Sunday, 31 December 2017

A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I think this post needs to first start with an apology: I had such good intentions of writing in the run up to Christmas and with us going away it all kind of went out the window. It was a crazy time anyway and throwing in a family holiday to France may seam crazy to some, but choosing to take our Mark Warner Holiday on Christmas week was one of the best decisions I have ever made! More will follow about that in the next few weeks, but this post I wanted to write all day but it has got to 5.30pm on new year's eve and I am only just sitting down to write it!! In fact as I write it Rob is calling us for an early dinner before we head out to a party, but this I just need to get out!
This year has been quite an incredible year for me. Exactly a year ago my Godfather killed himself. It was absolutely tragic and this entire year it is something that has really stayed with me. It has been a hard thing to get over and with my own struggles and self doubts it has haunted me all year. A lot of the time not in a bad way. It has meant that I have been able to pray a lot for him and his family and also as a stark reminder of the difficulties others face and how I can manage my own hardships. Life has its difficulties. I am very much on my own mental health journey and 2017 has seen me struggle but learn so much. I don't think I have ever been sadder than I have this year but also, this year has brought some of my most happy memories. This year has brought some absolutely amazing experiences, ones that have truly changed me and helped me on my journey. 
Copenhagen with Rob in the summer was the most incredible time. We have been together 10 years now and I feel so truly blessed to have him in my life. He is the most unbelievable person I know and his love for me is ever present and always clear that a life without him would be a boring life indeed. From Cornwall to Italy, the summer months brought a bounty of experiences but latterly our Trip to France, to Tigne with Mark Warner as one of their ambassadors has been the most unbelievable trip we were able to share with the children. I can feel myself welling up at the thought of all the things we did with them and just briefly remembering the beauty of Tigne. Honestly, I don't want to say much as that is all to come, but now it has ended, 2017 has been just perfect.
Tonight we are celebrating my youngest sister turning 18. Ella's birthday was actually on Christmas Eve but they decided to save the big celebration with family and friends until tonight. I would usually easily just be happy at home for New Year. I never am really that bothered, but now I am really excited to spend an evening with so many friends bringing in the end of 2017 and the beginning of the new year. I hate to say that 2018 is going to be 'my year' but I feel so confident that there is going to be a change. I can just feel it, a greater power almost that this year will bring something.
As far as new year's resolutions, I haven't decided what I am doing yet. Something though, I always like to try but I know I am just going to slow down. I can't be bothered with the race anymore, especially with regards to blogging. That's not me stopping, I love doing this, absolutely love it but for so long I have worried about numbers and I had a little bit of an epiphany about it all. Blogging will bring me what it will bring me and I will forever be thankful for that, but the pressure that I have put on myself because of it is ridiculous. From now 2018 will be my year to share until my heart is content but I will be leaving the judgement of myself far behind. I suppose at this point I should say a few thank yous. This year has been exceptional with wonderful brands like Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley, Boden, Joules, Great Little Trading Company, Mark Warner, The Cambridge Satchel Company and so many, many more who keep wanting to collaborate with me and with whom I am really looking forward to continuing our relationships into the new year. The brands have been amazing. And then there are all the likes, the loves, the comments and all the people who continually support me across social media are just amazing! Thank you for your time and effort in following along on the different platforms. Then there's you, the readers of the blog, who keep coming back for more. I cannot thank you enough for always clicking back through to see what we are up to. It means so much. 
So cheers! Cheers to them, to you, to us and from the bottom of my heart I wish you a Happy New Year {oh and Happy Christmas too}.


