Solo Christmas

I know full well that a lot of my followers are mums and some even single mums like me. Speaking from experience It is such a daunting prospect facing Christmas as a single parent (especially a new one) but i’m about to give you a little vote of confidence on this one because it’s not that bad.

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Ok so my first solo Christmas, this was the hardest. I pulled the Christmas hamper out brimming with sparkles and glitter to find memories of family life, Surname based signs and I sobbed, I sobbed my little heart out. I wondered how it had all gone so wrong and how I ended up alone. I really did my absolute best to create the worlds biggest pity party, which all my family and friends were of course invited to. I think on your first solo Christmas everyone is fairly understanding of the change and the upset (but let me tell you this won’t last).

Come January all the decorations came down and went back in to the hamper and the year carried on, every day with me getting stronger and stronger.

Christmas year two I started to create our own traditions, cried less and started caring less about which parent had spent the most money or bought the best gift. (At the age of two lets face it Arabella was happy with the wrapping and the box). The next two Christmases moved forwards in a similar fashion until Christmas number 5 (which is the present day).

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Initially I just want to say it’s amazing how much good you will find if you start to look for the positive in any given situation.

We have always split the day 50/50 one of us will have Arabella on Christmas eve and in the morning, the other from Lunchtime on Christmas day through to Boxing day. Initially of course this was terrible and having to make the order in court was even less of a joy, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Arabella is actually with me this Christmas eve and Christmas Day morning, but when she goes to her dads at lunch time, do you know what…I’m going to crack out my pyjamas and binge watch Christmas films (something I wouldn’t be able to do if she was with me) I could go out for festive drinks, i’m basically a free agent. You can view this as  good or a bad thing ‘woe is me I don’t have my child on this magical day‘ or ‘Ok I’ve seen her on this magical day but now I’ve got 8 hours to be selfish, post Christmas day selfie pics on Instagram and generally bum around doing whatever the hell I want’ It’s entirely up to you whether you go for the positive or the negative but you will soon realise the easier road to go down.

My top tips for coping with a solo Christmas:

1.Chuck out anything that resembles the old relationship you had (take as long as you need to do this but believe me it’s easier when it’s gone)

2. Start creating your own traditions with your children, ones that only involve you and them (or maybe even your family) basically people that will be sticking around.

3. Get social, go out see friends, stay busy at the beginning an don’t sit and dwell.

4. Don’t get in to a present war with the other parent. Who cares who bought what as long as they get something, fill themselves with turkey an watch some sort of Disney Christmas film (these are kids it’s not an interview for the apprentice)

4. Turn off your ‘on this day’ setting on Facebook or you will be inundated with reminders of what you were doing last Christmas (and who with) who needs that shit.

5. Look for the positive, for example: ‘yes this is a shitty situation but in what way could it be seen as positive’ (silver linings do really come with every cloud)

5. And lastly an probably most importantly, put yourself first, have some downtime, do whatever makes YOU happy at Christmas, this can be anything from sleeping to getting blind drunk on Mulled wine (the choice really is yours).

I hope this helps you if you are going through your first, second or perhaps third solo Christmas. And like I said at the beginning it really isn’t that bad. (I promise)

Thanks for reading and as always speak up if you’ve got something to say.

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Christmas Table on a budget

Every year so much thought goes in to the Christmas table (potentially more than the food itself). This year I feel like I’ve outdone myself because not only does it look beautiful but it was really quite cheap (under £30). I try and focus on interior design ideas and layouts that really do work on a budget, it makes it so much more fun to do.

I am going to take you through every single detail, how much everything cost and any customizations I made and how i did it. (If you can’t be bothered to read it don’t worry there is a video at the end that explains it all!)

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Ok so starting with the runner. This was a gold runner that I bought on a roll from Hobby craft. It was 3m for £4.00 I also bought some copper spray paint that I used to spray this runner to more of a copper colour to match the table theme (this was also from Hobby Craft and cost £5.20). The leafage in the middle which is a combination of Spruce and Eucalyptus was left over from my Christmas door wreath, but truthfully you can use anything in the middle as long a it is fresh and green.

