Christmas: A time for giving

Give and take, actually. Christmas is full of unspoken family rules about present buying. Who are your staple recipients, who gets a higher budget, what can you actually afford. Even what does that person deserve.

Last year I posted about a family member who crosses me off their ‘shopping list’ because they had heard I wasn’t buying presents. I did end up buying everyone a small gift each as I felt I wanted to acknowledge them all! There was a little confusion and this one family member was embarrassed that I hadn’t let them know and that they hadn’t bought me anything. This is fine because I do not buy to get a present back. Just a thank you is a nice acknowledgement.

Anyway, this year the same family member made a comment (almost a complaint) that they felt obliged to buy a gift in return for receiving one. This exaplains the year before, however I felt I needed to share that although I am always thankful for receiving and I never expect it, I didn’t feel a pressing need to go and buy a present in return.

I explained how money, time and size of family can play a part in my thinking and my value of Christmas present buying itself.  I like to give thought to gifts and spend time with people rather than buy some rubbish they dont actually want or need! The family members reply was that I could go to Poundland and buy anything, just something, in return. The point was evidently missed. I choose not always return with a gift!

The people who I buy for are the people who I feel are a part of my everyday world. I give to them because they are kind people who deserve a little treat! I sometimes give a small chocolate or I offer to babysit, or even just give a framed photo of me and them. But I do not give because I know someone is getting me something or they have got something. If I didn’t think of you before, there would be a reason. Harsh but true!

Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert says:

“Perhaps the real gift is to release someone from the obligation of buying you a present.”

I could not agree more. Do not buy gifts just to receive them and do not go overboard so that the recipient feels a need to return a gift as a way of saying thank you. You make the choice and the recipient should not pay to receive. It’s like getting a card in the post but having to pay for the stamp!

– Lauren

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Testament of Youth

I have never read the book but I have just watched the BBC’s film adaptation and I can really see why the novel was named as the Voice of Generation.

It’s such a powerful war memoir and a gentle reminder of how this country came to be and it still is so relevant to the happenings around the world today.

Remembering those who risk their lives daily in battle anywhere in this world is so important to do on a daily basis, not just on Remembarance Sunday. It is equally important to not let the sorrow stop you from living but to embrace life because you are fortunate to still have yours.

– Lauren

A tide of Blue

When it comes to politics I absolutely hate how people judge others and make those indirect statuses or tweets to people who have an alternative point of view.

All of a sudden all of my friends appear to have some confidence that they know what is best for each individual in the UK! Whilst many others are looking at what has happened in the past affect their mindset of what could happen in the future.

People are looking for parties to trip up and fail them. Britain is known for having a negative vibe and attitude towards life. We don’t embrace the opportunities enough or create a united front and back all of the very brave and passionate candidates.

We should be accepting the vote because that is what democracy is and this is how it works. Parties win for a reason and it’s time we stand up and suck it up. Here is to the next 5 years under a Conservative government and lets hope that we can be supportive and at least try and adopt to the changes forthcoming.

If anyone thinks I am taking this stance because I voted Conservative you are wrong. You are also wrong if you think government won’t have serious implications for my future! The world of Education is starting to look a little bleaker.

Friends will be friends

The company we keep on a daily basis can really influence who we grow to be as individuals, as much as we deny this! We change to accommodate people and naturally pick up different traits and interests as a result of hanging around people. Sometimes it’s great but a lot of times it can also be really damaging and we can loose our own self identity.

This happened to me and I now I am really selective with who I share my life with and I have a new friend recruiting strategy…

– If I initiate every conversation and meet up, we are not friends. One sided relationships never ever work out!

– If our meet ups always involve alcohol and you can’t hold a sober conversation with me then you are using me or you have a drink problem.

– If significant people in my life have worries and doubts about you, they probably are right. Sometimes people on the outside of relationships and friendships can see things more clearly and to the point.

– If you are a negative person, no matter how lovely you can be, I just can’t spend too much time around you!

It seems blunt and a bit black and white, but since having anxiety and depression I have really learnt who my real friends are. Those who genuinely cared and still care even when the troubles seem to be distant and overcome.

I have met some really lovely people recently after starting a new job and on my university course, and some of these people are so genuine, kind and loving that I know I want them to be in my life. It’s really made me realise that we can get so comfortable with our lives and not seek to change the people around us to put us in a better place!

Finding my feet

Since being able to drive my walking days have ended. I used to walk everywhere in any weather, it was my only way of independant travel apart from catching a smelly bus.

Today the sun shone beautifully on my bed as I woke up and despite having a long list of things to do, I felt I needed to get some sandles on and go for a walk.

It felt so good and refreshing to move my legs, smell the flowers and watch all the cars go by. When we drive we are usually (and should be) so focused on the road that we miss the world around us and don’t appreciate the world as much as we could or should. I am definately making it my aim to walk more this summer and save the car journeys.

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The Body Shop 3 in 1 Blue Corn Mask

Finding a face mask that doesn’t dry out your skin or make it extra oily can be a bit of a challenge, especially when you want a good quality one which will go a long way and work wonders for your skin. Having a small tester pot is never enough to do your whole face and use consistently to check you will get the results you want from a product, so I went all out and paid for this full size pot  of The Bodyshop 3 in 1 Blue Corn Mask worth £10. Luckily I had a 40% voucher to use up!

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This is a 3 in 1 product which is applied as a mask and massaged off which works the exfoliating oats into action! I have used this product once a week for nearly three months now and I can’t fault it!  Usually on a Sunday I gently rub it onto my dry face and neck, leave for about 10 minutes or until it dries out and then lather it up with warm water. I use a Muslin face cloth to wipe it all off and finish with a splash of cold water to close up my pores.

It smells lovely so it’s great for putting on and relaxing in a bubble bath and with a powder blue like colour you can always see how evenly you have applied it. For me it’s a bonus because I make sure I’ve actually washed it all off too, the amount of times I have walked out of the house with left over face mask dotted around my face is embarrassing!

As an exfoliater this product is made with oats, so it is not so ‘gritty bitty’. It’s a subtle scrub which is gentle on sensitive skin. After washing off my face always feels super soft and has a healthier glow. I would describe this mask as a DIY spa facial treatment, perfect for weekly usage.

This will definitely be a product I shall continue to use and repurchase!

No more ‘nothing to wear’

The sun has been making a lovely appearence recently encouraging me to go shopping for new spring/summer wardrobe goodies. I’ve spent way over what I should have done but I am in love with my new pieces.

Following my start of year clear out of clothes in an attempt to have a more minimalist wardrobe, I have been more fussy and selective with what I purchase. I no longer buy for a future non-existing occassion and I wear my new items as soon as possible to prevent me from hoarding new with tag bits that end up on my ebay!

Because of spending too much I have decided to start photographing my clothes and possible outfit ideas. I will collect these and print them to make a handy outfit bible! This will encourage me to be more creative with how I partner up items, love my clothes more and save money by upcycling what I already own. So far I have been amazed at how changing one thing about an outfit can transform it!

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This gorgeous dress cost me £8 in the George sale. I love everything about it and as it is navy blue the colour combinations are endless making this a new staple piece for my wardrobe.

This little project has also identified my style. I never thought I had a particular dress sense but actually I am quite girly and romantic. I love floral prints, light floaty fabrics, simple designs like shift and a line patterns and I love a good elasticated waistline. This will come in handy for when I do go shopping as it should stop me from buying bits that just aren’t me.

With this collection of pictures I will never have the excuse of having nothing to wear!