Remembering Loved Ones At Christmas | Festive Thoughts #6

Now I get that Christmas is meant to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ and I don’t want to take that away from anyone. But I do, and have been trying throughout this little series, want to highlight that it’s not like that for everyone.

A big thing about Christmas and this time of year in general is family. It’s the time of year where spending time with our loved ones is an essential and, although I personally think that’s a lovely thing, I understand that it’s not for everyone.

In some cases, we lose loved ones around this time of year and that takes a toll on all the festivities. Even if we don’t lose them at this time, Christmas is always a reminder of the people who we no longer have around us because of the emphasis on family time.

My family has been very unfortunate and we have lost a lot of loved ones over the years. Christmas, although it remains a happy time for us and certainly one of my favourites, is always a reminder of those people we miss.

I know it’s not the most fun thing to be discussing so close to the big day, but I think it’s important to highlight that Christmas isn’t always perfect.

I do think, regardless of what’s going on around you and who you may or may not have, that we should use the loss of our loved ones to remind us of how vital family is. Use this time of year to celebrate those you do have around you and make the most of the time you have together.

Some other things you can do to remember loved ones this Christmas is:

  • Add them to your decorations. We lost a great-aunt a few years back and she used to go all out at Christmas. We have now inherited some of her decorations (pictured) and putting them up among our own things allows us to reminisce and remember her in a wonderfully fond way.
  • Talk about it. Of course it’s hard and no one wants to be seen as a downer during this time of year, but talking about things is so important. Have a chat with your loved ones about how you’re feeling; share stories and anecdotes about your loved ones and have a laugh at all of the brilliant things they did.
  • Be understanding. Christmas can be a hard time of year for those who are missing people, and you never know what’s going on behind closed doors. Use this time to be there for your friends and family. Let them know that you are there to support them, to be a shoulder to cry on or to cheer them up if needed.

I know there wasn’t too much to this post, and I could have went more into detail with it. But being so close to Christmas and all I didn’t want things to be too heavy. I simply wanted to highlight the struggles some of us have and remind you that you’re not alone in them.

I hope you have a wonderful and happy Christmas.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

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Small Things To Do For Yourself This Christmas | Festive Thoughts #5

I know it’s so cliche, but allow me this one – can you believe that Christmas is basically here now? I certainly can’t! Where is this month (read: year) going man.

Anyway, I was so pleasantly surprised with the response to my ‘pep talk’ post. It seems like so many of us are going through the same thing during this season and I wanted to keep this conversation going.

Of course, I’m leaving it a bit late but I feel like now is the time – more than ever – to emphasise the importance of self care. We’re so close to the big day and the pressure is on. You might have so many events, traditions and commitments coming up in the next few days and although I hope you’re excited for them, I totally get that it can be overwhelming sometimes.

Allow me to remind you of some small, simple things you can do for yourself to make you feel calm and positive. Sometimes just taking a step back is all that is needed.

  • Run yourself a hot bath and use some of your favourite products
  • Make yourself your favourite meal / order your favourite takeout
  • Read several chapters of a book
  • Listen to your favourite album all the way throughout without any interuptions
  • Change your bedding for a fresh nights sleep
  • Make yourself a cup of tea (or another beverage) and actually take the time to taste and enjoy it
  • Have an early night
  • Watch your favourite Christmas movie or Christmas special
  • Simply allow yourself to be on your own for a while

And most importantly:

DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF. PUT YOURSELF FIRST.

I hope you have a wonderfully relaxing evening. Sending you all the positive and calming vibes.

Happy holidays.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Last Minute Christmas Gifts: A Gift Guide Inspo | Festive Thoughts #4

Buying Christmas presents, in my opinion, can either be a wonderful experience or the worst thing ever. There’s no in between. With the pressure of making sure the people actually like it, some money issues and the deadline, Christmas shopping can be a nightmare sometimes.

If this is how you’re feeling right now and you’re really not sure of what to buy anyone, I’ve come up with a little list of generic presents to try to help you on your way. These ideas can be tailored to suit anyone and any budget.

