The Dresses and Hangovers of Birthdays past.

With just a few days until my 26th Birthday I thought I would do a bit of reminiscing on birthdays gone by. I am one of those really annoying people who see’s their own birthday as a big deal and I start thinking about it as soon as Valentine’s Day is out of the way. You’d think maybe by now the novelty would have worn off a little and I’ll  have stopped wanting to celebrate getting older but nah, I’m still totally there for a day that’s all about me. Actually not a day, a month. I justify everything I buy or do as a birthday treat in April.

Birthday celebrations have obviously evolved as the years have gone by. My main memories of birthdays when I younger are mum’s mars bar cake, TGI Fridays, sleepovers and mum waking me up with a personalised happy birthday tape which started with ‘who’s birthday is it today?’ ‘It’s Katie’s birthday today!’ I still say it to myself a lot on my birthday to be honest, the word’s just still get me really excited.

My 18th Birthday was the ultimate and as much as I’d like to repeat it every year nothing can ever top it. At the time, my 18th Birthday felt like the biggest thing in the world, I thought once I was 18, and no longer had to worry about borrowing a convincing ID for nights out, that everything in my world would be easier. Spoiler: I was wrong. But it did take me a while to realise, I was just so pumped up on adrenaline, excitement and possibility. My 18th birthday and the time around it was one of the happiest times of my life; my family were healthy, my friendships were strong, I was skinny and always tanned thanks to my addiction to St Moritz and my birthday was just this huge pink-themed peak of goodness in the middle of it.

I had started to plan my 18th birthday months and months before I actually needed to. I think I sent the facebook invitations in the January, bought the decorations even earlier and by the day came everyone else but me was probably fed up of hearing about it. But it was all worth it and I had the best time ever. My Mum joined in the hype, as Ange takes any excuse to be a bit extra. She actually maybe went a little too extra on this occasion. She seemed to have everything personalised with my face and name, the banners, coasters, wrapping paper. She ordered 25 8 serving pies for my family day time party and made a 6 tier display of pink and silver cupcakes. We had a cocktail fountain which by the end of the night, the contents was very questionable and at some point my party pessimistic Dad got really into it and started cracking open bottles of champers. It was such a blur of pink glitter, my own face everywhere, cocktails, a tactical chunder, the Macarena and my very best friends. A night I’ll definitely always remember forever.

Then came the alcohol years…birthdays meant dangerous birthday punch, strange coloured shots, a lot of cleaning up in our uni flat the next day and about a month of regret afterwards.

FYI: Birthday Punch is a very important birthday tradition we started at uni and one I’m really happy to share and encourage everyone to adopt.

You will need: A lot of Jelly sweets, laces, bears, lips and teeth, cola bottles, as much as you get your hands on but definitely enough to fill at least a quarter of a large mixing bowl.

The majority of a bottle of vodka.

A bottle of lemonade (not all at once, keep topping it up).

Just put it all in the bowl keep giving it a stir.

I don’t know if it makes you drunk or just gives you an immense sugar high but you’ll definitely have a great night and heaps of energy for running round the club like a mad woman.

To talk a little about birthday outfits, anybody else see their birthday outfit as the most important of the year? I have a collection of years of birthday dresses in my wardrobe at my Mum and Dad’s, that I will probably never wear again but still will never part from. Each year I’ve tended to have an image in my head of what I would like before I’ve seen it or usually before I’ve even come up with a birthday plan. The birthday plan then is created to fit the outfit. For instance in the picture above I am wearing a dress covered in animals, hence a jungle themed party. And the yellow dress below, that was for my 21st, I was only going to have a party at uni but a whole new Yarm party was created as an excuse to wear it, it seemed a little too nice to wear to the grotty (but great) student clubs in Sheffield. Every outfit I have now from birthdays gone by is a memory of an occasion and a happy time in my life, to me they all represent what was happening in my life at the time I bought them and wore and that makes them feel pretty special.