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The copper cutlery was bought for £4.00 from Poundland (this was for a 16 piece set) and to be honest is a really nice set (but having learnt from experience not dishwasher proof). I also bought the copper wine glasses from Poundland and they were £2 each, and the under plate for the plates were also from Poundland £1 each and I just sprayed them with the copper spray paint to match the rest of the copper theme.

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The Crackers were home made, I searched for the lazy option on Ebay but the only listing I found for copper crackers was 6 for £29 which was not going to happen. All you need is some tissue paper (£1.60 for 8 sheets, two per cracker) Cracker snaps which were 79p for 10 and some string and tags which i already had for wrapping. (I have put the little tutorial link below if you want to give it a go.

The candles were £2.49 each from Home Bargains and then the hessian ribbon which I just added to them (I already had this and it is totally optional) The last centerpiece detail is the copper sprayed Pine cones which were again something I already had so just took the copper spray to them and popped them in place (you could use berries, holly or anything else festive).

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The last two things to mention are the two star dishes on each end. These were from Poundland and came in Gold at £1.00 each. Again they were sprayed gold and put in place. (They will be use for cranberry sauce and loose salt and pepper on the day itself).

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In a snow coated nutshell Ii am absolutely loving this set up, the copper is the most beautiful colour next to the greenery and it has that homemade, rustic but festive feel which if I could have written a brief would have been exactly what I wanted. The total was a couple of pence under £30 which includes everything you see bar the plates which I had anyway.

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If you have any questions, thoughts or ideas please just leave a comment as it’s always lovely to hear from you all! (and the video is below to see it ‘in real life)

Thanks for reading

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Autumn Vibes

Autumn is my absolute favourite season (with Winter close behind) as a sun worshiper this might come as quite a surprise to you but I love the turn from summer to autumn watching all the leaves turning and knowing that Christmas is on the way. We move from late nights feeling we should stay up because it’s still light at 10pm to cosy evenings in front of the fire under a blanket with a mug of Chai tea.

So much goes on in the Summer that I always feel like I should be out and about doing something until the light goes, given that the majority of each day is spent working I struggle sat looking out at what little sunshine we have, believe me It’s not fun.

I find Autumn and Winter much easier to knuckle under and work longer hours because the draw to a warm cosy house is much higher and the potential of being locked inside for long periods of time is much more appealing.

The only new addition to the darker months for me is Vitamin D. I came back from Spain in the spring and hit a massive slump in energy, motivation and mood and after a trip to the doctors realised that with so much time without sunshine that it was probably a vitamin D deficiency. As soon as I started up the daily dose I was back to normal so I will make sure I continue that as the light hours become less and less (and let’s face it the sunshine becomes zero).

Later mornings in bed because the sun isn’t rousing you at 5am, chucking some boots on and heading out to the farm to spend a couple of hours with Daisy (the pony) surrounded by leaves of every colour. Let the Winter begin.

Thanks for reading

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The Life changing magic of not giving a Fu*k

This book was the most refreshing, honest and accurate book I have read in a long time. With regular appearances of the F* work (tut tut) and brutality from page one I loved every word.

It is basically a breakdown of life (which you inevitably transfer to your own life) and the things you should and shouldn’t give a fuck about. With some hilarious anecdotal stories and examples, it had me laughing and agreeing with a lot Sarah (the author) had to say.

The irony of the book which I’m sure people take in a light hearted manner given the title, is that it actually hit home hard about quite how many ‘Fucks I am giving away’ unwillingly (again another extract from the book).

 

I am one of those people that continually feels the need to please and impress people (for whatever reason) so I regularly find myself agreeing to do things I haven’t got time to do, helping people I don’t particularly like or buying things I don’t really need, so potentially the wake-up call I needed.

The book is broken down in to categories of things you might give a fuck about, it then expands on each category helping you understand how you can learn to say no to various people and situations without offending, letting people down or basically looking like an ‘asshole’ again a terrific quote from the book.

I found it very liberating and since reading it I have definitely stated to rein in the fucks I’m giving out and who they are given to so it has clearly made an impact on me and my never-ending need to please everyone including the postman (when he receives a card and a homemade mince pie every Christmas) (I know COMPLETELY unnecessary).

