New Year Greetings

I always like to take some time at the end of one year and the start of another to reflect on the wins and losses, the lessons and changes of the year just passed. 2020 was an emotional roller-coaster of love, joy, gratitude, sorrow, fear and frustration as a pandemic interrupted our lives and turned the world upside down.

My personal low-point of the year was when my nanna passed away in February, though in retrospect it seems like a blessing in disguise because she was spared the confusion, anxiety and loneliness of months under lockdown in a care home, but I still miss her and think of her often.

Our daughter’s birth – also in February – was easily the highlight of our year, and though we’ve had to find our way without any of the supports and services that most other new parents can rely on, it’s been such a delight getting to know our little girl and watching her grow from a sleepy, squirming newborn to a strong-willed, curious and boisterous 11-month-old.

I received a further piece of good news in July when 13 months after experiencing temporary blindness in my left eye (which has never fully recovered), I was invited for an MRI of my brain, neck, shoulders and spine to check for signs of a neurological disorder. It was such a relief when the results came back normal which gives me low odds of developing M.S.; the neurologist was as surprised as I was – I don’t think he gets to give good news often.

We had a scare in September when our cat, Mara, suddenly became the most unwell we’ve ever seen her, she has thankfully recovered but I’m very aware that she’s getting older, and we’re so lucky she’s still with us.

We ended the year by celebrating Christmas with close family, and it meant the world to us to have some time together after months of distance and separation, but like millions of others across the UK we woke up under another lockdown on Boxing Day. It feels like we’re stuck in limbo until the vaccination program takes effect, but for now I’m just trying to focus on the day ahead of me and count my blessings. Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. X

Emerging from Lockdown

Emerging from Lockdown

We’re tentatively emerging from lockdown in our part of the world. Although some of the restrictions have been lifted, life has continued for us much the same as it has for the past few months, we shop for food once a week, my husband will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, we take our daily walks for exercise, and my only other excursions have been taking our daughter to various health appointments.

This weekend though we were finally reunited with my parents and I was so glad to spend some time with them after three months apart, though it was very strange not to be able to hug or kiss them, or let them hold the baby. As much as I miss haircuts, libraries, dining out, the freedom to come and go as we please, and all the other aspects of life I took for granted before, being cut off from our family and friends has been by far the hardest part.

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It was a bittersweet reunion as our daughter has spent most of her life under lockdown, and the last time her grandparents saw her was at my nanna’s funeral when she was a tiny, sleepy 5-week-old, since then she’s grown into a chubby, curious and cheerful 4-month-old. Yet I know how lucky we are to be reunited at all when so many other families are mourning loved ones who lost their lives to Covid-19.

One benefit of the lockdown has been that my husband has been able to work from home, which has given us time together as a family that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We’ve settled into our roles as parents, found a daily rhythm that works for all of us, and our daughter is healthy and content.

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Evening light

Throughout the lockdown, I’ve been very grateful for our garden, which has given us another environment to explore with our daughter full of sensory experiences while other activities are unavailable. The garden itself is full of life and colour at the moment.

We try to make our garden as wildlife friendly as possible, even so I’m always delighted by how many different types of bee visit the garden, and it’s fun trying to identify them all. We also heard the hedgehog snuffling around the hedge one day while we were outside so we left a bowl of water and some cat food out for it (don’t tell Mara!), though I’m wary of getting too close for fear of fleas and ticks.

Even though restrictions are starting to relax, while the virus remains a threat it’s hard to imagine life going back to the way it was before, and impossible to imagine what the year ahead will look like with all our plans from significant birthdays, friends’ weddings and other events we were looking forward to postponed or cancelled altogether, yet I’m so relieved that we’ve all weathered this storm and a little normality has started to resume. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

A very special anniversary… ❤️


Just a quick post to mark that it was two years ago today that we adopted our cat Mara from the SSPCA. As Mara is a rescue cat we don’t know when her birthday is or even how old she is but we like to celebrate the day we adopted her, and this is a very special anniversary as we weren’t sure that she would even still be here to celebrate it at all.

