Christmas is nearly here and I am looking forward to a gentle and peaceful one this year because that’s my kind of Christmas mixed with a few frolics of course.

To get myself in the festive spirit, I am taking up the lovely Christmas tag and thank Claire from The Pramshed blog for thinking of me. My first Christmas was spent in a children’s home of the convent variety so here is my first Christmas picture as far as I know just after my adoptive parents brought me home and when I was not yet officially theirs. Looks wise it could only get better!

My Kind Of Christmas

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

I can never get enough of the Christmas Carol and whatever version will do and I enjoy the book too. However, the one that appeals to all the family is the Muppets’ Christmas Carol. It is possibly the only time that I have enjoyed Michael Caine on screen too.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?

I was extremely lucky that my first son was born in November and we had snow on his first Christmas Day. I remember his half-sister holding him up to the window to show him. It is a precious memory as she left us a few months later.

Where do you usually spend your holiday?

It has varied widely. Until my early teens, it was a traditional family Christmas at home in Yorkshire with my parents, brothers and Uncle Lawrence. At that point, Mum announced she would no longer be doing the full thing and we would eat out on Christmas Day from then on. So I have special memories of Christmas at home and in restaurants including the Three Nuns which my Yorkshire friends will know. I had a couple of Christmases with my brother Michael in London and remember walking in Kensington Gardens through the snow one sunny Christmas morning. Fond memories Michael in our first Christmas without you. I spent my 21st Christmas in Germany with my parents. I spent one Christmas in Carlisle with my landlord Alan’s family. I had a couple of Christmases presumably in Cambridge and Oxfordshire with my first live-in lover type person Dave. When he did the dirty, I had a Christmas alone back in Dewsbury. Christmas with Himself and the children are mainly Yorkshire ones but not any more!

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

Has to be the Pogues – gives every woman an excuse to blast out “You scumbag!” and get away with it. Plus it plays to my Irish heritage and if you have not listened to the rest of the Pogues’ offerings, I highly recommend them.

Carols wise I love “O Come All Ye Faithful” with a good descant and “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”

Must not forget “Last Christmas” either and hope it goes to Number One as a fitting tribute to someone lost too soon.

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

No. It is always Christmas morning for us and I worry that Christmas seems to start in July now which removes a bit of the special flavour of it for me.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Blitzen, Vixen, Dancer, Prancer, Cupid, Rudolph – erm! Cheating brings Dasher, Comet and Donner and who doesn’t need a kebab after a Christmas night out?

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?

Relaxation, family time and laughter.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

I have not got one yet but hoping to buy a real one tomorrow. I have had both over the years and usually as a long-held family tradition it goes up and is decorated on my birthday.

What’s your favourite holiday food/treat/sweet?

How do you narrow that one down? Chocolate log, Mum’s Christmas cake with cheese. Terry’s Chocolate Orange, sprouts. prawn cocktail, tomato soup. I could go on!

Be honest. Do you prefer giving or receiving gifts?

I have always loved giving and still do. I like really listening all year and then getting something the person will adore. However, over the years, I have started to like to receive and do wish people would listen as well as I do rather than just buying really obvious stuff off the marketed supermarket shelf. Just saying Scumbag!

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

My doll’s house made by my Dad’s best friend who was a joiner with doors that you could slide right off and decorated superbly by his two sisters.

What’s your dream place to visit for the holiday season?

Moscow just because I have always wanted to visit. Really it does not matter so long as I am with the right people.

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?

This has changed over the years. It was always my job in my childhood home to wrap all the presents and I loved doing it and was so good at it. I was always very proud of my efforts. Nowadays, I don’t always bother to be honest going down the throw stuff in a big festive sack and keep it simple.

What’s your most memorable Christmas memory?

How on Earth can I choose one? I cherish them all. One I will share is how after Christmas lunch at home I used to join my older brothers and my cousin Sean for card games and they used to con me that I was drinking booze when actually it was just lemonade.

What made you realise the truth about Christmas?

What truth are we talking about? It’s about the birth of Jesus and then a man in a sleigh appearing in the sky.

What makes the holidays special for you?

I love how people start behaving as they should all year round with more time and care for other people. I enjoy that I let myself relax which I don’t do often enough. I enjoy that everything becomes funny for some reason instead of stressful. Memories and talking about Christmas past is very important to me too whilst also knowing and relishing that I am creating memories for my own children now.

Time for a little tagging so tell me about your kind of Christmas …

https://www.thismummysalwayswrite.com/

http://indigowilderness.co.uk/

http://beckywilloughby.blogspot.fr/

http://www.lizziesomerset.com/

https://mrsmummyharris.co.uk/

Welcome to my Highs and Lows of 2017 tag for bloggers and anyone can use the questions as prompts for some thinking on the year 2017. It is good to look back and reflect on a whole year. It helps to put things in perspective. I will tag people to do a post using the same questions but anyone should feel free to join in so long as you link back to this post please. Just take the questions and answer them in a way that makes sense to you. Here is my 2017!

