Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Woo, it's Christmas Eve! I'm so excited, I can't wait for us to go to my mom's later on, relax and just enjoy the festivities!

As it's Christmas Day tomorrow, I thought I'd share with you how our Christmas Day is likely to unfold. Me and Si are spending Christmas at my mom and sister's this year and have done every year since we've been together, aside from last year when we had our first Christmas in our flat. It's pretty easy for me to tell you how tomorrow will unfold, as me, my mom and sister have had the same traditions for years and then we introduced Si to them. If you're not too busy, let me know how your Christmas Day usually unfolds. I know people do different things and I'm nosy, so feel free to share :).


We usually wake up at about 8am Christmas morning (mom has a pull out bed in what used to be my bedroom, for when me and Si sleep over). Me and Si have got each other stockings this year, so we'll probably open our stockings to each other first. I know my mom has done me, Si and my sister stockings and we have done my mom one, so after me and Si have opened ours, we'll probably go into my mom's room where she can open hers and me, Si and my sister can open ours from mom.

Me, Si and my sister are still like big kids when it comes to Christmas, even though we are all 24 and 28 years old, ha ha! It doesn't normally take mom too long to get up to come downstairs now, but when me and my sister were younger, it seemed like it took forever to get our parents to come downstairs! First things first, we always put the kettle on! It's usually me or mom that makes the hot drinks, usually because Si doesn't like hot drinks and my sister very rarely has one, so it's normally just me and mom. We all have our own specific places in the living room where our presents are laid out. We normally go round and open a present one by one, we love doing this and it's nice to see what everyone has got, plus it makes present opening last longer :).

After we've finished opening our presents, me, Si and my sister tend to look more closely at what we've received and mom makes us all breakfast. We usually have sausage or bacon sandwiches, aswell as a glass of fizz, like Buck's Fizz.


By the time we've opened our stockings, our presents and had breakfast, it's normally about midday. Mom usually goes and gets ready and then starts preparing the dinner. As she is doing that, the rest of us will get ready and then carry on looking at our gifts. I always ask mom if she wants any help but her kitchen isn't the biggest, so normally she likes to make the dinner on her own. If I'm lucky, I might get to do the washing up :/, cheers mom! Mom has normally set the table up by the time 2/3pm arrives, so we sit down and get ready for dinner. Like I said yesterday in my blog post, mom always makes a three course meal, so we eat, drink, pull our crackers and laugh for a good while. We also have a few more 'drinky woos' (alcohol) :). Since last year, mom has started getting us a little gift for when we're sitting at the table eating dinner. She got us all gingerbread cookies last year, with sweets on them and she said she's got us all something this year too. I've actually bought everyone a scratch card for when we're sitting down for dinner. Just as a little extra something. Good luck to us all! :).

We eat our starters and main meals at the table, then have a little rest in front of the TV before dessert. We always have the best intentions of going back to the table for dessert, but we usually end up eating it in the living room, in front of the TV :). We don't watch the Queen's speech, so after dinner we have a look what's on and put something on that we all want to watch. Unless it's something we really wanna watch, the TV is usually on in the background as we carry on admiring our presents.


We like our Christmas TV specials, so during the evening if there are any on, we're usually watching them. Me, my mom and my sister love the soaps too, so we usually watch those. Si pretends he's not interested but usually has the most to say about them, he he! He thinks they're all doom and gloom, which when you think about it, they usually are!

We play games throughout the evening too. I'm contemplating picking up a new board game tomorrow morning, but am not too sure what to get :/. We have board games we can take to mom's though and I know there's loads at mom's from when me and my sister were kids, so we'll have enough to choose from :). I wrote a post about my favourite games to play at Christmas here.

The evening is when we tend to pig out the most, we normally have cheese and crackers, chocolates, nuts, sweets, crisps and just little bits and pieces really. I normally like to drink something a bit warming in the evening, like Jack Daniel's and coke or mulled wine. The festivities carry on throughout the night and usually into the early hours!

I love Christmas and although it goes sooo quickly, we always have such a fab day! I literally can't wait until tomorrow, but it all starts later on when we go to mom's and begin the festivities :).

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and an amazing New Year! Enjoy every minute, including the food and presents, but most importantly, enjoy and cherish spending time with loved ones :).

I'm probably going to have a nice little break during Christmas and will be back with you all in the New Year :). Thanks for all your support during Blogmas! I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part and sharing my run up to Christmas with you all. See you in 2015!

Merry Christmas!
Gem XxOo

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

BLOGMAS Day 23: Food Traditionally Eaten On Christmas Day...

I can't believe it's the 23rd of December and I have two more Blogmas posts to write (including today). It's flew by but I've loved taking part and am proud that I've kept up! These last two posts might be short and sweet, but they're personal to my Christmas, so I hope you enjoy them all the same :).

