A parenting & lifestyle blog written by Claire Chircop.

FESTIVE DRESSING WHEN YOU NEVER DRESS UP.

*This post contains gifted items & is in collaboration with Femme Luxe*

I've never particularly been the person that dresses up to go on fancy dinners or on nights out with the girls. I'm the type of girl that wears trainers to pretty much every social event, and will do my upmost to ensure my outfit is comfortable above all else - Something I've definitely enforced the older I've gotten.

This however makes it tricky when putting outfits together this time of year.


I'd love to say there isn't, (heck i't'd be easier if there wasn't) but I think there's something about the festive season that persuades us all to wear a little more sparkle & dress up that little bit more.

It's probably for 'the gram' isn't it, let's be real.

So what do you do when you want to dress up, but you don't really know how to?

You do it your own way.

And by that I mean, wear whatever the heck you usually wear and add as little or as much sparkle as possible.

For me that means wearing high waisted trousers, a cropped tee & trainers - That's what I wear day in, day out and it's an outfit I've got numerous different variations of - So with that in mind I've done exactly the same when it comes to picking out a festive outfit.

Why change the habit of a lifetime?




I chose this black glitter sparkly short sleeve crop top* as it's still super casual (something I'm all about) but it does have that ode to Christmas time and the festive season. The cut has a sports luxe type feel to it that means it'll slip into my wardrobe seamlessly, as this is a trend I quite often wear.
Granted the sparkles might not be for everyday wear, but for special occasions and dressing up I think this ones going to be a winner.

I've paired my new crop top with a pair of faux leather look leggings*, obviously high waisted, because that's the only train I'm on right now, which if I'm honest I should have probably sized up in, as they're not forgiving in the slightest. I definitely can't eat my Christmas dinner wearing these, but they look cute right? And I definitely feel dressed up wearing them!
Although I chose these for the festive season, I can't wait to wear these just as an alternative to jeans. These leggings will definitely be taking pride of place in my wardrobe, I'm just hoping they stretch a little with wear.





Something else I'm all about is an outfit that take little to no thought, and that's why I picked up this ribbed bardot wide leg jumpsuit*. I can forgive that fact it's an absolute ball ache to go for a wee in, for the simple fact that I can throw this on & I instantly look put together.
What I especially love about this jumpsuit is that it's made up of a jersey material meaning it's super comfortable... And we all know that comfort is key when it comes to festive food! There's plenty of room for pigs in blankets with this jumpsuit.
I'd be just as happy dressing down this outfit rather than dressing up like I have here & I already can't wait to wear this with a pair of trainers and teddy coat.


So as you can see, the pieces I was gifted through Femme Luxe all make for festive dressing options, however they can all also be dressed down for more casual (comfortable) occasions.  You'll notice that I've added quite a few new pieces to my wardrobe over the last couple of months (hello new post party body) but I'd like to think that everything I've added is multifunctional - And that's the life I'm all about at the moment.

My aim isn't to necessarily create a capsule wardrobe & have a limited amount of pieces, it's more to have multifunctional pieces with items that I can wear time and time again.

How will you be dressing over the festive season? Are you with me on the comfort is key thing?

Claire.X

5 THINGS IN MY DAUGHTER'S CHRISTMAS EVE BOX.

Before having my daughter I had absolutely no idea Christmas Eve boxes even existed, but here I am with an almost one year old, full of excitement to see her open her very first one.


Christmas Eve boxes are a relatively new tradition, and one I believe has made it's way over from America with a little help from Pinterest.

And let me tell you, it's a tradition I can fully get on board with!

Amelia's birthday is the 23rd December, so I love the idea of having three days of consecutive celebrations, four if we include Boxing Day. It's almost as if her birthday kick starts the festive period for our little family.

The box itself.

I'd been searching the internet for what felt like weeks, in pursuit of a beautifully illustrated and personalised wooden box to store Amelia's Christmas Eve gifts. Even though I found some lovely examples I just couldn't justify spending a huge amount of money on something which was going to be used once a year, and if we're being totally real, on something she probably won't even understand first time around.

