Christmas decor trends in our house

And other Christmassy things!

With the month of December almost upon us, some of us may be thinking about digging out the well-worn and much loved decorations and dusting off the tinsel. Yes, it’s that time of year again.

I feel I can mention the C word (No not the really rude one! That’s just wrong!), as it’s almost December and only a few more weeks to go before we all start to overindulge and go into overdrive at how much we’ve spent… really? That much… again! But I budgeted this year! You know the drill.

I’m planning on fighting my way into the garage this weekend hopefully and will drag what I can out and see what is still useable. Much of our tat has been about for years and is looking a little beyond its best. But, sometimes that’s the way I like it. It means it has a story to tell, it’s seen a few Christmases and many changes along the way.

I am trying to be a little more eco-friendly and using what we have rather than buying new. I am using a fake tree – I would love a real tree, and have had a few in the past, but if I’m honest the fake ones we have will have already had their carbon footprint and it would seem such a waste if we binned them. They are a few years old so I’m hoping to keep them in good condition for as long as possible to minimise the damage they would and have done. They were expensive in the first place and are good quality so I’ll continue to use them for as long as I can. It’s better not to cut a tree down anyway, much better to have a potted one and grow it on – there’s lots of schemes out there where you can buy potted trees and when they get too big or after 7 years (assuming they are still alive) then they can go back to the supplier to be planted in the ground and you then start the cycle again. Cutting a tree down doesn’t always mean eco.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

What are the Christmas Trends for this year?

What I do try to do each year is see how the Christmas trends pan out and identify what is predicted for the year and use what I already have in storage and adapt it to suit. Looking at the predicted trends and what has been in the shops for what seems an age now, I know we have quite a few items that I can use this year. I’m not a minimalist when it comes to decorating a Christmas tree. I go for the more is more approach. I like it stuffed full of baubles, silly decorations and of course family heirlooms. This goes against the grain of the less is more trend some have predicted, a more stripped back approach for this year it seems.

The rustic, handcrafted trend is very much in this year, so of your love crafting little handmade gems will come in handy this year if you’re big on handmade. If you’re not a crafter you can still get the look but you’ll have to buy it and there are some super glamorous decorations out there, albeit made with more natural materials such as wood and berries!

There’s also a love of all things DIY still and this means plenty of garlands with dried fruit and foliage, going au naturel. I think the idea behind the DIY trend is due to last year 2020 being a year where we couldn’t see family and friends and do the ‘group’ activities we perhaps might normally have done and so this is a symbol of a new normal and getting back to some of the fun times we may have had in past Christmases.

I have to admit to failing at setting a perfect table display in our house. We have a small, tatty old table that fits the four of us and not much else. We have been meaning to invest in a bigger one but just never got round to it. We’ll probably look to getting a new one next year, we’ve so much on at the moment we just don’t have the time to go furniture shopping. So, I usually keep it simple with our nice John Lewis white crockery and our posh Oneida cutlery set (the stuff that only comes out for special occasions, I’m too clumsy to use it everyday!). I use a simple tablecloth and runner just to make it look a little more festive but that’s about it really. I dream of a huge table with lots of room to create a really elaborate display. I have a friend who puts on the most amazing table displays when she holds her dinner parties, and I’m sure Christmas is no different at her house, she puts so much thought into everything from the wine to the food to the decor. I would love to be able to do such things I admit, but we just don’t live that lifestyle. We are simple folk and rarely have guests over.

It looks like the colour trends are following clothing colours at this time of year, lots of burnished berry tones and natural earthy muted tones paired with gold and bronze. These are many of the colours I use each year anyway, and as we have a huge amount of decorations (7 Christmas trees, yes, you read correctly, 7!) this will not be hard for me to put together a scheme. I try to vary the colour schemes each year although clearly I can’t use colour schemes that will clash with the current wall colours or any of the permanent colour schemes in the house, but I do like to harmonise as best I can. I do let the kids go wild with their trees though, as kids should be allowed to be creative in my view.

Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

What else will I be doing?

I will be using my new anniversary/Christmas gift mixer this christmas to make some cookies and I think I will get the kids to decorate them, they can use their imaginations, you never now we may end up with another day glo colour on the cookies (long story, for another time maybe). We will probably put a few in for close friends and family presents and also for just munching whilst watching cheesy Christmas movies.

