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LESSONS ON GIVING LESS OF A F*** //

This is something I struggle with. Although I'm fairly laid back about a lot of things in my day-to-day, I really feel guilty if other people are relying on me - no matter the circumstance. I'm slowly learning to rely on my own feelings and responsibilities, rather than those other people have set for me.

Here are some things to think about if you feel exhausted with the amount of fucks you're giving at the moment.

Hand in jumper dress pocket, in a park

Remember - it is not the end of the world

Having spoken to a colleague in the past, he told me a really sad story about a woman who had died. It made him sit up and realise that the trivial things we stress about daily are not as bad as they seem, particularly in comparison to other people's struggles. We have the opportunity to live every moment and enjoy it, in and out of work, so that's exactly what we should do.

Sure, not all outcomes will be positive and we will almost certainly have some kind of responsibility to uphold but the way we deal with those situations can affect our own mental health.

Focus - on solutions not problems

There are 'glass half full' people and there are the rest. We should all strive to search for the positive in everything although it is easier said than done. Next time you've been in a shit situation, try to take a step back and figure out what the positive of that was. Did you learn something from a mistake? Did it make you re-evaluate something and get rid of it to improve your life?

We hear the phrase 'surround yourself with positive people' or 'people who support you' and it's so true. Everyone is different but if you find you have friends with a constant negative attitude, chances are it will rub off on you. Try to keep those positive people with you to bounce ideas from (this doesn't mean you can't play devil's advocate sometimes!) and spread your own positivity with others.

Evaluate - what really matters to you?

Sitting here and writing this post in my cosy flat, with a generally positive lifestyle (despite some obstacles at the moment) I'm reminded of how lucky I am to be in this position. We get hugely caught up in material things or dramatise our problems, but really, there are people in this world a lot worse off.

This isn't to say you don't have the right to feel miserable, of course, we all have those moments and some last longer than others. However in the grand scheme of things, does it really, hugely make a negative impact on your life? If the answer is no, then focus your concentration on the bigger issues and your passions instead; chuck out anything from your head that is purely materialistic.


Have you struggled with giving too many fucks this year? Let me know how you got through it, or any tips you have on caring less!


leanne

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MAKE YOUR RENTED APARTMENT A HOME //

Christmas bedding, a teal painted wall and decorative cushions

It's not always easy to make a rented flat or apartment cosy and personal, as there can be restrictions in your contract. Here are a few ways to get around it and create a home-y environment.

Paint a wall

Not everyone will be allowed to do this but in some cases, it's worth checking with a landlord. Often you may be able to paint the apartment as long as when you move out, it is painted the original colour again. Although a bit of a faff, if this is a long-term rent then it's worth doing to add some colour and excitement.

Don't feel you have to paint EVERYTHING. Even a single feature wall in a bold colour will give you a chance to express your personality where you live, and brighten it up if you've been given the trusty 'rented magnolia' colour palette when you moved in.

Washi tape walls

This is super, super simple and easy to do and will leave NO TRACE when you move out.

I buy a lot of styles and patterns from eBay for pennies and there are lots of 'washi tape wall' ideas on Pinterest that you should take a look at for inspiration.

Add decorations

Places like The Range or B&M offer lots of cheap home items that could make your place that little bit brighter.

Try adding some photo frames to an empty wall or vases and pretty pots to stand on shelves and windowsills. It never has to be expensive, so even try to make some macrame plant hangers or crafty frames yourself if you're arty, and turn a blank space into something a bit more personal.

Get a plant

Plants make a huge difference to a home, not only because they look great but it gives you a strong sense of responsibility and naturally you feel more like an 'adult'.

Spider plants are a great starter as they grow and reproduce quickly, so your flat could turn into a tiny jungle in no time. If you're scared of the commitment to keeping something alive, a bunch of flowers instead will temporarily brighten up your home.

Keep it decluttered

It's easy to let a small flat get super messy - I am so guilty of this - which can mean it's not a particularly relaxing environment to come back to. Make sure you pencil in time weekly (yes, weekly) to complete a couple of tasks like tidying a room, hoovering the floors or emptying your cupboards.

Little bits of thought at a time will mean you never get to the 'bomb has hit it' stage, hopefully.

