Timetable – Word of the Week

Phew, what a week and it’s not over yet. My calendar has been scribbled on, covering every little space, and I’ve had to keep a time table just to keep track of everything. Why has it been so busy? Well, it’s the first time I’ve had three kids in two different schools at Christmas time.

Star has had two concerts and a school trip as well as Christmas dinner and Christmas jumper day. Boo and the Little Man have had assemblies, Christmas jumper days, school trips, cinema day and they still have workshops with the parents for making decorations and Christmas parties to go. Star finishes school tomorrow at twelve and the other two finish at two, but still have to go in all day next Monday and half day on Tuesday.

At home I’ve been drowning in wrapping paper as I wrap up my Christmas gifts. I’ve braved the stores to finish off my Christmas Shopping, had a very nice breakfast in a trendy cafe, had a brief visit with my niece on her nineteenth birthday, had a visit to the G.P. Surgery and written a six page report for my eldest son. Oh, and I’ve written and posted most of my Christmas cards as well as my Thank You cards for my wedding gifts.

And tomorrow we have a trip to Cadbury World to look forward too!

My head has literally been spinning with it all and I can’t wait for school to finish now and the chance to sit back and relax. Trust me, the latter half of next week will be spent on the sofa with hot chocolate watching Christmas movies all day…with probably a bit of Christmas baking going on when I feel like it.

I do feel a sense of achievement though. I’m still waiting on a couple of parcels but apart from the food my Christmas shopping is done and dusted. I’ve got my turkey hamper ordered for delivery on Christmas Eve and the rest of the food shopping is booked for delivery. I’m hoping to get out one day next week to get some special food and drink treats for us all.

I’m struggling to find it just yet but I think I will be in full Christmas spirit very soon. Then it will be onwards and upwards to 2017, which will hopefully be a better year.

Are you excited for Christmas yet?

The Reading Residence

Word of the Week – Planning

Last week we got the date for our wedding, which is only just over three months away!

Wedding Countdown Ticker
So this week we have started planning, there is so much to do.
So much I didn’t really think about before!
We went shopping to get some inspiration as we’ve not picked a theme yet. We came back with a cake topper and cake separaters. I’m not making my own cake,  I’ve made a wedding cake before, but it’s far too much work for me now that my health is not good. So I’m buying three plain white cakes and decorating them myself. 
I also ordered a few dresses online to try on at home. I couldn’t manage trying them on in a shop, I get exhausted getting dressed. One didn’t fit at all (even though they were all the same size,) one I loved and fitted lovely, but the last one I tried on I loved even more! So I’ve found my dress.
I decided to do the same for the girl’s dresses, it’s less stressful trying on at home. Boo has her dress but we will have to try again with Star, she’s not yet 11 years old but even the 13 yr dresses I sent for didn’t fit her. It’s a good job all these things can be returned.
We wrote down our list of people we wanted to invite individually and then compared. Then we started all over again whittling the list down. We have already decided it will not be a huge gathering but it’s so hard to choose who to include and who not too. We decided that it would have to be close family and friends that we are still in touch with regularly. So that’s those we see frequently or speak to frequently on the phone or internet. There are so many friends and relatives we don’t see a lot of. Most of my family I only see at funerals.
Then when we had a rough idea of how many people were coming we started looking for venues to accommodate them. The plan is late wedding at registry office with just a few close family members, then a reception party on the evening. There will be no wedding breakfast, we don’t have the time or money for that. The wedding is late November and nearly all the venues we tried are already booked up with Christmas parties. You have to get in early to book for Christmas, probably January is a good idea. 
Finally we were down to three venues, one is close but only holds 70 people, we said small, but maybe a few more than that. The next venue is upstairs in a gorgeous listed building pub. This venue holds 120 people but you have to have their pub food for the buffet and it’s pretty expensive. We have a preliminary booking there just in case. The third venue is the one we are going to view first, it’s all ground level (a big bonus when you are a wheelchair user,) holds 100 people, and offers a reasonably priced buffet. 
I think I’ve become very excited about it all now. I did want to get married but I thought I wanted a quick run to the registry office, sign the papers, deed done sort of wedding. I’m glad I’ve changed my mind, even if I come to regret it later with the stress. The Other Half has become very useful at helping with the planning although he tends to get a bit carried away, I believe we might end up with three DJs and three photographers if I don’t keep him in check, haha. 
Thanks for reading my ramblings, getting to the point, my word this week has to be planning…wedding planning!
The Reading Residence

It’s Party Time!

I love kids parties, I’ve been doing them for years (I’ve two grown-up children as well as the littlies)
I’ve always started well in advance, picking out the theme first, then planning the food, the decorations, the games, every little detail. Here is a My Little Pony Party I had for my daughter’s seventh birthday.
I’m just the same with grown-up parties, everything has to be planned to the finest detail.

