Over packing the key to sucesful packing.

Advice, Travel

Overpacking is definitely a pet peeve of mine. I hate it, it’s wasteful and unnecessary and generally it’s down to not organising my list properly.

This holiday to Les Deuce Alps I only over packed slightly but it still rankles me. I could have just packed one jumper instead of 3, I could have just worn it a few times instead of 3 different jumpers that I wore once.

Perfect packing list

They key to perfect packing is a list and also packing cubes. They really are. When I write my list I like to think in out fits. What goes with what. But also I love a packing cubes Gavin mocks me for them but I find them essential.

Making a list is easy, you just need to know what you are doing and if you are going out out! Because we were going snowboarding I knew that my main priority was layers and keeping warm. This is my ninth year in the slopes so believe me when I tell you that hotels, bars and restaurants all have the heating on. You will always be warm when you are out but it’s getting from a-b that you need to focus on.

Oh baby it’s cold outside

Layers, you need layers and you also need to think practically. A pair of gloves is essential on the mountain but also off. You need a pair to keep your hands warm but also to protect them if you slip on the ice or snow. Cutting up your hands on a slip or trip is not a great idea!

Hats and scarves! So they have proven that it not true that majority of your heat comes out of your head however if you are completely wrapped up except for your head then it’s going to cold so pack a hat any will do! Scarves aren’t a must but you can use them as an accessory and keep warm. Win win for everyone.

The coat

Me and Gav generally don’t take extra coats with us. We use our snowboarding coat for day and night and it was only a mistake this year when the weather was cold and wet. We only had one night of issues but it was enough to make us think that next year we may take a thin waterproof that we can layer up with a hoodie underneath.

Again you will need to coat to protect you if you slip but also because it’s bloody freezing! We had snow, rain and hail! We needed our warm coats.

Safety first people

I have already written a blog on safety stuff so I won’t repeat myself! If you don’t look after yourself then you are a danger to everyone else!

But beginners need:

Sunscreen: no matter the weather it’s an extra barrier for your skin

A helmet: you head is a watermelon you hit it hard you die or brain damage. Be smart and protect your skull.

Goggles: visibility is key safety for you and fellow mountain buddies. Sunglasses are no substitute, fallon our face and tell me what a great idea they were. You can get cheap goggles online so no excuses.

Knee pads: cushioning for the part of your body you will rely on the most when boarding. As an extra you can do back armour etc if you want!

Gloves: you can’t board or ski without gloves. You can’t, cotton or wool ones will freeze your hands even in warmer climates. Invest in these. They need to be snow proof waterproof you name it. Mine have armour built in so I don’t break my wrist again.

Insurance, don’t be a dunce. No matter how smart you are and how safe there are always idiots on the mountain. This holiday we witnessed a fair few helicopters lifting people to safety and a lot of them were small trips that resulted in breaks and sprains. Often caused by others on the mountain. I knew a guy who slipped broke his back but didn’t know anything was wrong until he went and complained of a twinge. Get insurance it’s cheap compared to a helicopter flight.

Summary

Be smart. When it comes to safety then layer up. Know your limits and obey the rules.

You don’t need to overpack you can think in layers but it’s cold. So you can layer up and reuse items again and again.

You need an outfit for every night especially as all the photos of you will be out in the snow with you hat gloves and coat on. No one is impressed with heels in the snow.

Be practical and you will be fine. Plus you are in France so you will have great food and booze to keep you happy. You don’t need to overpack you just need to pack smart.

Self reflection

Advice, Dreaming, Planning, self care, Travel

This winter I have been busy. So busy I have missed out on a lot. It will be worth it if I get my bonus this year but it has still taken me away from the things I love and the people I miss. When you work in retail Christmas is your busiest time there is no doubt about it but life goes on weather you are out socialising or at home working.

Next year we are planning Christmas in January. Presents meal you name it. We will still have a Christmas meal but a less hectic one.

