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looking back, looking ahead

31 Dec

2013 has been a transitional year for me.  I feel like I’ve grown up a great deal, and have a better idea of what I really enjoy doing.  I started blogging properly, which is probably the most important change to me!  Since only August I’ve got to know so many new people online and feel like we’re virtual friends already, and coming up with new ideas sartorially and in my writing has been a really enjoyable challenge.  Everyone knows how great the internet is for learning, and I genuinely do feel like I learn something new every day!  Here’s to blogging throughout 2014 ;D More on my blog goals later, now for the personal stuff!


For probably the first time in my life I feel like I have a great circle of friends (circle being the key word here, I’ve always had an individual best friend at least) and I know that I will always have a group of girls to have a laugh with, and friends who I can really talk to.  We’ll all be spending New Year’s Eve together tonight, which I’m really looking forward to!  Some of these lovely girls have been on this blog already, and I’m sure their faces will be popping up more in future.  ’Tis the price to pay for hanging out with me ;)


I met my boyfriend Dan in November 2012, and since then we’ve gotten to know each other so well and had so much fun.  We’ve been to loads of places, had so many laughs and generally just chilled and been idiots together.  I’ve told him he’s guest posting on here sometime, so watch this space!


My Duke Of Edinburgh Bronze award was one of my main time sucks this year, as an evening each of voluntary work, skill (photography in my case) horse riding and dancing every week quickly ate into my time at home.  I’m always one to sign up for all sorts, and I definitely don’t regret doing my DofE at all!  Despite the blizzard conditions in March and the exhausting, stress-intensifying heat in July, both of our expeditions were so much fun and we all enjoyed resting our achy legs around the campfire at night.  I’m pretty sure memories of those weekends will stay with me forever!

I haven’t released as many knitwear designs in 2013 as in previous years, as I’ve had so much less free time.  Why did I think that 2 versions of a 4ply fine gauge top would be a quick little project? ;D This does mean, however, that I have a couple of designs in waiting, and I hope to work on much more manageable, time efficient projects in 2014 so that I can publish more designs to share with you knitters out there.   Everyone loves quick projects, so accessories and little pieces seem like a good idea all round!

As I mentioned before, (if you’ve made it to reading this point) I have a few blogging related goals for 2014.

  • Attend blogger events/meetups.  If it feels like a community online, then I’m sure we’d all be bezzos immediately in real life!
  • Collaborate with a small company.
  • Get to know more of you guys, and better.  Blogger chats on twitter seem to be the best way of going about this, so I hope to find even more blogs to read and comment on.
  • Vary my blog content more.  In addition to OOTDs and ‘what I’ve been up to lately’, I’d like to write about my thoughts on more random things, and maybe share tutorials on things I like to do. It’d be nice to post more about food/fitness too, as it’s something I’ve become really interested in and it can’t do any harm to share!
  • Gain bloglovin followers.  We all want that number to increase, no two ways about it!

As for other goals, I haven’t made ‘resolutions’ as such but there are a few things I’d like to do/continue in 2014.

  • Run a 10K.  During this past year I’ve become more and more interested in fitness and exercise, and I usually workout 4 – 6 times a week.  I’ve really surprised myself with how I’ve managed to become one of the ‘sporty girls’, and was selected to represent school in a cross country comp for the first time this year!  10K is a distance that I can already run without too much struggle, but I’d just like to run a proper, official race, just because.  A half marathon would be the next step up but 21km is maybe a bit ambitious for now! We’ll see, wish me luck!
  • On a similar note, I’d like to continue improving my fitness in general.  No particular goal in mind for this one, just keep toning those abs and shaping those arms, see how far I can get!
  • Manage money better.  Is it really necessary to go for lunch and a froyo when nipping into town?  I’d like to save more this year so I’m going to be a bit stricter with myself, and try to be a savvy shopper using discount codes and shopping at the right places.  I fully anticipate there being many a detour from this idea, but I’ll definitely try my best. Willpower, I can do it!
  • Organisation.  This really shouldn’t be difficult for a list writing fanatic like me, but just pulling myself together a little and using my time more efficiently would be good.
  • And if I’ve got a spare minute in May or June, I’ve got a few GCSEs to fit in there too!

Earlier today I read a post from one of my favourite bloggers, Emily, about how she just wants to ‘do more’ in the new year.  The girl summed it up perfectly!  (Go read her blog btw, she’s superwoman no joke).  I want to blog more, go more places, work more, see more, and have lots of fun.


Random few photos from my instagram. I really look like my dad!

