The Gift of Laughter

25 days of kindness – December 24th

It was Christmas Eve, babe. No, not quite in the drunk tank, but in a lovely little pub in the Lake District after a rather busy day.

I spent the morning watching the kiddie-winks in our local church nativity and answering the question “so, Mary, what are you doing now then?” at a rate of 10 per hour. I then successfully iced a couple of Christmas cakes (see featured image), wrapped some presents and cleaned up after Pippin who, with the help of an old bean bag decided to let it snow…

Dog explodes bean bag

When it came to my act of kindness for the day, there was only one thing for it: make a fool of myself for the benefit of others. Using the stickers my mum had bought as a joke, I decorated my face with glitter and diamantés until I vaguely resembled Rudolph in drag, and set off to the pub.

It made my parents laugh and a few fellow punters smile, but the best reaction by far was from a lad I will name ‘Jumpy Jack’. Clearly high on something more than just Christmas spirit, he pointed at me, frowned, then exclaimed, “It’s a reindeer!” and almost fell off his chair from screaming.

I doubt he will remember the unusual encounter come Christmas day, but I hope his friends will be there to remind him!

Only one more sleep now… I had better get to bed otherwise Santa won’t come…

 

Love,

Mary x

 

 

 

 

 

Liebster Award Nomination

On Wednesday I woke up to a lovely email from Keeley and Pete (a.k.a. vibeslifeus.com) explaining that they found my blog inspiring and have consequently nominated me for the Liebster Award! I was completely over the moon. While I’m aware that I do have a following (albeit a very small one), my decision to start blogging was for my own personal development. It was primarily to practise writing on a regular basis but also to work towards being a better person, so to hear that somebody else appreciates it really made my day.

Liebster rules

First of all, I would like to thank vibeslifeus for the nomination. A keen traveller myself, I find their blog about music, travelling and keeping your identity after becoming parents truly refreshing and look forward to hearing much more from them.

Vibeslifeus set me 10 questions to answer, so let’s get started!

 

Q and A

1. What is the most extreme thing you have ever done?

  • I wouldn’t say I have done anything extreme… though I do have a habit of going on spontaneous trips to far off places without much prior planning… oh, and I have also run a 6km race three-legged more than once…

2. What is the best memory that you have while travelling?

  • Sitting under a starry sky with absolutely no light pollution whatsoever.

3. If you could give someone £1,000,000 who would you give it to?

  • Probably my brother and his new wife so they can begin married life debt free (and hopefully invite me on a few awesome holidays too!).

4. Do you think education, as it is today, does justice to life and learning?

  • No, but then again, isn’t one of the joys of life finding things out for yourself?

5. When do you find time to blog?

  • I don’t find time, I make time.

6. Marmite, love it or hate it?

  • Hate is a strong word… but I definitely don’t love it!

7. Who are your 6 ultimate dinner party guests, and why?

  • Great question. Adele for her sense of humour, Judi Dench for her class, will.i.am because I think he would make her giggle, the comedian Jon Richardson because he’s both funny and local, Professor Brian Cox for providing interesting conversation and my allusive Italian cinema lecturer Stefano because he would always start telling the most unlikely stories but never finish them. I also feel like these people would gel as a group.

8. Have you ever visited a place just because you saw it in a book/series/animation/movie? What was that place?

  • I went to Savoca because it’s where part of the Godfather was filmed… but I am yet to actually watch the movie.

9. What would your superpower be?

  • Apparition (see Harry Potter).

10. What is your favourite book?

  • The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent.

 

11 random facts about myself

  1. I used to be able to do the rubix cube. (I need to relearn the combinations).
  2. I almost passed out in a hot yoga class in France.
  3. I have never broken a bone.
  4. I speak Italian and French fluently and can get by in German too.
  5. Parsnips are one of the few foods I would rather not eat.
  6. I can still do a straddle L sit from my limited gymnastics days.
  7. I really dislike the feeling of chalk on my hands (hence the gymnastics days being limited).
  8. I play the piano, guitar, ukulele, clarinet and sing with varying success.
  9. I drink at least 5 cups of tea a day.
  10. I love surfing but am quite scared of the sea.
  11. I have two mad spaniels called Skye and Pippin.

