A LOVE LETTER TO HOUSE 21

Today I received the devastating news that House 21 is coming to an end and to be completely frank, it has absolutely broken my heart.

Without Mel, Donna and House 21 I wouldn’t be where I am now. They helped build me up from someone who was terrified of letting others see my work to being an award winning blogger who has seen her articles and short stories printed in magazines.

They gave me the confidence to be able to even comprehend the idea of returning to education and introduced me to the most incredible bunch of women (such as Steph Cullen who I know will be a friend for life!) I could ever hope to meet.

I was welcomed into a community of writers, a family of inspiring individuals who pushed me to be the best version of myself. My heart is heavy but I am so proud of what House 21 has achieved and that I could be part of that.

So here’s to the future 🍾

GETTING DIVORCED IN YOUR TWENTIES: THE REALITY

Marrying in my early twenties seemed like the natural progression for me. As a young mother I was already so much more mature than my years (or so I thought) and just wanted to settle down. I craved stability.

As far as taboo subjects go this may not be one you have really put much thought into but divorce in your twenties comes with more baggage than you would ever realise. Not only did I have to deal with my marriage breaking down and my own personal thoughts and feelings associated with that but also everyone else’s opinions. Believe me, there were plenty of those!

On paper we were married for over five years, in reality it was barely eighteen months. The shame and disappointment in myself was overwhelming. It was suffocating at times and if I’m honest that was harder to deal with than the breakup itself. I wanted to hide and heal. Divorce wasn’t something that happened to people my age, was it? It felt like a dirty word, sour in my mouth. My social media was full of photographs and memories. Even now many years later I’m still reminded of things I’d usually rather forget.

Whilst my family were amazing for the most part I won’t pretend that there wasn’t an element of ‘I told you so’ in the air. Attitudes like that can be so damaging to a persons mental health at such a vulnerable time. The experience has really taught me more than I ever realised about how important it is to be considerate and kind. Not to judge and that gossip really is the devil.

The fear of giving into failure can ultimately be the thing that keeps you in an unsuccessful marriage and if I could give anyone in my position some advice it would be to never, ever feel ashamed of choosing the path that’ll make you happy in the long run. The short term may seem daunting, even terrifying but before you know it you’ll look back with nothing but relief.

Our experiences are never entirely negative. You can learn so much from what you perceive as a waste of time. I came away from my marriage knowing more about myself and who I wanted to be in the future. I’m stronger, wiser and more grounded than I ever was. My thirties may have started with an ending, but that made way for some beautiful new beginnings and for that I will be forever grateful.

RESOLUTIONS AND REGRETS (BLOGMAS – DAY THIRTY-ONE)

…and just like that it’s New Years Eve again. 2021 has been a strange one. Little snippets of a reality we used to know interspersed with a ‘new normal’.

I feel like I’ve had a permanent headache trying to wrap my brain around what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I’m sure many of you feel the same.

Anyway, I digress. This year has been filled with isolation, binged box sets and far too many biscuits. I don’t want to fall into the old ‘New Year, New Me’ trap but in 2022 I’m making some changes!

Read more…

Anyone who knows me would be able to tell you how much I love reading. There is always a stack of books on my bedside table and list as long as my arm of recommended reads on my kindle.

I started the year off on a high, devouring novels like I was at an all you can eat buffet but somewhere along the line things just…stopped.

I lost what was left of my motivation and reading weren’t something I did for pleasure anymore. It feels so wrong even just saying that as it has always been my escape.

I’m making it my mission to ensure that 2022 is full of books. A book a week in fact.

Exercise…

I have NEVER been a fan of exercise. However, I will begrudgingly admit that when I do throw myself into some semblance of a routine I do feel better for it. Not just physically but mentally too.

I don’t necessarily feel the need to lose weight, I’m undoubtedly at the heaviest I have ever been (pregnancy excluded) but actually feel quite confident in myself. I would like to be healthier though. Since having covid late last year I would definitely say I’ve been more sluggish, I really hope this is something I can overcome with a better diet and exercise.

