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2016 on The Life & Times of Belle

2016 on The Life & Times of Belle

Well, I can't really believe that 2016 is over - can you?! But, with the year drawing to a close I wanted to write a post just rounding up the past twelve months of the ol' blog. I wrote a post like this last year (this one, if you fancy a throwback read!) and I really enjoyed seeing every post from the whole year in one post - it was really satisfying!

I'll tell you what else was satisfying this time around - the fact that I've written double the amount of posts than I did last year! 

I set myself the unwritten and unshared resolution this year to really commit to my blog and get back into it - the previous couple of years I'd let my blogging hobby slide in favour of finishing off my degree/starting full time post-grad work but 2016, I decided, was going to be the year I started to take my hobby seriously again. I'm so bloody glad I did because I've really enjoyed putting the work in, seeing results and seeing how far my little blog has grown in a year. By no means has the growth been crazy but I've managed to reach all the targets I wanted to hit and more importantly I've reached my personal goal of being consistent with my blog!

So anyway - I'm rounding up 2016 with all the musings I've shared throughout the past year here on The Life & Times of Belle. Prepare yourself - this is gonna be quite the lengthy post!








Share the Love - June // My New Car - Fiat 500 Lounge // 5 YA Books in my TBR Pile // How I use my Erin Condren Life Planner // My Favourite Blue Nail Polishes // 10 Fashion Buys on my Summer Wishlist // Currently - 24.7 // Insta-Lately - July // July Favourites



Yankee Candle Barbershop Collection // Confessions of a Stationery Addict // 14 Homeware Buys I Need From George This A/W // Essie Maximillian Strausse-Her // Currently - 18.9 // 10 Things I Love About Autumn // Insta-Lately - September // Blood Cancer Awareness Month // September Favourites


Share the Love - September // My Autumn To Do List // Five Things in my Bag // Pumpkin Picking Adventure // My Sunday in Numbers // An Autumn Uniform // Currently - 23.10 // Insta-Lately - October // October Favourites



Share the Love - November // Christmas Tree Farm Adventure // It's Officially Christmas at Flora // My Christmas To Do List // 8 of the Best Christmas Films // Decking the Halls - Our Christmas Decorations // Insta-Lately - December // December Favourites // 2016 on The Life & Times of Belle

Phew, what a year eh?! Here's to more content on The Life & Times of Belle in 2017 (and possibly a new look, maybe a re-brand - who knows?!)! 

Favourites // December 2016

Favourites // December 2016

December (and the whole of 2016 actually...) has seriously flown by! But I managed to pack it full of my first trip to a Christmas Tree Farm, our annual visit to our favourite festive garden centre, lots of busy work days (and two of my worst shifts ever haha!), my anniversary of being on the grown-up shift rota for a whole year (what??! How did this happen?!) and lots of wonderful family time!

As always my favourites for this month are a right mish-mash! If it's not broke, don't fix it eh?! Anyway, here's what bits and pieces have been floating my boat this past month...

FESTIVE MUGS // I've managed to drink every single tea/hot chocolate this month out of a festive mug - I've amassed quite the collection over the past couple of years and I just love them all! Plus, bringing a bit of festive to every single daily activity makes me very happy - I love immersing myself in everything Christmas!

WINDOW PANE CHECK JUMPER // I had a mad dash in Peacocks at the start of December when I realised I had literally no big, cozy jumpers (how this happened I've got no idea!) and I picked up a handful of chunky knits to keep me warm this winter - but this one has become my absolute favourite! I tend to gravitate to wearing grey anyway but this print just makes it a little bit more interesting. Plus the neckline is amazing (not too high, not too chunky), the material is wonderfully non-itchy (especially considering it's so inexpensive!) - I've been wearing it on repeat, oops!

CHRISTMAS PLANNER SPREADS // I love my planner every week but I've really enjoyed my weekly spreads from December - they've all been really Christmas-y and festive but they've each been different in their own way. I'm so glad I saved my Glam Planner spread for Christmas week - I can't stop looking at how pretty and (merry and) bright it is!