Talking of movies, there are a few films we always watch at Christmas, we were put off last year as I don’t remember Die Hard being on mainstream telly. Christmas isn’t Christmas without Die Hard! I did watch Love Actually though which is also on my list of must see Christmas Movies. What’s your favourite CHristmas movie? Here’s a list of mine, in no particular order:

  • The Holiday
  • Love Actually
  • Last Christmas
  • Lethal Weapon 1987
  • Ghostbusters 1989
  • Gremlins
  • White Christmas 1954
  • Die Hard
  • Muppets Christmas Carol
  • Bridget Jones Diary
  • Bad Santa
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Deck the Halls
  • Jingle All the Way
  • Christmas Chronicles 1 & 2

I’ve quite possibly already peaked on the Christmas movies front as there are loads on daily at the moment and I dip in and out occasionally. If I peak too early I get a bit Bah Humbug, but I’m slowly starting to get into the spirit of things. We popped into a garden centre the other day on our travels and I was getting more enthused by the decorations as I was walking round. I did almost buy something but decided I probably wouldn’t have enough room in the boot along with the luggage from our weekend at the folks!

We booked the Panto this year too. The kids haven’t been to the panto and we were looking at perhaps booking The Play That Goes Wrong, but after the kids watching it over and over on iPlayer I’m all ‘The Play That Goes Wrong-ed out!’ We are really looking forward to spending some quality family time together with a few big belly laughs along the way. He’s behind you… Oh no he’s not!

We are not expecting any visitors to ours this year, although my parents do pop over for boxing day occasionally. We will do the trip to see the kids grandparents down South of which we all thoroughly enjoy visiting. We will take the bigger car this time, it’s got a bigger boot. I need say no more 🤣. It may all be a little different this year all depending on my mum’s recovery from her big operation. I’m hoping she’ll be able to make it to ours as I really enjoy having them both over. I’m lucky to have both my parents still around and hope it stays that way for a long time. It must be hard for some who’ve lost parents, especially if they have lost them recently or if they had a particularly close relationship with them. My heart goes out to you if this is you, you never forget them. This time of year can be tough for many and my thoughts are with them.

The light show!

Every year hubby usually does a big light display in both front and back gardens for the kids but the past couple of years has toned it down considerably. When we used to live at our old house the lights were really bright and you could see them from the car park at the back of the house, I have to say the garden glowed! This year with all the things we have on we won’t have time for a big display so will keep it simple and pop up a couple of strings of lights in the garden. It’s just time that is keeping us from doing a big display. It takes a whole weekend to sort it all out. Time we don’t have free this year. It seems to have come around so fast.

Are you doing anything special for Christmas? Comment or visit us on the facebook page, I’d love to know what you are up to this Christmas.

Take care, stay safe.

Becks Xo

Is it really all about the likes and stats?

I’ve found myself becoming more and more concerned about the amount of engagement I have and focusing on my stats of my page recently. I mean let’s face it, I’m putting myself out there and opening myself up to the world so why not, right?

But I’m finding myself becoming quite anxious about it, checking the stats on an almost minute by minute basis. I’m becoming almost addicted to checking and for me it’s a concern, I teach kids about screen addiction and social media issues and yet I’m now following that path!

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

I’m not sure why I’m worried about the stats, perhaps it’s because I wrote a post that I thought might have appealed to more people and it didn’t, perhaps it’s because I felt I’d laid myself bare in my honesty and now I’m wondering if I’ve done the right thing, perhaps I expected more engagement, perhaps I did something people didn’t expect and readers were put off, should I have paid more attention to SEO as bloggers are often told to do to maximise their readership and engagement, perhaps people just didn’t get to read it, maybe I posted at the wrong time? Who knows there are so many what-ifs and could haves that I’m slightly overwhelmed by it.

Part of the issue I think though, is that I have been inconsistent in posting. For me this is a personal blog, about me and my life, so I don’t post every day, week or month – my life just isn’t that exciting! I am a busy mum, teacher, crafter and blogger, I’m perpetually knackered, so something has to give somewhere at some point. I post when I feel something important or useful happens and this goes against blogging advice, but there are so few blogs out there that aren’t out to make money that I wonder if that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I rarely do recommendations on anything and when I do I do it because it’s genuine and not because I’m getting paid for it, I switch off reading most blogs that have constant ad pop ups and so this doesn’t appeal to me. I like my little blog because it’s clean and free of the interruptions of everyday internet bombardment.

I know from looking at the blog and stats that the only comments I’m receiving are spam and they’re filtered out anyway, and it seems that only a handful of followers are commenting on the Facebook page and they’re usually close friends. Maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board with the blog and social media and make some changes.

Am I going to be going against what I originally set out to so?  Probably, but we evolve and I suppose my little slice of the internet has to evolve too but I honestly don’t want it to. I’m happy with change, but not when it’s forced. I’m more of a natural evolver.