HIghs And Lows OF 2017

1. What was your happiest event?

Moving house to somewhere that suits us all so well. Finding a community that welcomes us with open arms.

2. What was the saddest thing to happen?

I lost my brother Michael in August. It seems so unfair that someone who was such a huge character and worked so hard all his life cannot enjoy a happy retirement.

3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?

Drunken and debauched night proving there is life in the old girl yet.

4. Who let you down?

I am learning in life that if people let you down you have the wrong people in your life or you are expecting more than they, for whatever reason, can give. As a result I will be making better choices in 2018.

5. Who supported you?

My husband and children.

My brothers. It is lovely that my last contact with Michael was a supportive email.

Online friends most of whom I wish I actually saw in real life at all or more often. Special women who when I hit rocky times are there until whatever hour in the morning to give me emotional back-up.

New friends and an amazing community that I am so lucky to live in.

College and school friends/

Home educators who keep me on track when I wobble about our choice to home educate my younger children.

6. Tell us what you learned

That I am braver than I think and can make a dream a reality.

That people like me and quite a lot actually – all I ever needed to do was to be myself. It just took me a while to work that out.

That real love never dies..

That I can be a huge success at work – again just a matter of self-belief.

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7. Tell us what made you laugh

Laughter is a huge part of our family dynamic. We do a lot of analyzing of current affairs and television shows complete with strong opinions, wit and voices.

We have had more laughter this year than in a long time.

8. Tell us the things that made you cry

Losing a college friend for a really stupid farcical reason based on nothing at all. Much missed R!

Grief for the loss of my brother.

9. Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud.

My oldest son is easy to be proud of – handsome, intelligent, sensitive and caring. I am proud of his GCSE results gained in a year where he missed so much school due to ill health.

My daughter feeling more safe and experimenting with a little independence like walking away from us on her own and dealing with quite a challenging situation with aplomb. I love her focus, her creativity and her kick-ass attitude!

My youngest son takes everything in his stride. I admire his self-confidence, humour and passion for cookery. I also love that he has so much wisdom and makes people behave better including myself, my husband and his friends.

10. Tell us the things that made you proud of yourself.

Following up on a long-held dream and it working out well.

Having a higher bar in work situations.

Getting out and socializing more.

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11. Tell us the challenges you overcame

I think home education is always challenging but I feel we have got more structured with it now and that suits us better. Having said that the children still have lots of time to play and to pursue their own passions.

Marriage and parenting are challenging but I am still here.

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12. Tell us the things you would like to change about your life in 2018

To write fiction instead of just talking about it

To learn something new and perhaps do a course.

To continue and be even better at enjoying the present.

To continue to build on friendships old and new. To learn who is worth investing in and who is not.

To inject more fun into our home education efforts.

To remove one negative person and one negative organization from my life.

Over to you. Any blogger or reader can have a go at this one if they fancy reflecting back on the year. What were your highs and lows of 2017?

P.S. I have a little exciting announcement which has the potential to change your life for the better in 2018. Myself and the lovely Chloe from Indigo Wilderness are committed to positively improving our lives next year and encouraging other women to do the same. We are launching the Best Boot Forward campaign to help you take baby steps to what you want out of a brand New Year. That’s a little teaser – hoping you like the idea and all will be revealed about the details soon on our blogs.

How to take part in the tag and the rules.

Copy and paste the questions below and answer them on your blog linking back to this post please.

Rules

1 Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog and https://kateonthinice.com

2 Answer the questions

3 Tag to take part 5 or more bloggers asking them to take part and let them know on social media

4 Post the questions without your answers at the bottom of your post so that they are easy to copy and paste for the people you tag

1. What was your happiest event?
2. What was the saddest thing to happen?
3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?.
4. Who let you down?
5. Who supported you?
6. Tell us what you learned.
7. Tell us what made you laugh
8. Tell us the things that made you cry
9. Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud. Please miss this question out if you are not a parent.
10. Tell us the things that made you proud of yourself.
11. Tell us the challenges you overcame
12. Tell us the things you would like to change about your life in 2018

To get this party started, I am tagging

http://www.missljbeauty.com/

http://www.stressedmum.co.uk/

http://indigowilderness.co.uk/

https://bucketsoftea.co.uk/

http://www.ojosworld.com/

https://inspirecreateeducate.co.uk/

https://jakijellz.com/

https://www.boorooandtiggertoo.com/

http://www.cocktailsinteacups.com/

http://www.adventuresofariotgrrrl.com/

http://theincidentalparent.com/

https://loualexa77.wordpress.com/

www.themammafairy.com

https://www.yeahlifestyle.com/

Tammymum
My Random Musings

Mummascribbles
3 Little Buttons

The benefits of blogging vary from blogger to blogger. Some travel, some make money and some write for therapy. I was delighted when Simone from Midlands Trade agreed to share her blogging journey with me.

Benefits Of Blogging

Why did you start to blog?

I started blogging a long time ago when I was finishing my journalism course and I became obsessed with the blogosphere. So, I ended up writing about pop culture until I decided to create Midlands Trade in 2014 and take it more seriously.

