Image of a pink rose and a polaroid style photo with a pink background and the words 'Be Happy' spelled out in pastry. Photo sitting on top of a marble worktop covered in colourful sprinkles.

New year, new beginnings.

I can’t believe it’s 2019!

How the hell did we get here?! As in, how it is already the year 2019, and where on earth did 2018 go?! Last year flew by. Insanely quickly. It was a year of ups and downs. Like many years are. There was lots of happiness, and as is life, some sadness too.

And on top of that our home was hit by redundancy for the second time in two years. This time for Mark. It felt like another kick in the gut for us. Plus it made the fact my job was only until the end of the year a bit more daunting. After a little bit of stressing, I decided I needed to be a bit more like my other half, and just chill the f**k out.

I’m trying to see this year as a bit of an adventure. Embrace the fact that I don’t have it all planned out. This doesn’t come easy for me!

As with every year, there will be no new year resolutions. I’m not a fan of them, and the feeling of failure when you (inevitably) break those resolutions. Last years goals ended up being pretty hard to achieve, having a three-hour commute every day and the fact that I was learning a job meant I had very little brain capacity left for much else.

So I’ve set myself some goals for the year ahead, but they come under one overall goal.

Be happy!

This is my biggest goal. And the most important one. I spent almost all of my twenties miserably unhappy. And it’s something I never want to feel again. Not constant unhappiness like I felt before. And I’m not pretending happiness all the time is a thing, life always has its challenges. But despite what life has thrown at me in the last three years, I’ve been mostly happy.

There are smaller goals that will contribute to my overall goal of being happy. Things like running more – something that genuinely makes me feel good.

I really need (and want) to finish my web design course. I would love to have a job I like, that lets me use my creativity. It’s also really important to me that I become financially independent. Something I’ve never been.

2019 is also going to be the year I start doing more for me. I’m a people pleaser and struggle to let people do nice things for me or put myself first. The result of this is that often I do things I don’t really want to. I’m not about to become totally selfish but maybe just say ‘no’ more often.

Other things – eat less meat, use less single-use plastic and have lots, and lots of FUN!

Do you have any 2019 goals or resolutions?

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

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Image of 2 red and white candy canes arranged in a love heart shape

Christmas is the time for giving…

Right?! It’s the season for generosity.

The time to show people that we care. This often takes the form of gifts. Material things we give to show we’re thinking about someone. Sometimes it shows how little you were thinking about that person. Sometimes it shows that you did a mad dash round the Boots 3 for 2 gift section!

I know I sound a bit bah humbug, but I’m at a point where I’m done with consumerism of the festive time. We live in a society where we ALL have too much stuff! Mark and I have been trying to clear out for the past year, I don’t need more stuff to clutter up my already cluttered home.

With this in mind I’ve decided to do things a bit differently this year. It was after a conversation with my Dad talking about not doing gifts, not buying people things they don’t want or need. It made me think that maybe I’m not the only person feeling like this. We’ve decided to give each other the gift of time this year. We’ll do something rather than buy each other things.

So I’ve decided to put together an alternative gift list this year. Some ideas of how you can show the people you love that you really are thinking of them.

Movie marathon

Pick a friend (or partner, or sibling), get settled on the sofa, grab a blanket, some snacks and pick a load of films or a box set you both love. Maybe use it as an excuse to have a marathon viewing of your favourite series. Some suggestions: Disney, Star Wars, Harry Potter or Back to the Future.

21st century mixtape

Remember when a mixtape was the ultimate declaration of love?! You would sit and painstakingly record tracks onto a cassette tape to give to your crush. Well, those days are long gone. But the sentiment doesn’t need to be. Make a playlist on Spotify/Amazon Music/Apple Music and send them the link. Include songs you love, songs they love and songs that mean something to both of you. Maybe a selection of songs from bands you’ve both seen live this year. It shows that you’ve taken time to really think about what songs they like. A perfect ‘gift’ for any music lover!

Plan a road trip

There’s something really exciting about jumping in the car and getting away for the day. You can either have the day perfectly planned out, or go on the ultimate adventure with no idea where you’ll end up. If you want to go for the latter, get your passenger involved. They tell you whether to turn right or left and just see where you end up! A road trip is a great way to explore a part of your country you’ve never visited before.

The gift receivers perfect day out

Make a day all about them. Plan a day to their favourite place, take them to their favourite restaurant. Most people shy away from a day all about them unless it’s a birthday.

