Blogmas day 2 – childhood memories – how my Nan made Christmas special!

It’s the first weekend of December, which means it’s time for the Christmas tree to go up. For us that means a trip to the loft to get down the tree – well actually trees, because I brought a little one with me when I moved in with S, and all the decorations. Does anyone else love that tinsel smell, which tells you Christmas is on its way?

We went into town this morning. The Christmas music was playing and there are already some little stalls with hand-made Christmas gifts. I didn’t buy anything – apart from a hotdog for lunch – but I enjoy seeing what is available, with S pointing out things that he thinks I will like!

I don’t remember it, but I apparently got into the Christmas spirit at a very young age. I had been chosen to do an “Away in a manger” solo when I was three – but unfortunately chicken pox put an end to my singing career! Ah well! After that I was too shy to take any solo singing parts at school, but I often did readings because I wasn’t scared of standing up in front of the rows of parents and grandparents!

On the subject of grandparents, anyone who read my grandparents and what we learned from them post will know that I grew up with my grandparents, so a lot of my childhood memories are about them.

My Nan loved Christmas! Not just Christmas morning, although she did wake the children up early on more than one occasion because she was so excited (much to the dismay of some of the other adults!) No, she loved the whole month of December – from the first weekend, when we decorated the tree, all the way through to the school activities, buying and wrapping presents, and planning the food!

As a child, the best part for me was that I was very much a part of it all. No doubt it would have been much quicker for Nan to wrap the presents and put up all the decorations when I was in bed, but she didn’t. Of course I didn’t see anything that was for me, but when it came to the presents that were from me, I went to the shops to choose them, and we did the wrapping together. She taught me how to wrap the difficult shapes. At the beginning, she cut the paper for me, but later I learned how to fold the paper and then have a tactile line to cut along. When we went out, I enjoyed the Christmas music in the shops and Nan described the decorations and displays.

As well as the tree, we had decorations that came out every year – the china sleigh for quality streets, the nativity scene with all the figures, and the snowy house scene that my Granddad attached to a rotating cake board that was wired to a music box. The tactile picture that went up on the living room door. It wasn’t made for visually impaired people, but I could feel Santa, his sleigh, the presents, and the raised letters that spelled out Merry Christmas! I think they looked out for things that could be enjoyed by touch as well.

I don’t have any of these things now, apart from a book that they arranged for me when I was very small. You gave the company the name of your child and a few friends, and the company created a book with a story about that group of children. I still have it – and my one was different because my Nan, who had learned how to write in Braille (a system of dots used by blind people for reading), put the words in Braille on transparent plastic and stuck them into the book so that I could read the story for myself.

Another year, my grandparents arranged for Santa to reply to my letter in Braille.

When it was time for advent calendars, we used the same self-adhesive plastic to cut out little Braille numbers for sticking on the doors so that I knew which door I could open to get my chocolate each day.

Christmas was usually celebrated at our house with my mum, my aunt and her children. It started much earlier than my Christmases do now, and the first thing was always children opening presents, followed by adults opening presents, followed by bacon rolls! Then my Nan would make the Christmas dinner – turkey with all the trimmings. Sometimes a stocking was held back for after the main meal.

My Nan isn’t around to enjoy Christmas any more, but I always think of her at this time of year, particularly when I’m doing the things that she enjoyed so much.

What are your childhood memories of Christmas?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The advent calendars

L’Occitane – today I got a hand cream! I think handcreams are one of the things that L’Occitane does really well, so I was happy to get this little tube. Actually I think there are a few handcreams in there, so I’m looking forward to trying out some more. I already have the full-size one of this one, but it’s lovely to have a mini to put in my bag or in my desk organiser pig!

M&S – another little tube, this time it was Filorga Meso-mask. I’ve never tried this before. Apparently, it enhances skin by improving luminosity and radiance, treats wrinkles and erases signs of fatigue. You leave it on your face for 15-30 minutes and then remove with damp cotton wool. I think I’ll be trying that tonight!

If you had a calendar, what was behind your day 2 door?

Question for the day

So today I’d like to know – what is your favourite food from a traditional Christmas dinner? I have to say the turkey! I don’t think we eat enough of the stuff! I sometimes buy it at other times of the year, but particularly when I was working in London and attending different Christmas meals, I was never sorry to see turkey appearing for the 2nd or 3rd time in December. How about you?

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Blogmas day 1 – welcome to Blogmas!

So this is my first Blogmas and I’m quite excited about it! I watched quite a few Youtubers doing Vlogmas last year and felt that I really got to know them a bit better during December, so maybe that will happen here too.

I’m a teacher, so I find it easy to write “how-to” posts or to share information, but I’m not so good at the chatty, informal posts that other people do so well! So maybe I’ll learn something too!

