Well hello and a very Happy New Year to you. I feel as though I’ve been away for ages which is good but I’ve missed blogging and it was lovely to hear from a few of you who emailed last week to say that you were missing the posts. Let’s catch up with a quick look back at Christmas and then a focus on new year, new plans at Midlifechic.
You may remember that my last post on Friday 21st December was all about accepting that some Christmases don’t go according to plan. As you’ll know if you follow me on Instagram, I didn’t realise that I was writing to myself but we’ll come to that soon!
Before we do, here are a few pictures from when it was all on track. As you know, once a year we pull together a village choir to sing in various places and the highlight is the carol service held in the church. For me, the moment when we sing the descant to ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ is the point when Christmas truly begins. Last year, all of the boys were at parties so only Mr MC was there but this time they were at home. So, with a little ‘encouragement’ they came along and even sat in the front pew so that I could see their beaming faces as we sang. Mr MC was in full on Christmas mode…
… and so were the choir.
As you can see, my life is full of contrasts – one day I’ll be presenting in a boardroom in London and the next I’m back here chatting to the ladies in the village shop. It’s one of the things I love most, balancing highfalutin trips to the capital with the more prosaic proclivities of my northern kinfolk. Here’s the full village choir – we’re not a particularly tuneful bunch but we make up for it with a lot of laughs – it’s all very Vicar of Dibley. I look at this and wonder why I didn’t wear my red skirt… our evening ended merrily in the village pub which is conveniently located next door.
Wearing: Tu Christmas jumper; Hush gold skirt AW17; ASOS gold boots AW17
Saturday 22nd December
On Saturday 22nd we always try to support as many local businesses as we can by doing our food shopping at various farm shops. This isn’t a remotely exciting outfit but it was a busy day and unseasonably warm. We’d reached our last stop at this point and were feeling a bit stir crazy (the boots are gold by the way but they look white here).
Wearing: Joules breton AW17; Baukjen jeans; ASOS gold boots AW17
Sunday was my day for cooking and baking and then suddenly it was Christmas Eve. As usual I’d booked a ‘surprise’ theatre trip and the boys played along with guessing where were going, even though it’s always Blackpool, Liverpool or Manchester. This year rather than a panto I’d booked tickets to see Wicked in Manchester. We arrived early for our usual lunch at Pizza Express.
Just as we’d finished ordering, Mr MC’s phone started to ring and I saw his face fall. It was his brother and he never contacts us by phone unless something is wrong. He went outside to answer it and we watched through the window, trying to gauge what was going on.
A little while ago my mum-in-law decided that she wanted to go away with a friend for Christmas and we clubbed together so that they could have a break in the Peak District. As they were travelling, she’d started to feel pains in her chest and so when they arrived at the hotel, the receptionist called an ambulance. She was rushed to hospital with a very low heart rate and told she had to stay in until the following week so that a pacemaker could be fitted.
It seemed so unfair. After such an awful year she’d been really looking forward to her holiday and now this. We finished our meal and went for a drink at The Refuge while Mr MC called his brothers to work out a plan.
They decided that we should go ahead and see Wicked but then set off in the car to go and find her. As you can imagine when we got there she wasn’t very happy. We stayed for a while but she was worrying about her belongings which were all still at the hotel so we said we’d go and retrieve them for her. Mr MC decided that there was no point in us all going so when we came to a spot where there were a few different restaurants, we jumped out and he carried on.
Of course being a bit flustered it hadn’t occurred to us that the restaurants might be full and we went from one to another being turned away at every door which felt very topical for Christmas Eve! In the end we found a curry house with an eye-wateringly expensive set menu but we were stranded so there was nothing for it other than to bed in. As we were waiting, I updated my Instagram and started to reply as comments came in. I glanced up to see the eldest and youngest frowning at me (the middle son was busy on his phone like me). “Mum, it’s Christmas Eve” they remonstrated. And it was one of those thunderbolt moments when I asked myself what on earth I was doing. In years to come (when Instagram is obsolete) I may find myself in my mum-in-law’s position and yet there I was, wasting precious moments.
Mr MC picked us up on his return journey a couple of hours later and we drove back to the hospital with everything she needed. He’d even somehow managed to find a shop that was still open to buy some treats because she’d complained bitterly about the hospital food. It was way past visiting time but the nurses allowed us in. We found her sitting shivering because they’d run out of blankets and only had sheets to give her. So we wrapped her up in coats and Mr MC showed her the goodies he’d procured… none of which were to her pleasing(!) We took a quick picture as we were leaving just as a reminder of our unusual Christmas Eve.
There was nothing for it but to move into Blitz spirit so we found a Michael Bublé playlist (which the boys profess to loathe) and they joined in as we sang along all the way home in an attempt to cheer their dad up. (And those of us squashed together in the back of his car didn’t even mention our discomfort once!)
I was aware of Mr MC tossing and turning all night worrying about his mum so it wasn’t too bad when the youngest two bounded up the stairs to our room very early. The eldest doesn’t get up with as much alacrity as he used to so the joy of waking him is always left to me – but eventually he appeared downstairs and Christmas Day began with stocking opening and people popping in for a glass of fizz.
