Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 in Pictures

 It’s the final day of 2013, and to be honest, I’ll be quite glad to see the back of it. It’s not been an easy year, but I think it’s always important to look for the positives, so here is a summary of the last year in photos. Enjoy!

January - We had lots of snow!

January - We celebrated Richard's 22nd Birthday

February - We celebrated my Mum's Birthday

March - It was Rebekah's 14th Birthday and her French exchange partner came to stay

March - David's 20th Birthday

April - A stroll down to the Nature Reserve behind our house

April - Went to Millers Ark Farm with Richard and Lisa

May - We made a cake for Rosiie's 19th Birthday

July - A lovely family holiday to Center Parcs

August - Met up with Nicola in London and went to the Zoo

September - Jo and Trevor got married

October - I turned 25

October - Mum, Dad and I had a morning out at The Vyne, a National Trust property

October - I had a little AYME Birthday meet-up with Clare and Emma

October - A short break to York with Dad and Rosiie

November - It stopped raining long enough for us to watch the fireworks display

November - Met up with Daisy, Charlie and her two little ones

November - We welcomed little Freddie to our family

December - My Gran celebrated her 90th Birthday and her sister-in-law and nephew joined us

December - A lovely family Christmas

How has 2013 been for you? Are you looking forward to a fresh start in 2014?

Monday, 30 December 2013

My Christmas 2013

So, after all that preparation and excitement, Christmas has now been and gone. I hope you all had a lovely time over Christmas whatever you were doing, and managed to relax a bit and spend time with those you love.

I had a lovely Christmas with my family, so I thought I’d do a little post to sum it all up, as I know I always love reading about how others have celebrated and what Santa brought them.

It began with Christmas Eve. I spent the afternoon down at my Church with my Dad and sister, where we hold three Crib (Nativity) Services, which are always packed out with the local community. I’ve been going to them for as long as I can remember and I can’t think of a better way to spend Christmas Eve, reminding myself of what Christmas is all about. This year I spent my time dressed as an angel for the Nativity scene, looking after some little angels. Other years I’ve been Angel Gabriel and even Mary – who said Nativity plays are just for children?! After this, I came home, got into my new Christmas pyjamas and hung my stocking at the foot of my bed, reading for Santa to visit.

My personalised stocking

Christmas Pyjamas from M&S

When I was younger, Christmas morning usually started in the small hours of the morning, waiting excitedly until we were allowed to go into my parents’ room to open our stockings. These days, with us all being older, things are a little more leisurely and we tend to get up at about 8am to open stockings. After breakfast, we donned our Christmas jumpers and headed to Church for a short Christmas morning service.

My brother, David, and I. His jumper is from Next and mine is from New Look

Our day was a bit switched around this year, as my sister had to work at the stables in the afternoon, which is when we would normally open our Christmas tree gifts. So, after Church, we all settled down in the lounge and opened our presents. I was very spoilt, but what I really enjoyed was seeing the rest of my family opening the gifts I had bought them. We even got Alfie and Freddie a couple of bits to open.

Freddie sporting his new coat

We moved our Christmas meal to the evening, so we could all sit down together. My sister got home at about 6pm to the yummy smells of my Dad’s Christmas dinner, and we all sat down together to enjoy it. My friend then popped over with her husband, and we exchanged Christmas presents and had a little festive tipple. Then, with our tummies nice and full, we went back to our usual Christmas Day traditions and settled down in front of the TV to watch Doctor Who and a few other Christmas specials.

I feel extremely lucky and grateful for all the beautiful gifts I received, but also for having such a special family to spend Christmas with. I thought I’d share a few of my presents with you all to end this post.

Snow Globe charm - Pandora

The cutest hottie ever - Topshop

Beautiful photo frame from Sarah

A lovely new perfume

I can tell I'm getting old! So excited for this electric blanket!

Fluffy pyjamas - Primark

I've had my small digital camera for over 10 years, so I'm looking forward to using this new one!

Did you have a good Christmas? What did Santa bring you and how did you celebrate this year?