How did you feel when you started blogging?

I love writing. But I confess that I felt a bit lost at the beginning of my blogging days. There were so much to talk about but no social media to spread the word about it. So, it was like a personal diary, really.

How do you feel about blogging today?

I am still lost but now I know exactly what I want to talk about and I feel really relaxed when I sit down and start writing. It is more like a therapy than anything nowadays.

What is your proudest achievement related to blogging?

It is definitely the fact I can be in touch with people from all over the world. I have met so many interesting people through blogging. There is always something different to learn with all of them.

What is the most exciting event you have attended as a blogger?

It was definitely my press trip to Croatia in 2016. It was an unforgettable experience as a journalist and a traveller. It was great to spend days immersed in the country’s culture in the company of other great bloggers.

Do you monetize your blog and, if so, how?

Yes. I started it this year and I think it is a big challenge for me. I usually accept guest posts and links from people that have interesting content to share. My blog is about business and I want to show my audience only content that can be interesting to them. At the same time, I am still learning how to make it professionally.

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

In my case, it is writing and thinking in another language. As my first language is Portuguese, it is difficult sometimes to express myself naturally in English. So, I get stuck for days until finishing a post sometimes. It is annoying, I know. I am not very good at proofreading my writing to make things more complicated. But I am getting there!

What surprised you most about blogging?

How amazingly supportive the blogging community can be. It is so touching! I feel grateful to be involved in such a great project that you have started Kate. It is overwhelming!

How do you balance blogging and family life?

I don`t have kids, so it is not that difficult to find time for blogging. The fact I am working remotely now makes the things a bit easier sometimes. I just must find the balance between blogging, teaching and tidying up the house.

What would lead to you giving up blogging?

To be honest, I can’t really imagine myself out of the blogosphere.

What is your top tip for a new or inexperienced blogger?

Find what you are passionate about and don`t be afraid of expressing yourself about it. And of course, find amazing blogger communities online. You can`t even measure how much you will learn from them.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would like to say that blogging is a wonderful way of meeting interesting people. I have made great friends because of it. I also feel more confident professionally. So, if you have never blogged before, just do it. There will be always someone outside to read your words. Don`t be afraid.

I also would love to say thank you for giving me this opportunity of being involved in such a great blogging community. That is one of the highlights of my 2017, for sure! I am learning so much from this experience. Thanks!

Huge thanks to Simone for sharing what she gets out of blogging. What are the benefits of blogging for you? If you would like to share your story, please do get in touch.

The Pramshed

Ramos gin fizz cocktail

Serves one.

Gin Fizz Cocktail

Put 60ml gin, 15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 15ml freshly squeezed lime juice, 250ml sugar syrup, 3 drops of vanilla extract, 1 egg white and 25ml double cream in a cocktail shaker and shake hard. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled glass and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a few cranberries, a sprig of rosemary and serve.

Gin Fizz Cocktail Recipe

Check out more festive drink recipes with the Waitrose Cellar.

 

Welcome to m birthday reasons to be cheerful. You find me sitting in front of the telly watching “This Morning” and snuggling up with the puppy. I have a cold so am sniffling too but I am cheerful.

 

Birthday

It was my birthday a couple of days ago and it was a really lovely day. It started with my 17 year old coming downstairs just after midnight to sing me “Happy Birthday”. You can’t really get better than that, can you? My daughter designed me a lovely card. I woke up in the morning and the first thing I saw was a bunch of beautiful pink roses from Himself. Gifts included warm slippers and the George Michael CD. We had a little trip out to buy cake of the chocolate variety. Rumours that it was a scrumptious Christmas log may be exaggerated or possibly not. My husband made me a lovely lamb dinner followed by a really special cheeseboard and a little wine. Perfect.

I had got myself all in a fret in the run up to the birthday as I often will around special dates. Huge thanks to some very special women who got me through this wobble. It is amazing how some people will be there for real and imaginary crisis.

I had a lunch at the weekend meeting new people despite my social anxiety. Again, my 17 year old was an amazing support. Two of the ladies have asked me to meet for coffee in the New Year so that is encouraging in terms of making some new friends.

This week I told 3 people that I have suffered depression and all of them had either suffered themselves or knew someone close who does. I felt so good for being honest because it enabled them to share their stories too.

Work opportunities are coming for the New Year one of which slipped into my spam folder again leading me to think there was a crisis where there was not one at al.

I have won a couple of competitions so that’s a bit of fun. I have also received a really interesting book through the post about self-development.

I have a new admin to help out with Bloggers on Thin Ice.

I am also bringing back a new and improved Groovy Mums with  the amazing Chloe and we have such exciting plans to help women move forward positively in 2018.

I am not stressing Christmas at all. I plan to honour our Michael and have put his pictures in plain sight this week in the lounge. It was too painful to do that before but grief takes its own path. I have decided we will play the music Michael had at his Humanist ceremony on Christmas Day. It will be wonderful to have him home for Christmas.

There will be other things I have forgotten because it really has been a positive week so I went wild and included that pic of me in my birthday suit!