On a quick jaunt to Hobbycraft (which is my new favourite thing to do btw) I spotted this wooden 'Twas the night before Christmas' box in the clearance section reduced from £15 to £10 & I couldn't not get it.

If I'm honest I would have liked it to have her name on, but the way I look at it, it's always something we could add when she's a little bit older & likes to get crafty.

The box itself though is strong and sturdy & just the right size to not go too overboard buying presents for. Heck knows she'll get enough between her birthday & Christmas.


What's in the box?

Christmas PJ's.
I picked up this Christmas PJ set for Amelia whilst doing an Asda shop last week as I thought they'd be absolutely perfect for her Christmas Eve box. I love shopping savvy when it comes to Amelia's clothes & picking pieces up whilst doing the weekly shop, not just for convenience, but for price too - These beauties were only £9!
The PJ's are adorned with Santas, snowmen & reindeers and I can't wait to see my little girl wearing them on Christmas Eve - She's going to look the absolute cutest!

Soft toy.
This is kind of a two in one for us as the penguin soft toy came actually with her Christmas PJ's - Bonus!
Amelia isn't particularly drawn to soft toys, she much prefers brightly coloured plastic things that she can bash things with, but I think something like this little penguin is essential when it comes to filling your child's Christmas Eve box.

Christmas stocking.
A Christmas tradition my parents always did for me & my sister was to put a present at the end of our bed during the night (said present was from 'Santa' btw) so we'd have something small to open on Christmas Day morning, before we went in to wake them up.
I thought Dan and I would carry on this tradition with Amelia only I've swapped the stocking for a cute handmade looking Christmas bag, that I just couldn't resist not buying. It's the perfect size for a small gift and even though this year she's not going to understand what's fully going on, I thought it'd be a lovely idea for us to start early.


Christmas Eve book.
I'll be honest and say that Dan & I aren't big readers and my daughter would much rather tear a book apart rather than sit down and get cosy with us, so maybe buying her a Christmas Eve book will be a bit of a fail this year, but I'm hopeful it'll get put to good use in years to come.
I picked this one up from The Works and think it's lovely because it's illustrated in a much older, traditional style & revolves around the main character, a young girl called Amelia.

A sweet treat.
As Amelia's only quite young, I didn't want to put a big bag of sweets or chocolate in her Christmas Eve box. However because it's Christmas I've still added a little bit of choccie, only on a much smaller scale in the form of chocolate coins. When it comes to Christmas Eve night I think I'll be downsizing the bag even more so & sharing them between Amelia, Dan & myself... One for you five for me, type of thing.

I've really enjoyed filling Amelia's Christmas Eve box this year and it's definitely gotten me in the festive spirit. I've filled it with what I believe are traditional things, however there are a couple I'd like to turn into traditions, in particular the Christmas stocking & Christmas Eve book.

I can't wait to see her little face when she opens it up on Christmas Eve.

Have you made a Christmas Eve box for your little one this year?

WHAT DID I ACHIEVE DURING MATERNITY LEAVE.

Twelve months ago I'd just started my maternity leave; I had plans of X, Y & Z to do during my 'time off' *biggest eye roll ever* but here I am with three weeks left of what's easily been the quickest year of my life, writing a reflective post on what I've actually achieved during maternity leave.


Before I left work I wrote down a plan of what I was going to do whilst on maternity leave which included eight poignant features, which I'm going to discuss first... Before we get into the deep stuff!

1. Swimming with baby.
We booked Amelia onto a six week baby swimming course when she was two weeks old, which in hindsight was way too early for her. That being said it was a lovely bonding session for her & Dan, and I'm 99.9% sure it helped with what could have been disastrous bath times.
We've since taken Amelia to our local swimming baths a handful of times & she enjoyed a lesson with LilypadSwim, however in the last few months we seem to have gotten out of sync with it all - She loves being in the water & both Dan and I enjoy it too, so we really need to get our butts in gear and get back to the swimming baths - That's definitely on the to do list for 2020.


2. Read all of the Harry Potter books.
Confession time. This one has probably been the biggest fail in the history of fails. I began reading the philosophers stone & I'm a good 75% of the way through it, but I just haven't been reaching for it.
I can't say that I haven't had the time to read, because I have, I just haven't been prioritising it. Maybe this could be a resolution for 2020 - Less screen time & more time with my head in a book.

