2014 was an odd one. In a lot of ways it was a difficult year – Health was a problem for a lot of people that I love, as well as for myself, money and work things were tough, things that we hoped to move forward have stalled and… well it just wasn’t the year I was hoping for.

But… in just as many ways it was a fantastic year. I got married, for one.

I have had a wide variety of experiences with relationships over the years but I never expected to meet a man like Azii, let alone be lucky enough to marry him. We spend our lives being inundated with idealistic relationships and Disney nonsense and, on the flip side, people making sure we know that it’s not all perfect and amazing, not to expect to meet ‘the one’. But they forget to mention that we Can meet someone who’s perfect for us (not perfect, no ones perfect, but perfect for us) and that they Can love us back and that we can be happy. I’m not saying we’re perfect, just that he’s perfect for me.
We had some amazing people with us on our wedding day (Plus the ones who were there in the evening, and those who weren’t able to make it but sent their love) and we’re so lucky that those people are a part of our lives – This year that was highlighted in many many ways.
This monkey has changed from a pre-schooler in to a proper little boy – He’s not the easiest child. all of the time, but he Is the most loving, sweet, cheeky, clever little lad and he’s learning more every day.
And this little princess was the perfect bridesmaid – She overcame some scary surgery times at the beginning of the year and came out fighting stronger than ever. She’s just such an amazing little girl; Ethan and I, and the rest of the family, are lucky to have her in our family now too.
This year may not have been easy but, thankfully, we have plenty of amazing things to look back on to balance out the difficult. But I’m still hoping for even better things in 2015.

I’m not one for resolutions, the only one I ever really made was at the beginning of 2012 and that was to not pressure myself to blog just because… within two weeks I was blogging daily because without pressuring myself I realised that I Wanted to blog. So I seem to do reverse resolutions if anything.

But, without resolutions, I think it’s still possible to cash in on the ‘clean slate’ feeling that you get from a new year. I have a number of hopes for this year, as well as things I’d like to improve upon.

– I hope for better health and a whole lot less surgery for those I love.
– I hope for better health for myself, too, and more answers about the causes of the bad health. 

– I want to try and loose some of the weight I’ve put on; not all of it, and not in a super diet way, just gently. 
– I want to raise my voice less with Ethan (even if he makes me want to tear my hair out a lot).
– I hope we find some financial stability, of sorts. 
– I hope we end up, in whatever way, in a situation where we can consider growing our family by one more member. 
– I want to try to write. That novel is in there somewhere, I’m sure of it. 
What about you, do you do resolutions? Or do you just have hopes and dreams for the future year without the pressure of rules and goals?

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I didn’t use my big camera on Christmas, I just grabbed my little snapper so I could get a few shots. I haven’t even done any bigger ‘haul’ style photos of everything we got because getting everything together feels like a big deal (plus I mostly got money) and Ethan got far too much to photograph – He was very very lucky this year, he got SO many books, he got pyjamas, he got board games, some creative kits and then lots of figures and lego. He got gifts from us (which were almost all massive bargains), from Grandparents and Great Granparents, Aunts and Uncles, Cousins, friends… he’s a very lucky little boy.

Our morning started much later than we expected, with Ethan not waking until after 8! We snuggled in to bed and opened our stockings together before having a breakfast of crumpets in bed – In Ethan’s stocking he got lots of lego, some My Little Pony Figures, some Pokemon and plenty of other little games and bits and bobs. My Mum did Azii a stocking and he, mostly, got chocolate plus some arty bits for his model painting and some socks and essentials. In my stocking I got a lot of chocolate, too, some bargain beauty products, some fluffy socks, some pyjama trousers and a few bits of stationery – My Mum does good stockings!

After the stocking fun we ventured downstairs.

This was Ethan’s mammoth pile of gifts (That sack holds So much it’s like a tardis) and he had more under the tree – These weren’t all from us, haha, plenty from other family and friends too.
Daddy had the rather good idea of giving Ethan his Lego Advent calendar as he knew he’d end up giving it to him anyway – So that added to the lego collection somewhat. 

