Saturday, 26 November 2011

Chocolatey Christmas

Chocolate. Christmas.
Don't those two words just make you happy?! In my world Christmas is the most exciting time of year {along with any other gift giving occasion really}. Even just THINKING about the word "Christmas" makes me giddy! And chocolate...well, the joy of chocolate needs to explanation does it really? 
SO when I was given the opportunity to try out a special Christmas Chocolate something from UK cocoa growers & chocolatiers Hotel Chocolat, yup, you guessed it, I had to be peeled off the ceiling. 
We've got a Hotel Chocolat in Chester now! 
I then had the task of choosing what I wanted to try. It became a classic kid in a candy store scenario. What in the heck was I going to try?! It had to be Christmasy. No problem there. I wanted it all!!! I finally settled on the Christmas Chocolate Goodie Bag because it had a bit of everything. This shortly arrived at my front door!

 I sat down and carefully untied the ribbon and pulled out the precious contents of my very own Christmas Chocolate Goodie Bag: a mini Festive Wreath, a Christmas Gift Slab, Milk Chocolate Pocket Reindeer and saving the best for last, a packet of Billionaire Shortbread Truffles. 

This was some serious chocolate. No namby pamby selection box sweets here. I had to enlist the hus for tasting. He said he'd take one for the team, even though it would be a sacrifice. This from a man who eats chocolate biscuits for breakfast. 
The wreath was hard core. Cranberries, honey roasted hazelnuts, chocolate biscuit pieces, milk and dark chocolate. I should have brought out a hammer to get into it! It took us a few days to eat it all. It wasn't my fave as I'm not a big fan of dark chocolate sadly. Now the Christmas Gift. That was more my speed. "mellow milk chocolate" and chocolate cookie pieces and a caramel gift. YUM! No fruity bits in, just straight up chocolate with the added delight of the crisp chocolate cookie bits. I'd buy this one again. 
Couldn't fault the milk chocolate reindeer, you know I love my mellow milk chocolate and Hotel Chocolat's milk chocolate is exquisite. 
Now brace yourself. I'm about to tell you about one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. No kidding. Will you go to the happy place with me? 

Milk chocolatey caramely shortbready heaven. 

I was transported right back to the very first time I'd ever tasted Millionaire Shortbread. It was when I first came to Scotland to study back in 2004. My course took elevenses and we had special elevenses on Fridays. One week we had home baked Millionaire Shortbread. I knew then that I had arrived in the most incredible country on the planet. It's been a favorite sweet ever since. When I bit into one of these truffles and the chocolate melted in my mouth followed by the decadent caramel with hint of praline I may have had some sort of religious experience. I stopped after one bite to bathe in the glow. 
For a Christmas treat this was sinful. No wonder they're "Billionaire" Shortbread Chocolates and not Millionaire. 
You must beg Santa to bring you some of these beauties. If he refuses take matters into your own hands & click the link. You won't regret it, unless you only order one packet. 

And so it was, my Chocolatey Christmas Hotel Chocolat adventure. Baby Woo is kicking away, no doubt giving thanks for the beautiful chocolates we did eat. 

I am also available to sample chocolates for Easter, Mother's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, exam results, weddings....

Thanks Hotel Chocolat! 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Today was THE day!

From this...

To this. 

The first photo is from Becnicks Wonder Emporium opening day back in March this year. The next photo is all that was left of my unit after clearing it out yesterday. I'm going to go back tomorrow with some help and pick up the shelves and the box of stuff that I couldn't carry on the bus.

The girls have kindly agreed to keep some of my stock and rather than paying rent and doing shifts! Duh! No brainer! I'll get to feather my nest and save my pennies leading up to the quickly approaching big day!  
Can you believe that one carrier bag and two shelves is all that is left of 8 months of work! My entire business fit into one box and two small bags! 

I've got mixed emotions about leaving, I guess anyone would. At first we discussed a maternity leave of absence but then in the end we agreed that I would finish. I know it is the right decision, it is a HUGE relief, it was time to leave. But if I'm honest I am feeling a little sad. I think it's only natural to feel that way. It's like a tiny mourning for a change in life.

