Monday, 21 December 2015

Pre-Christmas Pamper Day

With Christmas fast approaching I’m feeling ever so slightly stressed! I have been so disorganised this year, so I’m rushing around trying to make sure presents are ready to go under the tree and the decorations are up before the family arrive. I think it’s very easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle and by Christmas day end up completely wiped out and unable to enjoy yourself. I’m a big fan of self-care, and at times like this I think it is more important than ever to put yourself first for a bit and recharge your batteries. Putting a day aside just for you can make such a difference, so I thought I would talk you through my pre-Christmas pamper day in case you need any ideas. Of course a whole day would be fantastic, but it’s not necessarily going to be possible at this time of year. But even if you can just put aside an hour or two to do some of these things I think it will help you find a bit of peace in an otherwise crazy few weeks.

 I start my day by putting on one of my favourite Christmas jumpers. This particular one came from Primark this year, but I have quite a few from last year to choose from as well. I do love to dress up at Christmas, but for a pamper day you definitely need to be in something warm and comfy.

To be honest I don’t have a long list of plans for during the day. I prefer to just go with the flow and not put pressure on myself to do things. One of my favourite things to do is snuggle up on the sofa, next to the Christmas tree and under a fleecy blanket, and have a Christmas movie marathon. These are some of my favourites – I try to buy a new one every year to add to my collection so I still need to get a few of the classics like Elf.

As well as watching Christmas films I also think it’s fun to do something more creative. There are so many ideas on Pinterest for craft and baking activities to do around Christmas. I particularly enjoy baking gingerbread men (or if you turn them upside-down you can turn them into reindeer!) or Christmas cupcakes, but if you don’t fancy getting your bake on you could do something crafty instead. I decided to have a go at making these sock snowmen with my friend. They were so simple to make (check out YouTube for instruction videos) and would either make great last minute gifts or decorations to add around your home.

As the evening starts to draw in, I like to treat myself to some wintery snacks. You can’t beat a proper hot chocolate when you’re pampering yourself. I made mine in this adorable mug from Next, which is perfect for this time of year. They do a whole range of pieces in this design – from a teapot to a side plate. I was also a bit peckish, so added this cute snowman cupcake from Waitrose (they do a range of characters in different flavours) but you could pick whatever treat you fancy. I settle back down on the sofa with these, and decide to flick through some Christmassy magazines while I watch some Vlogmas YouTube videos.

Next up, it’s time for some real pampering! I like to light a candle in my bathroom – this time I chose a Snowflake Cookie Yankee Candle to help me get into the Christmas spirit. I then chose a selection of Lush goodies along an autumn/winter theme to make my bath time super relaxing.

I’ve got an assortment of products here, as I couldn’t decide which to show you! Of course there had to be Snow Fairy, my absolute all-time favourite Christmas product. If you’ve never used it, it’s an incredibly sweet, pink, glittery shower gel – it kind of reminds me of Calpol! I then picked out this Cinders bath bomb because it’s a very autumnal product with stimulating cinnamon leaf oil and even a sprinkling of popping candy. Next up, for some exfoliation, I picked the Salt and Peppermint Bark. Again, it’s very Christmassy, packed full of peppermint oil, making it smell just like a candy cane. Last up, I decided to go really Christmassy with The Magic of Christmas reusable bubble bar wand. These make such a fantastic gift as they give you several baths full of plenty of bubbles and sparkle. This particular one comes with a cinnamon stick and is packed with punchy cinnamon leaf and Fair Trade Organic clove to stimulate the skin and boost circulation.

While I’m in the bath I like to give my face a bit of TLC. First, I remove any make-up with this Clinique Take the Day Off cleansing balm, which leaves my skin feeling clean and glowing. I then like to use a facemask to really nourish and clean my skin. At the moment I’m enjoying this Clear Improvement Active charcoal mask from Origins, which really helps to clear your pores, even if you do look like a bit of a monster while it’s on! Once I’ve removed the mask, I use the Popcorn lip scrub to exfoliate my lips – I have to be careful not to eat it, as it smells so good! I then pop a bit of Buttered Brazils lip balm on to make my lips feel smooth and soft. Again, it smells good enough to eat, so I have to make sure I don’t just lick it off!

