November is already racing by, and bringing with the onset of all things Christmas! Goodness! But, but… I am not quite ready to say goodbye to these golden Autumn days. I am sticking with the beautiful leaves and that very specifically Autumn light a little longer before I fully turn my attention to Christmas. Bonfire night has been and gone. Ours passed in a blur of sickness, but by the glow of the fire so it’s not all bad. This is also the reason for the lateness of this Sunday Supplement too! But here are a few other wonderful things to make, do and celebrate this month.Read More
Welcome to the February Sunday Supplement! The first few days of February held Imbolc- a festival to mark the half way point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It's the start of a slow, sleepy wake up from winter hibernation. I can feel it deep within me, can you? I'm waking, shifting, stretching and readying myself to leave my winter cave. The darkest days of winter are behind us.
Here are 10 ideas of things to Make, Do and Celebrate in the Month ahead.
- Celebrate love in all it's forms. Its true that like lots of the best holidays, Valentines has been turned into a corporate schmaltz fest but over the years I've come to quite enjoy this month, especially when you expand your definition of love to your friends, children and even the earth.
- Keep those candles going. I think I recommend lighting candles in every sunday supplement but February holds candlemas- the festival of lights. It's been held this month since pre-Christian times to celebrate the virgin earth of spring. A nice way to celebrate this festival is to dig holes in the earth and plant candles in them and then light the candles to warm up the earth and encourage spring (children love this). It's a lovely excuse to fill the house with candles too.
- Hunt for Snow Drops and enjoy their delicate beauty. If you have children you could make a circle of pebbles around the snow drops to protect them.
- EAT ALL THE PANCAKES. All month. Oh yes. This is one of my favourite months of the YEAR.
- Experiment with different types of flour for your pancakes and try some unusual fillings too. I’ll be making pancakes with buckwheat and almond milk this year.
- Have a crocus picnic. Have you spotted them yet? Those tender soldiers of the spring are pushing up through hard ground and filling our parks and woodlands with blankets of purple, yellow and White. Find a bare patch of earth nearby to spread a blanket to enjoy them up close.
- Be your own Valentine. Make time for YOU this year! We think loving yourself is the most important thing to do this Valentines.
- Celebrate your female friendships on Galentines Day! Make like Leslie Knope and throw a brunch for your close female friends. I have two gatherings booked in and am more excited about these than I am about Valentines day! (Sorry Dave)
- Book your tickets for WOW festival next month. This is one of my favourite festivals. If you're not in or near London, there are 'feeder' events happening all over the country, and there are some sessions streamed live too.
- Plant or gift Rose Bushes! I think they make gorgeous and much or eco valentines gifts, don’t you?! Providing there’s no frost, roses can be planted out now.
So yes, FEBRUARY. I finally feel ready for this year!
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December! Month of glitter and shimmer; feathery frosts, dazzling moonlight and flickering candles. The winter season is here, and we’re all feeling pretty excited! We’ve been reveling in blankets, candlelight, evergreens, and cosy time with our families.
Similarly to last year, we are opting for a simple Christmas focused on experiences, rather than ‘stuff’, and taking conscious steps to make things easier for ourselves and our families in the coming weeks, whilst creating magical moments worth remembering.
10 Wonderful things to make, do and celebrate in the month ahead
1. Make. Decorations, simple gifts, wreathes…Winter is a wonderful opportunity for turning inwards and creating; so let your creativity flow IF you have the time and energy. (-Really; there’s nothing worse than stressed crafting, trust us!)
2. Hygge. Light the candles in the mornings and leave them lit until lunch time. Pile the sofa up with blankets. Cook comforting food.
3. Give. Go through kids books and toys with your children and encourage them to give things away they no longer play with. Do the same with your own stuff.
4. Volunteer. Look up your local food bank or shelter and see if there’s any slots that need filling or things they need.
5. Go outside. Yes, it’s cold, but there is nothing nicer than the woods in winter. Or the beach, for that matter. Don thermals and your woollies and enjoy that crisp, frosty air.