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sunday Spotlight - 29th December 2013

This week, I’ve been loving…


We’ve spent months preparing for it, yet in just a few hours it’s been and gone. I hate how quickly it flies by, but for this week I’ve tried to make sure I really enjoy it as much as I can. I’ll do a separate post about my Christmas, so for now I’ll leave you with a festive photo…

Cinema times

I don’t get to go to the cinema that often, which is a real shame as it’s one of my favourite things to do. It’s just so darn expensive! But there’s nothing better than finding the right seats then nestling down in front of the big screen, full of anticipation for the film you’re about to see. One of my favourite parts is actually the trailers before the movie, just so I can make a mental note of all the new films I’d like to see!

This week, I’ve somehow managed to have two cinema trips – I’m obviously making up for lost time! My first trip was with one of my best friends, who is home from Dubai for Christmas. We have a tradition of going to see a Christmas film every year, and this year we chose to go and see ‘Frozen,’ which was fantastic (I wouldn’t expect any less from Disney!) I’m already excited for when it’s released on DVD and can’t get the ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ song out of my head!

Then, on Boxing Day, my Dad asked me if I’d like to go to the cinema with him. Being part of a large family, I never really do anything just my Dad and I, so it was lovely to have some Daddy Daughter time. He chose for us to see ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,’ with Adam Sandler. It wasn’t my favourite film, but it was good and the locations they shot in were just stunning. My Dad loved it, so a fairly successful trip in my opinion. And now I’m planning all the films I want to see in 2014 – The Lego Movie and the new Muppets film are fairly high on my list!

Sales bargains

I’m a sucker for a ‘Sale’ sign and as much as I try to restrain myself, it never really works! I did go into town a few days after Christmas to have a mooch around, but to be honest I didn’t really find much. I can’t cope with the hoards of people and having to sift through row upon row of mismatched outfits, just to find something in my size. Online sale shopping is much more me. You can browse from the comfort of your own home, search for exactly what you want to look for and filter out all the stuff that doesn’t interest you. I’ve decided this year to just go for a select few items, rather than going crazy buying things I don’t really want or need. I’ve managed to order myself a Blu-Ray player that connects to the Internet from John Lewis and a nice new burgundy hoody from Jack Wills, both at knockdown prices. Now I’m just waiting for the postman to knock on my door with them!

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Dear Santa

In just a few hours we will all be snuggled under our duvets while Santa and his reindeer glide through the night’s sky, delivering presents to everyone on the good list.

When we were younger, we would always write a letter to Santa, saying we’d been really good all year (!) and listing a few things we were hoping to find in our stockings on Christmas morning. So I thought this year I’d put together a little wish list for Santa on here, although I’m not expecting any of it – I’d be quite happy to just have a day spent with my family, enjoying each others company. But if Santa thinks I’ve been good this year, I wouldn’t say no to any of these lovely presents!

A Blu-Ray player – Tartan scarf – Pandora Snow globe charm – Lush Snow Fairy – Pandora earrings – A camera – Pandora Pink Fizzle charm – Electric blanket – Pandora Gingerbread charm – New Look Parka – Pandora ring – Jack Wills hoodie

This afternoon has been spent with me dressed up as an angel for my Church’s Nativity services. There’s always such a lovely family atmosphere at these, and I find it helps me to remember the true meaning of Christmas, amongst all the hustle and bustle of presents, food and fairy lights  Now I’, home, I’ve put my mince pie and carrots out, am decked out in my new Christmas pyjamas and have hung my stocking at the foot of my bed. Now the only thing left to do is try and fall asleep so Santa can work his magic!

What’s on your Christmas wish list this year? Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions? 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Sunday Spotlight - 22nd December 2013

This week, I’ve been loving…

Christmas Trees

I have to admit I’ve never felt this un-Christmassy so close to the big day. I don’t know what it is this year – I’ve written cards, bought and wrapped presents, been to Carol Services…I just don’t seem to have that Christmas spirit this year. However, it has been nice seeing all the Christmas trees in neighbours windows and ours is finally decorated, taking pride of place in the corner of our lounge. As un-Christmassy as I feel, there’s nothing quite like being greeted by it’s twinkly lights and pine-needle scent.