Food is one of the main things people go mad about at Christmas. Whether it's me and Si or my mom doing the shopping, we always make a list and probably buy a little more than we should as we treat ourselves to bits and bobs. It's a fun experience and we get excited about what we're going to eat on Christmas Day for breakfast, dinner and snacks. I love it in a supermarket near Christmas, when you can tell everyone is doing their 'big shop', Christmas songs are playing in the background and everyone is so merry. It's a lovely time to be a part of.

Me and Si are going to my mom and sister's for Christmas this year. It'll just be the four of us so I thought I'd share with you what we traditionally eat on Christmas Day. I'd love to know what you guys eat as I know everyone has their own traditions :)...


When we've finished opening our presents, mom usually makes us some breakfast. When we were younger we used to have a full English breakfast, but came to realise that it filled us up too much, as we have our Christmas dinner about 2/3pm. So now we have bacon or sausage sandwiches.


Mom has always made a three course meal for Christmas dinner. Starters usually consist of prawn cocktail for some and pate with toast for others. I love pate on toast! Christmas dinner is of course, turkey! Then we have roast potatoes, sometimes mashed potatoes, stuffing, carrots, parsnips, sprouts and cauliflower, I think. She differs the vegetables each year, but we all have different preferences, so she cooks a few things and gives us what we all like in terms of veg. We have gravy and then sauces like cranberry sauce. Mom cooks her roast potatoes in goose fat, so they're always sooo tasty! You're probably wondering about the pigs in blankets, but the four of us aren't really bothered about them to be honest, so mom doesn't normally cook them. We usually have a little break after our starter and main meal, to make room for dessert. Again, this differs, none of us like Christmas pudding, so we normally have trifle, fruit salad or a different kind of cake. I know this year we're having Eton mess, which I'm extremely happy about!


At about 6/7pm, we all start getting a bit peckish again, so this is normally when the good stuff comes out, ha ha! Mom will make turkey sandwiches if we want them, but we'll normally have some cheese and crackers. I like shopping for the cheese! All the chocolates, nuts, crisps etc come out during the evening and we all just pick as and when we like as we're watching TV and playing games :).

Ooh, talking about this makes me sooo hungry. I can't wait!

Like I said above, let me know your Christmas Day food traditions, I'd love to know.

Don't forget to like, comment and follow to keep up to date with the rest of my Blogmas posts :).

Thanks so much for reading lovelies!
Gem XxOo

Monday, 22 December 2014

BLOGMAS Day 22: Cooking With Gem: Garlic, Rosemary & Thyme Pork Loin...

I love to cook from scratch at home and one of mine and Si's fave things to eat is garlic, rosemary and thyme pork loin. I cooked it the other day and thought I'd share with you how I make it :). I can't remember when I first discovered a recipe for pork loin or the cut of meat in general, but it was some time ago now as I was making this dish back when we were living at mom's house. The main part of the meal is the pork loin. I always prepare and season this the same every time, as it's just too yummy not to. The sides that I serve it with tend to differ, but you will see what I chose to serve it with this time, below.

Before I start anything, I pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

This is the cut of pork loin after I've removed all the sinew. I'm really fussy with meat, so I like that there is no fat on a pork loin. The way I cook it ensures that it isn't dry either, so it's still really enjoyable. I cook the loin in a ceramic baking dish as I like to scrape off the bits at the bottom after cooking to create a lovely gravy (as you will see later on). Using this ceramic dish to do that means I won't scratch up a normal baking dish/tray.

Here I have massaged garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, a little salt and pepper into both sides of the loin. I add a drizzle of oil (I just use vegetable oil) to the loin to ensure all the seasoning sticks to the loin. I cook it for 50 minutes. When 50 minutes is up, I cut through the thickest part of the loin and if it isn't pink any more then I know it's done.

I peeled and cut up my potatoes for the mash and put them in a saucepan of water, with a little salt, on the hob ready to be boiled, along with the peas (in a separate saucepan of course). I don't put the heat on until there's about 20 minutes to go on the loin. I put them on a medium heat. Obviously when the potatoes are soft, they're done. I drain the potatoes and put them back into the saucepan, adding a little milk, a knob of butter, salt and pepper to taste and then I just mash them with a regular mashing utensil.

Above is the batter mix that I made for home-made Yorkshire puddings. I have a four hole large Yorkshire pudding tin, so wanted to make four. I looked online for the amount of ingredients I'd need. I used 70g of plain flour, 2 eggs, 100ml of milk, salt, pepper and some oil for cooking. I put the flour and eggs into a bowl and mixed them together, then I gradually added the milk until it looked like it does in the image above. I also added some salt and pepper to taste.

I wiped some vegetable oil around each hole in my tin to stop the Yorkshire puddings from sticking. I then popped the tin in the oven, so the oil heated up whilst I was making the mix. Leave the tin in the oven until you are ready to cook the Yorkshire puddings.

The Yorkshire puddings take about 20 minutes to cook, so I put the Yorkshire pudding mix into the holes in the tin and start cooking them five minutes before I start cooking the potatoes and peas. This will mean that the meat, potatoes and peas will be cooked at around the same time and the Yorkshire puddings will have a few more minutes whilst you're preparing the meat. They are fine to be cooked at the same temperature as the pork loin.