3. Learn calligraphy.
Learning calligraphy was something I really wanted to do when I began maternity leave. Unfortunately I lost the bug half way through the year & have only just picked it up again last month.
So far I've really enjoyed putting pen to paper & actually having something for me, that isn't anything to do with the internet & something I actually find rather therapeutic. I suppose that's what I wanted from re-reading the Harry Potter books, I've just taken it in it's more creative form.

4. Get outdoors.
I've absolutely loved getting outdoors since having Amelia! Although I found it quite tricky in the newborn days, getting outdoors has been brilliant for my mental health & something I'd recommend to any new mum out there.
I try and get out of the house once a day, even if it's just to nip out to the shops, it's always beneficial. We do have some days when we're just chilling at home in our comfies, and that's totally fine, but let me tell you, they are long ass days & by the time we reach bed time I'm always regretful & craving fresh air.


5. Huts in the Hills.
I need to #PRRequest myself a trip to these shepherds huts, because in all honesty, I think that's the only way I'm actually going to get there. Huts in the Hills in Northumberland are some of the most gorgeous shepherds huts I've seen, but the logistics of getting away for a couple of nights without the dog or the baby is crazy. Not to mention having the spare cash, I've definitely been surviving, rather than thriving on my maternity wage.
If we did get to have some time away, something like these remote shepherd huts would be ideal. I love the whole nothingness that there is to them, no wifi, no signal, no TV - It sounds bliss!

6. Create a capsule wardrobe.
I am SO happy I've been able to create a capsule wardrobe this year! I've redefined my personal style since becoming a mum & have found some amazing pieces which work SO with my new postpartum body.
Admittedly it took me a good six months to get to the point where I was happy with how I looked, but now I'm here, I'm so happy and I'm actually feeling inspired by fashion again. It's the little things like that, that make me feel like me again.


7. Girls weekend in Berlin.
Leaving my baby when she was four months old for a weekend away in Berlin was a hella emotional time for me. I'd been mentally preparing myself for the trip before Amelia was even born and I knew that if I wasn't spontaneous and didn't pay for it upfront, then I probably wouldn't end up going as I'd be too anxious!
Looking back it was the best decision. I needed a break, Dan needed to spend quality one on one time with Amelia & I needed to feel like me again. There were plenty of tears, before, during & after, but a good time was had by all and I'm so glad I went as I had the best weekend with the best girls... And remember, a happy mum makes for a happy baby!

8. Grow my blog.
Over the last twelve months I've really transformed my blog & the content I produce on here. I don't write beauty reviews like I used to & I've pinpointed my niche to something I'm 100% passionate about. I've grown a community of women who are in a similar position to myself & I'd like to think I've become somewhat of an aid and a confidant to others which fills me with so much joy.
I've not made enough money to pay the bills from my blog (boohoo), but this has been my best year doing this whole online thing by a long shot - And I'm really flipping proud of that!

4 out of 8 isn't bad right?
Something I've really struggled with since being on maternity leave is my sudden lack of productivity -  It turns out you don'y actually get all that much done whilst on maternity leave, the baby kind of gets in the way of things.
I've found this really frustrating at times and have shed many a tear over feeling like all I am is a slave to my baby. There have been many moments where I've gotten inside my own head over the last twelve months and really beat myself up over my lack of productivity and achievements.

As a first time mum (as I'd assume with so many others) I went into maternity leave with a rather naive mindset, thinking I was going to have a super constructive year. Over the last year I've definitely learnt to lower my expectations & although in some ways I feel like I haven't achieved a great deal, there are many different reasons to say otherwise.


So, what have I actually achieved?
Firstly & most importantly, I have a very happy, very healthy baby (anyone else read that in Dr Hamster the vets voice?), who I've managed to keep alive for the last year! Looking after a child is no mean feat as I've come to realise over the last twelve months, so I'm standing here, giving myself a huge pat on the back saying 'you did this gal, you survived'!

I've started my phased return to work & everything so far has ran really smoothly. The back to work fear was real, especially as I'd had so much time off, but I was really pleasantly surprised with how well returning to work after maternity leave has been.

