Yippee, less than a month to go until Christmas! We're all really looking forward to spending our first Christmas ever at the beach but far from making it a grand occasion we are planning the most low-key, stress free Christmas Day ever. Every year without fail we have a huge traditional Christmas dinner, which is absolutely delicious and very enjoyable but an awful lot of effort. On arriving at our new home however, it became apparent that this year was going to be different. For starters, our tiny kitchen simply wouldn't cope with catering such a massive amount of food! But more than anything, it just doesn't feel right for us any more. Things are so laid back here - WE are so laid back here!
So this Christmas, instead of busting a gut and blowing the budget trying to replicate Christmases of years gone by, we are going to focus on what really matters, which is simply being together. Instead of the traditional roast turkey and all the trimmings, we'll be firing up the barbecue and chucking on whatever we feel like, which will hopefully be a feast of free, freshly caught seafood if the conditions are right! As for the evening meal, we'll be packing a sumptuous picnic and heading down to the beach for a game of cricket!
So far there is just the four of us and my Mum for Christmas Day - but I have a feeling this Christmas will be far from the quietest. So many friends and colleagues head over to Whangamata every year for the festive season, we never know who's going to pop in! As it is, we have seen and heard from more old friends in the last month than we have in 10 years! My kitchen might not be big enough to cook a banquet in but at least I have room to make some yummy treats to keep on hand for when visitors arrive. Ali and I have been making shortbread Christmas trees and angels for years - the only problem is, the bigger he gets, the quicker the shortbread disappears!
I'm also refusing to stress out about Christmas presents this year. In actual fact, I have things surprisingly under control already! Most of my gift list is already taken care of thanks to online shopping and bits and pieces I've picked up throughout the year. One good thing about moving away is we are now hours away from the big city shopping centres. At our old place it was so easy to whiz off to Auckland or Hamilton and I always seemed to end up leaving Christmas shopping until the last minute but now we're two or three hours away, it's far easier to do my shopping over the Internet, which is not only quicker but saves so much money on impulse buys when you don't have any shops around; not to mention cafes and fast food outlets!
One more thing I'm definitely not going to be stressing out about this Christmas is my appearance. In Christmases past, no matter how I try, I look absolutely hideous. Spending hours in a hot kitchen peeling potatoes, stuffing turkeys and goodness knows what else does not do much for one's appearance. Every year it seems everyone else looks immaculate in their bright, festive clothing whilst I wouldn't look out of place in a fish and chip shop, with cooking stains all over my clothes, my hair plastered to my head and my hastily applied make-up running down my face in sweaty rivulets. I know I shouldn't worry about it but it really gets me down when everyone else looks so nice. I feel like the weakest link in an otherwise perfect Christmas.
But not this year! One great thing about living at the beach is that nobody wears many clothes. Don't get me wrong, we don't all wander around like Adam and Eve, heaven forbid! But everybody wears the bare minimum and the dress code is strictly casual. No doubt for all the Australian members this is nothing out of the ordinary but for me it's a real novelty. The amount of washing in our house has reduced beyond belief and ironing is all but non-existent! So this Christmas I'll be wearing my shorts and singlet with pride.
Talking of pride, December is 'Your Own Challenge' Month and I was wondering what I was going to do for mine. One of my very favourite SS challenges over the years is the Pride Challenge, which ran on the Forum. Looking back now, I can see it was started by the lovely Mimi! The first thread was this one and it developed into several more, which were eagerly followed by members like me, who wanted to look after their appearance but couldn't quite manage to get it together a lot of the time! Basically, the idea was 'how you look is how you feel'. As someone who lives and dies in gym shorts or track pants I look like a dag 99.9% of the time and when I look like a dag I feel like a dag. I realised on reading Mimi's thread that even making the smallest effort to look after your appearance can improve your self esteem no end and vowed to make more of an effort.
But like so many things with me, over time it all went by the wayside. Until I spotted this fabulous thread, 'What is your beauty routine?' What an absolute treasure trove of beauty secrets! This thread really has transformed my beauty routine, particularly as I confess to not really having one before. I've really been enjoying reading and trying out some of the skincare tips. Noel looked rather bemused when he found me getting the aspirin out to use on my face but oh my goodness, that is just the BEST skin treatment ever! My skin has never felt so good and the pimples that had been glowing horribly on my chin literally disappeared overnight!
As for make-up, I probably wouldn't even wear it once a month before but now I wear it every day! Well, sort of - thanks to one of the many fabulous 'cheats' I have learned. This tip has got me feeling fab and smiling every day! It takes just a few seconds to apply and you look for all the world as though you're wearing flawless, glowing make-up but you're not; it's sunscreen! Perfect for this beach bunny and so cheap too. For the first time ever, I'll be putting my best face forward on Christmas Day!