 

My nominations

  1. barnabasabroad.com
  2. thegoodenergysource.com
  3. helloprofessionalgirl.com
  4. lifewithdescom.wordpress.com
  5. knackereddadblog.wordpress.com

Questions for my nominees

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Tea or coffee?
  3. Do you have a life motto/an inspirational quote you try to live by?
  4. Tell me your guilty pleasure.
  5. What is your favourite time of year and why?
  6. Describe yourself in a haiku.
  7. What is your signature recipe and why do you like to make it?
  8. Tell me your favourite joke.
  9. What is your favourite mode of transport and why?
  10. Do you have a hidden talent?
  11. Tell me your best dinner party anecdote about yourself.

 

That’s it folks! Entries close on the 25th December so if you want to be considered then you should follow the rules before then.

 

Love,

Mary.

P.S. As my act of kindness for the day, I am doing a late night taxi service for my Dad – it’s his office Christmas party tonight. Oh, how the roles have reversed!

 

 

Three times a charm

25 days of kindness – December 20th

Three is usually a crowd, but not today.

The rough plan: a day out in my hometown to meet and old friend for a catch up and to sort out some last minute bits and bobs for Christmas.

Added bonus: the opportunity to carry out three acts of kindness that I wouldn’t normally do.

Numero uno (e due)

In light of my recent bedroom overhaul, I have a lot of books in need of a good home. My academic foreign language books are more likely to find an appreciative owner if I sell them online, but for general chick-lit novels and detective stories, Oxfam books is ideal.

However, I guessed the store’s opening time incorrectly (this seems to happen to me a little too often…), so with half an hour to kill in the damp British weather, I wandered into the nearest shopping mall. Almost immediately upon arriving I was collared by a representative for Amnesty International. Now, usually in this situation I would rattle off the unoriginal yet effective “Sorry, I’m in a bit of a rush!”, but I knew full well that this was an outright lie. So I stayed. And I listened. And I signed up. Am I in the financial position to subscribe to every charity who stops me in the street? Absolutely not, but one every now and again doesn’t hurt.

 

 

Harris Museum at Christmas

Last but not least

My wallet and load feeling somewhat lighter, I turned a corner and saw none other than a Big Issue vendor. If you read my blog yesterday, you would know that I bought the magazine when I was in Leeds, so before I had thought twice I found myself saying “Sorry mate, I’ve already got that one!” and walked away. Cursing myself for sounding so rude, I turned around and asked if I could get him a hot drink instead. “Ooh, a tea would be grand, thanks!” The man has good taste, I thought.

 

Love,

Mary x

P.S. I am thrilled to have been nominated for a Liebster Award, so watch this space for my Liebster post and nominations!

Run, run, as fast as you can…

25 days of kindness – December 17th

If in doubt, bake.

And if in doubt what to bake, bake biscuits.

Once again, it had been dark for hours before I realised I was yet to complete my daily act of additional kindness, so what better to do than whip up a few batches of festive gingerbread cookies for family and friends? Before a Gingerbread Man could say “YOU CAN’T CATCH ME I’M THE—”, I had turned to my trusty Taffy Thomas recipe and set to work melting, stirring, kneading and rolling.

The Gingerbread Man

Taffy Thomas is a local storyteller based in Grasmere, directly opposite Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread Shop. I have been using his recipe for as long as I can remember (to varying degrees of success!) as it is printed in a story book I have accompanying his version of The Gingerbread Man. In fact, I even vaguely recall icing statistics equations onto these biscuits in an attempt to literally digest my A level maths revision… hmm!

Anyway, here is the beautifully illustrated and simple recipe:

IMG_8561

Rather than rewrite the recipe, I would just like to add a few tips:

  • Sieve the self-raising flour before adding it to the mixture if you want to avoid lumpy biscuits!
  • Make sure you have plenty of plain flour to cover your surface before rolling so that the biscuits don’t stick.
  • Instead of oiling the baking tray I prefer to line it with grease-proof baking paper.
  • The baking time depends entirely on the thickness of your biscuits, so be vigilant! Mine only took 9 minutes (which I may or may not have discovered after burning the first batch!).
  • With small cookie cutters and thinly rolled mixture I managed to make OVER 90 biscuits, so you may well want to halve the quantities and use bigger templates!