Have you got any more tips for rented apartment owners?

leanne

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30 THINGS BEFORE 30 //

Photograph of Leeds blogger

I'm currently 25 and nearing the 'wrong' side of it.

I've been really lucky to have lots of opportunities in my life already and I'm still working hard to ensure it continues. However there are many things I would still like to cross off my bucket list while I'm in my twenties, so here are the 30 things I'd like to do before I turn 30.


Go to Australia

Get an opportunity to travel through work or hobby

Visit Iceland or Norway and see the Northern Lights

Buy an aerial hoop

Drive on a road trip

Go back to Harry Potter world

Visit New York

Spend time working or living in another city

Have a graphic design shop

Visit Edinburgh

Buy an iMac

Get another tattoo

Write a novella

Throw a huge party with all my friends

Travel lots of European festivals

Have a class I can teach regularly

Take part in a major sporting event or race

Volunteer for a charity

Go back to Glastonbury

Learn to bake properly

Get better at Spanish and German languages

Perform at a public event

Learn to do a handstand/headstand

Have my writing published in a (online/offline) magazine

Skydive

Run a 10K for charity

Learn more HTML 

Get another qualification

Buy a velvet suit

Throw a surprise party


What's on your list before your next big birthday?


leanne

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A WEEK OF GRATITUDE // part one


1st December

I felt incredible after an intense workout today. We should be so grateful every day for our bodies, what we can do with them and how we can look after them. Although I thought I might actually collapse I was working so hard, afterwards I felt ready to take on the world.

2nd December

 A couple of David's friends came to visit and we headed out to some new places in leeds. I love the city I live in and I'm really thankful we have some fantastic bars and eateries on our doorstep.

3rd December

We sat and watched rubbish tv and christmas films today and it was GREAT. I love that we get the chance to have lazy days off, even when the rest of this month is super, super busy!

4th December

I'm grateful for feeling super festive this year and finally finding my motivation. Blogmas has really spurred me to work harder, get more things done with my time and I'm really making the most of the Christmas atmosphere in my shifts at work.

5th December

 I went to the gym (no class, no PT) for the first time in ages today and I loved how quiet it was, and thankful for how confident I felt in there in comparison to a few years ago - when I used to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes and leave!

6th December

We headed to London for this year's work Christmas party. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to go (having only been there for about 6 weeks!) and meeting lots of inspiring women. The team I work with at the moment have been incredibly welcoming and the chance to dress up and dance is always great!

7th December

Having stayed in London, I decided to book on to an aerial silks class. Although it was very difficult, I struggled to understand half of what the instructor was talking about (I can't remember how to double footlock) and I was hungover - I'm so glad I did something that was out of my comfort zone

Looking forward to another week of spreading love and happiness (and all the festive spirit!)

leanne

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MY BEST BITS OF 2017 //

This year has been a huge year of changes and along the way, I've made some amazing memories. Here are some of the standout moments of 2017 for me, personally!

Explorer stood by the river in Stockholm with Kanken backpack

Stockholm

February

I had the chance to visit Sweden with three of my best pals this year and we had SUCH a great time. Not only did we get to explore Stockholm, we took a trip to the ABBA museum to celebrate our love for pop music.

Read more about our trip here (the food, drink and general fabulousness of Stockholm) and here (ABBA!)

Wall of Harry Potter artwork from Minalima, London

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

April

Having bought tickets almost a year in advance, myself, my mum and my sister headed for a weekend in London, topped off by seeing the popular play based on J.K. Rowling's wizarding world.

It was all I expected and so much more and I couldn't recommend it enough if you're a HP fan. Also, make sure to take a trip to the Minalima store around the corner from the theatre, to see all the original artwork done for the films.

Flags waving in blue sky at Glastonbury Festival 2017

Glastonbury Festival

June

Each and every year, this place gets better and better. Without a doubt my favourite place in the world; Glastonbury 2017 brought me the opportunity to see the Foo Fighters live for the first time ever (cheers Dave for keeping both legs intact!)

Here's my vlog and photo diary of this year's festival if you didn't get chance to go this year.

Four friends at a Summer wedding

Charlotte and Phil's Wedding

July

My best friend of many years actually became a WIFE. What the heck.

