It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … and there’s a reason for it

1522851_784506671588635_6474462348225739404_oDo you prefer the build-up to Christmas or Christmas Day itself? I find Christmas Day quite exhausting and, after the munchkin has opened her gifts, I think a year of hard work usually catches up on me and I just want to sleep for England. So, for me, it’s the build-up I prefer and specifically one aspect: the moment when the tree is up and the boxes have all been put back in the attic and I can settle down on the sofa and gaze at the gorgeous lights and decorations. I absolutely love fairy lights and would happily have them up in the house all year round. We moved house 3 years ago. When we had our kitchen re-done in our old house, we had a couple of sets of shelves that looked perfect with white fairy lights on them all year round. Somehow we lost the plugs in the move so our current kitchen doesn’t have any. However, I’ve just treated myself to a couple of sets for the office although they haven’t quite made it out of their boxes yet.


I don’t particularly enjoy Christmas shopping (I’m not a shopping fan full stop) but I love gathering all the gifts together and wrapping them. I like to adorn them with bows and curly ribbon and can spend hours on the task. This year, I’d done them all just before the end of November in a film-fest of The Proposal and What Happens in Vegas. Usually I would watch Christmas films but they were still in the attic. They came down with the decorations so Saturday was a Christmas film-fest whilst tree-decorating.

P1040382I’m greedy. We have three trees! We have a large artificial one in the bay of our lounge, my daughter has a small pink one on a coffee table in the lounge and we have a third smaller artificial one in the dining room window. This may seem an indulgence but we originally bought this extra one because we had large shelved recesses in the dining room in our old house and, in our new house, the lounge is at the back of the house and the dining room is at the front. I like to see Christmas lights from the road so I simply had to put the small tree on display on the large window ledge there.

I’m ridiculously organised this year. I’ve bought and wrapped nearly all my gifts, have written my cards, and have put up all the decorations. I just have gifts for the hubby to buy. He’s an absolute nightmare to buy for so I’ve put it on the table that I haven’t a clue what to get him this year so ball’s in his court to tell me or he’ll have nothing. So far, he’s suggested a blu-ray so progress isn’t great! I’m not normally this organised. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a pretty organised person – but I’m not normally this far in advance with Christmas which begs the question why. What’s different this year?

I think I know.

IMG_0305I’m procrastinating. I’m going through a phase of self-doubt with my writing and, if I immersed myself in spending two evenings producing a spreadsheet with all the things the munchkin had on her wish-list and posting links to said items at the best price (yes, I really did do this!), if I spent two evenings wrapping gifts, two days putting up all the decorations and an evening writing cards, not to mention a morning’s shopping trip and several hours online, then I didn’t have to write. And I didn’t have to face my doubts. And I could continue to be an ostrich. But the shopping’s done, the decorations are up and the cards are written which means I can’t bury my head in the sand anymore. Eek. I’ll tell you more about the self-doubt in my next post.

What to do now? Should I write? No, I think I’ll get those fairy lights out their boxes …

Books, books, everywhere

I like big books and I cannot lie … Hmm, that sounds like the start of a rather dodgy song so I’ll leave it there! I like books. I like to own them. I love my Kindle (despite battling against getting one) but I will always love the physical look and feel of books. All books. I love books with pictures in them, books full of facts, and proper reading books. The problem is storage. We don’t have a big enough property to be able to devote a whole wall in the lounge to books or a wide enough hall to have bookshelves down one side. Shame. The consequence is that I have pockets of books everywhere so this is a walk-through them. Apologies that the photos aren’t brilliant. My hubby is the talented photographer in this house but he tends to take forever to set up a “project” and I know he doesn’t have the time just now.

P1050579Let’s start in my lovely new office. This was formerly the spare bedroom but, as it had probably been slept in for 6 nights over 3 years, I managed to win the battle to convert it to my writing space. Hubby finally put me some shelves up a few weeks ago. These play host to most of my paperbacks (and one or two hardbacks). I’m pretty anal and, whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to colour organise them (my clothes are colour-organised!), I have some logic to my organisation. Naturally multiple books by the same author appear together but I’ve tried to group genre together. The top shelf, bottom shelf and half of the middle shelf are predominantly romcoms or similar (except the Harry Potter ones, of course) whereas the right-hand side of the middle shelf is a bit of a mix of other genres. My triplet teddies guard them – Toffee, Fudge and Caramel. It’s not a very extensive paperback collection. Two years ago, it was double the size and I realised I was going to have to part company with half the collection or I’d be forever tripping over boxes of books. It was with a heavy heart that I freegled a stack of books I’d read and loved – Jill Mansell, Marian Keyes and many other favourites – hoping that someone else would get the joy I’d received from reading them. I regret it now but needs must!

