Sunday, 14 December 2014

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas ...

Festive not Stresstive!


Let it be said that there's a very good reason that Mr M used to put the tree up and I used to decorate it ...

I wasn't going to put a tree up this year.  I'd sprinkled a few festive "bits" around - candles and ornaments - and my friend's Mum had sent me two sparkly festive hedgehogs and it all seemed like enough.

Then yesterday, I sat making little homemade bits to give to people for Christmas and I ran out of ribbon.  As I was in the making mood, I decided to venture out to buy more ribbon and the town was busy, and the songs were Christmassy and I bought a little set of battery powered fairy lights to scatter around my TV unit.  That was definitely enough.


But it was twelve days before Christmas and that's when we always put the tree up.

I got home and my friend had sent myself and three others a picture of her brand new, stripped from the ground in it's prime, fulfilling it's potential Christmas Tree all potted up and sparcely decorated.  I mentioned that I wasn't going to bother putting my tree up this year as it seemed pointless when I'm the only one who will see it.  I then received strict instructions to get on with it, the three of them wanted to see it. So there.

I had almost two hours until The X Factor final started, having already decided against going to the Office Christmas party. Loads of time.

I fetched the tree box and the three bags of decorations.  I moved the rug to make room for the tree, that's almost the size of my teeny living room.  That's Rude Boy's rug ... he was not amused!

I emptied the tree box ... one stand, three chunks of trunk and  FORTY TWO BRANCHES! Sweet lord, whoever thought buying this tree was a good idea ... oh right, that will be me!  

So for the first time, I set about opening up and attaching 42 branches INDIVIDUALLY.  Ugh, I hate DIY ;-)  That took longer than the decorating did!

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas ...

Sitting in my festive living room, watching The X Factor final, I didn't feel particularly festive but I did feel more peaceful.  By the time I went to bed, I felt sad again but at least I'm trying.  It's all I can do.  Now, I'd better wrap some presents to put underneath it! 11 sleeps to go ...

Have you got your decorations up? I'd love to see pictures - why not share your blog posts in the comments below or share your photos on my Facebook wall? :) Christmas is a time for sharing, folks! x

Friday, 12 December 2014

Kindle Bargains #19

Brilliant Bargains!


There really are some brilliant Kindle Bargains in this week's bunch ... and they're not all Christmas ones either! Treat yourself, go wild!

Kindle Bargains #19

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Ten Super Secret Santa Gift Ideas

Ssshhh ... It's a Secret!


We arrange a Secret Santa at work every year, it's a great way to involve everyone in the gift giving, without spending too much money or having to do too much shopping. The main reason people don't join in is because they don't know what to buy, which is how I ended up buying everyone's gift and arranging a giant lucky dip style Secret Santa last year. 

If you're looking for some Super Secret Santa gift ideas, then you've come to the right place ...

1. Personalised Desktop Calendar - Funky Pigeon, £9.99


Perfect for desks in any workplace or at home, and unique to the recipient!  This Lemon Squeezy Wine Calendar is perfect for wine loving female colleagues, but you could also choose from the Keep Calm Calendar, Meerkat Mania Calendar and a host of other designs.

Personalised Desktop Calendar

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Made: Snow Topped House Christmas Tree Decorations

It's Cold Outside


After making the button Christmas trees, I thought about what else I could make to hang on the tree.  I had lots of felt and a bag of soft toy filling that I hadn't got around to using (best laid plans, and all that!) so thought I'd try making some felt decorations and these were the first I tried.  You may have spotted one on my Sunday Photo/Silent Sunday post the other week.

Made: Snow Topped House Christmas Tree Decorations

Monday, 8 December 2014

Relaxing With Mulled Berries from House of Fraser

Festive not Stresstive!


I heard that phrase on an advert the other day and it's quickly becoming my mantra of the season.  Needless to say, I've been a little stressed recently and just the thought of Christmas was setting off a little panic alarm in my head.  As if by Christmas miracle, the lovely peeps at House of Fraser got in touch and asked if I'd be willing to take some time out and relax. I didn't have to be asked twice!

I was sent their Mulled Berry collection, which includes a diffuser, jar candle and botanic candle.  I've always been a fan of candles, especially winter scents - berries, pine, cinnamon and other festive fragrances - but I've never used a diffuser.  I probably should have thought of it long ago, given all the cat and dog tails around those naked flames!

House of Fraser Mulled Berries Diffuser

Friday, 5 December 2014

Kindle Bargains #18

Kringle Bargains?


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ... and the rate things are going I'll still be reading festive Kindle Bargains in April!  There's a few other goodies in the mix this week though, so even if Christmas reads aren't your thing, feast your eyes on this lot ...

Kindle Bargains #18

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Sadvent

S-Advent. Sad-vent.


I've been incredibly sad this past week, it's like all the other weeks have just caught up with me.  I had all sorts of blog posts planned, including a few Christmas giveaways but instead of sorting those out, I went to work on autopilot, came home and ate lots of CocoPops whilst watching Orange Is The New Black. And cried.  And slept.

I've always loved advent.  I love the journey to Christmas much more than the day itself.  I love Christmas movies and songs and shopping and wrapping and chocolate.

