Christmas Magic

I've always been a Christmas fanatic. From putting up the tree, to singing Christmas carols in July, to being super jazzed at the thoughts of wearing a tacky festive jumper to work, I love it all. This year, we're properly settled into our home, and I've been enjoying adding seasonal touches around the house. While I had already made some crocheted snowflake garlands to drape around the living room, I ended up making Tommie some Star Wars decorations for the tree. Oh, when I'm a good girlfriend, I'm a very good girlfriend indeed. Except when I ignore him while trying to concentrate on making said decorations.

Over the last few years, I've been gifted beautiful Christmas decorations from family. Pieces from Newbridge Silver, snow globes and personalised stockings have all helped add some festive cheer to our little house. Though not particularly religious, I absolutely love the little crib tea light holder my aunt gave me when I first moved out of home many years ago. The rest have all been picked up in local shops, or handmade, to make the place brighter and more festive while on a  limited budget. I think there's nothing better on cold nights like these, to light the fire and some scented candles, pop on the Christmas lights and watch a feel good movie.

Now that Caelen is getting older, I want to make Christmas as magical as I can. Decorating the house, Christmas movies, going to all the estates to see all the houses lit up, telling him all about Santa to get him excited. Yesterday, my estate had their annual Christmas event, with a visit from Santa for all the local children. Unfortunately, we had to miss it, so I had planned on bringing Caelen to see Father Christmas some afternoon this week. Tonight, just after sitting down to dinner, there was a knock at the door. To our surprise, our next door neighbour had arranged for a special visit from Santa. While Caelen was a little apprehensive at first, he soon got into the spirit, even kissing the man in red goodbye.  

How do you make Christmas special for you and your loved ones?


The Jolly Blogger Award

The lovely Yari over at Yari's Adventures nominated me for The Jolly Blogger Award. Seeing as I love anything related to Christmas, I jumped at the chance to share my answers! I'm meant to nominate ten bloggers too, but seeing as how I'm quite shy within the bloggersphere, I'm leaving it open for anyone that reads this. 

1. Do you open your gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
Christmas Day. Since I'm the oldest child in my family, Santa was still coming to the house for years. We'd all get up super early and open our presents with the ones that still believed. Even now, when I know what my presents are, I'll have to wait until Christmas morning.

2. Favourite Christmas song?
Baby, It's Cold Outside. I don't know why, but it just feels like Christmas when I hear this song.

3. Favourite Christmas/holiday movie?
ELF! I literally only saw this for the first time last night, and it's already after knocking Home Alone off its perch. Other than that, the Harry Potter movies. They're not Christmas movies, but they're always on TV around the festive season, so they totally count, right?

4. Favourite Christmas decoration?
Apart from the ones I've made? A teeny tiny Newbridge silver grand piano my aunt bought for me years ago. 

5. Favourite Christmas food?
Chocolate. And more chocolate. All those selection boxes and tins of Roses. I may be drooling at the thought of all the chocolate I'll have in the house shortly enough!

6. Favourite holiday/winter drink?
Hot chocolate. Recently, I've been making Bewleys white hot chocolate, with lashings of cream, marshmallows, and a candy cane stirrer. Bliss. I'm planning on making some mulled wine for Christmas Eve when we have family over though.

7. Snow or no snow?
I love the idea of snow. Actual snow, not so much. It loses its charm once it starts to get sludgy, which being Ireland, is only a matter of minutes usually.

8. Do you send out cards or no cards?
I love sending out cards. The last two years I've been really bad at it though. I've had a pile to send on the worktop in the kitchen for the bones of a week. They'll definitely get posted in time for Christmas though!

9. Do you still secretly believe in Santa Claus?
I wish! I was only talking about it last night. How much money would us parents save if Santa was real? 

