Blogmas – Sparkle Sunday


On Christmas Day I like to get up and have breakfast in my pyjamas then take a really long shower and pamper myself, applying a hair mask and exfoliating myself all over.  After that is done I spend time moisturising and blow-drying my hair, styling it into curls or fashioning it into a pretty updo.  I then take my time applying makeup.  I spray myself with my poshest fragrance before getting dressed.

I know this seems like a lot for Christmas day but I like to get dressed up in my most fancy clothes, often a dress and high heels as it makes the day feel even more special.  In years past I have bought new clothes for the occasion –  a black velvet dress with black sparkly heels one year, a halter neck jumpsuit with diamante detailing around the neckline with glittered silver strappy sandals, a deep red chiffon dress with black over knee boots another year.

This year I have several options, I have a few different dresses which have hardly been worn so I don’t have the pressures of looking for and purchasing something to wear.  My options so far are a purple wrap-around dress, a black dress, or a skirt and top combo or even trousers and a top.  I have no real idea of what I want to wear but I do know that I will be making an effort with what I wear for the day.

What do you wear on Christmas day?  Do you dress up?  leave me a comment and let me know!


Blogmas – Surprise Saturday


My feelings around Christmas have changed drastically since I was little, no longer do I feel the same levels of excitement and anticipation.  I no longer attempt to stay awake to wait for the arrival of Santa, nor do I lay awake and wonder what the day will have in store.  But the magic and excitement are still felt in other ways.

I still get excited to spend a day with my family, of seeing their faces when they open the gifts I have chosen for them and for enjoying a dinner that has been lovingly prepared.  I still love to curl up on the sofa with a box of chocolates and a good book though have replaced the cup of tea with a glass of red wine.

I find joy in watching carols being performed by local choirs, seeing the kid’s faces light up when they catch a glimpse of Santa at the Christmas Parade and of seeing friends meeting up to share a coffee and chat, putting their feet up and relaxing when shopping.

I love to carefully wrap the presents where once I was eager to unwrap them, of receiving and writing Christmas cards, posting them through friend’s doors for them to find on their return to their homes.

I find a strange sort of comfort in joining the queues of other shoppers as we wait to pay for our goods, of taking the items home and of making the preparations ready for Christmas morning.

What has changed about Christmas since you were small?  Do you still get the same feelings about Christmas?  I’d love to know your comments!

Blogmas – Festive Friday


We are getting so much closer to Christmas that I can almost smell the Christmas dinner cooking!  And, today that is what this post is all about…Christmas Dinner!

When I was a kid I remember Mum spending so long preparing and cooking the main course of our dinner, the turkey taking the longest, being roasted and basted and roasted some more until it was perfect.  The smells in the house were amazing and my brothers and I would eagerly await the meal.

I still stick to a fairly traditional Christmas dinner and have roast parsnips, carrots and potatoes, mashed potato, peas, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower cheese, broccoli, Yorkshire pudding and gravy.  The only thing I switch is the meat, I’m pescatarian (I eat fish but most of my food is around 75% vegetarian with a very slow switch over to vegan) and in years past I have cooked a Quorn Vegetarian Roast which has been a big hit with family and friends.

This year I am cooking Christmas dinner with my friend and then having a dinner cooked by my Mum on Boxing Day which will be shared with my brothers, sister in law and my niece and nephew as well as my Mum and Dad.  I have no idea what Mum will be cooking but I know that it will be tasty whatever we have.  I do know that it will be along the lines of a traditional dinner though, just meat-free for me.  The meal that my friend and I will be preparing and cooking will be fairly traditional too though I have been looking at vegan options for the main course and I can’t wait.

Brussel sprouts, peas and broccoli are my favourite veg and I’d be happy with that and vegetable gravy!  I like to just steam those and then serve.  The roast root vegetables (parsnips and carrots) always get part roasted in oil with a tiny bit of salt before I remove from the oven and drizzle with maple syrup before they go back into the oven to finish off.  I find that the maple syrup adds to the sweetness of the vegetables and gives them a sticky, almost chewy consistency which is lovely.

Most of my energy goes into the preparation of the vegetables – so much peeling and chopping before cooking but, having some music on and a nice glass of gin and tonic help the time to pass quickly!  I am really looking forward to all the preparation and cooking of dinner this year!

What are your favourite things to serve for the main meal on Christmas day?  I’d love to hear about what you have so let me know in the comments!

Blogmas – Wishing Wednesday


It’s another Wishing Wednesday post for Blogmas and today is all about gifts for family.

When I give gifts to people I like to give things that are meaningful and thoughtful rather than some present you can get on a 3 for 2 offer in the supermarket, especially when it comes to giving gifts to family members.

I sit down and write a list of people who I would like to buy for and then think about things that they like to do, hobbies they may have or things that interest them which seems to work really well regardless of the age of the person you are buying for.