This was the first time I'd made Yorkshire puddings this big and by using my own ingredients, instead of a packet mix. They soon puffed up. I took them out at just the right time, when they were nice and browned on top. They look quite dark in the image, but they weren't burnt. They were the perfect size to fit all the other parts of the meal in.

When the pork loin is done, turn the heat for the potatoes and peas down to the minimum, whilst you're preparing the meat. The image above shows the pork loin when it's cooked, after 50 minutes. The bottom of the dish looks burnt but it's actually gooey, gorgeous flavour that makes for a flavoursome gravy!

I normally leave the pork loin to rest for a couple of minutes (with foil on the top) and then cut it up. I use a knife to hold the meat down and a fork to cut and pull away at the meat. It's so succulent and cuts really easily. I boiled the kettle with fresh water, sprinkled some gravy granules into the dish and poured a little boiled water on top. Add the water gradually until the gravy reaches your preferred consistency. You can then let the meat soak up some of the juices and scrape away at the bottom of the dish to add the extra flavour to the gravy. I love doing gravy this way, it's just so tasty! Whilst I'm preparing the mashed potatoes, I put the foil back on top of the pork, which keeps the heat in.

Mmmm! Succulent, gravy soaked pork loin!

This is how I served up our meal. The Yorkshire puddings are on the bottom, filled with mashed potatoes, peas and the gorgeous pork loin. I poured over any gravy left in the baking dish.

Like I said, me and Si love this meal and I've been making it for some time now. Sometimes I leave the Yorkshire puddings out completely and sometimes I serve with boiled potatoes instead of mashed potatoes and wilted garlic spinach instead of peas. It just depends what we have in or what we fancy. Any of these combinations are lovely though!

If you have a go at making this meal, let me know in the comments section below or on Twitter @GemsGemz86 :). I'd love to see pictures too!

Don't forget to like, comment and follow to keep up to date with the rest of my Blogmas posts :).

Thanks for reading lovelies!
Gem XxOo

Sunday, 21 December 2014

BLOGMAS Day 21: Day In The Life...

If you watch Vlogmas videos on YouTube, you'll know that they are basically 'day in the life' videos at Christmas time. I thought I'd bring that to my blog and show you a recent day in the life of mine :). Simple idea but I hope you like it.

These things happened on Friday 19th December 2014, where I had quite a chilled day just doing things around the house, doing a bit of writing and blogging and having a quiet evening in as Si was at work.

A cold, winters morning view from one of our back windows at about 6:30am.

I didn't have anything to eat as soon as I woke up as I was fluttering around the house doing bits and bobs, so I considered this to be more like brunch than breakfast. I had a cup of tea (which is a must), yummy scrambled eggs on toast, fresh natural yoghurt with raspberries and pure honey mixed in and a nice glass of cold water to get the metabolism going :).

Can't forget to open the advent calendar! Me and Si have a chocolate advent calendar this year. Mine is a 'Me to You' one. Si was disappointed that we didn't have little images or messages on the inside of the windows, ha ha. I'm not gonna lie, half the time I forget to open mine and end up having quite a few windows to open at once! It's been funny recently as Si's chocolates started out being Christmas themed but the past few days they've been pretty random.

I differ between having a shower in the morning and having one at night. I work from home so sometimes I have one during the day, it just depends on how I feel. On this particular day it was about 3pm when I had this shower. A hot shower always perks me up and makes me feel better.

I have all of my shower/bath products in the shower and just use them as and when. I have other products in the bedroom so just replace when needed. Believe it or not, 7 of those bottles are shampoo, ha ha! I get through conditioner like nobody's business and always end up with more shampoo. I had run out of body wash for myself though and didn't realise until I was already in the shower, so I just used Si's, he he!

I love the No7 Hot Cloth Cleanser and have done for some time now. It's so luxurious and lovely to use. I used it whilst in the shower. I used the body lotion when I got out of the shower. I prefer to put body lotion on when I just come out of the shower, when my skin is still damp. I find it sinks in a lot quicker this way. I also do this because there have been times in the past when I've gone into the bedroom and forgot about moisturising and my skin doesn't appreciate not being moisturised. You might wonder why I'm using Johnson's Baby Bedtime Lotion during the day, well, not only does it smell nice, it always makes me feel calm because of the lavender. It doesn't make me drowsy or anything so I use it whenever I like.

When it comes to my hair after a bath or shower, I tend to wear it wrapped up in a towel for a little while to take most of the excess moisture out. I mix up the products that I use depending on when I'm drying my hair and what I want to achieve with my hair. I always use my Wahl Salon Power Hairdryer which has two heat settings, two power/speed settings and a cool shot. In terms of products, on this occasion I used the Tresemme Heat Defence Styling Spray for all over my hair, the Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Relaxing Balm for the lengths of my hair and the L'Oreal Elvive Repairing Serum for the ends of my hair. I love my Tangle Tamer brush from Denman, it smooths my hair after washing without pulling half of it out. I use this every day, whether my hair is wet or not, it's definitely gentler on my hair than other brushes that I have. I wasn't going out anywhere so after blow-drying, I just put my hair up in a messy bun.