When I have time, I like to wait for the biscuits to cool then make royal icing to lightly decorate them. Wrapped nicely in cellophane, these biscuits make a great Christmas gift!

Enjoy!

Love,

Mary x

Be kind to yourself

25 days of kindness – December 15th

Being kind to others is a way of being good to yourself.

I came across this quote by Harold Kushner today and I am completely on board. Not only does consciously being kind improve our feeling of self worth, but seeing someone appreciate our action can leave us with that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Yet after a difficult day and hours spent compiling lists of potential acts of kindness, nothing seemed a viable option… until I saw the following suggestion: be kind to yourself. And that’s when I realised that Harold Kushner’s idea concept can also work in reverse. Sometimes, you have to be good to yourself in order to be kind to others. Whether that’s taking a hot bath, sitting down to eat something delicious and nutritious, or in my case, drinking a big glass water, closing my laptop and getting an early night. It’s time to stop beating myself up about things I can’t change and to wake up tomorrow ready again to kill it with kindness.

Love,

Mary x

P.S. My cheek swab kit arrived today from DKMS blood stem cell donation! (See my post ‘Bloody Mary’ from December 7th).

Mirror, Mirror on the wall…

If you can’t feel festive and fabulous at your office Christmas party, then when can you?

Rocking a whole lot of glitter, tinsel and an elasticated waistband, I was ready for an evening of eating and dancing with the La Tete Et Tout girls.

But not before one of my favourite Christmas activities: Secret Santa. With a £10 budget, we all brought a present for an unknown recipient and swapped them around the table. I absolutely adore buying and wrapping gifts, so for me this was a present in itself. Having contributed a beautifully scented and locally sourced soy candle from Pale Barn, I was secretly hoping to receive my own gift. I did not, so, Pale Barn, feel free to send me all of your stock! All was not lost, though, since I am now the proud owner of a trio of floral body butters and two miniature bottles of flavoured gin!

I was having such a great night that I almost forgot about my act of kindness. Rummaging through my over-filled clutch, I found my pen and post-it notes and ran to the ladies’ loos to stick this on the mirror. All too often we are made to feel insignificant or worthless, so I just hoped this might remind some one that this is far from the case.

IMG_8537

My own regret is having written ‘you LOOK beautiful’ and not ‘you ARE beautiful’, because as we all know, beauty is everything but superficial.

Love,

Mary x

 

Feeling rotten

25 days of kindness – December 12th

There are few ways to feel more festive than by reading a children’s Christmas story.

I was skimming though The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher, purely to check if it might be a suitable gift for my Goddaughter, of course, and not at all for my own enjoyment… I’m a grown 23-year-old adult after all…

It was absolutely lovely and funny and silly as kids’ books should be, until a particular paragraph caught me off guard and I found myself completely choked.

Feeling rotten is much worse than just feeling bad or sad. Feeling rotten is when it seems like no one else in the world understands how you’re feeling.

Even though the story is written for children, it approaches a subject which people of all ages can relate to, whether you call it depression, being down in the dumps or “feeling rotten”. And whilst Christmas for many is a time of celebration, we mustn’t forget that for others it can be extremely isolating and lonely.

talk to us

I was immediately reminded of a post I had seen on my Facebook News Feed earlier today and felt I just had to share it.

It’s okay not to be okay 💙
Sometimes it’s easier talking to a stranger…
With Christmas adverts shouting about the ‘perfect’ life, this is more important than usual. The Samaritans, free call 116 123 (UK). A simple copy and paste might save a life.
Would 3 of my Facebook friends please copy this post?
#SuicideAwareness #MentalHealth #ItsGoodToTalk

It’s such a small and simple act, yet if seen at a critical moment, it could be life-saving.

Look out for each other… 💙

Love,

Mary x