I love Christmas and it truely is my favourite time of year it I am just too busy to enjoy it. The week of Christmas I will be in France snowboarding and relaxing so I don’t mind how hectic it gets right now.

My head is already rocking with what I want to achieve next year.

Last years goals

Miraculously my goals last year were all hit. I had to save for the wedding, make for the wedding and look after myself for the wedding.

I didn’t hit all my travel destinations but I did travel to Madrid, Bulgaria, Jersey, France and Yorkshire. This years travel is going to be really exciting with Japan and Italy on the cards!

My sister asked me what I would do if I could do anything. I said draw.

Draw and paint.

But actually put the effort in. Sit down and practice what I love. So I am setting myself a challenge. 12 pieces of art next year that I am brave enough and proud enough to sell. That’s only one a month but it will still be a challenge.

I still have to actually do it.

I have enough paints and pencils and even pads to get started but I can’t tell you the last time I sat down and created something I was proud of.

Treating myself

I have no issues spending money on food or events but when it comes to me I wimp out. Skincare and food I don’t mind spending money on, or holidays or meals out.

But me. I stop at me. I need a new back pack and I have been eyeing up a Fjallraven backpack but for some reason I haven’t bought it. I was hoping to get it for my birthday or Christmas but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

So I should just buy it for myself.

Why not, it’s not frivolous it’s essential and cheap backpacks don’t last.

I need one that fits my laptop and that won’t tire so I am doing my research and I want it in green or yellow.

I am also buying my first Mac. This will again be for my illustrations but I think it’s important to have a goal. This will be a an expensive bit of tech but to me it’s a necessity.

Getting the house sorted

I am a messy person and I need to get it sorted. My head and home are cluttered to the max and although I won’t be chucking out massive amounts of stuff somethings have to go. We are planning on buying a new kitchen and moving the bathroom. This is going to cost a lot so I need to start saving.

Read moreI love to read. It used to be every waking moment I would reach for my book and although I do have books on my phone I really do prefer to turn the pages so in the knew year I will write a list of books I plan on getting round to reading and a few I want to reread!

Organisation, self belief, travel and saving

I was to spend less on crap and invest more in me, my body, wardrobe, home and larder.

Less is more is my motto for next year

Things I have learned about myself

Advice, Personal Experience

I was never going to write this post. I didn’t really believe in looking back that far but then I got a notification. Facebook shared a post from over ten years ago. It was a brief message to the world sharing how much pain I was in.

Dana:

It flashed up and I allowed my self a small smile at the pain that you can only feel when someone you love stops loving you. It was such a long time ago but I had decided to share it so publicly.

I don’t remember writing it but I am sure I wrote it hoping that the one it was aimed at would also feel pain or regret or at least guilt. At the end of the day it was my choice to emigrate to the other side of the world. It was also my choice to return back to the UK. To London where I had lived as a student and rebuild my life. Because except for my friends I really had nothing in London.

No home, no job and no family. London can be a very lonely place.

I allowed myself self reflection and thought about how much I had grown and all the things that would not be as they are now if that question had never been asked. The outcome would have been the same but maybe it would have been another six months of a bad feeling. 6 months of knowing it was over but refusing to let it go without a fight.

I had to ask.

Because I already knew.

“You don’t love me any more do you?”

I wanted to take them back the minute I said them. I wanted to fill my mouth and cram them back in. Each painful word piling on top of the other.But it was too late and they were true.

It was over.

It didn’t end as quickly as that, it dragged out and it doesn’t need repeating. There was no hate just hurt. No mean words but lots of sadness and confusion.

After Thailand, Seychelles and France I flew home.

I returned to London with a few hundred pounds and overstuffed suitcases. Just two pieces of luggage .

That was my life.

There were trials and tribulations and Becky and Charlotte looked after me. Offering me a roof over my head, helping me find work and a place to live.

I sorted myself out, my life out. It took time and a lot of dark moments. There were also a lot of wonderful moments too. Lots of laughter and possibilities.

I found myself again.

And then I found Gavin.

I needed time to heal so I waited before I put myself out there for love and trust.