10. Your favourite winter clothing item?
Pyjamas. Some days, I'm lucky if I get dressed at all. To me, winter is all about staying warm. Why get cold to get dressed, when I could stay warm and cosy by the fire instead? Failing that, a big old scarf to wrap myself up in when I do have to leave the house. Basially, any article of clothing that makes me feel like I'm still snug in bed!

11. One beauty product you cannot be without this winter?
Hand cream. I love the Soap & Glory minis, but lately I've been carrying around a L'Occitane one I got as part of a gift set. Between the weather changing so suddenly, and handling money and boxes in work, I find my poor hands get super dry in the winter. Keeping my hands moisturised seems to be keeping the cracked mitts of 2013 at bay so far.

12. Best Christmas memory?
It was back in good old '93. My mom was in the hospital after having the latest addition to the family, and me and my brother woke up Christmas morning to presents under the tree AND a brand new fancy TV. We were so excited to show my mom our Christmas presents when we went to visit that we completely forgot about the baby though, oops!


Next Christmas Wishlist

A few days ago, an email from Next pinged into my inbox. Now, I'm not usually one to even consider doing a post like this. I'm rather lazy, and not super competitive. But, I love Next. For myself, for Caelen, and for this little house we call home. So, since I already had more than a handful of things filed away in a mental wish list, I thought it might be fun what I had chosen. I've based this wish list on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, because who doesn't like nice things at this time of year, especially at its most festive.

This Christmas marks our first as a family, of sorts. While Tommie will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home with his family, we've decorated my house as a family. I'm in the middle of trying to plan a little Christmas evening for the three of us, to exchange presents, since we won't be able to do it on the day. I'm thinking Christmas lights and more than enough candles everywhere, pyjamas and warm throws, hot chocolate for three, a pizza instead of a formal dinner, and a movie before bed. It's the little things, eh?

I love the idea of new Christmassy pyjamas. When I was a child, my grandparents would buy me a new pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers for Christmas. I've brought that with me to my adult years, and every year, I buy my own. These red and cream Snuggle pyjamas fit the bill. They're festive looking, and more importantly, they're warm! For Christmas Day, I prefer comfort over style, so a snuggly oversized jumper like this beautiful berry toned one is key. Paired with black skinny jeans and some boots (perfect for hiding those thick cosy socks) should be comfortable enough to eat everything all day.

for her

I get really excited about shopping for Caelen these days. I've always had a grĂ¡ for boys clothes, but the older he gets, the better the clothes are. He's been wearing so many comic book tshirts and hoodies recently, I'm looking forward to getting him something smarter. This little check shirt with bow tie is adorable, especially paired with the leather biker jacket. Add to that some jeans and Converse, and you've got one dapper little dude.

I've been putting together a little Christmas Eve box for Caelen, filled with things to make it magical. Some snuggly Christmas pyjamas, a festive movie, and a nativity book, hot chocolate mix and some marshmallows, along with some more treats. 

smallie christmas

Even though Tommie won't be here on Christmas morning, it wouldn't feel right not to include him in a wish list of nice things for all the family. And so, a smart new quilted hoodie and graphic tee are just the ticket. For as long as I've known him, that's all I've seen him wear, bar the odd shirt and tie combo. While he looks incredibly handsome dressed up, nothing beats seeing your man at his most comfortable. And the Hulk t-shirt was a no brainer, after seeing a photo of him as a young child during the week, wearing a pretty similar one. 

Untitled #6
Christmas morning itself will be a busy one, hosting my family. Since Santa no longer visits my parents house, they're coming to mine on Christmas morning to see what Caelen has under the tree. Which means I'll have yet more hot chocolate on standby, and maybe some sweet treats to wake us all up on a cold winters morning. These mugs and treat jar would be perfect additions to the morning, as everyone enjoys the excitement of that sweet son of mine.

Untitled #7

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited for Christmas this year. Caelen is more and more aware of what's going on, and has the whole Santa story down to a tee. He's getting really excited about Santa leaving presents for him under the tree, lets just hope he doesn't disappoint!


