Christmas 2017 – House tour

It is time to deck the halls!

I shared with you a few weeks back my inspiration for Christmas home decoration. A mixture of traditional, rustic and Scandinavian was my objective, so I thought I would give you peak so you can see what I have done to give our home a little Christmas hygge.

I concentrated most effort in our living space as it is all open plan, starting with this Christmas banner from Next above our sofa. I love the colours and the traditional touches of tartan.

Next Christmas banner

In our kitchen area, I make sure to have a seasonal floral arrangement on our island through the whole of December. I am also obsessed with the M&S Christmas candle, the scent of cinnamon, spices and mandarin is just so Christmassy. I also have a festive cookie jar on display, in case of emergency cravings.

Kitchen Christmas decoration

A tradition I discovered when moving to the UK and that I absolutely love, is the Christmas card exchange! I love the fact that all your close ones give you cards and at the same time provide another great source of Christmas decorations. I line the cards I receive in our living-room and love the festive vibe they give to our book shelf. I love getting my cards from Paperchase or TK Maxx, they always have a tasteful selection!

Christmas cardsChristmas cards

On our sideboard, I have our advent calendar on display. This year we recycled the Liberty advent calendar Andrew got me last year and we filled it with little sweet treats for each other!

Liberty advent calendar

I also used one of the extra fairy light garlands I have to make a light feature out of our Ikea sideboard. For Christmas lights, I always go for ‘warm white’ as it gives a soft, cosy glow to the room. I once made the mistake to get the cool white lights and felt like I was living in a nightclub or laboratory for a month. And in case you are wondering, I got that white deer head years ago from Debenhams.

Ikea sideboard warm white Christmas lights

Finally, the most important Christmas decor item, the tree!

Let’s start from the bottom, to hide our Christmas tree stand I simply wrap all the gifts I have already and gather them around the tree. I personnaly much prefer this to some of the stand covers you can find.

Christmas giftsChristmas gifts

I get all my gift wrapping paper from M&S and Paperchase, my favourite this year is the Paddington bear paper!

Christmas wrapping paper M&S and Paperchase

The colours for the tree this year, as in most years, are red, white and grey. I like the simplicity and think a tree should be playful and fit to be part of the family life, not a precious piece of decoration no one can touch.

SONY DSC

Most of the baubles I have are from either M&S (again, I know but they often do a 3 for 2 deal so it is hard to resist), Paperchase (yes, I love that shop) and Ikea (unbreakable decorations!). Below are a few of my favourites.

This little porcelain gnome from M&S.

M&S porcelain gnome Christmas tree decoration

These giant baubles from M&S as well.

M&S Christmas baubles

Those little fabric gingerbread men from Flying Tiger (best shop for secret Santa gifts!).

Flying Tiger gingerbread men Christmas decoration

And these villages baubles from B&Q.

B&Q Christmas bauble

My favourite moment of day in December is when I come home and after a long day at work and commuting I finally turn on the Christmas tree light. Deep inside, my 7-years old self is jumping with joy.

Christmas tree lights

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Lower Slaughter church

Take me to church…

Lower Slaughter – 2017

SONY DSC

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Sunset in Paros

Time to unwind and pop that bottle of wine open!

Paros – 2016

Sunset in Paros

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Giant mushrooms

Some interesting landscaping in the Cotswolds.

Painswick – 2017

Painswick church trees

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Blogging while working full-time

I wish I could tell you that I am living off my blog, going on press trips around the world and getting a free handbag ever 6 weeks. The reality is far from this, I do work a full-time job in central London. I commute each day for a little less than two hours, and so far I have made just short of three dollars with my blog. I guess you have to start somewhere, right?

So how do I manage to be in an office from 9 to 5, commute for 2 hours and yet still write three blog posts a week and sometime even produce and edit videos?

I listed below a few tips I have learned over the past 18 months of blogging.

Claire Imaginarium travel blog

Always think content

Pay more attention to the ‘everyday little wonders’. You went to a great local Italian restaurant? Boom, content! You bought that new face wash that changed your skin? Content again!

No need for fancy trips to The Seychelles, all you need is to be a little more aware of your surroundings and what you use/do/like that could easily make for a 500-words post and 2 pictures.

Have an editorial schedule

This is a great time saver for me, I have an editorial schedule for the next 3 months. Of course it can change at the last minute, but having those blog post ideas lined up means that you won’t have a panic attack not knowing what to write about 2 hours before your publishing time.

