through until you're ready to break out the Bing!

Are there any songs or albums that you love for this time of year that aren't your typical Christmas tunes?

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Last Weekend I...

(pics from my Instagram feed)

... Ate my weight in sushi. On Friday I went for dinner with a friend at Bento Boss on Whiteladies Road. We were being incredibly indecisive so ordered three bento boxes between the two of us! It was way more than we needed but everything was so delicious we made a pretty good job of polishing it off and left feeling very full.

...Got on with some Christmas shopping. On Saturday we went up to Clifton Village, it's not somewhere I visit often but there's something fun about going somewhere you're not too familiar with to buy gifts. In amongst the 'posh lady shops' (as Will calls them) there's some interesting and quirky stores, my favourites were mainly in and around the Clifton Arcade:

Soma - full of gorgeous prints, art, ceramics and jewellery.
Dustbowl Vintage (pic bottom centre)- Specialising in mid-century menswear, it's so lovely to come across a vintage shop that takes so much care in curating their collection. The lady working there was rather rude to us when we bought something but her shop is pretty special so I may just forgive her! 
Otomi (pic bottom left) - a specialist Mexican shop. We got over excited and are now fully stocked up on all sorts of chillies... chipotle, ancho, pasilla, arbol - well you've gotta treat yourself a little too right?!
Papersmiths (main pic & bottom right) - A place of dreams (don't tell me you don't dream of stationary too!) Stocking every indie mag I follow on Instagram and full of beautiful paper goods, coffee table books and the most stunning piece of succulent living art!

...Had an impromptu Saturday evening out with a couple of friends, a couple of drinks and Thai food. 

...Cooked a lovely roast dinner of duck legs with spiced plums, roast new potatoes, carrots and chicory.

...Watched Despicable Me 2 while drinking Baileys. Sunday afternoons in winter were made for this!

As we'd been away the previous two weekends - Devon & London - it was lovely to be in Bristol. Ignoring that I probably definitely spent too much money it was a near perfect weekend full of food and friends and some quality time with that fiancĂ© of mine. (and I didn't even tell you about the fish and chips I had for lunch on Saturday - oh my gad!)

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Vintage Inspiration : Belle & Sebastian - 'The Party Line' music video

I love the retro vibe and 70s styling of the new Belle and Sebastian music video for 'Party Line'. Belle and Sebastian certainly know a thing or two about keeping it kitsch, just look at this beautiful print of theirs I came across recently and check the video to 'Party Line' below. Oh... the tune ain't half bad either!

Print from La-la Land Prints.

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A Pumpkin Proposal

I've always loved Halloween, it probably has a lot to do with falling in love with The Nightmare Before Christmas when I saw it at the cinema when I was a kid and watching it every year since, and that when we were growing up trick or treating was a big deal around where we lived, also that dressing up has always been a favourite activity of mine, and that pumpkin pie is so damn tasty! So Halloween is always one of my favourite times of the year but this year will no doubt be remembered as the best ever!

Under the guise of a spooky Halloween date night we started of the evening with dinner at The Urban Standard. After dinner we visited our local cinema - part of the small Scott Cinema chain The Orpheus is such a lovely old school style cinema, with just three smallish screens it's a welcome change from visiting a multiplex and perfect for a date night. The film we saw was not quite your usual date night choice... The Babadook is a independent Australian horror film which tells the story of a single mother and her unruly child who are terrorised by a monster from a children's book come to life. The film uses a traditional horror set-up to heartbreakingly deal with the issues of depression, loneliness and grief. It was terrifying and harrowing but also brilliant! I very much recommend it but maybe not for a romantic evening... unless your romantic evening is happening on Halloween of course!

After the film finished we made our way home, we had planned to get a cab but as one wasn't available for an hour I was happy to walk the 30 minutes back to our flat. Will tried to find new taxi numbers as we walked and apparently not looking where he was going while Googling he walked head first in to a lamp post (!) - he hit his head pretty hard, so I spent most of the walk home torn between trying not to laugh at him and worrying about the rather large bump on his forehead!! I soon learned that he had good reason to be a tad distracted!