Wishing everybody a happy new year, and I hope you all achieve your goals and enjoy doing so!

lily x

p.s. Now I see why everyone’s writing such long posts today.  It’s somehow impossible not to!

p.p.s. all photos are from my instagram – @lilykatefrance if you fancy following for more random snapshots!

day late christmas post

26 Dec

candy-crush-card Hope everybody had a fabulous Christmas and is enjoying a chilled out Boxing Day! What do you think of my candy crush inspired card? Pretty good idea for my candy crush fanatic boyfriend, if I do say so myself!  I included jellies and stripies and everything, just to be accurate ;)


joel Usually my little brother is pretty reluctant to get in front of the camera, but with the excuse that `its Christmas` I managed to persuade him. People say we look really alike but I don’t see very many similarities!
veggie-bacon-parcels Bacon wrapped honey drizzled veggies are one of my favourite Christmas side dishes.  What do you like with your roasties and gravy?

yule-log Yule log for those traitors who don’t like Christmas pudding.  Or those who fancy a bit of both, like erm… me.


knitted-mice-christmas-cards Every year we crack out these adorable little mice that my Nannie knit a while ago.   They’re full of character and all very individual:  one cheeky pair are throwing snowballs and another crew are carol singing, books in hand.  Our christmas decorating wouldn’t be complete without them!

carol-singing-mice One lovely fellow is selling mince pies too!


pandora-feather-necklace I wasn’t planning on posting a ‘haul’ as such of gifts, but I couldn’t resist sharing this beautiful necklace from Dan!  It’s gorgeous and exactly my taste, so thank you very much ;)  I’ll show the presents I bought him on here shortly too.

christmas-day-red-lipstick Of course I had to try out my new Ted Baker lip pens, even with my comfy leggings and jumper getup.  Christmas day is the day for trying all the new things at once!

christmas-haul-2013 As you can see, Santa was very generous to me this year!  This isn’t even all my gifts, so I really am very grateful to everyone who gave me pressies.  I’ll share things individually over the next few weeks on here, as well what I gave other people.

doodled-christmas-tree I’ve always loved making my own Christmas cards, and this year I decided to keep it simple with fineliner festive doodles.  I’m pretty happy with the outcome!

Again, I hope you’re all having fun with family and stuffing your faces with all manner of goodies this week.  Not long left ’til 2014 now, let’s make the best of this last week!

lily x

cacti and cookies

24 Dec

Quick blog post before bedtime, can’t stay up late or santa might not come! Christmassyness is in full flow in my house now: all family together by the tree with a Yule Log waiting for dessert! Anyway, I thought I should probably share the gifts I’ve made before Christmas day, nevermind how last minute!

3-knitted-cacti Knitted cacti are probably one of the most random of gifts I’ve ever made!  A few weeks ago my former art teacher, who has since left to become a graphic designer, emailed me for a chat and to ask if my knitting skills could come in handy.  Apparently a cactus fan in her life would love these for Christmas, and I agreed to lend a hand.  They were a perfect quick gratification project haha, each little piece was done fairly speedily!  I used various Rowan aran yarns and various stitch counts; if any knitters fancy making a bunch themselves then email me and I’ll let you know what I did.


broughton-inn On Monday I met up with my teacher at a pub to plant textile shrubbery.  We looked quite odd with our pots and florist wire out on the table!  Bex (feels weird calling my old teachers by their first names!) was very pleased so hopefully they’ll be well received on Christmas day!


short-rows-knit I know you knitters are trying to figure out these cactus arms!  I used short rows to shape the ends and mitred increases/decreases to make them bendy.  Luckily they turned out really well and don’t flop or twist at all!

Promise I’m not totally crazy:  I did make ‘normal’ little gifts as well as knitted cacti ;)  Edible gifts go down well with everyone – especially impossible-to-buy-for dads – and so I turned to some old favourites from the treasured cooking clips journal.  Usually I’m all for experimenting in the kitchen, but sticking with what I know works seemed a better idea for quick presents.  Cue the Cinnamon Snickerdoodles and Lemon Syrup Cakes!  I’ve shared the recipes at the end of this post: they’re delicious so I definitely reccommend a try!

snickerdoodles-and-chocolate-cookies Colours were looking a tad samey with the lemon loaves and snickerdoodles, so I threw in some chocolate cookies to mix things up a bit.  However in true Lily style, I realised we didn’t actually have any cooking chocolate haha. Clever me!  Luckily there’s always an abundance of chocolatey treats at Christmas time, so I improvised with half a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and they turned out even better than expected.  Think I should improvise more in future!



baked-wrapped-gifts Bundled in cute bags and waxed paper, I think these make a pretty tasty gift all together.  I decorated the bags for my grandparents and next door neighbour too – just adds that little personal touch that I love to send!

decorated-paper-bags Cinnamon Snickerdoodles

This time round I used cinnamon, but I’ve made these with nutmeg or crushed maltesers before.  You can really add whatever you like, so experiment and let me know!

