Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

twenty-two at twenty-two;

Hello everyone!

If you don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you might have missed the fact that it was my 22nd birthday on Monday! (Insert party poppers here.)

For many of my teenage years and going into my early-twenties, I’ve completely hated my birthday. No one ever came to parties I hosted, and when they did, it was boring and awkward because I’m TERRIBLE at throwing parties. I always felt pressured to do certain things like spending an evening drinking or hanging out with a huge group of people when that’s not the kind of thing I like to do. So often I let other people plan my birthday for me and it was never stuff I actually wanted to do. Last year I decided enough was enough and I had my first genuinely enjoyable birthday since my 18th because I planned it the way I wanted to.

Today I thought I’d share with you 22 of the things I did to celebrate:

  1. Bought myself an expensive cake. I popped to a bakery just under two weeks before my birthday and ordered myself a five-layer rose and raspberry cake complete with white chocolate, tons of buttercream, edible glitter and macaroons.
  2. Bought myself balloons. My parents aren’t particularly keen on balloons but I always wanted those huge number balloons. Mum and Dad always said no because they thought they were a waste of money, but this year I just bought myself them anyway because I’m an adult with my own money and I can. (It’s crazy how often I forget I can do what I like with my money…)
  3. Took a rose bath. For the past few years, on the evening before my birthday, I like to have the most extravagant bath I can possibly make. This year I had a huge amount of bubbles, rose petals, glitter, cocoa butter, rose oil, and rose-scented soap! It was totally heavenly and I could’ve stayed in that bath forever…
  4. Tried on every perfume I possibly could. I forgot to put on perfume on my birthday before I went out so I went to local Boots and tried on everything. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled more expensive in my life! At least I have ideas for my next bottle of perfume now.
  5. Went out for breakfast with my Mum and Lorna. Going out for breakfast is, without a doubt, my favourite thing to do. I’m very much an early-bird and breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. The earlier I go, the better! Breakfast is even better with friends, family, and cocktails.
  6. Went out for cocktails. After breakfast, Lorna and I migrated to the Slug and Lettuce for an afternoon of gin and prosecco. Plus one of our cocktails came with a candy necklace and it just filled us with so much joy.

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7. Booked time off work. It was really important to me that I didn’t have to go to work near or on my birthday. I work somewhere with only six staff members, including myself and my manager, and because I work part-time, I’m often called in to cover shifts. To avoid an early end to the celebrations, I booked time off so no one from work could call me in!
8. Went bowling with my parents and brother. I used to have bowling parties as a kid all the time so I decided that we should all go bowling for the evening in a moment of nostalgia. I came third and last because I’m terrible at bowling but who cares because we all had fun and we spent some rare time as a family doing something together!
9. Stayed in for a chinese takeaway. I love being home and in bed by 10 because I’m actually very old at heart. Instead of going out for the night, I stayed in with a chinese takeaway and watched friends in my pyjamas. Absolutely heaven.
10. Bought new clothes. I have a personal tradition of buying myself a new dress to wear on my actual birthday day. I did that again this year but then also went out and bought two other dresses as well! (And obviously as soon as I bought summer clothes the weather turned and it’s now grey, rainy, and windy…)
11. Took myself out for breakfast. Again. Yes, I really do love going out for breakfast that much. Two days after my birthday, I continued celebrating by getting up early and finding a restaurant by the sea. This time I went alone with my new camera and spent some quiet time with just me and the fresh air. Plus, this was a personal achievement for me since I have anxiety and I usually hate eating alone in public. Eating alone in public at a restaurant in outside seating is practically a miracle for me but I did it!
12. Took time out to catch up with friends individually. I hate being in large groups of people so I decided to see people individually or text people for a little catch up. It’s much more intimate and it doesn’t leave me as emotionally exhausted.
13. Went to Build-A-Bear. For the first time since I was a child, I went to Build-A-Bear and I got myself a Charmander toy complete with official noises that the Pokemon makes in the show and a lavender-scented disk for an optimum cuddling experience. I loved that I got to indulge in my inner child and that the staff didn’t seem put off by my over-excited enthusiasm.
14. Ate cake for breakfast. Is it even your birthday week if you don’t eat cake for breakfast at least once?
15. Added birthday-related items to my scrapbook. Samples of the wrapping paper from my presents, photographs from the day, gift notes and gift tags…it’s all there in my scrapbook ready for a future me to reminisce.
16. Went for a walk. I love walking and I especially love walking around some of the most beautiful spots in the city. With all the time in the world I took my camera out in the rain and took a gentle stroll.