I guess it would also be nice to look and feel my best on my wedding day!

Do well at uni…

I’m about to embark on my second term of uni and it’s going well so far! I’m really enjoying it and honestly, I think it was something I desperately needed.

Whilst the course might have taken me by surprise I feel comfortable in my growth and really hope that I can keep it up.

I so want 2022 to be the year that I absolutely SMASH my first two modules. I think that would be a highlight for me. With a creative writing assignment on the horizon as well as some intense reading I’ve got some hard work ahead!

Make memories…

With 2020 & 2021 being somewhat a waste of bloody time I feel like now more than ever is all about seizing the day and really grabbing every piece of happiness you possibly can.

I want to live my life and create the most beautiful memories with my loved ones. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Manifest…

This might sound a bit loopy but I experimented with manifesting back in the summer and can honestly say (in my own experience) that it genuinely works. I really want to try and implement that positive frame of mind into my daily life next year.

I truly believe that good things are coming my way and I am so ready for them!

What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Do you have any regrets you’d like to rectify?

3 FAMILY BOARD GAMES THAT WILL HAVE YOU CRYING WITH LAUGHTER (BLOGMAS – DAY THIRTY)

My family are the biggest board game fans I know. We have regular get togethers that revolve around whatever the newest release is and have been known to spend hours laughing/arguing over them.

Here are my top 3 choices right now!

Telestrations

Each player begins by sketching a TELESTRATIONS word dictated by the roll of a die. The old-fashioned sand timer may limit the amount of time they get to execute their sketch, but it certainly doesn’t limit creativity!

Time’s up! All players, all at the same time, pass their sketch to the next player, who must guess what’s been drawn. Players then simultaneously pass their guess — which hopefully matches the original word (or does it??) — to the next player who must try to draw the word they see.

smythstoys.com

This game has led to THE MOST ridiculous amount of belly laughs I have ever had in my life. The sheer ridiculously of it is astounding. It sounds so easy yet somehow we manage to absolutely annihilate any sense of sensible behaviour we may have possessed. Honestly, it’s hilarious.

Colourbrain

YOU START WITH THE ANSWERS

All the answers you need in Colourbrain are in your hand. And they’re all colours!

300 COLOURFUL QUESTIONS

What colour is the lid on full-fat milk… what colour is a sharon fruit… which colour cards would you put down?

bigpotato.co.uk

The concept is so simple (which I love! There is nothing worse than spending half the evening reading the over complicated instructions of a subpar game). As a family Colourbrain is a favourite of ours. With a group of mixed ages it can sometimes be tough to find something that’s suits everyone but this is a winner!

Top of the Pops

TUNE IN, POP OUT

Top of the Pops is back and this time it has got kazoos!


MUSIC FOR EVERYONE

You don’t have to be a music genius to play this game, you just need to know a few songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and beyond


BATTLE OF THE BANDS

Round 1: shout out (or sing) songs against the clock. Round 2: get your team to guess the artist by saying one word, quoting lyrics or murdering one of their hits on your kazoo.

bigpotato.co.uk

One word…kazoo!

This one is so much harder than it sounds so absolutely worth it for the half hour on a off ugly crying from laughter it caused on Boxing Day. If you’ve ever wondered what a Moose in mating season might sound like then ask my father-in-law to give you a song on the kazoo.

Have you played any good ones lately?

MERRY CHRISTMAS! (BLOGMAS – DAY TWENTY-FIVE)

Just a quick word from me today, I’m sure you’re all busy!

However you choose to celebrate or not celebrate the day I truly hope it’s a great one.

I know this time of year can be difficult for many. Losing loved ones, battling personal difficulties and just the general slog of working through our new normal has taken it’s toll but there is always something to be thankful for.

Merry Christmas!