Time spent with friends

One of my favourite things about the festive period is having the opportunity to catch up with friends I don’t get to see very often. A lot of my closest friends have moved away from our little hometown. Some haven’t gone too far, whereas others are living thousands of miles away, on the other side of the world! But over the last week some of them have journeyed ‘home’ and it’s been lovely having a proper catch-up with them. I’m looking forward to seeing those who haven’t made it back yet over the next couple of weeks.

Radio Times

Throughout most of the year, I never buy Radio Times. I’ve not really any need for it as I can find out all I need to from the good old Internet. But when Christmas comes around, it’s tradition to pick up a copy of the Christmas edition. This week I’ve enjoyed curling up on the sofa with my copy and a nice pink highlighter, marking all the Christmas TV I’d like to watch. I think I may need to record some of it, unless I spend the whole festive period in front of the box!

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Deck the Halls...

This year I seem to be finding it hard to get in the Christmas spirit. What with being ill, all I’ve really wanted to do is curl up and sleep, but having some Christmas decorations around me has started to help me feel a little more Christmassy. So, I thought I’d share some of our decorations with you, to spread the festive love and joy a bit more. I won’t write about each picture; hopefully the photos and captions will do all the talking necessary!

Advent candles usually come out on December 1st

Our family tree


Gold Angel

My Mum's colour scheme is gold and red

Whereas mine is silver and pink

A couple of Christmas kitties to complete this post

Do you enjoy decorating your house for Christmas? Do you have a particular colour theme, or does anything go?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Last Minute Gift Guide!

I can’t believe we’ve got less than a week until Christmas! After thinking about it back in October and thinking I had plenty of time to get organised, all of a sudden it’s crept up on me and I’m trying to make sure I’ve got those last minute gifts for family and friends.

If you’re like me and need a bit of last minute inspiration, I’ve put together some ideas for everyone you could possibly think of. I hope it helps!

Gifts for those special ladies

Whether it’s your Mum, sister, girlfriend, best friend or work colleague that you need to buy for, there should be something here for everyone.

For the lady who likes a bit of pampering, top left is a Bomb Cosmetics Candy Land Gift Pack at a very reasonable £12.99. Below this is one of my favourite products, an Animal Tangle Teezer from Topshop (£12.25). It really does tease those knots out of your hair without pulling and hurting! I always like to receive books for Christmas, and there are plenty to choose from out there this year. One I’m looking forward to reading is Amanda Holden 'No Holding Back', which is a bargain at only £9 from Tesco. You can’t go through Christmas without treating someone to a piece of jewellery, and Pandora has some beautiful pieces this season, including this Snow Globe Charm for £45. Getting a lovely beauty gift is always special at Christmas, as it gives you lots of new things to try for all those New Year’s Eve parties you’ve been invited to, and you can’t go wrong with a Benefit Love at First Shine Gift Set, £19.50 from Debenhams. Something that always excites me during the festive period is all the fragrance gift sets that adorn the shelves. One of my favourite perfumes of the last year is Honey by Marc Jacobs who have a beautifully packaged gift set for £39.50 at Boots. I’m a big fan of GHD products for making my hair look party ready, and when I saw this GHD Pink Diamond Styler at ASOS for £135 I squealed a bit – GHD straighteners in pink – who could want more!? Lastly, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a celebrity exercise DVD, but this year I’ve found something a little different. Miranda Hart's Maracattack, £9.99 at Amazon, is a must have gift for anyone you know who is a fan of her show. What better way to work off those mince pies than with some comedy exercise incorporating a pair of maracas!

For the man in your life

Are you stuck for ideas for what to buy your boyfriend, husband or brother? I know they’re not always the easiest to buy for, but I’ve found a few things that I’m sure they’ll be happy to find under the tree this year.

It can be hard to know what fragrance to buy a man if you don’t know their favourite, but I’ve found that Calvin Klein Euphoria seems to suit a wide range of my friends and family. Boots are selling it in a gift set for £43.50. Instead of the usual pair of socks this year, why not go for something slightly different and buy him a pair of Where's Wally Christmas Trunks for £7 from Tesco! If you’re looking to boost his ego a bit, this Mr Perfect Mug is a steal from Tesco at only £5. They do a whole range of Mr Men mugs, so if Mr Perfect doesn’t quite fit, there’s always Mr Messy and Mr Grumpy there too! If your man enjoys reading and is a fan of David Jason, his autobiography has been released recently, and is only £9 from Tesco. Finally, you can’t beat a pair of novelty slippers at this time of year, and I’ve found these New Look Zombie Slippers for £14.99 from ASOS to keep his feet nice and toasty.


