Friday, 19 December 2014

The Season of Goodwill

One of my New Year Resolutions for 2014 was to 'be kinder'. I'm going to be completely honest and admit that it's not been an easy one to stick to as I am naturally grumpy! But I've tried very hard to be kinder this year and I think I've done pretty well, considering my ingrained propensity to speak before I think.

One of the easier ways I have kept to my resolution is by donating to charities. I've supported Marie Curie Cancer Care since their wonderful nurses allowed my mum to die at home with her family as she wanted and the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline since I got involved with them back in 2009, but this year I have branched out and have donated to a different charity every month. Mostly these have been those smaller appeals that seem to slip under the radar, the ones you become aware of through other blogs and Twitter. This year I have become aware of foodbanks for the first time and perhaps because I am a mother now, I've been really saddened by the thought of families who can't afford to feed their children, especially at this time of year.

Foodbanks are used by people in genuine need. Vouchers are given out by doctors, health visitors, social workers, welfare officers and the Citizens Advice Bureau where they have identified a family in crisis. These vouchers are then taken to a foodbank and swapped for a box of essentials which will last three days. Some even deliver to those who are unable to get to a foodbank or who live in rural areas. And the number of people who have needed to rely on food banks this year is up 163% on last year, meaning that food banks need our help more than ever.

It's so easy to donate and it really doesn't cost a lot. Just adding a few extra tins to your trolley when you go shopping would help to make a difference to those who are struggling and you could really help to ease a difficult time for families who are dreading the festive period. Many supermarkets have in-store donation points or if you are an online shopper like me, you could visit the Trussell Trust website and find your nearest foodbank to donate to directly. You can even donate money by text - it really is that easy.

How simple (and kind) would it be to forgo your £4 Starbucks festive drink and spend that money on some tinned goods, tea bags or dried pasta for a family that's struggling to make ends meet? One coffee that's gone in 10 minutes or some staple food to feed a family for a couple of days? It's kind of a no-brainer, right?

The Trussell Trust have a list of their most wanted items, which includes the obvious basics such as baked beans, tinned tomatoes, dried pasta and cereals as well as tea, coffee, long life milk and sugar. As well as these I like to donate something that might bring a smile to the recipients face, such as tinned sponge puddings, small packets of biscuits, a chocolate selection box or children's sweets such as mini packs of jelly tots or smarties. As long as you stick to non-perishable items that are easy to prepare for people with limited cooking facilities then you're helping. Those small pots of porridge that you make with hot water might allow a child to go to school with a warm breakfast in its tummy - I always include them.

I know that Christmas can be a really expensive time of year but we could all make such a big difference by sparing just a pound or two. And who wouldn't want to do that? 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Waving, not Drowning

festive cleaning products - drinks on the go for me & my buddy - seasonal porn
christmas meal planning - cosy central - festive drinks for soothing sore throats
forrest's nursery christmas fayre treats - snuggling by the aga - festive knitwear for the little fella

instagram - madeupoflittlethings

I realise that it's been nearly three months since I posted. A very long blog break indeed. The thing about blogging is that the longer you leave it between posts, the harder it is to pick it back up. That's how it is for me anyway. The things I want to blog about mount up and the things I need to catch up on become an insurmountable pile and it just seems an impossible task. And I've always struggled with this type of thing. My unspoken personal mantra is 'if something looks too difficult, don't do it' Thank you very much to those lovely readers who have emailed me to check that I'm still alive, I promise I will get back to you!

We've been through a long patch of various illnesses with Forrest, intermingled with teething and growth spurts. Work has been extremely busy, Matt has bought another business premises which involved lots of backward and forward with the vendor and solicitors, we have agreed a sale on the cottage and the buyers are currently renting it from us whilst they raise the funds to proceed with the purchase, meaning I've been writing up contracts and dealing with a new tenancy. Despite the fact that I no longer work full time, life feels busier than it ever has.

For the last fortnight Forrest has been battling bronchitis. If you've never looked after a poorly baby then I can't really explain to you how horrible it is. It's especially bad because I have always suffered with my chest and have had bronchitis numerous times, so I know exactly how much every cough hurts and why he has spent so much time crying and clinging to my front like a koala bear. I have cleaned up more vomit during the last fortnight than I care to recount. I am desperately hoping that this week will see some glimmer of recovery - last night was the first time he'd slept through since he got ill so fingers crossed etc etc ...

Having a poorly baby has meant that I've missed out on some pretty exciting stuff. I missed the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair, which Lincolnshire Showground had kindly invited me to, as well as Lincoln Christmas Market last week. I was SO disappointed to miss out on such festive events - Matt and I had really been looking forward to showing Forrest the Christmas Market in all its glittery, baubley glory (as well as introducing him to the wonderful range of festive food) and I think this might be partly responsible for my total lack of Christmas cheer

We've all been a bit pulled down for the last couple of months and have lost all motivation to do anything to the ever-continuing house project. Matt did manage to fit the log burner a couple of weeks ago though and I can't tell you what a difference it's made. The kitchen is so cosy when the log burner and candles are lit and MY GOD it pumps out some heat! Lucky really, as it's enabled us to keep Forrest extra toasty while he's been ill. 

We've managed to make some progress though - our beautiful staircase is now complete and ready for painting and carpeting. The kitchen island was installed a month or so ago, our dressing room cabinetry is being made as I type and the plumber is here today to finish some jobs such as fitting the water softener, plumbing in the dishwasher (about time!) and radiators in the kitchen and bathroom, the basin in the cloakroom and the bidet in our en suite. There's still so much to do but every time a job gets finished it gives us a little bit of encouragement to keep going

December hasn't been a good month so far but I'm determined that this week I will turn a corner. I created a Festive Playlist and got all of our Christmas decorations out last night and dotted them around, instantly bringing some festive comfort to the room. I lit my favourite White Company 'Winter' candle and made a start on the Christmas editions of my favourite homes and interiors magazines. I'd like to get some more 'Christmas jobs' done but this is going to be a busy week all in all, with hospital appointments for Forrest and I and a long-awaited night away/Christmas shopping trip planned with Matt so card-writing and present-wrapping will have to wait until the weekend. I intend to make mulled wine (I'm determined to convert Matt to my mulled wine supping ways this year!) and mince pies and do my jobs whilst drinking, eating and listening to Christmas songs 

I hope you're all having a wonderful December and I look forward to sharing some more positive and festive posts soon!

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