Love always, Kelly x

MY EXPERIENCE WITH MALE FRIENDSHIPS (BLOGMAS – DAY NINETEEN)

Friendship is a funny thing isn’t it? The act of just finding a person and claiming them in a sense.

I wouldn’t say I’ve struggled with it as such but I’ve always been quite introverted in a way, perfectly happy in my own company and always tending to stick to small friendship groups. I’ve been that way ever since childhood and looking back the majority of those friendships have been with other women which I guess is more or less normal?

Then there’s ‘that’ woman. You know the type. Claims to just not click with ‘the girls’. Men are easier, less drama. We all roll our eyes and make snide comments at such attention seeking because that’s what it is, isn’t it?

However, back in 2015 I started a new job that would change my perspective massively.

Having moved to a completely new area a few years before I didn’t really have many local friends. My job previous to that was a very fast paced retail environment so whilst I had met some lovely people I hadn’t built many lasting relationships of anything more than passing acquaintances.

Working in a much more social setting it was easier to make friends although with it being extremely male dominated it was only a matter of time before I realised I was now ‘that’ woman.

Obviously for me it wasn’t a conscious decision. It was circumstantial but never the less a welcome change. I relished being the only female in my little group. I was well looked after and actually now I can reflect back on that period of my life with honesty, I was spoiled.

My relationship at the time wasn’t a great one to begin with but he definitely wasn’t a fan of my new social life.

This is just my personal experience but I find that I constantly compare myself to my female friends and we all know that comparison is the thief of joy. I now had a newfound confidence because that just didn’t happen to me around these men. In actual fact, they helped me to see myself in a new non critical light. There were never any romantic feelings unrequited or otherwise. Just a really lovely friendship with a group of people who ‘got’ me but happened to be male.

I can also honestly say that in all that time I only ever came across one woman who didn’t immediately welcome my presence in their boyfriends life. We did eventually become friends ourselves though and I put the initial frostiness down to insecurity.

I’m writing this post from a bit of an unusual perspective because whilst I 100% believe that men and women can have a purely platonic relationship I am also the insecure girlfriend who doesn’t understand why another woman would want to be friends with her man. I know that sounds ridiculous. I don’t get it myself.

I completely understand how these types of friendships can come between relationships. As humans we don’t always act in a fair and logical way and a lot of us have deep-seated insecurities that mean we find the presence of a new person an instant threat to our relationship regardless of if we trust our partner or not.

As it stands I now have three friendship groups. Two full of my closest girlfriends and the other where I am the only female. These groups all offer me completely different things, having met them at different times in my life. I would definitely say that I now understand why there are women out there who tend to drift more towards male friendships. They do offer something completely different, a different way of seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes and at that particular time in my life it was exactly what I needed. It hit me through a period where I was broken. It saved me in ways I didn’t realise I needed saving and taught me to love myself in ways I didn’t know I could.

I wouldn’t say I’m now exclusively ‘that’ woman but I certainly get it. It’s not as clear cut as I initially thought.

INFLUENCER? I WISH! OR DO I? (BLOGMAS – DAY SIXTEEN)

Hi guys! I thought today would be a good time to address a couple of misconceptions within the beauty community. I mean, obviously I can’t speak for everyone, so these views and experiences are entirely my own.

I’m a mum of three, but not a ‘Mummy Blogger’. I’m not a domestic goddess who bakes and dresses my kids in designer gear. I love cosmetics and beauty in general, but I haven’t mastered a cut crease or wings sharp enough to slit the throats of my enemies. I like fashion but my god can you imagine me trying to strike a pose next to a tree and not looking like an utter knob? Those are just a few of the areas that I fail miserably in but I’m sure there are plenty more.

The image you present online can be so misleading.

I’m lucky really, in comparison to some of my fellow content creators I have never received very many hate comment (if you ignore the fact half of Facebook seems to be convinced that I wear a wig) and most of the people I have met and befriended since starting my Instagram page have been amazing and incredibly supportive. The comments I receive are very sweet and one of the most common questions I get asked are ‘Where do you find the time to glam up as well as juggle everything else?’ and honestly? I don’t. I spend an awful lot of time in my pyjamas or a sweatshirt and leggings.