Back in January when our vet diagnosed the lump we’d found on her tail as a mast cell tumour, they had warned us that she might only have six to twelve months left. The vets amputated her tail to give her the best chance of survival, but the next six months were full of blood tests, ultrasound scans, x-rays and fine needle aspirates to ensure the cancer had not originated or spread elsewhere. It was a relief for all of us in July when the oncology department at the small animal hospital finally gave us the all clear, and we’re so grateful to all the vets who have helped us.

We all still miss that fluffy, tabby tail crooked like a question mark when she walked around, thrashing from side to side when she played or curling round our wrists when she was asleep, but nowhere near as much as we’d miss Mara if we hadn’t found the lump in time. Mara has been so brave and resilient throughout it all, she made a full recovery and adapted with no continence issues or loss of balance and mobility, and she is still every bit as affectionate, mischievous and curious as the day we adopted her.

Back then, we were newly-weds just back from our honeymoon, when we visited the rehoming centre to look for a potential new addition to our little family. I still remember seeing the tabby and white cat pressed up against the door of her enclosure and rearing up on her hind legs to let us stroke her when we went in to say hello. Bringing her home, we were almost as nervous as we were excited, as she was the first pet either my husband or I had had since leaving our family homes, and it seemed like such a big responsibility, yet Mara easily settled in with us, quickly becoming the centre of our world and the beating heart of our home. Now, two years later we are happy to have an excuse to spoil her a little more than usual today – even if she steadfastly refuses to let me take a photo of her wearing a party hat. Have a lovely week.

Liebster Award ❤️


It was just over a year ago that I started my little blog, and last week I was surprised and delighted when the lovely Typewriter Girl contacted me to let me know she’d nominated me for a Liebster Award. Liebster is a German word meaning dearest, sweetheart or beloved, and the Liebster Award is a virtual honour passed from blogger to blogger as a way of supporting and promoting each other.

The rules of the Liebster Award are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog
  • Answer the questions your nominator asked you
  • Nominate 5-11 other blogs (and don’t forget to let them know)
  • Ask your nominations up to 11 questions or facts about themselves.

Here are the answers to the questions I was asked:

What is your favourite part of blogging?
I really enjoy taking photos for my blog, but I also love being part of such a friendly and welcoming community.

What country, city or continent would you most like to visit and why?
There are so many places I’d love to visit but at the moment I’d really like to visit Mexico, I love the cuisine, culture and I’m interested in the history. I’d also love to tour the Scandinavian countries in a camper van chasing the Northern Lights and maybe even spotting a troll. 😉

What was the most inspirational time in your life so far?
Probably around our wedding as we made most of the decorations and favours ourselves, some of it was a bit rough around the edges but it was a really fun and crafty project. After the wedding, I knew I wanted another creative project and started scribbling ideas and thinking about this blog.

What are you passionate about?
My family and friends, my cat and practising gratitude every day.

What is your favourite book and why?
This is such a difficult question! Maybe the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling because I re-read them more often than any other books. I also love A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, it’s very moving and I love stories within stories.

What is your favourite time of year?
My favourite season is autumn, I love the colours of the leaves and the gradual transition from the fading light and warmth to the first frosts and cosiness.

What are your other interests besides blogging?
Reading, cooking (and eating!), gardening, walking and exploring new places, photography and yoga – all the things I blog about.

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?
As forests aren’t one of the options, I’ll have to choose the beach.

Where did you go for your most memorable vacation?
We visited Japan for our honeymoon, and it was a dream come true because it’s a country I’ve wanted to visit since I was a child. I loved the food and the contrast between the old shinto shrines and the neon skyscrapers. I hope we’ll go back one day.

Do you prefer a sunny or rainy day?
I’m from Scotland so definitely sunny days because they’re so rare!

If you had a day all to yourself, how would you spend it?
Pottering about in the garden in the morning, visiting a bookshop in the afternoon followed by a peaceful and refreshing stroll along a beach or through a forest, then curling up at home with my cat and a book to read.

