Category Archives: 2015

Chrimbo At Home – 2015

Merry Christmas 2015 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I singularly failed to take any photos of our family Christmas celebration this year, which happened on December 19th. As penance, I offer you a picture of my front door, which I think looks rather festive, if I do say so myself.

In my post about Christmas rituals, I may have mentioned that I love this time of year. I am pleased to report that our celebration lived up to all my hopes and expectations.

Despite the fact that we had offered to host everyone this year, on the day after I finished school (yikes), it all happened rather smoothly. As with many bloggers, the Nigella Christmas Cookbook became my bible.

Here is our intended menu:

  • Salmon and cream cheese blinis
  • John’s famous sausage rolls*
  • Pumpkin & Goats Cheese Lasagne
  • Nut Roast Pie
  • Beef Wellington*
  • Roast Vegetables
  • Bread sauce*
  • Cranberry sauce*
  • Christmas Coleslaw
  • Chocolate Christmas Pudding
  • Christmas Cake
  • Cheese platter
  • Yule Log

All served with copious amounts of prosecco, wine, beer and cider. My delightful sisters in law provided the cheese and yule log. Delegating people. Delegating.

A couple of things got scratched (marked with an *) – 1) because I ran out of time, 2) because people were stuffed to the gills and couldn’t face another bite and 3) because my stove was obviously unaccustomed to such a heavy workload and threw a tantrum.

The Beef Wellington turned into a roast beef with Yorkshire puddings, as it proved to be impossible to find a beef fillet anywhere. I don’t think anyone was particularly disappointed!

It’s been ages, really, since I’ve done any amount of ‘fun’ cooking, and being so exhausted during the week has meant I have relied on my dwindling repertoire of recipes, and shamefully, even more so on justeat.co.uk. Dreadful. As a result, despite the limited time, I really enjoyed whipping up the feast.

I can’t wait until next year!

 

Winter: Australia Says No

Down with Darkness - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha
Harking back to Summer – wah.

Yes, it’s all been very funny England, but I’ve had just about enough of this weather now. It seems violently unfair that my family are frolicking around in the sun, when I’m stuck indoors freezing probably to death because it’s too cold to go out to the laundry to turn the heating on.

GOING DOWN:

  • The bloody temperature, innit.
  • My inability to stop thinking about work, even during enforced holidays. Such is life, such is my dedication to my craft *cough*.
  • Christmas TV really is the pits. I have tried, God knows I’ve tried, but there are only so many Location, Location repeats one can watch before life begins to lose all meaning. I AM EVEN GOING OFF GRAND DESIGNS. Call an ambulance, someone, anyone.
  • All this delicious festive food is turning me into the Michelin Man. Stop. (Don’t stop).
  • Drinking during the day is still frowned upon in some social circles.

GOING UP:

  • I am going to buy a car in the next week. This is a very exciting development, about which I either totally obsess or completely forget, depending on how often I look at my bank balance.
  • I am feeling really excited for the new year, even work-wise. This is pleasing to me, and evidently to Mr H, who appears to want to stab his eyes out a  little less often after speaking with me.
  • Being at home = excellent cat-cuddling opportunities. I had loads of quality cat time earlier in the year, and I’d forgotten what a comfort it actually is – like a living hot water bottle who likes you.
  • I looked at my sewing machine today and didn’t feel guilty – perhaps I’m getting my sewjo back?
  • I keep remembering I got married and then feeling quite excellent when I remember. He’s swell, you guys.

That’s all from me folks – hope you’re making the most of the festive season and laying down to eat spectacularly often!

A Very Serious Post: All About Hair.

Because I am nothing if not slightly frivolous and extremely taciturn, I thought it was about time that I harked back to my ill-fated attempt (i.e. one post 100 years ago) at being a bewdy blogger, and update my thousands of fans on the fate of my hair.

There is something deeply frustrating about people who have naturally gorgeous hair. As the saying goes:

Some people are born with great hair, some people achieve great hair, and some people have great hair thrust upon them.

I am the middle – I have worked damn hard to have great hair over the last few years. It’s been a wild, and moderately unsuccessful ride.

The evidence:

The ‘Yes I Gave Myself A Major Restyle’ homemade pixie cut. I look rightfully concerned.

Pixie Cut - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The ‘Long and Curly Because I’m Travelling Without A Straightener’. A strong look for 2010. The curling fringe is a particular highlight. Necklace is on point, however.