6. Watch the Moon. The dark evenings make moon and star watching, especially with children who are normally sleeping, possible. Go on a lantern/torch walk round your local park to see the constellations better. Plus, torches= the most fun ever.
7. Look up. starling murmerations; those great cloud like bird formations twisting and turning in the sunset, are in full swing, and are utterly magical.
8. Celebrate the Solstice on the 22nd. Put the date in your diaries and do something to celebrate the shortest day of the year; and the fact that we’ll enjoy more light from this point. We’ll be making ice votives and having dinner with friends.
9. Shop local, or better yet, don’t shop at all! Make, swap, or simply agree not to buy gifts.
10. Look after yourself. December can be such a busy month but don’t forget to carve out rest time. Eat well, drink lots of water, enjoy hot baths, move your body.
This is just a small part of our longer Sunday Supplement newsletter which includes the stuff we're eating, reading, wearing and listening too, as well as recipe's and links we love from around the web. It gets emailed out to subscribers on the first Sunday of the month. We'd love for you to join our club! Sign up on the right hand column. >>>
Today is the first Sunday of Advent and I have just spent the weekend celebrating a mini Christmas with my family up north. As such we are firmly in Christmas mode, and I am actually feeling not only very good about it, but vaguely organised and pretty unstressed too. Following both my own and my friends bitter experiences (!) I have honed Christmas over the years and I thought I’d share someof the things we're doing to keep stress-and bankrupcy-at bay and actually enjoy the festive season.
- Give yourself permission to prioritise you and your family. You don't have to visit every relative under the sun this Christmas. We now visit one family per year meaning lots more time to relax at home; and both families have actually been super understanding.
- Use these 5 words: "I won't if you won't." Save everyone the unnecessary crap and just agree to not buy gifts, especially for adults. Spend the time, effort and money on a lovely meal together instead. If you must, do so in a mindful, planet loving way. Here are some ideas.
- choose an experience that brings you together- book the theatre or afternoon tea.
- Secret Santa. We have don't this with Dave’s family this year and it means so much less hassle.
- If it needs to be an object, then use Patchwork Present to get something you or your child really wants.
- Or make some small simple homemade gifts. DIY's coming up.
- For kids,
- If you can't cope with the thought of not having traditional Christmas dinner, then spread the cost of Christmas food and arrange for everyone to bring a dish. Or go off piste and make something totally different (and cheaper)
- Try not to do too much. Sometimes the list of lovely festive things to do can be a bit overwhelming. There are lots of things to be excited about this season but you don’t have to do them ALL. For the sake of your (and your families) wellbeing, choose just a couple of activities and prioritise rest time at home. (Psst, If you must, use your own/your child's 'illness' as a cover. I didn't say that)
- Don’t expect too much of the kids. This brilliant article hits the nail on the head with this, but in short, although Christmas can be really magical for kids, it can also be really intense; long car journeys, rarely seen relatives demanding kisses, having lots of strangers in the house, going to other strangers houses, the expectation to eat rich food, show gratitude for gifts they don’t want, be polite and gracious at all times… So. Have their backs.
- Don't buy decorations. Either Scrump (responsibly) or use garden greenery. Make snowflakes and paperchains. Or have a Christmas decoration swap. If you're bored of yours, chances are your friends are too. Arrange a swap night.
- Use fabric wrapping paper, especially if you're a fabric hoarder like me. Save any white tissue paper or brown paper you receive and re-use- any wrinkles add to the effect, as demonstrated beautifully in Lapin Blu’s post. Look out for some tips coming up.
- Make time to see people you actually want to see, people who nourish you. I know that for some, this isn't always the people they 'have' to see over the Christmas period. A coffee/gin with a few good friends in the middle of the festive season, and an opportunity to offload, can be a balm for the soul.
- Don’t bother with christmas cards. Or if you must, reduce the list or send a tasteful E card instead. They’re a source of stress/rubbish for many. We're hoping to send an E-Card with a short family newsletter (I confess to loving a family newsletter, bragging and al!)
- Take steps to look after you. Rest, eat nourishing food where possible, don't forget to drink water and go for that walk.
What steps have you taken to simplify life this Christmas? Have you got any sanity/money/planet saving tips to share?