For my 23rd Birthday, in 2015, I was living as an Au Pair in Italy. I’ll always remember as the statement ‘complianno di Katie, lei ha Ventitre anni’ will always be stuck in my head. I celebrated the night before by heading out to my favourite bar with my Italian friends and being photographed taking a shot from a syringe…..

The next day I woke up to a hangover and sunshine. I carried the cards and presents I’d received off my family in advance to the breakfast table to open with my Italian fam. The strangest thing was how they were blown away by my cards, Italians just don’t do cards, and they found them so interesting. I had a lunch time tea party with my Italian aunty that day and then went to choose a birthday present of shoes with Nonno, my Italian Grandad who recently passed away. That afternoon with him on my birthday choosing new shoes at a shoe shop in the little town where he lived will always be a very precious memory to me. A few days later I continued the celebrations on a break to Florence with my Italian Mamma, saw some beautiful sites, drank beer and ate good food, that’s one that’s definitely up there with the best of birthday treats.

These days birthdays are seeming a bit more sophisticated. Except for my 24th when I ended up in the Wobbly Goblin in Stockton at 4a.m. I’ll never be justifying that decision as a birthday treat. Instead of birthday punch and 3a.m McDonald’s it’s now more prosecco, pretty cocktails and fine dining. We have just got back from an amazing spa break at Rudding Park (blog post on that one coming soon!), spending Friday celebrating with my parents and have something very exciting booked for Sunday. My outfit for this year is exactly what I imagined, it’s like New Look read mind and was delighted when I found it! I can’t wait to share at the weekend!

Katie x

The Most Wonderful time of the Year.

Merry Christmas everyone, Let the festivities begin!

