Monday, 28 December 2015

A Very Merry Christmas

I always find this week in between Christmas and New Year to be really odd, I never seem to be able to keep track of the days.

I'll pick up from where I last posted. On Christmas Eve, we mostly prepared the house for Christmas Day and waited for the whole family to actually be home together. In the evening, we drove around the more affluent areas in the town to look at the Christmas lights. I quite enjoyed that and I hope it becomes a tradition. Speaking of tradition, when we got home we watched Die Hard together as a family; something we have done on Christmas Eve for the last couple of years.

Preparing the Dining Room on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day followed the same order as every other Christmas for us. I was woken by my sister jumping on top of me- she's 19 but is still a kid at heart :P We opened our stockings and gifts from the family altogether, then my grandparents came round as we opened presents from friends. Around this time, we also managed to squeeze in a quick facetime to the extended family in Wales who were having a slightly different Christmas to usual with the addition of a 10 month old baby to the equation this year :)  My dad cooked the Christmas dinner which was yummy as usual, and at least three of us ended up having a post-dinner nap (myself included). After a couple of games of charades and guess that tune, we started to wind down from yet another Christmas Day.

Santa Pancakes- my Christmas morning breakfast.
Boxing Day saw one of my bravest days to date. Since I've been old enough to make my own decisions, I've always avoided the Boxing Day sales. But this year, I joined my mum and sister in a trip into the city centre to brave the sales. At 9am it was pretty quiet but by 10am it was rammed and not the most enjoyable experience. I didn't have much in mind to buy, but I ended up with a few purchases that I'm loving :) I'll do a separate post on those soon.

By the time we had got home with a slightly lighter bank balance, Christmas had caught up with me completely, and I ended up taking two naps that afternoon! Whoops! It's only Christmas once a year right?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Blogmas Day 23 | A Daytrip to Wales

The first thing on my agenda for my first day off work was to go to visit the family in Wales. I hadn't seen them since the start of October so I was really looking forward to a change of scenery and spending time with the family. 

One of the biggest things I was looking forward to was seeing Emily. She is now 10 months old, but I haven't seen her since she has been properly crawling, and now she can pull herself up and dance along to any music on tv. We facetime quite a lot, so we were interested to see if she recognised me from that!

I'm pleased to report that I think she did recognise me. Well, she seemed really relaxed around me and had no issues sitting with me, stealing my glasses, hitting me on the head with a coaster or making my back sore by insisting that she walk around with help. It's a good job she's cute.

It was a long day- we did the roundtrip in a day, but it was much needed and I don't have to worry about missing them too much as we are headed back that way again next week!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Blogmas Day 22 | Whoops! An Update.

Well, it's fair to say Blogmas has been pretty much a fail for me! My laptop decided it needed to install some updates which seemed to take forever going round in a never-ending circle, and I was so busy with work etc that I just never dealt with the laptop and just kept myself updated reading other blogs off my ipad.

Anyway, the updates are installed and I've finally found some time to sit down with my laptop and write a post or two. I may even back date a few posts to fill in some of the days I missed, is that cheating? I've got some photos from various things to upload so I might just do that to correspond with the actual times it took place, just for future reference.

Christmas preparations are in full swing. The presents are wrapped, cards have been sent, food bought etc. I'm pretty excited :)

Are you prepared for Christmas yet? Or do you still have lots to do?

Monday, 21 December 2015

Blogmas Day 21 | 'Twas the Weekend before Christmas

'Twas the weekend before Christmas... and I got to relax and do nothing all weekend! Just kidding. It was crazily busy and I'm glad it's all over now and I can relax a bit before the excitement of Christmas at the end of the week.

On Friday, I had a message to say my Nan's brother was in town and visiting. He has two dogs and they go everywhere with him, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go and see family as well as play with the dogs at the same time (I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on the blog before, but we have been thinking about getting a dog so I love playing with them whenever I can). I hadn't seen my Great Uncle or the dogs for over a year but it seemed like they remembered me, as they were super calm and fell asleep with their paws on me.