I get so wrapped up in what I’m writing that maybe perhaps I don’t focus on the structure of the post enough, I certainly don’t plan the post, everything I write is written from the heart and perhaps it comes across as a bit rambling, and loses its intention. There is so much information on the internet about ‘how to write the perfect post’ its information overload. And maybe I don’t want to write the ‘perfect post’ maybe I just enjoy writing and getting my personal story out there.

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

I’m not even sure how to plan a blog post for my type of blog. I mean it’s a little slice of my life and how I manage things. I don’t want to churn out just anything to meet a statistical requirement but in my head I’m thinking the opposite – reader engagement, get the likes, get the comments, post, post, post! My fear is I’ll lose the feel of the blog and it’ll become another blah blog. How some people manage to churn out post after post day in day out is beyond me. Do they not sleep?! They can’t have a life surely? Or maybe they are just so incredibly organised they have planned everything months in advance like a professional!

I remember when I started out during the pandemic lockdown 2020, I researched online about how to start a blog, I grabbed as many planning tools as I could and filled them all in planned to the hilt and then put it all to one side and forgot about it. I do dip in and out of the pack every so often but I don’t give it my complete focus I admit. I found it easier to maintain a consistent posting schedule and there was plenty to talk about with the pandemic and all. But now were back to the new normal life has become busier (work, kids, home, crafting and blogging = busy, busy, busy) and it’s not quite so interesting. I’m not off on jolly’s out all the time and neither have I been on a posh cruise or exotic holiday so it’s all about the day to day stuff going on which can be a bit… well… dull really.

I’m not sure what you want to read, I don’t know what you find interesting or not about the blog so it’s difficult to write interesting things and insights for you. I’ve been told in the past not to change what I’m doing, I’m just not sure anymore, I don’t know what to do.

I guess it may be time to re-evaluate and look at what to do for the future with Mylifeandstyleover40.com. If you have any ideas (keep them clean!) pop a comment below, or on the Facebook page.

Take care, stay safe

Becks xo

Happy New Year

I was hoping that this was going to be a good 2021, but as I write we have been thrown back into a third lockdown here in the UK. That said there is still an opportunity to make it a little more positive.

The start of a new year usually heralds a host of new years resolutions that will most likely get thrown out by the end of February, sooner if you’re me! I usually make a token gesture of exercising more, losing weight, budgeting better… the list goes on.

This year I’m not setting any major goals, I think for many of us it’ll be another year of living the new normal, with a lockdown or two in place and a bit of a wait for the vaccine to come our way, but all that said I do think small goals are something we can aim for at the moment.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

What am I going to set as my small resolutions?

That’s the big question, especially as I said I’m not good at sticking to them. So, whilst I know I need to lose a lot of weight I’m starting with just 1 stone. One is a magic number. To me it starts things off. makes it easier to breakdown large goals. I am also planning to save a little more money.

How am I going to attempt to lose the weight?

By not wasting my money on the usual weight loss methods! In the past I’ve spent a fortune on Weight Watchers, Slimming World, what was Rosemary Connelly, diet books galore and even Paul McKenna. Some were small successes but most were a waste of money. When it takes over a year to lose a stone and a half there’s something not right somewhere.

I know what I need to do, I’m not stupid. Just lazy. I’m not a huge fan of the sweet stuff, I’m a savoury fan. Which also means that crisps and salty goodies are not friends with my hips, bottom, thighs, oh what the hell, just about anywhere really!!!

I think that if we use a modicum of common sense small goals can be achieved in a sensible timescale. I have decided I am going to follow some very simple and basic guidelines:

check portion size

half of the plate veggies

quarter of the plate carbs

quarter of the plate protein of some sort

keep snack foods to a minimum and making sure they are healthy-ish

drink a more water

It’s all about moderation, it’s ok to have a little treat occasionally, just not too often. I am aware that I do need to have a realistic mindset about it all. I am like most people I should imagine, we all want results fast. But, doing things fast doesn’t always last. If you are anything like me you will end up putting on the weight you lost and some extra to boot!

My main problem is lack of exercise. I can be on my feet all day as a teacher but with the Covid-19 pandemic I have started to teach more from my desk and keeping my distance from my students, which doesn’t always make for amazing lessons. Needs must. Now that we’re in lockdown I will need to make sure I get out and walk a little with the kids and at least get some fresh air.

I will start slowly I’m not built for Marathons 🤣

What about my other resolution?

I didn’t want to set a lot of resolutions as I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed, especially with all of the extra pressures of another lockdown, so my other resolution is to save a little more. I thought long and hard about it and have come across what looks like a fairly easy was to save just over £1000 by the end of the year. Ok, it’s not big money but it’s enough to get through the difficult patch after Christmas which some find themselves in.