The Playmobil style pirate ship was a hit, hehe, he loves pirates at the moment. 

His Power Rangers Megazord from Nanny Corinne was a big surprise and put a massive smile on his face. 
He got Minecraft figures from Chris, he does love Minecraft. 

There was a Lot of Power Ranger related items, haha, he got Power rangers things from so many people. Note the token Dalek and Minecraft figure in there, too, haha. 

Lego overdose! As well as the calendar and a couple of smaller sets he had some amazing little bag sets from Chris and an elf’s workshop from Chris too. 

Minecraft! 
Azii skipped the Christmas paper, for my gifts, and he wrapped my presents in this beautiful Kidston-esque paper instead, which I Love!

Ned and Arya are Azii’s, from me, and Joffrey and one of the Fire Alarm Minion’s are Azii’s from a subscription box but the rest were mine from him. I got glittery Olaf, Mrs Potts and Chip, a Fire Alarm Minion, Gizmo and gold Smaug – Quite an amazing Pop Vinyl haul! Our duplicate Fire Alarm Minion has been sold to Chris and we’re using the earnings from that to buy a Sauron. 

Azii also got me two boxes of Malteasers and two packs of the Cadbury mix ups which have the oreos in, I’m addicted. 

And to prove that he didn’t just get me Pops he got me the ‘300 Rise of an Empire’ dvd – Very much looking forward to this as I love the original 300 movie. He also gave me a bit of money so that I could buy myself something.
My sister gave us the beautiful, massive picture frame in the back and my Dad and Step Mum gave us the beautiful heart shaped one in the front. As well as the frame my Dad and Step Mum gave us a beautiful duvet set and gave me a lovely beauty set. 

My Mum, mostly, gave me money but she also put together a lovely little hamper-style box for me with bargain bits and bobs in that she knew I’d like. 

There was some really cool bowls, loads of bargain Christmas decorations, some beautiful yarn and a really handy little cook book. 
Knowing that I can’t spent a lot of time cooking, due to pain, this is a great idea – I think lots of my fellow spoonie friends could do with this too. 

My Nan bought me some lovely beauty bits and splashed out on some Estee Lauder and some Clinique, I’m very lucky. 

And this beautiful little makeup bag was from my Nan, too, it’s instantly become my handbag makeup bag which I keep a few bits of makeup in as well as any tablets I’m taking out and essentials like pens (which I normally forget haha). 
We had a lovely Christmas dinner of steak with veggies, pigs in blankets, stuffing balls and steak sauce – It was amazing! We’ve done lots of toy playing, nice food eating and film watching this Christmas. As well as that we took Ethan to the cinema for the first time, and saw Paddington, and we went to harvester and had a real bargain feast – This was a gift to all of us from my Mum and her Husband. 
We were all very lucky – I was going to tell you about what Azii got but I don’t have pics of a lot of it and I think the post is long enough! He’s had money for sub boxes, computer games, money for more Pops and other things too – Like I said, we’ve all been incredibly lucky and we have very generous and kind people in our lives. 

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Ok so I’m not in to time travel (though that’d be mightily handy!) I’m writing this up as a December and January haul because we’re right on the cusp and these things should still be available in stores in January so you might want this showing up in January haul searches… I’m so considerate aren’t I, hehe.

It’s been a while since I went to Primark, I really only go when I’ve had a hospital appointment, but this week we went to town in an entertainment capacity! Cue shock and horror! My Mum and her husband paid for the three of us to go to the cinema and get some food and, whilst we were in town, we decided to pop to a few shops – Would’ve been very wrong if one of them wasn’t Primark, especially as I have Christmas money to spend!

My main aim of getting clothes from Primark was because I have put weight on this past six months and, so, I want to get a few bits and bobs that I can wear more comfortably – I can still fit in to a lot of my size 10 clothes but not all of them and not always comfortably. I want to loose weight again so don’t want to get TOO much because I want to have a reason to loose that weight again.