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17. Bought myself new craft supplies. Thank you Hobbycraft for the free £5 gift you give me every year! You’re keeping me in bullet journal and scrapbooking materials.
18. Got myself some new books. My TBR pile is already huge but I just made it bigger by buying another armful of books. Oh well, at least I don’t have to buy any more for a while!
19. Bought myself a theatre ticket. A few months ago I booked a ticket to see Titanic the Musical as both an early and a belated present to myself. I am clearly the gift that keeps on giving.
20. Went for breakfast with my Dad. This is the last time I’ll mention breakfast, I promise! My Dad’s birthday is two days after mine and since he was working both days, we didn’t get much of a chance to celebrate our days with just the two of us! So this weekend we went for breakfast to do just that.
21. Watched my favourite movie multiple times with no regrets. No, I won’t stop singing Come What May and crying over Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, please leave me alone.
22. I let myself be me. Most importantly, I didn’t pretend that I wasn’t enthusiastic about the little things, I didn’t let myself be embarrassed by my interests and the things that I wanted to do, and I certainly didn’t force myself to do things that I didn’t want to.

It’s been a pretty good year and a pretty good birthday week so I’m looking forward to the next one!

What are your favourite things to do on your birthday?

Bethany xo

 

 

Things to make you smile

Sunshine Blogger Award;

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A huge thank you to the lovely Lorna from Lorna Illustrates for the nomination! My little blog isn’t the prettiest, the most active, or the most interesting…but it’s something I love putting my spare time into and that I have great fun working on. I can’t wait to slowly curate my blog into the vision I have for it. This is the first time I’ve been nominated for any kind of community award/post and I can’t wait to get to know some of you a little better and to meet new people through this great community!

Now, here are the rules:

  • Thank the person that nominated you for the Sunshine Award.
  • Answer the questions set by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate other blogs and give them your own questions to answer.
  • Notify your nominees through social media or commenting on their blog.

Questions from Lorna: 

What inspired you to start the blog you have today?

A couple of years ago, Ellie from LittleEllieMae contacted me through instagram to invite me to a blogger event she had organised after seeing me mentioned by the Lush Plymouth instagram account. I didn’t have a blog at the time but I decided to make one and to along to her event. Admittedly, it took me a while to get into blogging. After taking various breaks (reasons include being too busy to blog, forgetting my login details, and not having any ideas), I began Strictly Bethany in September 2017 after finishing University and I’m determined to stick with it this time!

What are your future aims for your blog and how will you get there?

For short-term future aims, I would really like to find my specific writing style and topic expertise to make my blogging more centred and focused. I’d also like to learn more about coding and other technical skills so I can build my blog’s signature look. As for long-term aims, who’s to say? I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

If you could have any three things in the world, what would they be?

I’d like to have perfect health, a cottage by the sea, and the original first draft of the script for Moulin Rouge, preferably signed by Baz Luhrmann.

What inspires you most?

Early mornings by the sea. I love it when it’s still slightly dark outside and a bit misty with the waves cracking against rocks and frothing on impact. There’s something peaceful and awe-inspiring about the water.

Who inspires you the most?

I’ve always admired Audrey Hepburn. Not only was she a great actress but she overcame a troubled childhood and used her platform as a dancer to raise money for the Dutch resistance against the nazis during the Second World War. In later life, she did humanitarian work around the world and supported various charities including UNICEF. I’m also incredibly inspired by the dancer and actress Joanne Clifton, and the singer and actress Anna O’Byrne.

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Me and Anna O’Byrne after a performance of Guys and Dolls in 2016

If you could only listen to 5 songs for the rest of your life, what would they be?