The general principle of the was to save is to start week one with £1, then in week two double it. Week three you put in £3 and so on. So after five weeks of saving you have £15, by ten weeks you have £55. As I said it’s not much but it’s easy to save these small amounts. Carry on saving these regular amounts and by twenty weeks in you’ll have £210. Forty weeks in you’ll have £820 saved away. Fifty weeks in, almost the end of the year a lovely £1275 sitting in your bank account.

I will admit it gets harder throughout the year to save as the numbers get bigger each week, week fifty is a whopping £50 to put away, but there is nothing to say that you can’t juggle it about a little and save the bigger amounts when you can afford it. I would just keep a tally/table/record of when and how much you’ve put away to make it easier to keep track of.

I know I will be finding it hard on occasion as I’m only being paid for the lessons I teach at the moment as I don’t qualify for flexible furlough so my income will be significantly reduced. But I am hoping once schools are back and things settle down late Spring I will be in a much better position to save the larger amounts.

I will of course be aiming to save as much as I can throughout the year but thought the scheme I found was quite simple to do. If you try it let me know how you get on. Remember you can always post a comment in the comments bit below or on my facebook/mylifeandstyleover40 page. Join in and get the conversation started. Remember, be constructive I’m not about being nasty here it’s a positive blog and that’s how I want to keep it.

I’ve waffled on for a bit so I’ll leave you for now, but do let me know what your resolutions are and how you get on…

Take care, stay safe.

Becks

Xo

Christmas

Ah, Christmas. Love it or hate it you can’t escape it. with just less than two weeks to go it really is upon us.

Collage of our Christmas trees, image owned by Rebecca Palmer 2020

Everyone who knows me will know I really do enjoy Christmas. I usually have a bit of Christmas burn out mid November as I’ve binged out on Christmas films by then, but bounce back within a week full of plans and gusto on where to put the tree and which colour scheme are we going for this year, which to be fair is a no brainer in the living room as we always have a tree covered in warm soft white lights, soft toy decorations, handmade delights and family heirlooms (or soon to be family heirlooms!). Thankfully my daily décor in the room is usually neutral enough to handle the red, white and greyish Christmas theme I go for, although I’m glad we went with the box green on the walls this time it really makes the Christmas decorations sing this year!

Last year we had a green, pink and purple in the kitchen/diner as we had some funky Orla Kiely style print curtains with a purple and green colourway, but this year its changed a little as we have a navy and blush pink colour scheme. I let the kids go wild on the tree in the diner as we have loads of baubles and I wanted them to feel it was their tree, despite them always being involved in the family tree decorating in the living room. So this year its a pink and purple colourway with the odd bit of blue tinsel and a few blue baubles placed several to a branch, mostly at kid height! I resisted the urge to remodel their efforts. Ok… I admit I let it go for a couple of days and then did a slight bit of rearranging. Only a little bit though, in my defence there were eight baubles on one branch and the tree was starting to lean a little!

I didn’t get as enthusiastic this year as I normally do. Maybe it’s the general ‘feel’ of this year, but I have felt a little ‘un-Christmassy’ on occasion, that’s not to say I’m completely Bah Humbug, just a touch here and there. What I am aware of is that not everyone is happy about Christmas and the pressures and expectations that are pushed onto us this time of the year. It’s not just this year either. For some the pressures and expectations for us all to be the perfect family, have the perfect time, spend vast amounts of money we may not have, cook the perfect meal, panic buying the perfect present, dealing with crowds of people in shops that we really don’t want to be in but can’t justify giving our money to conglomerates like Amazon (I’ve nowt against them for the odd item or two but would rather shop small and local if possible). The constant pressure from Instagram feeds where the perfect Christmas décor starts way back in September so by the time Christmas arrives it’s already become a pressure cooker of emotions and stress. I used to really like Instagram but sadly there are just too many fakers out there making ordinary lives a nightmare.

For some the sheer thought of having to put on a brave face for others is exhausting, leaving them hiding away from the season completely. There may be many reasons why Christmas can leave a bitter taste in the mouth and sprouts aren’t necessarily guilty! For those who have had a bereavement at this time of year they are reminded of it at every step. I can’t imagine what they must be having to do to keep it all together. We shouldn’t judge others for not perhaps enjoying Christmas as much as us. Just like anything we don’t know their story, or what their reasoning is. We are all individuals and need to be supported.

We also need to remember that not all religions celebrate this time of year the way Christians do. I’m not a particularly religious person I’ll admit but I still like to celebrate Christmas in my own little way. I have Muslim friends who put up a tree and give presents and send cards as they like to reciprocate at this time of the year.