Christmas parties are my favourite, we have one every year. It’s great getting friends and family around for some seasonal party fun.

Here are some of my time saving party planning tips:

  • Pick a theme, it doesn’t have to be too specific but it makes it easier to plan your food and decorations around a theme.

  • Find Shortcuts, homemade delicacies are lovely, but why put so much strain on yourself. Don’t try to make everything your self.

  • Find help and delegate, it’s not fair for just one person to be responsible for everything, pass the jobs around, ask family or friends to take on the roll of table laying, or putting up decorations etc.

  • Start gathering items you need well in advance, party plates, table clothes, decorations, spread the cost and shopping stress.

  • If you are having a fancy dress party then try out the Party Planner App from Fancy Dress Ball. It’s an easy to use Facebook app. where you can plan your party, choose your theme and invite your quests. It’s quick and easy and will also help your guests to choose their party outfits. 

I’m loving the fancy dress costumes for Christmas at Fancy Dress Ball, from Elf onsies to Santa outfits, reindeers to snowmen, they have a huge choice, better than I’ve seen anywhere else and all in one place. . Definitely a time saver.

Images source Fancy Dress Ball

Collaborative post with Fancy Dress Ball, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Big Plan for Christmas

I used to plan Christmas down to the very last detail, I’d have a timetable for the actual day for the cooking so I knew exactly when to prepare food or put it in the oven or on the hob. Trips out and activities over the holiday season where planned well in advance. I’d sort out the clothes that we would be wearing in advance and even plan the weeks tv viewing so as not to miss anything good. (I’m going back to the days before On Demand or Catch Up television)

You see, as a child our Christmas’ were always pure magic. My mum was a planner as well, little notes around the house everywhere. Food bought weeks in advance and stacked at the back of a kitchen cupboard. Nan would come to stay on Christmas eve and help with all the cooking. Then on boxing day our house would be filled all day with aunts and uncles and cousins.
But, I was a child, Christmas is always magic when you are a child, you blank out any arguments that may occur, or relatives that may have had a little too much to drink. You don’t see the stress behind the scenes, the panic when the gravy goes wrong or the turkey isn’t cooked on time. You forget about the arguments over who wants to watch what on TV.

I learned long ago that Christmas never goes to plan. I could tell you some stories of woe, of how things went terribly wrong. I’ve had a few Christmas’ go that way. It doesn’t matter how many lists you make, or how many plans you have you have to be prepared for mishaps along the way. Christmas is a stressful time for some, particularly parents. We say Christmas is for the kids and do our best to make it special for them, while at the same time running ourselves into the ground. Then after the Big Day, we feel deflated, worn out and broke…was it worth it?

Of course it was, and next year we do it all again because that is Christmas.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to go on holiday at Christmas time, have someone else do all the cooking and entertaining. It’s not really me though because secretly I strive on the stress. It’s not Christmas if I haven’t gained a few extra grey hairs, it’s not Christmas if it’s not at home with my family around me, doing what I can to make them happy, even if I don’t get it right all the time.

So believe it or not, especially after reading this, I do love Christmas. I love the build up before hand, the manic Christmas shopping, the ads on tv, the Christmas films, old and new. I love making my Christmas cake weeks before and feeding it with brandy every week, then covering it with marzipan and icing and decorating it even though I’m the only member of my family that really likes eating it. I love turkey and brussells sprouts, Clementines and figs, Egg Nog and Baileys. I love Christmas trees and fairy lights, Christmas fayres and reindeers. There is nothing more magic than waking up on Christmas morning to the excitement of children when they see that Santa has been.

I love church at Christmas time, singing carols, kristingle, seeing the children take part in the Nativity play.

I don’t plan Christmas down to the last detail any more. That doesn’t mean that I don’t plan it all, I just keep a more realistic view on it all. Things can and probably will go wrong but there is still a lot to fit in so a few lists are necessary, after all I wouldn’t want to forget that special present that one of my littlies has been asking for since September!

So I write lists for present, food shopping, Christmas cards, decorations I might need after last years fell apart (must remember new lights for the tree this year, mine died on boxing day and wouldn’t come back to life)

I write a menu for Christmas day to make sure I don’t miss out on any of all that lovely food, most of which is total indulgence and completely unnecessary, but if you can’t pig out at Christmas when can you?

I decide whether or not I’m going to entertain, and if I am I send out invites nice and early because people tend to get booked up quickly over the holiday season.

Most of all, my plan is to enjoy myself, and if the workload gets too much then I’m going to delegate or say that’s enough. A tired overworked mummy is no use to anyone.

Do you plan Christmas to the last detail or go with the flow?

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A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.