1. Dust and Ashes from Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812
2. Come What May from Moulin Rouge
3. Runaway Daydreamer by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
4. Love Never Dies by Anna O’Byrne
5. Literally any one song by Marina and the Diamonds. It’s so hard to pick just one song from her when every song is a certified Bop.

What are you doing when you’re not blogging?

Mostly I’m working but between that, I’m scrapbooking, working in my journal, reading, or trying to work on my novel! I’m also often seen wondering around town, the Hoe, and the Barbican on early mornings playing Pokemon Go with my dad.

Imagine your perfect sweet-treat cook book. If you could be any recipe, what would you be and why?

I’d like to think I’d probably be a rose cupcake! Sweet, floral, a little different but still has a classic edge, and definitely not to everyone’s taste.

What advice would you give anyone starting their own blog?

Write about what interests you, what captivates you, and what you’re passionate about. Try not to compare yourself to other bloggers because we all develop at our own pace. That kind of comparison to other people can sometimes kill drive and creativity rather than inspire it. Someone will always love or be interested in what you write so keep going!

What would you do with £10 million?

I would buy myself a house and put away some cash for bills and food etc, save some money back as disposable income for a couple of years, pay my parents’ mortgage, and give the rest away to charities and people who need the money more than I do. I’m not really one for travelling, going on adventures, or doing anything overly exciting so I don’t have much cause for owning that much money!

What makes you happy?

I’m fairly simple when it comes to happiness. The people I love make my happy, time alone, walks by the sea, a rose or lavender bath, plants and flowers, clean bed sheets, a mug of tea, a good book, good food, and trips to the theatre.

My nominees are:

Emily at Electric Emily
Jill at A Book Nerd Reads
Megan at That Musical Theatre Nerd
Ashley at Thrifty Bibliophile
Corinna at Coco’s Makeup Bag
Marianna at Marianna Reads

My questions for you:

  1. What’s your favourite thing about blogging?
  2. Have you learnt anything in the time you’ve been blogging, if so, what is it?
  3. What do you do when you have writer’s block or are feeling lacklustre creatively?
  4. Aside from blogging, what are you passionate about?
  5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
  6. Would you rather have hands that never stopped growing or feet that never stopped growing?
  7. If you could smell like three things for the rest of your life, what would they be?
  8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
  9. If you could master any skill, which would it be?
  10. Of all the posts you’ve written, which is your favourite?

Thank you once more to Lorna for the nomination!

Bethany xo

Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

50 things to do on rainy days;

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Me and two friends enjoying the rain two years ago.

Hi everyone!

Today I’m back to talk about rain (yes, my life really is that exciting!)

It’s nearing summer here in the UK – evenings are light and bright, humidity is up, and it’s raining constantly. Half-term is upon us and the whole thing is going to be a huge wash-out. If you’re managing to escape the thunderstorms then you’re still experiencing rain, dark clouds days, and fog.

Whilst I can’t stand thunderstorms, I love rain, especially heavy rain. For me, it’s incredibly calming and cleansing for the soul, so I embrace this time of year and our above average monthly rainfall. It’s a time for me to reconnect and reflect upon myself. But for others, this is the worst type of weather, especially if you’ve got kids.

So, here’s a list of things to do when it’s raining to suit every person regardless of age or personality:

  1. Go for a walk and indulge in splashing in puddles.
  2. Dance in the rain. (Cheesy but fun!)
  3. Gather all your blankets and cushions and have a movie marathon or binge something new on Netflix.
  4. Build a pillow fort.
  5. Find some objects outside and take them to a large puddle to see what floats or sinks.
  6. Spend a day doing some colouring in.
  7. Spend a day doing arts and crafts.
  8. Make rain art.
  9. Try out some new hobbies.
  10. Learn a new skill.
  11. Read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf since forever.
  12. Spend the day baking.
  13. Play board/card/video games with your family/friends.
  14. Make a time capsule or a memory box.
  15. Have a home spa day.
  16. Go to an actual spa for a spa day.
  17. Have a home clear-out and tidy up.
  18. Organise clothes/books/ornaments you no longer want to take to a charity shop.
  19. Catch up on any work you have to do.
  20. Listen to new music.
  21. Enroll on a free online course (I love FutureLearn for this!)
  22. Go and see a show at your local theatre.
  23. Go to your local library.
  24. Go to an art gallery or museum.
  25. Put together a photo album.
  26. Try out a new hairstyle, or if you have kids, play hairdressers.
  27.  Go to the cinema.
  28. Go bowling or to an arcade.
  29. Make a playlist for someone you love.
  30. Make a playlist of all your favourite songs.
  31. Learn how to cook something new.
  32. Make paper boats and race them in large puddles or ponds.
  33. Play hide-and-seek.
  34. Go to your nearest aquarium.
  35. Make pasta pictures.
  36. Have a fashion show with the clothes in your wardrobe.
  37. Research your family tree.
  38. Phone a friend you haven’t seen/spoken to in a while.
  39. Write letters to international friends.
  40. Have a tea party. Real or imaginary, that’s up to you!
  41. Make a list of things you want to do before you die, or if you fancy something less morbid, a list of things you want to do before your next birthday.
  42. Play around with your home decor or redecorate a room completely.
  43. Start a diary or journal.
  44. Make a really decadent hot chocolate with loads of cream, chocolate, marshmallows, sweets, or anything else you have in your cupboards that would go in!
  45. Try a new restaurant.
  46. Find a muddy spot in the garden or a park and make some mud pies.
  47. Upcycle some boring furniture.
  48. Do some karaoke at home or at a karaoke bar.
  49. Write a story or a poem.
  50. Sleep. If you have nothing to do, you don’t want to deal with the world whilst it’s so miserable, and you have the option, take a nap and have a duvet day!

What are some of your favourite things to do when it’s raining and how has the weather been where you are?

Bethany xo

Lifestyle · Monthly Favourites · Things to make you smile

January Favourites;

Hello all!

January is coming to an end, payday is imminent, and the sun is coming out (or at least, it is here!) So, it feels like an appropriate time to share a bit of positivity and talk about my favourite things this month.

  1. FRIENDS – I don’t mean the people I call my friends, though they are very dear to me, I mean the TV show. After Netflix added all ten seasons on New Year’s Day, I binge watched it almost every day for about two or three weeks. It’s such easy watching over the festive period and still funny. I’m also still of the same opinion as all those years ago when I first watched this show – I hate Ross and Rachel shouldn’t have gotten off the plane. tumblr_own1q6o4bE1raamyno2_400
  2. This jumper from Yours Clothing – Okay, I didn’t buy this green jumper in January, but it has remained my favourite winter warmer. It’s thick, soft and comfortable. I love it so much that I also bought the same jumper in blue.
  3. Candles – For Christmas, I bought myself a Yankee Candle gift box and one of my family friends bought me another Yankee Candle. Then in the January sales, I bought myself some more! My favourites from my little collection are Macaron Treats, Berry Trifle, and Spiced White Cocoa.
  4. And speaking of cocoa, I’m also loving hot chocolate this month. Usually, I hate hot chocolate because it’s far too sickly and sweet for my liking. But Hotel Chocolat’s classic hot chocolate is made of 70% smooth, rich, dark chocolate. It’s perfect for cosying up in bed with, ready for an early night and a movie marathon.
  5. White roses – I love flowers and especially roses. I try to have fresh plants and flowers in my bedroom as much as I can. This month though, I have been particularly drawn to white roses. I’ve bought real ones, fake ones, I’m pressing some in books, I’ve got white rose fairy lights adorning my shelves…I’m a little bit obsessed right now but I don’t care because they’re so pretty!
  6. These Deichmann shoes – They look like your nan’s curtains but that’s just part of their charm! These shoes have velvet laces and feel like your nan’s curtains too. They’re an unusual yet comfortable pair shoes that have gained me plenty of compliments whilst I’ve been wearing them.
  7. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig – I adored this book – it was sweet, funny, sad, and poignant. I devoured this book in two sittings and I regret having read it so fast! I had the Chris Riddell illustrated version of this book and I highly recommend it. tumblr_p3df1cVAE91raamyno1_540Haig and Riddell make a damn good story-telling team. I’ll write a more in-depth review of this book over the coming weeks because I loved it too much to leave it at only a few sentences.
  8. Cardamom Coffee perfume – This perfume is my favourite from LUSH’s new fragrance collection. It’s one of their strongest and warmest scents with top notes of cardamom. Once it’s been on the skin for a few hours, the cocoa absolute and rose oil leave a mild, sweet and rich base note. This perfume feels like a winter hug in a bottle.
  9. My pink and blue scarf – I bought a scarf from the Little Barbican Boutique, a shop owned by a good friend of mine. It’s long, soft, and made in my favourite colours – I have worn it every time I’ve gone out this month and I’m not looking forward to when it’s too warm to wear it. I wish winter scarves were fashionable and convenient all year round.
  10. Takeaways – When I come home from work at half seven, tired and achy from standing up all day in a kitchen, the last thing I want to do is stand up in a kitchen and cook dinner. I’ve gotten into the habit of ordering food from Just Eat or Deliveroo on the bus home, so I can spend as much time relaxing as possible. I’ve discovered some great food by ordering in so much this month, but it has taken its toll on my bank account. So, as much as I love it and enjoy the convenience, I’m going to try and curb this habit in February.

