Monthly Gratitude: October

So I was going to skip this month as my Halloween post would be published around the same time but then I realised: how can I skip the six month milestone of posting these?!

October is my birthday month and it is the month where all the celebrations in our house start: both of our birthdays and our anniversary all in the lead up to Christmas. It’s just too big of a month to miss!

I started this series back in May when I decided I wanted something constant on my blog and a way to store all of the things I have been and am grateful for.

This month, Dean and I have had chance to visit both of our family homes; spend a weekend exploring Bristol; go on many a dinner date ourselves and with friends; spend an afternoon playing darts, drinking prosecco and eating pizza with our friends; and see the comedian Jimeoin live. I have so many things to be grateful for this month and always, and hopefully by sharing those, it will encourage you to focus and pick out the reasons you are grateful too!

  1. I’m grateful for the thoughtful gifts and messages that I have received from Dean, my family, my friends, colleagues, and blogger friends. I never really have any expectations other than to spend time with loved ones having fun, so it is truly humbling to receive so much love.
  2. The efforts that Dean made to ensure this was a special birthday. My 21st, which is typically a special birthday, was spent on my placement year when I wasn’t in a good place in terms of my mental health and so this year I pledged to celebrate a lot, with everyone that I love and doing everything that I enjoy, and I have done exactly that, with a lot of help and surprises from Dean.
  3. I’m grateful that I had some annual leave left which allowed me to spend half of my birthday shopping and relaxing, and the next day tidying, cleaning and relaxing a bit more!
  4. I’m grateful for the recommendations from my Mum mentioned in last month’s post that allowed me to save 25% in H&M and have a free Ed’s Diner milkshake on my birthday!

Sometimes when I write these, the same ideas pop into my head which I think is a good thing. It means that there are consistent themes that I am grateful for with the added bonuses of month-specific items.

I love October and all that it brings and here’s hoping November is just as good, if not better!

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Halloween as a Self-Conscious Introvert

I enjoy Halloween for a cosy evening of scary films with the lights off. This has been the same throughout my life; I’ve never been trick-or-treating (apart from maybe once as a very young child with my parents and neighbours) or in more recent years, a Halloween party.

This is purely out of choice. I just don’t think Halloween outings are my thing for a couple of reasons:

Being self conscious

I know this isn’t uncommon but specifically this affects Halloween celebrations for me. I’m self-conscious when I’m trying to dress up and look pretty, let alone if I’m trying to look downright scary! I don’t particularly enjoy being out at night which is probably why trick-or-treating was never of interest to me and if we’re talking Halloween parties: What if no-one knows who I’m dressed up as and I spend the evening explaining who I am? I also find it difficult to make a decision on fancy dress, to add some indecision into the mix.

I don’t like being scared

Okay, so I’ve mentioned horror films earlier in this post. Sure, if I’m in the comfort of a blanket on my sofa, one arm elbow-deep in the popcorn, I can handle a jumpy film and I can sometimes handle a gory film. One thing I can’t handle? Masks (the main reason you’ll never see The Purge on my TV). Coincidently, these are the very premise of many Halloween costumes… Hence why I’m not a fan of trick-or-treating or Halloween parties! Fleeting fear such as theme park rides or someone making me jump are quite manageable; someone hiding behind a blank theatre mask or pig mask? Yup, I’m outta there.

I originally left this post here as a reassurance for anyone who feels the same, that it’s okay just to want a cosy night in front of the TV for Halloween, you’re not alone and it’s absolutely fine not to want to dress up and go out. Here’s to eating all the sweets intended for trick-or-treaters and watching some scary films instead!

When I came back to this draft I realised that this is the perfect space to share some alternative activities. Here are some of my ideas, and I’d love to hear yours in the comments:

Local Haunted House or Ghost Hunt

Grab some friends who also love jumpy, ghostly scenes and hop along to a local haunted house or ghost hunt event!

Host a Pumpkin Carving party

Grab the recipe I used last year, whizz to your supermarket of choice to stock up on some the ingredients (a.k.a a pumpkin) and get carving! There are lots of tutorial videos on how to carve a pumpkin and lots of inspiration for different ways to carve it on Pinterest, if you’re not sure where to start.