Once I’m out of the bath and wrapped up in my big bath towel, I finish my skincare routine. First I apply some serum – at the moment I’m using the No 7 Beautiful Skin Overnight Radiance Boost, which has definitely helped my skin to glow more. Once that has sunken in, I use this Garnier Miracle Sleeping Cream to really make sure my skin has lots of nourishment overnight. For my body, at the moment I’m using these cute Christmas pots of Nivea Crème* to give my skin some much needed hydration after the cold weather has dried it out.

After all that pampering I snuggle into my new Christmas pyjamas. These ones were from Primark and are so soft and warm, perfect to slip into after a relaxing day. I try to buy myself a new pair of Christmas pyjamas every year, as I always think it’s nice to have new ones in time for Christmas morning. I also put on these new reindeer slippers, also from Primark, to keep my tootsies warm.

To finish my day of pampering, I cuddle down in bed with a good book. There are so many Christmas-themed books available at the moment, so I picked up this one by Jenny Colgan, as I’ve read a few others by her and really enjoyed them. Then it’s lights out, electric blanket on and I drift into the land of nod. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing how I spend my pre-Christmas pamper day, and I hope it’s given you a few ideas of how to show yourself some self-care when things are getting too crazy.   

Do you try and have some pamper time before Christmas? I’d love to hear what you do to relax!

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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Sunday Snippets - 20th December 2015

I’m sitting here watching Toy Story 3, in my Christmas jumper and burning a Yankee Snowflake Cookie candle to try and hide my latest fragrance, eau de deep heat! It’s been another fairly busy (and stressful!) week and I’m really struggling with pain after having to reduce my pain medication by 50%. Not what I need just before Christmas. I’m a little more organised than when I wrote last week – family gifts are almost sorted, but I’ve had to tell my friends that their presents will be late. I’m just trying to concentrate on the fact that Christmas shouldn’t be about all the presents, decorations etc, but about spending time with family and friends.

Last Sunday I somehow managed to get myself to the Christingle service at our church, which is always one of my favourite services. Unfortunately my POTS has really been playing up and I was finding it increasingly difficult to stay upright, but I managed it and that was the main thing. In the afternoon I settled down on the lounge floor to write some of my Christmas cards. I spread them all out on the floor, set up my iPad so I could catch up on some of Zoella’s videos and Alfie came to ‘help’ me by lying on top of the cards!

Monday was a fairly chilled day, which I needed after going out on Sunday. I spent the morning taking some photos for a blog post I’m hoping to get up before Christmas. I then had a session of reflexology, which I find really relaxing (and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep once or twice!) She used mandarin essential oil, which I really loved – it’s such a happy scent and I’m tempted to treat myself to some, but I’m not really sure what to do with it! I spent the afternoon writing more Christmas cards, and this little fella came and snuggled up on my lap.

Tuesday was pretty boring, but I wore these Percy Pig socks and then the Primark reindeer slippers to brighten my day. In the morning I had some more training for my DSA computer equipment, which always really tires me out. The afternoon was spent writing more Christmas cards, but I’m finding it very hard to feel motivated about Christmas at the moment. It all just feels a bit false, but I’m hoping it will get a little easier.

On Wednesday I had a really quiet morning (I got up rather late, so didn’t have much of a morning!) We had a session of Family Therapy in the afternoon, which is always pretty difficult and draining. Thankfully, my friends Helen and Sam, who I went to college with, brightened my evening up. They picked me up and took me to see these amazing Christmas lights. There’s a little box outside the house, which has buttons to press for 4 or 5 different songs. When each song plays there is a light display, and it’s all for charity. It definitely lifted my spirits and made me feel a bit more Christmassy. We then went out for a bit of dinner, and ended up chatting until the restaurant was closing!

