Today’s post is all about one of my favourite topics in life, Christmas movies! I love nothing more than snuggling up with Matthew, a hot chocolate and homemade peppermint bark… that is my DREAM evening and that’s definitely what Matt and I have been doing lots recently! Today I’m sharing with you my favourite movies, and letting you know what we’ve already ticked off our list so far this year!
Home Alone – we’re hoping to watch this tomorrow! Miracle on 34th Street National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – check! This was the first movie we watched this year, we loved it! Elf – we watched this with Matt’s parents when we got home from Manchester on Sunday night 🙂 The Santa Clause How the Grinch Stole Christmas Christmas with the Kranks – I’m going to watch this on Saturday evening before Matt comes home (he’s working until 12pm!), while I wrap presents! A Christmas Detour – check! This is my favourite cheesy Hallmark movie The Holiday It’s A Wonderful Life
Now whilst you’re watching your movie, you have to eat this super easy snack. It’s not the most healthy , but it tastes so good and makes the perfect homemade gift for family and friends this Christmas too! I made this for Matt coming home earlier in the week and we’re already planning to make it again before Christmas Day (it’s really so good, and tastes better than store bought options, it’s also a lot more cost effective). It’s one of my favourite treats to make at Christmas, and it’s so flipping easy!
Ingredients to make Peppermint Bark: -Galaxy Milk chocolate (it’s melts the best!) -White chocolate (Milkybar is Matt’s favourite!) -Coconut oil -Candy canes -Sprinkles (optional)
Step By Step: 1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil. I use both just to ensure the chocolate doesn’t melt through the paper! 2. Melt your milk chocolate and white chocolate in separate bowls, each with half a teaspoon of coconut oil (this just helps the chocolate to spread easier) 3. Whilst your chocolate is melting, place your candy canes into a zip-lock bag and crush into small pieces. I always leave a few larger pieces as I like the look of varied sizes on the finished product. I use a toffee hammer to break them up, but a rolling pin or even a spoon will work just fine 4. Spread one type of chocolate (I always use milk chocolate first) across your lined baking tray with a spatula 5. Swirl in the other chocolate – if you’re very artsy you can make a pretty pattern or even wording but I kind of just hope for the best HAHA 6. Sprinkle your candy cane pieces (and/or sprinkles) over the top 7. Leave to cool in the fridge for at least one hour, break into pieces and eat 🙂
I hope you have already watched so many Christmas movies this year and plan to squeeze in a few more before the big day comes! Matt and I unfortunately don’t have time for another movie tonight but we’re hoping to squeeze in a movie night tomorrow. Friday is my last work day of 2018 (YAY!) and we’re heading to our local Christmas markets when I finish work, fingers crossed for an early finish haha!
I was unsure whether or not to post about what I have personally done to give back this year, as people often feel that talking about anything you do for a charity (big or small) takes away from the act. In all honesty, I don’t believe that to be true, and I think we SHOULD talk about things we do to help both our local communities and those around the world who are less fortunate than us. It doesn’t make us a better person for donating, or a worse person for not, so why shouldn’t we share? Please know anything mentioned in this post is to raise awareness and encourage people’s giving spirits this year. There are SO many things you can do to spread the love, and as much as I love giving my boyfriend, family and friends presents every year, I feel a little more fulfilled donating to those in need, too.
Of course, we should give back all through the year and not just for Christmas, but it’s a time we all generally feel the need to do it a little more. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s something I really want to be aware of more in 2019, and continue to do. Christmas is the season of giving, and here’s just a few ways you can give back this season…
Donating Gifts I think one of the most popular ways we all like to give back is to donate gifts and presents for people and animals during Christmas time. So many stores are doing collections this year and there’s still a few days left to participate if you’d like to. Matt and I donated to Operation Christmas Child this year (the last day for donations was November 18th, so unfortunately that’s now closed for this year. There’s always next year, and you can find all the information you need here). We had so much fun filling our boxes and I really hope the children that receive them are SO happy on Christmas Day with the goodies inside. It hurts my heart to think that will be all they’ll get, but I hope they know we put lots of love into those boxes! We did include a few personal healthcare items and school supplies as they were recommended, however we made sure to include fun toys and yummy sweets to make their present seem a little more fun, and not all super practical. I know local children’s hospitals, care homes, animal shelters and women and children’s shelters can usually accept donations up until Christmas Eve (and of course, after Christmas) so I’d recommend enquiring there.
Finding Out The Needs of Your Local Homeless Shelter(s) This is also something Matt and I did this year, and it was SO appreciated I can’t even tell you. There’s still a few days left in the build up to Christmas, and you know homeless shelters everywhere will take all of the donations they can possibly get. Instead of taking things you think they’ll need I’d recommend calling first, and speaking to someone to get an idea of what they need most. We didn’t have to spend lots of money to buy a few necessities, and hopefully we made a difference by giving to people who need items.
Donating Unwanted Items Similarly to buying things people may need, homeless shelters and charity shops will always be open to receiving donations. I cleared out my wardrobes a few months ago and donated tons of stuff then, however I did go back through in the first week of December and donated a bunch more I hadn’t worn since my clear out. Matt and I are hoping to go through his wardrobes and drawers in the new year as he has tons of stuff to donate too. I would say only to donate clothing that is not damaged, too pilled or unwearable of course! You can also clear out unopened beauty products, bedding, pyjamas, the list is endless. This means you’ll make room for new items you’ll be lucky enough to get this Christmas, and in turn pay your current unused or unwanted items forward.
Bake Treats Baking is a fun way to spread a lot of love, people love food! Baking goodies to share with people will always go down well, and you can take them anywhere. A few ideas would be to take into work for your co-workers, to a local care home or shelter, or to a local family. Similarly, you could make a meal for people and it would be much appreciated too. It’s a super small and simple gesture and won’t take too much of your time, money or effort, yet you could really make someone’s day. Also, a super easy no-bake treat will be up on the blog for you! (Hint: it’s the photo above!)