One I would highly recommend if you find your free time and weekends doing jobs for people that you really don’t want to do or donating towards Betty’s sponsored walk for three legged dogs (and yes there is a charity for this)

I rest my case, and I am also half way though reading the next book in the series ‘Get your Sh*t Together’ so will of course feedback once I have finished that!

Thanks for reading

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The Christmas Countdown

Ok so we are finally in November and I am already finding myself filling my Pinterest board with Christmas crafts, wrapping ideas and homemade gifts to yet again try and save more money at this very expensive time of year.

For some reason the Christmas countdown in my eyes starts with the launch of X Factor, I think it’s because it ends around Christmas and tends to mark the dark nights, Saturday nights snuggled up on the sofa and the evenings waiting for that first Coke a Cola Christmas ad (they never fail us do the, oh the M&S and John Lewis adverts do follow up closely behind.)

So back on to the matter in hand, the countdown, for me the organisation tends to fall in to a few categories:

  1. What the F* I am going to buy/make/find everyone

  2. How I am going to wrap said gifts

  3. Christmas cards and taking out a ban loan to pay for the postage

  4. New decorations I can make for the house

  5. The new tree decoration we add to the collection every year

  6. And lastly and probably most importantly what the hell my Christmas day outfit will be (yes I know it is worn for 3 hours and then replaced with a set of fleecy reindeer pyjamas for comfort)

Ok so let’s start with point 1. What the F* am I going to buy/make/find everyone This causes a lot of stress every year. I hate the idea of buying friends and family ‘token gifts’ that have very little meaning or thought put in to them, so rather than heading to the pre-packaged toiletries isle in Boots, try to come up with an individual, personalised gift idea that doesn’t take too much skill, time or resources to make (yes this is literally gold dust and not that easy to do when you have a big family with very differing tastes). In the past we have had personalised house name signs, homemade aprons and tea towels, cookie jars (you get the idea) Most of the ideas I have come from the internet, late night trawling the search results for ‘cheap and easy homemade gifts’ (FYI if you search this you will come up with a lot of food which given we are still 2 months from Christmas is not very practical at all.) all I will say is keep scrolling you will find some ideas, or even something that creates a train of thought to create an idea! I like to have everything made and wrapped before the beginning of December so I can enjoy every day in December without the constant worry of what the hell am I going to get Auntie Jean!

Point 2. Wrapping This is almost as important as the damn gifts, I do not have the joy of leaving my neatly wrapped presents under the tree for two reasons 1. I have a 5 year old who would 100% not be able to control her urges until Christmas day. And 2. We have three dogs (two of which are puppies and a kitten) so basically the presents have no hope. But still having them beautifully wrapped under other people’s trees is still important (I think!) so most years I make my own paper, I bulk buy the plain brown paper and then either make or buy a stamp but then there is the ribbon and the tag (what a palaver). So basically, this search begins early because I have to get it right, though lay safe in the knowledge that once everything is neatly wrapped I will do my absolute best not to look at any more inspiration, find something I love more and then feel the need to change the whole theme on the 3rd December.

3. Christmas Cards Ok let’s not beat around the bush here, cards are expensive, and postage is ridiculous so I have become very selective about who I send cards to. This is another huge dilemma which I didn’t even fulfil last year. I made and executive decision to just not send cards and instead sang a rendition of ‘Rudolf the red nosed reindeer’ with Arabella and uploaded it to Facebook as a ‘I’m sorry I didn’t have time to send you all cards, so here’s a cute homemade video’ actually went down really well so may well happen again this year. So basically, if you are going to send cards, buy them early, post them early (so you can go 2nd class not 1st for 5 million pounds per card, I love to over exaggerate) or forget it all, grab a video camera, dress your kids up in something cute and sing a Christmas carol for everyone.

Point 4. Is my absolute favourite Homemade decorations. This for me is some of the enjoyment for Christmas, making things and filling the house with the smell of Cinnamon. Again, back on Pinterest and searching absolutely everything I can make (or try to, a lot does go wrong!) this year as an example we are going to make (and by we I mean me because I can’t let Arabella help at all) Christmas garlands made solely from dried oranges, cinnamon sticks and lemons. Door hangers, the door wreath and whatever else I can find to realistically make before the 1st December (without making too much of a mess in the house, we all know how ridiculously OCD I am).