Advent Calendars


But this year, I was sad because the time is going quickly and it will soon be Christmas. This year I'm dreading Christmas.  I'm dreading waking up alone on Christmas Day, and having nobody to open presents or eat breakfast with.  

Christmas hasn't been a very happy time for me for the past few years.  Every Christmas morning, whilst the only one awake, I've cried big, silent tears for the babies that don't get to join in, for the presents that should have been under the tree.  Then I've dried my eyes and joined in the festivities because deep down, I love Christmas.  I just wish I'd got to have my dream Christmas. 

I sit at work and listen to everyone talking about how Christmas is great when you have little ones, about the presents they've bought their kids, late night shopping at Smyths, decorating the tree, school fetes and nativities and it all makes me very sad.

But today, I don't feel as sad.  I almost feel a bit festive.  Almost.  I considered putting the tree up.  I haven't, naturally ... as every bloody branch needs inserting individually, and I've got series 2 of Orange Is The New Black to watch, but at least I've considered it ;-)

I've jumped back into comping this week, which has helped.  Advent comps can keep you very busy! I had some giveaways planned for here on the blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, so I'll sort them out at the weekend and they should be up and running before New Year ;D

I've made some Christmas decorations, and I'm going to enjoy making some more at the weekend. I'm going to see my nephews so they can tell me all about the pantomime they're going to see with Nana & Grandad, and one of them is turning 7 so there will be presents and cake. Then I might put the tree up.  And I should probably wrap some Christmas presents or write some cards out and post the things that need posting.  Or I might just watch The X Factor semi final with a cheeky Blue Wkd and a box of After Eights!

The best thing about Advent is it keeps me busy, which is just what I need.  Comping, shopping, wrapping, working, Secret Santa, Christmas party, X Factor final and everything else December brings with it.  Then it'll be Christmas and I just have to keep telling myself it's just one day and I'll get through it like I always do, and hopefully get some great gifts too!

So, I hope you're having a Happy Advent, but I know there are people out there having a Sadvent, and I send out big hugs to you.  It's a hard time of year for many people and I think it can be made worse when you see how wonderful it is for others.

If you're Advent comping then GOOD LUCK! I hope you'll join in my comps to when they're up and running (soon, I promise!).

Friday, 28 November 2014

Kindle Bargains #17 - #BlackFriday Special!

Black Friday Bargains


Things are hotting up over on Amazon, with Black Friday Bargains galore - and that includes lots of Kindle Bargains.  There are loads of Kindle books reduced for this weekend only - you can view the full selection here, but here are my Top Picks -

Kindle Bargains #17 - #BlackFriday Special!

Black Friday at Pet Shop Bowl - Free £10 voucher!

Pet Shop Bargains


The lovely folks over at Pet Shop Bowl recently got in touch to let me know about their Black Friday weekend deals.

Free Vouchers


Pet Shop Bowl will give you a FREE £5 Voucher when you spend £50 OR a FREE £10 voucher when you spend £100!

Pet Shop Bowl Black Friday - FREE £5 Voucher when you spend £50 OR a FREE £10 voucher when you spend £100!


Perfect for stocking up on pet stockings!

Christmas Gifts at Pet Shop Bowl
Less than 4 weeks until Christmas and I haven't bought the furries a single pressie yet!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Made: Button Christmas Tree Decorations

Deck The Halls


In my attempts to be more creative, and to fill my house with handmade goodies, I've been making some Christmas decorations.

This is the first - Christmas Tree decorations made from buttons!

Button Christmas Tree Decorations

Sunday, 23 November 2014

10 Alternative Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

Buying for a Bookworm


Buying gifts for book lovers can be tricky, given that they most likely own lots of books already.  Chances are they snapped up the latest release from their favourite Author the moment it hit the shelves.  Of course, you could ask what book they'd like to add to their collection, but to maintain an element of surprise with your gift giving, why not try one of these ten great alternatives?

1. Personalised Book Cover Mug


These fantastic Penguin Classics themed mugs from The Literary Gift Company can be personalised with any book title and name that you like.  You could choose your book loving giftee's favourite title, or make one up yourself.

Personalised Book Cover Mug - 10 Alternative Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

As well as the orange "Fiction" mug, there are also green "Crime & Mystery" or blue "Non-Fiction" mugs available.

£12.95 including personalisation.

2. Bookends


Friday, 21 November 2014

Kindle Bargains #16

Bring Me Bargains


Yes, it's that time of the week again - Kindle Bargains ahoy! As with last week, those festive titles are sneaking in so if you're looking for the perfect Christmas read, you might just find it.  These books are all currently 99p or less but don't hang around as the prices can increase without warning.

Kindle Bargains #16

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Book Review: WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON

Two Become One


Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green & David Levithan


One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens - both named Will Grayson - are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both of them legions of faithful fans.
 

I'm going to start by saying READ THE BLURB FIRST.

Seriously.  If you skipped it, scroll back up and read it. 

Take note of the bit that says two teens - both named Will Grayson.

That's important. 

