'Tis The Season...... Almost.


Not that it feels much like it at the moment but the silly season that heralds what can be the mayhem of Christmas is right around the corner. It must be, as the calendar tells me so.

 I do love Christmas, don't get me wrong, but I have been rather bah-humbuggy about it all so far this year. It really turns me right off the season of goodwill when the retailers decorations go up immediately after Hallowe'en. In fact that tends to make me rebel a little!

That said, the closer we get to December 1st the more I start to feel a little of the Christmas joy and fun that is hopefully to come.

Of course while 'bah-humbugging' all around me I have been secretly plotting ahead, just a little, in recent weeks. Well, Christmas gifts, baking delights and a decorated house don't happen by magic you know. Though some may believe that that's exactly how it happens!

The last couple of weeks have gone by in a bit of a flurry of forays for the odd gift or two, ahead of time, just to take a bit of pressure off. Although had I realised how big 'Black Friday' has become in Ireland I might have planned yesterday's foray for another day entirely. And because I enjoy it so much I must also admit to have gotten myself lost in a bit of  a Christmas knitting and crocheting frenzy recently. Which, if you follow me on social media you might be aware of. I had to post the odd photo you see, otherwise people might think I'd disappeared completely and at least it somewhat explains my absence from here too!

I now go forward into the lovely month of December in a positive frame of mind. Determined not to stress or obsess about the buying of gifts and the food preparations. It is only one day in the year after all and Christmas is about far more than that. It is nice to buy nice gifts for family and some friends but in so doing you don't have to break the bank. It is also nice to simply spend time with the people in your life. In fact my friends and I don't exchange gifts at all, preferring instead to just meet up for a catch-up and a bit of Christmas cheer. My diary is starting to fill up already!

The more I write the more I can feel that Christmassy feeling invade my being. I think this invasion may have gotten a bit of a kickstart with last night's viewing of Ireland's legendary annual Late Late Toy Show on RTE last night. This year I had the enjoyable company of my very amusing teenager, to whom this TV offering has become cool to view again. Now that he can laugh at it all that is! It was a fun night, I have to say, and as always I enjoyed the many talented children who gave us some wonderful live performances, including this one which I truly adored.

Okay, so now that I've written talked myself around I'm really starting to get excited! I want to put up my Christmas tree and deck the rooms with tinsel and baubles. And lots of sparkly lights. But I need more seasonal screen offerings to keep my now slightly evident Christmas spirit intact. One simply cannot be expected to deck any tree or room with anything without a Christmas movie on in the background, now can one?

As this will be my first Christmas with them I've turned to Netflix to see what Christmas movie delights they have to offer, at any time I choose. Quite a few as it turns out. There's the usual and wonderfully timeless 'It's a Wonderful Life' and the funnies like 'Scrooged' and 'Beethoven's Christmas Adventure' for example and some animated children's ones too. And on December 4th we will all be wished a very #MurrayChristmas in the humorous style of Bill Murray when his movie 'A Very Murray Christmas' airs exclusively on Netflix! This start-studded comedy is based on a classic variety show organised by Bill Murray (played by himself) but he harbours fears that no-one will turn up due to bad weather conditions. The show must go on I'd say and I very much look forward to watching it happen. It sounds right up my street. Oh, and if you're stuck for a last minute gift this year then Netflix can help you out with the launch of their Gift Cards available in GameStop stores!




So, that's what I'll be viewing next week.

You'll know where I am if I go missing again.

Just follow the Netflix and knitting wool trail and there I'll be.

Wrapped in twinkling baubles and knitted delights, with perhaps a little glass of something sparkly by my side!

I do hope some Christmas cheer is right around the corner for you too.






DISCLAIMER: As a member of the worldwide #Netflix #StreamTeam I received a years subscription and an Apple TV device in exchange for some reviews. All opinions, thoughts and words however are honest and mine alone. 



There Will Always Be Reasons to Say 'No'.....


I so admire mothers who also work outside the home, for it is not an easy task to juggle everything. And to be all things to all people, at both home and employment.

As a stay-at-home-mum you are all things to all people all the time too, but at home only. So as busy as life can be, simply by virtue of the fact that you are available for all sorts of tasks that no-one else is, it can be possible to find time to do things that you want or need to do for yourself.

As a stay-at-home-mum you have given up, either by choice or necessity, paid employment to be at home for your children.

You give them, and family life, your time. Children grow up, eventually becoming fairly independent teenagers - transitioning to the adults they believe they already are - and you may then begin to notice that you have some additional time on your hands.

