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The 12 outfits of Christmas

Christmas is my favourite time of the year, not least because it brings everyone together and helps you to really appreciate the wonderful people that are a part of your life.  Christmas also makes it legitimate to wear as much glitter and sparkle as possible!  The shops begin Christmas sometime in October but I refuse to get too into it until December.

On 1st December, out came the advent calendars, including one for Rufus of course, which by Christmas Eve he had completely annihilated!

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This was also the day of the first outfit of Christmas as we enjoyed a festive curry with friends that evening.  I wore a navy glitter dot dress from Oasis with navy suede heels from New Look and a matching clutch from Boohoo.  I even had my nails navy with the ring finger glittery.  The dress was a surprising disappointment on the quality front, particularly given my love for Oasis and the usual excellent quality.  The glitter shed itself all night, adding plenty of sparkle to the curry house and the next passenger in my husband’s car!

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I always like to arrange a trip somewhere to really get me in the mood for Christmas, so this year I chose one of the best and most famous Christmas markets in the UK – Bath.  My second outfit of Christmas comes in here.  I wore a red dress from Oasis with a mid brown funnel princess coat also Oasis and some black suede, calf high, slouch boots (yes you guessed it – Oasis) that I have been lusting after for a couple of years so finally treated myself to.

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Bath is somewhere I have wanted to go for some time and it didn’t disappoint although sadly the weather did.  Rather than a nice crisp winters day with a few light flurries of snow that would have made it the quintessential start to Christmas, we were treated to drizzle!

The market stretched for miles through the Georgian streets, selling everything from paintings and crafts to hot chocolate and waffles!  I was drawn by the smell of citrus fruits and cinnamon to a beautiful Christmas wreath stall.  We also got a couple of unusual presents for people.

While in Bath you have to visit the Roman baths it is famous for.  The baths are one of the most visited historical sights in the UK.  The thermal spring rises here meaning the baths flow naturally with hot water.  Bathing was a major part of Roman society and culture and this sight has been remarkably well preserved.

From Roman times to the late 1700’s, we had afternoon tea at The Regency Tea Rooms above the Jane Austin centre.  Jane was fascinated by bath, mentioning it in all her novels and even making it the setting for a couple of her stories.  We enjoyed the ‘tea with Mr Darcy’ served by waiters and waitresses in period costume, and avoided the worst of the rain.

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After more shopping we warmed ourselves with a drink at the Abbey Hotel’s Apres ski bar.

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As darkness fell, the beautiful streets and chalets were lit with pretty fairy lights and we finished the day with carols at the Abbey.

The following day, inspired by our trip, we put up all the Christmas decorations at home, while enjoying a snowball of course!

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Mum and I went to see the Tina Turner musical the weekend before Christmas, so this was outfit number three!  I wore a navy glitter knit dress from Warehouse with a pink shearling coat from Zara.  After the fantastic show, we took in the lights of Covent Garden as we headed for dinner at Browns.

Outfit four was for Christmas drinks with friends and was a black blouse with gold spots from Oasis with black leggings, also Oasis, with black stilettos with a bow detail on the back from New Look.

We had an early Christmas day, on the Sunday before, at my Mums with my gorgeous nieces and for this I wore my soft animal print dress from Oasis with purple Ugg boots.

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Christmas Eve arrived and we had both sets of parents over for dinner.  I wore my gingerbread men christmas jumper from Oasis with a velvet mini skirt from New Look.  We had a great meal, followed by a board game and then headed to midnight mass.

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Christmas day was spent as a couple this year.  We had bucks fizz and scrambled eggs with smoke salmon for breakfast.  We cooked a wonderful Christmas dinner in the evening and in between pigged out on nuts and sweets while finally wrapping the rest of the presents.  This year I decided to get crafty with my wrapping.  I wrapped the presents in brown paper and added red and white twine, stickers from a Kikki K book and fancy tags, finishing with a slice of dried orange.

Christmas day saw me wear a fun Christmas t-shirt I got from River Island some years back and a checked mini skirt from Oasis.  I was spoilt rotten with beautiful gifts, as was Rufus, who had a Christmas eve box, his own Christmas dinner and a blanket with his name embroidered on it from spoilt rotten pets!

Boxing day was a total chill out day, spent in our pyjamas on the sofa watching DVD’s so outfit eight was lounge clothes and cute slippers from Oasis.  I did move from the sofa briefly to make some gingerbread men!

We met Mum’s family in London on 27th for a delicious meal at The Parcel Yard in Kings Cross station.  Afterwards my husband and I sipped champagne at the champagne bar at St Pancras.  I wore a knitted stripped sparkle dress from Oasis with the same mid brown coat and slouch boots I wore to Bath earlier in the month.

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An afternoon with Phil’s family was spent in black skinny jeans from New Look, slogan t-shirt from Boohoo and a grey cardigan from Oasis.

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My Mum and I had the great treat of taking my nieces to the pantomime which was Cinderella this year.  For this I wore a mustard jumper and denim pinafore – both Oasis but to complete the look wore the wonderful Cinderella shoe necklace that my parents-in-law got me for Christmas.