Life Lately - Getting Crafty

It's been feeling kinda Christmassy around these parts at the moment. The last two weeks have been a flurry of yarn and hooks. And ribbon. And paint. And pompoms. And snowflakes. And bells. I have Tommie driven demented showing him rough drafts of things I want to make for the tree. And dragging him around all the shops in town looking at trees and lights and buying more baubles than completely necessary.

A while back I decided that it was time to dig the Christmas decorations out of storage. You know, just to see what I needed to buy. Not to put them up. Not at all. So out came dusty baubles and tinsel, glittery stags, sparkly jewels, felt gingerbread men and last years Christmas tree. The tree that looks more like a glorified branch than the wonderful Christmas tree I had envisioned when I planned my perfect Christmas. So, that went back into the shed. The rest I kept. They're currently in a box, in the playroom, waiting for a Christmas tree worthy of putting them on.

With buying Christmas presents, my brother's 21st, a Christmas party or two and Tommie's birthday all in December, money is tight for the next few weeks. I thought the best way to save money, and jazz up my humble abode, was to make some decorations. And so, my evenings have been filled with crochet. Sitting down in front of the fire, with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on in the background, and mountains of yarn scattering the couch, I've been ploughing through them. So much, that I'm able to send some to people I feel honoured to call friends.

Along with all of the crochet, I've been getting covered in paint. I found some more frames to paint some bright colours to add to the living room. I'd love to be one of those people who like matching things, but that will never be me. Instead, my living room is full of colour. But, it being a drab rental to begin with, I like to think it brightens up the room and inject it with some much needed character. I'm hoping to have the living room completely finished by Christmas, when I'll have family and friends over in the evenings.

I will admit, I have quite a bad habit of flitting between projects. Right now, I have three garlands to make, star decorations to finish for a number of people that asked for them, more things to add to the wall in the living room, and my poor mother is still waiting on a scarf I told her I'd make months ago. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. But as with everything, I'll get there in the end, right?


A Year In

Last weekend marked our one year anniversary. Saturday, after Caelen's lunch, we set off on our merry way to Killarney. We had a room booked in a rather fancy establishment, plans for dinner and tickets to see Dara O'Briain. Two complimentary tea and scones, one septum piercing and a change of clothes later, we were ready to start those anniversary celebrations. 

After eating our fill and belly laughing our way through Dara's set, we checked out what Killarney had to offer in the way of drinks. Many cocktails and a sit down in a nightclub later, we headed back to the hotel for a much needed uninterrupted sleep. The following day, we skipped the hotel breakfast in lieu of trying out the snazzy jacuzzi bath. Now, I want a hot tub of my very own. Our time in Killarney may have been short and sweet, but it was lovely to be able to spend some quality time together. 

The last twelve months has been a learning curve. I'll be honest in saying I went into this relationship almost expecting it to fail. I have had some pretty bad experiences with relationships in the past, and at the time I didn't feel ready. I was afraid of having another failed relationship under my belt, especially with someone I was friends with beforehand. Especially considering it involved introducing Caelen too.

I never expected to find someone that would not only take on another man's child as part of a relationship, but someone that would treat my son as his own. Someone that will listen to my problems, and offer advice and support. Through him, I've learnt to open up again, and that sometimes it's ok not to be in control all the time. 

This last year has been one of the best times of my life. I've been able to spend most of my time with Tommie, and not get bored. I can lounge around in my pyjamas, without a scrap of makeup, and feel comfortable. I've been introduced to more than one amazingly crappy movie, and loved it. He's someone that has encouraged my little crafty experiments, and has (hopefully!) been honest about them. 

Tommie, you're a good egg. I'm glad we're in this together.