The new decoration (point 5.) Our tree tends to be fairly traditional and most if not all of the decorations have either been kept for years and years or were homemade so keeping it that way is really important to me. I spend a bit of time every year either online or browsing round the local garden centre or John Lewis looking for a really special decoration to add to the collection. We don’t change our theme every year, I’s pretty much the same year to year, traditional, simple and in no way overcrowded. And let’s face it we are in November now, so the search has commenced!

Point 6. may sound and absolutely ridiculous thing to work about but in my house it’s a really worry, Christmas day is a picture opportunity, the most festive day of the year and a time when for me it’s really important to feel special (not necessarily because of all the presents either) Looking nice on Christmas day and having an appropriately festive outfit is key (and no I don’t mean a full on Mrs Claus outfit) normally something red, sparkly or tartan. The pyjamas are whole other issue, It is a pretty childish tradition but who cares, it’s one we are going to stick to. On Christmas eve every year we spend the evening watching TV, Christmas eve sale shopping and generally just chilling together. But it has to be done in matching pyjamas.

So there you have it our annual Christmas countdown, which realistically posting this on the 1st November has already started. And to drop a real bombshell I have also been playing Buble in the privacy of my home and car for about two weeks already (judge away!) Fully self-confessed Christmas addict here!

Thanks for reading

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Real Vs. Fake

 Ok so for me this is a very easy choice primarily due to tradition (not ease I might add).

NB:// and I have to add at this point for clarity that I am not talking about boobs here this is 100% a discussion about Christmas trees.

The more and more people I speak to every year the more I realise that people are starting to sway towards fake (which lets face it isn’t such a terrible thing, i’m just not).

 

For me the real tree lust is a need for tradition, every year for as long as I can remember as a family we have gone out and hand picked our Christmas tree, for me it marks the beginning of the festive season. Putting the tree up will be the first festive thing I will do, then come the decorations

Lets look at the pro’s and cons side to this because there are quite a few factors against me getting a real tree each year, and helping people justify having their fake tree (some of which are incredible I might add) in their loft ready for the next year.

Ok Pro’s of a real tree

1. The smell – there is no denying that the smell of a real Christmas tree is something you can’t replicate with any plugin, candle or pot pouri.

2. The shape, they always look less perfect than a real tree but in my eyes more natural which only for some is key for their Christmas centrepiece

3. Cost, a really good fake tree will set you back over £100 whereas you are looking at about £30-£40 for a 7 ft real tree (Yes this is a false economy as you will of course only buy the fake tree once but looking at it for just one year this is a pro for the real tree)

4. Tradition – This is a big one for me, the tradition of picking the tree, having it wrapped up and put on the top of your car isn’t quite the same as dragging it out of a cardboard box in the attic and cleaning of a years worth of dust!

Ok now the cons (where I go in to denial and justify all of them)

The Con’s of a Real Tree

1. They might not last the whole month of December, I can’t deny this because it has happened, with Christmas eve looming I have been literally screaming at people not to go anywhere near the tree for fear of knocking it and literally every single needle falling off. Even with watering the tree might not last, it all depends on when it was cut.

2. Stability – I now have a cat in my house and this year I am well and truly prepared to be picking the Christmas tree up off the floor at least once. The stumps are rarely even and fitting them in the base is not always as easy as it should be. So the stability of the tree can be poor especially if you have the whole cat and child vs. tree (which I do)

3. Pine needles – this is my worst bit of a real tree, once the tree is up I have been known to literally find pine needles in my pants and bra (how I don’t know). The pine needles get everywhere and you will literally find them everywhere for the rest of the year, every time the sofa is cleaned or moved more appear, cobwebs attract them and they ruin the hoover (speaking from someone who decided to try and hoover them ALL up one year) needless to say I was buying a new hoover in the January sales.

All that in mind i will still be going to visit ‘Bill’ our friendly tree man and strapping it to the top of my car driving home with Buble on!