First up I bought two pairs of pyjama trousers – These furry festive red and white ones captured my attention instantly; they have pockets and cuffed ankles which make them practical as well as comfortable, cuffed ankles are great when they’re a longer pair so you aren’t always tripping over the ends. These were £6 and they’re amazingly comfortable.

This second pair was reduced, they were £6 down to £4 which is great. I love the pink and black check pattern and the fabric is really soft and comfy; ultimate in lounge wear. I got both pairs of these in 14-16 which are far too big for my 10-12 sized waist but I knew that the 10-12 would fit and I wanted something big and super comfy; these stay up but also have Lots of stretching room which mean they don’t cling or dig in at all.

I needed a pair of size 12 jeans and I’ve been considering getting some joggers, too, and thankfully I found the perfect pairs of both on the visit.

I couldn’t find a pair of size 12 joggers in a style/colour I wanted so I ended up with this size 14 pair but, thankfully, they have a draw string so they won’t be falling down. They have cuffed ankles, too, so they aren’t massively baggy – On someone who was a size 14 these would be a more fitted style but on me they’re roomy and oh-so comfy. I need joggers because, with the fibro, buttons are very hard work and, often, the seams of jeans rub and if I’m having a sensitive skin day it’s really uncomfortable. This means that I often end up in pjs all day but I want to feel like I can get dressed but stay just as comfy – These were £7 and I want another pair!

These jeans are a style I’ve not tried before, I love high waisted jeans but super high waisted is a bit of a revelation. I love the mottled blue of this fabric, too, I don’t have that shade either. These were £10 and, although I’m not quite a size 12 in jeans they’ll stay up and give me lots of breathing room. Honestly, I wish there were a size 11, I’d comfortably fit there!

I saw a floral tee hanging on one of the sale racks and I just knew it’d have a totally out of place design printed on it (normally sports numbers?)… when I saw that the out of place design was the Juarssic Park logo this tee went in to my basket in no time at all! I Love Jurassic park, I love floral tees… this could’ve been made for me, honestly. I got it in a size 12 and it cost me £3 due to it being on the sale rack –  woohoo

I got two long sleeved tops, too, as I trawled. The rose print top on the left was another bargain, at £3 this was a definite must-have. It’s a light weight sweatshirt and for that price I couldn’t be happier, and oh that print is gorgeous!

On the right I have a super soft, light knit top in a charcoal colour. I felt how soft this fabric was and threw it in the basket straight away without realising that it has a zip in the back but hopefully that won’t make it too uncomfortable as the fabric is a bit wow when it comes to comfort. This was £6.

Last couple of items here – I forgot to put the leggings in my bottom half photos so I popped them in here. I find Primark leggings a bit mad for sizing as sometimes I still comfortably fit in to a 10 and some 12’s are tight. These are just plain black, viscose leggings and they were £3 – They’re amazingly comfy and that’s all that matters to me.

I bought a new umbrella a while ago but it got blown inside out and wouldn’t go the right way so it went in to the bin on the way to school so I had an opening for a new brolly. This black one with plum coloured roses, a frilly edging and curved handle, for £4, was perfect.

To be honest I was hoping to be blown away and re-vamp my whole wardrobe when I went in to Primark but I was lacking in time and a lot of the things in there just weren’t for me. BUT there was lots of beautiful things in there that I know others will like and, so, I expect a lot of people would be in their element – Because comfort was primary for me it meant that a lot of beautiful things just weren’t quite right.

Hopefully I’ll be able to go back to my size 10’s but still wear these 12’s, over this year, I guess we’ll see haha. It was nice to have some money in Primark, I may attempt a later Jan or early Feb visit to see if there’s anything else I can pick up and you can be sure that, if I do, I’ll post it for you!

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I have heard SO much about the Lancome Hypnose mascaras that it was really difficult to decide which of the ‘Lovely Eyes’ sets that I wanted – I did some research, though, and looked at the effects of their different mascaras; I looked at the Hypnose ‘Star’, ‘Drama’ and ‘Doll Eyes’ and Doll eyes came out as an obvious front runner as the separation and lengthening is Exactly what I look for in a mascara. You can be sure I was itching to try it out and see if it worked as well for me as it did on the photos I saw during my research. 