Basically there will be four parts to the Blogmas posts. There’s the main topic – something wintry or Christmassy, something about my day, then I’m going to talk about my beauty calendars, then I have a Christmas-related question. I’ll give my answer and I’d love to hear yours!

Welcome to Unseen Beauty’s first Blogmas!

For me as a blind person, the least enjoyable part about blogging is the images. I can’t see the products, never mind take photos of them. I do get help with this when I’m talking about products, but I don’t want the stress of sourcing new images every day, so you know what? I’m not going to do it! It’s so liberating! If a photo opportunity comes up, I’ll get someone to take one, but otherwise, we have a Christmas tree and that’s going to be the Blogmas image!

The other day I saw someone saying they probably wouldn’t do Blogmas because they wouldn’t be able to get good enough images, and I think that’s really sad – in the original sense of the word. That blogger may have had loads of interesting stuff to share, but they were put off because of expectations around images.

The people who come to my blog will hopefully keep coming back for the writing. If you’re looking for a picture every couple of lines, this isn’t going to be a fun place for you anyway!

Among other things, my Blogmas is going to be stories, Christmassy products, links to other people doing Blogmas, and two quizzes!

Today

It’s the 1st of December and I’ve already started my Christmas content with my students! Not all of my students celebrate Christmas, and not all of them are interested, but for those who are, I try to find some kind of Christmas activities.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m an English teacher, and I work with adults, mainly in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, who want to improve their English. The activities can be anything from Christmas stories to recipes to talking about how Christmas is celebrated in the student’s country and around the world! Adults don’t want to do some of the activities suited to children, and as we work online, we can’t have a baking session together, but there is still plenty of stuff to talk about and it really gets me into the Christmas spirit – as do the Christmas biscuits on my desk from the Blogger swap box that I did with the Cozy Den bloggers!

I’m not done with my Christmas shopping yet, which is unusual for me, but I’m pretty sure our tree is going up this weekend!

What was in my advent calendars?

So – moving on to the advent calendars! I’m really lucky and I’ve actually ended up with two! I got the L’Occitane one – the cheaper one, because there were a lot of oils in the other one and I wouldn’t use them. Also I liked the sound of the things in the cheaper one more! I was hoping that there would be Braille on the products – you may remember my L’Occitane puts Braille labels on its products to make them more accessible to blind users post. I guess they think the samples in the calendar are too small for Braille. Oh well, a little disappointing, but they are still really nice products, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s inside.

Then my Mum got me the M&S calendar as well – so I’m really happy! I’ve taken a sneak peek into that one on a Youtube review and there are a lot of skincare products in there, which excites me!

I got:

L’Occitane: cherry blossom shower gel.
M&S: Rosie for Autograph Amazing Radiance Body Glow.

This is great – they’re both products that I’ll use. I definitely prefer the shower gels from L’Occitane to the shower oils, and I’m looking forward to trying the cherry after my run this afternoon. I was impressed with the generous size of the body glow – 50ml and this is also a new range for me to try!

What was behind the door of day 1 for you?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

Question for the day

What is your favourite Christmas song?

That’s a tough one for me because I love all the festive music in the shops, or I put on Christmas songs when we’re baking Christmas goodies or setting up the tree. I know it’s probably not as much fun for people working in retail who hear the same songs on repeat all through December!

As a child I always liked Sleigh Ride probably because of all the whinnying and clip-clopping – and it’s a happy, cheerful tune! How about you?

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Guest post – Amy’s new skincare essential

In this guest post, Amy tells us about one of her Christmas presents, which has become an essential part of Amy’s skincare routine.

Today I have something different for you. The blog’s very first guest post!

You may remember I mentioned Amy’s good advice in my post about eye make-up. In this guest post, Amy tells us about one of her Christmas presents, something that has become a vital part of her skincare routine.

Guest post number one – So, it’s a hello from me….

Ahoy internet land, my name is Amy and Kirsty has very kindly said that I can guest blog on her new and upcoming venture, because in short I freaking love beauty and make up and all that comes with it. Unlike her, I have no idea how to blog, so I am sure I will make a few faux pas so I shall apologise in advance. Nevertheless I am pretty excited to share with you, and to have a front row seat so I can see how quickly Kirsty’s new blog takes off.

I must warn you, I am not trained in make up or beauty, but I do love it and make it my business to absorb all I can about tips, techniques and upcoming releases. You will never see me without a full face of make up, because I love to play about with colours and products, trying to recreate looks that I see online. Sometimes I get it wrong… very, very wrong, but sometimes I get it right and the best thing about make up is that you not only get better with practice, but also it comes off at the end of the day. So it’s no harm, no foul right?