So whether you enjoy this time of year or not, it doesn’t matter. You are you, I am me and we may chose to celebrate or not in our different ways.

I’m off to do some wonderfully lovingly made crafts to give as gifts… er… no I’m not. I’m off to buy someone else’s beautifully crafted items 😉

Take care, stay safe.

Becks

xo

My favourite Bloggers

I’m new to the blogging game as you know and I am in awe of those who are able to pull off a super clean, professional look to their blogs and also be a joy to read. There are lots of bloggers out there who claim to have made thousands in their first two months of blogging, but the reality of this is far from the truth. It takes years to be successful in the blogging world and it takes a lot of hard work – even if writing is your passion and you are super good at it. It takes a lot of time to research even a short post and then you have to write it up, and then check it and check it again!

There are lots of bloggers who fulfil the clean professional joy to read category for me. They aren’t all in the same arena either. I follow a variety of different bloggers as I have lots of different likes and interests. Here are a few of my favourites, maybe you might like them too.

(Please note that I do not receive any money or perks from these bloggers/websites so feel free to click away! I like these for what they are not for what they could pay if I were affiliated with them).

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

That’s Not My Age aka Alyson Walsh – this is a brilliantly put together blog on all manner of fashions and other things from another fabulous woman over 40. Alyson is an jumpsuit wearing now convert of skirts and has been featured in broadsheet newspapers and magazines alike. Always worth a read. She pops up on my Facebook feed regularly, so it’s a joy to read her acerbic witty approach to being over 40!

Not Dressed as Lamb – You’ll recognise Catherine Summers from the L’Oreal Advert on telly, with her beautiful red hair and equally fab style full of colour, you can’t miss her! I like her upfront and honest approach to style and being over a certain age. Her love for colour and quirky hats is abound and she writes in a truthful and inciteful way. Well worth following in my book!

Scary Mommy – very american in it’s approach but I love this blog so much for the straightforward and very honest, if sometimes scary, ‘lifebites’. I occasionally have a eureka moment when reading posts on this blog. Very informative and honest.

The Londoner – A nice little blog by Rosie who writes about her life and travels. Initially starting out as a way to keep in contact with close friends and family her blog soon grew and now she has an extended family all over the world.

Forever Amber is another blog by a beautiful redhead. She calls her blog The Awkward Girls Guide to Life. Her Awkward Guides are a must have read. They really make sense to us awkward girls.

Hayley Hall aka London Beauty Queen talks about beauty, life and a host of other delights. She’s young but knowledgeable in all things beauty and is a great read over a cuppa. It’s no lie Hayley likes the best things in life and clearly has the budget or affiliate relationship to be able to do so, but her approach is honest and her experience in the industry clearly shines through.

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs is a blog I have recently started reading. It’s a simple lifestyle blog from a mum with two young boys. Her journey hasn’t been easy but she writes all about it in her blog. Worth a quick read over a cup of tea.

Midlifechic is a fabulous blog written by the brilliant Nikki Garnet who is just peeking at the other side of 50 and has a great uptake on life and looking good. Her articles are well written and well researched. A very good read indeed. Nikki’s lockdown analysis was interesting, and how she managed during it.

Pushing the Moon written by Catherine who has dreams of being in her words; “Norfolk’s version of Martha Stewart, but in reality, I am probably more Kat Slater crossed with Ma Larkin”. She has a nice approach to her writing and as with many of the blogs I’ve mentioned always a nice pick me up read over a nice cuppa.

The Twinkle Diaries is a heartfelt blog originally set up to document the beginning of a new family with twins on the way seven years ago. Suffice to say things have moved on a bit in those seven years but the essence of the blog is still the same.

The Skint Dad – Full of useful and sometimes quite brilliant money saving tips from a man’s point of view. I have found this blog to be absolutely brilliant in its simplicity. Another must read. This blog was established in 2013 and has been growing ever since. It’s now one of the top money saving financial blogs in the UK.

Hurrah for Gin – just bloody hilarious! Cracks me up every time I read it. Probably one of the more well known of the blogs on here. But I can;t say anything more than if you haven’t read it and don’t get easily offended by a bit of naughty language then READ IT! But make sure you have your TENA pads to hand, you’ll need them!!!

So, if you have a spare few minutes, put the kettle on, or grab a glass of ‘vino’ and pop over to check these brilliant blogs out. It only takes a couple of clicks. All of these bloggers are knowledgeable and are always a good read. Don’t forget to leave a comment😊

Just a short post for now, take care, stay safe.

Becks

xo