What have you guys been loving this month? I’d love to hear about some of things that have made you smile over January so do leave a comment and I’ll see you again soon!

Bethany xo

Christmas · Lifestyle · Things to make you smile

Christmas Traditions;

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I’m writing this post from my bed, nursing a chest infection, snuggled up in blankets, and wearing a Christmas jumper. It’s beginning to get dark outside, the lights are dimmed, two sets of fairy lights are on, I’m drinking hot chocolate and I’m burning a candle called “Christmas Magic”. There are Christmas songs playing softly in the background; Michael Buble’s tender caramel voice is bringing an indulgent calm to my afternoon.

It’s cosy, warm and tranquil atmospheres like this that I create for myself every Christmas that got me thinking about the Christmas traditions my family and I still have, and those that we’ve let go of.

  1. The Christmas Table. Now, this tradition has been in my family since before I can remember. We have a little cabinet in our dining room where we keep our “posh” cutlery and crockery. Every year this cabinet ends up with the name “The Christmas Table.” My Dad, from September/October, begins slowly piling up food and alcohol on this table until it’s dangerously mountainous by Christmas Day. There’s crisps, nuts, cakes, eggnog and more chocolate than any one family could possibly eat by themselves. No one is allowed to take food or drink from this table until Christmas Day, but after that, this table ends up being a decadent buffet table until New Year.
  2. Trifle. I don’t know about you but I’m not a major fan of the traditional Christmas cake and pudding. It just isn’t my cup of tea and my parents aren’t really fans either. Instead of traditional pudding, after Christmas dinner we eat homemade trifle that’s lovingly layered with vanilla sponge, raspberry jelly, fruit cocktail, custard and cream. I then top it off with a crumbled Flake bar from my selection box. I love the Christmas trifle and I was pretty upset when my parents decided that we should have a different dessert last year. In the end, we all missed the trifle and I’m happy to say it’s back with a vengeance this year!
  3. Advent Calendars. You’re never too old for an advent calendar. They’re a Christmas staple since early childhood but controversially, we’ve faded them out from our tradition list. Last year I often forgot that I had the calendar to open – it just didn’t seem to appeal to me anymore. This year the calendar has disappeared completely, and I must admit that I don’t miss it at all!
  4. The December De-clutter. Some people think I’m a little weird for this, but I will embrace that gladly! I adore tidying and de-cluttering. It’s stress relieving, it eases my anxiety and I feel accomplished at the end of it – particularly at Christmas. Every December I like to do a deep clean and de-clutter of my bedroom; nothing is safe. My windows and windowsills are cleaned, all furniture is moved and deep cleaned, and bags upon bags of stuff ends up going to various charity shops. Once everything is tidy and minimalist again, I can relax in bed with a candle on or some incense burning away at my desk and my fairy lights on. In a way, I’m “purifying” and preparing my personal space for the new year. I don’t feel comfortable and like Christmas has started until I do the clean.
  5. Ferrero Rocher. Every year my parents give me a box of Ferrero Rocher for Christmas and because of this, I associate them only with Christmas even though they’re available all year round. Eating them out of the Christmas season just feels wrong!
  6. Bedroom Presents. When my brother and I were children, we would get up on Christmas Day at some ungodly hour and annoy our parents to death with our excited chattering. We were too young to appreciate a lie-in and we got bored in our rooms way too easily. All the presents and food were downstairs, and we couldn’t play with or eat any of it yet! To combat our restless Christmas cheer, my parents used to put presents and food in our bedrooms when we were asleep on Christmas Eve. This usually consisted of one book, one DVD, some chocolate, cereal bars and an orange. This year, the tradition seems to be one we’re getting rid of because my parents have decided they’re too old to stay awake long enough to do it! (I have a feeling I’ll be somewhat disappointed at the absence of room presents on Christmas Day this year…)