Late Night Ramblings #3 - Friends Like These

Back in the school days of studying hard and gossiping harder, I was friends a group of girls. And when I say studied, most of the last two years of school were spent writing each other lengthy letters filled with code names for boys and planning nights out. So, mostly gossiping. We had nights out, befriending barmen, questionable outfit choices, making up fake names and taking thousands of photos. Most of which were before digital cameras were all the rage, so are hidden in a box that I take out every now and then for a giggle.

After those two years, we went our separate ways. Three to colleges across the country, and one to repeat sixth year. Spoiler - that lonely one left behind was me. Nights out became more infrequent, but still filled with laughs, drinks, barmen and gossip. Mostly, our friendship is limited to texting and Facebook. And Bebo, way back when Bebo was the "in" thing. Now, almost ten years down the line, relationships, breakups, two babies and many changes of location later, we're still friends. Granted, ones I don't see as much as I'd like, but friends none the less. 

These are the girls I've been singing McFly songs in the street with on our way out into town, laughed in the chipper with at the end of the night, visited for weekends in the cities they lived in, shared my precious cigarettes with, and took one too many photos in front of a Michael Collins print in a local bar. They're the ones that have seen my house in all it's untidy glory, and stayed for tea anyway. That dole out sympathy, laughs and advice in equal measures. Where we can make fun of our unfortunate dating past, and all the randoms we dated.

Friends like these are quite hard to come by. We all have busy lives, with work and babies and social lives. But they're the ones that I may not talk to for a week or two and know I can just pick up the phone and pick up where we left off. Friendships where time is not a factor, though texts after 12 are apparently strictly off limits. Where with most people I feel a bit awkward, a bit different, these girls have accepted me for who I am.

 My Boobs, my wifey and good old Chastity, I don't say it enough, but I love each and every one of you. You make me laugh, and cry with laughter. While we have all grown up and left those innocent school days, I still think we need a night of SingStar and vodka and stomping around the room. Lets make it happen.


Review // Mr Nutcase personalised iPhone case

Back in the warm and lovely month of May, I decided it was time to get a new phone case. The one I had was falling apart at the seams, and frankly, it just wasn't me. Red and white polkadots are all well and good, but I needed something more personal. Luckily, the lovely people over at Mr Nutcase offered me the chance to try out a custom iPhone case. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.  Not having a working laptop at the time, and being too impatient to wait until the weekend to commandeer the boyfriends, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was super easy to design my own phone case from their mobile site. 

Mr Nutcase have so much to offer for a wide range of phone handsets. Firstly choosing whether you want a standard plastic case, or a leather flip one. Then, you can use one of the wide range of predesigned backgrounds, or opt for using your own images. While the readymade ones were lovely, the lure of using my own candid snaps was greater. As you can see, I opted for a collage, with eight Instagram-esque square photos. All you have to do is choose a layout, agonise over what images to use, decide whether you want to add text and clip art, and BAM! All done. My order was complete in minutes, even using my phone!

Having used this phone case for almost five months, I've been surprised at how well it's held up. Granted, the top corner is a little cracked, and the colours on all corners have slightly rubbed away, but it still looks really well for something that never comes out of my hand. Considering in the last two months my phone has had two bad falls, and has been for a toilet bowl swim, it's holding up really well. The case itself is fantastic, the quality of the photos is perfect, it's just like the photos I uploaded. I was afraid that the quality would be diminished by putting them on the cover, but thankfully that wasn't the case. The case has a lovely matte finish, so fingerprints smudging the photos aren't an issue either. With a curious toddler, that's certainly a plus!

Mr Nutcase really do cater for everyone, and better yet, they offer free international shipping so there are no hidden charges. While this case was sent to me for review, they usually retail at £14.95,  I think it's a really fair price for something of such good quality. I've been sorting through all my photos since I got my MacBook, so I think I'll be making another trip back to Mr Nutcase to order more phone covers for my parents as part of their Christmas presents. I'm sure they'd love some with Caelen on them too!

If you fancy getting your own mitts on a personalised Mr Nutcase phone case, you can get 10% off your purchase by using the code "thanku10" at the checkout. Just factor in enough time to browse through all your photos looking for those perfect ones to adorn your phone!