Even now it's hard to believe I'm at an age where marriage is on the cards but I could not have been happier to share my day with the beautiful couple. It was a lovely weekend all in all and we even got the sunshine they'd been hoping for!

Two friends standing in front of the Leeds Festival sign

Leeds Festival

August

After I proclaimed a couple of years ago that I would never camp at this festival again, I spontaneously bid on two guest camp tickets at a charity auction and it was the best decision I made this year.

My best gig pal and I had the best time I've ever had at this festival; from swaying to Bear's Den and finally going on the big wheel, to band member spotting in the guest bar area and dancing heavily to 70s disco. Lots of fun, lots of laughs and plenty of cider.


leanne

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BOOKS OF THE YEAR, 2017//

The Power and Game of Thrones books on a Christmas present

The Power

Naomi Alderman

An absolute must-read fantasy which draws on current socio-political issues in gender equality. It's an eye-opener and a page-turner to boot.

Read the full review of this book here if you're thinking of giving it a try.

Caraval

Stephanie Garber

I gave a brief review of this in this post over the Summer but it is absolutely the stand out of this year for me.

Full of other-wordly fantasy and intriguing characters, it is the ultimate escape from reality and nostalgic of the Harry Potter and Narnia era of books I read when I was younger. The sequel 'Legendary' is set to be released in May 2018 (more info from the author here) which I'll be pre-ordering for sure!


A Song of Fire and Ice

George R.R. Martin

If I hadn't read this and enjoyed it so much, I would probably never have started the popular Game of Thrones TV series (which also made last month's favourites post.) There's a huge amount of intricacies in the characters and plot throughout this book which is why it made it's way to the screen.

As always, I'm a 'read it first' kinda gal and I couldn't recommend picking this book up if you're a GoT fan. There's always a much more interesting character arc in books because there's more detail, far more than could possibly be portrayed in the series.

Flawed

Cecelia Ahern

In the July book review here, I've briefly covered why I enjoyed this book and it gave me a renewed love for Cecelia Ahern's writing.

I've yet to read the sequel but it is available now, so grab both to read over the Christmas holidays if you're looking for something to get lost in.


What books have made your year?


leanne


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THINGS I HATE ABOUT CHRISTMAS //

Christmas Songs


Unpopular opinion: I am not a fan of Christmas songs.

There's a tendency to play the same Christmas songs over and over again, covered by different artists and I feel we can afford to be a little bit more varied. I get tired of Mariah before December even begins, in all honesty.

My personal exceptions however, are 'Fairytale of New York' (obviously), 'Driving Home for Christmas' and if you haven't heard it before, 'Dubstep Snowman' is definitely worth a listen.

Not getting enough time off


Although I mentioned getting time off was one of the best things in 'Things I Love about Christmas', if you're in retail or hospitality then you may have disagreed!

I know in some professions you won't get the typical Christmas period off of work, however hopefully you still get the chance to enjoy a Christmas dinner with your family and friends at another point, or still feel the festive spirit when you're on shift.

Boxing Day sales


If you're that person queuing outside at Next at 5am then YOU ARE DOING CHRISTMAS WRONG. There is nothing I can buy from a shop that is worth my time standing in a queue over the Christmas period.

Luckily for me, I won't be working Boxing Day this year but for those who are I wish you lots of patience and pleasant customers. If you do need to venture out for a browse or a shop, please remember to treat everyone working with lots of kindness, even if they don't have in store what you're after - it's Christmas for goodness sake!

The long January

Often, there's an early pay day in order for people to have money in time for Christmas day and as great as this is, it does mean January can be a five week long (and very poor) ordeal.

The first month of the year can be a little bit miserable; cold weather, the festivities are done and we all head back to work. I'm sure 2018 will be a good 'un but I'm not ready for the end of this year, yet!

TV Soap Christmas specials

Would it be Christmas if someone from Hollyoaks didn't decide they wanted to kill an ex pushing them off a rooftop, or a pub-goer in Eastenders was killed falling from a ferris wheel? Apparently not.

There's a lot of TV specials I enjoy at Christmas and I'm very partial to the Harry Potter marathon on ITV every year, but the soaps I can definitely do without. I think my mum would probably disagree though!