THE LIST

  • Pyjamas
  • Underwear / socks
  • Candles
  • Sweets / chocolate
  • Bath bombs / body products
  • Mugs
  • Hot chocolate / speciality tea
  • Stationary
  • Vouchers (Amazon, supermarkets or shopping centres for variety)
  • Headphones
  • Alcohol
  • Slippers

I’m aware that a lot of these choices may seem obvious, but I think they might help if you’re really struggling. Sometimes we get so stuck in our heads that we forget the basics and that’s what I was aiming for with this post.

I’ve tried to go for ideas that would work for anyone of mainly any age / gender, and of course you can (should!) tailor them to your loved ones as best you can.


I hope this helped you some how. Good luck with your shopping! In fact, let me know how far you’ve gotten with your gift shopping or even if you’ve started it at all.

Happy holidays and speak soon,

Rachael.

Here’s Why Christmas Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect| Festive Thoughts #3

As I’ve gotten older I’ve experienced more of a pressure, more stress, around this time of year. It actually really upsets me, because Christmas is my favourite holiday. But for the past few years or so I haven’t been able to fully enjoy it, as I am being bogged down with various pressures – all of which revolve around making Christmas ‘perfect’.

We see so many adverts, blog posts and messages about how to make this Christmas ‘the best one yet’ and, although I understand that these are serving a purpose, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed as the season goes on.

Christmas is a wonderful and fun time of the year, if it’s your kind of thing. But it can also come with a lot of commitments and expectations.

There’s expectations on how much money you should be spending; how many gifts you should give or receive; how many relatives or friends you should see and so on. The list is basically endless and the older I’ve gotten, the more expectations I seem to find.

Especially considering I am someone who is obsessed with all things social media. We all know how equally amazing and damaging these platforms can be sometimes, in terms of only seeing the highlights of other people’s lives. And, in some cases, this is just vamped up over the Christmas period.

Of course, it’s lovely to share what you’re getting up to and showing off your decorations, presents and events. I love a good Instagram post or tweet declaring what festive treats I’ve been up to! But I feel like this constant feed of ‘perfect’ images and ideas can really get in the way of your personal enjoyment – of all things, not just Christmas.

But because it only happens once a year, there is this daft pressure to make sure that your festive period is full of parties, events, family and decorations and if you’re not doing it like everyone else then surely you must be wrong.

I think we sometimes forget that life doesn’t just stop because it’s Christmas.

Unfortunately issues or things don’t just go away because a special holiday is coming up. Many of us still have work commitments, families to take care of, health issues and so on that may hinder us from going in full force with all the festive stuff.

I just wanted to write this post to remind myself and anyone else who may have stumbled across it, that Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect. Yes it can still be fun and enjoyable, but there may be some things that get in the way at times and that’s okay. You may have other commitments that need to come first, like looking after yourself. 

Maybe you can’t get involved fully with the festive spirit like you really want to and that’s okay. Here is our reminder that we might as well make most of the moments we do have, while still getting stuff done in the meantime.

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year, but if you’re struggling managing all the pressure and commitments, take a breather and remember; it’s just another day.

Enjoy yourself as much as you can, take a break when you get the chance and stay safe.

Happy holidays.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Five Things EVERYBODY Can Enjoy This Christmas | Festive Thoughts #2

This time of year can definitely be a hit or miss for some people. Although it can be easy to imagine that everyone in the world celebrates and loves Christmas, it’s just not true.

For some people it’s a religious thing, as I think we seem to forget that Christmas is a relgious holiday and not everyone is about that. For some people it’s a deeper, more personal issue. And for some it’s just not their cup of tea and that’s it.

But regardless of what you think about Christmas, there are some things about this whole season that I think we can all enjoy. Like…

THE FOOD

It may sound a bit daft, but I honestly think my favourite thing about this entire season is the food. As soon as winter hits, it seems like all everyone wants to do is huddle indoors and scoff chocolate. Which, if we’re being totally honest, is how I like to spend all of my time throughout the year anyway so it’s no surprise that winter is my favourite time!