Long and Curly - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The ‘All Hail The Straightener’ look of 2011 – 2013. My hair essentially fried through excessive straightener use over these years, and after a while ceased to even curl properly, so basically just looked dry and awful.

Sam Straightened - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The Redhead Phase, which I loved but sadly, could not afford to maintain. Note the dryness however, and the desperation in my eyes:

Sam Redhead - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The ‘Cut It All Off’ Look, which I actually still quite like. Only really behaved itself with 2 days of grease in it, so not, in essence, totally practical.

Autumn Hair - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The ‘Big-Ass Blonde Streak’ Look, which was another great favourite. My delightful pal L always rocks a strong haircut, of which she looks rightfully pleased.

Big Ass Blonde Streak - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

When I got back to Australia though, once again I couldn’t afford to keep up the maintenance and so went back to an all-over brunette. Plus, trying to mix curly brown hair which you also straighten with a spot of extreme bleaching does not a happy head of hair make.

After a year or so I found my blonde streak was starting to snap off a bit and everything was looking dull and feeling knotty. Time for a change!

I have been an avid home-dyer for YEARS. Seriously, my parents used to let me use Henna to dye my hair faintly in primary school. These days it’s less fun dyeing and more *cough* grey *cough* coverage *cough* dyeing, but hey ho, does the job. I do find that adding colour rather than taking away makes my hair feel in much better condition, although a bit fumigous for a few days.

In early 2014, while back in Aus, I decided to throw caution to the wind (I’m crazy like that) and abandon my much-loved side parting for a more modern centre part, and also to stop straightening my hair altogether. More specifically, to stop using a straightener on my hair.

I now blow dry my hair every time I wash it, and although it’s on a high heat setting, I do use heat protective spray and there is no comparison. My hair is so much happier, and I feel like I get a more natural result using a hair-dryer than some irons.

I have pretty constant dermatitis on my head as well, which I cannot for the life of me get to the bottom of. The only way I’ve been able to manage it is by using Nutrogena T-Gel shampoo with every wash. It’s quite a harsh shampoo, and washes out colour quickly, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to stop the itchiness. As a result I’ve abandoned normal conditioner, and now use a conditioning masque for every wash, avoiding my scalp. I would guess that this, in combination with stopping the straightening, has caused the most improvement in my hair softness and shine.

I’m currently growing my hair out, and am looking soon to get a really blunt cut, which I have heard is quite good for naturally curly hair. I’ve had years of pretty harsh layering done, so while that grows out I’m dealing with quite bad split ends. But you win some you lose some. I’m not that precious about my hair so if I do see a split hair, I’ll chop it off with glee.

So, my current look? Something along these lines:

Sam Hair 2015 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Still a bit curly after a day or so, still with flyaways, but generally in pretty good nick.

What a journey. I hope it’s been as cathartic as you as it has been for me.

Thoughts on 2015

Looking Forward - HSGS

I do realise that we haven’t yet reached that all important 25th day in December, but nevertheless it hasn’t stopped me from starting to reflect on the year that was 2015.

To prevent you from having to hang around here all night, here are some of the things that have happened this year, in the Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha family:

  1. I returned from Australia, and resumed life as an expat
  2. Mr H passed his driving test and our lives were transformed by having so much more time
  3. We developed our back garden
  4. A new job for me
  5. I started driving lessons
  6. A spell of freelance writing work for me
  7. We got the hallway re-plastered
  8. My first UK teaching job finished
  9. Oh yeah, a wedding
  10. My family came to visit and many of them stayed with us!
  11. My second job started
  12. My life went crazy when I started primary teaching
  13. I booked my driving test (9 days peeps!)

So, yeah. It’s been pretty crazy. Professionally this year has kicked my butt, but as my new hero Brené Brown says, I’ve been down in that arena, daring greatly. I’ve managed, however, to end on a really high note at school, but am seriously looking forward to having a proper break.

Personally, there are a few goals I’m thinking of setting for the new year, and once I’ve settled on them, I’ll definitely share them here on the blog – perhaps it will keep me honest.

2016 is the first year, in what seems like forever, where there will be no big changes. I’m not moving anywhere, I’m not changing jobs, I’m not getting married again that’s for sure, so I’m looking forward to it being the year where I can really smash out some personal and professional achievements.

It’s been a big old year, that much is for certain. I am looking forward to 2016, but before that, let’s all see out what’s left of 2015 in style.