In no particular order, I nominate:

If you would like to accept the award (and there’s no pressure to at all!) feel free to answer the questions below and nominate up to 11 other blogs.

  1. What advice would you give to other bloggers?
  2. Other than blogging, what are your hobbies?
  3. Do you have any pets?
  4. Tea or coffee?
  5. What’s your favourite book and why?
  6. Where in the world would you most like to visit?
  7. What’s your favourite quote or personal mantra?
  8. Have you ever won any awards or trophies offline?
  9. What’s your favourite weather?
  10. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Once again, thanks to Typewriter Girl for nominating me. Wishing everyone a happy Monday and have a lovely week!


A Little Gratitude List…

A Little Gratitude List…

1. We were in Fife recently visiting my husband’s cousin and his wife who have just moved there. We spent a little time catching up over mugs of coffee in their home as the four of us don’t get to see each other as often as we used to when they lived round the corner from us, but we always enjoy the time we do spend together and it doesn’t usually take long for my husband and his cousin to bring out the mischief in each other. After a tour of their new house, we all piled into the car and drove to a nearby beach where we spent a happy couple of hours strolling along the shore, chatting and exploring rock pools. I’m grateful for time with family and the chance to explore new places together.

2. On Saturday night, we had a house full of friends for a little Eurovision Song Contest Party. The Eurovision is a lot less kitsch than it used to be, and our guests were a disparate group (some of whom had only met once before at our wedding), but laughter and banter resounded round the room all evening. It was the first party we’ve hosted in our house, but it won’t be the last. I’m grateful for good times like these with good friends.

3. My husband is working away this week, something he tries to avoid as he’s a homebody at heart. We miss each other, but I’m grateful for technology (like Skype) that helps us stay in contact when we’re far apart.

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4. Luckily, I have our cat, Mara, to keep me company while he’s away. It’s almost impossible to feel lonely with Mara around, she brings so much life and noise to our home; from the impatient whine at feeding times that sounds more like “now!” than “meow” to the rumbling vocal cords when she runs up or down stairs, paws padding across wooden floors, a slurping tongue as she grooms herself and too many other distinctive chirrups, squeaks and meows to list separately. Lately, Mara has started sleeping on my pillow with her head pressed against my neck, although her whiskers tickle and she sometimes snores in my ear, she’s too cute to shoo away. As always, I’m grateful for Mara’s companionship and affection.

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5. I’ve been adding a few new recipes to my repertoire and realised that most of the food I associated with Mexico (nachos, chilli con carne and burritos) are actually Tex-Mex, so I borrowed Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carillo Arronte from the local library to learn more about authentic Mexican cuisine. First attempts at making corn tortillas failed but the other recipes I’ve tried have all been tasty and I’m looking forward to adapting some of the meat dishes to vegetarian. Some of the ingredients are tricky to find here in Scotland, but I’m grateful to live in a country where food is plentiful. I’m also grateful for public libraries, they’re a valuable resource in the community.

Have a lovely week.

Christmas Magic

Merry and bright

Every year as the days of December rush towards the 25th, I hear people fretting about how much money they’ve spent, how long they queued for this years must-have sold-out-everywhere gift, and how stressful hosting Christmas dinner is. Yet sitting peacefully at home suffused in the cosy glow of the twinkly lights and glinting baubles on our Christmas tree always reminds me to slow down and appreciate all the little moments that make this season so magical and meaningful.

Putting up the Christmas decorations and decorating the tree is one of my favourite festive traditions. Unwrapping the baubles we’ve collected over the years always brings back memories and each trinket seems to have its own story. The newest addition to our collection is a simple wooden piece I found while my husband and I were on holiday in New York earlier in the year. This year I also made some simple decorations by baking slices of orange, which brighten up the tree and add a touch of traditional style to it. The combination of citrus and fresh pine needles also gives our home a subtle and natural festive fragrance. Luckily, our cat Mara doesn’t try to climb the tree or bother the baubles, though she occasionally gives the lower branches an experimental nibble.

