Tag Archives: christmas

Things a’changing

There are days, when I question things about my life, and my choices. Today has been one of these forsaken days. Actually, I have been at it since 3AM, but that is beyond my point.

I was thinking about back in 2011, when I had my first Christmas alone, living far away from my family, friends, and on top of that, in another country – How courageous was I, to take such a big leap, leaving everything and everyone behind!

Before then, I have never lived alone, and I had no idea about the kind of responsibility and effort it entails to live and make ends meet at the end of the day, and month when all bills came crawling up. I have done a great job, and learned a lot from this experience.

When I have moved back to Malta, I was not willing to move back with the family, as I enjoyed my independent life too much to let go of it. So much so, that within a year of renting, I purchased my own property.

Although this made sense financially, this has indirectly tied me to this country without even realising at the time. Now that I have settled down in such a “grown up” lifestyle, it seems to me that I have become more self conscious when taking decisions. And I shall give you an example. This week, I was meant to travel, but my plans fell apart, and I have decided to give up the holiday based on two reasons:
1. I should not travel alone at night
2. Accommodation has risen up in price (it also being Christmas holidays, and included NYE), and a last minute purchase would have costed me my entire savings for my holiday.

If I did not have my house to worry about, and if I were not such a wuss, I would be in the UK right now, enjoying cold weather, possibly fog and snow, and beautiful beautiful scenery. How silly am I? Where has all my self confidence gone? What has tarnished my spirit in such a way?

And if you are wondering why I wrote this and why I am sharing this with my readers, it is because I want to be able to read this whenever I need to, so I do not repeat such thing ever again. And also, to try to keep reminding myself that not all my decisions in the past years have been as bad.

Now to try and live life guilt free… and keep moving forward… >>>

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Musicians who have left us in 2016

What a year it has been – So many musicians and singers I hold close to my heart have passed away. It is, hard to believe – From this perspective, 2016 has been an awful year.

Finger crossed that I won’t have to update this list before year ends… 6 days to go.

David Bowie:

1-david-bowieAt the age of 69, David Bowie has left us after an 18 month battle with cancer. He has left this private from a lot of people, including a number of his close friends. Just before passing away, Bowie has just released his 25th studio album. Many fans have discovered a lot of hints about his illness and death in songs from his new album. It feels like he was ready to die, and let the world know what he was going through and struggling with in secret.

This particular announcement has shocked me to my core, considering that I have always had a wish to experience David Bowie in a concert. Although he was no longer younger, it never crossed my mind that my dream would never happen.

Prince:

Prince Rogers Nelson has been taken to hospital after his plane had to make an emergency landing. According to the reporters, this was due to the singer suffering from flu. Prince died in his recording studio at 57 years old; known for classic songs such as Purple Rain, Kiss and Little Red Corvette.

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Pete Burns:

Although in the last couple of years he has become more renowned due to his extreme plastic surgeries, Pete Burns, the singer of Dead or Alive has given us a music hit who everyone, young or old has heard and enjoyed; You Spin Me Round. Pete died at 57 after suffering a “massive cardiac arrest”.

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I will always remember watching a snippet from his interview on Channel 5, and he says: “The number of surgeries I’ve had is probably 300. I hope when I’m 80 and I get to heaven God doesn’t recognise me.”
Although he was so vain, and I would never dare touch up my face like this, I always thought that he has a great sense of humour!

Rick Parfitt

If you are into rock music, you would have heard of Status Quo – Rick is a guitar legend and has done the band proud. If you do not know who I am talking about, have a listen at “In the army now” or “Rockin’ All Over the World”. Although he has not been performing with the band due to his age, he will be missed sorely by the band members and fans. He was in a Spanish hospital after he fell ill from a serious infection.

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George Michael

The youngest of them all, at the age of 53, has died peacefully at his home on Christmas day. After massive success with his band WHAM!, he has managed to continue his solo career for a long time, and it is estimated that he sold more than 80 million records worldwide.

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Christmassy?