Fun day out

This can really take many forms. You could visit the zoo, do a day as a tourist in your city. Go on an open-top tourist bus to learn things you never knew. Some suggestions for Central Scotland – Glasgow Mural Trail, Glasgow/Edinburgh city tour bus, Edinburgh Zoo, Glasgow Science Museum, Stirling Castle or Jupiter Artland.

If you can leave your phone untouched for all of these, all the better. Make sure you’re 100% present with the person you’re giving time to. It’s the one thing you can never get back!

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

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Photo of a Christmas tree with multi-coloured lights sitting in a bay window

O’ Christmas tree, o’ Christmas tree…

One of my favourite things about the festive season is putting the Christmas tree up!

This is the first time as an adult that I’ve had a real Christmas tree. We had a really nice artificial one but it was too big to store. So we found it a new home and decided that this year we would have a real tree. I admit I was pretty excited about the prospect of a real tree, one that would smell like Christmas!

As much as I LOVE the holidays, getting our tree the first weekend in December was even a bit early for me. But a busy month ahead of us, and football season still being on for Mark meant that the only day we would have together would be during the first weekend. It was suggested that Mark went himself when I was at work, but I wanted to get the whole experience. Including picking the tree!

Image of Christmas trees lined up on muddy ground

We did a bit of research on where to buy our tree. One place was only open Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm though! Not sure how much custom they’ll get as I imagine a lot of people will be working at those times. After looking at a lot of different options we decided to go to a Forestry Commision place to get ours. The trees are sustainably grown and the money made from sales goes back into the Forestry Commision to maintain the forests. Santa has also given their trees his stamp of approval, so they must be good! Although we bought ours from the Forestry Commision in Scotland there are also places in England that you can purchase them.

I didn’t realise there were different options for the kind of tree you can get. The place we went to had three different varieties of tree. Pine, fir and spruce. Spruce trees are the traditional Christmas trees. They’re the ones that have the conical shape you think of when someone says Christmas tree. Traditional they may be, but it wasn’t for me. We ended up going for a Fraser Fir. It’s lovely and thick and at 6ft it met the requirement of being taller than me.

As this is my first year of having a real Christmas tree I was determined to pick the perfect one. Once we’d established that it would be a fir tree and that a 6ft one would fit in the flat, we went in search of the perfect one. It’s really important you can see the tree without any netting on it. This way you know you’re getting one that is even and doesn’t have any big gaps in the branches. We looked through a lot! Tip, even when you think you’ve found THE tree, there is probably an even better one – make sure you get a good look at all of them.

Once we’d selected our tree we took it to be wrapped in the netting and got it in the car. Also, make sure that your car is big enough for the size of tree you want. Even if our flat could’ve taken bigger than 6ft, our car could not. It was already pushed through in between the front seats!

When we got home we (by “we”, I mean Mark) sawed a couple of inches of the bottom of the trunk (this helps it soak up water) and put it in the base. The base we got was really easy to set up and we had the tree standing upright in a matter of minutes. Real Christmas trees take a bit to settle, so we didn’t decorate it right away. This year we treated ourselves to some new multi-coloured lights – 300 is about right for a 6ft. Some Disney decorations and candy canes finished it off nicely!

A real tree takes a bit more maintenance than an artificial one. I can honestly say I was 31 years old before I realised that you need to water a real tree! Apparently, if you don’t they can burst into flames! I saw a video on Facebook that genuinely put the fear in me. Here are some top tips for keeping your tree looking it’s best up to Christmas and into the New Year.

 

Do you go for a real Christmas tree or do you prefer an artificial one?

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

Photos taken by me.

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Photo of a cup and saucer sitting on top of a blanket

Anxiety sucks.

If you don’t suffer from anxiety it can be hard to understand just how bad it feels.

You know when you feel really nervous before an interview or something big? Now imagine feeling like that all the time, about everything. That’s anxiety. Rubbish right?

Today is World Mental Health Day, and we’re told “it’s ok not to be ok”. While I wholeheartedly believe this and that we should be able to talk about our mental health, I’m not really that comfortable talking about mine. It wasn’t until this year that I actually realised I had anxiety, I just thought I was a “worrier”. Now I’ve realised it’s not just worrying it’s a lot easier to recognise when I’m feeling anxious and do something about it. So here are some of the things that help me (note, these things help me, it doesn’t mean they’ll work for you).

1. Cut down on caffeine

Earlier this year I decided to drink less coffee. It wasn’t actually anything to do with anxiety initially but it has helped me to stay a bit calmer. Caffeine stimulates your “fight or flight” response, not good for people with anxiety. I didn’t go cold turkey and completely cut coffee out altogether but I limit myself to one cup a day. It sucked to start with, and I felt soooo tired, but after a couple of weeks, I got used to it.