I don't have a huge friendship group at home and of the friends I do have none of them have babies, so we've definitely been best friends with Dr Google when it comes to raising Amelia. That being said, I've met the most amazing women online & constantly surrounded by so many fantastic mamas out there that I can always depend on to only be a quick DM away. Social media gets a bad rap sometimes, and although there are parts to this argument that I'd strongly agree with, I can't fault the fact it's brought me together with some amazing people. If only we all lived closer! It'd be bloody beautiful!

Finally one of my biggest achievements this year is finally becoming comfortable in my postpartum body. My body's had a big old transformation over the last couple of years and it's only within the last few months that I've finally thought 'you know what, she's actually alright' - Who I am now is actually amazing!
I've learnt to big myself up in the same way I'd big other people up - In fact I think more people need to get on this self-appreciation train and be a little kinder to themselves. Go on, do it I dare you! That actually reminds me of Queen Beady's #HappySelvesChallenge - Another train you should definitely be on!


In conclusion.
So that's my year wrapped up into 1500 words. It's been long, but it's been short - I've failed, but I've achieved - I've let go & I'm happier! And I'm going into 2020 with my baby & the attitude that I'm going to absolutely smash it!

What have you achieved this year?

Claire.X

15 THINGS I MISS SINCE HAVING MY BABY.

I'm ridiculously passionate about showing the uncertainty and vulnerability that comes with being a parent, as there are so many different emotions I've had since having my baby that I'd never in a million years expected to feel. People don't generally talk about missing their pre-baby lives, it's not the done thing - So although painfully honest, today I'm venting in a *tongue in cheek* way, 15 things I miss since having my baby.


1. Eating something that isn't Aldi 22p instant noodles for dinner.
I could probably be way more productive when it comes to meal prepping for the week, but by the time I reach Sunday evening all I want to do is curl up on the sofa with my puppy, watch Netflix & try and shake off the previous week's worries. Nowadays I'm a picker when it comes to dinner (as in breakfast, dinner and tea) & so often pick an easy, cheat meal over something of actual nutritional value. I miss the days of fueling my body with good, healthy food & this really needs to change - Perhaps a New Years resolution for 2020? Watch this space!

2. Being able to just 'pop' to the shops.
There's no such thing as 'popping' anywhere anymore. It doesn't happen! It doesn't exist! If you manage to pop to the shops when you have a baby, you must be some sort of Wizard! And I'm incredibly, incredibly jealous!

3. Me time.
When was the last time I did something for me?... I mean really for me. Gosh it's been a long time - And that needs to change! I actually have a plan in mind to release my creative juices into something positive as I used to find art really therapeutic & great for just getting away from it all! I'm going to back to the old me, feeling all zen and shit in no time!

4. Date night!
Oh those illusive date nights! Neither Dan or I have family nearby so we don't have a great deal of time to ourselves unfortunately. We're mammy & daddy 99.9% of the time, which is lovely of course, but I'd love to just have a bit of time where we could get dressed up & go for a fancy dinner with cocktails together.

5. Managing to drink a full cup of hot coffee.
We're getting so much better at this, but oh my goodness those newborn days were so flipping tough - Many a cup of coffee was lost back then to Amelia-May. RIP 653 cups of Coffee.


6. Adult conversation.
Since being on maternity leave I'm pretty sure I've lost 90% of the brain cells I once had... And I didn't have that many to begin with anyway. My days are filled with 'oohs' 'ahhhs' and 'wooooows' and as lovely as those are, they're not great conversation starters right?

7. Going to the toilet without an audience.
I have a clingy baby, I hate to say it, but I do. Sometimes I can get away with having a sneaky pee all to myself, but other times it's just a no go! It's really not worth the crying fit that comes when I leave my baby to selfishly walk up the stairs to use the bathroom. Why am I so damn selfish! *Insert eye roll here*.

8. Money!
It's no secret! Being on maternity leave has absolutely skinted me! I've dipped into my savings account more times than I'd like to admit to both myself & my (more importantly) husband and I'm really missing my pre-baby bank balance... Back when past-me actually thought I was skint... Little did she know, she was really flipping naive!