A Classic Horror Movie Night

This one speaks for itself and involves grabbing a few friends, the fam, or just enjoying your own company. Typical ingredients might include Netflix, Sky, Now TV, a DVD; Popcorn, Halloween themed sweets and treats, and your beverage(s) of choice.

Make some Halloween treats for yourself, your family and friends to enjoy

One suggestion is Halloween themed biscuits which is just a regular biscuit recipe with the added seasonal goodness that is biscuit cutters and orange/black icing!

Do you celebrate Halloween? How do you like to celebrate?

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4 Feel-Good Films

Everyone has their own coping mechanisms and escapes when they just need to almost switch off their thoughts and just relax.

Sometimes when I’ve had a rough day or I’m feeling a bit down, escaping into two hours of a fictional world is just what I need to pick me right back up with a fresh view of the day! For some, this can mean opening a book and for others, this might mean flicking on the TV for a bit of Netflix time. Here are some of my film favourites:

Bad Moms

This may be about single mums and parenting, which I know diddly squat about, but the overriding message is why I love this. It’s more about not trying to be perfect, just trying to do the right thing and doing it your way. I can be picky about whether I’m in the mood for certain films, but this one I can watch any/all the time. I think I watched it twice in one night once.

Deadpool

This is the first Marvel film I watched and it led to me watching all of them to get up-to-date, so it must have been at least alright. If you’re looking for some quick wit and sarcasm, this is your title.

Legally Blonde

This one is a bit of a chick flick, but it also shows you that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you work hard, you can get to where you want to go. Just for your own sake, don’t just do it to chase a boy!

Shrek

I know, I know, it’s a kids film, but it totally whisks you from the real world for a couple of hours. With the mismatched but loyal friendship, the unlikely romance, and the most adorable little ogre children; it’s difficult to believe I’ll ever grow out of this film. I’m not even sure I want to.

Do you like to escape into a film to help recharge? What are your favourites?

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Monthly Gratitude: September

I’m pleasantly surprised that this series still has momentum because in the past I’ve had these ideas and they’ve gone a bit stale and life has got in the way… But no, here we are for month five!

If you’re new to reading my blog then hello! This is a post that I share each month to list out what I am grateful for in the past month. It helps me see the positives from the past month and hopefully encourages others to do the same as it is certainly beneficial for mental wellbeing to see all the good stuff written down! A gratitude list also makes its way into my bullet journal each month.

1. Nights in with friends.

I personally find these more comfortable and fun than nights out. We had the boys over for FIFA night & pizza in the first week of September and friends over for a dinner party the week after. I like hosting but even at friends’ houses, I feel like I can let my hair down more. Quite happy to be the Grandma of the group and take my slippers.

2. Offers and Loyalty Cards.

My Mum is pretty money and loyalty card savvy so she messaged me to remind me that Martin Lewis has a page on his “Money Saving Expert” website dedicated to birthday offers. Cue an hour of me signing up to all the apps and getting all the welcome drinks, birthday drinks, birthday food and fashion discounts. Thanks to these offers, Dean, our two friends and I all grabbed a free welcome drink at All Bar One. (Cheers, Mum!) On top of this, we had a free brunch at Wayland’s Yard who launched their new brunch menu (which is gorgeous by the way. One pan hash is highly recommended!)

3. Google Maps.

I certainly wouldn’t have seen as many European cities as I have so far and particularly on our most recent trip to Estonia and Finland, we only had two full days in the former and one in the latter which meant we had to fit everything in. I used Google to add sights to favourites and plan a route that got us around Finland and back just in time for the ferry back to Estonia. If it weren’t for a review on Google Maps, we wouldn’t have found the My Helsinki sign (which had moved locations). Blog posts for Estonia and Finland coming soon!

What are you grateful for?

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Seatbelts for landing, please.

I shared my thoughts whilst taking off no so long ago and it went down pretty well, so on my next adventure, I figured I’d share my inflight thoughts with you.

Picture this, we’re on a flight to Crete, bums in seats and we’re off the runway.