7 years ago, back when I used to write a lot of poems, I wrote the below. It still makes a lot of sense to me… How do you feel about this time of the year?

Winter weather Nov 30thChristmas is near –
Some hold it dear
Others regret it
They can’t bare it.

Celebrations
are on their way,
Finances
go down the drain.

Everyone spending
Everyone drinking
either out of pleasure
or depression.

Christmas spirit
I can’t feel it,
Where did it go?
Not there anymore.

All it is to me
Is holidays and booze
I should let it be,
How about you?

2009.12.23

What Does The Science Say About Staying Happy At Work?

A lack of happiness in the workplace is a big issue. So it won’t come as any surprise that scientists are trying to figure out what makes workers see the brighter side of life. Unhappy employees lead to high rates of absenteeism and high turnover and it all damages business’s bottom lines.

So how does one create a happy workplace? It all comes down to positive psychology and positive emotions. It’s the reverse to how we usually think about our mental wellbeing. We see mental health as all the things that can go wrong with our minds. But positive psychology is different, It asks what we can do to actively make ourselves happy.

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The findings from this field are relevant and can be applied to the workplace. Let’s take a look at some of the field’s most pertinent conclusions.

Positive Emotions Are Contagious

In one study researchers wanted to find out if positive emotions were contagious. They set up a group situation and planted an actor in its midst. The actor was trained by the researchers to exude positivity in the group setting. The researchers found that the person acting positively transmitted their positivity to others. The group experienced less conflict, more cooperation and better performance in doing tasks.

It showed that being around positive people really does have an impact on workplace productivity and wellbeing. Being around happy people rubs off on the rest of us misery guts.

Small Actions Have A Big Impact On Personal Happiness

You might think that in order to achieve happiness, something incredible has to happen – like winning the lottery. But the evidence suggests that people react far more positively to the smaller things. This is great news for employers, as it means that they don’t have to spend vast sums of money trying to make their workers happier.

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Take bereavement for example. As the bereavement leave guide by Peninsula Group explains, employers don’t have a duty to provide workers with time off right now. But employers who allow compassionate leave can help to improve the wellbeing of their employees enormously. Small gestures like this are surprisingly effective. So too as things like making lists of all the good things a worker did or writing a letter saying how much a worker helped you.

The Unexpected Makes Us Happy

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When good things happen to us that we didn’t predict, it makes us a lot happier. The researchers found that people’s happiness centres lit up more on MRI scans when positive stimuli were unexpected.

At work, managers often create very predictable happiness programmes for their employees. They organise summer and Christmas parties. They give out bonuses. And they organise team events. But when it comes to happiness, this might not be the best strategy. It might be better, in fact, to make your happiness activities more random and to surprise your employees.

Random acts of kindness around the workplace seems to be the way to go. You could surprise a high-performing employee with a reward. Or you could give workers a surprise trip out of the office to a local theme park. The possibilities are endless.

Save Some Bucks This Christmas By Getting These Things Ready Now

We all know that Christmas has the potential to be an extremely expensive time of year. After all, there is a lot that you need to buy for it! From food and presents to decorations and greeting cards. But you don’t have to let the festive season be a drain on your bank account. In fact, if you start preparing now, you will find that you could end up saving a few books. That’s all because you’ll be buying out of season. We’re now in the run-up to Halloween and Thanksgiving. Stores are now focusing on selling all their Halloween and Thanksgiving products; you will find that Christmas stuff is still quite cheap.

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So what should you focus on getting ready now before the season starts? Here are some of my best ideas.

Christmas Presents

Ideally, you should look for Christmas presents for your friends and family all year round. There is no point waiting until December to do all your Christmas shopping. The stores will hike up their prices then so that they can make some extra cash before the holidays. So if you see something that you think might be suitable for a relative earlier on in the year, buy it! It doesn’t matter that you will have to wait a few months to give it to them. Just keep it in a cupboard or drawer where the recipient won’t be able to find it. If you do leave your Christmas shopping till later on in the year, it might be worth doing it online. Generally speaking, online shopping is a lot cheaper than going to a store. Looking for the perfect gift for your mom? You’ll be able to find unique gifts for her from Cuckooland.com.