Giving to Collections You only have to set foot near a shop around this time of year and there will be people collecting for various charities. Often people rush past and while you absolutely do not have to give every time you pass (or at all, if you choose not to) it’s nice to be able to contribute on a small scale. The people collecting are often standing outside for hours in the freezing cold too, so I’m sure bringing them a hot drink would always be appreciated! Where I live, a lot of people campaign for Samaritans – give any change rattling around your pockets you have when you pass. A few pounds will likely not mean much to you, but those buckets add up so quickly, and every small donation can make a huge difference.
Spread Kindness Something we can all do this Christmas (and well… forever!) is to be kind to those around us. Help your neighbour unload their car, tip the great service you received a little better than you normally would, truly thank the cashier checking out your groceries, or just SMILE at a stranger! All of these little things are so taken for granted, however during the holiday season there’s a huge emphasis on spreading love and kindness to those around us. Last week I was heading to Lidl before work to pick up fresh dinner ingredients for Matt and I that evening, and an old man stopped me outside to say good morning, and asked how I was. It was such a simple gesture but it really made my whole day! I think being openly kind and talkative to strangers is something we could all work on (myself included) all year round. It doesn’t cost a penny to be kind and gracious, and Heaven knows, if there’s one thing we need a little more of in the world it’s kindness!
Random Acts of Kindness This is something I really love to do all year round, and I remember almost two years ago telling Matt a story that made him think I was actually bonkers! A few years back on YouTube there was a trend of RAOK videos; people leaving money in supermarkets, paying off people’s credit accounts in stores etc. One thing I seen (I think it was in an Ellie and Jared vlog, I know they definitely do this too!) was to pay for the person behind you at the drive thru. I feel quite awkward writing about this, but it’s such a rewarding feeling! People can’t actually thank you because you’re in the car infront of them, but seeing the shock on their face is so sweet. The people working at the drive thru kind of think you’re mad, but it’s a fun idea you can easily implement this Christmas! (Matt told his co-workers about this one time I’d done it, and said I had to stop doing it or people would be following me through the drive thru like the Pied Piper trying to get free food HAHA). Any small things can make a huge difference – extra tips, baking cookies etc are great RAOK that will go a long way to put a smile on someone’s face.
Thank you so much for reading. I’d love to know if you’ve done or are planning on doing any of the things mentioned in this post this holiday season? How do you spread the love on Christmas?
It may seem a little early to already be thinking about my goals for the upcoming year when we’re in the midst of festive excitement and Christmas is just one week away (WHAT?!) but setting goals and working on making myself a better person has been on my mind since September. I wrote a post about my goals I’d like to work on over the last three months of the year, and I feel like for the most part I’ve done pretty well with those! I am someone who thrives on plans, routines and praise for doing well, so setting myself goals gives me a stronger sense of purpose.
Cook More This is probably going to be my goal for the rest of my life! I love cooking and experimenting with new foods, and I’m so grateful that my boyfriend is equally as interested. We really enjoy cooking new dishes, creating recipes out of whatever groceries we’ve picked up, and also editing recipes we find online to make them our own. Matt is not only my boyfriend but my best friend, and I love any time we spend together, so cooking together is no exception! We begin most of our evenings by cooking a meal together, and it’s something I look forward to from the moment we get out of bed that morning! I really enjoy learning with him, and although sometimes dishes don’t work out it’s still fun because we enjoyed cooking together. Since the Summer, we’ve learned SO MUCH, but we of course still have a long way to go. Our goal for January is to prepare a whole Sunday lunch for our parents (Matt thinks this will be so easy but the timing issues of everything scares me the most)! I had no idea how much I’d enjoy cooking, and I’m so grateful Matt and I are learning together.
Continue To Learn About Sustainability I’m genuinely enjoying learning more about what it means to live sustainably, and putting things into practice in my everyday life. I wrote a post about the things I’m currently doing, or beginning to implement into my lifestyle to help with this here if you’d like to check it out. I’m learning so much so quickly, and right now the topic of living sustainably is EVERYWHERE. My current aim for the new year is to stop buying/using plastic straws. I just purchased metal re-usable straws from Amazon (you can check those out here) and I’m going to get in the habit of using them both at my two homes and at work, and to take them out with me. I’m sure I’ll get some funny looks but hey, one planet-saving thing at at time, right?! (If you’re wondering why I don’t just stop using straws all together, my teeth are super sensitive to cold drinks!)
Make Yoga A Priority This was something I touched on in my afore-mentioned post back in September, and to be honest it’s probably the goal I least paid attention to over the past three months. I really enjoy yoga, but I often find it difficult to actually get the motivation to do it. I know this makes very little sense, it confuses me too! I feel like it’s one of those things that whilst I’m doing it, I enjoy every second, it’s just sometimes hard to start. Due to my days being different every week (mainly because of Matt’s shifts and living between two houses) I can’t have a set schedule, but I’m going to actively make time to squeeze in a little session here and there. I’m also participating in Yoga With Adrienne’s Thirty Day Yoga this coming January – I have for the past two years – and although I may miss some days I can do two sessions in one!
Enjoy Every Day I know a blanket approach to this goal isn’t realistic, as some days realistically aren’t going to be enjoyable. We all have bad days, and that’s okay. What I’m aiming to get across with this goal, is to just embrace life for what it is. I’m so grateful for what I have – my relationship, my family and friends, my blog, my job, my lifestyle, everything – yet I find myself often living in anticipation of the ‘next’ thing. Whether Matt and I have a trip coming up, a date night or even a new episode of my favourite show, I feel like I’m always thinking about the next thing, and forgetting sometimes to live in the moment. I am very good at putting my phone down when I’m with my loved ones, but I can’t seem to switch my mind off in the same way. I think this is going to be pretty hard as I’m such an excitable person and thrive off having things to look forward to, but it’s something I’m going to try to be concious of. Any tips on becoming more self-aware in this topic would be SO appreciated!