  1. Ooh this one’s a bit wobbly.
  2. I don’t like this at all.
  3. Turbulence is not my idea of fun.
  4. It’s like sitting in one of those 4D cinema screens only I’m not on terra firma and I’m therefore not feeling fab about it.
  5. Annnnd we’re through the clouds. Phew!
  6. Seatbelt signs are off and it’s time for beverages round one.
  7. Sorry, let me just clarify… We’re talking five British pounds and fifty pence for 250ml of sparkling wine? You’re telling me, I’m paying for part soft drink here?
  8. Crazy town. Is the regular wine on the 2 for £8 offer? I mean, it’s still overpriced but at least the bottle is bigger…
  9. Right, smashing. Got me vino, got me snacks (which I brought from home to save dollaroo)… Let the holiday begin!
  10. I knew wine was a bad idea, I need the loo after a few sips.
  11. I don’t usually even take off my seatbelt, but here I am, wandering around in a floating metal tube with windows.
  12. Technology is pretty amazing, isn’t it.
  13. Right, wee time.
  14. The announcements are so much louder in the toilet. Wow. Can’t a girl have a wee in peace?
  15. I wouldn’t mind but it’s nothing important. Perfume that I’ve never heard of for sale about three times the price anyone in their right mind wants to pay.
  16. WHY DOES IT SOUND LIKE THE CONTENTS OF THE PLANE ARE GOING TO IMMEDIATELY BE SWEPT OUT INTO THE SKY?
  17. Oh, it’s just the flush.
  18. At least there’s proper handsoap and towels. Love a properly stocked bathroom.
  19. Righto, back we go.
  20. It’s lovely this, the plane isn’t full so if I wanted, I could totally sit on the opposite side of the aisle and put my feet up.
  21. I won’t though, I’m not that antisocial. (She says, writing a blog post on her phone…)
  22. Food round twoooooo!
  23. I’m not fussed for a bev, but since you’re here I’ll take some Haribo off your hands.
  24. Awww, they’re shaped like planes!
  25. Oh wow, look at the sky. That’s beautiful.
  26. *Takes generic picture of the sky from an aeroplane window*
  27. That’ll be going on Instagram.
  28. Ooh that didn’t feel nice. The engine is definitely slowing down.
  29. Cabin crew, seats for landing.
  30. Well that makes sense.
  31. Hey, if the air stewardess down there isn’t panicking, then it’s all fine.
  32. It’s all fine.
  33. Ooh my ears.
  34. CAN’T HEAR A THING, HAVE ANYONE ELSE’S EARS— *pop* oh, did anyone else’s ears go?
  35. Not sure if I’m yawning because I’m tired or because of my ears, but it’s working a treat.
  36. Does anyone else’s tummy flip about halfway down and we do that quick sort of dip?
  37. No? Just me…
  38. Oh I can feel it now. We’re so close… We’re so close…
  39. *BANG*
  40. Annnnnd we’re on land.

Can you relate to these? What are some of your thoughts during a flight?

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A Makeupless Day at Work

Makeup can be a confidence booster. Some might not want to leave the house without it; some might not feel ready for the day without it.

Makeup is a personal preference. Some might never have worn it; some might never leave the house without it.

Makeup can be an art. I personally wouldn’t say my standard combination of foundation, concealer, matte powder, eyeliner (on a fancy shmancy day) and mascara is particularly artistic but there are some beautiful creations out there with makeup. You’ve only to log into Instagram to see them all!

Prior to my very first makeupless day at work, I had spent the bank holiday weekend only wearing makeup on the one day that I was going to an event; the rest had either been completely bare-faced or just mascara and lip balm. This eased me in nicely to trying it for work.

The office I work in is the workplace for varying dress senses, styles and personalities, as I’m sure most offices are. There are women who choose to wear heels every day (how they do it, I’ll never know!); some that wear flat shoes and more casual clothes; some that are well-known throughout the office and some that keep themselves to themselves (the latter is more me, I’m pretty quiet).

There were a few observations that I made from my makeupless day and some of them may well surprise you.

People didn’t tell me I looked tired or ill.