I had this No7 Protect and Perfect Night Cream in a set recently from Boots and have really been enjoying using it. I have the day cream too. I am a fan of No7 products in general, so it's nice to have more items from their collection. It smells lovely and is really moisturising and hydrating. By the time I came to putting this on, it wasn't exactly early, so I decided to use the night cream instead of the day cream. I had a make-up free day as I wasn't going out anywhere.

When I am thinking about settling down to do some writing, blogging or even to just watch TV, I like to light at least one candle. It makes me feel so cosy and comfy. Everyone feel sorry for my poor Black Cherry Yankee Candle that fell off of a shelf and smashed :(. I only got it a few weeks ago too! It's a lovely scent though, it smells like cherry drop sweets :).

Time to get some writing done and of course my Blogmas post for the day! If you haven't seen my Blogmas Day 19 post, check it out here.

I cooked one of mine and Si's fave meals. The main bit is pork loin that I always season with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and thyme. I tend to vary the sides that I serve it with, but on this occasion I decided to make my own Yorkshire puddings and have mashed potato inside of them with peas and then the pork loin on the top, which is soaked in half gravy granules and half home-made gravy with the meat juices/flavourings stuck to the bottom of the baking dish. I took photos as I was making this dish, so I might blog about it tomorrow and tell you how I make it :).

I had quite a lot of wrapping to do, so thought I'd get stuck in. I quite enjoy wrapping to be honest and seeing the presents build up that I've bought for people. I was watching Text Santa whilst wrapping. I've wrapped a few more since Friday but am all up to date now. I still have a couple of things to pick up Christmas Eve, so will wrap them then.

After everything was done for the day, I settled down in bed with a hot chocolate. I treated myself to a little Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine this year, so I make them on there. Silly me forgot to take a picture of it when it was first made, but it was lovely and frothy! I like them with cream on the top normally, but we haven't got any at the mo :(, need to pick some up. I also caught up with some YouTube videos whilst I was drinking it. Aswell as my usual YouTube subscriptions, I like to see what the most watched videos are and sometimes I just have a search for random stuff on there when I'm having a little chill.

Si was working on this evening, so I decided to watch a bit of Netflix. I watched the last few episodes of Orange Is The New Black. I've actually finished watching it now, but my sister recommended it to me. It's really good to be fair, I'm looking forward to the next series!

Don't forget to like, comment and follow to keep up to date with the rest of my Blogmas posts :).

Thanks for reading lovelies!
Gem XxOo

Saturday, 20 December 2014

BLOGMAS Day 20: Holiday Survival Essentials...

As we all know, Christmas time can be a bit overwhelming, what with the shopping, parties, cooking and decorating, aswell as doing your normal day to day things. It can all be very go, go, go and before you know it, you blink and it's Christmas Day. It's nice to have little things that 'keep you going' so to say, through the holiday season.

Man Crates have challenged me to come up with my 'holiday survival essentials'. I'm not being sponsored or rewarded for writing this, it's just something fun that came my way and I thought it'd be a nice idea for one of my Blogmas posts :). Just to put it out there, Man Crates is something I've never heard of before and I've never seen anything like what they offer. If you're struggling with what to buy a male in your life, for any occasion, your eyes might light up when you see what they have to offer. Amongst other items, they sell wooden crates full of treats, that have to be opened with...wait for included, laser-engraved crowbar! I have an image in my head of men all over, with a big grin on their faces, getting to show their strength when opening their very own crate full of surprises! They currently only ship to the United States, Canada and APO/FPO addresses. This may change though, so keep your eye out :). You can read more about that here.

Right, onto my holiday survival essentials...

1 - Comfy bedding! One of the best things in the world is fresh, clean bedding. I always have the best nights sleep after I have a shower and get into fresh, clean bedding. With the hectic-ness of Christmas time, getting into a comfy bed and having a good nights sleep is essential and having Christmas bedding is even better :).

2 - Family! Christmas is all about family for me and spending 'quality' time with them. Christmas reminds you that family are the most important thing and that you should cherish every moment that you get to spend with them. Me, Si, my mom and my sister went to Birmingham recently and stayed over. We did a few exciting things, which you can read about here and here. We had such a lovely time just spending time together, laughing together and just 'being'.

3 - Sparkly nail polish! I love painting my nails and shades of red are probably my favourite colours to wear. At this time of year, red, sparkly nail polish makes me feel so festive. I love it and I always feel better when my nails are freshly painted :).

4 - Christmas movies! I love a good movie, but especially a Christmas movie! Another great thing to get me in the festive spirit. Nativity is one of my faves, I've already watched it twice this Christmas time, ha ha! You can see my other favourite Christmas films here. I love just cosying up and watching a Christmas movie or having one on in the background whilst I'm trying to get some wrapping done :).

