Saturday, 22 December 2018

The Little Things

Apologies for not posting very often this Christmas.  As you can imagine, working in retail, it's quite exhausting and manic at this time of year, even in a Charity shop.  My last few shifts have been a little crazy, which is all good for the charity, as lots of money has been raised, but has left me with little energy or time to focus on blogging, once I've caught up with household tasks on my days off.

When I have been off work, it has been the little things that have delighted me this Christmas: watching Xmas movies on TV, opening my various advent calendars (when I remember), treating myself to a new Christmas cactus (white this time),

watching my amaryllis grow extremely tall and straight (how do they do this?)

and treating myself to some festive foliage from Lidl, which helps make the kitchen feel Christmassy too.

I also invested in a festive reed diffuser for the downstairs toilet, (TMI, sorry)

and added lights to my front door wreath for the first time this year.

Bought for £1 from Poundland, they look great, even if I do say so myself.  We still haven't managed to get the icicle lights I bought from the CS in the summer, up on the front of the house, but I'm hoping we might do that on Saturday.

I posted off my last Christmas card on Thursday and also finished my gift wrapping.  I've been happy to see my stash of Christmas wrapping paper diminish, so that I can be a bit more eco friendly with my wrapping next year.  I did intend to do that this year, but I failed miserably, as I was seduced by shiny and cute wrapping paper in Poundland.  Next year, I want to print my own wrap using brown paper and poster paint.  I did it many years ago when LB was small and it worked very well, so I'd like to have another go at it next year. No more foil wrap for me, as it's not very sustainable.  I'm hoping to banish it from now on.

As usual, I've gone a bit overboard on the gifts again.  Many have been bought from the CS though, so at least a good cause benefitted from my spending. I hope to increase the number bought this way next year. It just makes sense, as we receive so many great things in our shop, that are new and unused, that it is totally feasible.

There's just some cleaning, the last minute food shopping and a visit to my GP for a health check on Xmas Eve left to do now, once I finish work for Christmas on Sunday evening.  I've got a complete break over the holidays until January 2nd, when I start back to work again.  I'm really looking forward to switching off completely after the madness of the last few weeks and going back feeling refreshed.

I'm not sure I'll get chance to post again before Christmas, so if I don't I just want to wish everyone a fabulous Christmas and New Year and I'll be reading your posts over the holidays

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Christmas Catch Up

Well, it's officially now the silly season.  I enjoy seeing people spill out of Christmas office parties in Central London looking merry and spreading festive cheer. The shop has become crazy busy this week, which is a very good thing, but means that I've been very preoccupied getting as much stock into it as possible. It's amazing how many people come into the shop on a daily basis, we're kind of running out of stock of some things and finding it hard to replenish stocks of other things due to the speed with which things are being sold.  Obviously, this is all good and I'm happy that so many people are doing at least some of their Christmas shopping with us.

Last night, was our shop Christmas meal out.  We have a limited budget for eating out in Central London and last year we went over a bit, so I tried to make sure I booked somewhere that was well within budget.  We just about managed to stay within the budget, but the Manager and I split the bill for drinks between us in order to do so. I don't mind too much, as it's a way of thanking everyone for their hard work and I think we all had a pleasant evening. There were just 9 of us this year, as opposed to the 14 or so that came last year, but this kind of reflects the fact that we just don't have as many volunteers at the moment, as several volunteers have drifted off over the year, which is to be expected in many ways and is, of course, their prerogative.

I've decided that next year, I really do need to get a better work/life balance going on.  There have been too many nights this year when I've got home at 8.30pm or 9pm, which is way too late.  I'm going to try to resolve to get out of there by 6.30pm each night, so I should be home by 8pm at the very latest. I don't think that many other managers in our group will be staying so late every night, so why should we.  My manager agrees thankfully, so after all the festivities are over, we are hoping to do something about it.

Today, is my only full day off this week.  I worked on Monday afternoon/all day Tuesday, went in late yesterday for the meal and am going in late on Friday as our intern is leaving this week, then I am working all weekend. As a consequence, I'm trying to make the most of today and trying to get the things left on my list done and dusted.

This morning I wrote most of our Christmas cards.  I just need to complete the addresses on the envelopes of the ones I'm posting, buy some stamps and send them off.  Then I need to hang some chocolates on the Christmas tree, attach some small lights to the door wreath and then do a bit more gift wrapping.

Tonight, we are heading out to the mall for one last Christmas shopping outing.  I just need to buy a couple of cards for family members and OH's trainers and I'm done.  OH, however, has a bit of shopping still to do, so our outing will mainly be for him to complete his shopping. We will probably eat out too, which saves me cooking.