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Food And Drink

Now is the best time to start thinking about the feast you will be having on Christmas day! If you have a big freezer, you will be able to buy quite a bit of the fresh food now and freeze it. Even your turkey! Try and buy your turkey within the next few weeks. Otherwise, you could end up paying quite a bit for it once we are into Thanksgiving season. Don’t worry that the one you buy now isn’t specifically a Christmas turkey. The only difference between a Christmas one and the ones you can buy all year is the packaging! And why pay more for a turkey that is covered in a festive wrapper? Buy all the dried and tinned foods that you need now as well. These will keep in your store cupboard. However, you can’t buy your fresh fruit and vegetables too far in advance. You will have to wait and get them a week or so before the big day.

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Greetings Cards

Most stores that sell greeting cards will have some Christmas cards on sale all year round. You probably haven’t noticed this before because you haven’t looked hard enough! As they aren’t in demand outside of December, they won’t be placed in a noticeable place. So next time you go shopping, have a long, hard look for the Christmas cards. If you buy them now, you will make a significant saving. One thing to bear in mind, though, is that there might not be a great selection just yet. If you don’t like what you see and want to wait till there is more choice, there is another way of saving some cash. You just need to buy in bulk in December. Sure, you will have more cards than you need, but they will last you for a couple more years!

Christmas Decorations

There may not be many decorations in the stores just yet. However, you might start to see some in large supermarkets such as Walmart. The supermarkets tend to display a small portion of their stock during fall to start selling as soon as possible. If you look now, you might notice that there are a couple of discounts and deals advertised. Buy them now before all those savings disappear in December! But, do you want to know the best way to make a huge saving on your Christmas decorations? You can make your own! This isn’t as difficult as it may sound. You will find plenty of guides and how-tos online on sites such as goodhousekeeping.com. There is, of course, another way to save some bucks on your Christmas decorations. And that is just to recycle them and use the same ones every year. If you do this, it is a good idea to check yours now to make sure they are still in good condition. If they aren’t, you then have plenty of time to make or buy some new ones. That way, there is no chance of the kids getting upset when they find all their Christmas decorations are broken!

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Plan Christmas Parties

You will no doubt be having an office party with work at Christmas. And many families and groups of friends also enjoy meals together in restaurants over the festive period. If you are planning any big celebrations such as these, it is a good idea to get everything booked now. The earlier, the better! That is because many restaurants and function rooms offer early bird deals. It’s just like the saying, the early bird catches the worm. Wait too long, and you will end up paying full price. However, book now and you could find that you can take advantage of deals and price cuts.

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Clothes

Are you looking for the perfect outfit to wear to all your Christmas parties? Maybe you want a cute dress for Christmas day? Now is the time to buy your festive wardrobe! It’s true that more glitzy stuff will come into the stores in November. However, this can be quite expensive. It’s a good idea to buy something from fashion stores’ fall and winter collections that are out now. You can always add some sparkle with some cool accessories!

Dreading an expensive Christmas? Not this year!

Christmas Time… ♫

holly
“Christmas time, mistletoe and wine
Children singing Christian rhyme
With logs on the fire and gifts on the tree
A time to rejoice in the good that we see” ♫

 

Yes, it is Christmas time… and yes I do tend to indulge on some extra ̶w̶i̶n̶e̶ ̶  mulled wine at this time of the year… Unfortunately no mistletoe here, as I won’t be spending my Christmas with a special someone; but rather with my family and friends… which is still good none the less.

The plan is to go out at around 10PM for a few drinks and chatter on Christmas Eve  and then off with my mates for the early Christmas Breakfast. For those not in the know, it usually is a continental and English breakfast buffet and this is quite a popular way to start off Christmas day in Malta. Afterwards, it is resting time and then at noon I’m off to lunch with the family. Luckily this time round we are not going to cook ourselves, which means that I will have enough time (!) to charge my batteries after the night out.