On Thursday I ended up waking up a lot later than I planned, but I just seem to be even more exhausted than usual at the moment. I went to have my hair dyed so I’m now looking very festive with my red shiny hair. I then set up camp on the lounge floor again to continue writing my cards and watching Zoella. I’m loving that so many people are doing vlogmas – I think I’m going to have to spend January catching up with them all though! I’m determined that one year I will get round to doing vlogmas, but first I need to update my vlogging camera. My sister went to Pets at Home to buy the dogs some bits for Christmas, and she treated them to a bone each. As you can see, they were very excited by this!

Friday was a day of two extremes. I started with an early hospital appointment with a Dietician, to try and discuss the diet the professor wants me to do. Unfortunately it wasn’t that successful, and she’s suggested I try a completely liquid diet for six weeks to give my digestive system a break. I’m going to have to contact the professor to find out what to do, as I’m getting conflicting advice from different professionals.

My day then got much brighter though when my Dad drove me down to Winchester to catch up with a couple of friends. I met Jenny through an M.E. charity, and then went on to meet Sophie through Jenny! Sophie and I have been trying to meet up with each other since the summer, but life has kept getting in our way, so I was so happy to finally see her, and seeing Jenny was a very happy bonus. We went out to a cute little café for a spot of lunch (and lots of chatting!), which was so lovely. Jenny then went home, and Sophie and I went back to hers. We spent a good hour chatting away before my Dad came to pick me up. I had brought a whole bag of craft bits to do with them, but we ended up chatting too much, which is fine by me! I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, but I definitely want to aim to catch up with these two more often in 2016.

On Saturday I was meant to get up at about 9am. At 9.45am my Mum came in to ask me if I was getting up – oops! I had a very quick breakfast and then my Mum took me round to our friend’s so I could have a massage. I needed it so much, especially with my back being as painful as it is (I received a letter from my pain consultant to say my scan shows I have advanced degenerative disc disease, as well as a tear/rupture near a disc in my lower back) and it was also good to have some time to completely relax. I ended up falling asleep with Freddie curled up on me when I got home, which was a bit frustrating as I have so much to do! But through the afternoon I managed to get all my cards addressed and all the presents bought for my family and a few friends. The cards are going to arrive late, but I’m just trying to be kind to myself and congratulate myself for actually doing them when it’s the last thing I feel like doing. I’m hoping people won’t mind the fact that I’m so disorganised this year – hopefully receiving presents going into January will help spread out the Christmas cheer and alleviate the January blues. We also decorated the tree in our lounge, and I put these hearts on that I bought after we lost my Gran. I thought it was a nice way to remember the people we no longer have with us.

If you haven’t read my blog before, I just wanted to let you know that I have a second blog, which mainly focuses on my health in more depth than I talk about it here. It’s largely for friends and family to follow and keep up with what’s going on, but if it’s something you would be interested in reading as well, you are more than welcome to follow me over there. It’s called Unicorns and Floral Crowns and you can find it by clicking here. I haven’t updated it for a while, but I hope to get into a routine soon. I’m also trying to post on Snapchat a bit more, so if you fancy following me, my username is Jennycole44.

What have you been up to this week? I always enjoy hearing about your news and adventures!

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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Nivea Creme Tales*

At this time of year, when the weather is cold and wet, I find more than ever that I need to find a good moisturiser. I’ve tried a lot of different products over the years, but one of my all-time favourites has to be the iconic Nivea Creme. I was recently contacted by Nivea to ask if I would share one of their new products with you, and I’m really excited for you to see what they’ve made. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the blue Nivea Creme tins that have been passed from generation to generation. But they have now launched specially illustrated 75ml tins with tales for the entire family.

These tins are available in four unique and distinctive designs. They will be available for a limited time only, to herald the launch of the brand new 75ml Nivea Creme tin, available in the UK from January 2016.