All too soon, it was New Years Eve and I must be getting old as I turned down various invitations, to spend the evening in pyjamas, watching DVD’s and drinking fizz with a glowing log burner and my Yankee candles to add a bit of hygge.

So I saw out 2018 in outfit twelve of my Mary Poppins pyjamas from Marks and Spencer.  New Year always marks a time of reflection on things achieved and those still to achieve.  Once again I made a long list of New Year’s resolutions.  This year I am determined to at least achieve one and it’s a big one – to lose nearly three stone in weight.  I’m the heaviest I have ever been.  Weight is sneeky – it creeps up on you and enough is enough.  I started well with a seven mile walk around Riverside Country Park on New Year’s Day!  Let’s see if 2019 is the year I finally achieve that.

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What resolutions did you make and how are you doing with them so far?

 

 

 

A magical time of year

When it comes to Christmas, I am like a kid in a sweet shop! Every December I am counting down the days and itching to put the decorations up.  Putting up the decorations this year was extra special as it was snowing outside.  We followed our usual tradition of enjoying a different kind of snowball as well!  Throughout the year I have collected some great new tree decorations including a golden Paddington bear and a glittering cinderella carriage.  We couldn’t leave Rufus out either and decorated his hutch with paper chains, as well as getting him to wear his Santa hat!

Every December I also like to do something special to get in the Christmas spirit.  Previous years have seen us going to Winter Wonderland, but we decided to give that a miss this year, in favour of a festive meal on a Pullman carriage, hauled by a steam engine on the Bluebell railway.

The Golden Arrow dining train as it is known, is a cheaper version of the Orient Express but just as special.  For the evening I wore a royal blue maxi dress from Coast along with my Zara, tile pattern coat, which was a cult buy last year, that I snapped up as a sale bargain this year.  In keeping with the time of year, I wore silver glitter sandals from New Look and finished the look with a silver scalloped clutch from Asos.

There really was a hint of magic in the air when we arrived at Sheffield Park station.  Christmas lights lit the way to the booking hall and there was a marquee, decorated with fake snow, Christmas trees and lit reindeer that led out on to the platform where our train awaited its passengers.

We were given mulled wine, which was very welcome on such a cold December evening and then boarded our carriage, Fingal.  Each carriage had the luggage racks decorated with Christmas foliage and the perfectly set tables were complete with crackers.

We ordered a bottle of Bluebell Prosecco which was delicious and then the attentive staff proceeded to serve a delicious 4 course meal to us.  I started with a smoked fish medley tartlet followed by a traditional Christmas dinner, the most ornate peach bellini cheesecake you have ever seen and finished off with cheese, coffee, mince pies and a Baileys.

During the journey we stopped for carol singers which further added to the festive mood – you could even join in if you felt so inclined!

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It was a wonderful evening and certainly put me in the Christmas spirit.

The day before Christmas eve was spent with my brother and his family and in the evening my two best friends, their partners and us went for a meal.  Christmas eve we had my parents and my in-laws over for tea.  I wore my Christmas jumper from Oasis.  We opened each others presents.  Rufus is now inside and while we were busy unwrapping we suddenly heard him trying to join in and unwrapping presents under the Christmas tree!  That evening we went for prosecco at a neighbour’s before going to midnight mass.

This year, we decided to spend Christmas day just the two of us which was lovely.  We started with a smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast, washed down with bucks fizz.  We opened each others presents, cooked Christmas dinner and enjoyed Christmas TV.  For the day, I wore a grey jumper from Oasis and a cord pinafore dress from Topshop.  Rufus also enjoyed his own Christmas dinner and present!

Boxing day was spent in Norfolk with my Mum’s brothers and their families which was most enjoyable.  We were truly stuffed after a fantastic lunch there and I was delighted that they set light to the Christmas pudding, as I had never seen it done before.  For this day, I wore a dress from Zara with knee-high black boots from New Look and accessorised with my Stella&Dot clutch.  We saw my husband’s family a few days later.

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One of my most treasured presents this year was a Kikki K leather, monogrammed notebook that I had been lusting over for some time.  That will come in very handy for my blog notes.

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All too soon, New Years Eve came around.  We went to my husband’s friends house for curry and prosecco.  I wore a glitter, navy knitted dress from Warehouse.  As midnight struck, that marked the end to my drinking alcohol, for I had put myself up for dry January.

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2017 certainly had its ups and downs, with one of the main downs being nearly losing our beloved Rufus – luckily though the emergency vet saved him and we might be over £300 lighter but it was worth every penny to see him pull through.  As for the highs, I end the year in a job far more suited to me than anything previously, in internal communications.  Other highlights include visiting the Manolo Blahnik exhibition in Milan, our wedding anniversary in Scotland, visiting Kefalonia, seeing Stereophonics in Margate, a friend’s wedding and a number of friends having babies, a visit to Newcastle, my husband’s surprise 40th bash and many more.  Here’s to a great 2018!