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Panto Time; Oh Yes It Is! {New Theatre Royal Review}

Through my whole life in Lincoln, we have always gone to one at Christmas time. In fact, until I was married 8 years ago, it was an every year tradition, but through life and family changes it began to get missed as Rob and I had more to consider at this time of year. Needless to say attending the traditional Theatre Royal panto went by the wayside and as the kids haven't really been the right age, we haven't been to a professional pantomime in years. This year saw our love for the theatre change dramatically. We have been blessed with seeing some fantastic performances in local theatres and it has very much become something that we really love doing. It has shown our children such a magical world so when we were asked to go to the opening night of Aladdin at the NEW THEATRE ROYAL in Lincoln we were so excited at the chance to see our first panto in years!
The NEW THEATRE ROYAL is a very familiar building for me. It has been a staple in the city for years and having fallen on tough times some years ago a new team swooped in and have transformed it. It is the same old shell, and the traditional interiors but they have brought new life to theatre in the city and have a packed schedule running all year round. What's wonderful is it is run by the team in a modern way. They are present, not only in themselves, but on social media and in the city. They run competitions all the time to win tickets to events and they have just become a rejuvenated household name. We have 3 theatres in Lincoln, which for a small city is amazing. Plus an absolute bounty of amateur and volunteer dramatic societies who always have something on offer. What a lucky thing to have, a city full of such art!
Anyway, to the panto itself, well, to save from all the usual cliche hollas, it was fantastic {Oh yes it was}. If you are looking for something that makes you laugh and cheer in all the ways a panto should, this really is a perfect example of that. There were so many elements I loved, that it's hard to write them all down. The cast's {especially the dancers} costumes were amazing, everything was beautiful Arabian themed and the glitter sure was a plenty. The colours were fab and everyone looked so slick. The art on stage for the backdrops were simple, but clever and made such a great setting for the retelling of this classic story. Songs a plenty and loads of ones that are popular chart songs, and the ones that get stuck in your head mean that they really were panto great! Imagine The Clash and ''Rock The Casbah'' and the words being changed to suit the story! Writing genius! It was all just so catchy! Some of the main characters would be familiar faces to some, not so much to us, just because of what we watch on TV but as a cast, they seemed to fit well, and respond naturally in friendship and support as you would expect. One character that shone through though and very much carried the night was the very trusty Dame, Donna Kebab. What a character! Her quick wit and ability to rhyme exceedingly well just really carried the scenes through the performance and was a stand out character for us. And that's not to single anyone out, Jasmine and Aladdin in their singing ability were brilliant and all the main cast really performed. It was so enjoyable. Watching the kids, especially Etta in absolute awe of the dancers was amazing for us too. She was transfixed; absolutely couldn't believe what she was seeing and then to see actual Princess Jasmine, well, I think she was really blown away. And for Raphael, I think he really enjoyed Aladdin and actually one of the young boy dancers. He just last week started ballet and tap lessons at a local dance school and seeing this young lad on stage was inspiring. And that is exactly what you want. I want to take our kids to the theatre and see things that challenge them to want to try new activities. I want to laugh and enjoy the moment and come away all of us feeling a little bit more full of life and happiness and a joy to be part of this city and the want to contribute to its great reputation! 

Thank you to the NEW THEATRE ROYAL for allowing me to use their images.

If you want to try to get tickets to this year's panto, visit the box office at the theatre itself or look ONLINE for purchasing.
And, if you aren't lucky enough to get tickets how about booking a visit to their Easter panto ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

 Thank you to the NEW THEATRE ROYAL for having us and letting us get into the party spirit!

*Our tickets were gifted, but these thoughts are my own.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