Most people who know me know that I am one of those really annoying Christmas enthusiasts. I love it and nothing offends me more than the words ‘we’re not going all out for Christmas this year, just a quiet one’. Why would anybody ever do that to themselves?
It’s perfect: the time of year when chocolate for breakfast, day time drinking and eating till you need to lie down are just the polite things to do.
I’m guilty of taking It quite seriously, I begin mentally menu planning in September, begin stocking up for the Christmas treat table in October, recipe rehearsals in November, usually have shopping done by the start of December and I once spent 4 hours in Middlesbrough town centre in a dilemma over which was the best wrapping, ribbon and tag combination. And don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve listened to Micheal Buble’s Christmas album.
(This years wrapping paper is from Tesco, with personalised ceramic tags from Luna Moon Creations on Etsy.)
It’s my thing. It’s genuinely maybe my main talent.
This time last year I was coming to the end of 2 months travelling in Australia and New Zealand so I missed the whole Christmas build up. We had a late Christmas Day when I got back, just before New Year, which was lovely, but I do feel I have to compensate a little this year for missing last. And, with breaking up from school super early on the 15th, there are 9 full days of pre-christmas festive activities. And by pre-christmas festive activities, I mainly mean watching every crappy Hallmark Christmas film and baking mince pies.
I’ve come up with a list of Christmas pointers and necessities! It’s based on a list I first wrote in 2014 for the blog I kept while living in Italy. I’ve updated it and added to it for this post, but most of it still -and always will -stand true:
1. When Christmas shopping, don’t follow people’s ‘lists’. Never. It’s not about what they want to have, it’s about what you want them to have. I know my Dad hates novelty socks, but I love to see my Dad in novelty socks, so he’ll just have to act grateful and wear them when he’s with me. And that’s what Christmas is all about.
2. You should probably emphasise that it’s very important that other people do actually follow your ‘list’ although they can deviate from the list if they think of something better, more personal and more expensive. They’re the rules of lists.
3. Buy everything in Christmas packaging. I’m a sales man’s dream in December. Do I need Cornflakes?Do I regularly eat cornflakes? No. But am I going to buy a giant box with Santa on it? Yes, of course I bloody am.
4. Do the Christmas food shop in Marks and Spencer’s at 4 a.m. This is completely pointless as it’s just as busy as it is during the day. But still it’s fun and festive and you pick out something nice for your  breakfast when you get in.
5. Buy posh crisps in obscure flavours. You’ll find them in April and be really confused as to why you thought they were a good idea, but still, you’ll eat them one night when you’re peckish.
6. Take a day, or in my case 9,  before Christmas to literally just watch Christmas films and all the greatest Christmas specials.
7. Take a day after Christmas just to simply enjoy and immerse yourself in all of your presents. This day was a lot more fun when I didn’t just get shower gel and underwear,but it’s still always a lovely day.
8. Present displays. No grandparents or aunties or cousins ask to see my presents anymore, but I still like to make a little display in my room.
9. ‘He’s been’ have absolutely got to be your first words on Christmas morning.
10. As of 1st December (or maybe a week or so before), make everything Christmas themed. Socks, towels, toilet roll, bedding, hand wash, washing up liquid, bleach. Everything.
(Our pretty festive flat! Pretty mistletoe heart is from Rose and Ena, find them on Instagram!)
11. Supermarket tour. Go to every supermarket as you never know what they’ll have that’s a bit different. And buy all flavoured fresh creams you can find. Yup yup. That’s an important one. You probably won’t get round to trying them all but it’s comforting to know you can if you want. Also track down the shop with the best offer on Terry’s Chocolate Oranges; this year Tesco did buy 1 get 2 free -an absolute steal!
12. My Mam suggested the tip of don’t buy crackers because they are completely pointless. But my tip would be this: if your Mam says this, buy her crackers as a Christmas present. They are not pointless; they’re fun and festive.
13. Have family nights after Christmas where you watch each others new DVD’s. It’s this tradition that enlightened my Mam about the delight of Gatsby and made us realise my Dad is just too Boro Bloke to understand Les Mis.
(This was one from my original post from 2014 which I loved and didn’t want to take out but now I’m wondering if getting DVD’s is still a thing?! 2014 was a simpler time…)
14. Do not, do not, ever, let your brother win the argument of ‘we’re in our twenties now and we’re too old for hanging- up -stocking photos’. He’s wrong. Never too old. Also force your other half to have a photo with you too. It’s unlikely the photos will ever be shared ‘cos they’re never flattering as you’ll be make-up free and in your jarmies but it’s still quite important to have them.
15. Shop Small wherever you can. Attend local Christmas markets and craft fayres. Browse on Etsy, Not on the Highstreet and on Instagram. There are some beautiful prezzies, food and decorations out there and it’s so important to put money into small businesses. I’ll do a post on my favourite small shops sometime soon!
16. To feel super Christmassy and have a really lovely time go to a Christmas market. I think all cities now have one?! Get tipsy on mulled wine, pose in your cosy winter attire and eat a giant sausage. This year we had a girls’ weekend in Bath for the markets (more details at the end of this post!).
17. Christmas clothes and pyjamas are an absolute must. Update your whole wardrobe and underwear drawer to include festive pieces. Christmas jumpers, pyjamas and novelty socks are the most important I think! And in a world where there’s Primark, it isn’t very expensive to do!
18. It’s the only time of year when anybody in the UK buys a Radio Times. But it really wouldn’t be Christmas without it- it’s part of the family at Christmas time. And it’s so lovely to spend time reading through it choosing all the things you fancy sleeping through on cosy Christmas evenings and then rewatching the next day with a brew.
19. Boil a ham. It’s not Christmas till you’ve boiled a ham. Then live off it for days. It’s nice to boil it in cola, but then you can’t use the stock for soup, so, you decide.
20. Go all out on Christmas fragrances, everywhere. All the time. No non -cinnamon air until the middle January (See my previous blog post for some inspiration!).
As I mentioned a little bit earlier, at the start of the month, I went on a festive girls’ weekend to Bath! It was a perfect little weekend break! We went to the spa, ate and drank a lot and browsed the beautiful Christmas markets. With the cathedral as their back drop, they really did look beautiful and it was lovely to walk around sipping mulled wine. It’s such a beautiful city,I would 100% recommend it for a Christmassy mini break, but check the market dates as they finish Mid-December and be ready for crowds if you’re heading there on a weekend!
Speak again in the new year!
Bring on 2018!
Katie.