Google can be a great help in finding options, for example, if a family member really enjoys gardening then I search for “Gifts for gardeners” or “Gardening gifts” to see what is available before heading to the shops.  I find that this approach can give you lots of ideas especially if the interests are something you have no clue about.

One of my favourite things to do is to create a hamper or gift basket of similarly themed items, I’ll take the example of gardening… I would buy some seeds, both vegetable and flower seeds, some gardening gloves, a gardening trowel, a garden-themed mug and maybe a notebook with an outdoors print (like leaves) for those all-important growers notes and package it all up in a seed tray or rubber trug.  My Mum and Dad go away a lot and the other year I put together a wash bag of goodies for my Mum to take away with her or that she could use at home during a pamper session, I put lots of travel-sized products in there (shampoo, conditioner, shower gels, deodorant) and added other things like a face mask, hand cream, body lotion and perfume for her.

Another thing you can do is speak to other family members and all chip in to get one gift or gifts along a similar theme.  My Dad loves to paint so one year I bought him a watercolour travel paint set and my brother bought him some new paintbrushes in a canvas roll.

With the littles in the family, I like to buy them something creative or that will help them learn.  I bought them watches last year that were designed for kids and helped them to learn how to tell the time, I decorated some wooden pencil cases with gems and their names on them which they could use for their favourite pencils.

I’d really love to tell you what I have got for my family this year but I don’t want to spoil their surprises!

What are you getting for your families this year?  I’d love to know so leave me a comment!

Blogmas – Tinsel Tuesday


I can’t believe we are already 10 days into December!  How on earth did that happen?  I’m back today with my 10th Blogmas post which is all about the room decorations!

I love getting the room made up for Christmas, not just getting the tree out, up and decorated, but adding other festive touches to the space as well.  I’m not a keen fan of tinsel so don’t own any, but I love other decorations!

Before putting any decoration up, I first like to put away a few of my everyday ornaments and have a good clean everywhere, damp wiping all the surfaces before getting the polish out (it’s literally the only time the polish comes out of the cupboard!) and then re-organising the shelves.

Once I have made space, cleaned and tidied I then make a start on making everything festive.  I love to run fairy lights along the shelves and add small pegs between them to clip Christmas cards and small decorations on to.

Excess baubles look brilliant displayed in large, clear glass vases along with holly and other greenery.  To keep the greenery watered I like to place a small glass jar of water in the centre before arranging the baubles around it to hide it.

Paper chains are another favourite of mine and I tend to choose white printer paper to make them, cutting strips around 10 cm long by around 1.5 cm wide.  Making them while watching a Christmas film makes the task seem to fly by.  You can pick up cheap, pre-cut sets in places like pound shops, all you need to do is make them.

I’ve not hung anything from the ceiling in my home as the ceilings are quite high and I can’t reach but in other homes I have lived in I have hung pretty decorations up that spin and twist when a breeze catches them.  I do hang things from my main lights in the living and dining area of my house though.

I love snow globes and have a few that I dot around in spaces that I have made tidying up, and other Christmas themed ornaments go out to.

I also love to get all my festive scented candles out and light one in the evening when I am home from work each night just to make it feel even more special.

What decorations do you put up in your rooms?  Let me know in the comments as I’d love to know!

Blogmas – Merry Monday


It’s now the second Monday in December and I am back with another Merry Monday Blogmas post!  Today’s post is all about dinner planning!  Hopefully, by now you will have an idea of who will be coming to Christmas dinner and have a list of guests along with any dietary requirements so we can start to plan the meal!

Christmas dinner in my house tends to be a lot like a traditional roast dinner but with a few extra special touches.  I don’t eat meat so serve either a nut roast or some kind of meat-free main, such as a Quorn Roast as an alternative to meat.

I have a look at food magazines and Pinterest to get an idea of things that I would like to serve for starters and dessert, and I also use store magazines (Asda and Tesco both do brilliant magazines with some really lovely recipes).  Once I have decided on the starter and dessert I print out or cut out the recipe, write out a list of ingredients and then file the recipe away safely.

Next on my agenda is to write out all of the ingredients for the main course that I want to serve, things like potatoes, carrots, peas, Brussel sprouts all go on the list.  I then think about all of the extras that go along with the meal – gravy, other condiments, drinks, garnish, cream and other things.

Once I have a full list made up I then check the cupboards and assess what I have and what I need to stock up on.  By this point, my list looks awful and is full of crossings out and notes that I have made beside things.  When I have an idea of what is needed and I have checked all of my cupboards I then re-write the list out tidily so I can understand it at a glance when I take it shopping!

I like to calculate the amounts of things I will need so I look at how many people I will be cooking for and make calculations based on roughly what a portion of each vegetable and other food is, then multiply it by the number of guests before adding on an extra portion (just in case anyone else may come).  Once I have all of this figured out I then make a start on buying all of the ingredients that are either frozen or won’t go off.  I leave buying the fresh vegetables, cream and other perishables until nearer to Christmas Day.