The beautiful illustrations, designed by international artist Joelle Tourlanias, embrace the core values of Nivea Creme – simplicity, care, courage, trust and family. Inside the lid of each tin is a link to an online fairy tale, written by renowned children’s author Udo Weigelt. Each story can be enjoyed by the entire family and has been inspired by real life scenarios transformed into magical moments. Each focuses on the adventures of the different characters and their efforts to protect and care for one another.

The heritage of Nivea Creme goes back to 1911, when scientists Oscar Troplowitz, Issac Lifschütz and Paul Gerson Unna revolutionised skincare and developed a moisturising cream suitable for everyone. From children to adults, to protect sore noses, dry hands and wind whipped faces; Nivea Creme leaves a protective layer on your skin, to keep skin nourished. Today, more than 15 billion blue tins have been used worldwide!

Nivea Creme blue tins are known for their caring benefits and sweet but subtle nostalgic fragrance. The moisturiser, created in Hamburg, is produced with emulsifying agent Eucerit© - a key ingredient used to stabilise the water and oil emulsion. The innovative formula helps to strengthen the skin’s barrier, while smoothing rough, dry skin and increasing moisturisation when applied.

I really love the idea of these limited edition tins and think they would make a great stocking filler. I find the cream really thick and moisturising, but it always sinks in really quickly and doesn’t leave you with greasy hands.  There are four to choose from, available for a bargain price of £1.99 at Boots and Superdrug – you could even treat yourself to one! Don’t forget though, they are only on sale for a limited time, so if you want to pick one up you’ll need to do it soon!

What do you think of the Nivea Creme limited edition tins? Are you a fan of this moisturiser, or can you recommend another product that works well?

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Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sunday Snippets - 13th December 2015

The days seem to be going past so quickly now, which is rather worrying for me as I’m yet to start any Christmas planning. I’m usually a bit more organised than this, but this year has been difficult and I’m just trying not to put pressure on myself. I’m sure people will understand if they don’t get their presents until January! This week has been incredibly draining, and now I’m really trying hard to get myself into the Christmas spirit.

Last Sunday was a bit of a write-off unfortunately. I had planned a really productive day, but woke up feeling pretty unwell. I slept until very late in the morning, so didn’t actually have much of the day left. I managed a bit of blogging, but my plans to get on with my university work didn’t come to fruition. Instead, I fell asleep on the sofa – oops! When I woke up I found that The Polar Express was on TV, so I decided to watch it (even though I do already have it on DVD, but when it’s on TV for some reason I need to watch it, and the adverts!)

Monday was a really difficult day as our family said goodbye to my Granny. It was very sad and I cried through most of the service, but I did manage to read out a poem, which I was glad about. As well as it being a sad day, it was also an opportunity to celebrate her long and happy life, and it was lovely to hear people’s stories about her, some of which I had never heard. The top left photo in the collage is of my Gran’s hat, which she wore in the Wrens (Women’s Royal Naval Service) and was placed on top of the coffin. She fought as part of the war effort and, incredibly, was one of the few officers who typed up the D-Day landing orders. I feel so proud of all the amazing and kind things she did in her life, and it was really special to spend time as a family after the funeral, toasting to my Gran’s memory. Now that the funeral has happened, I think we now start to grieve properly for the beautiful lady we lost, who will be in our hearts forever.

On Tuesday my Mum took my sister, Bekkah, and I into town for a little bit of shopping. It wasn’t a big shopping trip, but there were a few bits that we all wanted to get. I was particularly on the lookout for some Christmas pyjamas, which I managed to find in Primark, and a Secret Santa present, which I found in Boots. Bekkah was desperate to get a fluffy Olaf hoody, but we looked round the whole store and couldn’t find anything. We had admitted defeat, but when I went to try on a couple of jumpers, Bekkah spotted a white fluffy hoody on the rails in the changing rooms. It was the Olaf hoody, in her size! The member of staff said that, because their store was only small, they hadn’t had any in, but someone had brought it back from another store. Needless to say, my sister was very happy! When we got home I managed to finish my portfolio for Uni, which was a massive relief. I’m really struggling with pain at the moment, as I’m having to reduce my Tramadol, and it’s not much fun.