The following day we had our inaugural Christmas Display for the kids to show off to their parents. There were over 300 children involved over the day and it seemed like everyone enjoyed it. It was hard work for the coaches, as for many they had little experience of pulling off a show and dealing with backstage issues, but the few of us with a dance background got it going and kept it to schedule over the day.

Sunday was the last day of classes, which meant it was my last day of work before Christmas. It was an 'interesting' day with many kids not in and equipment still all over the place from the display the day before, and us coaches may or may not have joined in a little once we were by the trampoline. Thankfully no injuries to report and I'm now happily finished work for Christmas. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Blogmas Day 17 | My Gingerbread House

Isn't it pretty? It's my first attempt at a gingerbread house. 

I cheated a little bit- I bought the kit from Tesco (only £4, bargain). Once I'd got the hang of it and managed to get the house to stand up it was really easy to decorate. 

I'm pretty pleased with the outcome. Maybe next year I'll try to bake one from scratch.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Blogmas Day 14 | Another Busy Festive Weekend

*Back dated post*

We taught my nan how to take selfies on her iPad.
I don't think I actually stopped all weekend! On Saturday, we went out for a meal to celebrate my Nan's 75th Birthday. Her birthday was actually on Sunday, but as I was working all day Sunday we decided to celebrate a day early so we could have all the family together. We went to a little local pub that we have been going to for Birthday meals since I was about 6, and it is always decorated so beautifully for Christmas. As usual, we had a wonderful meal and for once I wasn't leaving feeling overfull because I worked out that the snack menu had portions that were a regular size in comparison to the huge portions on the main menu!

On Sunday, I was working all day for a little competition held at the gymnastics club that I work at. It was a very long day- there was a break between each round of competition but every time I sat down I felt like I was going to fall asleep so I kept myself busy as much as I could. Despite it being a long day, all in all it was very successful. For some of my gymnasts, it was their first ever competition and I'm pleased to report that out of the gymnasts I coach, four of them won the club champion title in their category, as well as lots of other medals between them! Happy gymnasts = happy coach :)

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Blogmas Day 13 | Moments Captured by my Phone... Autumn Edition

I started writing this post last month but never finished it so thought I'd finish it off as part of blogmas!  I quite enjoyed doing the summer edition of this post so thought I'd do an Autumn one! Here are a few moments captured by the camera on my phone from September-November.

I went to Birmingham for the day and there were these painted owls all over the city. I'm not sure what they were all about but I thought it was pretty cute and brightened up the city centre. I don't remember the sky looking that dark though when I was there!

The view from my seat at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow for the World Gymnastics Championships. It was a great couple of days!

When I was little we would often go for a walk in the woods with my grandparents, but as they've got older it's become more difficult for them to get around. They were having a good day one day and it was pretty warm compared to usual so we went for a walk and reminisced about all the memories we had made there.

I have never carved a pumpkin before as my mum was never really into Halloween, but I decided that this year it was going to change. I used pinterest for inspiration and this was the result! 

Our Christmas Costa date! Every year me and my mum go on a Costa date to try out the Christmas drinks just after they are released. I had my favourite White Hot Chocolate, but I don't remember what my mums drink was.

So that's it for my Autumn phone round up... I'll see if I can do a Winter round up by the end of February!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Blogmas Day 11 | Favourite Christmas Films

Last week I did a list of of my favourite Christmas songs, so I thought I'd post about my favourite Christmas films. I'm not much of a film person as I have the attention span of a fish, but here are a few films I love at this time of year, in no particular order as I can't choose!

Elf- What can you say about Elf? It's a classic. It's so quotable, makes you laugh out loud as well as bringing the festive spirit along at the end.