As TV shows and social networks fill up with images of happy families in festive jumpers, it seems like there are impossibly high expectations for Christmas. Yet the reality is that life doesn’t stop for Christmas: families bicker, couples separate and people get ill, just as they do at every other time of the year. Within my own family, over the years there have been two deaths in December and one in January, which always gives the season a bittersweet edge as I remember and miss those who are no longer here, while feeling so grateful and fortunate to have my loved ones around me at Christmastime.

I can’t buy Christmas magic, but sometimes I find it in the simplest moments: wrapping cold hands around warm mugs of Gluhwein at the Christmas market, catching up with friends around a crackling fire, snuggling up on the sofa with my husband and Mara to watch our favourite festive films (It’s a Wonderful Life, A Muppet’s Christmas Carol and While You Were Sleeping), and of course, gathering around the table with my family to savour a three course feast on Christmas Day itself.

Slowing down at Christmas makes all these cosy moments with the people I love most stand out clearer in my memory, like twinkling lights set against the darkest month of the year. Wishing everyone a peaceful and very happy Christmas!

Review of ‘The Gratitude Diaries’ by Janice Kaplan


The Gratitude Diaries starts at a party on New Year’s Eve when Janice Kaplan sets herself a resolution to try being more grateful for a year to see if it can improve her life and outlook.

Janice is a journalist, who has an apartment in Manhattan and a house in the country, happily married with kids, she has a lot to be grateful for, yet like many people she compares herself to others who have it better than her, struggles to look beyond the imperfections and takes what she has for granted.

I found it easy to relate to Janice throughout her gratitude experiment because she’s honest about how she had to retrain herself to be grateful instead of complaining, criticising and focusing on the negatives. Above all, Janice demonstrates that while gratitude, optimism and positivity may come more naturally to some people than others, gratitude is a habit that anyone can cultivate.

Janice also recognises that it’s easy to feel grateful when life is good, but gratitude is not a panacea shielding us from all of life’s disappointments, sorrows and frustrations instead gratitude is a way of steadying ourselves in the storms, setbacks and struggles by adjusting what we focus on.

The Gratitude Diaries is split into four parts, corresponding with the seasons of the year, where she concentrates on different areas of her life, including marriage and family, career, money and health, and shows how gratitude improves each aspect of her life. The book is peppered with quotes from philosophers such as Epicurus and Marcus Aurelius whose wisdom is as relevant today as it was in their own lifetimes, as well as research and interviews from more contemporary sources like the psychologist Martin Seligman and actor Matt Damon.

I really enjoyed this book, it’s full of ideas on how to develop an “attitude of gratitude” and I can see myself re-reading it for inspiration and motivation as I try to live gratefully.

Time spent with cats is never wasted…


It was around this time last year that my husband and I adopted our cat, Mara, from a rescue centre. We had just returned from our honeymoon when we decided to get a pet, both of us had cats growing up and missed the energy and routine that pets add to a home.

The cats I had growing up were all rescued: Peach and Lucky were kittens abandoned in a sack on a construction site; Oscar was the runt of a farmyard cat’s litter, he was suffering from a respiratory infection and was left behind when his mother moved her other kittens from one barn to another. Despite having a difficult start in life, all of our rescue cats became such loyal and trusting members of the family that I was determined to give an “unwanted” cat a safe, loving home when my husband and I decided to get a pet of our own.

Although we knew very little about Mara’s background we took a chance on her because she seemed timid but curious and affectionate in the re-homing centre.

Mara has become such a big part of our little family that it’s hard to believe it has only been one year since we adopted her. From the cheerful chirrup when we arrive home from work to the impatient whine at feeding times and the rumbling purr when she’s content, the affectionate nuzzling and playful scampering, stretching across our laps for a snooze or curling up at the bottom of our bed to sleep every night, Mara has made a significant impression on our home and our hearts.

Bedtime stories…

It’s been so rewarding to watch Mara start to trust us, settle into her new home and slowly overcome her timidity. Nowhere is this more evident than in her playfulness, Mara has progressed from hiding under furniture with all but her two front paws hidden swiping at her toys to scampering, pouncing and leaping after her toys in the middle of the floor with fearless abandon.

