Archive of ‘Home’ category

Why I always fall for autumn

It’s no secret, I’m a lover of autumn 🍂🍁.. And all things autumn at that. Maybe it’s because I’m a September baby and autumn was my very first ‘season’ or perhaps, much like my cats, I like the idea of hibernating in front of a fire. So, whilst many are mourning the loss of summer, pining for long sunny evenings and the prospect of just ‘another mini heatwave’, I’m pulling my boots, tights and chunky knits from the wardrobe, reaching for a blanket and upping my intake of tea.

Every year it’s the same, each time I feel like I’m experiencing it for the very first time – but this year has felt a little different. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older or maybe it’s because this year we’ve been graced with a particularly stunning autumn, either way, it’s time to embrace the season and indulge in it.

Whether you’re an autumn-lover like me or someone that needs a little more convincing, here are just a few things to relish in this season.

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1. Cosy lighting 

I’m not a fan of ‘big lights’. I can often be heard at home asking the husband to ‘turn off the big light’. If I have a bath it’s with candles, if I read in bed it’s with a bedside lamp, I find bright lighting offensive. And, as the evenings draw in it’s even cosier at home when you can light candles, turn on the fire, and switch on those lamps. 

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2. Festive foliage

Even if you hate autumn with a passion *although I’m not sure we can be friends* I defy you not to love the way this season makes everything change colour. Living in Winchester means we are surrounded by THE most beautiful countryside and seeing the leaves change colour is pretty magical. And, once those leaves hit the ground leaf crunching is in full effect.

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3. The heat is on…

And not just at home with a cosy fire, but your drinks heat up too – cider becomes mulled, red wine becomes warm – and it’s acceptable to add a drop of whiskey or brandy to your coffee or hot chocolate, right? 

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4. Hearty eating

Soups, stews, pies, oh my… there are so many great seasonal veggies out there that it’s yet another reason why I love this time of year. And with a husband who’d eat stews and roasted veg till they were coming out of his ears, my kitchen has never been so busy. Apple crumble and chicken pie are regular requests at the moment. So it’s a great time to reach for the cookbook and try something new. And all this cold weather makes me feel pretty darn hungry – and you can’t beat the simplicity of a great loaf of bread. 

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5. AW16 

Summer requires you to wear too little for my liking. I’m not someone who likes overheating but I equally can’t stand much being ‘on show’. Enter autumn – the season that allows me to cover up, pull out the oversized cardigans, throw on a scarf and don a hat. And don’t get me started on the boots. And, because it’s practically dark by 5pm it’s even more acceptable to get home and get straight into your pyjamas – no questions asked.

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6. The countdown is on

With Halloween behind us and Bonfire Night looming it can only mean one thing – the countdown to Christmas has begun. If you’re frightened of the ‘C’ word then you might not want to check back here till Christmas is done. But for the rest of you, it’s officially time to start planning all things festive and really get into the spirit. 

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So, if you’re looking for me this season you’ll probably find me either hibernating at home with the cats or under a pile of leaves.

Happy autumn, guys!

Do you love autumn? What’s your favourite thing about this time of year?

Ciara sign off

Savour the moment… The weekend series | Part ten

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// Title image by Decordots //

Just in case you hadn’t guessed, from my incessant Instagram/Facebook snapping of foliage, leaf crunching and all things warm and cosy,🍁 autumn is my favourite season. AND, with this Sunday being #NationalLieInDay (with an extra hour in bed), it seemed like the perfect time to kick-back into some weekend reading.

Almost a whole season has been and gone since I shared some weekend reading with you, but I hope you’re ready to sink back into bed, armed with a cuppa and breakfast-in-bed (if you’re lucky enough) and make the most of your Sunday* – that’s exactly how I plan to use my extra hour this morning. What about you?

*Apologies in advance to all those reading this who have been up an extra hour earlier with little ones demanding Peppa Pig on repeat.


My lovely friend Jenna (of The Country Girl Bible) , her sister from another mister, Lucy (of Pinderpix) and I were all due to hang out last week at the Gather with Gill event at River Cottage Canteen Winchester, for the launch of Gill’s book. Unfortunately, I was poorly so I wasn’t able to make it but Jenna and Lucy looked like they had a fab time. If you’re a lover of good food, local produce and fancy getting your hands on a tasty new cook book then read both Jenna and Lucy’s blogs – autumnal indulgence at its finest.


One of my favourite bloggers, Monica of The Elgin Avenue, has posted a blog about her top newsletters that she values AND opens. I’m already subscribed to most of these and can agree that they are packed full of great news, lots of lovely content and I also get pretty excited when it lands in my inbox. Make sure you also sign up to Monica’s emails too – her croissant reading is one of my favourites.


With autumn being the perfect time to #Savourthemoment, a little Hygge *pronounced hoo-ga* can go a long way. Not yet discovered the Danish concept of Hygge? Then read on here and find out why you need to curl up with a good book more, give in to that bottle of wine or indulge in that oversized bowl of pasta.


