Thursday, 22 December 2016

Great Expectations (How to be present this Christmas)

For me, the build up to Christmas can be even more joyful than the day itself. Anticipation, excitement and planning have come to define my sense of festivity. But, of course, expectation is a double-edged sword. Whilst it’s great to be excited and enthusiastic, being too caught up in how we want something creates a lot of pressure. Making yourself present is the best present you can give yourself. Here are five ways to stay in the moment this Christmas…

Be here now

Every year I treat my family to the same sermon about the importance of enjoying your Christmas as it is. It’s tempting to say ‘last year was the perfect Christmas’ or ‘I wish I had X, Y and Z this Christmas’ but to do so would be to miss out on the Christmas present. The truth is, whether for better or worse, we never get the same Christmas twice; new people come into our lives, people spend Christmas somewhere else, circumstances change. Embrace each new Christmas without comparing it or wishing for more.

Go tech free

Be present for the people around you and yourself by having a few periods of technology free moments. Obviously, there are many Merry Christmas messages to send and Skype calls to be made but don’t let it consume your day.  And don’t fall into the ‘compare and despair’ trap by spending hours looking at how everyone else is celebrating.


If your feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, irritated by your family members or just generally in a bit of a Christmas daze, try a grounding technique. Grounding helps you get out of your mind a bit and back into the present. You can do this by paying attention to your breath, counting how many things of a particular colour you can see, or paying attention to your senses.


If your household is going to be busy and noisy this Christmas, take a moment to find somewhere quiet and just breathe. Standing outside for a minute or so is even better. Not only will this help you feel calmer, it will stop the day going by in one mad rush.

What do you need?

In a recent episode of Earn Your Happy, Lori Harder discussed the importance of asking yourself this question during the festive season. There seems to be an idea that because Christmas is a one-off time, our behaviour should be one-off too. Introverts who hate parties are supposed to undergo Scrooge-like conversions, and be the life and soul until the 1st January. People who hate cooking end up making the Christmas dinner. Avoid all this unnecessary stress by asking yourself ‘what do I need to feel calm and happy this Christmas?’ If that’s time to yourself, time for rest, an early night, a sense of structure or a brisk walk, make sure you have it.

What are your top tips for staying calm and present this Christmas? Do leave a comment below! 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Christmas Lush Treats

Whilst I am not a beauty blogger by any means, I don’t think ANYONE should be without Lush products at this time of year. Lush is like a beacon on the high street during Christmas shopping, allowing you to have a childlike glee in its bounty of the whimsical, beautiful and super cute treats on display. Here are three of my picks that would make great gifts for others or yourself this year…


Considering its clownish overtones, this reusable bubble bar has just the right amount of cuteness not to be creepy. This zesty little character will fill your bath with a fresh and fun scent, vivid colour and oodles of bubbles. The little jingle bell on its stick gives that sense of Christmas novelty that we all love Lush for. Depending on how long you hold him under the tap, you’ll be able to get multiple baths from the Jester. This peeping out of a stocking on Christmas morning would set anyone up for the day! £6.50 each.

Luxury Lush Pud

Dropping this gorgeous pudding into your bath will make a colourful explosion with a heady, comforting scent. The little spots of colour make a sweet cascade of brightness and cheer. The lavender in this will help you unwind and get a good night’s sleep during the busy Christmas season. £4.25 each.

Snow Angel

Lush’s bath melts always leave you feeling like you’ve done your skin a service – Snow Angel is no exception. The little angel sits in your bath, gently releasing cocoa butter and cassis absolute. When you get out, you are left silky smooth and with a new layer of lustre to your skin. For anyone who feels festive at the sight of gold and glitter, Snow Angel will transport you to a world of Christmas calm. £4.25 each.

Have you ventured into Lush this season? What are your favourite of their Christmas treats? 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A Winter Wishlist

‘Tis the season to be jolly. ‘Tis also the season to celebrate, eat too much and have at least one mini meltdown whilst Christmas shopping. Here are some items to tick off your list as you go through the carnival that is the season of winter:

- Cuddle up. Cover yourself in copious amounts of blankets, throw in a hot water bottle and be as indulgent as you wish. Miranda’s Notebook has an excellent post about the essentials of Hygge here

- Walking. See the sights of the season, wrap up warm and let the cold air blow away the cobwebs. 

- Give someone a wonderful winter by making it fun for them. This might mean planning little Christmas crafts for little ones, treating a friend to a decadent hot chocolate or baking special dog biscuits for your pet. 

- Scents of winter. Light that cinnamon spice candle or make your own pot pouri. Let the scents of Christmas past take you back… 

- Festive fashion. Buy into the tacky delight of Christmas jumpers or accessorise with festive jewellery. 

- A Christmassy outing. Treat yourself to a festive trip. Chomp on roasted chestnuts at a Christmas market, make a fool of yourself ice skating, or feel all soothed by a carol service.

- In the kitchen. Hearty dinners full of goodness and made with love. Carb heavy, soul warming dishes like nut roast and potato gratin. Don’t forget the sweet treats either – these orange and ginger stained glass biscuits would be a jolly addition to anyone’s life. 

- Silence. Enjoy a few moments of quiet amid the chaos of the season, whether it’s to read, meditate or simply relax. 

- Crafts. We all need glitter in our lives right now. This DIY candle holder is easy yet enchanting. 

- Reading. This blog is called The Literary Lady after all. Build up a stack of books ‘to read’ over winter and make yourself your own reading nook in which to devour them in the coming weeks. Merry Christmas to us! 
What’s on your winter wish list this year? Leave a comment below! 
More Winter reading: 

- Six ways to enjoy Winter
- The key to winter reading 

Monday, 5 December 2016

A Literary Alphabet: G is for Garden

Literature and Gardens have bloomed alongside each other for centuries. In gardens, life is laid out plainly – things grow, things bloom, things die, life withers and wilts, flourishes and flowers amid sunshine, rain and storm. No wonder so many writers choose gardens as a source of inspiration, a fitting backdrop for the stuff of life. Here are four of my favourite garden novels…

Elizabeth and Her German Garden – Elizabeth Von Armin

‘Where the trees thicken into a wood, the fragrance of the wet earth and rotting leaves kicked up by the horses' hoofs fills my soul with delight. I particularly love that smell, -- it brings before me the entire benevolence of Nature, for ever working death and decay, so piteous in themselves, into the means of fresh life and glory, and sending up sweet odours as she works.’

A diary of a lady as she embarks upon a year of gardening. Here, the garden is Elizabeth’s sanctuary from the pressures of her life. Witty observations spring up like daffodils in this tapestry of sparkling prose. Save this for your Spring reading!

The Cement Garden – Ian McEwan

 ‘At the back of my mind I had a sense of us sitting about waiting for some terrible event, and then I would remember that it had already happened.’

A dark tale of four children left to their own devices when they become orphans. Weeds of lies, sexuality and jealousy tangle together to create this strange, uneasy story.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis - Giorgio Bassani

‘Even in a city as small as Ferrara, you can manage, if you like, to disappear for years and years, one from another, living side by side like the dead.’

Focusing on a group of Italian Jews during the rise of Mussolini, it tells the story of the narrator’s relationship with the wealthy Finzi-Continis. Sweet innocence is slowly corrupted by the rot of fascism.

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

‘And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.’

A childhood classic. Mary, a misunderstood and lonely girl, finds solace and rejuvenation within the walls of a secret garden. Evocative descriptions leave you wanting to escape down the garden path with her.
Do you have any favourite books about gardens? Leave a comment below…

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