The Grinch- To be honest, every time I watch the Grinch I am amazed at the production that must have gone into creating this film. I mean, every single person involved in any scene would have had to go through lengthy hair and make up.  Anyway, it's one of my Christmas favourites. Cindy Lou is just so cute, and I love the 'Where are you Christmas?' song.

Santa Claus the Movie- I used to watch this growing up, and although I didn't particularly understand it all, I loved it. It's a film I still try to watch every year.

Nativity- I only discovered this film last year, but it's a feel good film. It's produced by the BBC and set in a British primary school, showing the drama that goes on behind the scenes to produce a school nativity play. They've since made Nativity 2 and 3, which are on my list to watch.

What is your favourite Christmas film?

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Blogmas Day 10 | Our Christmas Decorations

I'll let the photos do the speaking in this post. My mum does such a great job of picking out beautiful decorations and making the house festive


These bells were home made by my nan many years ago,

Instead of lights at the front of the house, we have a small Christmas tree in the porch.

What's your favourite Christmas Decoration?

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Blogmas Day 9 | The Winter Favourites Tag

I know I've already done a tag post for Blogmas, but I found this one over at Renee's blog and thought it'd be fun to do.

1) Favourite winter nail polish?
Anything glittery!

2) Favourite winter lip product?
My lips always get chapped so I always keep my little tub of vaseline with me.

3) Most worn winter clothing piece?
My classy Christmas jumper! It's got a wintery scene with snowflakes and Christmas trees on. I got it from Tesco two years ago but I still love it so much.
The best photo I have of my Christmas jumper... from Christmas Day 2013 with a broken ankle!
4) Favourite winter accessory?
My fluffy headband! It's so warm.

5) Favourite winter scent?
Savour the Season Yankee's so Christmassy!

6) Favourite winter beverage?
Bailey's hot chocolate- I discovered it in my first year of university and have loved it since!

7) All time favourite Christmas movie?
Like I said in the other tag, it's a tie between Elf and the Grinch,

8) Favourite Christmas song?
Fairytale of New York, find out more here.

9) Favourite holiday food?
Aha I think this one was in the other tag I did too! Lindor chocolates are one of my favourites, but I only ever get them as gifts. I do have a major weakness for Mince Pies too.

10) Favourite Christmas decoration?
Our Christmas tree. But my mum does such a great job of decorating for Christmas that I love pretty much all the decorations.

11) Whats at the top of your Christmas list?
Hmmm. My list is pretty boring this year. A new cozy soft dressing gown, a new ipad case and printer ink cartridges!

12) What are your plans for the holidays this year?
We'll be at home for Christmas, then go to Wales between Christmas and New Year to celebrate my cousins engagement. Not sure about New Year yet!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Blogmas Day 8 | Our Christmas Tree

We put our Christmas Tree up on Saturday. As much as my family love real trees, we decided to use the artificial tree this year.

Long story short, we ended up having to go out and buy a brand new artificial tree. We've had our old one since 1998 and it no longer wants to stand up completely vertically. After a quick trip to the shops, we now have a 7ft tree! Our old one was 6ft and we were happy to buy a smaller one, but it was such a good deal for the bigger one that we couldn't leave it.

I love helping to put the tree up. It feels like the moment Christmas really arrives. Our tree looks so pretty. We have two sets of lights on it; one plain set and one set that twinkle. The baubles are all green, red and gold which makes a really classic festive look.

Presents are all under the tree ready to give out to friends and family.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Blogmas Day 7 | Advent

When I started thinking about this post, I never actually realised how many different things we've done as a family to mark advent. We aren't a religious family, so I guess for us, Advent is just a countdown to Christmas.

This year I have a Thornton's Snowman and the Snowdog Advent Calendar. It's so pretty, and Thorntons chocolate never let's you down. As I grew up, I never had chocolate advent calendars. My mum would always go out of her way to find advent calendars with just pictures in for us, so that we would understand the idea of Christmas rather than just expecting chocolate every day. I'm not sure if her theory worked, I understood Christmas anyway and it just made me more eager to get a chocolate calendar once I got older!