This New Year; Bee Kinder To Yourself. {Ft. Joanie Clothing}

I find my inspiration for posts in all sorts of places. The slipping on of this BEE DRESS and the purchase of next year's calendar all came up as a few important messages that I wanted to jot down.
It's hard to write about as just two nights ago I sat and cried with Rob about all the noise that was in my head about myself. It's hard; self-belief is a hard step to climb up as there are knocks coming in from all sorts of directions and I, yes I, am such a failure when it comes to having any faith in myself at all. God, I hate it. It's this horrible noise in the background reminding me of how stupid I am, how ugly, fat, useless all the obscenities which are just horrible words I am bringing myself down with. It happens though, it creeps into everyday life, and just niggles at you. And sometimes, I struggle to shake it, I struggle to let it fall off as I get other reminders through my life of maybe it being true. Reality is I just expect too much, I can't be so far reaching to the top that I am surprised by the little knock backs. As that is all they are, and that's what I need to remind myself. Not everything is vicious, not everything is intended, everyone has bad days and the only person who is in control of how I deal with all these things is me. So if it's just me, I need to start being kinder to myself. I need to start giving myself a leg up to get me where I want to go, and I must decide what the important achievement is to me and whether it is worth the struggle. After all, I am blessed with so much, so much truth in my life shines into it and actually now heading into a new year I need to carry that forward. That truth, what I have, what I have achieved and how important that is to recognise. I was thinking that it is exactly a year ago that I sat in our doctors and cried. It was all too much but time has moved on and actually, I find myself in a similar place but in a place that I need to control, that's what I have been taught. I control it all and with the Christmas break I need to lay this last year behind me and move on to looking after myself more. I need to BEE kinder to myself, as I am the one who looks at the reflection in the mirror. 

My calendar I just happened to pick up from Homesense. I didn't even read what was on each page I just loved the shade of pink with the copper writing and was sold really. It wasn't until I was home and looked through each page that I realised what a lovely calendar it was. Each month with a mantra but a deep one, one to really contemplate and to carry in my thoughts. The first is the most explosive start to the year also, it drew me back slightly. It is very much 'Start as you mean to go on' and it is a stark reminder to us all. We all must live in more truth, we must live with love and most of all we must live in the light.

Courage is being yourself in a world that tells you to be someone else.
Bee You.

Thanks for the inspiration Joanie Clothing for this post!
I'm wearing their Bee Dress.

* Dress gifted by Joanie Clothing.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

The Purfect Last Minute Gift.

From the title not much more needs to be explained. Hardly anything actually, in fact I could write no more than the link to this fantastic bag and it would be enough. Why? Because when something is so good does it need any waffle to go alongside it? I don't think so. One picture speaks 1000 words right, well here, have this......

The End.

Haha only joking! I love pictures, but I couldn't just leave it as this, it doesn't seem fair! 
Anyway, I haven't even told you where this little number is from! Thank you to the creative Cath Kidston for once again bringing a little happiness to the fashion world. It can't all be suits and briefcases can it? I wanted to share this purfect bag and purse combo with you as we all know a cat lover who would be quite pleased to receive such a well thought out gift. 
I hate cats, really, I do but when I spotted this bag I just loved how cleverly simple it was and I think CK deserve some credit for that. Finding a little gap in the market for clever merchandise is always something that will get noticed. 

What I love most about this bag though is it is blue, and a beautiful navy at that. That makes me fall for it hook line and sinker. I am a sucker for navy blue. I honestly have all the time in the world for it and I think it is one of the most difficult colours to find on the fashion high street. It becomes a bit to generic and I often find it patterned and used as a background colour for something else. Not like this, it in fact is the making of the simplicity of this bag. Just perfect for teaming with my blue Boden Suit and having as a great accessory to it. 

And what's more, this CAT BAG sits alongside Cath Kidston's beautiful Leopard Flower print, which has to be one of my favourites ever. Another cat themed collection combining classic print with modern styles.

As I don't do any real gift guides, I find them actually quite stressful, I thought I would share this as a bit of inspiration to you all!

My Bag is the Crescent Cat Bag
My Purse is Leopard Pocket Purse.