Eat Less Red Meat I love the idea of veganism and vegetarianism, however I know it’s realistically not for me. I really admire people that can change up their lifestyle to new ways of living, and think it’s a great thing for any individual who chooses to do so. I have grown up eating red meat, as well as chicken and fish, and it’s been an everyday part of my diet. I also really love eggs, chocolate and cheese, so going vegan is fully out of the window. I (right now) could not be a vegetarian for various personal reasons, but I’m very much open to eating less meat, and I’m hoping to start including some of Matt and I’s favourite recipes on the blog in 2019. We do partake in Meatless Mondays pretty much every week, so we can definitely cut down a little more where possible and help the planet in the process. We already eat so many vegetables, that won’t be an issue, it’s just taking that next step in changing up our food habits. I would like to generally eat better this coming year too, as I have the WORST sweet tooth!
Grow My Blog I have been blogging for SIX months now, which is so crazy! I remember the day my first post went live, and as I let out the secret on Instagram and Twitter I felt physically sick. Matt and I were out for Sunday lunch and I struggled to eat I was so scared/excited/nervous. Fast forward to now, and I still feel so excited and nervous for every post! It blows my mind that people keep coming back to little old me, and that my stats are slowly growing day by day. I really put so much effort into my blog, and although I do see it as a hobby, (outside of my Twelve Days Of Christmas posts, I can only post twice per week as I work full time) it’s a very important hobby. I’ve made friends around the world from blogging, and I’d love to collaborate with some of those amazing people in the new year. I’m genuinely proud of what I’ve created so far, and I’m so excited to see what happens over the next twelve months.
Learn More About Natural Foods And Living This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, as I’m very intrigued in the whole concept. As I mentioned above, Matt and I eat well most of the time, and are always striving to make healthier dinners for the evening. I’m very interested in the benefits of Turmeric right now; I have arthritis and incorporating turmeric into your diet (so easy!) is supposedly a way of treating the pain and lessening the ache. I’ve only been adding it to our food over the past few weeks, so I’m excited to see if I start to feel any benefits from this. Also, Matt has bought me a Himalayan Pink Salt Lamp for Christmas (you’ve no idea how excited I am about this and how NOT excited he is haha) and I can’t wait to see how much of a difference it makes to our day-to-day lives. I literally can’t wait to open it on Christmas Day! As a result of having the lamp switched on, it makes you sleep better, de-stress and unwind more and generally breathe better as it helps to purify the air, as well as many other benefits. It’s so pretty too, which is always a bonus.
Stop Making Impulse Purchases I’ve been writing lots over the past few months about mindful shopping and how bad consumerism is worldwide, but as of January 1st (technically now!) my mind will not just be on clothes, it will be on everything I buy. That new face wash raved about on YouTube? Those boots everyone is wearing? The new Kylie Cosmetics pallete? I don’t need it! I’m going to set myself a little challenge throughout the year, to put everything I ‘want’ into a list on the Notes app on my phone. I’ll put the date next to it, and as I’m for sure going to be adding things regularly, I’ll keep track of how long it’s been since I wanted that specific item. If a month has passed, and I still want that item badly I’ll work it into my budget to buy. I’m hoping this will stop me spending as much money (saving for Matt and I’s home is going HARD in the new year!) and limit the amount of stuff I have around me. I’m hoping to do an even bigger declutter this year, and take my mindful living to a whole new level. Also, that means less crap to take with me when Matt and I do buy our house!
Thank you so much for reading! Have you thought about your goals and/or resolutions for the new year yet? What are you hoping to work on?
I’m so excited for 5pm to roll round and for the weekend to begin. I can’t wait to spend a whole weekend with my love, enjoying a weekend away visiting the Christmas markets and drinking all of the Bailey’s hot chocolates!
Today’s post is a fun one, I created a Christmas Tag! I really enjoyed filling out The Autumn Tag back in October – you can check that out here if you missed it – I thought it would be fun to make my own. I have to point out my co-worker Laura helped me think of a few questions (there you go Laura, blog famous, HAHA!)
What is your favourite Christmas candle? I love Christmas Eve from Yankee Candle, and Sugar Cookie from DW Home. My favourite is Winter by The White Company, I buy it every year!
What is your favourite Christmas song? Step Into Christmas by Elton John. It makes me so happy! I also really love Holly Jolly Christmas by Michael Buble, Santa Tell Me by Ariana Grande and Underneath The Tree by Kelly Clarkson. (And also pretty much every other Christmas song ever made…)
Do you stay in pyjamas all day or dress up on Christmas Day? In the morning to open presents I wear pyjamas (Matt and I have super cute festive ones this year and I’m SO excited about them!) then I definitely dress up for Christmas Day, ideally in something glittery. My Christmas Day Outfit Ideas post will be up in just a few days if you’re struggling!
What are your plans for the holidays this year? Christmas Eve: lots of baking, finishing up any last minute wrapping (literally every year), watching Christmas movies and then drinks with Matt’s family in our local pub for the evening, then head home to get snuggled up with our Christmas pj’s on! Christmas Day: Matt and I are spending Christmas morning with my family to exchange presents and have a festive brunch, then we’re going to his family’s house for the afternoon and night. We’re also going out for Christmas Dinner with his parents and grandma – we’re all so excited! I really feel so lucky to have two families I love so much 🙂
What is your favourite Christmas movie? I have so many, there’ll be a post up including my favourites in the next few days! I think my number one spot will always be tied between Home Alone and Elf. I really love a cheesy Hallmark movie though, they’re so cliche but so cute.
