The Bigger Picture.

So it’s Valentine’s Day, hurrah. An occasion marked by Clintons where you are required to purchase some kind of gift for your loved one. Over lavishing is frowned upon as wasteful but arriving home present-less leaves you in the doghouse. I have always said presents are pointless for Valentines, extravagance is completely unnecessary; I am more for the gesture and effort behind it.

I am usually pretty awful when it comes to Valentines and, admittedly, expect more than I give. This year however, I decided to change my ways and pull out all the stops. Don’t get overexcited or anything – It’s not that amazing; it’s fairly good, I’ll give myself that.

So the idea originated from Not on the High Street; a photo frame with three separate maps in a shape of a heart of where you and your partner met, married and lived. I also did some digging and found a blogger who had a very successful attempt at it. I thought it was very cute and such a personal gift, but unwilling to part with £78, I took it upon myself to get creative.

I bought the wooden frame from Amazon, the map secondhand from Amazon and used plain white A4 paper I had home.

I used autoshape on MS Word for the heart template, adjusted it to fit the A5 frame, printed it and then cut it out. Placing the template on top of the towns where we met, married and lived, I drew carefully around the heart with a pencil.

 After a few rubbings out and redrawing, I cut out the heart shapes on the map.

Once they had all been cut out, I rubbed out the pencil marks that were left around the heart. Using the A4 paper, I halved it into A5 size so it would fit the frame and stuck the heart in the middle. This sounds easier than it actually was; it took quite some time to centre the heart and ensure the space was consistent in all three frames.

After a lot of fiddling about with scissors and glue, whilst trying to keep DS preoccupied, I can proudly say I have actually made something that actually isn’t too bad.

Happy Valentines Day DH :)

Toys Are Us.

So Christmas has been and gone as fast as it came, leaving a trail of oversized plastic monstrosities and a mother desperate for more storage. It appears last year’s storage solutions are no longer fit for the job and I now have specific corners of each room dedicated for DS’ toys and books.

I have managed to hide all plastic out of sight, in places easily accessible to DS. They are just such an eyesore, tasteless and oh so American. We have lots of wooden toys, which are just (or even more so) enjoyable and they are mechanically very clever. Like the snail pull along toy that bobs up and down when pulled across the room, or the intricate detail in the tools for work bench we bought DS for one of his Christmas presents. Classic, impressive and definitely not tacky. Actually, let me tip toe back a bit, I do like Lego. I’ll give you that.

For comparison; classic wooden car park Grandma bought DS..

VS.

..a plastic monstrosity. Luckily we didn't receive this.

I am planning on getting rid of old toys to allow for more space this week, but I am a secret hoarder for memories. I know cannot continue following DS through life with a hoover in one hand and a suction bag in another. I am setting myself up for a fall when he lives for University and I am left at home clutching at his toggle coat from aged 1 and playing with his Mega Bloks.

Santa Baby..

Following last year’s Christmas list, four(ish) out of five was not bad at all. It does not bother me that I did not receive all the things I wanted on Christmas day per se, as they became treats throughout the year. I received the white gold stud earrings from DH and we went to see Les Miserables for our wedding anniversary. The Mulberry MacBook Pro sleeve and the MacBook Air was dismissed for and even better upgrade and ol’ Lizzie has since become a good friend of mine.

I am not avaricious enough to write endless blog posts detailing each and every item I wish to buy, so similarly to last year, I have narrowed down to my top five most desired items. In no particular order..

1. Mulberry French Purse in Fudge Glossy Buffalo

I would love a matching purse to my Mulberry bag in the same glossy buffalo colour. I would prefer Holly but my current purse is busting with random loyal cards, debit cards, discount cards and whatnot, I fear having a zip purse just would not do. I guess I should think about removing that (probably expired) gym membership card.

2. Generally more clothes

I find it difficult parting with my cash selfishly and am always keen for the money to be spent on DS instead. I also detest paying more for something at retail price, when inevitably it will go on sale. I mean, there is no one item of clothing I am so desperate to have that I cannot wait, or just get over if it is no longer available. Buying into what is in season is just a con – the same item as the previous year with a different bar code. Knitted jumpers in season this year? No one has ever thought of that before.

3. iPhone 4S

I am very much an Apple geek, so it is pretty shocking I do not already own an iPhone. Unfortunately I have another year with the ol’ Android phone, so alas, this will definitely not be in my stocking.

4. prescription glasses

This is an odd one and not really an item ‘wish’ for, just I am too stingy bitter to purchase glasses myself. I have two pairs already I purchased in my first year of university; I did not want two, I bought the second pair upon losing the first, only to find them later in a drawer. What’s worse is that Specsavers managed to get the prescription in both pairs utterly wrong, thus causing me to have a complete lack of spacial awareness when driving, which I think is pretty crucial. I am so bitter about the whole thing, having spent a fair amount of dosh on both pairs. After many years, I am still having a not-so-silent protest about buying my third pair.

5. A Spa

I would have said tickets for the theatre or some kind of gig/concert, but given the fast pace of my life these days, it is not really viable. A holiday would be up there too, but with DS so young and the stress embodied even within the word holiday, I am not sure we could handle the actual thing. Thus I have opted for a spa break just for myself on my wish list. I am in dire need of some pampering and relaxation.

The Politics of Buying Presents.

We are hurtling through the months and with each day we are nearing to Christmas. Yes I said it, CHRISTMAS. Some will fully embrace Christmas in all its glory, some will roll their eyes at such a mention in September.

I stand apathetically in the middle, knowing full well the presents need to be bought in advance to ensure enough time has been given for research, yet also realising it would be a little premature to add All I want for Christmas is You to my playlist. Readers do not fret, I have not become overly joyous at the prospect of celebrating a made up day (yes, even if you do consider Jesus’ birth), I am still my skeptical self.

I wrote my Christmas list over the weekend, including a column of potential gifts/ideas and one for gifts I had already purchased for particular people. I like to be super ready for the following year by purchasing gifts, wrapping paper and cards in the January sale; not just Christmas cards, but I mentally(!) add up all the birthdays over the year and buy the most fitting cards. I like to think coupling my OCD organisation skills with my love for shopping means I am onto a winner.

My list has become slightly biased with DS’ column vastly overpopulated, whilst others are looking, well, a little bare. Of course by Christmas day everyone on the list will have a present, just some family members require a little more thought. There are always considerations to be made; whether the person will actually like the gift, the financial set back, how the gift will bode with their siblings. And with children, there is the difficulty of remembering their age. My cousins are now in their teens, but for some unknown reason, they are still below the age of ten in my head. I need to keep reminding myself that Barbies are not appropriate.

But of course before all that, you need to get back to basics; who is on the list? In my family we only buy for the children and my Grandma. I use to be the one who received gifts, but since the arrival of DS I have become present-less in some kind of hierarchal pass down. This does not bother me, my baby boy can have it all. We have since adopted the same approach to present buying, only including ourselves, children and grandparents on the list. Adults can purchase anything they wish all year round, children are the ones who must wait for treats on special occasions. However, it is always nice to give a little something from DS to certain people, like grandparents. DH and I also tend to buy each other gifts from DS, as well as presents to one another.

Although we have our own ideas for gifts and who to buy them for, there is always the politics of the reciprocator’s own rules to buying presents. Some buy for all regardless, some expect more from you and some will expect nothing at all.