AFTER EIGHT FINEST MINT SELECTION // Obsessively watching vlogmas videos is one of my favourite pastimes in the run up to Christmas and after seeing Tanya Burr open up her After Eight advent calendar and enjoy one of these delicious-looking chocolates every day I *needed* some in my life. A post-night shift trip to Tesco saw me pick up a basket full of these boxes (they were half price, and they might not be around after Christmas...that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!). They are absolutely delicious, they've been come my favourite festive treat this year - seriously, go try them!

CLINIQUE BEYOND PERFECTING FOUNDATION // I bought this foundation months ago and liked it but it just felt a bit cakey on my skin so I let it sit in my foundation drawer for the summer and autumn. Anyway, I gave it another go at the start of the month, used waaay less than I did before and really took the time to buff it into my skin - and oh wow it's flawless! I love it, the only problem is that it's a smidge too dark for me (#superpaleprobs!) so I think I need to invest in some foundation lightener to make it my perfect foundation!

ELIZABETH ARDEN EIGHT HOUR CREAM // I had such a terrible cold the week before Christmas (I was so awful on my night shifts!) and my lips got horrendously sore - this as a lip balm has been a lifesaver!

CLARINS INSTANT LIGHT NATURAL LIP PERFECTOR // Similarly, whenever I went out to enjoy the festivities over Christmas I wanted to wear something colourful on my lips but they were just too sore to deal with any lipstick so this has lip perfector was perfect - it's so easy to wear and more importantly they're so moisturising!

So that was December, and the last favourites post for 2016! Snaps to me for managing to share my favourites every single month on here! If you fancy having a nosey at what I got up to in December then check out instagram round up post!


Insta-Lately // December 2016

Insta-Lately // December 2016

It's time to share my past month through the medium of my instagram feed - if you fancy following along then my insta is @belsmay13 :)

Mum & I took a post-night shift shopping trip to John Lewis - our first stop was lunch of course! I had the most incredible pizza, it was so bloomin' good!

Right at the start of the month we started to put up our Christmas decorations - our conservatory tree is one of our favourites!

Many (far too many!) Christmas Costa trips were made - their Christmas drinks and treats were just too tasty to resist!

Mum surprised me with this super adorable mug - I just love him! "snow cute"!

We visited our most favourite garden centre - we always come away with so many festive decoration ideas and feeling so Christmas-y! If you fancy a nosey I shared our trip in this post

I managed to put my social anxiety to one side and made it to my works Christmas party - I was so proud of myself! These amazing shoes helped, I'm sure!

I couldn't resist sharing another snap from Flora - their white/silver room was seriously breathtaking (and it fit my insta theme perfectly!)

I was finished wrapping my presents super early (for me!) this year - over a week before the big day! I tried really hard with my wrapping this year and I'm so proud of it! 

I came down with a ridiculously bad cold when I was on my nights the week before Christmas - I've been feeling very sorry for myself! 

Making my bed up with new Christmas bedding on Christmas Eve is one of my favourite traditions!

This will be us for the next three days of Christmas! Merry Christmas everyone!


So that was December! Full of festive fun, treats and time spent with family and friends!


Decking The Halls - Our Christmas Decorations

Decking The Halls - Our Christmas Decorations

Today's post is going to be ridiculously short and speedy - I'm currently in between night shifts so I've been asleep for most of the day but also I've not really had much time to plan today's post because one of my ponies is really poorly, so I've been spending most of my time with him and making him as comfortable as possible.

So, I'm sharing a few quick snaps of what our lounge looks like with our Christmas decorations everywhere

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate my wrapping for this Christmas - I love it!


8 of the Best Christmas Films

8 of the Best Christmas Films

Spending afternoons snuggled on the sofa digging into the tin of Quality Street whilst watching Christmas films is a prerequisite in the build up to the big day. It's how I've been spending my afternoon today so I thought I'd share some of my most favourite Christmas films - the ones I absolutely have to watch every single year! 