Do you love or loathe tacky Christmas sweaters? LOVE! The tackier the better, haha. Matt and I got matching sweaters last year and I freaking love them. Here’s us wearing them on Christmas Eve 2017:
Who will you be kissing underneath the mistletoe this year? My wonderful boyfriend, Matthew, of course 🙂
What are you excited for in the build up to Christmas? This weekend! Matt and I are heading to Manchester for the weekend to visit the Christmas markets and spend alllll of the QT together! He’s been working so much recently, and even though we spend as much time as we can together every morning and night, I’m so excited for us to disconnect from ‘real life’ and just relax. I’m so excited to treat him to date night whilst we’re there.
What is your favourite Christmas tradition? I love that we have pancakes for breakfast every Christmas Eve, and I love Matt and I’s tradition of spending as much time as possible over the whole festive period with each other’s families. My brother and I also always get a new decoration for the tree every year, so I have 24 to take with me when Matt and I buy our house… most of mine are from Disney World, they’re so cute!
What is the number one item on your Christmas wishlist this year? For part of my present, Matt has bought me a pink Himalayan salt lamp and I’m SO excited about it – I was going to buy it for myself but he was so sweet and offered 🙂 I literally can’t wait to set it up on Christmas Day hahaha. I know I’ll love anything from my loved ones because they picked it. But anything from Jo Malone or Victoria’s Secret would be great HAHA!
What is your favourite Christmas food? Mashed potato, stuffing and of course, pigs in blankets!
Do you shop the Boxing Day sales? Only from the comfort of my bed or the couch 🙂 …well, usually. Matt isn’t working this year (YAY) so we’ve decided to brave it and head in, I’m already nervous but I do have a few tips coming up in a post that will hopefully help both me and you this year!
Do you prefer to give or receive presents? ALWAYS to give! I love putting in so much time and effort to buy things my boyfriend, family and friends will love. It makes me so happy seeing them happy on Christmas morning, and it’s worth every single bit of the stress in the build up!
What is your favourite sweet treat for the holidays? I love sugar cookies, gingerbread and peppermint bark!
Do you have a favourite Christmas drink? Alcoholic: almond Bailey’s or mimosa’s. Non-alcoholic: gingerbread hot chocolate from Costa. (It’s really good, but not as good as the Bonfire Spice from the Autumn!)
Which Advent Calendar do you have this year? Do you remember to open it each day? I have two! Debbie (Matt’s lovely mam) bought us a Cadbury’s Heroes one each, and Matt bought me a Galaxy one. (Okay, tecnically I bought it for myself when I picked him one up HAHA. Gotta do what you gotta do…) I definitely remember to open it each day and I always remind Matt, I’m all about chocolate in the morning!
What is your favourite holiday scent? Real Christmas trees, gingerbread cookies baking in the oven and my favourite Christmas candles!
Are you one of those people that wish for a White Christmas each year? Honestly, yes! I am not a fan of snow any other time of the year except from Christmas (even the thought of driving in it makes me feel sick). Having said that, snow on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day would be BEAUTIFUL and makes everywhere look postcard pretty.
What makes the holidays most special to you? Spending completely uninterrupted quality time with the people I love most in the world, and getting to spoil them a little more than I usually do. Also, the food/alcohol combo is pretty great, and I really love that everywhere you look is a sea of fairy lights!
What has been your highlight of 2018? I have SO many. All of the weekend trips Matt and I have taken (especially a few to Ireland), seeing Ed Sheeran live with our friends, our Summer holiday to Kos, Matt getting his well deserved promotion, starting my blog, my skin finally looking better, spending another Christmas season with my love and our families, and generally feeling so happy throughout the year. A post on my highlights of the year will be up in the new year, but to summarise I feel very lucky to have had such a great year, and I’m feeling very excited and optimistic about what 2019 holds for Matt and I!
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed the post and found it fun to read, I really enjoyed making it. The inner 14 year old in me who watched and loved every YouTube tag video back in the day will always love these kind of posts, haha! I tag all of my wonderful fellow bloggers, but I’d really love to see Savannah and Abbie complete this!.
Today’s post is the first in the Twelve Days of Christmas series on my blog, I’m so excited!
I posted my gift guides for her and for him at the end of November, and got the BEST response to both posts. I was so pleasantly surprised by how well received my posts were, thank you so much for reading, I hope they helped with any shopping stress!
After I posted those gift guides, I received a message asking if I could please make a Secret Santa gift guide, so I set to work to include it in my Twelve Days of Christmas posts. I’ve rounded up the best Secret Santa gifts that are not your typical box of Celebrations and a bottle of wine (not that there’s anything wrong with those!) that I think would be perfect for co-workers, family and friends.
Most Secret Santa gifts are capped at somewhere between £10 and £20 in my experience so I’ve got 10 for you under £10, and 10 under £20. You can always add some sweets or chocolate to make the present up to full value, that’s what I would do!
There will unfortunately be no new post today, but there will be one post per day starting from tomorrow, because… *drum roll please* I’m doing Twelve Days of Christmas here on my blog! There will be a post up every day, from tomorrow through to Christmas Eve and I am SO excited! I’ve put so much work and effort into these posts, I hope you love them!
Seeing as I’m such a planner, I thought I’d share with you my schedule for what will be going up each day at 6am:
Thursday 13th December – Secret Santa Gifting
Friday 14th December – The Christmas Tag
Saturday 15th December – Christmas PJ’s Round Up
Sunday 16th December – Easy DIY Christmas Hamper
Monday 17th December – Christmas Candle Edit
Tuesday 18th December – My Goals For 2019
Wednesday 19th December – Spreading The Love This Christmas
Thursday 20th December – The BEST Holiday Treat
Friday 21st December – Christmas Day Outfit Ideas
Saturday 22nd December – Festive Makeup Routine
Sunday 23rd December – Boxing Day Shopping Tips
Monday 24th December – Christmas Weekend Trip: Photo Diary
If you were hoping for a longer read, I’d recommend heading right over to my gift guides! There’s one here for the ladies in your life, and one here for the men! I put a ton of time and effort into them, and I’m so pleased with the response I received to them both.