5 - Bubbly baths! If you're stressed from work, partying too much, cooking, decorating, wrapping or shopping, a good bubble bath will sort you out! I'm normally a shower kind of girl, but if I'm feeling a bit achy or unwell or in need of relaxation, then I'll have a bath. I love using my Lush products and just chilling out with candles lit, reading a magazine/book or watching some YouTube videos.

6 - Mulled wine! This is my favourite kind of alcoholic drink at Christmas time. It smells amazing, tastes amazing and is sooo warming. I love having mulled wine at a Christmas market, mmm, sooo nice! I have some in the cupboard, so may have to have one or two tonight, he he!

7 - Hot chocolate! When I'm not feeling like an alcoholic drink, a hot chocolate is the perfect alternative. When I'm out Christmas shopping, I love stopping at Starbucks for a hot chocolate with cream on the top! It goes waaay too quickly, but it is delicious. I'm lucky enough to be able to have machine-made hot chocolate at home now as I treated myself to a little Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine this year, so I love having them when I'm settling down for the night and relaxing. I love them frothy, with cream on the top, mmm!

What are your holiday survival essentials?

Don't forget to like, comment and follow to keep up to date with the rest of my Blogmas posts :).

Thanks for reading lovelies!
Gem XxOo
Some of the images are courtesy of Amazon, Deborah Lippmann, Food Spotting and BBC.

Friday, 19 December 2014

BLOGMAS Day 19: Favourite Christmas Films...

Watching Christmas films really gets you in the Christmas spirit! I've been watching a few 'random' Christmas films (you know the ones you've never heard of) on Channel 5 during November and December, but regarding well-known Christmas films, I haven't really had the chance to watch many yet this year. I want to watch more though in the next few days. I thought I'd share with you some of my faves that we have on DVD...


I watched this the other day and it reminded me why it's one of my favourite Christmas films. I've loved Martin Freeman since The Office, so I love that he's in this film, but it's the kids that really make this film what it is. There will be times when you'll be going 'aww' and times when you'll be laughing out loud at their humour. The teaching assistant Mr Poppy also provides a few laughs. The film is based around a primary school that competes with a local private school to put on the best Christmas nativity play. There are a few white lies involved and a few heart-felt moments but it's a feel good film, where everything works out in the end :).

This is a film that a lot of people seem to love and are always talking about. I haven't watched this yet this year, but I have it on DVD so will be doing so soon! It's such a funny movie. I love the fact that a human being is being brought up by Santa and his elves. I love the innocence and naivety that comes across from Buddy (Will Ferrell - Elf) when he is amongst Santa and the elves and gets to experience the magic of Christmas. He is soon brought back down to earth when he is out in the 'real world' and realises that things aren't all that he thought they were. It's such a hilarious movie, definitely not one to be missed.

This is the one Christmas film that I remember from my childhood. I remember first seeing this and absolutely loving it. This is actually a remake of the 1947 classic. The young girl who plays Susan Walker (Mara Wilson - also the little girl in Matilda) is just adorable and at just 6 years old decides that she no longer believes in 'Father Christmas', but after meeting Kris Kringle, she changes her mind. This movie brings the magic back to Christmas and is centred around Kris Kringle who is Santa at a local department store. He believes that he is the real thing and this makes the store very popular. Local retailers aren't happy with this and try and frame him. A court case comes about where Kris Kringle and his lawyer try to prove that he is the real thing.

Arthur Christmas is one of those films where you just wish it was really like that at Christmas time. The belief that Santa and his elves are in their workshop and everything is being organised in terms of which kids are getting what, where kids live and everything being to a time scale is just magical. The query of how Santa can deliver gifts to the whole world in just one night is answered, but unfortunately one child is missed! In this film, Santa's son Arthur doesn't want to end the 'magic' of Christmas and so sets out to make sure this one child doesn't miss out!

I only came across this film a few years ago, when it was on TV. I can't believe I didn't know about it sooner. This is an animated film, but a very good one! The characters in the film are so life like. This film is about kids being picked up, in their pyjamas, on Christmas Eve by a steam train and going on a magical journey to the North Pole. There, children who still believe receive an extraordinary gift. This is one of those films where your child-like nature kicks in and you think to yourself, how cool it would be if that really happened. There is lots of fun along the way, with lost tickets and roller-coaster moments. I saw a review on Amazon (from A J Severyn) about this film and it said that although it's a movie primarily for kids, it reminds us grown-ups that being child-like is a quality, not a weakness. I love that!

What are your favourite Christmas movies?

Don't forget to like, comment and follow to keep up to date with the rest of my Blogmas posts :).

Thanks for reading lovelies!
Gem XxOo
Images courtesy of Amazon.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

BLOGMAS Day 18: Husband Hijack...