Life Lately

Life Lately - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

A little round-up of recent iPhone snaps, clockwise:

  1. Some well deserved (if I do say so myself), post-planning wine time
  2. Christmas shoes are  A THING I SWEAR. These are my new beauties, some blue velvet and glitter dreams from the Rocha John Rocha range at Debenhams.
  3. Veggie breakfast tartlets I made recently, based on a memory of something similar from a great cafe in Perth. Filo pastry, whisked eggs, a tiny amount of cream, spring onions and cherry tomatoes. A little lacking in salt (I very rarely add salt in my cooking, but sometimes you need to!), which next time I think I’ll remedy by adding some ham.
  4. A snap of my lovely sister in law K, with whom I recently had a rather fabulous girl’s weekend in Lahndahn town. It was swell 🙂

 

Feeling Kinda Festive

Deck the Halls - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

One excellent thing about hosting a family Christmas this year (albeit on the 19th, not the 25th) is that I have rather a large assortment of decorations that I bought for a large party earlier this year, which will get another airing! Waste not, want not indeed.

I absolutely adore Christmas, and while I don’t believe it has to be a perfectly styled event (not that there’s any chance of that actually happening), it’s one of the few times of year that I take particularly seriously. Bonfire Night? Nah. New Years? Meh. Christmas? YOU BET YOUR BUTTONHOLE I AM ALL OVER THAT.

It’s not just the gifts, the food and the time off work, although the combination of just those three is pretty darn great, but it’s the ritual. Having grown up about 3 hours away from my extended family, Christmas was one of the few times a year where I got a full-on family hit. My grandma did an amazing, and slightly scary tree every year, and I loved the hustle and bustle of the week or so we’d spend in Perth. Christmas Eve with my Dad’s family, Christmas Day with my Mum’s. This all seemed to happen every year forever, until all of a sudden I was grown up, and it didn’t.

~

This year will be the first Christmas Mr Hello and I share as a married couple, as a brand new family of our own. I am really looking forward to creating our own rituals, and some brand spanking new memories. 2015 has been a helluva year, and so I want to see this baby out with a glass of something fizzy in hand, with some excellent company and something cheesy both on TV and on my plate. Who’s with me?

In Which I Am Extremely Tired

Time to take care - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Rather foolishly, I spent 3 out of the 4 weekends in November away from home. First a lovely jaunt up to Suffolk for Bonfire Night with Mr Hello’s family, then to our dear friends’ home in Ely, and last weekend for a girl’s trip to all the London Christmas shops.

It has been totally great, but needless to say, this last week I’ve been flipping exhausted. On Sunday evening this week, I had quite a bad episode of anxiety, which freaked me out enough to realise that it’s high time I started to take better care of myself.

I’ve got some extra weight to lose, terrible back pain to see to and sleep to catch up on. In my new job I essentially work 6 days a week, and it’s a pace I literally will be unable to keep up for long if I don’t make some serious changes soon.

Christmas is on its way, and over the two weeks break I get, I’m going to do my best to make a start on a healthy Sam in 2016.

I guess if I don’t do it, no one else will!

 

On Not Being the Most Productive Person in the World.

HSGS at Thetford Forest

Now that the dust has well and truly settled on the wedding, I’ve settled into a semi-pleasing routine of work, rest and just the tiniest amount of play.

Shortly after returning from honeymoon, I started a new job in a primary school. Some of you will remember that I actually trained as a secondary drama teacher, so taking on one class for 100% of lessons took a little getting used to. I am incredibly lucky however, having lots of support among my colleagues and a class that are so cute I could squeeze all the air out of them.

The thing about teaching though, is that it is relentless. My first term passed in a blur and now that Term 2 has arrived I’ve realised that the key to keeping sane during term time is definitely routine, routine, routine. I like to think that I thrive in spontaneity, but pals, it just ain’t the truth. Mr Hello actually has to tell me the whole plot of movies with any form of suspense, and I think I’ve got a similar approach to life – tell me what to expect, and we’ll be juuuust fiiiiiine.

Here’s the rub: on my walk home one day this week, it struck me that since leaving for Australia over a year ago, I’ve done approximately 0.25 things creatively. I officially cut myself some slack during wedding season, but now that it’s all over with (apart from the whole, you know, marriage part), I haven’t quite seemed to regain my doing-creative-and-entrepreneurial-things mojo. I’m not sure I like being someone who has a job and then just…goes…home? Even if home is shared with the delicious beardy one.