I hope your week is going well, I’m literally counting down to the weekend! This has been a LONG (pretty crappy) week for me so far, but I hope Friday is here before we know it. I’m so excited because Matt is off work all weekend (yay!) and we have so many fun things planned, I’m feeling very grateful for lots of quality time together after such a busy few weeks. Recently it feels like times flying, every night it feels like we get home from work, eat and go to bed then we’re up again to start the next day! However, even though it still feels a little early, my Christmas spirit has well and truly kicked in and I’m feeling more festive by the day! Can you believe it’s only 27 sleeps until Santa comes, guys!?
Today’s post is the long-awaited and much anticipated (HA, who am I kidding!) gift guide for all of the wonderful men in your life. There’s great picks in here for boyfriends, dads, father-in-law’s, brothers, nephews, uncles, the lot! I posted my Gift Guide for Her on Sunday, you can check that out here if you missed it, and there’s also a section for couples gift ideas included in there too. As I said in that post, there is so much more to Christmas than gifts, but how good does it feel to watch someone open a gift you carefully selected for them, knowing they’d love it? THE BEST.
There’s tons of ideas for all different budgets and personalities in both gift guides! I hope you enjoy!
I am SO happy to have the weekend off, I’m ready for Christmas break already. Matt is unfortunately working all weekend, so we made the most of a Friday night in watching I’m A Celebrity. I was also very grateful for a cosy morning together yesterday before he went to work! I spent the afternoon doing a little more Christmas shopping, blogging and caught up on my shows, then when he got home we had a late night pizza party. Today I’m going to have a ‘running errands’ and blogging day while Matt’s at work, then tonight we’re getting a takeaway, yay! The dark mornings and nights are throwing me off to the extreme, I just feel like the days are never-ending! It’s also gotten SO cold here, it really feels like Winter now. Matt and I have however been loving all of the cute nights in, snuggled up with Christmas candles burning and watching I’m A Celebrity, it’s bliss! I hope your weekend involves lots of fun?
This is my first official Christmas post on my blog and I’m so excited about it! I have spent the past few weeks finding lots of ideas for beautiful presents at all different price points. Of course Christmas is about so much more than presents – it’s about being with the people you love most in the world, and celebrating the reason for the Season together. I do however LOVE giving gifts and I find so much joy in seeing people’s reactions to things you’ve carefully picked out for them.
I’ve curated a list of present ideas, by category, for all of the lovely ladies in your life. There’s something for girlfriends, mums, mother-in-laws, grandmas, aunts, cousins, neices and your best friends, as well as anybody else you might have on your list! I have to admit lots of the items listed in this post are gifts I’d love to recieve, or would love to give (I am!) but that’s the whole point, right? I’ve also added a section in here for couples gift ideas, they always seem so much harder to find, right?!
My gift guide for the wonderful men in your lives will be up on Wednesday, so make sure to come back and check that out too! I hope you enjoy and get some inspiration to get those final presents on your list.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you found this helpful! Have you bought anything in this list for any of the special ladies in your life? Do you have any other must-have gifts on your to buy or to recieve lists?! Happy shopping!
Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! Thanksgiving is an American holiday, dating back to the Pilgrims giving thanks for their first Autumn Harvest. It’s a day that families gather to voice thanks for what they have, spend time together, watch football, and of course, eat tons of yummy food! I could seriously get on board with this holiday just for the food, that’s for sure. It’s pretty much a pre-Christmas warm up, and hey, I’m down for it.
Over the past few years us Brits have stolen Black Friday from the other side of the pond, so maybe we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving in a few years! Also, did you guess why this post was going up on Thursday instead of Wednesday? I’m sorry, I wasn’t being a bad blogger!
In light of the holiday, I thought I’d share with you 20 things I’m feeling super grateful for right now! Some of these are ‘just for fun’ and some are serious and heartfelt. I’m of course thankful for these things every day, but I thought it would be nice to share with you today as I’m feeling the holiday spirit! Also, I apologise in advance if this post looks a little different than usual, this is the first post I’ve done a final edit on using the new WordPress software and I hate change, I’m struggling to get used to it! (I can’t decide if I like it or not yet ha).
My incredible boyfriend. Matthew is seriously the best thing that’s ever happened to me. We literally laugh ALL the time, we spend most of our free time together and it’s not enough, he looks after me and makes me so happy, and of course he’s the most handsome man I ever did see! He also gives the best kisses and cuddles, and he’s like a human radiator which is even more appreciated in this super cold weather, haha. I love him so much, and I make sure to tell him every single day how much I love and appreciate him!
Cosy evenings. Speaking of my human radiator boyfriend, we have been loving all of the cosy nights in recently, even more now I’m A Celebrity has started again. I’m extremely thankful that since he got his promotion back in July we’ve been able to be together every night and morning, yay for better shifts! We can’t wait to buy our home (hopefully this time next year we’ll be well into the process, how exciting!) but for now we make do and we know we’re very lucky to have two homes. We love to cook, binge watch our shows and snuggle up on the couch, it’s the perfect way to unwind after a busy day at work.
Learning to cook. Matt and I have stepped up our cooking game ten fold over the past couple of months, and we’ve been making some amazing food! (If I do say so myself, HA). We’ve perfected a few dishes, but our favourites to make are always chilli, steak, chili salmon, chicken stir fry and various pasta dishes.