I also make sure that my schedule is in sync with the season and trends, for instance, I shared my guide to the Greek islands when it was peak season there, knowing that tourists would be googling for addresses and recommendations.

Dedicate time

Working from 9 to 5, then going home and spending another 3 hours on your computer can be pretty daunting. I therefore identified time slots I always dedicate to the blog. The structure helps me feel less overwhelmed.

I spend about 3 hours every Sunday morning on the blog, most of my lunch breaks and a few hours a couple of evenings each week. All in all, it adds up to 10 hours which is enough to write content and take pictures. Once a month, when I am editing a video, I sacrifice either a couple of evenings or a full Saturday or Sunday.

Schedule in advance

The scheduling functionality is my best friend on WordPress! I schedule most posts in advance, sometime days ahead, sometime only a few hours ahead. This is a game changer when you work full-time, so you know that your content is going up even if you are stuck in a meeting. All you then have to worry about is to Instagram, Tweet, Pin, and share your content on social media which will take you about 10 minutes.

Get a mentor

Last but not least! Get a blog mentor! Someone who has been there and done it! I find it very helpful through a dry spell to chat to someone who knows how it feels. It’s also the best way to improve your blogger skills, for instance I had never heard of Domain Authority until Alex Better Together took the time to explain it to me!

Here you go guys, here are my few tips to help you juggle work and well… (more fun) work!

Claire Imaginarium interior blog

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Bourton-on-the-Water river

Walk along the river, just go with the flow.

Bourton-on-the-Water – 2017

Bourton-on-the-Water river

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Little Cotswold house

It doesn’t get much more quaint than this.

Kingham – 2017

Little house in Kingham

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Tsukiji fish market – Tokyo, Japan

Today’s blog won’t be very pretty to look at, mostly if you are vegetarian! I am taking you to Tsukiji market, Tokyo’s fish market. This is one of the main sights to visit when in Japan. What I didn’t expect though is that it would look rather rough and like a slaughter house (well it is really). I guess when you think of Japan, you expect everything to be modern and super clean, Tsukiji market is at the other end of the scale, messy, busy and wonderfully authentic.

Tsukiji fish market Tokyo

A good tip before we start our visit, we read everywhere that we needed to be there super early to see the fish coming in , the tuna auctions, etc. However, it happens that the market was closed to tourists until 10/11am… Indeed, we were asked not to enter the main hall until then. So don’t sacrifice your hours of sleep, yes it will be less busy by the time you get in, but you will still see and experience the atmosphere.

Tsukiji fish market Tokyo

We arrived in the area early and once we realised that we wouldn’t be let in, we decided to walk and explore the streets around which are full of consumers markets (as opposed to Tsukiji main market which is mainly for businesses).

Tsukiji fish market TokyoTsukiji fish market TokyoTsukiji fish market Tokyo

Once a little tired of walking, we headed back to the main area where you can find plenty of sushi restaurants. Some are very popular, some only have set menu options, so we settled for Sushi Dokoro Yamazaki which offers a great ‘à la carte’ option. Unfortunately, I have a very severe allergy to raw salmon so I couldn’t risk to eat any sushi, so Andrew was the only one eating, and at 10 am he wasn’t feeling like eating an entire platter on his own. Sushi Dokoro Yamazaki was perfect for us as I could sip on a miso soup and some tea while Andrew was eating a small serving.

Sushi Dokoro YamazakiSushi Dokoro Yamazaki

Finally, it was time for us to enter the main hall. It is very easy to find your way in, follow the flow of tourists who are following a guard and you will get in. Note that people at the market are here to work, and they will very directly let you know if you are annoying them or on their way. I have never been honked at that much in my life! Should I be flattered?

Tsukiji fish market Tokyo

The scenes inside are very ‘real’ maybe a little too much for some. Sometime you forget that there was a very alive giant tuna behind that little California roll…

Tsukiji fish market TokyoTsukiji fish market Tokyo

Embrace the atmosphere, and accept it, don’t fight it. It is like looking at the food chain in the eyes.

Tsukiji fish market TokyoTsukiji fish market Tokyo

It is good sometime to just see the process behind some of our food, so that we are all a little bit more appreciative and mindful when eating.

Tsukiji fish market Tokyo

We came out smelling of fish, a little less hungry than usual and in need of a bit of fresh air, but overall very happy to have seen this side of Japan!

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The Wild Rabbit

Autumnal decorations at The Wild Rabbit in Kingham. Now pass me a glass of mulled wine and a book, and I will be spending my afternoon there!

Kingham – 2017

The Wild Rabbit in Kingham

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