Have you decided on your Christmas Menu?  What will you be having?  I’d love to hear about your food plans in the comments!

Blogmas – Sparkle Sunday


It’s the first Sunday in December and also the first Sunday of Blogmas!  Sunday’s on the blog for December will now be known as Sparkle Sunday which will be about Christmas fashion!  Today’s entry is all about my fashion choices for Christmas Eve!

For many Christmasses, Christmas Eve has been a day of getting up really early and hitting the shops to get the Christmas vegetables and any other Christmas food and drink items that may have been forgotten or that need to be bought last minute.  I normally choose my most comfy, easy to wear clothes to run these errands and along the way I pick up some new, cosy pyjamas, socks and slippers.

Once I get home I have a shower, wash my hair and face and apply some lovely scented body cream before sliding into my new pyjamas.

The day is spent preparing all the vegetables for Christmas dinner and cooking some things, like the mashed potatoes, which can be heated up on the day.  Once all the preparations have been made, and the table has been laid, all the presents are wrapped, I sit on the sofa with a glass of bubbly and snuggle down with Roxy to watch Christmas films until bed time.

Pyjamas are the best thing on Christmas Eve as they are cosy and warm, easy to move about in and make me feel really Christmassy.  I love fleece or brushed cotton pyjamas and with so many different styles and prints available it often doesn’t feel like you are wearing pyjamas.  And if you have anyone popping in unannounced, you can chuck a jumper over the top and not feel too underdressed or self-conscious!

What are your go-to fashions for Christmas Eve?  I’d love to know so leave me a comment!

Blogmas – Surprise Saturday


It’s the first Saturday of December which means it is also the first Saturday of Blogmas, otherwise known as Surprise Saturday on my blog!  Surprise Saturday’s are, well, a surprise!  In today’s Surprise Saturday I am sharing a memory that I have of Christmas when I was small.

Back when my brothers and I were small we would wake up on Christmas Eve and play games with the rest of the family, watch films and generally have a nice family time.  There were never decorations put up though, and we would have our bath, Mum would read to us and then we would go to sleep.

On Christmas morning we would wake up, probably far too early in my parents’ eyes, with a sack of presents having been left at the end of our beds.  We would drag our presents into Mum and Dad’s room, wait patiently for Dad to make everyone a cup of tea and return before delving into our gifts.

Once all the gifts had been opened we would make our way downstairs.  The sight that greeted us was one of magic, a Christmas tree standing in the corner with lights all twinkling, paper chains hanging from the ceiling along with foiled 3d snowflakes and balls and tinsel draped over the tv unit and bannister rails.  It was truly a sight to behold.

My brothers and I were always amazed at how different the rooms seemed and I can’t imagine how much work it must have taken to put the decorations up after looking after 3 hyped-up kids on Christmas Eve and I always think back to that time with a smile on my face as it really did make our Christmas seem even more magical.

This simple act of waiting until Christmas Eve to decorate the house contrasts so much with Christmas now where it seems that there is a race on to be the first person to get the decorations up and I know of people putting their decorations up in October and November.  Last year I decorated the house on 1st December as I wanted the house to be festive for my Crafternoon and this year I put the tree up last night but have a few other bits to sort out.  I’d love to be able to put the decorations up on Christmas Eve but have so many festive plans before hand that I want my guests to feel Christmassy when they pop around to mine.

When do you put your decorations up?  Do you have any memories of putting decorations up when you were small?  I’d love to learn about any of your decoration memories so let me know in the comments!

Blogmas – Festive Friday


It’s the first Friday of Blogmas also known, here on the blog, as Festive Friday!  The theme for today’s Festive Friday is food and drink, specifically Snacks, Starters and Drinks that can be served to guests over the festive period.

Snacks are brilliant to place out for guests to help themselves to between meals or after dinner, things like crisps, nuts and chocolates are perfect as are finger foods like vegetable sticks, breadsticks, dips, cheese and crackers.

When it comes to drinks, I like to have a selection of wines (at least one bottle of red, rose and white), fruit juices – normally apple, orange, cranberry and pineapple, posh fizzy pop (I really like the Rose lemonade), a few different spirits (gin and vodka are my usual go-to spirits), and an Irish liquor.  I also like to keep handy a selection of teas and coffee too.

There are so many different starters to choose from in the shops now that it can be hard to make a choice.  My top tips when choosing a starter are to

  • Think about what you are having for the main course and dessert and choose something that will complement the flavours of those dishes
  • Don’t choose something with super-strong flavours or is really spicy as you don’t want the starter flavour to interfere too much with the flavours of what is to come
  • Choose something that is light and not overly filling.
  • Go for something fresh like a salad if in doubt

My favourite starters have been a wild mushroom tartlet made from puff pastry, prawn cocktail and a lovely smoked salmon salad.

What are your favourite drinks, starters and snacks over the festive period?