Flying through the months

Can you believe we are already in March? I can’t believe how fast the last few months have gone, it doesn’t seem five minutes ago that we had Christmas to look forward to and now we are faced with lots of cold weather and a long wait until Summer.

Christmas countdown traditionally begins on 1st December with an advent calendar. Advent calendars were first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th Century. Advent calendars have moved on a lot in recent years, with children no longer content with opening a door to reveal a Christmas picture or poem. At the very least they expect a chocolate now and some calendars give toys such as the Lego calendar. Being a big kid, I have never tired of an advent calendar and thankfully I am clearly not alone as there is now a large market in adult advent calendars offering candles or beauty products. This Christmas I decided to try a beauty advent calendar. These range quite a bit in price with the Liberty one costing £250! After some research I settled on the reasonably priced House of Fraser one at £25 as this also had all 24 doors, rather than the 12 some calendars offer – presumably to represent the 12 days of Christmas. It was quite exciting to see what beauty product you would get each day and by far my favourites were a glitter eyeliner, a blusher and one of the lipsticks, all of which I have been using regularly.

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What really got me in the festive mood was the Dickensian Christmas celebrations in Rochester on 3rd December. For this I wore skinny jeans from Oasis with a white pussy bow blouse from Oasis and my trusty New Look faux leather biker jacket. I accessorised with the gorgeous blue velvet flats and handbag which are also from New Look and my subtle take on the velvet trend for Autumn/Winter 2016.

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Rochester as I have mentioned many times before in my blog is one of my favourite places. It was also a favourite spot for Charles Dickens and the cobbled streets and old style lampposts make you feel you have truly been transported back in time as you watch the costume parade. We took the opportunity to watch a street performance of Miss Havisham’s story before warming up in the pub over lunch.

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Santa’s reindeer even popped down!

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There was a photo opportunity with Fagin.

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We then made our way to the Christmas market and fun fair. The market was a bit of a let-down if I am honest as I had been expecting the Bavarian style wooden huts you see in London when instead the stalls were in marques and a lot of the items for sale were quite tacky. The funfair was good though and forever the kid I had to have a ride on the carousel.

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I have wanted another piercing ever since I had to let my nose piercing close up earlier this year after an infection so I went and got my rook pierced – part of the ear. It was quite painful after so I went and recovered with a latte and a large piece of cake in Fleur de the.

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Number 12 or 13 is the rook

We ventured out into the cold and darkness just in time for the evening costume parade with lanterns. The snow machines were on and we all walked up to the castle where the carol service was held.  It was a magical evening and totally set me up for the festive period.  We warmed up and lubricated our tired voices with mulled wine in a local pub before heading off home.

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The following weekend, my husband and I took our niece and nephew to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. This year marks ten years of Winter Wonderland and each year it seems to get bigger and bigger. It was another cold day and unfortunately turned into quite a wet day too. I had bought a new hat, gloves and scarf set from Oasis and wore a long padded coat from New Look which although less than flattering, is extremely warm – it gives you the feeling of being wrapped up in a duvet!

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We visited the magical ice kingdom which this year had the theme of an Arctic Adventure. This is an awe inspiring sight whether it is your first visit or not, with incredible detail on each of the ice sculptures. There is also a slide made of ice which once again brought the kid out in me and ice thrones which of course kids love due to the connotations with Disney’s Frozen.

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The boys enjoyed the bumper cars whilst my niece and I went on the swings. Later my niece wanted to go on a roller coaster. There was an extremely long queue but the wait was made slightly more entertaining by a kind of fun house along the way. The ride was a disaster as she was so scared and I felt so helpless when she asked me to make it stop. You would have thought that would have put her off rides but she still wanted another go on the swings before we left!

Putting up the  Christmas decorations is always for me traditionally accompanied by listening to Now that’s what I call Christmas and sipping on snowballs.  This year I finally persuaded my husband to put lights outside – something I have always wanted.

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We hosted Christmas day this year for the first time and had my parents and my husband’s parents over. I wore a black lace dress from Oasis and sparkle tights also from Oasis and accessorised my hair with a flower band which I got at London Fashion week and is by Her Curious Nature.

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We had a really nice day. I really enjoyed setting out the Christmas table. Dinner was lovely and I got some wonderful presents – my favourite being a shoe design course! Look out for a blog on that in the next month or so. We played Cranium which was a laugh and watched the Christmas tele and before you knew it, it was all over for another year!

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Boxing day was spent at Mum’s with my brother and his family.  For this day I wore an Oasis jumper with a basic black mini skirt from Asos and purple Uggs that I got in New Zealand a few years back.

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Between Christmas and New Year my husband and I visited Scotney Castle and decided to become National Trust Members.

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New Year was spent with friends. I always find New Year rather depressing as it is another reminder of what you have not achieved and a time to set resolutions that you invariable break way before the end of January! I guess I can at least remember 2016 as the year I finally got promoted to a PA.  We also finally finished decorating our bedroom.  It was so nice to get rid of the grey striped wallpaper that was there when we moved in.