  7. NORAD. A Christmas Eve tradition that I’ve grown to love is having the NORAD tracks Santa website open on a laptop as my family gathers together to eat and celebrate as the night draws in. There’s a little whoop of excitement from everyone as we watch Santa travel from country to country whilst eating questionable party food and playing board games. (And if we’re really really quiet, we can totally hear the sleigh bells as he flies over!)
  8. The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. This is my favourite Christmas film of all time and I have to watch it every Christmas Eve without fail. If I don’t watch it, then not to be dramatic about it, Christmas is ruined. There is no Christmas without this film for me.
  9. Sickness. Someone is always sick on Christmas Day whether it’s a cold, the flu, alcohol related incidents, or overindulgence. Someone is always ill. One year I had a migraine and basically spent the whole of Christmas dinner crying in pain. Sickness is my least favourite tradition and I would really prefer it not to be one, but let’s be honest, someone is always under the weather for you on Christmas Day too, right?
  10. Chocolate Biscuits. Some of my favourite Christmas memories from when I was younger was when my brother and I would bundle into my parents’ bedroom, eagerly talking about our bedroom presents. The four of us would sit on the bed or we’d go to the living room and show off our new gifts and eat chocolate biscuits for breakfast. If Mum and Dad started eating the biscuits without my brother and I then we were devastated. Naturally there would be some squabbling over who got the last biscuit, but I enjoyed that as much as I did the simple family time in the morning before Christmas Day got truly under way. We don’t tend to have biscuits for breakfast any more; we all do our own thing, but I have to say that I miss the chocolate biscuit bed pile up.

It’s probably not wrong for me to say that most people have their traditions that make the winter season unique, comforting and nostalgic. What are your favourite Christmas traditions old and new?

Bethany xo

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Things to make you smile

My Autumn Favourites…

Autumn is well and truly in full swing and I’m feeling the autumnal love! It’s always been my favourite season and here is my list of reasons why:

  1. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back
  2. Rainy weather and the sound of rain against the window
  3. Sweater weather!
  4. Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens!
  5. Back-to-school stationery sales
  6. Ugg boots are back in fashion
  7. Crunchy leaves on the ground
  8. Changing colours of nature
  9. Being in bed with tea and cocooned in blankets before 9pm is socially acceptable again
  10. Cinnamon flavoured everything
  11. Seasonal LUSH Cosmetics products are on the horizon
  12. The excitement of Christmas approaching
  13. Stodgy, delicious, warm comfort food
  14. Glittery and sequined clothes galore ready for party season
  15. Hot baths feel even more rewarding after a day out in the chilly and we weather
  16. Discounted sweets after Halloween
  17. Autumn and Winter themed scented candles
  18. Warm street food from holiday markets
  19. Autumn feels like a fresh start thanks to school’s re-opening
  20. Baking, baking, and more baking!
  21. NaNoWriMo
  22. The air always has that autumnal smell to it…You know what I mean, right?
  23. Bonfire night
  24. That extra hour in bed when the clocks go back
  25. When you can see your breath in the air and you pretend to be a dragon

Clearly and undeniably autumn is the best season! What are your favourite things about autumn?

Bethany xo