Everything from the family packs of sweets to miniature party food (mini burger, anyone?) just makes my heart – and tummy- happy and I feel like all my fellow foodies can feel the same.

FAMILY TIME

Now this one is a little more specific, as I understand that not everyone has a great family life. But the fact that this whole season is about spending quality time with our loved ones, sharing, caring and all that good stuff, is amazing and something we should definitely do more throughout the year.

No matter how you feel about Christmas or who it is you have around you, taking some time out to just be together is a lovely thing to do. I am a huge family person so this one is definitely an important factor for me!

THE DECORATIONS

Again, regardless of what you actually think about Christmas or whether you even celebrate it there’s no escaping the festivities whenever you leave your house.

From the end of November fairy lights and decorations begin appearing everywhere – on the high street, in shops and even in our workplaces – and despite what you actually think about this season, I’m sure we can all admit that it makes everything look so damn pretty!

I personally love seeing the transformation in my city and my home. Somehow, adding fairly lights to things just makes them instantly look more attractive, don’t you think? And when the days are short and the nights are dark, having lots of pretty lights around to brighten things up is just so lovely.

BEING COSY (HYGGE)

On the note of things being cold and dark, winter is the perfect time to snuggle up and spend a lot of time indoors. And once again this is how I like to be all year round, so it’s wonderful that everyone joins in at Christmas!

Staying at home, wrapped in a blanket burrito is my ideal situation and in winter there often isn’t any other activity that will suffice. Even if you’re the biggest extrovert / party animal out there, you can definitely still appreciate a cosy night in.

CELEBRATING

And finally, regardless of whether you actually celebrate Christmas day specifically, now is the perfect time to get involved with celebrations anyway.

Celebrate the fact that you’ve made it through another year; celebrate all of your achievements; celebrate the people around you. Get jolly about the fact a fresh start is coming up and another chance for to you tackle all of your goals is on the horizon.


Whatever you choose to do, I hope you have a wonderful time. Stay safe and happy holidays!

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

 

Lessons Learnt From 2017 | Festive Thoughts #1

This past year has been a mad one, don’t you think? I know how cliche it is to say this but it has honestly gone so fast – I don’t think I can even process the fact that 2017 is soon to be over!

To be totally honest with you, this year has been full of extreme highs and lows. And although it’s been a strange thing to go through, 2017 has provided me with so many learning curves and lessons to take along to the new year.

So what better way to celebrate the fact we’ve made it through another year, then to share what this one has taught me?

SELF – CARE IS HARD SOMETIMES

Contrary to what Instagram will tell you, self – care isn’t always face masks and Lush products. Of course it can be this, but there is so much more to looking after yourself then the luxury stuff and I think that’s hit me hard this year.

Sometimes, self – care can mean letting go of old friends who are no longer serving you or make you feel good, or sometimes we can lose friends when we put ourselves first. Both are painful and difficult situations to go through but are so worth it in the long run.

2017 taught me that I need to get serious about my self – care and I need to put myself first, or else I can’t be there for anyone else.

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT, GODDAMMIT!

On a similar note, this past year has taught me that I need to practice what I preach when it comes to mental health and looking after yourself.

I am often very public about caring for mental health and I am the first to encourage my loved ones to take care of themselves. But for the longest time I didn’t take my own mental state seriously – and how that’s come to bite me on the arse this year!

2017 taught me that, regardless of how you’ve been in the past, you do have a mental health and it is something that needs to be taken seriously. Take care of yourself, be honest and seek help if you need it. We all struggle sometimes.

HARD TIMES = GROWTH, BUT OH HOW IT SUCKS!

Can you tell that this has been a little bit of a difficult year for me? 🙂 But as I said in the beginning, I’m actually feeling quite grateful for it all, as it’s allowed me to grow and learn so much.

Because this year has been so full of extreme highs and lows, I’ve learnt that you only really grow during difficult times. It’s those times that allow you to really get deep with yourself. You’ll learn how you cope, what triggers you, what makes you feel good and so on. But even though I know how beneficial these hard times can be, it doesn’t stop them sucking and it doesn’t stop the negative impact is has on me in the current moment.