Our families and friends. I’m seriously the luckiest girl to have two families who I absolutely adore and I know they want nothing but the best for Matt and I. We’re super close to both of our families, and it’s one of the best things ever! We’re also blessed to have a great friendship group, and I’m so excited to spend more time with everyone over the festive season! Also, a bonus thing I’m thankful for is Friday night wine night with the Scotney’s, it’s forever my jam.
The build up to Christmas. I am SO excited for Christmas this year, I can’t stand it! I just ordered Matthew and I the cutest Christmas Eve pyjamas, which is totally going to make opening presents together on Christmas morning even more adorable! (I doubt he’ll think that HAHA). I love that stores everywhere have their decorations up, fairy lights seem to be appearing by the minute and we’ll be decorating the tree next weekend! I can already taste the pigs in blankets! There may also be a special something happening on the blog… hint: I’m celebrating twelve days of Christmas with you!
Crisp, cool, weather. It’s the best time of the year, y’all! I’m loving wearing my coats, scarves and hats, and it’s SO nice to come in from the cold and grab a hot chocolate. (Swiss Miss Marshmallow FOR LIFE). It’s a little frosty in the mornings and evenings now, so if the snow could just not ever appear that would be great. Also, can you be addicted to hot chocolate? Asking for a friend…
My blog. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my blog is an outlet I didn’t know I needed and I truly feel proud of myself for the little haven I’m creating day by day. I enjoy posting SO much – from taking and editing photos, to writing, to editing, to posting and interacting with readers and fellow bloggers. It’s an amazing community to be a part of, and I’d seriously encourage anyone that wants to write a blog to just do it. I have SO much content planned over the festive period, I can’t wait!
My job. One that may seem very obvious, but I’m seriously thankful that I have a job I enjoy and am (kind of) good at… I know what I’m doing at least 80% of the time, that’s a start, right? I know not everyone has that privilege, so even on a bad day I need to remember to be thankful and appreciate having a job to complain about.
Blueberry muffins for breakfast. Sometimes it’s the little things, right? (Costco muffins are the best, my dad picks them up all the time and I’m so grateful, even if I can’t ever finish one HAHA).
Candles and snuggly blankets. Kind of hand in hand with the cosy nights in, but I just love anything that makes me feel cosy and snuggly. I’ve already broken out the Christmas candles, and I’m seriously loving Snowflake Cookie from Yankee Candle and Peppermint from DW Home right now.
Lush Snow Fairy shower gel and body conditioner. If you haven’t already picked up the best products Lush make, what are you waiting for?! Every year I love the shower gel, and this year I’m equally as obsessed with the body conditioner. I’ve used and liked the Ro’s Argan option before, but this is approximately ten thousand times better… seriously! The smell literally just makes me happy, and I can’t tell you how much I love it. Lush, please make it an all round thing?!
Sundays with Matthew. It’s our favourite day of the week because we almost always get to spend it together! We love spending every night together even when sometimes it’s literally eating dinner and going to bed, and of course, any Saturdays we get to spend together are just as great but I really love the cosy, laid back vibe of a Sunday. We run errands, we watch football, we grocery shop, we go for long walks or road trips, and we eat tons of good food. We spend our evenings (like most other nights) snuggled up watching Netflix shows or a movie, and it’s just the best. The old saying “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content” could not be more true.
My car. This one probably seems a little strange, but especially as the weather gets colder and it’s raining every day, I really appreciate being able to drive myself wherever I need to be. (Candle runs to Homesense are a need, right?) For real, I’m so thankful I’m able to get to work, from my house to Matthew’s and back, and just wherever else I need to be in-between. It’s such a huge privilege and I don’t ever want to take it for granted.
Our NHS & Emergency Services. Around the holidays a lot of time and attention seems to be put into our ES departments, although it should be that way all year round. It seriously blows my mind that some countries have to pay for healthcare, and if they can’t pay they literally go without. We are SO lucky in the UK to not have that concern. Matt and I have been watching Ambulance with his family all month (it’s the most amazing show, I cry at every episode!) and it really highlights the reality of modern day society. The paramedics in this show work SO. DAMN. HARD as do paramedics all over the country, and they do it with such love and determination. I’d love a new insider show on the police and/or fire department, that would be so interesting! BBC, are you reading?!
Laughing every day. No matter how bad a day can be, there’s always joy and laughter in it. Matthew makes me DIE laughing, literally tears rolling down my face all the time! My friends, coworkers and our families are also people who love to laugh (who isn’t?) and it’s one of the things I love most. One of the best feelings in the world is laughing so hard you can’t breathe or talk, and my boyfriend and I laugh like that on the daily!
Small Town Murder. I seriously LOVE this podcast, it’s literally the stories of murders in small towns, mainly in the US but told in such a fun way. James & Jimmy are so good at telling stories, although they never make fun of the victim or the victim’s family. I literally laugh out loud throughout each episode, and right now I’m loving listening on my way to/from work! Matthew’s even getting on board a little bit, and it’s so interesting learning about new towns and the stories that happen there. If you have an hour car journey coming up, I really think you should give them a go – I listen on Spotify!
Victoria’s Secret finally opening in our local mall. Could I be any more #basic?! I have loved VS since I was around 12, and when I heard we were finally getting a store I was SO excited! Our closest one before was two and a half hours away, do you feel my pain?! When ours opened last week they had some really good deals, so me and my underwear drawer are very happy.
The places I’ve been to this year. I’m very lucky in the fact that I’ve been to lots of cities/countries in my life, and this year was no exception. Matt and I have visited York, Dublin, Kos, Belfast, Liverpool, Manchester and we’ve explored our hometown and surrounding area a ton! We’re also going to Edinburgh in a few weeks time for the Christmas markets and I can’t wait, it’s one of our favourite cities as that was the first city break we ever went on together! I’m already anticipating all of the new places we’re hoping to explore next year, and I’m so excited to book our Summer 2019 holiday! We’re pretty sure we’re heading to Jamaica… (I’m literally giddy at the thought of booking, I CAN’T WAIT!)