I suffer with anxiety, so I don’t often leave the house ‘just because’. I usually have a specific reason. I don’t live the glamorous lifestyle of established influencers, attending events and having the ability to purchase the latest products. Most of my time is spent looking after my family or trying to find something to binge watch.

I’m sorry I know this is starting to sound really depressing and it’s not meant to. If anything, I honestly imagined this post would be more humorous.

Anyway, long story short I just don’t really know what I am or who I want to be or even who I’m supposed to be to make these little online ventures a success?

If you have an opinion on this matter, I would genuinely love to hear it. I think it’s good to always try and see things from a different perspective and I’m usually missing something so your views can only help me in the long run!

TTYL guys.

Love Kelly.

THE PROS AND CONS OF A MICRO WEDDING VS A BIG WEDDING (BLOGMAS – DAY ELEVEN)

At the age of just 32 I have not only been married and divorced, I’m also engaged and planning a second wedding!

Whilst it’s not something I usually talk about it, I wouldn’t say I am in the slightest bit ashamed of it either.

People and circumstances change. That’s just a fact of life.

My first wedding went through many stages before the ‘big day’. So many ideas, hopes and dreams for what I thought was going to be full of happy memories.

It was expensive for starters. Something we swore it wouldn’t be. I come from a big family on both my mum and dads side and we’re all pretty close. I was very aware that the lack of an invite to even the most distant of my cousins would cause huge offence and it was something that really played on my mind, causing great anxiety. Couple that with the fact we opted for a very DIY day, which in theory was supposed to make things cheaper (which in my experience just isn’t true) and it was just a mess of financial troubles and broken promises of a debt free aftermath.

I would also say that such a big wedding invites a lot of opinions into the mix, something that really grew with each passing day throwing my dream into chaos.

The day itself was nice enough and I know that many of my guests have fond memories of time spent together as a family but it just wasn’t what I really wanted and I should have been strong enough at the time to voice that.

Actually I shouldn’t have gone through with it at all to be honest and I genuinely feel like the size and cost of my wedding had a lot to do with why I didn’t walk away. I couldn’t back out when so much planning and preparation had gone into it, could I? When so many people had spent their hard earned money on travel and accommodation to be there and support me.

Long story short, a big wedding isn’t for everyone. It certainly wasn’t for me.

Thankfully my future husband is on the same page and this time we have opted for a small and intimate affair full of personal touches. I’ve come to realise that I don’t need hundreds of people around me to make the day special. Lockdown has actually shown me the opposite.

I must stress that there really is no right or wrong way of doing things, these are my own experiences and I know that there will be plenty of people out there who will disagree.

If you have the funds then I know it’s possible to have the best of both worlds so I’ve put together a list of pros and cons to give you a better idea of the wedding you think might appeal to you more.

Big Wedding

Pros

You will (hopefully) only do it once so why not go all out. If you can’t be all kinds of extra when you’re a bride then when can you?

You’ll get to spend time with all of your friends and family under one roof (which if you have a huge family like me can be a difficult thing to organise usually!).

Better choice of location. In my experience there are loads of gorgeous venues that cater to large weddings that would look silly with a smaller group.

Cons

The expense. Surely that money could be put to better use?

Outside input. The more people who are involved the more likely you are to receive unwelcome and unwanted opinions.

Time and effort spent organising. Between work and everything else most people have to deal with right these days do you have the energy for such a huge task?

Microwedding

Pros

Everything can be organised and paid for fairly quickly.

You can rock up in your jeans if that’s what you want. It’s your day after all!

More money to spend on the honeymoon.

Cons

Family politics. Will you be able to deal the fall out because great aunt Mildred or your neighbours cat hasn’t made the cut?

Sometimes a party isn’t a party without a crowd.