Is there anything you really dislike about Christmas time?


leanne

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CHRISTMAS CARDIGAN OF DREAMS //

Fashion blogger from Leeds wearing a vintage cardigan
Super close up of embellishment on a vintage cardigan

Vintage fairs and charity shops are my number one when it comes to clothes shopping.

I've had so many great bargains (including some smashing festival Levi shorts) over the past few years but this is absolutely one of my favourites. Whilst on the hunt for a black chunky knit for this Winter, I found this incredible number at adVintageous Vintage Fair at Kirkgate Market.

Fashion blogger wearing vintage cardigan next to a Christmas tree
Close up of a black and gold vintage cardigan

With an incredibly thick lining, chunky shoulder pads and some fab sleeve embellishments I had to grab it. Luckily for me, it was also half the marked price (so I ended up paying a mere £7.50!) for my cardigan of dreams.

It's definitely a statement piece and I'm going to be rocking it all season.

Black and gold embellished cardigan


leanne

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DECEMBER RESOLUTIONS //

Keep active

I've done a good job of staying active over the past month, so even with the inevitable Christmas puds and treats I'm going to be aiming to keep up with fitness classes and 10,000 steps.

There's a LOT of things happening in December which can make it tricky to go to the gym regularly, follow a schedule or being available to
go to classes when I want to. However, I'm going to try my best to fit them in around enjoying general seasonal celebrations, which is all we can do! At the end of the day: Christmas prosecco > HIIT.

Depop errything

I need to get rid of so much in my wardrobe. I've explained a little more about this app in this post here, but basically, it's a great way to declutter and earn a little extra Christmas dosh.

Blogmas!

Yep - it's happening. This is actually my 5th blogmas post and considering it's been published on the 5th December, you can assume it's going well so far.

I mentioned on my Twitter that I'm giving it a go this year but instead of 24 posts revolving around Christmas specifically, I'm posting all sorts of things in the run up to Santa's arrival. This will include posts from the past year I never got round to finishing (other bloggers will vouch when I say my drafts list needs a severe culling), various posts I've wanted to do but never got started and of course, would it be blogmas without ANY Christmas themed posts?

Check out the 'blogmas' tag to keep up with all my posts so far.

Throw myself into festivities

Working in retail means Christmas is super busy, so I'm excited to embrace it this year and use it as an opportunity to gear myself up for the end of the month celebrations.

I'm looking forward to gift giving and eating lots with friends, annual pre-Christmas catch ups and getting cosy in the flat now my tree is well and truly decorated.


Do you have something you want to achieve this month?


leanne

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JINGLE AND MINGLE with SALON SUCCESS //

Marula Oil brush, style card and Kenra and Paul Mitchell products

The wonderful ladies of Salon Success UK invited me to this year's Jingle & Mingle event and as always, it was a fantastic night. Not only did we get to sample some delicious food in Leeds but I met some new faces, caught up with other bloggers and we were all spoilt with lots of lovely haircare gifts.

Paul Mitchell Neon Haircare Set

Close up of Paul Mitchell Neon haircare set and stickers

Paul Mitchell usually have some great campaigns and 2017 is no different. Since the event I've used some of these PM products and let me tell you, they are ideal 'treat yo'self' purchases or very kind Christmas stocking fillers for others.

Bright, bold and it has STICKERS. The 'Neon' gift set includes shampoo (sugar cleanse), conditioner (sugar rinse) and straightening cream (sugar cream) and as the names of each would suggest, smells incredibly sweet!

This set would make a wonderful gift for a younger person, as the campaign it stands behind helps The Diana Award and Stand Up To Bullying, charities who play a hugely important part in putting an end to bullying in schools, college and society. The products are fab and the addition of the stickers and handy coin purse make it a great teenage present idea.

Marula Oil brush and Colorwash shampoo

The Marula Oil brush is absolutely a game changer and by far my favourite product we were shown - if you're part of the Tangle Teezer brigade then please, STEP DOWN.

The brush bristles are stronger than a standard teasing brush and I still find it very easy to run it through damp and dry hair; it stays matt-free for far longer. Ultimately it looks pretty, it doesn't tear my hair out and you know what? It makes me really, really happy.