2017 taught me how to cope better with hard times, how to lift myself back up and the signs to look for when things start going downhill again.

SOMETIMES YOU NEED THE DULL MOMENTS IN LIFE

Like I keep saying, there’s been some extreme highs and lows this year. One of which was my graduation in July, which was definitely a high! I had worked so hard for so long to get to that moment and although it was wonderful, and I still can’t believe I have a degree in a subject I love, life suddenly got in the way again.

I felt so underwhelmed for such a long time. After all that hard work, effort and fun I was now back at home, working in retail and, along with a bunch of other obstacles, I’ve found myself feeling like a failure for the past six months or so.

But being out of education and being away from creative/productive work has allowed me to relax and get a grip on my life again. University was a wonderful experience for me, but it also came with it’s difficulties and I now understand that I’ve needed some time away just to live. To get back in touch with myself, so to speak.

2017 taught me that there is value to every season of life. Comparison certainly is the thief of joy and just because your journey differs from those around you (or online!) doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Take things at your own pace and stop being so hard on yourself.


So there we have it! This has been a bit of a personal post and basically a summary of my 2017. How was yours?

Happy holidays!

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

The Beauty Edit: Best Of 2016

I haven’t done a beauty post in a little while, but my love for makeup hasn’t subsided any in that time! Today I want to do a little round-up of some of my favourite products from 2016.

These products may be ones I have tried for the first time this year and have loved or ones that I may have used before but for one reason or another stood out majorly in 2016. This might help you find some new products to try in 2017 (God, how scary is that?) if you haven’t before, because I’d highly recommend them all.

I am a natural blonde but this year I lightened my hair a little and this shampoo has been an absolute wonder for me. Even when I was all my natural colour, this shampoo would turn the lightest points in my hair a lovely grey/silver colour which is very in right now. This is the only product of it’s kind that I’ve tried that doesn’t just tone your hair but gives it the silver shade everyone seems to be after.It’s such a dark purple shampoo that works instantly!

Even though I have oily skin, I much prefer this foundation to the matte version. It’s a completely different product with a better colour range (I am speaking for my pale people here though. I’m not 100% about the darker shades, unfortunately) and a much better coverage. This foundation makes your skin look flawless without being too cakey and looks amazing in photos. It is a bit more pricey that what I’d normally like to pay for a makeup product, but it’s amazing and lasts for ages that I won’t hesitate to pick it up again.

I love Makeup Revolution and I’ve mentioned them in all my past beauty posts, I’m sure. This year I’ve been obsessed with their eyeshadow palettes and they’re really the only things I use now. I have Flawless, Flawless Matte and Fortune Favours The Brave. Priced between £8-£10 for 32 shadows, they’re are such good value for money. They’re great quality and with a variety of shades they’re brilliant for people like me who like to experiment with makeup but don’t have a lot of money to do so. They also make brilliant gifts!

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I told you I love this brand! I mentioned this product in a post I did back in the summer (read here) and I’m still using it now. When it comes to contouring and all that, I’m not technical with it and just tend to wing it. This little product makes the process so simple. All the colours blend so well together and look so natural on the skin. The highlight is actually amazing and will give you that perfect glow. And at only £3.50 this little kit is a steal and perfect for any kind of look.

For years I’ve relied on wipes to remove my makeup. Then in 2016 I discovered Micellar water and my skin has been never been so happy. You can get this Garnier version everywhere now and I really like it. It manages to remove even waterproof mascara and leaves my skin feeling so fresh and clean. Even though it’s quite tough on makeup, it’s a really gentle formula for your skin and doesn’t leave you all red and rashy like some products.

So those were my top picks from 2016. Have you tried any of them? What are some of your favourite products from this year? I’d love to know.

If you have anything you’d like to share you can tweet me. You can also follow my blog on bloglovin if you fancy.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Important Things To Remember This Festive Season

This season is meant to be the happiest of them all. I mean the month of Christmas and all the other festivities; a time when we’re supposed to be surrounded by friends, family and wonderful food, what’s not to love? But for many people it’s just another month in the year. Or for some, even with all the festive cheer, this month still has it’s struggles and it;s difficulties.