If you’re buying for a teenager, you’ll probably have been given a list as long as your arm full of gadgets and designer clothing! But sometimes it’s more fun to go off list and buy them something they might not be expecting.

This ASOS iPhone 5 Jelly Monster Case is a great way for them to jazz up their phone, and at £8 it won’t break the bank either. I’m yet to find a teenage boy who doesn’t own a games console, so the Blue Inflatable Gaming Chair, £20 from Debenhams would be a great addition to their gaming set-up, and will probably make a comfortable seating option for when friends come round too. Onesies are big news at the moment, especially in the teen population, and this New Look Heart Hologram Onesie for £22.99 at ASOS would be great to snuggle up in on Christmas Day Evening. One Direction have taken the world by storm since their appearance on X-Factor, and I know this Where We Are Book is on my teenage sister’s Christmas list. Tesco are currently selling it for £7, so you can pick one up when you do your grocery shopping. I always think it’s important to promote creativity in young people, so a couple of things to add to their stocking could be the ASOS Nail Art Gem Wheel (£4) and the ASOS Neon UV T-Shirt Graffiti for £6. You can pick plain white t-shirts up for a couple of pounds from shops like Primark, so stock up on a few and your teen will have hours of fun creating new designs!

Don’t forget the little ones!

In my experience, children aren’t usually too difficult to buy for, and you don’t need to spend a fortune for their little faces to light up. I’ve found a range of items that have taken me right back to my childhood again!

One of the best presents I ever remember opening at Christmas was a Sylvanian House for my ever-expanding Sylvanian collection. It spent the next however many years in pride of place in my bedroom, before being passed down to my sisters, and I was very sad to see it go a few years ago. So, when I found this Sylvanian Families Camper Van for £30.80 in Debenhams, it made the top of this list! Books are so important to share with children and I have many happy memories of my parents reading me Winnie the Pooh bedtime stories. This Winnie the Pooh Tales of Friendship Treasury, £9.09 from Debenhams, would be a beautiful addition to their bookshelf, with plenty of bedtime reading for both young and not so young! Furbys first made an appearance when I was about 8 or 9, and I remember my brother and I receiving them for Christmas, then spending hours trying to teach them to talk. This year they’ve made a comeback, with a rather funky make-over. They are now known as a Furby Boom and in Tesco they are being sold for a whopping £54.99 – I’m sure when I had a Furby it cost about £20, but I’m guessing this regeneration is all singing and all dancing! One of my favourite childhood films is Matilda – I read the book numerous times and was then addicted to watching the movie whenever I possibly could. So I couldn’t compile a Kids Gift Guide without including the Matilda DVD only £3.75 from Tesco. Christmas isn’t complete without an annual – we used to get one every year, whether it was a Brownie, Scout or our favourite cartoon character. Obviously every child has different interests and there are hundreds of choices out there, but I thought this Tesco Disney Holiday Annual for £3.85, would appeal to most children. I wanted to round this list up with a novelty item, and couldn’t get over the cuteness of these Tesco Reindeer Bootie Slippers, ranging from £5/6 depending on size. Perhaps an idea for an early Christmas present, so the little ones can keep their toes nice and toasty on Christmas Eve?

Stocking Fillers

If Santa is looking for some last minute ideas for those special Christmas Eve prezzies, look no further than here!