I was nervous that in an office with many young, outspoken people, I would be told that I looked tired or ill, or worse even, asked if I was okay. I naturally have a blushed complexion and though I did feel myself blush out of nervousness once in the morning, there were no different reactions or any questions about my wellbeing. Ker-ching!

I saved 5 minutes of my getting ready time in the morning…

I don’t take too long with my makeup, as I’m sure you’ve guessed from my standard combination described above, but it still did save me 5 minutes in the morning which I spent making my breakfast instead and leisurely eating it instead of rushing it.

…and my winding down time in the evening.

This a bigger bonus than the extra time in the morning, for me personally. Sometimes I forget that I have makeup on and I’m practically asleep on the sofa when I realise that the eyelids slowly closing still have eyeliner marked on them, which then wakes me up completely because I have to get up and remove it. Other times (though rarely), I have fallen asleep with my mascara on which is neither good for your eyelashes or for your morning routine which is 5 minutes longer because you have to remove yesterday’s Rimmel. Not wearing makeup removed the potential for either of these situations which meant for a very relaxing evening!

I didn’t spill matte powder on my clothes.

When I put matte powder on, sometimes it smoothes over in the dish and doesn’t come out right (fingers crossed this is making sense to someone out there), which means that I have to scratch away at it so that the powder comes away and onto my brush. Are you still following? Sort of? Well, when I scratch at the smoothed over matte powder, sometimes it falls onto my clothes and black trousers or dark tops do not take to this well. So, my point is that not wearing makeup, or specifically matte powder, meant no spillages.

I could wipe my face or blow my nose without affecting how my face looks.

Blowing my nose and wiping off the foundation from around my nose is kind of irritating although I don’t go as far as taking my makeup to work to re-apply, so not wearing makeup was just far easier than having a red nose for the day. Similarly, if you wipe your face or use a headset that has big pads that go over your ears/face (if you have tiny ears like me), you might notice that makeup comes off your face and onto those – not a good look. Clean headphones and no patchy foundation: sounds like a win to me!

I have no-one to impress here anyway.

As long as I look respectable should a potential client be in the office, I’m good to go. I have no-one to impress so there really isn’t a need for me to wear it. Yes, it makes me feel a bit more confident but I’m working on embracing my natural complexion, natural hair and comfortable clothes, because it’s just easier.

Do you wear makeup whenever you leave the house? Are you one of those impressive makeup artists who shares their incredible work on Instagram? Let’s chat in the comments!

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How to Jumpstart Your Motivation

We all have those days when you just don’t want to move off the sofa and you know what? Sometimes we need those days. Other times, we just need that push to leap up and start/resume a productive day. Often I need a little push on a Sunday to prep for the week ahead instead of watching the day pass me by from the comfort of my lounge.

Sometimes at work I might finish one task and then not know where to start at all, and I might even fall into the trap of procrastination.

Procrastination (n.): The action of delaying or postponing something.

– Oxford Dictionary, 2019.

Procrastination can happen for a lot of reasons but it’s important that we don’t let it win. Whether you’re at work, at home or out and about, here are some ways that I fight procrastination:

Stretch

I know that feeling of being sat down and feeling like you absolutely cannot move. No energy, no drive, just nothing. Stretching your arms and back can give you some relief in your joints, and progressing to some standing stretches can really help wake up your muscles. Now you’ve stood up off the sofa, you’re halfway there!

Wash your face

A shower in the morning wakes me up but if you’ve already had your shower and you just need waking up, a splash of water to the face uses less water and is just as effective. Freshening your face can make you feel like you’re just waking up again and can be that little spark of energy you might need to resume your day.

The 5-minute technique

Do something for 5 minutes and if you then want to continue, great, and if not, you’ve done something. You might now have the energy to do something else. It might just lead to a completely productive day!

Break down your To Do list

If your To Do list is 20 items long, it’s only natural that you might feel overwhelmed and not know where to start at all. A technique that I use in these situations is to prioritise. What doesn’t need to be done today? Which items have a deadline? Which items are desirable?

Go for a walk

You might just need to get the blood pumping around your body to get back into the swing of things and that’s easily done: get yourself up for a wander. If you’re anything like me, a change of scenery from your computer screen and your desk can really help reset your mind.

How do you jumpstart your motivation?

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