This is Gem's husband, Simon. She's had a lot on recently, so I thought I'd give her a bit of a break by writing one of her Blogmas posts for her.

I want to start off my hijack of Gem's Blogmas posts by saying what a fantastic job she is doing with not just Blogmas, but her whole blog and everything surrounding it. She puts so much work and effort into it to make sure it's perfect and I'm so incredibly proud of her for it. I'm proud for two reasons, firstly because she always puts out great content and has gained so much from it and secondly (and perhaps mainly), because she has followed her heart in doing what she wants to do and what she enjoys, rather than what other people may or may not think she should do.

Right, enough of the soppy stuff, let the Christmas time blogging continue...

I love Christmas, it's my favourite time of the year. From the smattering of fairy lights around the house, making our home feel that little bit different and therefore special to the abundance of Christmas TV specials and movies, to all the gorging on great foods, such as mince pies, sausage rolls, chocolates and of course roast turkey. I actually look forward to heading to the high street at this time of year, Christmas just makes everything seem better and magical somehow. I find as I'm getting older that I care less about what I receive and just want to give more. I want to spoil Gem to the degree that she deserves to be spoilt and I look forward to her receiving her gifts.

We got together in 2008, so this will be our 7th Christmas together and what's funny is that I always go through the same emotions regarding gifts before the day itself arrives. I buy gifts and feel so excited to give them to her that I want to let her open one present there and then but, of course, don't. A few days to a week will pass and I'll start to worry that what I've got won't be good enough and will leave her feeling disappointed, so I'll make sure I head back out shopping. I'll buy more gifts that I stumble across, but on that same trip, I'll suddenly feel like I haven't got her anywhere near enough items from her list that I ask her to write for me and so I start to buy more from that. I'll then get excited again about seeing her face as she rips off the wrapping paper and sees what I have bought her. As it gets to within a week of the 25th, doubt will start creeping back in, so I wrap what I've bought and finally feel satisfied as the big pile of decorated items grows higher. On Christmas Eve I'll no doubt go back out to get just a few more things. The thing is though, I needn't worry, because even if I stuck to the original gifts that I purchased and didn't go out and buy more, she would still be over the moon with what she received. She is always grateful and the amount she gets to open on Christmas morning is irrelevant. It doesn't stop me spending loads more on her though.

That's the visit from the ghost of Christmas present out of the way. Which is all wrong because the ghost of Christmas past always came first in 'A Christmas Carol', but sod it, I'm not going back to edit things now. I suffered a loss at Christmas time five years ago when my dad sadly died, but that hasn't changed my opinion of this time of year like it does with others because I have so many happy memories of him from this time of year in particular. We never had much growing up, but both my mom and dad would always make sure me and my little sister had the best Christmas possible. We always felt amazed at what Santa delivered into our chimney-less house by using his magic key to get through the door. 'Why doesn't he just use the magic key for every house, rather than bothering to climb up and down chimneys all night long?', I remember querying one year. I would always be allowed to bring my television out of my room (when I eventually got one), so that I could play my new video games in the living room so as not to miss any of the festive fun. My first TV was a second hand, black and white one! I still remember trying to play FIFA on it, but being unable to tell which team I was. I feel very lucky to have had the childhood I did despite the lack of money, because I was deeply loved and I just have to remember Christmases in Kingsclere Walk to remind myself of that.

The last Dickensian spirit-like musing I will have is of course about the Christmases yet to come. Soon, Gem and I will have children of our own and no, that is not a breaking news revelation, she is not pregnant...yet. However, when we do have our own family, I am incredibly excited to give them the Christmases I had and to teach them all about what Christmas is to us. I realise that Christmas should be about religion, I did go to a catholic school, but nowadays the meaning of Christmas is about family for me. Looking to next Christmas, I hope to be able to look back and say that a lot has changed since now. I'm hoping to follow in Gem's footsteps and work doing what I love and want to do, rather than what I am currently employed to do. This year has been a big set up for what should be an incredible opportunity for me in 2015 and will hopefully lead to a better life for both me and Gem. I hope that next Christmas I can take Gem back to New York or even somewhere else, I hope I can give her the world over the coming years as there isn't anybody who deserves it more.

Merry Christmas!!!!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

BLOGMAS Day 17: Favourite Christmas Games...

Me and my family love a good game. I thought I'd share a few of our favourite ones to play at Christmas...

Xbox 360 Scene It? Box Office Smash

This is a game that is for all the family and is played via a Xbox 360. I like this game because you can just sit back, relax and play it via button pads. You don't have to sit on the floor with a board or crowd round a table. You can buy the game with or without the button pads. You can play the game with Xbox 360 controllers, but it's easier with the button pads. With this game, you answer trivia about box office movies. It's not just question after question though, there are puzzles and challenges to solve and it keeps us entertained for ages! The game is recommended for those aged 12+, so there should be something for kids too. If you love movies like us, you're sure to like this. If you don't have an Xbox 360, there are Scene it? DVD games available.