Learning to live better with arthritic pain. I have mentioned this a few times on the blog, but if you don’t already know, I have arthritis and it mainly affects my knees, hips and fingers. I constantly deal with pains and aches, and I don’t remember being young enough for it to not be super bad. I literally feel like an 80 year old sometimes HA! Since around August when the weather started to change and get cooler, I’ve been waking up in the night crying from pain in my knees (they lock if I’m in the same position for too long, and the colder nights makes it worse). Matthew is the best about it and jumps up without thinking to massage my knee(s) until it/they feels better. Sometimes I must still be asleep as I don’t remember waking up until the next morning when he tells me! He picked me up some Ibuprofen gel that I apply each morning and night and that has been such a huge help. I have hot bubble baths most nights and that also makes a really noticable difference, I’ve been loving the Radox bath salts recently too!
Black Friday. …your girl is hoping to finish her Christmas shopping TOMORROW! Well, aside from all of the chocolates and wine gifts because I can never pick those for everyone and always leave it until the last minute, haha. Matt and I have our lists ready and I’m really hoping we can get everything else we need.
Thank you so much for reading! What are you feeling most thankful for recently? If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today I hope you have the most wonderful day with your families, please eat all of the mac n cheese and stuffing for me! I’m SO jealous!!
I hope you’re all having a great week, I sure am and I can’t wait for this weekend! I’m planning to spend it doing a little Christmas shopping, a date night with Matthew, and a whole lot of cosy QT with him too. Also, Victoria’s Secret opens in our local mall today and I’m giddy about it, I can’t wait to go browse (and probably buy lots as I just had a huge clear out) at the weekend!
Today’s post is one that’s very close to my heart, and something I’ve already touched on a few times in recent posts. Living sustainably is something, in my opinion, we should all strive to be doing, and it’s a complete minefield of a topic. For me, I’m trying to implement lots of little ways in which I can live a more sustainable lifestyle, and I’m excited to share these things with you too. Some of the things in this post I already do, and some I’m slowly introducing and trying to be better at. We’re not perfect and we’re certainly going to make slip ups and mistakes, but that’s okay! Being knowledgeable about this topic is the first step in taking action, and you’d be surprised at how teeny little changes in your day-to-day life can make such a huge difference to the world we live in.
Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources, and one’s personal resources.
Buying re-usable bags
…and using them! In my opinion, one of the easiest things we can do is buy canvas bags or bags for life and use them every time we go shopping. Matt and I keep several in the boots of our cars, so they’re out of the way and we never have an excuse to not use them. I love the M&S ones especially – they keep food cold for ages! They also zip up so nothing gets wet when you’re taking your items back to the car in the rain, and let’s be real it’s always raining in England! Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda etc all have so many options, and the Christmas themed ones out right now are super cute. The UK implemented charges, starting at 5p per plastic one-use carrier bag, a few years ago, and that alone has reduced our waste from the UK massively.
Limiting one-use plastic purchasing Following on from the above, one-use plastic is a huge contributing factor to the problems we’re facing with our planet right now. Real talk, my job is based in Accounts, but in the plastics industry, and I’m so tired of hearing how we must all hate plastic. Plastic is the worst material for us to use/purchase. Plastic is killing our planet. No, no and no! This is not true, and after that Blue Planet documentary, the UK has gone crazy in a ‘war’ against plastic. In reality, plastic is a great material and is a necessity in our lives nowadays. The issue is how we dispose of plastic, and the fact that so much waste was being sent abroad and literally being thrown into rivers. Obviously, this meant the plastic packaging eventually ended up in our oceans, and as a result is killing all of our marine life. Small things like buying cans instead of bottles of fizzy pop, not buying the afore-mentioned cheaper plastic bags and not using plastic straws can make a world of difference.
Recycle household waste
I’m pretty sure this is a very obvious suggestion, but it baffles me that some people still don’t separate cardboard, plastic, glass etc at home! Every council will be different, but as far as I’m aware all councils provide a standard bin and a recycling bin, check with your local council to see what should go into each. You can also take extra waste to bottle banks and cardboard recycling units, it’s easy and a small change that can make a big difference. The other issue with this is when items go to recycling plants, most materials end up in landfill and as great as it is for manufacturers that plastic is long-lasting, unfortunately those long-lasting effects mean they’re stuck in landfill sites for YEARS. This is a whole other issue that we cannot personally help with, but at least separating our waste is a start.
Shop more sustainably
I already wrote a whole post on this, and it’s a topic with many layers. You can read that post here for lots more detail. I personally am trying to purchase from ethical, sustainable brands where possible, Selected Femme, Matt & Nat and Patagonia are great options that sell fairly affordable products. The issue is that when you shop sustainably, the items cost more because the production costs are higher, making this less possible for everyone to adhere to. Other things you can do to shop sustainably on a budget, is to buy clothes that you know will last you a long time, for seasons to come instead of just the current one. You can swap with friends or hey, if you’re crafty you could even make your own!
Shop more sensibly This is slightly different than shopping sustainably, as what I mean by this is to shop in a way that suits you and your lifestyle, but in a sensible manner. You don’t need to buy a new outfit every time you go out, and buying items that will last you for a long time is sensible as you’ll re-use items, and they’ll stand frequent washing and wearing. My number one tip that I’m now trying to stick to whole-heartedly, is to buy better quality items, and to shop less in general. Buying better quality items of course means they will last longer, and in turn means you have less of a ‘need’ to shop, so this covers both bases. I touched on this in my Wardrobe Declutter post and I’m going to have a whole post up about shopping sustainably on a budget in the new year!