House of Fraser is a great place to look if you want to try out some Lancome products, they stock a wide range of their items, as well as a fantastic number of other beauty items. They’d be an amazing place to pop in to if you’re one of these people that does your Christmas shopping on the last few days, too, you could find no end of beauty treasures!

You also might want to keep an eye on House of Fraser between the 24th December and the 4th January (wink wink) as they’re having a 12 Days of Christmas promotion which will see a number of beauty items with great reductions! I can’t tell you what any of those items are (I’m not allowed to know myself, eek the excitement) but I know I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out, myself, what better a way to spend Christmas money than some amazing beauty bargains?!

The Hypnose ‘Lovely Eyes’ sets* aren’t, necessarily, going to be something that are reduced but they’re a great example of the sorts of thing that will be.

The sets are £22.50 and contain a 30ml ‘Bi-Facial’ makeup remover, a Hypnose mascara and a mini, black khol liner – All of that together for that price would make an amazing gift, don’t you think? (Sorry about the weird haze on the photo, the reflectiveness didn’t want to capture properly but you can see how beautiful the set is, imagine presenting that to a loved on in a few days time!)

I am in love with the packaging of this ‘Hypnose – Doll Eye’ mascara – The roses are just the perfect touch and make this stand out as a higher end product, little details like this really do make a product look that extra bit more beautiful.  

As you can see I have naturally long, dark lashes so I don’t go for mascaras which make too much volume; I like mascaras that separate, give a nice curl and make my lashes that little bit darker. Sorry about the brows, they seriously need some work, lazy lazy!
And just look at that! My lashes aren’t too thick, they’ve not gone spidery it’s just given them a lovely fanned out look with lots of extra curl and some length. Honestly Love this mascara. It does it without too much fuss, I only needed one coat and the transformation is obvious to see. Very, very nice mascara.

The makeup remover and khol are a lovely addition to the set as they give you the chance to finish off your eye look as well as taking it off again at the end of the day. They remover does a lovely job and the khol is, as you’d expect, really easy to use and it glides on – The mini size is great for travel and could be really handy if you want to do handbag top ups.

Very impressed with this set and if this is a vague example of the sort of thing that will be included in House of Fraser’s 12 days of Christmas deal (which starts tomorrow!!) then I can’t wait to see what’s actually in the offers!

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*This is a collaborative feature, but of course I am writing my honest thoughts. For more information see my Disclaimer*

I am loving being sent these Degustabox subscription boxes – There’s not been a single item, thus far, that I’ve really disliked, which is impressive when you think about it! I love that you get a mix of snacks and some cupboard items which add to your normal repertoire and give you something different, and interesting, to cook with plus the odd little extra different thing. It’s a fantastic idea for someone who needs things shaking up, or who has a limited budget but wants some extras to make their food more interesting. For £12.99 a month you get an exciting, mystery foody box which I think is a rather good bargain and if you want to get £3 off you can use my code: 9NS65

Cute little Christmas sticker to seal up the box, this month, and is there festive treats inside?
Snacky things first! There’s only a few snack bits in the box, but at this time of year I expect lots of our homes are brimming with sweet and savoury treats, already, so we’re unlikely to be lacking!

I have a real soft spot for Bahlsen biscuits, I get sent them via their book club and other things and they make really, really delicious products – The ‘Choco Leibniz’ biscuits are something we’ve often bought because there’s something rather addictive about their mix of buttery biscuit and delicious chocolate and so we’re not complaining at getting these. The caramel ones… my goodness the caramel ones are just amazing. If you’ve people coming over for Christmas then these would be great and if you don’t like mince pies then maybe Santa would like a couple of these biccies left out for him instead, haha. Packs of these cost £1.79 each.