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Spinner Game

I have bought this game for my sister for Christmas. It's going to be so funny playing this on Christmas Day. If you aren't familiar with it, there are nice and nasty flavours within the game. You spin the spinner and whatever colour you land on, there will be two flavours available. One flavour is nice and the other nasty, so you have to pick the colour you land on and hope for the nice flavour. Some of the nice flavours are chocolate pudding, strawberry jam, buttered popcorn and juicy pear. Some of the nasty flavours are mouldy cheese, dog food, vomit and rotten egg. Eurgh, not necessarily looking forward to playing this, but it will be a laugh!

The Game Of Life

I love this game because it's quite a fun concept. The game is based on living a whole life span through choices and chance. You get to make choices that you could experience in real life, such as, choosing your career path, raising a family, borrowing money, buying a home and retiring. The aim is to have the most assets at the end of the game. I used to play this as a kid with older relatives, so it's something I've always enjoyed playing. There is even a Game Of Life app now! This game is recommended for ages 8+, so it's a good game to buy kids for Christmas and then everyone can get involved.


Me and my sister used to have this game when we were younger and we used to play it all the time! We had a different version that was in a slimmer box, but the concept was still the same. The one we had was only suitable for two players at a time, but the above one seems to be suitable for up to 5 players! When we played, one person had to choose four coloured pegs and arrange them in their preferred order. These pegs were hidden. The other player then had to try and guess the coloured pegs and their order, in so many moves. Along the way, the 'chooser' scored their opponents guesses by marking how many colours they had correct and how many they had in the correct order. The positions aren't given away though, so you do have to think about what you're doing. The game is recommended for ages 8+, so if kids are playing this, it will definitely get their brains working. I guess this modernised version is the same, but more than one person can guess. There's such a sense of satisfaction though when you 'finally' guess correctly!

Wolverhampton Monopoly

Monopoly is such a classic board game. My mom had a really old version that me and my sister used to play growing up. Last year, an edition named after the city we live in was released, so it was great seeing places that are familiar to us on the board game. Si received it as a gift so we had fun playing it last Christmas. There are so many different editions out now and another favourite of mine is the Disney edition. It can be quite fun trying to buy positions on the board, buying houses and hotels and charging other players rent if they land on your positions. There is also the chance that you might have to pay rent, taxes, go to jail or even go bankrupt, so you have to try and avoid that! However, it can be a really long game. If you prefer games that don't last for hours, then this might not be for you cause it always seems to do so. Again, this is recommended for those that are aged 8+.

When me and my sister were growing up, it used to be all about Dream Phone, Twister, Kerplunk, Mouse Trap, Operation, Hangman, Connect 4 and Hungry Hippos. Remember these? We used to have quite a few board games as presents, so we spent a lot of time playing games over Christmas and in our general spare time.

What is your favourite game to play at Christmas?

Don't forget to like, comment and follow to keep up to date with the rest of my Blogmas posts :).

Thanks for reading lovelies!
Gem XxOo
Images courtesy of Amazon and Jelly Belly.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

BLOGMAS Day 16: What Christmas Means To Me...

Me and my family aren't religious. We don't go to church and we don't celebrate Christmas in a religious way. Although we are aware of what Christmas is supposed to represent, it has always been about spending quality time with loved ones, taking the time to appreciate what we have, reflecting on the past year, looking forward to and making plans for the new one and generally slowing down to just live, love and laugh (wow, that sounds so cheesy! #sorrynotsorry). Obviously, the gifts, food and drink are all a bonus that we enjoy just as much :).

I absolutely love the feeling I get on Christmas Day, an excited feeling, almost like a feeling of peace and calm. I love that random strangers will say Merry Christmas if you're out and about and that no-one is really worrying about the usual stresses of life. I know that not everyone has the same experience as me at Christmas, which is why I cherish it even more. I never take for granted the fact that every Christmas my family have traditions, we look forward to them and we are lucky to be able to spend it together.

I love receiving presents as much as the next person, but I think it's such an enjoyable experience going out and buying gifts. I love knowing what my loved ones want and going out and getting such items (for any occasion, not just Christmas). I hate the thought of loved ones worrying about buying presents though. When me and my sister were younger and my dad was around, it wasn't such an issue and it isn't an issue now that we're older, but during those in-between years, when it was just my mom, my sister and me, my mom used to worry about not getting us enough presents. Luckily, me and my sister were grateful for anything and we just felt bad for my mom worrying, we always used to tell her not to fret and that as long as we all had a good day, that was all that mattered. Breaks my heart though thinking that she was ever worrying about something like that.

Me and my sister were never spoilt by any means, but we could never complain either. We always had a stocking with little gifts in and we shared a room for years where we'd wake up early (or rather, my sister woke me up!) and tuck into our stockings. My mom and dad made the back room/dining room in our family home into a bedroom for me when I started growing up and I looooved it! Since then, my sister would knock on her floor, which happened to be my ceiling and that would be my signal to go up to her so we could open our stockings together. Christmas Eve, before bed, my sister (who's four years younger than me) would say what time she'd be knocking on her floor.