I don’t think any stocking is complete without some good old chocolate coins. They’re available in practically every store you walk in, but I found these ones for £1 in John Lewis. I like to treat myself to a festive bath bomb each year, and this Bomb Cosmetics Chilly Millie Bath Blaster, £2.29, will fit nicely in the toe of a stocking. It’s always fun to find a few novelty gifts nestled amongst your stocking presents, so these Topshop Dress Up Christmas Magnets (£8) and this John Lewis Pass the Christmas Pud Game for £15.99 make a great addition. After stuffing yourself with turkey and Christmas Pudding, and settling down on the sofa to watch some festive films, it’s nice to fill the house with Christmas aromas. Nothing says Christmas more than the smell of freshly baked gingerbread, so treat that special someone to a Bomb Cosmetics Gingerbread Cookies Candle for £6.99. To round up this gift list, I thought I’d include one of these gorgeous Topshop Hotties for what I think is an absolute bargain price of only £8. I can’t think of anything better than snuggling into bed after a jam-packed festive day with one of these cuties to cuddle.

Have you finished all your Christmas shopping, or are you still on the look out for the perfect gift?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Sunday Spotlight - 15th December 2013

This week, I’ve been loving…

Fairy lights

Unless you’ve been asleep under a rock or something, you won’t have failed to realise that Christmas is almost here! And with Christmas comes fairy lights – on the tree, on front of the house, wrapped round banisters and just about anywhere else. Pretty twinkly lights never fail to make me feel festive, so I’ve enjoyed seeing them as I drive round our little town. I’m serious considering getting myself some fairy lights to decorate my bedroom all year round!

Stephen Ward The Musical

My youngest brother works for a sound company in London’s West End, installing sound systems for all the big shows. As a perk of the job he is sometimes offered free tickets to shows, and this week he was given two tickets for Stephen Ward The Musical and kindly took me along to it. We were both a bit uncertain what to expect, as we weren’t familiar with the story (the musical is based on a true story, with Stephen Ward being at the centre of the Profumo scandal). However, we were pleasantly surprised. It was a really interesting story, performed to a really high standard, with great music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s not a show for the younger audience, as parts of it are quite risqué, but if you like a good story and catchy music I’d really recommend going along to see it.

Christmas Films

You can’t go through the festive period without watching a few Christmas films, but this year it’s taken me a while to find the time to relax under a blanket and enjoy one or two films. I have a little tradition where I buy myself a new Christmas DVD each year, and this year I’ve actually treated myself to two – Nativity 2 and The Polar Express. I watched The Polar Express yesterday and absolutely loved it, and will be watching Nativity 2 with my youngest sister in the next week or so.

If you asked me to pick my favourite Christmas film, I’m not sure I could, as there are so many good ones out there! But a few I have to make sure I watch every year are Miracle on 34th Street, Love Actually, The Holiday, Elf, Nativity and The Snowman.

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sunday Spotlight - 8th December 2013

This week, I’ve been loving…

My bed

I’ve had an ear infection this week and have just generally been feeling pretty run down, so sleep time couldn’t come soon enough! Sometimes there’s nothing better than snuggling down under the duvet with your fluffy pyjamas and hot water bottle. Add to the mix a cuddly cat who likes to snooze right next to me, and this has been my favourite place to be this week!

Special birthdays

On Thursday my Gran turned 90, which I think is pretty amazing really. She’s lived with us for a few years now, and although at times it can be difficult, I wouldn’t want it any other way. She’s in the later stages of Dementia, which is such a cruel illness, but we’ve tried to make this week as special as possible for her. On her actual birthday we did a cake, candles and a few presents and cards. We also bought her some beautiful flowers and funky helium balloons, as she likes having things to look at. Then today her sister-in-law and nephew travelled up from Devon to have lunch with us. We did a big cake and she got yet more beautiful flowers. Unfortunately she wasn’t having a good day, but we did get some lovely smiles over the afternoon and hopefully she will remember parts of it over the next few weeks. It was just nice to get together as a family and celebrate such a special occasion.


During past winters I’ve tended to live in hoodies, but this winter I’ve really got in to knitwear, and there are so many great jumpers out there it’s been pretty easy to feed my addiction! I’ve bought a fair few jumpers from New Look, as they’re lovely and soft and not too expensive. I also bought a lovely warm jumper from Forever 21 and have been eyeing up some more expensive numbers in Topshop. I think I’ll have to stop myself from buying any more though, as with Christmas fast approaching I need to save my pennies for gifts for friends and family.

Topshop Gingerbread Man Jumper - £42

What has grabbed your attention this week? I love hearing about people’s new discoveries and you may end up sharing something that makes it onto my list next week!