With Christmas all but a distant memory away it would seem silly of me to do a ‘What I got for Christmas’ post, but I do want to share one thing I got for Christmas, which has become a staple of my daily skincare routine, and I genuinely couldn’t live without right now, not something I would say lightly. This amazing item is the Clarisonic Mia 2, and whilst it comes with a heavy price tag, (at the time of writing it’s £109 on Amazon, or QVC normally has some pretty good deals), what it has done for my skin in such a short space of time is amazing.

Let me give you a quick run down of my skincare issues/history. Depending on my skin’s mood, I am either combination or normal. There is no in between with my skin. I had enlarged pores, and breakouts too, and was forever losing my make up because it would all come sliding off. I was at my wits end as I was cleaning my face daily, yet nothing would ever change and the products were never as amazing as they claimed to be. The great thing with the Mia 2 is it is as amazing as it claims to be, removing 6 times more dirt, make up and sebum (the oil that your skin produces) than scrubbing your face by hand. It does this by oscillating at 300 times per second to clean your skin super deep, removing anything that your cleaner missed. Whilst this sounds quite harsh it really isn’t (unless you press super hard, yeah you can tell I did that can’t you!!!) and claims are you can use it as many times as twice daily, although once is enough for me.

You have 2 speeds, so you can vary what you want to do, and the best thing is it is only one additional minute to your skincare regime. It is really simple to use as well, with only two buttons to navigate (on and change speed from delicate to normal). They recommend 20 seconds on your chin and forehead, and 10 seconds on each cheek. To save you having to count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi) the device will stop when it gets to the end of the time cycle so you know to move onto the next area, and will stop when the full minute is up. All you need to add is your chosen foaming cleanser to the centre of the brush and off you go (I like to use Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleaner as it is not abrasive in any way). It is even fully waterproof so you can cleanse your face in the shower. You don’t need to apply any pressure, just move the device around in swiping and circular motions, and let the brush do its job.

The brush heads do need replacing every 3 months or so like your toothbrush, but equally like your toothbrush, if you feel you have life left in it then don’t swap it out. You can get different heads for different things, such as deeper cleaning ones or more sensitive based ones, and they retail at about £21 each on the Clarisonic web page, but again some shopping around can get you them cheaper. To change the head you simply rotate it, and it pops off. Nice and easy.

Even the charger is magnetic so you don’t have to faff about finding the port, just hold the device close to the end and it does the work for you. It’s easily identifiable with 2 small divots where the charger will go and the same on the device itself.

I have noticed a massive difference in such a short space of time, and it really is quick and user friendly. I honestly can’t say enough about this product!! One small word of caution though, we all have dirt and grime in our pores, its inevitable. As this product is so powerful and cleans so well, you might find for the first few weeks of use that you have a few blemishes pop up as you are dislodging dirt and grime which has been happily sitting in your face forever and a day. It doesn’t want to be evicted, even though it doesn’t pay you any rent! These do go though, and the rewards of using it and pushing through, honestly outweigh these few additional blemishes. My skin has been better than it has been in years, even my other half has noticed without being prompted, so it must be good because what male does that. I jest of course, he is a diamond.

If there is anything else you would like me to review for you, any questions or queries you might have then please shout. Leave a comment below and I will be sure to get back to you and help as much as I can.

If you have made it this far, I thank you. I appreciate I have a whole lot to say and I am sure that Kirsty will tell me off for taking up too much of your time. I really love this product though, not sure I said that before or not….

Anyhow internet land, all that is left for me to say is toodle pip.
Have a wonderful 2017 and I hope that Kirsty lets me come back soon.
Kisses,
Amy

Christmas 2016

My friends and family were so generous this year.

I got this idea from Youtube. At first I wondered why everyone was talking about their Christmas presents. At first it felt a bit like showing off, but I then realised it’s actually a good way to get some ideas about what’s out there, so I decided to do it too. I haven’t listed everything and I’ve included links where I could find things online so that you can read more about the products and sighted readers can see the images.

So, I was really lucky in 2016 and my partner, friends and family gave me some lovely gifts.

Beauty and skin care

Sanctuary spa hand cream

I’d already tried a mini from the Sanctuary Spa hand cream range – I needed something to get me up to my £20 for free Amazon postage 😉

I’d say this is definitely more green lemon than orange blossom, but the Sanctuary Spa products are good quality and this is a long-lasting hand treatment.

Jack Black intense therapy lip balm – grapefruit

This is quite a small tube, but it’s a special treat for the lips which isn’t sticky and which lasts a reasonable amount of time, so you don’t need to keep reapplying it. And of course it’s grapefruit! You’ll see after a while that I love anything that contains mango or grapefruit! Check out the lip balm here.

We’ve had the grapefruit, now it’s time for the mango. I got the body lotion in this range for my birthday and really liked it. Again, not cheap, but it’s good to indulge yourself with this sweet and fruity mango once in a while. Find out more here!