I learn so much from observing Mara, she lives in the present moment, she doesn’t ruminate on the past or worry about the future; and I’m always inspired by the pleasure she takes in the simple comforts of life such as companionship, food, play, rest and a warm, safe home.

The thought of coming home to a hug from my husband and nuzzles from Mara is enough to help me keep all the daily stresses and struggles in perspective. The quiet, cosy hours we pass together always fill me with a sense of peace, contentment and gratitude. As the autumn nights grow longer and the weather gets colder, I look forward to the three of us spending many more evenings snuggled up together. Have a lovely week.

Little Reminders to Slow Down


I’ve noticed a chill in the air in the mornings and evenings, and every day the sun rises a little later and sets a little earlier. There are crisp leaves lying on the ground already, but many more still clinging to the trees gradually turning from green to shades of yellow, amber and red.

Autumn is my favourite season and part of the appeal is its transience. Every year autumn reminds me to slow down and pay attention to the world around me because if I’m wandering around lost in my thoughts or engrossed in my phone, I risk missing the beautiful display nature provides and won’t have another chance to appreciate it until next year.

Slowing down and being present in the moment were very much on my mind this weekend as my husband and I reunited with my family to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. My family are scattered across the country and we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d all like so it was lovely to have everyone together, time to catch up with everyone’s news and to just enjoy being in each other’s company for a while.

There will always be other tasks to be done and things to distract me but time with the people I love most is something worth prioritizing and that I never take for granted. It is little moments like these, full of laughter, chatter and birthday cake, that help me to weather all the stresses and storms of life.


We were delayed by roadworks on the way home. I could’ve been annoyed by the delay, but I chose to be grateful that the road was still open and that we eventually arrived home safely. I realize that neither my grumbling nor my gratitude made the traffic move any faster but feeling thankful made the journey more pleasant.

Gratitude and mindfulness don’t always come naturally to me, it’s a choice I have to make and remake over and over again. So many of us rush through life, always impatient for the next place, the next time, that we never really notice or appreciate where are are or what we’re doing now. Nature, however, is full of little reminders to slow down and take notice, such as the pretty sunset we were rewarded with during our delay. Have a lovely week.

Our First Wedding Anniversary


Tomorrow my husband and I celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Watching our wedding video brings back a flood of memories and feelings about our ceremony. I remember feeling overwhelmed seeing all of our guests for the first time, my groom holding my hand so tightly in his own during the ceremony and my hand trembling as I signed the marriage register. I also remember thinking that it was over so quickly, and that it didn’t feel real. A year later, I think it’s because we were already married before our wedding.

We wrote our ceremony a few months before our wedding and our celebrant invited us to her house to rehearse it. I remember us standing in her living room, nervously repeating our vows, slipping the ring she provided us to practise with onto each other’s fingers and pretending to sip from the quaich. More than those fragments though I remember feeling like the whole world faded away until it was just me and my fiancé holding hands, staring into each other’s eyes and telling each other how much we loved one another.

In that moment, I felt like we were married. We both wore jeans and there was no champagne or cake. There were no guests, our only witnesses were the celebrant’s two dogs who spent the duration of our rehearsal fighting over a chewy toy. It was a beautiful moment all the same.

It was the memory of how I felt during our rehearsal that got me through the more stressful aspects of planning our wedding. It’s easy to get lost in the details but our rehearsal helped me to keep the wedding in perspective, the wedding might represent the start of our marriage but it wouldn’t define our relationship because it was just a legal celebration of what we both already knew to be true in our hearts.

Our wedding was beautiful, but it wasn’t perfect and I didn’t expect it to be. When I noticed little things that didn’t go to plan on our wedding day, I chose to focus on all the parts that went right instead and I felt so grateful to all the people from our families and friends who filled our day with so much love and joy, as well as to all the professionals like our celebrant, photographer and caterers who made sure it all flowed smoothly. Our wedding was a wonderful start to a new chapter of our story together, our first year of marriage has been delightful and I look forward to whatever the future holds for us. Have a lovely week.

Our DIY caketoppers and table decorations