But because we’re all meant to be so merry and bright (sorry) this month, it tends to make our dark days darker as we feel like there must be something wrong with us. To be sad, anxious or just generally not having the best time during Christmas? How can that be possible? Don’t worry, I get you.

If you are really struggling, at this time or any, please speak to someone. But for the most part, here are some important things to remember when things get a bit much this season:

  • Don’t Compare Yourself With Others

This is something I have mentioned a few times in various posts and something I try to remind myself on a daily basis. But I think it’s especially relevant during the Christmas period. It seems that everywhere people are having a perfect festive season; their families are so close and get on so well; they have enough money to buy amazing presents for everyone in their life and even the fact that people have time off is something we can get envious of. But it’s important to appreciate what you have going on and basically ignore everything else. Whenever we look at what other people have in comparison with our own, nine times out of ten we come out on the bottom. We get so busy obsessing about how we aren’t as good as the other person that we lose sight of everything we have and all the wonderful things going on with us. This one doesn’t have a quick fix and I’m still struggling on it, but please spend more time on what you have and less on other people. It’s such an unhealthy exercise to out yourself through.

  • Social Media Is A Highlight Reel

Similar to what I’ve just mentioned, it’s so easy to feel disheartened when you’re bombarded with images of perfect everything 24/7. Now that it’s Christmas we’re seeing images and videos of the ‘perfect’ way to do it, from the best decorations to expensive gifts to even constant happiness. With social media it can often feel like you’re the only one left out, but you need to remember that it’s a highlight reel. Every post on any site has been chosen carefully (in most cases) to highlight something. We all do it. Everything is edited and cut to only show what the creator has chosen to allow us to see. Why wouldn’t you just show the best parts of yourself or your day if you could? Which is all well and good but when it’s a constant thing it’s easy to forget that real life just isn’t like that. Not everyone looks flawless, feels 100% happy or is having the best day all of the time. Just because that’s what you see on social media, doesn’t make it true.

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  • Have Realistic Expectations

We all do it every year, I know. That thing where we big up Christmas and New Year and think we’re going to have the best one ever. We try to do so many things and make everything perfect that on the day nothing is good enough and we’re left disappointed. The key to this is be realistic. You don’t have to be negative, just think about the Christmases you’ve had in the past and the simple things that made them great. Do not try to replicate them or try to plan anything too much. This is really hard for someone like me to do, but it’s really important to try to ‘go with the flow’ a little bit this season. With all the stress and excitement things are bound to go wrong. With people coming and going so much, plans aren’t going to get stuck to. Plan as much as you need (ie. get your presents in before the big day!) but don’t put too much emphasis on everything being the best. Instead focus on having a good time, spending some time with loved ones and taking a break when you can.

  • It’s Only One Day

This is something I think we all forget in the excitement and stress, but Christmas is really only one day of your life. Of course it’s nice to make a big effort and join in with the excitement all month long but you need to remember that it’s only a day. When things feel like they’re getting on top of you and you’re struggling to do everything at once, take a breather because it’s only a day. 24 hours. That’s it, then it’s over. Now I’m not encouraging you to drop everything, become a total Scrooge because ‘fuck it it’s only one day’ but I feel like we all go a bit crazy over the month of December and it is a bit daft. There’s plenty of time to see your family and friends, to chill out and have a laugh. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you have to do everything at once.

As always I hope this helped any of you that needed it. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and I hope you’re having a good day.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Five Non-Fiction Books To Gift This Christmas

Buying Christmas presents can be a real struggle. You want something that will be perfect, something you hope they’ll love and treasure for a long time. But also, let’s be real, without spending too much money.

Books are such an under-rated gift I feel and are something that can be easily slept on. Okay they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but what better time to introduce someone to the joys of reading than at Christmas? Books can be such a personal gift and something that you can really tailor to suit the person you’re shopping for.