We got back to our flat in one piece however and there I found the most wonderful surprise - our living room was full of candle light and set up in the middle of the room were five pumpkins carved with the words Will You Marry Me ? Saying yes (which I did of course!) is a bit of a blur but I remember feeling all confused at first by the transformation of the room that had certainly not looked that way when I'd left it a few hours previously. It turned out three of our amazing friends had been Will's little Halloween helpers (Trick or Treaters?) not only coming in and setting up the room but also helping him carve the pumpkins earlier in the week! While we drank some champagne we sent a few Whatsapps to friends to share our news, it was pretty late in the evening so we waited to tell our families the next morning but I did get to speak to one of my best friends who lives in Australia at about 2am our time which was so lovely. The next night we had friends over at ours in the evening, dressed up, celebrated and drank *ALL* the champagne! 

Sorry for the rather long post but I wanted to share the story of our very Happy Halloween engagement in all its bumped head, scary film, perfect pumpkin glory!

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Lunch at Sky Kong Kong | Hay Market, Bristol

 I've been meaning to pay Sky Kong Kong a visit since it came on to my radar through food blogs and social media when it opened back in August and a recent Saturday mooching around central Bristol provided the perfect opportunity to do so. The ever changing, locally sourced menu sounded intriguing and its great to see another restaurant pop up in what used to be the darkest corners of the Bear Pit - Sky Kong Kong's neighbour Mathilda's Chilli is one of my favourite spots to eat in Bristol.

The decor at Sky Kong Kong is a perfect combo of rustic and minimal. With its gorgeous dresser full of crockery, communal tables, bookshelves and mis-matched chairs you feel as though you could be eating in someone's home, but you know, one of those uber-cool homes you only see on Pinterest.

I gather from their twitter feed and website that rarely is the same dish served up twice at Sky Kong Kong. Instead chef Wizzy creates a new menu daily based on what seasonal, fresh organic ingredients    are available and what tickles her fancy I assume.  We were served a bento box (bento bowl?) which included marinade stir-fried strips of beef as the main event along with rice, crab-stick, sausage pieces, a plethora of crunchy vegetables, kimichi and chilli sauce. The meal was not quite like anything else I've had in a restaurant before but it was exactly the sort of food I love - fresh, healthy, full of flavour with a good spicy kick. At £6.50 the lunch was perfectly good value and the service was quick and friendly. I left feeling satisfied, nourished and inspired to try and recreate similar dished at home. 

I look forward to going back and although I'd love to sample their sushi (which you can be sure of on a Friday), there's a lot of fun in turning up not knowing what's in store. I definitely recommend checking out Sky Kong Kong for yourself - let me know what you think if you do!

Sky Kong Kong, Haymarket Walk, Bristol Centre
Lunch - £6.50 | Website / Twitter

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Windmill Hill City Farm, Bristol

I've known about Windmill Hill City Farm for a long time ago but until recently I'd never been. Not long ago the Bedminster based farm followed me on Instagram, I duly followed back and since have been itching to pay them a visit to see the place for myself. This seemed like the perfect thing to do a couple of weekends ago to make the most of that lovely late September sun (hey, remember that?!?). 

I was impressed with how big the place is; much bigger than I expected. We spent a lovely couple of hours there checking out all the animals, wondering around the allotment garden (they have pumpkins!) and stopping for a coffee and cake in their cafe before we were on our way. A lovely way to spend a Sunday, we will definitely visit again. 

Windmill Hill City farm also run courses, community events, a nursery and seem like all round good guys! So do check out their website, windmillhillcityfarm.org.uk, or pay them a visit yourself!

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In the Potting Shed at the National Trust : Tyntesfield, Bristol - Spring 2014

Seeing as it's Thursday here's a little throwback to earlier in the year - 20th of April according to Instagram - back when it felt like spring was never going to happen let only the epic summer we've had. My brother was up for the weekend and it was raining hard on the Sunday so of course we decided to head to a local National Trust property for a freezing cold walk!

Despite the weather we had a lovely time looking around the grounds and kitchen gardens. I think the lack of photos of Tyntesfield House itself may be due to my fingers being too numb and being desperate to get inside - but the house is stunning. As the website says its gothic style complete with spiralling turrets give the feel of a fairytale castle - think Beauty and the Beast! Inside was great too. The National Trust have set the rooms up to evoke different eras of the house's history which makes for a much more interesting visit. I love a National Trust property at the best of times but this one is particularly fun. Although, I've now been there twice in miserable weather! As it's just down the road and we're NT members I should definitely make the effort to go when the sun is shining.