So what I have learned about myself is that I am stronger than I ever thought. That building yourself up takes time and effort.

I am happy and lucky.

But most of all social media remembers everything. So if you don’t want people to know then keep it to yourself or Facebook will haunt you forever.

D

Instagram filters need to go

Advice

I am sorry but I have said it. I am not a fan.

It was all supposed to be for fun but now Instagram is filled, absolutely choc a block with pictures of people with eyelash filters and animal filters. They look like Disney characters.

It’s an illusion that people are buying into and quite frankly I detest it.

You look fake.

You are fake it’s not even your best self it’s basically an avatar that you have created and it need to stop we need to embrace ourselves.

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These filters have a lot to do with self confidence and literally hiding behind a mask. I looked so terrible in this photo I cant tell you.

Because it isn’t you!

I play with my niece and she loves them but she already looks like a Disney princess.  Perfect hair and big eyes she is gorgeous! She likes it because it’s a bit of technical magic that she can see. But when we skype she focus on how she looks with all the filters.

For us its a bit of fun.

But adults are going a wee bit too crazy over it. Thinking that’s how they look and that they look nice.

We are entering an era where you can hide behind a filter to make you look perfect.

My friend George doesn’t buy into bullshit of any sort. If i comment that i dont like a photo she always challenges me why? Its your face and you actually look like that. She is non plussed with any hype ( unless it involves Jason Donovan). Thats doesn’t mean George doesn’t want to look her best she always does she just doesn’t see a unflattering photo when the rest of us does.

If thats the way you look you should just get on with it or fix it.

Filters wouldn’t bother her though. Not like they do me.

I wouldn’t mind filters if they were just silly but people using them in every photo or as profile pictures grates on me.

I don’t normally rant on anything on my blog but this does wind me up.

Life update organising and focus: taking a deep breath

Advice

It’s Christmas in two months

So work is full on as you can imagine. It’s our busiest time of year and we are making plans plans plans!

So I thought I would update you on what we have planned.

  • Hen do catch up with my girls
  • Halloween feast for two
  • Getting the house sorted
  • Digging up my dahlia bulbs!
  • Frank is starting puppy school
  • Yorkshire birthday treat
  • Christmas in the Alps!!
  • Honeymoon planning in Japan
  • Saving for a new kitchen

Madrid catch up

Some of the girls are meeting up at Glorias for a big Italian feast and we can’t wait. Everyone got on so well it will be great to see everyone again!

Halloween feast for two

We love Halloween.

We have carved our pumpkins and have bought the treats for the neighbourhood kids! I will be preparing a Mexican feast for just the two of us. I am going to light all the candles and we will watch an old school horror movie I can’t wait!

The sitting room is dressed

Frank has his outfit!

Getting the house and garden sorted

My house is a tip. Every room is messy and I just need to gut it. We still have boxes of wedding stuff everywhere that need to be sold on or put in the loft.

I also need to tidy the garden in time for the bad weather. The garden really needs some tic and I need to dig up my bulbs for next year!

Frank is off to school

Our puppy was fully house trained and now he has decided to pee and poop where ever he likes, sometimes he will go outside and poop then come inside and pee!

We don’t know what’s up with him and we think he is bored. We don’t want him to be stressed so we are sending him to puppy school once a week. They will train him and hopefully get him used to more people.

We want frank to be happy.

Yorkshire Birthday treat

I grew up in Yorkshire. It’s one of my favourite places in the world. Most of my favourite memories are set there. Walking the dales, having ice creams in Richmond. Horse riding, long walks in the snow.

Just the beauty of Yorkshire!

So not sure what the plans are yet but I can’t wait!

My first ever Christmas away!

Now don’t get me wrong I have had Christmas in New Zealand and France but always with my immediate family. I even convinced them to come to Scotland once!

As I work for a retail company Christmas holidays are not allowed but as Christmas falls midweek and because we just got married I am allowed to go. Yay!

Plus my best friend and her husband are coming too.