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As with every other new year, I once again set my usual resolution to lose weight and decided to try the milk diet which was the diet of choice for 2017. The full diet suggested you eat nothing and just drink 4 pints of full fat milk a day. That seemed rather extreme so I went for the modified version where you drink a glass of milk before each meal with the aim of then eating less. I did see some positive effect from this, loosing 3lbs in the first week but as per usual it was the same as most fad diets and I had given up within 3 weeks.

January always seems to drag so I was glad when we got to the end. The final weekend in January; Saturday evening was spent at a Fawlty Towers evening which was a great laugh. For this I wore a black pleated skirt from Asos, a gold stripped crop top from Kiss Kiss Heart in Rochester and accessorised with shoes I purchased at London Fashion Week by Alexander White and an Aldo clutch.

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That Sunday we had a trip to London to see the Play that Goes Wrong. The end of January of course marks the start of the new year for the Chinese and this year is the year of the Rooster!

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February saw a return to my early twenties with a night out at a club on Tottenham Court Road for a friend’s birthday.  I must be getting old as I was quite taken aback that they wanted to scan our ID before letting us in and by the fact there are now bouncers on McDonald’s on the Strand!  I am also way too old for the torturous 2 hour journey home on the night bus!  Having said all that though it was a fun night.  I reworked the outfit I wore to  the Fawlty Towers evening this time accessorising with gold Oasis t-bar shoes and a gold clutch.

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So now 2017 is well underway and we have certainly seen some cold weather. Easter is late this year meaning that Summer feels even further away but there are some exciting things coming up so keep looking out for future blogs.

Walking a different Street

The onset of December found my emotions in turmoil as I had somewhat of a midlife crisis. The phrase ‘midlife crisis’ was the brainchild of Elliott Jaques and states it is ‘referring to a critical phase in human development during the forties to early sixties, based on the character of change points, or periods of transition’.

My so called crisis might be occurring in my early thirties but it certainly was during a period of transition. Perhaps it’s a late quarter life crisis. Suddenly I am questioning all my past choices, pondering my future options and wondering if I am missing out on things. I think half the problem is I want it all and unless you are a millionaire, it’s just not possible to have it all. The snag is that by taking one road in life, the others are left untrodden; you will never know what would have happened if you had taken one of the other roads – every action has a reaction. Life is short, often too short and death eventually comes to us all; David Bowie being a case in point. What matters though is that we enjoy the time we have and experience as many things as possible. We can hope that we leave a lasting impression on the world which there is no doubt Bowie did. I would like my writing to be my legacy and hence I have toyed with the idea of writing full time.

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Flowers for Bowie outside Zizzi’s in Beckenham which used to be the Three Tuns pub where he played

My husband and I have just bought our first home together see previous blog and despite me paying towards the last one; this one feels like it is both of ours as we chose it together and my name is officially on the mortgage, so I feel like I now have responsibilities. The baby question is asked constantly as is the case as soon as you get married but as I wrote previously I flit between two camps on this decision.  Marriage is something I have always wanted but I sometimes wonder if I focused too much on this when I was younger, rather than embracing dating, the single life and my ambitions more.

The lead up to Christmas was fairly busy. At the beginning of December I got one of my Christmas presents early which was a trip to the Coronation Street set. As sad as it may be, I have been watching Corrie for about the last 20 years and it’s one of the few programmes I never miss. Coronation Street first aired on 9th December 1960 and is the world’s longest running soap opera still in production. The set moved location from central Manchester, Quay Street to Media City in Trafford in December 2013 and following the move, the Coronation Street Tour was set up at the old site. The tour was originally due to close October 2014 but was extended until 31st December 2015 so this was my last chance to go. Despite the abysmal weather it was lovely to walk the famous cobbles and see some of the interior sets and costumes. The wardrobe department buys items in shops it believes the character would typical shop.  In a month the make up department gets through 6 eyeshadows and eyeliners, 15 bases, 4 blushers and 10 lipsticks!  We got to have a photo behind the bar at the Rovers and being the rebellious one of the tour group, I had to ring the bell for last orders!

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Sometimes my life feels a bit like a soap opera, in that I feel what I do will be watched and judged by others. I guess the modern social media culture has only enhanced our knowledge of other peoples lives and to some extent is the only way I get to unleash my writing on the world.

We combined this trip North with seeing my oldest friend from school who had her baby at the end of October. My outfit for this occasion was a denim pinafore dress with a white pussy bow blouse underneath, both from Oasis and some snakeskin black ankle boots from New Look. The pinafore was a big trend for autumn 2015 and the trend looks set to continue into early 16 with a 60’s revival going on. The key to the look is layering and on Boxing Day, I wore it again with another season must have, the polo neck.

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Early December I was suffering some kind of chest infection so finally got to meet my best friend’s baby boy on 16th Dec when he was almost a month old. All these babies coming on to the scene this year within my friendship group have probably been one of the catalysts for this early mid-life crisis. I realised that the dynamics of our group had drastically changed. No longer are we the care free twenty somethings, who’s biggest worry was what bar to go to on a Saturday night; we all have responsibilities now and are perhaps what you might term as ‘fully grown up’.