*This bag was gifted by Cath Kidston

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Little Touches. {Ft. Joanie Clothing}

Final prep. will now be underway for so many of you. I must say, as far as getting all the little things done, I am pretty much on top of it now. My mad last panic was picking up some crackers, of all things to forget, but now with just a few cards to send out I am so ready for a break with the kids and a little relaxation. 
Round the house fairy lights are adorning every surface possible and with the tree up we don't really have that long to wait until the season can truly start. 
I always write about how much I just love being at home. This never changes and with all the little seasonal pieces around and the fire blazing, there is even more of a draw to keep inside at this time. I love that; the drawing feeling to just be. Maybe I like it a bit too much; as we have made it so comfortable we are stopping ourselves going out as much. My mother-in-law has always said that they never feel the need to go on holiday because they have created a beautiful home and being in that is holiday enough. You want to be able to feel completely relaxed at home don't you, so that all can function at the family's pace, not running the race like others or avoiding rooms because they are full of rubbish {"our spare room always gets like that", she says shutting the door on it}. Home is always where the heart is and I think through the autumn and winter, we as a nation, love to be in so much more. That is our British Hygge kicking in. We love the walks, the outside, but we love the call of coming indoors so much also. 

The Christmas home is a special one for all. From our young memories to recreating all we can in our adults lives to give us the Christmas feeling. It always comes through and with me adding the finishing touches now I know it's time to just relax and enjoy. I've hung the mistletoe, got baskets of hot chocolate ready and all we need to do now is just enjoy!

And for me part of the enjoyment is also about dressing up and enjoying entertaining. JOANIE clothing were kind enough to send me a few pieces perfect for pulling on this party season. And with everything I wear, I say don't keep it for a special occasion, just enjoy it when you can, wear it well!
I'm wearing their POPPY PRINT WRAP DRESS and love it!

*Thanks to Joanie Clothing for gifting me this dress.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

MY Top 10 Christmas Songs.

Rob and I were talking the other day about how much the X Factor has ruined the infamous Christmas number one single. When I was a teen it was the most sought after title and the music industry used to push huge songs to the top of the charts to get the most coverted Christmas number one. It was such a big deal, and quite an achievement. It is such a shame that in the last 10 years that pretty much got destroyed as there was only ever gonna be one winner in the run up to Christmas because it had been so well advertised. In the last 3 years it has definitely calmed more and I don't notice such a big hoo-hah about it all. Maybe that's because I am not particularly interested anymore because it became so boring. It was the same every year. The same kind of ballad and the same team and advertisement and it just got boring. I remember early X factors and how exciting it was that some nobody could beat famous musicians to the top spot. Then it started to lose its sparkle; the glamour definitely went and I suppose I just got used to playing what I like at this time of year and enjoy Christmas songs from past years. 

I am a much more classical kinda Christmas Girl; I hate party Christmas songs like Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses. That kind of Christmas music doesn't get me in the mood. Now Nat King Cole. Every single time. Honestly, put on his CD and that is the true start of Christmas for me! I also really love some more modern songs, like Coldplay's Christmas lights. That is a super beautiful song and gets me every time. I mean it's gorgeous and clever and a great new modern Christmas song. We all secretly {well not really secretly} love good old Michael BublĂ©! That croony voice and Christmas music are a match made in heaven and although I have had it on repeat when working in the shop for nearly 30 days solid, I can easily still listen to it. It's just easy, great music! 
I just thought for fun I would do a top 10 Christmas songs that I really love, as I find music tastes are always so crazy different between people and it's so nice to share that! 
So please feel free to leave a comment with your top ten. Let's see how we match up!!

Ok...... so in at number 10;

Oh Tannebaum by Nat King Cole

Oh Rejoice By Hillsong

Buon Natale By Nat King Cole

Christmas Lights By Coldplay

I think that one of the best pieces of music at Christmas time is music from films. I really wanted to put 'The snowman and the snow dog' in because there are some iconic pieces of Christmas music which wouldn't have battled it in the charts but really are pure Christmas pieces. 'The Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy' from The Nutcracker and 'The Walking Home' Theme by John Williams from Home Alone is one of the best and it immediately transports you to a winter scene! I love that music can do that and the wonderful emotional connection we have to this time of year! 
Go On what's your number one?


