Finding it hard to relax and take rest.

I’ve got 3 days off, in a row, in December, in retail.

This never happens!!!!

I started a new job almost 6 months ago and even though it’s still in retail, it’s different to all the other retailers I’ve worked for… I had a 2 days of holiday left for the year and said “just drop them in wherever is convenient for you” and the manager gave me them a fortnight before Christmas, next to a day off, so I could have a mini break. THIS NEVER HAPPENS.

Of course, I’ve woken up really snotty and feeling crappy. Of course I have. But even though I feel bad, I’ll still only relax for an hour while I have a coffee and burn some Nag Champa in my little German House, and then I’ll be up tidying/sorting/cleaning.

I always feel like time off work is an opportunity to get house stuff done, rather than relax. For me, relaxing is a waste of time, that’s what sleep is for, right?

Time to get this coffee down my neck, and start on the kitchen…

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Struggling with vegetarian life

As a veggie who doesn’t enjoy Mushroom, cheeses or butternut squash, I massively struggle eating out.

We recently had a road trip and ended up at a service station, I hadn’t eaten and really wanted something warm rather than a salad, and ended up with fries from KFC. Just fries. That’s not a meal!

Wetherspoons have recently upped their game with their incredible chickpea curry, and their veggie bangers and mash are AWESOME! But sometimes you just want comfort food.

A few weeks ago we went to see John Bishop as a belated birthday gift. I’d been at work for 7 hours on my own, I couldn’t have a break and I was STARVING.

We didn’t have much time, so we popped to Wetherspoon. I didn’t want to have the same two options as I normally have, so I desperately scoured the menu for something else, and on the menu was “3 small plates for £10” Checking the options without meat, I ordered a garlic pizza bread, small nachos and chips with curry sauce… and was NOT disappointed!!!

The garlic pizza bread had rosemary on it, and was so delicious I was disappointed when it had gone. Wetherspoons nachos are incredible, always have been! The chips, well, they had a tablespoon of curry sauce on and were about as chip like as they could be (life as a veggie I find revolves around chips!) but it was such a glorious change to have hearty comforty junk food!

Definitely worth trying if you’re not eating meat, and you definitely get your money’s worth.

Reduce, reuse, recycle!

It’s surprising the amount of people who STILL don’t know you can take 5 Lush black pots back to get a free face mask!

When I worked for Lush, we had regular customers who didn’t even know, even though I would mention it any time I did a mask demo, or sold one, and it’s on the packaging!

Did you know you can also take back your empty bottles and sample pots? These won’t get you any goodies but you can relax knowing they’ll be properly recycled. Often, local recycling places will cut the lid off plastic bottles because they’re not recyclable and it’s quicker than unscrewing them, but you can take any bottle tops to your local Lush to recycle instead; pop/squash/mylk/milk/juice/shampoo/toothpaste etc all have these non recyclable lids, but Lush will happily take them.

Also, toothpaste tubes and used paper (used kitchen roll, even if just with water) and used food packaging (pizza boxes) are often not recycled. Your local council should have a list on their website so you can be sure what’s being recycled and what isn’t. It’s a great way to try to reduce waste too; I prefer to use Lush toothpaste and mouthwash tabs because the packaging can be taken back to store to be recycled!

A bag full of bottles and 20 black pots later, I’ve got less stuff in my cupboard and I’m happy to help them recycle.

Liking Christmas doesn’t mean I hate Halloween…

What really irritates me is the presumption that you can either like Halloween, or Christmas.

It seems to be getting worse each year. You’re either “yeah BLACK AND ORANGE bats and death and skulls unnnnnnggghhhh” or “oh my god sparkly twinkly glittery shit and lights and love and peace AWWWWW”

You know, we can be both, right? Each year I express my love for Christmas both on and offline, however it seems to be met with certain words or faces, like I’m going against my “alternative” lifestyle by not crapping myself at all the black napkins and straws that are available.

I wear all black most days. We have black skeleton arm salad tongs all year round; there’s skulls in every room of our home, and I even have coffin shaped cake moulds. Just because I don’t flaunt it online and claim to be the princess witch of death and darkness, doesn’t mean so say I’m any less alternative (we live at number 13, and have spooky things going on, we have enough of that all year round). Just because I enjoy Christmas, doesn’t mean I Mariah Carey myself around the house for 6 weeks of the year. Relax, I like the cosy season, snuggles under the blankets with even more candles, and the warm glow of fairy lights, whilst wearing black pyjamas and watching serial killer documentaries.

One is a day, the other is an entire festive period.