I'm feeling a bit tired today, as I woke up at 5am feeling cold and couldn't get back to sleep. I may  have a nap this afternoon or watch a Christmas movie on TV and just chill. There's always tomorrow for everything else and I do need to spend some time relaxing when I'm not at work.

How are your Christmas preparations coming along?

Monday, 10 December 2018

A Festive Saturday

This Saturday, I spent the day decorating the house for the festive season. It's a job I don't exactly relish, but it needs to be done and I do enjoy having the decorations up once they're in place.  I always like to clean the reception rooms before decorating them, so the day started with a good dust, hoover and mopping of the wooden floors.  I put my latest music playlist on, country music this time, I'm a secret fan.  My dad was crazy for country music and I guess I've inherited it a little.

Everyone had gone out, LB to a meet up with a friend and OH to a cycle race, so it was just me and the dog, who spent most of the time outside in the garden. As a consequence, I was left to get on with the job in peace, which, if I'm honest, I prefer. Once the cleaning was done, I set about getting the decorations out and putting up the tree.

I started with the decorations.  Nothing too special.  A few twinkly lights here and there, a few fir cones and artificial festive decorations to brighten up the furthest corners of the rooms.

The photo is of LB with Father Christmas when she was 10 months old.  So cute, it comes out every year.

The paper mache reindeer was made by LB when she was small, and also comes out every year.

I seem to have quite a collection of reindeer, so I found them a spot to hang out together on the sash window this year.

Last year's addition of a white berry wreath bought from a charity shop was back in use again.

Door adornments.

Finally, the tree, with LB's hand made angel (again made when she was small) and the wicker skirt I bought in a charity shop this year for £4.99.

One last new addition, that I couldn't resist, was our naughty elf, who is keeping an eye on the new sofa covers and will be reporting back to me any bad behaviour.

As you can see, the room is now looking pretty cosy and festive. One step further to being Christmas ready and it was very satisfying to tick this one off the to do list.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Christmas Starts Here

It's December 1st and as far as I'm concerned, Christmas starts here and now.  Well, actually, it probably started yesterday for me.  I was working in the morning and when I left work I decided to take a walk down Oxford Street, to get a few last Christmas gifts, namely some LUSH items for LB and an intern at work.

I was shocked walking down the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street, to see that part of the street was a building site, on account of the construction of the Cross Rail project.  It just shows how long it is since I've been down there.

Anyway, it was crazy busy with Christmas shoppers and there were buskers on street corners.  A girl with a particularly beautiful voice was busking outside M&S.  I had to stop to drop what change I had into her box and tell her what a beautiful voice she had.  Definitely a future pop star. I wish I'd paid more attention and asked her name to maybe look up her work online, but stupidly I was rushing like everyone else.  I continued to listen to her from the bus stop across the road after I'd done my shopping.

That little jaunt and the purchase of a few last things from the Charity Shop, all but concluded my Christmas shopping.  Just the trainers for OH to go and cash gifts to hand out and I'm done.  It feels great, as I can now savour the excitement of the season without the stress of thinking what to get everyone.

When I got up this morning, the first thing I did was to start off my digital advent calendar from I love these and sent one to each of my sisters last year.  They aren't super cheap at £3 or so, but I had a little money in my Paypal account, so treated myself again this year.  They include little games and tasks, which are great fun.

After having breakfast, I decided to do a Weekly Home Blessing on the kitchen, hall, vestibule and downstairs toilet, using my new cordless vac, of course.  The battery just about lasted out for these parts of the house and is now on charge.  I'll probably do upstairs using the corded vac, as it is carpeted and takes a little longer too.

Aside from this, I've spent this morning watching Vlogmas videos on YouTube, writing my Christmas To Do list, (which I printed off a favourite Vlogger's website, namely  She has provided lots of other free printables for Christmas and everyday on her blog, which you might find useful), baking star shaped mince pies and listening to a Christmas music playlist that I devised for the shop last weekend.

I'm starting to feel very festive and am looking forward to getting the Christmas decorations out of the loft some time this weekend.  I'll probably put the tree up next weekend though, as I'm working tomorrow, so I won't have time.

Work is starting to get busy, so I'm looking forward to concentrating on enjoying the hustle and bustle of the shop at Christmas.  We do have a few more volunteers this year, so it should be a bit less stressful than last year, when I spent most of my days working on the till, as there were so few of us.

Do you enjoy the lead up to Christmas? It's my favourite time of the year and always has been, particularly since I had LB. I'm also looking forward to reading about all of your Christmas preparations over the next few weeks.

I'm now heading off to get my chocolate, paper and candle advent calendars out and start opening all of the windows.