The Cowshed grumpy cow products

I just love the name! There are all kinds of cow ranges – moody cow, lazy cow, dirty cow (hand wash), but the one with grapefruit in it is the grumpy cow and I have been known to live up to this name, especially in the morning before the third cup of coffee. I haven’t actually used these products yet, but they smell delicious. I got the uplifting body lotion and the uplifting shower gel.

Body Shop – spiced apple tin

I can’t link to this because all of the Christmas ranges at the body shop were seasonal products. I’ll write more about spiced apple in my Body Shop haul post. All I’ll say now is that I’d recommend that you try them if they come back next year. I also got the spiced apple candle, and it makes my office smell nice even when the candle isn’t lit.

Body Shop frosted berries set

This was another seasonal product from the Christmas range with a shower gel and body butter. If the spiced apple is too strong and wintry for you, the frosted berries are a good alternative.

Clothing

Monster slippers – Jack the black wolf

So, as well as my fruit favourites, you will often see wolves and owls in my collections! These slippers are cosy and warm – just what you need when you work from home. My shoe size is between two sizes, but these are definitely on the generous side. They have furry heads, paws and tails, and their eyes even light up if you press the button on the left ear! I’m wearing them as I type and I’m very happy with them! Check out the wolf slippers here.

Wolf fleece

Keeping with the wolf theme, I hate the cold and this is a sure way to keep out the cold this winter. It’s fur-lined, so you can easily wear it as a warm jacket when you’re going out in the winter. This is where you can find it

Mermaid tail blanket

I read about these on a blog, then I heard about them on Youtube. They seem to have been a thing this winter!

Not really clothing, but my mermaid tail blanket is something you can use when you’re snuggled up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book. I was a bit surprised, because it was described as fleece, even though it’s knitted. However it’s a decent size and you can keep your legs and lower body warm as you snuggle down into it. Who said adults can’t be mermaids too?!

Christmas dress

I don’t have a link, but it was a long, satin dress with a full skirt that I wore on Christmas day.

Perfume

Happy Femme by Clinique

This is what Amazon says about this perfume:

“Floral, fruity, green. Created in 1997, Happy perfume by Clinique for women is a refreshing, clean, floral fragrance. It is the result of the following top fragrance Notes: bergamot, boysenberry and honeysuckle. The middle notes are: bushflower, grapefruit and moss and the base of the fragrance is: freesia, lemon and Hawaiian wedding flower. Happy perfume is recommended for daytime and romantic use.”

So, you guessed it, grapefruit again! This is a lovely, fruity fragrance. I took a risk with this because I said I would like it for Christmas without even smelling it, but I wasn’t disappointed and I’m enjoying wearing it. Here’s the link to the Happy perfume.

The other perfume that I was given is an old favourite that was first given to both me and my mum many years ago by a relative from Ireland. It’s called Innisfree and it’s another fruity, floral fragrance, probably heavier than the grapefruit one. It comes from Ireland and was named after a poem about the Isle of Innisfree.

Books

I had no idea what this present was, but when I unwrapped the gift box, there was an Audible subscription in there! This is a great idea for people who love to read, especially if you don’t know exactly what kind of books they like or which ones they already have. The Audible app is fully accessible to blind people who use VoiceOver on the iPhone and there is a really good selection of audio books.

The only slightly annoying thing is that you have to buy the books on the Audible site, and not in the app, but the site is easy to use with a screenreader and I had no trouble redeeming my first book.

I usually read everything for my job, news, and other information using the speech software on my computer, but when it comes to books and reading for pleasure, I like to listen to a real person – so this gift was ideal!

For the home

I’d never seen vases like this before, but I got an owl vase. Apart from being a welcome addition to the owl collection, he is tactile and you can feel his ears, face and feathers. Really cool!

I was also given two smaller, ornament owls, one of which could be hung up, so we put her on the Christmas tree!

Due to my love for all things spicy, I was given a grow-your-own chilli kit. A travel mug was also a welcome gift for this coffee lover!

We also received joint gifts including wine, chocolates and some fruity cheese.

Jewellery

This year I was very lucky and received an adjustable bracelet, a lovely pair of little owls as earrings, a necklace and a pair of cute doggy earrings.

The necklace is very Christmassy, so I probably won’t wear it again until December, but I think you can justify wearing it from the end of November, and as someone who doesn’t do Christmas jumpers, I do like to get out some sparkly Christmas jewellery. This is a tactile piece and you can feel the shape of the Christmas tree and its decorations.

I found the dog earrings in the autumn, then they went out of stock. My mum kept checking and finally snapped some up just before Christmas. They seem to be out of stock again now, so I can’t show you, but they are drop earrings with dogs viewed from the front. I like the Katy Craig collection and will be investigating the rest of the animal jewellery.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you use my links for Amazon and buy something, I will receive a small percentage at no additional cost to you. I only list products that I love or have reviewed.

Picture of Kirsty

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