Thanks for reading

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Panic at the Disco

No idea why I have named this blog what I have, I just thought it sounded catchy (it’s the marketer in me).
So this post is basically just a little bit of anxiety update, I don’t really talk as much about anxiety and the huge pain in my ass that is panic attacks, as much as I should. Potentially as I am becoming a lot better at handling them/it or because it’s an avoidance tactic to not even say the word (who knows).
So on the whole over the last six months I think I can say my anxiety has been better, I have probably had less than five panic attacks and I honestly think I am starting to just accept it as part of my life. I don’t think anxiety is something that comes and goes, I think that once your body has worked out that stress response you are stuck with it but I do think you can learn how to cope with it.
I remember my first panic attack, it was about three years ago and I honestly thought I was dying, I had never had one before, heart was racing, felt like I was going to simultaneously vomit and shit my self, pins and needles in my arms and legs (the lot, and yes a lot like how having a heart attack feels apparently) It came on for no reason and lasted about 20 minutes. I reacted so badly thinking there was something seriously wrong, I went to the doctor in an absolute state and insisted he checked me for everything (is that even possible).
I ended up going home with a prescription for Diazepam which truth be told was never going to solve the issue (it takes 20 minutes to kick in and a panic attack will rarely last over 20 minutes) great suggestion doc, I ended up taking half a tablet to see how I reacted, which apparently was to slur my words then pass out mid evening for the rest of the night on the sofa) not really the reaction I was after. Never the less I haven’t taken one since and they are most likely out of date now.
So basically at that point I realised that I was pretty much on my own with the panic attacks and there wasn’t going to be a medication option only a self help one. With a crippling phobia of being sick (emetophobia if you haven’t heard of it) the nausea involved with a panic attack is a HUGE problem for me and will make my panic 10x worse instantly, for the last 10 years I have been prescribed an anti-sickness drug called Buccastem (anti emetics) this I would take if I started to feel really bad, this was up until about a year ago when my side effects to taking that were that I would be really drowsy and basically go in to a coma when I slept (no alarms would wake me) so another medication that is really only used in an absolute emergency. So again back to square one. So here’s how they happen and how I deal with them:
‘I start to feel a bit odd, and my legs and arms go a bit weak and shaky’ Breathe and remember I am in control of my mind and body
‘My heart rate starts to pick up and I feel like I need to run as fast as I can (nowhere which is actually pretty funny)’ Start taking deep breaths, always making sure to breathe out for longer than I breathe in
‘My body temperature starts to rocket’ This is when I start taking clothes off and head for outside (still breathing properly)
‘I start to feel nauseous ad my chest and neck go tight’ Lie down on the floor in the cool with barely any clothes on (yes a hilarious sight if you are in public) and keep breathing
‘The next bits come in waves, heart rate goes mad, breathing goes mad and my body starts vigorously shaking (potentially because I’m in my underwear outside the back door) This is the point I normally try to speak to someone, having someone with me is the ideal situation but otherwise just calling someone works a treat. Sometimes just having someone at the end of the phone talking at you helps as a distraction. I cry, I wail, I moan and then all of a sudden everything slows down and within 10 minutes I am carrying on with my day a little shaken.
All I really try and focus on is breathing and remembering that ‘this will end’ I can’t stay on a panicked state for the rest of my life ‘it will end’.
My worst time of the day for this to strike is last thing at night or on waking in the morning so I am particularly mindful about keeping myself cool and calm in the morning (oversleeping is not a good situation to be in). I can’t give a magical solution (god I wish I could) but I guess I have just learnt to live with it, I have had them in public but they mainly happen at home a few days after I have been in a very stressful situation, it’s almost like my body saves up the anxiety in a little pot (I would like to think it’s called the anxiety pot) then one tiny addition and bam there’s the panic attack.

My only advice other than BREATHE is talk about it, talk to your friends let the know what’s going on, call them if it happens and most importantly DO NOT feel embarrassed, it’s a known fact that 1 in 4 adults will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

I hope this in some way is helpful and of course if you have something to say or can relate pop a comment below.
Thanks for reading
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