Once that is over, I am hoping to make mulled wine and teas at home, and soon after all the family opens gifts from each other. Usually this is quite fun as we leave the presents as a surprise so we have no clue on what we are getting, unless the gift wrapping shape is too obvious, such as when the gift is a bottle of alcohol.

How will you spend Christmas this year?

Wishing all my readers a lovely Christmas with lots of smiles, hugs and beautiful experiences. May you get all you wish for… and more! X

Good Deed This Christmas

During the Christmas season, and its cheer, I do my best to be a better human being to see the people around me smiling and having a good time.

I don’t usually pride or talk about this with people or my readers, but this year, I thought it I share one of the things I’m doing because, perhaps you will find it in your heart to do the same 🙂

Meet Safyre Terry, an 8 year old girl who two years ago lost her father and three siblings when their house caught on fire. Although she is also a burn victim, she survived and is now living with her aunt. When Safyre told her aunt that her wish this Christmas was to receive Christmas cards from all around the world, her aunt made a plea on Facebook, and they expected perhaps 20 random cards arriving to her PO Box.

When I read this, I wanted to be one of those 20 people who would make this girl smile and happy this Christmas. But it turns out that thousands of people worldwide have answered her dream, but with my card in the post, hopefully already on its way, I know that this little girl will realise that even the tiny island of Malta loves her and cares about her happiness.

 

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Chester Christmas Market 2015

During my latest travel to the UK, between the 19th and 24th of November, we came across the Christmas Market by chance. It was a lovely surprise as Christmas Markets have always been a pleasant memory of mine, of the time when I lived in Stoke-on-Trent and went to Birmingham year on year for this particular event.

When we made it to the Christmas Market, the place was already buzzing with people looking and buying items. The decorations and a sense of happiness from the people, really put me into the Christmas vibe. More so because the day was rather cold (it even snowed in the evening!). Cheese with cranberry bits and the cheeky mulled wine helped in all this too.

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This year, the Chester Christmas Market will last a week extra – In fact it will be open 7 days a week, from 10am to 6pm for just over a month. So make sure you make your way there any day between the 19th of November and 20th of December for some fantastic gifts, ranging from home-made stuff, to food and high-end items.

More information can be obtained by reading here and here.

The Return

Trying to explain how I feel, after I returned back home from a 5-day-long holiday, is near impossible. Although gutted that it’s all over, after waiting for this moment for a good month and a half, my heart feels happy and rather at ease.

In Brief

If you are wondering, where I have been,  the answer is of no surprise to those who know me well, as I have yet again chose to visit my beloved Wales. After being in the South of Wales June/July this year, this time I was back in the North. I have visited the area of Flintshire, which I have never been to before, coupled with Chester (no, this is not in Wales, but it is very close by).

Even before I went on holiday, I wished that in my short stay, I get to see snow again. I did get lucky in this, as not only did it snow, but it did stick to some of the hills we went to (the idea was to go for a walk, but this turned out to be rather of a flop as it was too sloppy). The sight itself, was breathtaking, which made me very happy still.

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While in Chester, we did manage to come across the Christmas Market which was a pleasant surprise! Over there, we ended up spending £20 in cheese… but it was damn worth it… as it tastes godly. The Roman baths and amphitheater were two historic spots we visited while here. On the same day, in the evening we returned to Chester for a rock night and it turned out to be an awesome night; music varied from classic rock to heavy metal which means I was in heaven!

Castles are always part of the plan when I am on holiday. The idea was to visit Ewloe Castle but the area was closed in order to enhance the pathway leading to it. But luckily my fantastic tour-guide improvised and we instead visited Flint Castle. This Castle is in ruins, and from it you are able to see Liverpool in the distance, which was quite a beautiful view.

PS. More info and actual pictures of the places I have visited will be coming up as soon as I write up the related reviews. X

 

Maltese Christmas Log

The below is one of my favourite dessert recipes which are quite traditional in Malta during Christmas times. However, I have made this randomly during the year too; Because I am cool like that.
Continue reading Maltese Christmas Log