I can’t tell you how excited I am.

Snowboarding on Christmas Day is going to be amazing!

Honey moon planning

Japan has been on my bucket list forever and when we got engaged we both agreed it was the perfect place!

We have already started planning and have a meeting set up with Sam and Jon who recently went.

Half the fun is in the planning!

Plus we will try and snowboard there too!!

We are going to book our flights and pay for the bullet train soon. Then we can plan everything else as we plan to travel around a lot.

Saving for a new kitchen

Omg I am so excited. Our house is pretty perfect. We love it. It is not the biggest house but is big enough for us and the fur babies.

Yes I said plural. I miss Manhattan terribly and I can never replace the place she held in my heat the ten years we were together. But I miss cats.

And I know two that need a new home so watch this space.

But top priority for the house is the kitchen pretty much everything needs to be replaced. Oven sink cupboards you name it! I would like to switch the kitchen dining room and bathroom around to create a much better layout.

But it takes money and planning!

So we need to save first!!

Decorating for Halloween a house filled with pumpkins!

Advice, interior design

I love Halloween.

I always have, the dressing up the food the colour palette! How often do orange and purple get pride of place on the shop shelves or even in your home.

Plastic mass production is getting me down a little so rather than go mad on fresh decorations I thought I would just use what I had and this year cook my pumpkins!

Do throw anything away

Well even though I am Mary Kondoing my home I still love a lot of stuff. The gin and books are always on my mantle piece.

As is the severed finger

Gav proposed to me with that finger so I will always have it pride of place!

I did buy the candles.

But knowing me I will just light the unscented ones and have them for years too! Plus when I do eventually use them up I will keep the containers.

The books I have had for years and the top one was a wedding gift and it’s a book of Japanese poems and it is beautiful.

The journey to the Centre of the earth was an event we went to with scala in London. We dressed up and the event was one of the best we have ever been to.

Reuse recycle

I am trying not to buy more crap. I do understand that tonnes of pumpkins get chucked out every year but at least they are biodegradable.

My pumpkins are ending up in my belly so I am busy looking forward to searching for recipes this weekend!

The dried flowers are from my wedding bouquet as is the Harry Potter wand and the Brockmans gin bottle.

I am not a goth by any means but I do love skulls, zombies and magic!

That’s what Halloween and Christmas are to me. They are magical!

I lit all the bottom white candles and had a really cosy evening with just me and Frank. Gavin was a way with friends.

I think our fireplace looks autumnal but also fairy elegant. The fairy lights and white candles were also from the wedding so they are also getting reused.

Everything else we have had for years!

Getting the sitting room ready for Halloween was so much fun but also it needed it. Our fireplace had become a dumping ground so I needed a good deep clean!

I thoroughly enjoyed styling it up. I still need to get my ravens from the attic and it will be perfect.

Halloween Plans

We will get treats in for the neighbourhood kids. The rule is if you have a pumpkin lit then they will knock on your door. We love it and have been doing it for 5 years now. The parents appreciate it as not every house does it so it’s a nice safe place!

Frank already has his costume! I know we are terrible but we don’t actually care and he doesn’t mind.

Do you do anything for Halloween?

Our wedding day set up!

Advice, Cricut, Flowers, Planning, Wedding, Wedding Budget

We got up at 7.30 and we were both mentally exhausted from the week. Planning a wedding where you have to bring in absolutely everything is so hard. Our wedding day set up was a labour of love, blood sweat and tears. Except on the Tuesday when we legally tied the knot we didn’t really have any time for ourselves. I stayed up each night making bits and bobs. Gav was on the computer sorting out music and checking off lists.

It was more than a full time job.

The night before I was cutting out the name cards on my Cricut, it made it easier but I still had to cut out 140 name cards 6 to a sheet. I ran out of the house at 8.30 to get to the shops when they opened and picked up a few more bits or the toilet boxes. ( I will explain in a later blog)

Then my brother arrived at 10.30 with the van he had to hire because we had so much stuff. The cake was a bit of an after thought so we precariously sat it on top and it fared well.