A new season is a great time to take stock, especially at this time of year as, dare I say it, Christmas is approaching and 2017 is just over there 👉🏼 . As a business owner myself, I will be taking the great advice from over at Elle and Company on getting back to basics. Evaluating, game-planning and working out my priorities.


And, I couldn’t end this week’s Savour the moment without a little decadence. Whether you’re planning breakfast in bed or just fancy a treat, then make sure try this french toast recipe

Hope you have a great weekend, whatever you’re up to.

Ciara sign off

How to create a routine when you work from home

Whether you only work from home a day or two a week, or like me, you’re here pretty much here 24/7, it’s so important to establish a routine. Just because you don’t have to rush out the door at 7.30am or require make-up to face the day, routine is still important. In fact, I’d say it’s even more important that you create a rigid routine when you don’t have a ‘boss’ to report to. 

Same time every day

When you don’t have to have set working hours it can be easy to fall into bad habits. One of my biggest downfalls is being sat with my laptop long into the late hours. Set an alarm each day, get up and finish work at a respectable hour and do your best to switch off. I tend to leave the door to my home office closed until I start work and I shut the door when I finish, firmly leaving my work behind it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll often return if I need to (or have an urgent project on) but I do try to follow the same routine each day. 

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Dress for the occasion

I, personally, don’t believe that working from home should mean sitting in your pyjamas all day. Despite popular belief, many of us ‘work-from-home-ers’ do actually get up each morning, shower, get dressed for the day, and treat the day as if they were at work. It also works well when unsuspecting guests rock up for a cuppa cos, you know, you work from home! 

Plan ahead

I plan my day the day before. And, I find that a weekly planner really helps me to see at a glance what I need to be doing and where I need to be (add to that list Google calendar and an old fashioned filofax). The last thing I do on a Friday afternoon before I ‘clock off’ is to write down my work schedule for the week ahead and my to-do list. 

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Head outdoors

If a client or colleague is local then I usually arrange to meet them face-to-face. Working from home can be pretty isolating if you don’t push yourself to leave the house, so it’s important you seize as many opportunities as you can. I tend to opt for independent coffee shops to conduct most of my meetings (unless I’m required to go and visit a client at their office). And, if I really need to get away and focus then I sometime pop to my local library or cafe to feel like I’m around people. 

I try and take some time outdoors each day too. Many of my phone calls will be ‘taken outside’ so I can get my daily steps in and get some fresh air at the same time. I’m a walker and talker; not very good at sitting still. 

Your space

You might not have an entire room that you can dedicate to your workspace but it is really important to carve out a little place in your home that is your very own personal place of work. I found that once I had an ‘office’ it made a huge difference to how I saw ‘working for myself’ and also it gave me a mental distinction between work me and home me. Sometimes the lines do get blurred but you’ve just got to be stricter. 

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Do you work from home? Do you have your own little routine? I’d love to know your tips for staying motivated!

Ciara sign off

New Year’s revelations

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with New Year. The whole ‘new year, new me’ often leaves me a bit cold, and the pressure it puts upon us only adds to the stress of trying to achieve the near-on impossible.

We’ve been living the past couple of weeks in a state of confusion – wondering what day it is, whether it’s OK to eat chocolate for breakfast (it its), whether alcohol at every main meal is socially acceptable (brunch is the perfect answer to this), and finding it harder to get up in the mornings and get motivated (alarm, what alarm?).

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When it all comes to a dramatic halt, it can be pretty tough to face routine, get back to work, and begin the whole ‘new year, new me’ thing. I don’t think resolutions serve much of a purpose – the gym is packed, there’s leftover yule log in the cake tin, and quite frankly, it’s all a bit too much to deal with. Which is why I prefer to kick-start my new year with a few revelations, taking stock of the old year and how I might do things a little different in the year ahead. January is a tough enough month as it is without setting yourself goals you’ll only break and feel that you’ve not achieved much.

Nope, instead I like to make New Year’s revelations, …  Here’s my four revelations for 2016, little things that I’m hoping will make this year more productive and content than the last:

A time to… challenge 

I can be terrible for living in my comfort zone so I’ve set myself a few challenges this year. Most of which I’d already planned before Christmas. From the Rough Mudder I’m booked in to do in April (don’t ask me why), to a few new creative skills I’m hoping to learn – this year I want to push myself a little in ways I’ve been scared to before.

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A time to… take more action 

I live my life through lists, I have lists for everything. But I’m far too good at procrastinating.  One of life’s all or nothing kind of people. One thing I’ve had on my ‘to-do’ list this year is to give myself a finance health check. So, this week I’ll be looking over my accounts, filing my tax return, getting my finances in order and taking more immediate action over those long to-do lists.