  • Arthur Christmas // I only watched this film for the first time last year but I absolutely loved it! It has become one of my most favourite festive films - it's so cute and heartfelt, it's such a modern take on Christmas films!
  • Eloise at Christmastime // can I just move into The Plaza please? I love the little love story running through this movie - it's so cute!
  • Home Alone // this is another film that I've only been watching for the last couple of years but it has become an annual watch! I love how much this film makes me really laugh!
  • Elf // this film is crazy but it has become a cult classic so obviously I have to watch it each Christmas season
  • The Grinch // I am literally the Grinch - when he's standing in front of the mirror trying to decide what to wear - so me! I love the overarching theme of this film - the true meaning of Christmas - ugh I love it!
  • The Holiday // my mum absolutely loves this film, every single time it's on over Christmas (so pretty much every night!) - my most favourite part of this film is the houses - I could quite happily move into either of the little cottage in Surrey or the LA pad! 
  • Nativity (1, 2 & 3!) // these films are just fabulous! The children in them make them really hilarious, they're so sweet and endearing but really incorporating the spirit of Christmas!
  • Father Christmas // this film is all of my childhood Christmas memories. It's based on the books by Raymond Briggs (aka the creator of The Snowman) and it's just so bloomin' funny! I love how it shows Father Christmas is portrayed as a smidge grumpy and living his life for the other 364 days of the year - and how he takes himself off on holiday, leading to some pretty hilarious disastrous results!

Now my plan is to watch all of these in the next week before Christmas - it'll be the most perfect Christmasiest week ever!

What are your fave Christmas films to watch to get you in the festive spirit?


My Christmas To Do List

My Christmas To Do List

I loved having this Autumn To Do List to help me make the most of the last couple of months, so I thought I'd make one for this month to help me feel as festive as possible!

  • Fill the house with festive decorations
  • Make our annual visit to Flora
  • Find my favourite drink on the Costa Christmas Menu*
  • Buy new Christmas bedding (bonus points if it's brushed cotton - oooh so cozy!)
  • Find an appropriately festive and every so slightly OTT Christmas Party frock  - I went with this one in the end (and I felt like a princess in it!)
  • Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
  • Watch a million and one Christmas films (elf, nativity, Arthur Christmas, home alone - the lot!)
  • Write Christmas card for my work colleagues
  • Read festive novels (and only festive novels!) all month long
  • Make a peppermint hot chocolate at home (with whipped cream and extra marshmallows!)
*it's the Black Forest hot chocolate fyi!


I reckon that after I've ticked all these off I'll be feeling well and truly Christmassy! How do you get yourself feeling festive?


It's Officially Christmas at Flora

It's Officially Christmas at Flora

It has become a tradition for the last few years that our Christmas season doesn't kick off until we've visited Flora, so we went last week! Flora is this garden centre/home furnishing place not too far from where I live and it's lovely all year round, but Christmas is when it really comes to life! 

The team start in August (!!) and transform every square inch of their showrooms into a magical Christmas-y wonderland - you honestly can't walk around there without a smile on your face as you start to get into the Christmas spirit!

So I thought I'd share some photos I took of our time there, potentially for some Christmas decor inspiration but mainly because I just bloomin' love it there and think it's awesome so I want to share it!

I mean, come on - even outside their showroom it looks Christmas-y!

As you walk through the door you're immediately transported into this winter wonderland - there's decoration everywhere, but they're presented in such a beautiful way that you can see them in your own home straight away.

I really loved the white and silver theme of the first room this year - it gave us lots of inspiration for things we want to do next year!

The next room we walked through was a so wintry, it actually felt cold in there! It was full of snow-covered trees, life-size polar bears and penguins and even a 'ice' pool complete with seals!

Each room is decorated with a completely different theme, so there was the glam silver/white one, the winter wonderland one and then...