// Worn // vintage jacket - Re-Pyscho // trousers - Zara // scarf - H&M // satchel - The Cambridge Satchel Co. // glasses - Orla Keley //

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This week I...

...loved wearing my new Mödernaked back pack which arrived in the post this week. I splurged out a bit to buy it but I've been looking for a new bag to use for work for  months and considering it was handcrafted in Spain from lovely natural fabrics I'd say it's worth every penny euro cent.

...used my slow cooker for the first time in ages to make a simple but delicious sausage, cider and tomato stew. The slow cooker is out of its dusty box and living on my kitchen counter and I plan to use it at least once a week during the colder months.

...laughed watching all of Lena Dunham's 'Ask Lena' video series. The GIRLS creator answers problem page style questions her fans have sent in and in typical Lena style her answers are frank, heartfelt and hilarious. Her book 'Not That Kind of Girl' comes out next week - Christmas wish list starts here!

...had brunch with friends last Saturday at Zazu's Kitchen, the wait was *long* and the staff seemed stressed but brunch isn't about rushing and you know I'll forgive them everything for that hot sauce. Then last Sunday Will and I went for lunch with his parents at The Kensington Arms. I recommend this place very highly, especially for a special occasion, the food at The Kenny is brilliant - they even won best pub food at this year's Bristol Good Food Awards.

...went to #BlogClub. Run by the fabulous Haley (Bonjour Blogger) & Sophie (Saints On A Plane) #BlogClub give Bristol bloggers a chance to hang out, eat cake and talk about all things bloggy, this month's was hosted by Trunki in their incredible Bristol HQ - office slide anyone?! This time our focus was blogging for brand and business. We heard from Fritha and Charlotte, the ladies behind Tigerlilly Quinn and Black Heart Creatives respectively, about how they use blogging in conjunction with their brilliant businesses and Mel from Trunki talked to us about what brands look for when working with bloggers - check out Trunki's 'Top Tips' here. It was all very interesting and inspirational! This was the second meet up I've been along to and it was great to catch up with a few people I met before as well as meet some new bloggers and add some lovely new blogs to my Bloglovin' reading list. Here's their links so you can add them to your lists too...

Being Little
Black Heart Creatives Blog
Bonjour Blogger
Briar Rose
Bristol Whipped
Counter-Cultural. Counter-Couture
Crafty Wife
Golden Pulse
Life Is Fun Being Me
Lily Doughball
Love Audrey
Lucy Duckett
Mermaid Gossip
Saints On A Plane
She and Hem
Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion
Tigerlilly Quinn

What made your week a little more awesome?

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Upton Cheney Chilli Festival

Nestled in the countryside somewhere in between Bristol and Bath in the village of Upton Cheney is Manor Farm the home to Upton Cheney Chilli Company. The farm has been growing chillies in their poly-tunnels since 2009 and once a year plays host to a celebration of all things chilli at the Upton Cheney Chilli Festival. A couple weekend's ago we visited the festival on Sunday to join in the festivities and feel the burn! You may have noticed that I have more than a *mild* (sorry) love for hot sauce, so unsurprisingly I think a chilli festival is pretty much the best thing EVER.

My highlight of the day has to be getting to sample all the entries in the UK Chilli Con Carne cook off championship where you can buy yourself a spoon and get to try 12 different chillies! There were also lots of lovely stalls selling and sampling every type of chutney and hot sauce you could imagine, entertainment on the main stage included music acts and a fresh chilli eating competition - which was surprisingly fun to watch, there were plenty of great food options and the bar severed Bath Ales - what's not to love!? My absolute favourite trader was Mr Vikkis. We discovered him last year and have bought from his online shop a number of times since - his chutneys and pickles are really special!

This was our second year visiting the Chilli Fest, we had such a lovely time last year but it definitely seemed bigger and better this year. Of course it helped that the sun was shining but there was a really nice vibe at the festival, all the traders and people running the events seemed so passionate and knowledgeable about what they do and everyone was very friendly.  It'll definitely be in my diary again for next year. This I'd love to go with more friends and camp for the Saturday night (when there is a barn dance!) I think there's certainly enough going on to keep you busy for the weekend and more time spent there means more time to eat *ALL* the food!

But you don't have to wait to next year's event to visit the chilli farm check out the Upton Chilli Co website for details of farm tours and tasting experiences. The Manor Farm shop is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and you can even do a spot of Glamping on site with the wonderfully named Pepper Bells! Or shop online here.