Possibly regretting not having that once in a lifetime chance of the ‘fairytale wedding’.

Like I said, there really is no right or wrong answer and it will all come down to your feelings as a couple.

The most important part of any wedding is the love and respect you have for each other.

CONFESSIONS OF AN ACCIDENTAL STAY AT HOME MUM (BLOGMAS – DAY EIGHT)

This was never the plan and although I know I have a lot to be thankful for I can’t pretend that my soul doesn’t ache for parts of my former life.

When I was 17 and in hindsight barely out of childhood myself I gave birth to my eldest son. He was and will remain always the light of my life. I missed out on a lot of my teenage and young adult years and with that the freedom and opportunity to go out there and make mistakes. As a mother that wasn’t part of my destiny. I studied for a career I never actually wanted as a means to make something of myself and build a life for my child. Over the years I either worked or studied. As a habitual over thinker I’m better off busy.

By the time I fell pregnant with my youngest son I was finally in a job that I loved. A place that I thrived in and felt that I belonged. I was to happily take my maternity leave and focus on my family whilst living with the comfort I’d have my little piece of normality to go back to at the end of it. But that’s not what happened and three years later I’m still at home.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, part of me actually feels sick writing this because I know I’m going to be judged. I don’t hate my life. I adore my family. My children are the best thing to have ever happened to me and my partner is beyond supportive, loving and caring in every way possible. I’m fortunate to have these incredible people in my life. To have a home, bills that are always paid and food on the table. I can’t help but silently mourn though, because in the process of building this life I have lost myself and I miss her.

She was fun, I was fun! I was confident and funny. I’m not those things anymore. I’m a shell of who I used to be and I don’t know how to break free of these chains that I have wrapped myself in. The prospect of going back to work now absolutely terrifies me. To have to start from scratch when I feel so unqualified to do anything more strenuous than the school run.

Putting together a CV with such a big gap is daunting. I’m scared to put myself out there because the rejection isn’t something I feel I can mentally handle right now. I wish I could turn back the clock and ask the old me for advice. She’d know what to do. She always did.

Whilst I know I’ll fight my way out of this funk it’s clear to see that it’s going to be a challenge. I know I’m not alone and there will be many more women in my position. I wish I could tell them all that it’ll be ok, you’re still amazing and worthy of the life you used to have, but how can I when I can’t even convince myself?

My god, if being a mother has taught me anything it’s that I am stronger than I think.

Maybe I just need to fake it till I make it, we all have to start somewhere right?

MARK’S TOMATO, CHILLI AND ROASTED RED PEPPER SOUP (BLOGMAS – DAY FIVE)

Is anyone else bloody freezing right now? Those pesky (but very cosy!) colder months always seem like the perfect time to share one of my favourite recipes with you all and you’re in for a treat!

Hands up, this recipe actually belongs to my fiancé. However, I actually do a good 90% of the cooking in our house and have perfected this myself so I feel entitled to share! With these quantities you should have about 2600ml of soup at the end. Roughly enough for approximately 8 portions at 140 calories each. You will need…

  • 6 red peppers
  • 1200g (3 tins) of plum tomatoes
  • 3 red chillis
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 medium onions
  • 900ml of vegetable stock (2 cubes mixed with 900ml of water)
  • 4 tbsp of tomato purée
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp of chilli powder
  • 25g of butter
  • Cream and basil (to garnish)

Chop the peppers, garlic, onions and chilli peppers then throw them into a roasting tin along with the plum tomatoes and olive oil in the oven for half an hour on a medium heat (gas mark 6).

Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the celery. Create the vegetable stock and add the puree, chilli flakes and powder then mix with the butter and celery.

Sometimes I like to add my favourite hot sauce here as well but that is all down to individual tastes.

Remove the roasting tin from the oven and add the contents to the pan. Blend to desired consistency.

Add cream and basil and a side of your favourite bread! Pretty simple right?

I would love to know if you guys decide to give it a go so make sure you take pics and tag me on social media!