As I'm sitting here enjoying a cup of tea, feeling & watching Baby Woo kick and move in my belly I am so looking forward to the totally life altering experience that is on the way in only a few short weeks. I have a lot of cleaning and prepping still to do. I can NOT believe it's nearly the middle of November. Mr Woo & I will be celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary on the 30th and then it's December! Where has the time gone?

For now I'd better get my skates on, I have a huge amount of cleaning and laundry to do.

Please join me as I raise my mug "may the next 10 {almost down to 9!!!!} weeks be full of rest, peace and joy!" 

When I was in school 9 weeks, the length of our semesters, was an eternity, now 9 weeks is the blink of the eye. How things change.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

30 Weeks!

Can you believe it?!!!! 

Only 10 weeks or 70 days until my due date!! 

Baby Woo has been quite quiet for a week or so, she's been worrying me. Mr Woo & the internet said that it's normal as the there is less room in the bump for kicking and punching. But today she has been very busy, which has been a huge relief! I can feel something round on the left side of my bump I wonder if it's her head or bottom. How cute if it is her cute baby tocks?!

I should hopefully be finished at the shop in the next couple of weeks....fingers crossed for WEEK rather than weeks. I'm finding it harder and harder to spend the entire day in the shop, it really exhausts me. Last week I had to catch the bus in the dark and rain. It was pretty awful. I haven't felt right since. 
Soooo, I'm hoping it'll be sooner rather than later. 

In the mean time I've been reading the twilight books, drinking lots of tea, making gift & price tags, birdie ornaments and soaking in the tub...while reading the twilight books. 
This cute little baby growing in my belly is getting heavy, she's got a lot of weight to put on in the next few weeks. I've still got lots of prep to do and I need to get this flat in order, it's a mess! 

The grant application was returned denied. There has been a clerical error so I need to follow it up. Uuugh! Don't they know I need to order the crib mattress?!  Off I go, to make a brew and get typing my "hey! you've made a mistake" letter. 

Bye for now x      

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Christmas Crafts & Tutorial Round Up

We've been getting the shop ready for Christmas. There are twinkle lights up and a shipment of vintage Christmas baubles and ornaments has arrived. Serious swooning. I'm telling ya! So with Elvis crooning Christmas classics in the background and working with Christmas loving Carrie yesterday...that was it....I was bubbling with Christmas cheer!

I have been collecting Christmas pins on pinterest for a while now. I have a found some wonderful vintage images and lots & lots of crafty ideas! I've been itching to get making some ornaments & stockings. Now that Christmas preparation is well and truly underway I can (once I get a boost of energy) get started!!!

Here are some of my fave tutorials:

{No Sew Ruffled Tree Skirt

{Floral Baubles}

No tute for this one, but you're clever, you can work it out! 

{wonderful little birdie}

There are so many sweet wonderful Christmasy things that I'd love to fill my home with! I just need an energy boost to get me going! I brought some excellent green wool home that is perfect for a few birdies. I'm also planning adorning them with sequins and feathers. I have created  a tradition of giving an ornament to my best friend every Christmas...I made a bird for her last year....I'm still not sure what to make this year.
Do you have any suggestions?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Great News!

Some of you may know all about my long relationship with the Home Office. It's been frustrating and expensive....and it's just come to an end!!!!! 
It's so totally YOU, Home Office! Not me

The Last Chapter:

In August I had to scramble to find a lawyer who could take me on at the last minute to assist me with making my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain. My Spouse Visa was set to expire and my final step to permanent settlement in the UK was Indefinite Leave to Remain
The non-profit organisation that had helped me with my Spouse Visa application lost their funding in the gov't cuts and closed doors. I was made aware of the loss of the organisation 2 weeks before my Spouse Visa expired.
PANIC does not begin to explain what I experienced.

I spent the following week searching for another firm or organisation that 1. offered legal aid 2. could take me on in such short notice. 
There was NO where in Chester. 

Liverpool was my next hope. By a miracle there was one law firm who had an immigration department who offered legal aid. Without legal aid it would have cost £500 to have a lawyer help with the application, then the application fee is currently £972 on top of that (in 2002 it was free to apply btw).
So I needed the legal aid. 

Get this. I had to race to Liverpool the morning after finding the firm to get there in time for the immigration drop in to find out if I would be able to be taken on. 
Mr Woo's brother took me in for 8:30 am. We stood outside waiting for the law firm to open up along with nearly a dozen other people who were hoping to be first to be seen. As soon as the doors were opened it was a mad rush! Everyone headed for the what did I do? 
Fat, out of shape and 5 months pregnant? 