The week before Christmas I went to see my favourite band, Stereophonics at the O2. I have lost count how many times I have seen them and usually they don’t disappoint, however as much as I still enjoyed this gig – it wasn’t as good as all their previous ones. I looked around the arena and everyone looked to be in their 30’s or 40’s and there was even a pensioner there. This was the other catalyst for the mid-life crisis. I suddenly realised these people were my age and how long I had been supporting the Stereophonics. Kelly, the lead singer even brought on his two daughters which finally shattered my hopes of ever going out with him (joke!).

Christmas was a family affair and spending time with my nieces and nephews again makes me question if and when I want to have children myself. My present to myself was a pair of New Look black suede, fringed heels which I wore Christmas day and Boxing Day, as well as to a gathering at one of the new neighbour’s. These sorts of treats would of course become a distant memory if I were to have children or become a full time struggling writer.

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One of my nieces we treated to a fashion design tool as when I was clearing out, I found designs I had done with my fashion wheel. Unfortunately they don’t sell the fashion wheel anymore and I have to say that this is a time where the new toy is not an improvement. Instead of rubbing over the plates to get an outline and then colouring it in, you now have to trace the outline which requires much more patience.

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A sign of the times was the same niece telling me that when she grows up she wants to win X Factor and her brother wants to be a You Tuber. I must be old as she then had to go on and explain to me what a You Tuber was. What happened to ambitions like being a nurse or a vet? I question whether I made the most of the opportunities I had when I was younger. I never saw myself as working as a PA as I do and whilst I did at one point fancy being a vet; my most enduring ambition was to be an air hostess. Despite once getting through the interview for British Midland, it never quite fitted in financially or relationship wise.

There’s no point ruminating over the past, it cannot be changed but the future can and that brings me on to New Year’s Eve. New Year is a chance to start afresh on a new road and reach out for what is truly important to you.

This year for the first time in ages I was invited to 3 parties! Like buses they all come at once. We went to a friend in Bromley’s house party which was enjoyable despite only knowing the hosts. I wore a gold sparkle dress from Oasis with leggings and some gorgeous suede red sandals I got in Marks and Spencer especially for the occasion.

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After a quiz which my team won, they got out the game of 2015 – ‘Pie Face’. For anyone who has missed this phenomenon, you essentially put your face down on a rest and have to twist according to the number you get on the spinner. Eventually a hand is released which throws cream in your face!

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There was no way I was going to have a go after the time I had spent on my makeup! It’s not often I really make an effort now but for this party I went all out. Here are the products I used to achieve my look.

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Benefit Boi-ing concealer, SJP NYC Perfume, Magnifibres, Max Factor lipgloss, Max Factor Skin Luminizer foundation, No7 Pop and Glow, No7 Dramatic lift mascara, Benefit That Gal primer, OPI couture de minnie mouse nailvarnish in ministyle, Bibbidi Bobbidi blueberry lip shimmer, GHD straightners, Model Co eyeliner pencil, Max Factor creme puff and Urban Decay Naked 2 palette

After we toasted in 2016 at midnight we set off Sky Lanterns or Chinese lanterns as they are often referred to. The idea is to make a wish before you let the kind of mini hot air balloon fly away. They are not illegal in Britain but have been banned in many other countries despite them having been used for centuries. This is because there is a danger when they come down that they might cause fires or harm animals. Ours never took off which I don’t know what that says about our wish for the New Year.

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So the time has come once again for resolutions. Inevitably we all make them and then promptly break them by February. I saw an interesting post on Facebook with a lady sipping a cocktail on a weight machine that said ‘I said I’d give up alcohol and go to the gym; I made it to the gym!’ One thing I am determined to do is lose weight. I’m not going to do a Bridget Jones and let on to you how much I weigh, along with an analysis of each day’s calories, but suffice to say I am heavier than ever and wearing the biggest size clothes I ever have. I need to lose around 3.5 stones and I am really serious about it this time. No more fad diets, I am just slowly going to reduce my intake of food (not alcohol – that would be an empty promise!) and try and get back into walking regularly. I love my fashion and it just doesn’t look right on me anymore. My thirties should be a time of being comfortable in my body before old age sets in and I really am not comfortable at this weight. Yes you can be confident at any weight but I am not and the time has come to really take action.

I suppose I am seeking excitement and change – perhaps like Madonna I need to reinvent myself every decade. Further hinting at the diagnosis of a mid-life crisis I am considering on one end of the scale a change of hairstyle to the other end of the scale with a tattoo and in between somewhere comes the idea of another piercing. We will just have to see what the year brings; you never know, I may even learn to be content; I wouldn’t hold your breath though!

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Season’s Greetings

Happy New Year Readers, let’s hope 2015 is a good year for all. I was rather sad to say goodbye to 2014 being that it was the year my husband and I got married and it’s going to be hard to top that with anything this year – but perhaps a new home may be on the horizon.