I thought perhaps that settling into my routine would be the key, but so far, nothing seems to have changed. I’m still just pottering about at home each evening, somehow genuinely forgetting the list of things I need to do.

Perhaps it’s teacher brain. Perhaps it’s some kind of latent post-wedding blues? I don’t think so, but can you actually be blue without really feeling it? I don’t feel sad, rather the opposite. But there is a lack of motivation at the moment, and I just can’t seem to work out why. Perhaps it will get better. But right here, right now, I not producing anything and especially not the answers to this little conundrum.

Our Wedding Film

Because I couldn’t stop myself from reading wedding blogs for about two years before my own engagement I mean wedding, I was well aware of a recommendation so many brides gave – get your wedding filmed.

It was always a difficult choice – videography often costs the same, if not more than wedding photography, which although is excellent value, can cost eye-watering amounts of money.

Throughout all of our wedding budget discussions however, this little thought was at the back of my mind, and I made the commitment to myself that if there was a way we could stretch to it, I would hire a videographer.

This is where Dreemreel came in. Mark pulled together a great promotional video for The Cabaret Club a couple of years ago, and so he immediately came to mind when I decided to bite the bullet and get some quotes together.

Happily he was available, and his quote was incredibly affordable, so we locked it in! A couple of weeks before the wedding I sent him a couple of links to other films we liked and we were ready to rock and roll. Such an easy process.

I couldn’t be happier with the result. I know I’ve said this quite a lot over these wedding roundup posts but it is true, and I guess it’s a positive thing to be happy with the way things went! What I love about the film is that he’s captured the highlights of the day, and really brought them to life. This is something Mr H and I will be able to look back on, and treasure, for all our years to come.

I hope you enjoy!

 

A Note on the Flowers: My Penultimate Wedding Round-up

IMG_2416

We had fully intended to head up to the Chelsea flower market a couple of days before the wedding to go and choose our flowers. For a combination of reasons, we needed to hire a car to get up there. But could we find an available car to hire? No. None were available within a 30 mile radius of Rochester it seemed.

I tried to remain calm, and think about what we could do about the flowers. On Thursday morning Mr H and I set off to find what looked to be a flower wholesaler in Medway. We drove there (bearing in mind Mr H was a very nervous driver at this point) only to find it had closed down. Definitely did not get any brownie points for that, Sam.

We then decided to try Dobbies, a nearby garden centre. I had heard good things and they seemed as though they might be the kind of place that sold nice cut flowers. At this stage, I had £ signs over my eyes because I was sure that we’d left it so late that our only option would be something ridiculously expensive. I wasn’t that fussed about flowers to be honest (but full credit to the wonderful florists out there!), but the thought of having nothing in my hands as I walked down the aisle seemed a little odd.

150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0004

So we drove around the corner to Dobbies. It was 8:30 am at this point. Closed. Opening at 9:30 am. Typical. Next door was Tesco, so Mr Hello and I went in to grab a sandwich for breakfast. The deli aisles happened to be next to the cut flower section. I am sure you can guess what happened next.

Genuinely, Tesco had a fantastic range of flowers. I bought a couple of pre-made bouquets with white roses and lilies, some pinky flowers, some gypsophila, and a couple of bunches of pink and dark red roses. I was going for burgundy and green colours. I needed enough for 4 bridesmaids bouquets and one HUGE bouquet for me. Seriously, I wanted my arms to hurt because it was so heavy. I wanted a big’un.

150801_Sam+John_0137

In the end, the bride’s bouquet was from Tesco. All 5 bouquets, plus 10 buttonholes came to a total of £70, which is a bargain if ever I’ve seen one. T, N and I spent Thursday afternoon stripping thorns and leaves and pulling the bouquets together – that day has some of my favourite memories of the wedding week actually. We referred to the A Practical Wedding bouquet tutorial a great deal, seriously, that website is the best thing that ever happened to weddings.

We nabbed some forest green quilting cotton from my fabric stash, and after tying the flowers together with florist’s tape (actually left over from my sister-in-law’s wedding! Recycling for the win!) we secured the bridesmaid’s bouquets with that, and mine with a length of burgundy satin. I pinned in a crucifix from my late paternal grandfather, which was my ‘something borrowed’. I could not have been happier with the result!

As T, my personal florist stated – “It’s about a personal relationship with each stem”. And so it is my friends, so it is.