Marula Oil brush and Gem Lites colorwash shampoo

Alongside this I've been trying out the Colorwash by Gem Lites, which is actually a shampoo with toner. Coming in a huge range of colours, it actually helps add some colour to your natural or dyed hair over several washes. As I'm currently sporting a subtle ombre, this one has added some golden tones to my existing blonde and I'm loving the warmer look over Winter.

As it's a strong cleansing shampoo, it can leave your hair feeling a little dry so I've been using it in combination with the Kenra conditioner (more on this below!)

Kenra Professional haircare products

We were also treated to a beautiful Kenra Professional and Platinum set, which smells incredible and these products are a fab, premium gift option for Christmas.

The 'Afformation' hairspray is super and doesn't weigh down fine hair, which is something I really struggle to find. I found the 'Revive' conditioner in particular to be a huge winner. It's a thick consistency and both the shampoo/conditioner are advertised to reduce breakages, which is a life saver of prone-to-tangling hair!



Overall, there are an awful lot of positives about the products I've tried, and a huge thanks to Salon Success and the brands for a super event.

Let me know if you've used any of these before, or if you're thinking about gifting them this Christmas!

leanne

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EARNING EXTRA MONEY ONLINE //

I don't know about you but I love a good bargain. Whether it's a free coffee or 50% off a new restaurant in town, I always keep an eye out for offers if it's something I'd normally pay for anyway.

Particularly in the run up to Christmas, it's nice to have a big of extra cash to spend on the things you'd like to treat yourself (or loved ones) to. The internet offers lots of ways for us to do that - spoiler alert, I'm not talking about getting your kit off with a webcam - so I've pulled together my top tips and how I manage to be frugal in December.

Swagbucks

This can cover a lot of things, from cash back from shopping online to watching videos for free 'swag bucks' - I get most of mine from filling out surveys and I've managed to amass various £10 vouchers so far, so I'm certainly feeling the benefits.

Using my referral link: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/leamarieee, you will receive a bonus 300 SB when you get started. I also get a referral bonus and a percentage of what you make, at no loss to you and feel free to get in touch with any questions on getting up and running. You can then refer your own friends and family to do the same and spread the love and cash!

I actually used another referral link to sign up myself, so I'm hugely glad someone else gets to benefit when I use it for no extra effort *polishes halo*

Depop

For those of you who are done with eBay or never really got stuck into it, Depop is one of the many apps around now that make it easy to sell clothes online. Not only have I sold quite a few items on here (hence getting a fair amount of money) I've also found some great second hand bargains too.

Tips: Take some good, clear pictures of the items and where possible, add a picture of somebody wearing it. Remember to cover your actual postage cost too, there's no point in adding items for a ridiculously low price if it doesn't actually gain you any kind of profit, or it costs you more to do so.

TopCashback


This is not an uncommon way to make some money and this gives you a percentage of money back every time you shop online. There are a huge amount of retailers that participate in this, so it's super useful for Christmas present shopping right now!

Again if you'd like to check it out, either head directly to the site or use my referral link here: https://www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/leamarieee (I get a referral bonus which is no additional effort for you, but I would appreciate hugely!)

MoneySavingExpert


This website is more commonly known and is full of financial and money-saving tips. Martin Lewis appears on TV fairly often and has become quite the point of wisdom when it comes to the best ways to save.

Signing up to the email means you'll get all the latest offers and if you have spare time on your hands, it's good to take a look on ways you could handle your finances a little better.


How do you make money online?


Hopefully this post helps some people get some extra cash this Christmas. I've included a couple of my own referral links above, but of course, you can also head directly to these websites and sign up by yourself if preferred.

Let me know if you find any of these work for you, or if you've any other websites I should check out.

leanne

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NOVEMBER FAVOURITES //

The months have been absolutely whizzing by this year so I haven't done many of these at all, but here's a random assortment of things that I've enjoyed a fair amount over the last few weeks.

View of Leeds City skyline with sunset

Game of Thrones

Yes, I'm way behind but yes, I'm finally on that bandwagon. I read 'A Song of Ice and Fire' on holiday this year and after the closing chapter on Daenerys (Mother of Dragons and absolute sass-pot) I had to watch the popular box set.