We have a Yankee Candle advent calendar in the house this year. The box is really festive and fits right in as a Christmas decoration. There are some great smells in there (including my favourite snowflake cookie), and the size of the tealight is perfect for a cozy winter evening.

Advent candles are something that we have every year, but I think that's just because my mum loves candles! At least once a year someone forgets to blow it out so it burns down to a couple of days ahead. This year, ours had already burned about 3 days ahead. Whoops!

Another Advent tradition that we have is a little Christmas tree ornament at my nans house, and each day you add a decoration to it. Even now me and my sister are older, my nan continues to use the Christmas tree.

What do you do to celebrate advent?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Blogmas Day 6 | An Eventful First Week of December

So I've successfully managed 6 days of Blogmas so far, and I've quite enjoyed writing the posts :)

I've been all over the place this week so I'm quite glad that I'd managed to schedule some posts in advance.

Last Sunday I tripped over and hurt my ankle. It was the same ankle I broke and had to have surgery on two years ago so it was quite sore and painful for a couple of days. I spent Monday and Tuesday resting it and wrapping up over 100 presents that we are giving to all the children at work. Thankfully the ankle seems to be better now and I don't think any major damage was done.

By Wednesday night, I was at work and felt the area around my right eye start to swell up. No idea why this happened. I've worked at the gymnastics club for over a year now so I'm not allergic to anything there, and any other allergies would have shown up earlier and probably on both eyes too. On Thursday morning, it was still swollen so the Doctor diagnosed it as an eye infection. The antibiotics seem to be working so fingers crossed they continue to :)

As I'm writing this (Saturday), we've just put our Christmas tree up so I'm feeling pretty festive. We had quite a saga with the tree so I'll save the story and pictures of that for a separate post.

How's December going for you so far?

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Blogmas Day 5 | The Christmas Tag

1) What is your favourite Christmas film?

It's a tie between Elf and the Grinch

2) Have you ever had a white Christmas?
Yes! A few years ago it was very snowy and icy. We had a huge icicle outside our house so we cut it down and used the ice in our drinks. It probably wasn't very hygienic but it was memorable and we all lived to tell the tale!

3) Where do you usually spend your holiday?
Always at home. I'd love to go abroad for Christmas, or even to see the family in Wales, but it's pretty much a tradition to spend Christmas day at home with the Grandparents so it's not really something I can change at this point. Maybe when I have kids!

4) What is your favourite Christmas song?
Fairytale of New York by the Pogues.

5) Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

6) Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Ummm. Donner, Dasher, Prancer, Dancer, Comet, Cupid, Vixen... is that it?

7) What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
Putting the tree up! And seeing how much Bucks Fizz we can get through on Christmas Day.

8) Is your Christmas Tree real or fake?
Most years we use a fake one, but we have had a few real ones in recent years.

9) What is your all time favourite holiday food?
Oooh. Mince Pies are good, and I love a good turkey dinner. Sweet treat wise, I love Lindor chocolates which I only ever seem to get at Christmas.

10) Do you like giving or receiving gifts more?
If its a gift that I put a lot of thought in to, or something that I know the person will like, I love the giving aspect of Christmas. I don't like too much attention, so I hate it when people watch you open presents.

11) What's the best Christmas present you've ever received?
Oooh this is a tough one. In recent years, the gift I've used the most is my iPad, or my phone. My grandparents bought me a lot of scrapbooking stuff a few years ago that I still use. But when I was little I remember being thrilled about getting a marble run, and a Barbie campervan, so I'm pretty sure I thought that they were the best gifts ever!

12) What would be your dream place to visit for Christmas?
I'd love to go somewhere snowy in a little log cabin, maybe Banff or Lake Louise? Or even just Austria or Switzerland to be a little closer to home. Although, I'd love to try going somewhere warm for Christmas at least once just for the experience.