Our Wedding

I find myself once again considering New Years Resolutions despite the fact that a study in 2007 found that 88% fail at their resolutions. I only really have one and it’s one I set every year and that is to lose weight. I have managed to put on nearly all of the weight I lost for my wedding and am really quite disappointed in myself. I am however going to start the diet on 12th January so as I have time to finish off all the Christmas goodies in the house. I am sharing this resolution with you all as the same study also found that women succeed 10% more if they share their goals with friends and family. Better enjoy the chocolate and nuts whilst I still can!

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My homemade Christmas cake and chocolate log

 

So another Christmas is over and done with again and the reality of going back to work is looming. This year my husband and I got into the Christmas spirit by visiting Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London on 21st Dec. We visited the ice kingdom there, which took over two weeks to create by over 50 artists and is the largest exhibition of its type in the world.   Of course it is even more of an attraction with the current popularity of the Disney film Frozen (the DVD of which was one of my Christmas presents). The kingdom is kept at -8 degrees and it really was cold – we purchased a hot chocolate from the bar made of ice in order to warm up after posing on the ice thrones. The exhibition also included a large magic mirror of ice which you could pose behind – I had to do this as it was a nice reminder of our fairy tale wedding theme. We also browsed the stalls in Hyde Park and couldn’t resist a new addition for our Christmas tree.

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Christmas day was very different for me this year as it was the first time in my life that I didn’t spend it with my parents; they were invited over to my brother’s family. After the initial childish reaction I felt to the news, I finally came to the conclusion that it may be quite nice to spend our first Christmas married, just the two of us; and it was although it felt as though most of the day was spent in the kitchen. Cooking Christmas dinner is hard work I discovered and I was happy to relax on Boxing Day at Mum’s with a second Christmas dinner!

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Christmas Day

 

I was fortunate enough to receive most things that had been on my Christmas list – including The Great Gatsby DVD, a Luigi purse and an Urban Decay eyeshadow palette but my husband also surprised me with a Pandora charm bracelet which was totally unexpected and a lovely thought – he also picked a charm meaning passion for it. A novelty present I received was a personalized wine glass with small glass, large glass and Krissy’s glass printed on it.  All my presents from my husband were wrapped in shoe paper – he knows me so well.

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My parents bought me some Biba homeware. Biba as I have previously mentioned were a big fashion label in the sixties with a store in Kensington. They have had somewhat of a revival and are celebrating 50 years this year. Their homeware has quite an Art Deco air about it. I dressed the table with it for our New Year’s Eve dinner party with my parents and the in laws.

New yr table

napkin

I also treated myself to a little Christmas present. Everyone who knows me, will tell you I am a shoe addict as well as an avid Sex and the City fan so you can understand why I couldn’t resist these shoes, designed by none other than Sarah Jessica Parker and named after her character, Carrie.

SJP shoe

January is historically known as the most depressing month and the return to work certainly makes me inclined to agree – the fun of Christmas is behind us for another year but a new year also provides an opportunity for some great new fashion trends.  So what fashion delights will 2015 see?  It seems that the 1990’s nostalgia will continue as will the nod to the 1970’s.  Red is also going to be the colour of the season so looks as though I purchased wisely with the above SJP shoes.

Enjoy the sales and keep an eye out for those new trends.  Once again happy new year and good luck with your resolutions – I give mine until February at best!

 

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  So another new year dawned, surrounded by the usual celebrations despite it being 2013 – unlucky for some; I wonder if wedding venues have felt the pinch with superstitious brides?!  For more on why 13 is seen as unlucky see my previous blog ‘Friggatriskaidekaphobia’

https://blahnikgirl.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/friggatriskaidekaphobia-fear-of-friday-13th/

Apologies for the long gap between this and my last post but December was a difficult month for me with my eye condition flaring up again for nearly 2 weeks.  I have however still managed to fit in quite a lot, along with shopping for the party season and had an enjoyable Christmas despite everything.  Here are my favourite purchases.

Baroque dress from Oasis

Baroque dress from Oasis

 

Lace dress from Jane Norman

Lace dress from Jane Norman

Shoes from Oasis

Shoes from Oasis

Early December saw my friend’s baby boy christened.  He wore a beautiful gown that was a family heirloom.  I always think choosing an outfit as a guest at a christening can be difficult.  It sort of requires a dressed down, wedding attire look with an avoidance of black, being that it is a joyous occasion.  This is fine in the summer but being winter and tights being required made it more difficult.  In the end I opted for this navy dress with butterflies and red cardigan and shoes, all from New Look.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAViva Forever, a new musical written by Jennifer Saunders and produced by Judy Craymer with the music of the Spice Girls opened in the West End on 11th December and in spite of poor reviews by critics, I dragged my boyfriend along to see it.  He wasn’t the only man present but they were a definite minority.  Having followed the Spice Girls closely as a young teenager, I found the musical most enjoyable regardless of the weak plot; especially during the last song when the whole audience danced and sang to ‘Stop Right Now’.