Don't be like me. Don't think oooh, I lurved The Fault InOur Stars, which John Green book should I read next? Ah, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSONlet's do this sh*t! Then start reading and thinking that Will Grayson and will grayson are the same person, as they are not. Don't get a few chapters in wondering why Will Grayson and will grayson, who are the same person, are completely confusing with all their different boyfriends and girlfriends and gayness and straightness and rules and personalities. They are not the same person from the start, I'm just lacking in common sense.

There.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

One Week In

Home Alone


I've actually been in my new house for a little over a week now and it's possibly been the hardest week of my life.  I took a week off work to pack/move/unpack, plus to fix certain things at the old house, such as where Jager cat had ripped all the wallpaper off.

I thought I'd give you a quick update, but I'll show you around properly in a few days when I've bought some furniture, finished unpacking and actually taken more photos. Ok, ok ... here's a sneaky peek from when I was half way through unpacking last week ...



For the past 8 years, I've lived in sunshine houses.  Houses with front and back windows, lots of sunlight, nice and bright and lovely.  The first thing I noticed is how dark my new house is.  It's a mid terrace but the house we lived in for 7 years was also and it was nothing like this.  In my attempt to brighten things up a bit, I opened all the blinds ... and one fell off.  That should do it! Or you'd think so anyway.



It's also really cold.  It's an old, old terraced house, which thankfully has been extended to bring the toilet indoors (!) but it's COLD!  Things heat up pretty quick when I put the heating on but then cool down just as quick when I turn it off.  At the moment only one of the neighbouring properties is occupied so I'm hoping when the other sells, things might warm up a bit as my budget is super tight and if I keep putting my heating on, I'm going to be super broke!

Most of all, it's lonely.  Really, excessively lonely.  Mr M always worked night shifts and I never felt lonely, because I was at home.  Now I feel like I'm just hanging out in someone elses house, surrounded by my belongings and wondering how I got here.  The amount of time I spent last week just staring into space was unreal.  

I've seen Mr M on about half the days, moving the last bits from the old house, clearing the garden and garage, decorating the living room to remove evidence of cat claws.  I've still been lonely.  I'm dreading what it will be like when we hand the keys to the old place later today and everything is done.

I brought Izzy with me (naturally) and she's coped incredibly well.  Much better than I thought she would, based on the experience of our last house move.  I suppose it means she's had some practice now!  Some nights Rude Boy is here (joint custody due to Mr M's shifts) and other nights there's just little IzzPops but she's fine with it, it seems.

I also brought Barley cat with me.  This meant splitting her up from her sister, Jager as well as our eldest cat, Suki.  Luckily, Barley is very much a people cat - she loves humans.  For the first few days she howled and squealed, but I think more because of her strange surroundings rather than being separated from the other cats.  She's much more settled now, lazy days lounging on the big fat radiator in the dining room, night times curled up on my bed.  She has ventured outdoors, but is a wannabe house cat deep down and even if I leave the door open all day, she barely steps a paw outside.

In my first week here, my Mum visited a couple of times but aside from that it was just me. It made me realise that outside of work and the interwebs, I don't really have any friends.  I'm thinking of lots of projects to keep me busy, to take my mind off the loneliness.  I'm back to work full time tomorrow, so fingers crossed things will get easier.  I didn't know the human body could shed so many tears!

For now, I'm feeling much more positive than I did this time last week! and the wallpaper is growing on me ...

Friday, 14 November 2014

Kindle Bargains #15 (+20% cashback!)

Bargains are Back


After a short break, Kindle Bargains are back ... and things have got a little bit festive!

As always, these books are currently 99p or less and for this weekend only you can get 20% cashback on all of your Kindle book purchases.  Simply shop via Quidco and if you're not already a member, sign up now and receive £1 for free!



Friday, 7 November 2014

The Search Is Over ...

House Hunted


I wrote this blog post on Wednesday ....

After weeks and weeks of house viewings, high hopes, disappointments and everything in between, yesterday I finally found out I have a new house!  

The search has been hard, far harder than I could have imagined.  

I have had numerous viewings, some of them complete death traps which had me running out of the door.  Others have been wonderful but I've made an application only to find out I've been beaten to it by someone else.  

Many Landlords don't accept pets, which lowered the available number of properties down quite a chunk and the area (near Mother Melvis) where I want to live can be quite pricey, and I'm quite skint, so that brought the number down again.  

I have had several close calls, one which was only scuppered by an unscrupulous letting agent who wanted to charge me £360 just to apply (!) for a cottage that has been on the market for almost 6 months (!) ... when I investigated their tariff of charges further, it turns out they would've charged me to breath in the place.  Bye Bye Cottage.

I've been beaten to some gorgeous houses, there have been lots of tears and many times when I've felt like giving up and just moving into Mr M's shed but alas, the search is now over.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Kindle Bargains #14

Cheap as Chips


My schedule's still a little all over whilst I arrange my house move with not a lot of time to spare (fingers crossed it all goes swimmingly from here on!), so I missed last week's (Sorry!) - but here are some cracking Kindle Bargains to make up for it.

As always, these are currently 99p or less but there is no guarantee the prices will stay low for long.

Kindle Bargains #14