13) Are you a pro-present wrapper, or do fail miserably?
If it a square or rectangle, I'm a pro. Anything else, I fail miserably!

14) Most memorable Christmas moment?
There's not really one that stands out more than others. In recent years, spending Christmas Eve in hospital with a broken ankle and having to hop around the house on Christmas Day was pretty memorable!

15) What made you realise the truth about Santa?
I realised that Santa had the same handwriting as my mum!

16) Do you make New Years' Resolutions?

17) What makes the holidays special for you?
Family time. Special events. Traditions. Good food. Christmas songs. Christmas films. Christmas candles. Christmas trees and pretty lights.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Blogmas Day 4 | Favourite Christmas Songs

My Christmas CD has now taken it's place in my car so my commute is now nice and festive :) Here are my 5 favourite Christmas songs that I look forward to listening to.

5) Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)- Michael Buble. I only discovered this song last year, but it's quickly become one of my favourites. In fact, the Michael Buble Christmas Album is fabulous and we keep it in the kitchen to use as the background music for any festive baking.

4) Do They Know It's Christmas?- Band Aid. I still prefer the original to the two more recent versions that have been released. I remember dancing around to this song a lot at school Christmas parties. 

3) Sleigh Ride- The Ronettes. This is such a happy song and it always puts me in a good mood :)

2) Merry Christmas Everyone- Shakin Stevens. This has always been one of my favourites because it sounds so cheerful, but it's been overplayed at work recently so it's actually starting to annoy me a bit!

1) Fairytale of New York- The Pogues. What can I say about this one? It's a classic and I have lots of happy Christmas memories dancing around to this song.

What is your favourite Christmas song?

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Blogmas Day 3 | Snowflake Cupcakes

This week I made some snowflake cupcakes. We had a lot of over ripe bananas in the house again, so I used the same recipe that I used for the banana chocolate chip cupcakes that I have used before, but I used a slightly smaller portion size because last time I ended up with far too much mixture!

They ended up pretty well! I was quite impressed with how the icing ended up, as I'm never very successful with managing to pipe buttercream icing. I actually used a disposable piping bag from Tesco this time rather than our reusuable one which I rarely get good results from.

It was also my first time using the snowflake cutter and working with the royal icing, and I'm pretty happy with the outcome!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Blogmas Day 2 | Mini Christmas Haul

I got a little more carried away than usual in the tacky Christmas items section of Primark! I don't mind buying stuff that you only wear once or twice a year when it's at Primark prices :)

Rudolph earrings- how cute are these? I haven't bought any Christmas earrings for quite a while so I'm excited to wear these. 
I thought the bow was so tacky that I just had to get it! And it has holly leaves on, which is always a plus when your name is Hollie (it's taken me over 20 years to fully embrace the Christmassy name)

I bought the Elf t shirt (£5) for an event at work where we all have to dress up as elves for the day, which I can't say I'm looking forward to. Why can't a Christmas jumper do? Anyway, I digress. As I was looking at the elf tshirt, another tshirt caught my eye and I knew I had to get it straight away (£6). The lyrics are from my favourite Christmas song, Fairytale of New York. When my mum saw the tshirt, she bought herself one too so now we'll be matching in our love for Christmas songs.

This candle was from Matalan (£10). It's called Savour the Season and it's one of my favourite Yankee Candles ever. It's hard to describe- it just smells...Christmassy. It's not a sweet smell, which is unusual for me to like, but I'm pretty much obsessed with this scent at the moment and constantly have it burning when I'm in the house.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Blogmas Day 1 | It's December!

It's December! Yay! 

The countdown to Christmas is officially on.

It's a very busy month for me with lots of extra work related events as well as all the excitement of Christmas.

I had the first chocolate from my advent calendar this morning.

We're planning to put the Christmas tree up this weekend.

It's such an exciting time of year.

I'm attempting to post every day leading up to Christmas, and I have no idea how it'll turn out.

Leave me your links below if you're attempting Blogmas too :)