9. Getting a full nights sleep.
This is a biggie! People always tell you about the sleepless nights you have with a little one, but no one actually tells you how sleep deprivation has a huge affect on your body and your mental health. I remember going to the doctors when Amelia was newborn as I'd had a week long headache & had rashes starting to appear all over my arms... I was actually really worried about it, but it turned out I was just sleep deprived - Who even knew rashes were a symptom? Damn you Mother Nature! I definitely felt silly walking out of the doctors that day!

10. Not touching someone else's poop!
It's funny how quickly you become accustomed to having some else's poop on your hands!... And the less I say about that, the better. I miss the days when I wasn't covered in some form of bodily fluid.

11. A tidy home.
My laundry basket is constantly overflowing... I've got a conveyor belt of pots waiting to go in the dishwasher... Said dishwasher is full to the brim & without checking I haven't got a clue on whether there are clean or dirty pots in there. It's constant - I have an ongoing list in my mind of jobs to do around the house & very little time to do them in.
Unfortunately I'm one of those people that has to have a tidy home to have a tidy mind, and right now that's not me. If only I had number 8, then I might be able to hire a cleaner! That would be the actual dream!

12. My pre-baby body.
I'm including this one, not because I hate my postpartum body - I've grown to love her - But would I change back to my old body? In a flipping heartbeat I would! I should have given her way more credit than I used to!

13. Escalators.
This sounds absolutely ridiculous but I really miss escalators! I hate having to track down the lift whenever we go out somewhere, and I'm not even going to start my usual rant about the lack of accessibility in public places! All I can say is, bring on the escalators baby!

14. Being husband & wife.
And I don't mean between the sheets - That's what got us into this, in the first place! We found out we were expecting our baby a couple of months before our wedding & from then on everything has been baby, baby, baby since & we haven't quite had the time to reconnect with one another. We had a couple of baby free nights away last month which were amazing, but two nights in the space of a year is tough.

15. Silence!
OMG I miss the silence! Please give me silence... Please... Just for 10 minutes! Literally all I wan't for Christmas is a little bit of peace & quiet.

So there we have it, 15 things that I miss very much since having my baby. 15 things I'd also give up again in a heartbeat! She might do my head in screaming 'mamamamamam' 10 hours a day, but she's my little nutter & I wouldn't have my days without her!

What do you miss since having your baby?

Claire.X

A CHRISTMAS TO DO LIST WITH MY BABY.

As we draw ever closer to Christmas, there's still so many things on mine & Amelia's to do list - I really want to make the next couple of weeks as festively fun filled as possible before I go back to work on the 30th December (Eeek) so here's a Christmas to do list I've compiled of things to do with my baby.


1. Take her to the Leeds Christmas markets & having a ride on the carousel.
2. Letting Amelia sign her name / scribble all over the Christmas cards.
3. Put together a wooden, hopefully personalised, Christmas Eve box for Amelia.
4. Wear matching family Christmas pyjamas.
5. See the festive lights at Stockeld Park in Wetherby.
6. Visit a festive craft fair to pick up some small bizz Christmas presents.
7. Spend an evening wrapping presents trying to make them look as extra as possible.
8. Go for a festive family walk with the puppy.
9. Make hand print Christmas baubles.
10. Visit Santa.
11. Have a PJ day watching Christmas movies.
12. Make footprint reindeer pictures to give to relatives as Christmas presents from Amelia.
13. Sort through Amelia's old toys & put what she doesn't play with in the loft.
14. Go to Tong Garden centre.
15. Take photos in front of the Christmas tree.
16. Go and see a Christmas film at baby cinema.
17. Buy a personalised Santa sack to fill with her presents on Christmas Eve.
18. Prepare Amelias first Christmas dinner.
19. Redecorate the Christmas tree approximately 500 times as Amelia takes off every bauble she can reach.
20. And finally, lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of Christmas kisses.

As Amelia isn't quite one yet, there are still quite a few things she's not able to do yet however I hope my to do list has given you some inspiration for things to do with your little ones

What have you got on your Christmas to do list?

Claire.X