For the cookie mix:

  • 175g butter, softened (I use salted)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the coating:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat over to 200 C and lightly grease two or three baking trays.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Sift the flour, cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda together and blend into the butter mixture to form a soft dough.
  3. Break off pieces and roll into 1″ balls.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon mix in a small bowl and roll each doughball in the sugar mixture. (Be generous – make sure every millimetre is coated!)  Arrange on the baking sheets allowing a bit of room to spread. They don’t grow too much.
  4. Bake until pale golden, about 8-10 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Lemon Syrup Cake

The original recipe is for a 2 lb loaf tin, but I sometimes use 6 mini loaf tins.  The timing is obviously very different, but the recipe stays exactly the same.

For the cake mix:

  • 110g butter softened (I use salted but you can just add a pinch later)
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs

For the syrup:

  • Juice of 2 fat lemons
  • 75g icing sugar
  1. Lightly grease your loaf tin(s) and preheat over to 180 C.
  2. Put all the cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat for 3 minutes or so, until everything is blended nicely.
  3. Spoon the mix into loaf tin, and bake for about 45 minutes for one large loaf, and 15-20 minutes for smaller loaves.
  4. Start making the syrup as soon as the cake is out the oven – warm the icing sugar and lemon juice in a small pan until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  5. Stab the cakes all over with a fork – be quite vicious and stab fairly deep!  Then using a spoon, pour the syrup all over the stabbed surface.  Make sure it goes right into all the fork pricks and not just down the sides!

Chocolate (Orange) Chip Cookies

  • 35og plain flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 155g butter, softened
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 120g chocolate chips (or smashed up chocolate orange!)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until smooth.  Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Place rounded teaspoonfuls (about 1″ blobs) onto baking sheets leaving room for expanding.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes and leave to cool.

And now it’s gone 9 o’clock on Christmas eve so I should really log off the internet!  Have a fabulous christmas everybody – eat lots of food and have lots of fun!

lily x

4 more sleeps

21 Dec

cockney-skip Christmas holidays finally; I think you can tell my enthusiasm for this fact above!  Today was the day for delivering cards, arranging the very last of the decorations and finishing up a knitted gift I’d been asked to make.  Such days definitely do not call for fashion-y outfits, so my ‘dad’s jumper, ancient cardigan and scrunched socks’ look will have to do.  Can’t have pretty outfits all the time ;)  Although I do like my new Primark footless tights… they’re just that little bit different with their snakeskin print and all.  That’s as trendy as it’s gonna get! casual-jumper-leggings


winter-backlight The light was suddenly so pretty!  Early sunsets can be rather nice but nevertheless I’m verryyyy glad that the days are getting longer as of today.

primak-snakeskin-footless-tights Cool pattern ey?

thorntons-advent-calendars Not many doors left to open now yay!  I love our Snowman Thorntons advent calendars; The Snowman has been one of my all time favourite christmas films forever and the artwork is so adorable.

physics My week began with a final 3 mock exams and my god am I glad to see the back  of them.  From Wednesday school eased up on us a little, and my friends and I co-presented the annual school talent show on Friday!  With barely any prep time, I think we did a pretty good job of introducing all the acts and grabbing volunteers for the stage.  This year was my last christmas talent show at high school, and I have to say I’ll kind of miss the hilarity of staff nativities and bands made up of 4 (very talented) 12 year olds.

Friday was also secret santa time for my friends and I: my present was a beautiful Swarovski pen from Georgie!  She knows I’m a sucker for pretty stationery, so this was a prefect gift.

swarovski-crystal-pen For my secret santa I chose a couple of little bits and pieces I thought suitable for an arty girly girl, and Beth was happy with her bundle so I think I did ok!  With a £15 budget I picked a MUA eyeshadow palette, pencil case, quirky earphones and a pretty notebook with quotes and doodles.





Now that school’s finished I shall hopefully have more time for blogging yay!  Hope everyone’s having a fun lead up to christmas… the preparation’s half the fun don’t you think?

lily x