It’s okay to like both.

Christmas in November

If you’ve read the last few posts, you’ll know I’m a bit of a Christmas obsessive.

Years ago, I worked for The Walt Disney Company, and each year on Mickey’s Birthday, we would stop our usual phone script of “GOOD AFTERNOON! And thanks for calling The Disney Store, my name is ****, how can I help you today?” and replace it with “SEASONS GREETINGS FROM THE DISNEY STORE!!!! My name is **** and how may I help?” Each year, Christmas officially started on the 18th November.

This has continued despite my leaving of the company about 6 years ago, so yesterday (18th) our tree went up! I work in retail and very rarely get Saturdays off, especially so close to Christmas, so the fact I had it off AND it was the 18th meant a day of decorating, and hot chocolates watching Elf!

It really grinds my gears when people moan about decorations being up early, and try to make people feel bad about it.

  • Firstly, shut up. It’s not your house and it’s not affecting you, so what’s your problem?
  • Secondly, that tree cost me a shit tonne of money and I’ll be damned if it’s left in a box for 11 months of the year where nobody can enjoy it!
  • Thirdly, it takes me hours to put it up, and being short I need my fiancé to help me out; it’s rare to get a whole Saturday together to do it.
  • Lastly, I’m going to be working a lot of hours outside of my partners hours, we won’t get much time to enjoy our home together between now and the new year, so we will damned well decorate whenever the hell we want.
  • P.S shut up.

I’m hoping that any miserable Christmas haters have already stopped reading. After decorating, switching our regular ornaments for festive ones, and putting candles pretty much EVERYWHERE, we snuggled down with some Whittard hot chocolate under a big fluffy blanket, and watched Elf.

Cosy time isn’t something we get a lot of together, so this was really special for us. I bloody loved it.

Happy Christmas in November everyone!

Christmas craziness, part two.

I got two christmasses, when my dad could be bothered to come and collect me. When he met Alison, his girlfriend, it got much better as she tried so hard to make me feel special, having had a crappy relationship with her own dad. We didn’t have a traditional meal together, but she would always put up a tree for me and we would play board games. I always liked his girlfriend and never understood why I was meant to hate my dad’s new partner? Maybe I was lucky. 

When my mom remarried, we would go to her husband’s parents house, where they would actually TRY to treat me and my little brother the same, but it would show in the gifting whereby they would buy him lots of big expensive gifts, and I would get one or two… this escalated to the very last Christmas I went round, when I had gotten old enough to ask to not go, when they had bought him a digital camera, and I got a paperweight (yeah, that’s right, they bought a young boy a digital camera and a teenage girl a glass paperweight) Christmas isn’t about gifts, but it doesn’t hurt to maybe try to make an effort when children are involved, especially when neither of the children are biologically related to you or your son. (Side note, they used to get me cards with the wrong age on, got me the same jewellery box from Argos two years running, and now don’t even acknowledge me if they see me in public)
Anyway,

When I met my Fiancé, I was elated to discover his Mom was almost as obsessed with Christmas as I am. She still thinks I start way too early, but when she does it, she does it hard. The tree is huge, beautifully decorated. There’s decorations everywhere, the build-a-bear teddies get their Christmas outfits on, the normal candles are replaced with Christmas ones… you get the idea. I didn’t realise, however, that they did stockings. We’ve never done them, and when I went round that first Christmas (we had only been dating 3 months) not only did I have regular gifts, but she had gotten me my very own stocking with little gifts inside like a colouring book and a toy you build yourself. At 22, I almost cried at a stocking. The thoughtfulness of including me in the stocking giving was such a huge gesture to me, something I’ve never really been able to put into words.

I’d always decorate my own room at Christmas. My mom wasn’t really into it, would half arse a tree and maybe put some soft toys out, but didn’t really care for it, so my room had decorations and that was enough for me. When I got my own home, however, it kind of exploded. My fiancé and I have lived together in our home for almost 4 years; this will be our fourth Christmas together in our home and each year the decorations have gotten more and more plentiful. I can be a little bit Monica over the tree, so he gets to decorate the mini tree in the hall, and go around the house decorating the doors and such whilst I spend about 4 hours on the living room. Buddy the Elf would be proud. A lot of our living room ornaments & decor gets changed and put away, so there’s not a lot of extra clutter; I just replace regular stuff with Christmas tat.