Wednesday was quite a tiring day, but I did get a few bits done. I had hoped to get some of my Uni essay written in the morning, but ended up falling asleep on the sofa again. I had an appointment with my mental health care coordinator and we had a long chat, which I really needed. She’s not here next week, but she’s just told me to focus on getting through one day at a time. In the afternoon I managed to get my essay finished and submitted, which was a massive weight off my shoulders. Everything is now submitted that needs to be in, so I plan on having a bit of a rest! I got this lovely Radley mug in my advent calendar, which I think I posted a photo of at the beginning of December. If you haven’t seen it, basically I made myself an advent calendar and my Mum fills it with surprises. Most of them are little chocolates/sweets, but the odd one is something more special, like this mug. Obviously this didn’t fit in the actual calendar – my Mum leaves a little note for me instead!

On Thursday I had to get up at 5.30am – I can’t even remember the last time I saw that time of the morning! My Dad and I had to get up to London, as I had a hospital appointment at The Royal London, Whitechapel, at 9.40am. We made our way to Waterloo, and then got a taxi across the Whitechapel. Unfortunately the traffic was awful, so what should have been a 15-20 minute journey took us almost an hour. I saw my Professor, who specialises in Neurogastroenterology, especially in patients with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I updated him on how things have been over the last few months and he was concerned that my gastro symptoms haven’t got any better in the year or so I’ve been seeing him (which is apparently quite normal for the patients he sees). He wants me to try a radical new diet, which is based on research by a doctor called Heidi Collins. It’s quite complicated and I’m gradually going through the paper she wrote, trying to work out what I can actually eat! So far I’ve worked out I need to cut out sugar, gluten, grains, red meat, processed fats, most carbohydrates and a variety of fruits and vegetables. I’m quite concerned about my eating disorder in all this, so I’m hoping to talk to my GP when I next see her. I’m also seeing a Dietician at my doctor’s surgery, so I’m hoping she might be able to help me come up with a meal plan. I decided to treat myself to these macarons, as I usually try and get a treat when I have difficult hospital appointments,

Friday was much quieter thankfully, which gave me a chance to catch up on sleep and rest. In the morning I spent ages on the phone to the bank because some money had been taken out of my account. I managed to do some blogging, but then the Christmas planning I had planned for the afternoon didn’t really happen. I did manage to book tickets though for my siblings and I to go and see the Festival of Lights at Longleat. I also opened this belated birthday present from my friend Sophie, which was so thoughtful and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Saturday was a really lovely day, which I spent with my friend Sarah. Every year for the last seven years I have gone to stay with her and her husband in West Sussex. But this year I just wasn’t well enough, so Sarah brought our Christmas weekend to me instead. We started by making sock snowmen whilst we listened to Michael Bublé and chatted. After a bit of lunch (hot soup and crusty bread if you’re wondering) we made some glittery Santas and then watched Nativity, followed by part of Nativity 2, in front of the wood-burning stove. It was so lovely to spend time with Sarah and just have some time to do fun things, without any pressure of deadlines.

If you haven’t read my blog before, I just wanted to let you know that I have a second blog, which mainly focuses on my health in more depth than I talk about it here. It’s largely for friends and family to follow and keep up with what’s going on, but if it’s something you would be interested in reading as well, you are more than welcome to follow me over there. It’s called Unicorns and Floral Crowns and you can find it by clicking here. I haven’t updated it for a while, but I hope to get into a routine soon. I’m also trying to post on Snapchat a bit more, so if you fancy following me, my username is Jennycole44.

What have you been up to this week? I always enjoy hearing about your news and adventures!

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