*Disclaimer - I was sent this product for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions are my own.


home improvements // a living room wishlist

I'll be living in this house a year later on this month. While I have done a bit to make this house a home for Caelen and myself, there's still a lot of room for improvement. Because I'm renting and have no idea how long I'll be living here, I don't want to pour a lot of money into a house that isn't technically mine. But, considering I'll be signing another twelve month lease shortly, I think it's time to really start putting my stamp on the place.
Starting with the living room, as it's our most used room. I want it to be cosy, but functional. A second, smaller, bookcase, for books and little knick knacks, and to take some weight off of my existing one. Some snuggly throws and squashy cushions, for those cosy winter nights in. A coffee table, for obvious reasons. Some mismatched frames and decor to add to the already eclectic collection. While I don't have a colour scheme per se, most of the room has hints of turquoise and purple, with splashes of red and pink. Since my new curtains are purple, I'm looking at picking out other hues to compliment the other colours in the room.
Living Room #1

I need more candles, as I've just used up the two large Yankee Candles I got for my birthday. I have my eye on some Flamingo Candles, in sugary sweet scents. After reading some reviews, the Parma Violet one sounds amazing! Or even a Jewel Candle, who doesn't want their house to smell good and get a sparkly treat too? My living room is quite long and narrow, and for some reason it only has one socket in the whole room. Some battery operated fairy lights would help to illuminate the other side of the room. As would a mirror up over the fireplace instead of the €3 canvas I bought just after moving in. A big old trunk to store some of Caelen's toys, which could also double as a play surface. That boy just loves lining all his cars up along the couch, which doesn't leave much room for sitting down!
living room #2

Obviously, along the way I'll be picking up more knick knacks and trinkets to add to my already sizeable collection of odds and ends. I usually don't plan these in advance, but rather pick them up as I see them. Once I get the larger items on this wish list, finding things to fill them will come easily. 
How do you make a rental feel more like home?


looking back

Let me start off this post with the song we sang at my secondary school graduation. It will make sense shortly. I promise. 

Today, I took a new route to work. Instead of walking through the centre of town, I decided to walk through the town park. This walk brings me right past my old secondary school. And it made me laugh. Walking towards the entrance, music blaring from my headphones, uniform on, scowling at the idea of being up so early, it was like I was transported back ten years.
Back then, I had an idea of where I wanted my life to go. College, "proper" job, money. I would have grown out of the clumsy, forgetful, shy teenager I was. I wanted to be a radio presenter, not having the face for TV. I wanted my voice to be heard. I had visions of this jet set older self, with sleek hair, manicured nails and a distinct lack of bruises.
But things change. Priorities shift. Life throws a curveball or two. And it made me realise, just because I'm not doing what I expected I would be as a naive teen, does it really matter? Do I really mind that my voice isn't as loud as others? That I didn't finish college? That I never gave myself the chance to travel the world?
I used to meet my old teachers regularly in my old job. I remember the first time I met each of them, when they'd ask me how I was and what I was doing. I'd get embarrassed when explaining I had dropped out of college and I was working full time in a supermarket. But now I realise I needn't have been. It wasn't the path I had initially chose for myself, but one that has worked out well for me. And things could have been a lot worse.
So, Life, whatever you have to throw at me, I'm ready. I've grown up a lot in the last ten years. I know who I am now. I may not still be that schoolgirl I was back then, but there's still a lot of her left in me. My hair is still unruly. I'm forever sporting a bruise or ten. I'm still more than a little bit shy. I had never imagined myself being a mother, never mind being a single parent. I never thought I'd be happy in a job like mine, but it's fun, and enjoyable, and I've met some great people. I still have dreams, though most of them are closer to home now. Instead of travelling the world, I'll settle for some family holidays. 
And I got to work today and realised I'd forgotten to wear a bra. Some things don't change at all.