Pop Chips are something else I really enjoy, they’re light but full of flavour – Very pleased that I got the Barbeque flavour as this is my absolute favourite when it comes to these. These’d be lovely to share if you have guests, or maybe if you have a snacky evening meal on Christmas day (like we do) or… if you’re like me they might be a great accompaniment to watching Masterchef in the evening, hehe. These large bags cost £1.79.

Drinks next – A good drink is something that a lot of people enjoy over the festive period and these offerings seem to suit nicely.

The Eusberg ‘Riesling Italico’ alcohol free wine might not make everyone excited, lots of people want them some booze over Christmas, but I was Very happy to see this. Just as I was learning to enjoy the taste of wine I started taking medication which reacted really badly to it and, so, I can’t drink it any more! As such,something that tastes similar but has no alcohol in, is the perfect thing for me to sip of an evening, or enjoy on Christmas day when others have a drink. These bottles cost £3.49.

Next up is four cans of Glo Worm  stimulating drinks. These are supposed to be great as mixers with a spirit and, each, has a spirit which they go better with. We have four flavours (Nice to not get all the same) which are ‘Pear, Spice & Lime’, ‘Ginger & Lemongrass’, ‘Cucumber & Apple’ and ‘Raspberry & Orris’. I don’t drink a lot so I’m not sure I’ll use these with their alcoholic counterparts but the flavours sound amazing so I think I’ll give them a go on their own – These sound great for someone who likes a good mixer, though, and they’re £1.50 a can.

Lastly we have a box of Pukka Herbs tea – I have a Lot of boxes of their teas but I’ve not tried this flavour before. ‘Clean Green’ sounds like a lovely, fresh way to start the morning, especially during a time of over indulgence, haha! When we’ve had a lot of good food, and sometimes a few drinks, it can be lovely to have something tasty, and uplifting, the next morning so I can imagine this’ll be a saviour of many this year. These boxes cost £2.39.

Cupboard items, next. We have another item from Kent’s Kitchen this month, which I’m not unhappy with. I think their flavour shots, curry kits etc are just fantastic and it’s so nice to have everything you need all in one set – In this Madras set there’s an infused oil, a curry paste and some spices which, with some meat, will make a tasty meal. I am wondering if a Madras will be too warm for the whole family but it smells Amazing. These kits are £2.50.

Ethan is obsessed with marmalade – He’s always liked to steal some of Grandma’s toast when she has it with marmalade on and we’ve been reading Paddington recently which has increased the obsession. As such this is rather perfect for us to get, this will  be lovely to have on toast on Christmas morning, after we’ve opened stockings but before we’ve gone down down for the rest of presents. I also think this rather lovely Bonne Maman course marmalade would be delicious to use as an ingredient if you’re doing some festive baking, I’m thinking marmalade loaf cake… mmmm. These jars are £2.30.

Another breakfast item is this sachet of Oats from The Chia Co is rather intriguing. I’ve tried Chia seeds, before, and have considered getting some to use more regularly but not got around to it – They’re something where you might struggle to work out how to add them in to your diet so this porridge could be a really interesting way to include them in your diet. Mixed berry flavour sounds lovely and you only need to add water so I don’t need to worry about getting special milk to take it with – These sachets are £1.70. (We also got a little tube of the seeds, on their own, which will be good to try out again)

Lastly we have a bottle of Frylight Garlic infused oil. I had absolutely no idea you could get flavour infused versions of these oil sprays so this was an interesting one for me. I couldn’t help but open the bottle to give it a sniff and WOW, the smell is amazing! I half thought that because it’s a ‘light’ product the flavour/scent would be light, too, but oh no it smells phenomenal. We’ve not cooked with it yet but I’ve got a number of ideas of how it’ll work with various things, can’t wait to see how this adds to the flavour of a dish. These bottles cost £2.

I like this box a lot, there’s things in there for everyone (Or just for me if I steal them, of course!) – Plenty of lovely things to use within a festive setting, or just to enhance the every day. The value of the items comes in at well over £20 so you’re getting really great value for money, too.

If you want to check Degustabox out then there Facebook is here, and their Twitter is here

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I was sent this box for consideration for review purposes – All opinions are honest and are my own.