A time to… feed my mind as well as my body 

This one works in reverse order too. I often find I focus on keeping my body healthy and neglect my mind, or vice versus. But they’re pretty synched up. Which means, as I fail one the other fails too. Feeding my body doesn’t mean indulging in the leftover Christmas treats, it means keeping myself healthy by caring more about what I put into it, and enjoying a (one, singular) glass of wine and savouring the moment every now and then – rather than only feeling relaxed when it’s wine o’clock. The same for my mind. It can be easy to spend hours on social media or sat in front of Netflix, zoning out from the day-to-day. It’s time to put my energy into things that serve a lot more purpose!

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A time to… take more time for me 

Time goes by so quickly that it can seem a constant cycle of work, meetings, chores and appointments, squeezing in hurried catch up with friends and speed-dates with the husband. Last year, and I blame planning my wedding for that, I didn’t take much time to focus on the things that I really WANT to do. Time for my blog, time with my husband, savouring moments with friends, time to sit and read that big stack of magazines I eye up most evenings. I hope to take more time for the little things. To savour the moment and be just a tad more mindful that life is for living and not for checking off the things we’ve completed on our list.

Have you set yourself some challenges, new focuses or plans for the year ahead? I’d love to know!

Wishing you all a very happy New Year.

#savourthemoment

Love

Ciara sign off

And the countdown begins …

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Prior to being asked ‘The Question’ I’d never given a wedding day much thought. If truth be known I didn’t actually see myself doing the whole ‘white dress and walk down the aisle thing’.  And, as someone who has suffered from (sometimes crippling) anxiety for years, a day when all eyes are on me makes me feel more than a bit nervous.

Entering into marriage I feel somewhat prepared for, but a fancy wedding day, not so much. No tea towels on my head as a child pretending it was a veil, no scrap book of pretty dresses and ideas of my ‘dream’ wedding.  So, after saying a big fat ‘Yes’ back in early September of last year, to a guy with whom I went on a date eight years ago, knocked back, and then agreed to a second (first) date six years later, we have since found ourselves booking an actual date to get married and faced with more decisions to make regarding our wedding day than I ever thought possible.

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Fortunately for me, I’m one of the last of my friends to get married, which means that when I have questions they all have answers; and extremely practical and helpful answers at that. Lets put it this way, if it weren’t for a friend of mine I’d have had no idea that I had to order a wedding dress at least six months in advance (the look of horror on the wedding dress shop owner when I turned up thinking it was ‘that’ easy), or that I needed my actual wedding shoes prior to my dress fittings, or that wedding invites would have be a huge headache, and that once ‘said’ invites are delivered the endless upsets and disappointments it can cause would be an even bigger headache – I should add, that if you’re not yet married then please don’t let this put you off!

Needless to say, I’ve been pretty blasé and naive where this whole wedding day malarky is concerned. Probably made worse by the fact that I’m marrying THE most disorganised man on the planet – I defy anyone to show me someone who is more lacking in the organisation department. Which means I have to work twice as hard at making sure that things get done, that he turns up to the right church (although it’s rather fortunate that the church is quite literally in our front garden) and on the right day … tardiness is not something that sits well with me. So, with our nuptials only mere weeks away it’s safe to say that the countdown has well and truly begun and it’s time to get down to some much needed organisation.

Up until now if you’d asked me if I was stressed you’d have probably heard me say ‘Don’t be silly’. I was never planning on having a big wedding with lots of people and things to organise, and fuss … as most of my friends know, I was hoping (and tried) to elope. But it’s not just my day, it also belongs to my fiancé.  And now that the invites have gone out and we’ve had lots of lovely chats with our vicar,  it’s all starting to feel a little real (to say the least). I don’t think either of us can look at our guest list without opening the fridge to pour a glass of wine and difficult wedding decisions are often met with a glaring ‘I’m-not-in-the-mood-to-discuss-this-now’ glance.

As we’re both self-employed (Ross runs his own locally sourced fruit and veg business, and I spend my days writing) a lot of our spare time turns to work, so wedding chat is often at the bottom of our list. But with 10 weeks to go, it’s time to finalise those smaller details –  first dance (are we even having one, I don’t think we’ve even discussed that?), what wine we’ll be drinking (pretty important), and where we plan to head off to on our little honeymoon after the wedding before our bigger honeymoon next year.

But, despite all of the above we’re trying to make sure that we spend this time in the run up to our big day, remembering what exactly it is that we’re embarking on. It’s pretty easy to get lost in a haze of ‘wedding’ and forget the very important part about a marriage. Something I promised myself I would NEVER do. Our lovely vicar requested one thing from us in the week prior to our wedding day … ‘To book in at least two hours a few days before, where we spend time with just each other and do something that doesn’t involve ANYTHING wedding related’. I’d say that’s pretty sound advice if you ask me.

Although, before I become a wife there is the small matter of celebrating with all my favourite ladies.  And, I can’t wait to spend this Saturday evening with them. Hen Party fun, and frolics awaits …

Love

Ciara sign off

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