On Christmas Day, we had our specific places in the living room where our presents would be laid out and we'd all take it in turns to open a present, so we could see what everyone got. It sounds so funny describing it like that, but it was fun to us, made present opening last longer and is something we've always done. During the morning, we'd have a cup of tea or something fizzy (when I was old enough) and mom would make a full English for us all or bacon/sausage sandwiches. When the 'back room' was a 'back room' and not my bedroom, we never wanted to eat Christmas dinner in there. We always preferred to sit in the living room and watch a film whilst we were eating but my mom had this wooden table that was hand-made. It came apart so it was stored away for the rest of the year and brought out at Christmas, so that used to be brought into the living room and set up all Christmassy :). My mom's living room isn't the biggest, so this big table took up most of the space and we'd have stools or garden chairs to sit on. Ha ha, it sounds like something from The Royle Family! All of these little traditions have always been the same, up until last year when me, Si, my mom and my sister had our first Christmas in a different place (mine and Si's new flat). They will probably resume this year though as me and Si are going to my mom and sister's for Christmas :).

We had a few traditions growing up, that we don't have now. It was a lot more family orientated when me and my sister were kids and my mom and dad were together. A lot of Christmas was associated with my dad's side of the family. Boxing Day was the day we used to go to my nan and grandad's (my dad's mom and dad) house, my dad's six siblings and my cousins would be there and nan would put a little buffet on for us all. Also, on New Year's Eve, we'd meet my dad's side of the family at a local social club where there used to be a disco/party on. Us kids used to really look forward to it, we loved having a dance and staying up late to see the New Year in. When me and my sister were quite young, my mom used to dress us in the same party dresses, ha ha! I can't remember the exact time all of this stopped, but I think it was around the time my mom and dad separated for good. We still see my dad's side of the family, of course, but there are no big get-togethers or anything like when we were kids. I understand that people grow and take on different traditions, but I just remember those two things being something we did for years and years.

Me and Si have started our own traditions since getting together 6 years ago. Most of them are the same as above ( Si lived at my mom's with me for about 5 years) because we've only had one Christmas in our own place and that was just last year. We have made it a tradition to stay over in Birmingham at Christmas time, so we can do a bit of shopping and enjoy some mulled wine and food at the Christmas/Frankfurt market. We also like to do each other stockings, organise a pre-Christmas meal with my fam and Si's fam, Si goes Christmas shopping in London with his friend and we watch Christmas movies or listen to Christmas songs as we're putting the decorations up. They're just little things, but things that are important to us. When we have kids, we'll probably take on new traditions for them to grow up with.

I've really enjoyed writing this post and I hope it gives you a bit more of an insight into what Christmas means to me :).

What does Christmas mean to you?

Don't forget to like, comment and follow to keep up to date with the rest of my Blogmas posts :).

Thanks for reading lovelies!
Gem XxOo

Monday, 15 December 2014

BLOGMAS Day 15: It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

We have this displayed behind our sofa.

I'm feeling soooo festive at the moment. I keep getting butterflies like it's Christmas Eve, when you can't get to sleep (yes, I do still feel like that at 28!). I have to keep reminding myself that it isn't Christmas Day tomorrow :/. I thought it was about time I revealed our Christmas decorations to you all, seems as we've had them up since the 2nd of December :). I do hope the warm, festive feeling comes across in the images, cause it sure is warm and festive when we're cosying up every evening!

Our main living area.

Our new, lovely lantern lights.

I love the scenes on these lights.

Gorgeous smelling candles, which I love and am using waaay too quickly!

Our windowsill snow scene!

I've wanted some of these for a while now, sooo glad I got some this year!

Just to remind those that don't's Xmas! :).

These are new this year and it's so cosy when they're lit!

Another new purchase this year, I love how rustic this is and of course, that fact that it holds fave!

Cute little Santa and snowman.

Our snowy, decorated tree!

Some of my favourite tree decorations...

The star of our tree!

I love this felt banner, it fits perfectly across the arch in-between our living area and dining area :).

A well used candle with a Christmas themed rim.

Merry Christmas welcome lights, which are the first thing people see when they enter our flat :).

New string lights for the hall (we have them on both windows).

Our flat is quite large, so it sometimes feels like we don't have enough decorations to fill it up, ha ha! We tend to just concentrate on the main living area though and this year we bought some lights for the hallway too. I don't think the images do the decorations justice though, it's much more cosier in real life!

Last year, me and Si had our first Christmas in our first flat together, so I wrote a post about it! You can read about where I bought some of our decorations. I also wrote a post this year about the new decorations that we've got!

I hope you're all feeling as festive as I am! It's our first Christmas as husband and wife :).

Are you all ready for Christmas? What have you got left to do?

Don't forget to like, comment and follow to keep up to date with the rest of my Blogmas posts :).

Thanks for reading lovelies!
Gem XxOo
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