I'm just about to start season 3 so I'm hoping to see:

A) Seeing more of Daenerys be a bad-ass
and B) Less favourite characters dying

...but I won't hold my breath on the latter.

Velvet

Shirts, dresses, blazers - you name it.

If you don't yet own anything velvet then what are you doing? Get on ASOS this second and find your statement Christmas party piece. I tried to rock a bright pink velvet skirt when I was eighteen, to everyone else's embarrassment, so I'm very happy to see it return as a huge fashion trend (and only a little miffed at the fact only now everyone has realised it looks great.)

Christmas party season, here I come!


Aerial Yoga

I ventured to my first class this month and I had great hopes that combining two of my fave pastimes would be a winner. Happily, I was not disappointed and managed a few basic stretches, holds and even an inversion or two.

Over the next couple of weeks I have a few more classes to attend where I'm hoping to work on some handstands (!)  so I'll be sharing more with you.

Less social media

There's a huge amount of negativity online. As much as we try to see the positives, it usually saddens me to see the amount of genuinely ill educated and disgusting people making rude comments online. I've spent far less time on Twitter (not entirely on purpose, if I'm honest) recently and actually it's been a great relief. 

I've also spent more time posting pictures on my fitness Instagram (rather than the blog/personal) as that's been my main focus and it's really paying off for me, personally.There's a silly expectation of bloggers to post all the time, have a desire increase engagement and make everything tip top and pretty. That's not reality and sometimes, it's not even what we enjoy.

Stepping back and making sure I snap the photos of things I'm proud of achieving or things that are actually bloody interesting has given me new perspective.

Market shopping

As part of a combined healthy living and eco-friendly kick, I'm aiming to start shopping more at local grocers and marketplaces. Sometimes (not always, admittedly) it can be cheaper and it's far better to know you're supporting a local trader.

Thinking more about where your money is going is important and in return, I guarantee the quality of the food items you buy will be so much better. I've also had some bargains in the way of flowers, fabric and stocking fillers from Leeds Kirkgate Market - so there's something for everyone! I'll definitely be doing this more often in the coming year.


What have you been loving recently?


leanne

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THINGS I LOVE ABOUT CHRISTMAS //

Christmas present in front of a decorated tree

Pinch, punch first day of the month!

The 1st of December means it's officially appropriate to GET MERRY. I've opened the first door of my advent calendar, tonight we're putting up the tree and I'm even having another stab at Blogmas - so what better way to start than telling you everything I love about Christmas.

Getting time off

This is a popular reason, even for those who put on their Grinch hats and sulk at the first sight of the Coca-Cola truck. In most cases, workers get some days off for Christmas. Even working in retail has it's perks, in that most stores are closed on Christmas Day (and New Year's Day, if you're lucky!)

Despite January feeling like the longest month, most are able to go back to work after spending solid days with friends and family, feeling content and ready for a new year.

Feeling cosy

From the candles and Christmas lights to a roaring log fire, there's a surefire way to make you feel super cosy at home in Winter. Amp it up by adding a hot chocolate with marshmallows (and the Strictly Come Dancing final, maybe) on a cold Saturday night and you're on to a winner.

Wrapping up in a chunky knit or big coat is also the ultimate pleasure when it's freezing cold outside.  Then grab yourself a blanket scarf (like this one) and whip out the wellies that have been hiding in your wardrobe for most of the year.

The food

Of course, nothing says festive like a Christmas dinner. A good roast is one of my favourites (especially if made by my mum!) but in addition, there are seasonal flavours in every coffee shop and advent chocolate for 24 days straight.

Don't get me started on German Market specialties like bratwurst, cinnamon pretzels and pannfkuchen (crepes!) which are also the first stop on an annual visit.

Wrapping presents

As much as I like finding the right present for people, it's quite difficult to think of presents for everybody and to be honest, buying them isn't my favourite part of the season.

However, when it comes to wrapping I am ALL about getting a Christmas film on, sipping on a glass of prosecco and going to town with decorations. I'm awaiting the last of my presents to arrive and surprisingly, I'll be very much pre-prepared for a change!


What are your favourite things about Christmas?


leanne

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