Carrying a re-usable cup This past week I’ve just put my favourite Starbucks re-usable cup in my car, so I don’t have an excuse when I’m out and about to get a paper cup. Let’s hope I remember to put it back in the car after each use! Another bonus of using a re-usable cup in a coffee shop is you get a discount, which I know is 25p at Starbucks and that’s a pretty good saving. The whole issue with takeaway coffee cups is inside the lining of them is a thin polyethylene lining that cannot be easily removed from the cardboard, therefore making it unrecyclable. Or of course, the best option would be just to make your own hot chocolates, teas and coffees at home more often!
Try ‘naked’ toiletries
A range of products I’m excited to explore is Lush’s ‘naked’ range; essentially the product acts as the packaging too, and it eliminates the need for a container, which would generally be made of plastic. It’s a great idea and a road I think many other companies will venture down in time, as it reduces their carbon footprint also, and entices the customer more. They make shampoo bars, shower gels etc which follow this concept, and it’s something I can’t wait to try. I am a Lush fanatic – their bath bombs, regular shower gels and bubble bars are my jam! I’ve even got Matthew into them, he loves a bath bomb HAHA.
Buy from ethical and/or cruelty free beauty brands
This is a topic that many people feel strongly about, and it’s a huge part of saving our planet. Many brands still test on animals, even some brands I have purchased from, although I’m really going to be more mindful of this going forward. There are SO many beauty brands that get the ethical stamp of approval, and unlike clothing this category does not necessarily mean higher priced products. Some of my favourite ethical, cruelty free brands include; The Body Shop, Lush, Pixi, Liz Earle, Clean, Drunk Elephant, Hourglass, It Cosmetics, Real Techniques, The Ordinary, Kat Von D and Too Faced.
Donate items you no longer require
Donating items is a win-win situation; you clear out items cluttering up your space, and someone can receive those items for free via a charity, or buy them second hand for a much better price. This applies to pretty much everything you may want to clear out – clothes, shoes, bedding, electrical appliances, even extra toiletries as charities and shelters always have a demand for such items. If you’d like to donate toiletries please ensure they’re fully sealed and have not been used!
Drink tap water
It may sound silly, but again it cuts down usage of plastic bottles, and it’s free! I really do think water tastes different, and my family buy water bottles all the time from Costco, but Matt and I are at leas doing our part by drinking tap water most of the time. Similarly to taking a re-usable coffee cup in the car, a re-usable water bottle is also a great idea! There may be occasions when you’re out and about and purchase a bottle of water, but that’s few and far between. Also, I seen on Instagram a company has just recently released canned water, with a nifty resealable lid, so maybe items like that will become more popular too.
Don’t be so quick to turn the heating on Another obvious one, but before you stick the heating on, throw another jumper on or your dressing gown! I live for my dressing gowns (and Matthew’s!) and pretty much any time we’re in the house I’m wearing one anyway, even over clothes. Yep, I’m that person! Having your heating on a timer – maybe for an hour just before/as you’re getting up in the morning, and an hour before you come home in the evening is often enough to warm the house through. Of course, once it’s icy or snowy every day this might not be possible but it’s something worth thinking about.
Save water I’m the biggest advocate of a bath (or cuddles from my boyfriend) being the number one way to de-stress and chill out after a long day, but of course taking showers is much better for the environment. I probably take a bath two to three nights per week, and the other nights/mornings I will take a shower. I know three baths per week may still be excessive to some, but it’s definitely a lot less than what I was doing! Modern toilets are designed to help save water too with the dual flush option, and most new shower heads are designed to use as less water as possible.
Buy loose fruit and vegetables, and don’t put them in plastic bags
A simple way to make a change is to buy loose fruit and vegetables where possible, and just put them in your trolley/basket as they are. They don’t need to be housed in a thin plastic bag to go from the supermarket to our houses either – whether that bag is free or not – as it doesn’t really make much difference. It’s generally cheaper to buy by the kg, and you’re almost definitely going to have less waste as you’ll buy what you need and not need to throw other products away after. If you have a farmers shop or something similar close by that is better than shopping at a supermarket too, but unfortunately that’s not something we have easy access to.
Another way to cut your food waste is to meal plan. Matthew and I roughly plan out our meals for the week on a Sunday, and then I’ll go and buy as many of the ingredients as possible in one go. We go through fresh produce like vegetables quickly, and it’s items like peppers or potatoes we need to pick up through the week. Meal planning is a simple way to save money as well as help the environment, and we love to try to new recipes! We’re setting ourselves a goal in the new year to have at least one day a week where we don’t eat meat (probably Monday, because #MeatlessMonday is a thing for a reason) so I’m hoping we can stick to that.
Change up your cleaning products I’m sure you’re all fully aware who Mrs Hinch is (if not, what?! Have you been living under a rock? Please go check out her Instagram RIGHT NOW @mrshinchome) and as a result, sales in cleaning products is through the roof! Minkeh’s sold out and were going for literally £20 on eBay, it was a crazy time! (If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, I can guarantee you have a busier life than me HAHA). Sophie talks about so many products during her Instagram stories, although not all of them are good for the environment. Brands like Method are environmentally friendly, and although they tend to cost a little more they are a safer product to use. Do your research and change out a few products accordingly, but I’d highly recommend anything from Method when you’re Hinching – they all smell divine!
Carpool or walk more
Driving is of course the most convenient way to get around, but it’s not breaking news that it’s not very good for the environment. Where I live, public transport is not accessible (and in my opinion, the whole point of driving and having a car is to use it!) however where possible you can carpool with friends, family or co-workers. Something that may help in a small way is on a weekend, when Matthew is off, we only use one car instead of two, so we’re slightly reducing our carbon footprint.
Thank you so much for reading! Do you try to do any of the things mentioned above, or are you wanting to put any of these ideas in place? Do you have any extra tips to share with me and my readers?