Here are five non-fiction books that I think would make wonderful gifts for various people in your life:

I feel like I’ve talked about this book so many times because it’s impacted me so much since I first read it. This book would be a wonderful gift for pretty much anyone as it talks about issues regarding creativity that I feel like we all face. It’s such an inspirational, positive book that’ll change the life of the reader for the better. To get a better feel for it, I’d recommend you check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk or her podcast, but trust me it would be a brilliant gift!

I’ve already talked about this book too (check it out here) but that’s only because I love it so. It’s another one that will totally change the life and mindset of the reader for the better, and it’s a particularly good one for the women in your life (obviously). Caitlin is such a funny and honest writer which makes this book so an enjoyable one to read. It’s a modern feminist staple that’s so relatable. It’ll make you laugh out loud and if that’s not a good gift to give, then I don’t know what is.

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I frigging love Carrie. I’ve been a subscriber of hers for years (see her channel here) because I think she’s such a lovely and honest person. This is her first book and it’s almost like a guide for young people on how to face the tough things in life. Carrie talks about everything from friendship and romance, to self-esteem and the future and it’s such a heart-warming, comforting read. It may be a one for the younger readers in your life, say preteens onwards, but I know it’s something they’ll treasure and remember for years to come.

This one is the perfect gift for the bookworms in your life. Although the hype around this book may have surpassed a little, it’s such a brilliant read and I feel like it will last way beyond it’s years. It’s a collection of essays from various authors, including Zadie Smith, Janette Winterson and Mark Haddon, on the topic of books. There’s discussions on digital readers, libraries and the age-old issue of not having enough time to read as well as many more. It’s basically a celebration of books and reading it really fuels any passion you might have for these little objects. An essential for any bookworm, I’d say!

I’m aware that this one might only be relevant if you have any Miranda Hart fans in you life, but you can take inspiration and seek out any other comedian/actor/entertainer’s book and gift those instead. As someone who is a fan of Miranda I really enjoyed this book and know many other who have too. In a similar manner that Carrie’s All I Know Now, Miranda attempts to guide readers through life’s difficult moments in her own funny little way. It’s another one that will make you laugh out loud and it’s perfect for making you feel less alone.

I hope this helped you last minute shoppers. What books would you like to receive as a gift?

Speak soon,

Rachael.

*Please note, affiliate links are used.

 

11 Small Things To Do This Festive Season

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it’s hard to escape this festive feeling that’s floating around right now.This month, whether you like it or not, is all about being merry and loving- which are wonderful things to be and something we can all strive to have more of in our everyday lives.  But it can sometimes be a difficult time of the year for a lot of people, as there’s often so much pressure to make Christmas perfect and do so much at once. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed.

But today I want to set a little challenge for me and you. Playing on the idea that this month is meant to be all about positivity and love, here are 11 small things you should make time for this month that are sure to bring these feelings to you and your loved ones:

  • Take an afternoon off to yourself. Be selfish, even for just a few hours. 
  • Have a long, uninterrupted conversation with a friend or partner.Put the world to rights.
  • Visit your grandparents or elderly relative. It’ll mean the world the them.
  • Play board games with the people you live with right nowThere’s nothing more frustrating or hilarious than a board game.
  • Hug your parents. Be kind, they’ve done a lot for you.
  • Crack open to Celebrations and have a movie night. These dark nights are the perfect time for a movie night.
  • Put up some fairy lights. Any excuse to make your room look cute, eh?
  • Watch a nostalgic film. Take your mind off what’s troubling you now and relax.
  • Smile at at least 2 strangers today. “Better to be the one who smiled then the one who didn’t”
  • Say yes. We all get so busy, but try your best to take time out for other people.
  • Bake a cake. Or stick some pre-made cookie dough in the oven for 20 minutes. 
  • Treat yourself. Because you deserve it. You’re doing the best you can and that’s amazing. 

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So this was kind of a silly little post and something completely different. It’s very cheesy but isn’t that what this time of year is about? I thought I should mark it in some way!

If you have any suggestions for Christmas posts or anything you’d like to see, please let me know. You can tweet me or follow this blog on bloglovin.

Speak soon,

Rachael