As always the toys were the most immediate hit – this is the Air Shot game from the gifts for teens post…
… and the general high jinx began – here’s the middle one creating his Christmas Day Instagram post (don’t ask!).
The youngest was flossing behind me when I was trying to set up our family Christmas selfie… for some reason the eldest had locked him outside…
… but I got one in the end!
As I was uploading our Christmas wishes to Instagram, a message flashed up to tell me that I’d lost over 200 followers since I posted about my mum-in-law – I guess people only want to hear perfect stories on Christmas Eve. So I was glad that I hadn’t spent any more time on it the night before… especially when the above photo lost another 180. I decided just to take a break and not bother with it again over Christmas. I’ll say more on my thoughts about Instagram and its future in a post soon but it’s increasingly becoming the repository of fake lifestyles, blogs are the refuge for anyone who wants to ‘keep it real’.
So I’m afraid I don’t have any more photos of Christmas because we decided that we’d just focus on what mattered. It meant we had a real break because it’s the first time for five years that we haven’t had to factor outfit photos into our week – I didn’t quite live in pyjamas but I did wear them a lot when we weren’t travelling to see Mr MC’s mum! We took some of our Christmas dinner over on Boxing Day which met with her approval and we even smuggled in some little bottles of her much loved Baileys. She finally had her operation on the Thursday after Christmas and was allowed home the following day. After that she just wanted to rest so we cancelled our plans to go over to Newcastle and spent the rest of the time at home doing analogue things. We read books, watched movies, played boardgames, and spent lots of time with friends and family, doing that old fashioned thing of talking face to face.
New year, new plans at Midlifechic
I’m not going to call them resolutions because I’m noticing a backlash against those this year – it seems a shame because this is a powerful time to reflect. However as I said I would in my last post, I did spend some time looking back over 2018 to see what I needed to change. Other than spending less time online, I decided that I need to put a stop to my wardrobe chaos and pare it back to a capsule like the one I developed during my early days of blogging in 2014/15. So I spent quite a bit of time over the break working on a capsule-building programme that I’m going to share with you over the weeks to come – I hope it works!
I also need to get back on top of my weight – or I suppose I should say way of eating. After staying at a consistent weight for four years, it all went to pieces last summer when I didn’t ditch my weight gain after our holiday in Turkey because other events meant that I lost focus on myself. I am now 9lbs heavier than I should be – that’s the weight of the boys when they were born which feels substantial.
I would usually go back to Slimming World because I know it works – but it takes time. We’re going away for our wedding anniversary at the beginning of February and I want to feel better about myself than I do at the moment. So, when I was offered the opportunity to review a programme from a small company called Balance Meals, I jumped at it.
The idea is that they provide all of your meals for five days a week. Everything is freshly cooked and they deliver on Sundays and Wednesdays. There are three programmes to choose from:
- Trim and Slim: lower carbs with higher fat and quality protein in reduced portions to help you lose weight.
- Maintain and Sustain: as above but with regular sized portions
- Grow and Gain: for people who are working out a lot and perhaps bulking up
- There is also a vegan plan or an option to just have two of your meals supplied each day.
I’ve chosen Trim and Slim but I only started the programme yesterday so I can’t tell you much about the meals themselves yet although so far I’m impressed. I was a bit worried when I saw the size of the portions but I haven’t felt hungry yet so they’re clearly satisfying.
However I can tell you what appealed to me. Firstly, although they deliver nationally they’re based in the north and they use small local suppliers, some of whom I know and value. Secondly, they make everything easy supplying real, freshly prepared food that’s neatly packed in reusable boxes. It means that if I’m going down to London I can just pop the containers in my bag and stay on plan which is always a big problem for me. Because they’re already cooked, I can eat them cold if need be or heat them up when I have access to a microwave. I did wonder how I was going to juggle the plan with feeding Mr MC and the boys so the simple solution was a Hello Fresh order for them while I get used to it.
The worst thing about starting a diet is usually all the shopping and preparation. This has been incredibly straightforward, I just hope it works. I’m going to do it for six weeks and see what happens. I’ll update you once a week but if you’re interested in trying it out, I have a reader offer for you that will last throughout the trial: if you use chic10 at checkout you’ll get 10% off your order or if you order a whole month of meals, chic15 will give you 15% off.
And that’s everything from me for today other than to say I hope you had a good break too – and that 2019 is looking to be full of promise for you. I should be back to a normal posting schedule now although I have three days down in London later in the month which may affect things. Between now and Friday though I want you to do one thing. Wear some of your favourite outfits and think carefully about why you like them. I don’t mean party skirts, just your favourite everyday pieces but be analytical. It will give you a headstart for Friday when we start to look logically at how to build a capsule wardrobe.
Post script: as I press ‘publish’ I’m heading off to collect the eldest from A&E. Ankle + Rugby = Plus ça change!
Disclosure: ‘New year, new plans at Midlifechic’ is not a sponsored post however Balance Meals are supplying me with six weeks of their meal plan for the purposes of an honest review.
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