2. Exercise

For me, exercise really helps me de-stress if I’ve had a tough day. A run is a great way to switch off and clear your head, I don’t really think about much when I’m running – probably about the only time I don’t have a million thoughts running through my head! If running isn’t your thing, then even just getting outside for a walk can help.

3. Take time to do something that relaxes you

Everyone has their thing that helps them chill out. I love a bath with a Lush bubble bar and either a good book or a Netflix binge. Or curling up under a blanket with a cup of tea (normally decaf) and a book. Find your thing and do it, it also helps if you put away your phone.

4. Talk to a counsellor

Earlier this year I went to counselling. I would highly recommend this to everyone. Everyone should go to counselling at some point in their life. We spoke about things that make me anxious and focused on particular incidences when my anxiety was bad. He encouraged me to talk through how I felt and we used CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to help me with coping strategies. For me, it was easier to talk to a counsellor than someone I know. I feel pretty embarrassed when my anxiety gets the better of me, and I don’t really want to talk to my friends or Mark about how it’s stopped me doing something.

5. Get more sleep

I love to sleep. And I don’t function all that well if I’ve not had much. Getting more shut-eye definitely helps me feel less anxious. Having a night time routine also helps, spend some time reading in bed before you turn the light out. And put away your phone.

What helps you with your anxiety?

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

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Photo of street art painting of a girl looking in a mirror and crying with the caption Big Girls Don't Cry

Glasgow street art is amazing!

And what better way to see it than a colour walk with a group of colour loving people?!

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip through to Glasgow with Taryn to take part in the first Scottish Colour Walk. The walk was organised by In Colourful Company and hosted by Nikki McWilliams, Rachel Basinger and Kim Lawler. We managed to find our way to Partick train station, and the eager beavers that we are meant we turned up almost an hour early! We were pretty keen to get our hands on the goody bags though…

Sometimes turning up for things like this can be a bit daunting, especially if you don’t really know anyone else going. Nobody wants to be the person going up to a complete stranger and asking if they are there for the same reason as you, only to find out they’re not! Well, there was little chance of this being the case on Saturday. You couldn’t miss the colourful bunch of people congregating outside the train station. And the colourful balloons also gave it away! Both of us spotted people we already knew and got chatting to some of the others in the group.

It was so lovely to see so many people dressed in colourful clothes. A nice way to cheer up a dreich Glasgow day. It made me wish I had the guts to go out in head to toe colour too! Rather than my usual playing it safe with maybe one bright colour.

SWG3

Once we were sure everyone was there we headed off to the first point of call on the map – SWG3. I absolutely loved the street art here, so much colour and so many different styles. Taking my instax camera was a great idea because I snapped some of the paintings here using it. I couldn’t resist getting an outfit photo next to this amazing wall. But my favourite bit of art by far was the Big Girls Don’t Cry painting (top image).

Photo of a woman with red hair wearing a pink raincoat and jeans standing against a wall with colourful street art

Street art painting of an owl on a brick wall

Hidden Lane

After SWG3 we headed to Finnieston to the very colourful and (pretty hidden, hence the name) Hidden Lane. Hidden Lane is home to artists, musicians, designers and The Hidden Lane Tearoom. Which has possibly the best afternoon tea I’ve had in Glasgow! One of my favourite jewellery designers studios, Bonnie Bling, is also here. I loved getting a look inside and added a couple of pieces to my wishlist.

We matched the colourful buildings perfectly. And we found an orange wall that matched perfectly with the Irn Bru piñata.

Photo of a piñata can of irn bru sitting on a bike against an orange wall

Image of a street art painting showing a girl blowing a dandelion and the seeds turning into wind turbines

Smug street art

From here we headed to see Smug street art on Mitchell Street. I really loved the cleverness of the painting above with the dandelion seeds turning into wind turbines. Just along from this, you can also see ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids’.

These amazing street murals really put meaning into the “People Make Glasgow’ saying. We only saw a snippet of the beautiful street art the city has to offer. If you want to see some of it for yourself then you can see details of the City Centre Mural Trail here, and there’s even an app you can download. Make sure you have some comfy shoes on though, cause you’ll be doing a lot of walking! Taryn later told me we walked over 20k steps, no wonder we were tired after it!

 

Have you done the City Centre Mural Trail, what was your favourite piece of art?

I took a lot of photos (too many to put in this post!), you can view them here.

 

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

 

Photos by me (except the photo of me which was taken by Taryn)

 

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