Viva Forever

I don’t know about everyone else but it took me quite a while to feel Christmassy this year for some reason, with my cards being written out hastily to meet the last posting date and me hanging on tender hooks hoping my online purchased gifts would arrive in time.  It probably didn’t help that we had few decorations due to the dining room being half finished.  What really got me in the mood though was when I was making my Christmas cake a few days before Christmas; the house was filled with sticky sweet aromas whilst Christmas songs filled our ears and there was the distant sound of a steam engine whistle.  We looked out the front and sure enough a steam train was pulling into the station.  This must have been a common sound in 1898 when our terraced house was built but nowadays I think always produces a kind of romance.

My Christmas Cake I made

My Christmas Cake I made

Christmas Eve was spent at home in my cosy PJs on the sofa.  Fashion articles often neglect nightwear but I think it is just as important being that many of us girls put our PJs on as soon as we get home.  Fabulous magazine did however do a small spread on mixing textures.  I went for checked fleecy bottoms with a white cotton vest and a lovely knitted cardigan from Oasis and then for a touch of glam I added pearls.

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My partner and I decided to do a tree present each on Christmas Eve.  Excitement bubbled and butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I picked up a small, square, neatly wrapped box – could this be the long awaited engagement ring?  Alas no, it was in fact a box of dinner party ice breakers!  My partner was quickly forgiven the following morning though when I ripped the paper off my main present of my much longed for Ugg boots.  I was very spoilt by all with lovely presents but thought a couple of my friends gifts deserved a mention being that they were unusual tree decorations – a felt owl which was very in keeping with the 2012 fashion trend and a bauble from Verona.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the Christmas period I spent some much needed time with family which was very nice; especially having my brother, his fiancé and my niece join us for Christmas dinner.  I couldn’t resist buying my niece more shoes and these silver ones from Monsoon went down a treat – she wanted them on straight away and wore them to every other event over the period too. My partner and I hosted a New Year’s Eve dinner party with our respective parents which was fun and an opportunity to air the dinner party ice breakers starting with the worst first date each of us had had.  As Big Ben chimed we toasted over champagne and had party poppers whilst mumbling the verses of Auld Lang Syne.  This year I haven’t made any resolutions as such as my bucket list of things to do before 30 sort of covers it (see previous blog).

baby shoes

https://blahnikgirl.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/when-you-realise-that-you-are-all-grown-up/

Talking of the bucket list, the weight has started to come off albeit slowly with my 5:2 diet.  I think I could probably lose far more however if I ate normally on the other 5 days rather than gorging myself on cakes and biscuits.  Having signed up for the half MoonWalk London which raises money for breast cancer research; I now need to get in to training.  My parents bought me some trainers as despite someone offering to double the money raised if I walk it in 4 inch heels – I think this would be suicide even for me.  My fundraising page is now live.  I understand money is probably tight at this time of year but it would be great if you could even just sponsor a small amount.  My company will match the amount I raise and donate it to their charity Action for Children so you will be helping two charities in one go – great if your new years resolution was to support good causes.  Please pledge via the below link.

http://www.walkthewalkfundraising.org/christina_baines

As a year comes to a close it is a good time to reflect on achievements of the previous year and mine and my partners has to be our garden and drive which was completed with much help from my Dad and Uncle.  Check out the before and after pictures.  Look out for more home improvement in future blogs.

 

Our garden early on in the project

Our garden early on in the project

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Yesterday we took my partners niece and nephew to see their first pantomime – Peter Pan at the Churchill Bromley.  The tradition of a pantomime at Christmas dates back at least to early 1800s however the “traditional” pantomime is constantly evolving in order to maintain its popularity.  We greatly enjoyed it although being the penultimate performance signals Christmas well and truly being over for another year.  Guess January blues set in now – let me know how you are combating them.

Until next time ……………………………

The 4 C’s – Cauldrons, Charity, Christmas and Clutches

Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas; there are many festivals to be celebrated now that the colder months are upon us.

The Halloween spirit (pardon the pun) was started by a guy at work bringing in themed cupcakes to raise money for charity.  I threw a Halloween party which was great fun and dressed as a skeleton whilst my partner was a vampire.  We decorated the house with pumpkins, spider webs and various other bits and bobs to create a kind of haunted mansion.  The kids loved the cauldron full of sweets which also contained the odd rubber eye ball (not to be confused with a gob stopper!)  I really liked the plates I chose especially when they appeared in the ‘Fabulous Magazine Lustlist’ after I had purchased them!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARufus even got in the Halloween Mood!