The last thing we packed was my wedding dress and though all the mad packing we almost left It behind. We had paid for our cleaner to clean for us so we came home to a nice clean house. She was already there when we left and promised to bring anything if we forgot it.

I hadn’t packed the top table tablecloth but we just got on with it!

Dysfunctional planner strikes again

Chris drove to the venue with me Gav and Frank on board plus the majority of the props and bits we needed for the day. When we arrived we unloaded the van. This bit was a bit disorganised and people came to me asking what they wanted to do. We piled it all on the grass and tried to get started from there.

I had dreams of clipboards and lists but none of that happened!

My brother in law set to work hanging our Mexican wedding flags which looked truely beautiful! We still have some left which I am excited to keep for a party! And also he and my dad hung some streamers behind us so the top table had a pretty back drop.

I changed the seating arrangement at the last minute so we had one kind top table and then six lines of 2 which worked out beautifully.

Give me a job

My sister took charge of the tables. She said she was going to set up one and we can work from there. The theme for the seating was snowboarding. The tables were supposed to be slopes

  • Green
  • Blue
  • Pink ( no blood and bandages at my wedding)
  • Black ( the one I forgot)

I left the top tables table clothes at home still not found! Great. So I just used the ends of the longer ones to make our top table. It didn’t bother me!

I had so many good people come up to me and say give me a job! We dressed the first table then the second then the third.

Charlotte and my mum were busy making the table flowers. We used a lot of gin bottles to use instead of vases and they looked so pretty!! I asked Charlotte for bright happy flowers with lots of colour, Dahlias, sweet Williams and daisies but what she did was so incredible they were perfect. I will do a whole blog on how amazing she was later!

I didn’t want a matchy matchy wedding. Lots of colour lots textures and silly things.

Napkins and table cloths

I bought the Table cloth fabric of eBay and dyed all the napkins myself. I didn’t want black napkins so I used a yellow dye to brighten things up. I had 120 guests and made sure I had a spare 30 napkins. I was so proud of them they looked great. I had a vision of how I wanted it to look and everyone who was there helped me achieve it.

After Vicky laid out the table Becky went through and straightend the edges. Sorting out the napkins ( Vicky folded them beautifully ina loopy way) and we had to repeat it 120 times. I didn’t want too many flowers on the table because of the food going in the middle of the table.

More Cricut crafts

I bought wooden discs and made slope markers from all our favourite places, Val Disere, Chamonix , Le Duce Alps it was so hard finding photos of the markers that I had to make a few from scratch but they came out so well! We tied them the bottles.

I was going to make a seating chart but in the end I just let people find their names. It was an open venue so after the ceremony people could go in and out while they waited so it wasn’t a big deal. Also because a quarter of the wedding helped set up they found where they were sitting.

The name cards were all cut out on my Cricut. I drew a silly mountainscape and cut out that shape on the card. Charlotte being a super star made badges for everyone. We had 3 themes for our badges, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Snowboarding. We attached the badges at the top with foam squares.

Whilst we were dressing the tables my brother and his wife where folding and hand writing our peoples names!

I told you it was a team effort!

Gavs mum was in the chiller van organising the food and booze. Rosco (papa smurf) was setting up the signs helping gav with the beer. I don’t want to miss anyone out. But there was a lot of hands on deck.

Hayley arrived later with another car full of bits! We had flags of all the countries where our family’s live to semi cover the bales of hay. Charlotte used the excess bottles and flowers and put them at the end of the hay bales.

My dad cooked dinner for everyone! All the men gathered round the fire and had to test the booze while the rest of us soldiered on. I stopped when I realised I was tired and wanted to enjoy myself. It was about 8pm at this point!

So it was all sorted with just a few tweaks to do the next day! We enjoyed the evening, had a few cheeky drinks and went to bed early!

That was the set up. A massive thank you to everyone involved you have no idea how great full we both are.

It was a mission but it was worth it.

It looked perfect!