The first Christmas I was so excited to have our first Christmas meal together, cooked by us, but we ended up spending it at his parents. Bummer. Don’t get me wrong, his mom’s cooking is the tits, but we were so looking forward to our FIRST Christmas together at home. I’d also had a horrific few days leading up to Christmas; an allergic reaction to antibiotics meant I spent Christmas Eve at work covered in an itchy red rash (and despite there being two other key holders working, my manager had actually told me I couldn’t leave) and the same shift I got boiling water down my leg, resulting in a huge blister. Ho Ho Ho. Second year, YAS FINALLY!!!! We had a festive evening with friends on the 23rd, I prepped trays of veg and he prepped the Turkey…Felt a bit weird on the evening of Christmas Eve, and consequently spent Christmas morning, from about 2am, throwing up, I didn’t recover for days. Christmas round 3, I think we just gave up and went to his moms as the previous year was such a disaster, and I was stuck in a job being bullied by nasty women far too old to be causing unnecessary stress to a colleague, but THIS YEAR WE WILL PREVAIL. We will have our Christmas dinner together, cooked in our own home! 

We will!!!!

We bloody well will.

The main reason I’m crazy about Christmas, part one.

Mary & Seamus
I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but Christmas is my favourite time of year. I know, I know, I wear a lot of black so I should totally be obsessed with Halloween, right?

Halloween is just a day.

I don’t really celebrate Halloween. I quietly celebrate All Saints Day and Dia De Los Muertos. I lost a close friend at a young age, and always preferred to think of him as “forever young” and fell in absolute love with the idea of celebrating his life rather than mourning his death. After the passing of my Nana, it really helped me to grieve in a healthy way, and the images of skeleton ladies with big hats always remind me of her.

Without getting too depressing, for me, Christmas is simply a time where people can actually be bothered to show you they care. When I was young I had a pretty unstable upbringing, and the only constant I had was my grandparents. My Nan and Grandad lived in the house attached to ours, we had a gate in the back garden and they would have me before and after school while my mom was at work. They were the cornerstone of the family, but also the road we lived on. They had a huge corner plot, my Nan was a nurse, and my Grandad worked on the ambulances and was good with his hands (a tinker, if you will), so any time a neighbour had a medical issue, or a problem with a door or a car, they’d go to my grandparents to ask for help. This coupled with them being big churchgoers (they actually met at Church shortly after my Grandad moved over to England) meant that during the festive period the house was rarely empty. Everyone knew my grandparents, people from school, town, the local supermarkets, the hospital, old neighbours who had moved away, relatives of people my Nan cared for…a LOT of folk, and they would stop by to see them frequently, especially at Christmas. The house was always warm, and decorated to the nines (big bulb fairy lights, a tree in both living rooms, the nativity in the porch with Joseph’s wobbly head, and those terrible foil decorations hung from the ceiling) and full of laughter, bowls of snacks, and those tall clear tubs of Quality Street and Roses; sneaking all the strawberry & coffee creams into my pocket whilst the adults were talking was a skill I still like to think I have today.
My mom was one of 5 girls, and every Christmas my Nan would make Christmas dinner for the entire family; and as the years went on the numbers grew. They had an extended living room, all the furniture was rearranged and multiple tables ran down the middle. There were chairs, stools, and steps, I remember us grandkids (sat at the kids end) scrambling so we didn’t have to be sat on a really high or really low stool, and fighting over who got to open the “wine” (usually fizzy apple juice). Everyone chatting away, catching up, laughing. Then we would put the room back and generally the men folk would put the sport on the telly in the Big lounge, help the lads with their scalectric or RC cars, and my aunties and Nan would go to the front room and swap presents, usually themed to be “crap” such as a box of fake nails clipped to look like a box of nail clippings (not sure why I remember that one so much) and as we all got older, it would be tall of how big the kids were, reminiscing about when we were young.

Once one of my other aunts had kids (she was a lot later than all the others) she suddenly decided Christmas would not be held at Nans anymore, that we would all have our own and that was it. Every Christmas, somehow, she would have Nan and Grandad on the day, and the other 4 sisters would just have to deal. That absolutely ruined me; I was heartbroken. 

I would get up excited about going next door to see my Grandad and give him a big Christmas cuddle, and remember they were getting ready to be collected and driven to her house, where my Grandad would have to endure those ghastly screaming, feral girls he would always dread having to look after. Whenever he heard them running through the door his eyes would crease shut, his face looking pained, knowing they would run in, knock stuff over, and jump all over him. They did just that the day my Nan died, and he turned to me and said “I wish they’d just piss off” and I’ve never agreed with him so quickly.

I never got to fully appreciate my last Christmas Day with them, in their house, with my Nans carrots and my Grandad’s cuddles, and everyone getting on so well.