P1050581Also in my office, under the bookshelves, I have another collection of books on top of a cupboard. These are my writing-related books. “How to” books/guides, The Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook, Baby Name book (invaluable for character names) and my Writer’s Bureau course nestle there. Really must finish my course one day soon!!! Oh, and some teddy bears. The big boy is a Charlie Bear called Asia. He’s gorgeous. I got made redundant last summer and really struggled to find a job. I finally managed to secure some minimum-wage seasonal work in a local garden centre. They sold Charlie Bears and, as I got a staff discount, I indulged when I managed to secure a permanent position (my current role). The little fella is a Thank You Me to You bear from my lovely writing friend Jay Bartlett for supporting her with the edits on her debut novel.

P1050582The books don’t finish there. I have one more stand-alone bookshelf in the office which houses an assortment of books, a stack of notepads (I have another cupboard full of them too) and books relating to one of my other passions and a former hobby. The passion is one you can probably spot from looking at the other pictures; teddy bears. I collect bears and will write a blog one day soon about my collectible ones. The books on the bottom left are all about the history of teddy bears and/or how to make bears. I can make them but it’s very time-consuming. The other hobby is flower-arranging. I took a night class about 8 years ago and got my first stage qualification. I signed up for the next stage but it all went wrong and ended up being cancelled. I’ve never bothered again since. Every year I make some arrangements at Christmas using the skills I’ve remembered but I probably won’t take it further.

P1050668Let’s leave the office and poddle across the landing into the bedroom. Not many books in there due to lack of space but we have a custom-made shelving unit by the bed that doubles up as a bedside table for my lamp, alarm clock and glass of water. This has a few hardbacks on it and, if you’re a fan, you’ll spot that four of them are Jill Mansell ones. I’m part-way through the Sophie Kinsella on the left but, of the remaining six, I’ve only read one so far. Must rectify that very soon.

The munchkin has a room absolutely packed with books, many of which are childhood classics I’ve enjoyed. She still loves her picture books even though she’s moved onto proper books with being in Year 3 now (juniors in old money!) The hubby doesn’t really do books so his shelves are pretty bare.

P1050585Downstairs, the dining room plays host to a couple of collections. When I met hubby, he was a member of something called The Folio Society. I’d not heard of them but they make gorgeous hardback books. You sign up for a membership and get a batch of books free then have a commitment to buy so many (four I think) across a 2-year period. Most of the books on the shelf here are Folio Society ones including a beautiful set of Fairy books (middle shelf) and a box set of Paddington ones (on the top of the cabinet). We’ve got an old set of Dickens classics (top shelf on the left). But, to my shame, I don’t think I’ve read a single book on this cabinet. You see, I love to own beautiful books but I seem to struggle to find time to read them. The TBR pile just grows and grows.

P1050584The other bookshelf in the dining room has more Folio books but is also home to a couple of shelves worth of recipe books and a bit of a mix of other stuff like guide books and dictionaries. Back to recipe books, herein lies another oddity. You see, I love to buy recipe books … but I don’t love to cook! It’s as though I love the idea of being able to flick through a recipe book and pull together an amazing dinner party menu … but the thought of actually doing it leaves me cold so I don’t have dinner parties and I never flick through the books. Am I strange? Don’t answer that! I used to have recipe books in the kitchen but I found they got sticky so my kitchen is a book-free zone.

P1050583The final book resting place is the lounge. We have a set of shelves on which we have a collection of “coffee table books” – those gorgeous factual books full of pictures and information which I buy thinking “I’d love to read this” but realistically just flick through the pictures instead. There’s a bit of a theme developing here, isn’t there? We’ve got some lovely books about bears (real ones as opposed to cuddly ones) from our honeymoon in Canada and lots of nature books. I will just point out that that the one that says “Joy of …” is “Joy of Nature” rather than “Joy of Sex”!!! But there are also books about forensics, the unexplained and Nostradamus. All things that fascinate me and I’d love to read about if only … yes, you’ve guessed it … if only I had the time!

I’d love to hear about you. Are you a compulsive book-purchaser like me? And do you actually read them??? Do you have books in one place or lots? I think the only places in our house without them are the bathroom/toilet/ensuite and kitchen as previously mentioned. But, if I was organised, the toilet would actually have books in. I’ve even sorted out the joke/comedy ones I’d put in there. Just need to put up a shelf. Just need to find time to put up a shelf …

Jessica xx