Monday, 4 December 2017

A Christmas season to enjoy.

I always get to the start of advent and look on the next 24 days with such excitement. I don't think advent is celebrated enough and it doesn't get the emphasis it deserves in my opinion. Advent is quite honestly the most wonderful time of the year. We can get so lost in this period and it can actually become quite bleak as we lose sight of the end goal. Every day in advent is a day to remind you of the steps that keep taking you closer and closer to Christmas Day and each should be a reminder to slow down and enjoy, as we all know those 24 days disappear at a rate of knots! This year I think I have helped myself out a lot. By having already bought and wrapped all presents I feel no need to have that hanging over me. I actually love shopping for people and in no way would I encourage getting it done early, it just has worked out that way this year and actually I thought I was put out by it but I have been able to realign myself and see the beauty of the season a bit clearer. We have coming up some major events in the next month; all things that I wanted to talk about really and I felt that the best way to share that was here. 

Just five days into December we celebrate along with countries like Germany, Denmark and Holland the feat of Sinterklaas. I have spoken about this in previous years, it is an absolute necessity to have this as a tradition as there are the most wonderful stories to share alongside and it actually begins the magic of Christmas and the thought of St. Nick returning our good deeds with sweet treats. Traditionally, this is a religious feast day of Saint Nicholas, and just like we would have Saint George's Day parades or Saint Patrick's day celebrations, this, well this is especially special for all. It is another form of Christmas Eve where you leave your shoes {traditionally clogs} out for a visit from Sinta Klaas who fills them with chocolates {or coal} to signify goodness. It's such a wonderful thing to do and another exciting Christmas tradition to fill your house with a bit of excitement! We celebrate it on December 5th by leaving out shoes by the fire in the hope that come Morning we will be having a chocolate breakfast!!

During advent this year we are taking the children to Lincoln Theatre Royal on the opening night of their Panto season. I haven't told the kids so that will be a bit of a surprise. We love theatre and it's great to have the opportunity to get down to local ones! I haven't been to the Theatre Royal panto in years so it will be so nice to go back and hopefully return again in the new year! If you fancy going visit New Theatre Royal.
Around the north part of the city The local fire station always do a parade. They do it over a series of nights going to local streets and villages with St Nick himself on a huge sleigh escorted through the city by that station's fire trucks. It's all for fundraising but it is a huge thing meaning so much to so many. I remember the first year we lived here. We had no idea it went on and one night ran quickly to the front of those as there was so much commotion! Imagine all the flashing lights. We thought something awful had happened but then realised what was going on. The kids absolutely love it and it is becoming a tradition to head out and see!! 
Lincoln's Christmas market comes to town this week and our tiny city is full of people. Traditionally the market is in the uphill area but the whole high street takes part. It is a great thing to see but as a local it is very much the same each year. It brings opportunities for us all to support local things though and many families carry out traditions at this time. If you want to find out more visit VisitLincoln.
We now spend quite a few weekend evenings watch Christmas films. We have a projector and can set it up so easily so we find we have it out as often as possible. WE love watching all sorts and all the classics get played at least once! Today we watched Miracle on 34th Street and I was reminded about how magical that films is, In fact as an adult I love it more than ever and as a parent, it is a great film for confirming belief!
Our Christmas tree will be picked up in the next few weeks from Fillingham Christmas Trees who we have shopped with for years now. A great Local tree farm who grow most of their trees on Lincolnshire land. 

With all of this we also have 3 family birthdays, a ski holiday, nativities, school discos, Santa visits and then so many more local attractions; We have Thor's Tipi Bar which I really want to visit for a hot chocolate, The Lantern Parade is also such a nice thing to see. There is so much more going on locally that I know we are just going to run out of time to do it just like every year! Starting with the best intentions though and hoping that this advent really guides me through the season appreciating all the little things!

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