I ran up the stairs. 

I beat Mr Woo's brother. He's 25 and trained for the RAF. I ran like the wind. 
I could not breathe when I reached the 3rd floor office. I thought I might throw up. But I was #3! 
It is a drop in, so you basically spend hours waiting. The room was unbelievably hot too. I should have brought a book. 

2 hours or so later I got to be seen. Let's just say I wasn't filled with confidence after the meeting as I seemed to know more about the process and law than the person from the law firm. I was worried. I was also worried about being able to collect all of the evidence in time and I didn't have the money together either. I had just over a week. The good news was they were helping me. I have learned in dealing with the Home Office, they like an application that comes with an opening letter on legal letterhead. 

It was hard. I had to travel back and forth to Liverpool a few times. I had to chase bank statements for Mr Woo and myself. Hunt his wage slips. Wait on letters from my mother and Mr Woo's dad. It was a crazy, crazy time. My hormones were raging. I was feeling very overwhelmed & sorry for myself. 

At the end of the day it was done. The application went in on time. Some of the evidence had to follow later, but it all got there in the end. 
Then the wait. 

When I received the call today we had entered the 3rd month with no news. It's not one of those things you consciously worry about every day, it's one of those back of the mind niggles. 

I must wait no more to find out. I WAS APPROVED!!! 
MY APPLICATION WAS SUCCESSFUL in the words of the Home Office!!!!!!!! 

Some tension left my body and some tears filled my eyes. 

My little family will get to stay together! We'll have our passports back! 
Mr Woo & I are planning going on a Babymoon....perhaps Paris at Christmas?

So I'm officially an ex-pat. I've crossed the immigration finish line. No more steps unless I want to become a citizen.  No more hoops to jump through. Stick a fork in me, I'm done!!!! 

I go next week to pick up all of my paperwork and dance around Liverpool as someone with Indefinite Leave to Remain. Well by dance I actually mean waddle. My bump is pretty big now. 

Mr Woo is taking me out to The Royal Oak tonight to celebrate so I need to do my hair and get on some stretchy glad rags! 

I am so happy x

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A few more Baby Woo Nursery bits.

My dreamy Heather Ross Far Far Away fabric 

The finished dust ruffle!

I used a vintage sheet for the bit that will fit under the mattress. It isn't necessary, I could have used some muslin or something but why be bland! 

The gorgeous wall hanging made by my half sister! She has given us so much! I've been spoiled beyond belief! 

The owl clock made by my sister! It works! 

She even made a rag quilt!!! Love it! It's so soft! 

I can't thank my sister Bess Anne enough. She has gone above and beyond! She has lavished us with love and generosity. The last time I saw Bess Anne was at our father's funeral in 1997. We have really bonded over my baby girl. It has been such a precious time. I guess the crafty gene runs in the family! Can you believe all she has done?! And she's not done yet, she's ordered some prints that I "liked" on facebook and is sending those too! I am gobsmacked!

In other news I sent of my maternity grant application today. Hopefully it'll be approved and I'll be able to finish the nursery. I need to paint. I need the crib mattress, sheets & blankets for the mattress, a rug, a dresser to use as a dresser and changing table. Hmm....what else? Mr Woo & I have decided to get a Tripp Trapp High Chair because they grow with the baby. We need a camera & I would really like to find a dryer if I can. Our clothes do not dry well in this rainy humid weather & I have to wash them again when they've gotten all smelly.
My friend is going to help me clean the carpets, pick out my paint, help Mr Woo paint and hopefully help me hunt for the dresser! There is a lovely vintage chest at Becnicks that I have my eye on as well! It's perfect for toys and blankets, fingers crossed that it doesn't sell until I can get to it! We're getting there, slowly but surely.
I have given notice at the shop, I am really looking forward to having the freedom of not spending looong days with no breaks. It's already starting to get dark at 5pm and the temperatures are dropping. I won't be sorry that I won't have to wait for the bus in the cold and dark. I'll miss spending time with the girlies but I can always visit. It'll be even more sweet to visit with Baby Woo in a couple of months time!

p.s. I'm 29 weeks pregnant today!

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