The classic red/gold Christmas colours - so pretty. And also, I was so tempted by the Santa, sleigh and reindeer but realistically I don't think we'd have enough room for it! 

The black/gold dining room - oh my goodness how opulent is this one - there's literally jewels and glamour dripping from every surface, sigh - so pretty!

The colourful children's room - my fave part of this was how the teddy bears were incorporated into the garlands! It's so fun and whimsical!

We then went into Mrs Claus' sitting room with a pink/pastel theme and complete with pretty china tea sets incorporated into the Christmas decor

How incredible is this tea set garland? - so incredibly creative and original!

One of my most favourite rooms was the tropical themed one - I love how bright and colourful it was! It's so different to the other rooms, a more modern Christmas decoration theme!

The garland above the door even had pineapples on it - how cool?! I think what helped set the mood for this room was this song being played on repeat in there - I'd never heard it before but it has become one of my fave Christmas songs!

I fell in love with this sunbathing Father Christmas bauble but it just wouldn't go with any of our decor :( Mum tried to convince me that we could put a Christmas tree in our bathroom and have it decorated in this tropical theme, I just about managed to resist...

I've saved the most amazing room (in my opinion anyway!) for last, it's this woodland themed one - there were life-size reindeer in there! Everything was wooden/grey with lots of cozy fur, and...

...there was even this gypsy caravan in there! How amazing is this?!

Inside there were lots of cushions and blankets - how lovely would it be to snuggle up in there with a mug of steaming hot chocolate?! Ugh, if I couldn't fit this in my car/if I had a trailer it definitely would've come home with me! Mum and Nam had to drag me away from it!

We came away with a few new Christmas decorations (including some of those amazing hanging glass baubles from the ice-y wonderland room!) and feeling very much in the Christmas spirit!

I'm already counting down until it's time to go back again...


Christmas Tree Farm Adventure

Christmas Tree Farm Adventure

Mum and I had the best time when we went to visit a pumpkin patch; it made us feel really autumnal, ready to embrace the new season and really make the most of it (instead of hiding under blankets at home, complaining about missing summer so much so that we usually just miss Autumn completely!).

So we wanted to do the same for Christmas and get into the Christmas spirit bright and early this year - visiting a Christmas Tree Farm was the obvious choice! 

I drove past this Christmas Tree Farm every time I went into uni and I drive past it every day on my way to work, so that's at least four years I've driven past this cute little place and never gone to check it out for myself - this had to be rectified this year! On my rest day the other week (I bloody love shift work!) we decided to *finally* pay it a visit!

We pulled into the car park (waving to the giant inflatable Santa of course!) and were greeted by this wall of Christmas trees - it was very exciting! 

I've never visited a Christmas Tree Farm before so I was amazed to see so many Christmas trees in all different growing stages - these tiny baby ones in the front were my fave - they're just so cute!

We completely ignored the pre-cut trees and dove in between the festive forest, weaving in and out, shouting to each other every two seconds to "come and look at this one" 

I chose my fave one - how cute is it?

Little Prin approved too!

We then took a stroll through the boulevards of pre-cut Christmas Trees - it made us feel so bloomin' Christmas-y, imagining them standing in our living room (kitchen/conservatory/hall/everywhere and anywhere we could fit one!) all twinkly and decorated. We had the whole place to ourselves, so we could dawdle interrupted as much as we liked. 

Mum and I loved this one - but logistically we decided we'd struggle getting it home in/on my fiat 500!

We settled on two of the tiny baby ones (yay, my faves!) for either side of our front door - they look so pretty all lit up in the evenings!

and this wreath, because you have to have a wreath a Christmas don't you! Mum isn't very enamoured with it, she's wanting to add some more greenery and a bigger bow to it!

I'm so glad we made the effort to go and visit the Christmas Tree Farm, it put is right in the Christmas spirit just in time for December to roll around! We'll definitely be going back next year, we had so much fun!