People often assume that Halloween is more of an American festival but in fact it was the UK that introduced the custom to the United States during the mass Irish and Scottish immigration during the 19th century.  The actual origins of Halloween are disputed.  Some suggest it has its roots in Paganism with influences of Western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead whilst others argue it has Christian roots.  Those following the first line of thought, link Halloween to the Celtic festival of Samhain which marked the start of winter and the end of the harvest season.  It was a time to prepare for the winter and there were various rituals and bonfires.  People believed that it was a time when souls of the dead and other mythical beings could come into our world.  Some of these beings were thought to be harmful and it may be that people dressed up and carved turnip lanterns to ward them off hence today’s customs of dressing up and jack-o-lanterns.  The American’s changed turnips to pumpkins as it was a native vegetable and easier to carve (not sure I agree with that last point though – put it this way the power tools were on standby!!).  At Samhain youths would also go door to door collecting food and if a household gave food, they could expect good fortune for the winter which may be where the trick or treating tradition may come from.  Those who believe Halloween has Christian origins link it to the holy day on 1st November, All Saints Day, also known as All Hallows.  They saw it as a time to pray for those recently deceased who had not reached heaven as well as honouring the saints.  Those of this belief sight the origins of trick or treating as the practice of ‘souling’ where poor children would collect soul cakes door to door as a symbol of praying for those in purgatory.  It was  believed that the dead could seek vengeance on their enemies until all saints day when they moved into the next world and that was the reason that people dressed up and made jack-o-lanterns, to protect themselves from these souls.

Due to Catholic connotations, during Reformation Protestants were against celebrating Halloween and after the 1605 gunpowder plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, popularity for Halloween declined in Britain, with far more emphasis being placed on Guy Fawkes Night.  Being that I held the party between Halloween and Guy Fawkes, we also had sparklers.

This month I signed up to the Moonwalk London to raise money for breast cancer research which takes place next May.  The walk was started by a lady called Nina Barough who along with 12 other women took part in the New York marathon in a decorated bra to raise money for breast cancer back in 1996.  After that first walk, Nina herself was diagnosed with breast cancer.  In 1997 a team of girls entered the London Marathon for the cause.  In 1998, such was the response for a team to walk in the London Marathon for a second time that a separate walk was created for the eve of the marathon.  From then onwards, the moonwalk has been an event in its own right with popularity growing year after year.  Having never done anything remotely physically challenging, I went for the half moon walk which is 13.1 miles; I better get myself in training not to mention purchase some trainers – I think I would struggle to do it in heels!  I can’t wait to start designing my bra.  Please sponsor me for this excellent cause; details of my fundraising page to follow in a future blog.

Last week when I was at the hairdressers I read a very interesting article regarding a new diet called 5:2.  Basically you can eat normally for 5 days of the week and for 2 days you fast, eating just 600 calories.  (Some internet sites suggest for women this is reduced to 500).  This diet was popularised by Dr Michael J. Mosley when he was on ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’ documentary in August 2012.  There has been research suggesting that not only does the diet work; it can also reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and Cancer.  Conversely though there is some research suggesting it could cause eating disorders.  I’m always on the look out for a quick and easy fix to losing weight so I have decided to give it a go.  I will let you know the progress weight wise but I have done it for a week now and I must admit the fasting days are difficult and it really opens your eyes to the amount of calories in everything which does make you think twice about what you eat even on the normal days.

A couple of weeks back was Remembrance Sunday and I wore my poppy with pride as well as observing the 2 minutes silence.  I am sure poppy sales greatly increased on 1st November – London Poppy Day when my day was brightened by some very handsome young soldiers coming into the office selling them!  The total raised on this day for the appeal was £772,211.  Armistice Day is on 11th Nov and commemorates the end of World War One and the signing of the armistice at 11am which ended the war for the Western front.  In 1939, the two minutes silence was held on Remembrance Sunday on the first Sunday after Armistice Day in case Armistice Day fell on a week day and interrupted war productions.  After World War Two, most events moved to Remembrance Sunday.  Both days are now celebrated in the UK.  The poppy became the symbol of Armistice Day in 1921 and was inspired by a poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ which refers to poppies being the first thing to grow in the earth of the soldiers graves.  The British Legions poppy appeal raises money for those who are serving in wars or have served and their dependants.  As a child my Grandma would always take me down to Orpington War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday where there would be parades by the armed forces and Brownies, Guides etc.  I remember always wishing my Brownie pack was in Orpington so that I too could have taken part.

As we all begin the preparations for Christmas, lets remember those children who are living in poverty and give something back.  November is the Operation Christmas Child shoe box appeal time. Imagine the joy on a child’s face on Christmas day when they receive a gift of your lovingly put together shoe box.  This year I did mine for a girl between the ages of 5 and 9.  Check out my blog last year for the history of the shoebox appeal and visit their website for more information.

http://www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk/

Before the Christmas parties begin in earnest, I have a few 30th birthday parties to attend over the coming weeks and I just couldn’t resist this unusual 70’s vintage style magazine clutch by Paparazzi.  I will wear it with a plain black dress so that it stands out and takes all the glory!  Carrie is seen with a magazine clutch in Sex and the City ‘Where there is smoke’ and I have wanted one ever since.  Another great style blog which mentions this clutch is http://5inchandup.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/1970s-magazine-clutch.html

Only 28 days until Christmas so it’s time to start that shopping!  Nero’s have released their special Christmas coffees; an amaretto latte and a praline latte so when your feet are sore from dragging round looking for a present for that awkward person to buy for, pop in to take the weight off and indulge.  Until next time….