Five on Friday #3

The last week has completely flown by, and before I knew it, it was Friday again. Which means yet another roundup of things of read or lusted after online in the last seven days. My usual irregular posting will start up again sometime soon. Promises, promises.

I've been looking for a good pinafore for the colder months, and I finally think I've found The One from Mod Dolly. I love the muted colours of the tartan, and it's got pockets! What more do you need? I think I'll have to make a cheeky little purchase once my bills are paid!

This heart warming post from Becky Bedbug made me smile. It's lovely to see people proclaiming their love for their families, so reading this really made me smile. It makes me think about all those times I should tell those close to me how I feel. I tell my parents I love them, but not so much my brothers and grandparents. It really does give you something to think about.

This story of how someone's dad tried to print a YouTube video completely cracked me up. It reminds me of something my own dad would try to do. He's forever ringing me with questions about his laptop, like asking how many spaces he'd need to get to the next line when sending an email. Let's not talk about the time I texted my poor boyfriend asking him how to copy and paste something. I was having one of those days!

I've been spending quite a lot of time on Pinterest recently, trying to decide how to decorate the house for Christmas. The part of me that loves to do things the hard way has decided that lots of crochet is in order, including making at least twenty of these little pretties to make a garland. You can find the pattern on Ravelry here.

Since Halloween is just around the corner, I've been busy costume planning. Since Toy Story is still a big thing in this house, I've been looking at costumes along those lines. But boy, are they expensive! I'm thinking a DIY costume might be more up my alley... I'm actually a sucker for punishment, giving myself yet more DIY work! This one is pretty impressive, and there's no fiddly sewing involved. That's a win in my book!


Five on Friday #2

I'm back again with more lovely things I found on the internets. Again this week, they're mainly blog posts I felt I could relate to in one way or another. I actually didn't do a whole load of browsing or reading this week, however. I started playing that dreadful Kim Kardashian game, and it's slowly taking over my life. I'm in no way a Kim fan, but that game is bloody addictive! I think I need to delete it before my life gets completely taken over with a fictional jet set lifestyle!

Fiona of Dolly Dowsie wrote a wonderful post about how she raises her son. She has unfortunately been at the end of some horrible comments on her parenting style, and the post really shows off what a fierce mama she really is. While Fiona's blog is a new enough read for me, I really loved this post. I think many people come across some sort of negativity about how they raise their children. It's just nice to see someone taking a stand, instead of hiding how they really feel.

This print is the best. For some time now, Caelen has cut out his daytime nap. Which is a pity, because the adults in this house are fans of an old catnap or two. Also, someone give me ALL of the money to spend on Not On The High Street. There's way too many lovely things on it.

Another one from Charlotte this week. Write Like No One's Watching is increasingly becoming the first blog I check. Her post on being a newly single mother really hit home. I only wish I had read it when I was going through the start of that journey myself. It may have made me cry, but it's a truly beautiful read, single mama or not.

The Innocent Big Knit is back. For the last two years, I've been making, and sending off teeny tiny hats, and it's all for a good cause! Back in 2008, Innocent requested that people make tiny hats, to put on their smoothie bottles. For every hat wearing bottle that was sold, 30c goes to Age Action. The money raised goes towards their Care and Repair programme, which involves volunteers visiting older people in their homes and providing a DIY service. It's so easy to knit or crochet a little hat or two, especially now that the evenings are closing in. I'm looking forward to sitting in front of the fire surrounded by wool in the evenings. If you want to take part, you can find some patterns here.

Halloween is just over a month away, and I'm busy planning a costume or two. I'm lucky enough that I'll get to dress up for work, and I'm planning on matching costumes for Caelen, Tommie and I too. When I came across these DIYed Fairy Glitter Shoes over on Pale Girl I swooned. I have a similar pair of shoes that I never wear anymore, so I can really see myself trying this out. Now, just to choose a costume that work with them!