Time is precious. You have happily gifted some of yours and now some of it is being gifted back to you. How to treat this gift, in between the lessening but still required parenting?

Taking some of this time for yourself does not always mean simply partaking in a favourite activity; like going for a walk, a swim or attending a dance class. Nor, it must be said, does it necessarily mean an increased housework load! Some of this time can be used to take a short trip or to put a skill set or an interest you may have to good use. Because you want to. For you.

So you have a think and make some plans, then make arrangements to attend an event to facilitate these plans of yours. But this may require some additional 'out of hours' time, so to speak.

Then you promptly find as many reasons as you can as to why you should just scupper the whole thing and simply say 'no'.


         1) It's the weekend and too many alternative arrangements will have to be                made.          
             
         2) It's just easier to say no .......  For whom? 

          3) Too many questions will need answering.

          4) Who will make the required meals that you won't be there for?

          5) It's just not worth the hassle.


That was how I felt getting up for my organised event yesterday. I had been looking forward to it but now I just didn't want to go. However, I had made a commitment to attend so go I must.

And on the way I began to think of the many reasons I should more readily say 'YES' to these things.


       1) Weekends and outside school hours are for stay-at-home-mums too.

       2) Shared parenting is a partnership so there are no problems. I am lucky                  this is so.

       3) The more you do it the less questions will arise and 
             more independence will be created.

       4) There is a reason why microwaves and takeaways exist. And cook books                 and YouTube. Anyone can learn.

       5) If I can't make this day happen then I can't make anything               
            that results from it happen either.

       6) I am NOT entirely indispensable.


This is just one of a number of scenarios that I have recently found myself looking for all the reasons I should say no.

Is that simply because I've just gotten used to it? Has staying at home all these years made me 'dependent'? Or perhaps just everyone else around me? Has the status quo been fixed in cement? All without anyone realising....

The actual answers to these questions I pose are unimportant, but dealing with them, for me, is not.

As it happens I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's event and was glad I made the effort. Everyone survived and I found more reasons to say 'YES' than 'no'.

I think perhaps that teenagers are not the only ones in transition around here ;)

So this is my new motto......












               












Stunning Sligo


Little did we know last August, when we were touring The Burren, that it wouldn't be our only viewing along Ireland's extremely scenic Wild Atlantic Way this year.

Along came the October Midterm break and suddenly we found ourselves on the Sligo section of this 2,500 km natural beauty trail.

We based ourselves in the very nice Sligo Park Hotel this time, where we enjoyed gorgeous food and a super view of Benbulben - Ireland's own Table Mountain - from our room. It sat there looking at us, enticing us to come closer to view it's amazing structure.

So we took ourselves off on a little tour of the area with this mountain almost always in sight and getting ever closer....




On the way we paid a visit to the beautiful Rosses Point, which was looking very resplendent on this gloriously sunny day.




While there we spotted the Metal Man, a derelict house and a land-lubbed bouy!




Then we stopped off at the quaint fishing harbour of Mullaghmore to admire the view there. A bird's eye view, one might say!




And spotted this building - rather hard to miss in fairness - that houses the 'Eithne's By The Sea' restaurant.........



                                 I reckon the artist had a field day painting this!


From there we had a quick stop-off to view the final resting place of William Butler Yeats. Following that we went for a short forest walk in Gortarowey, at the foothills of Benbulben where, within minutes, we spotted the North face of this limestone and shale mountain just peeping at us through the trees.




We walked on and got closer still....


 


And eventually, at the end of our little stroll, the stunning Benbulben was revealed to us in all it's splendour.




The following day dawned a little less brightly, with rain threatening any further touring. We got lucky however and managed to do a little more sightseeing, in between the raindrops.

Our first stop was the beautiful Dooney Rock with some dense forestation. We quite liked following the little signs that lay here and there, describing the different trees inhabiting this forest.




We also enjoyed the beautiful views of the lake, through drooping branches which trailed the gently lapping waters....




Our final stop was Strandhill Beach which was also very beautiful, even on this grey day, and while there we were treated to some crashing waves.




Sligo of course was home to one of Ireland's renowned poets William Butler Yeats , and naturally there are reminders of this everywhere you go.

So, in that vein I'll leave you with this plaque we noticed near Strandhill Beach inscribed with the words of this famous poet.



I think it's safe to say that with both of our trips this year we have certainly immersed ourselves in the Wild Atlantic Way!

Yet there is still more to be seen.

Another time then.......








#Netflix #Streamteam: How I Watch Mine......


I'm relatively new to the Netflix party and have had fun finding my way through their quite extensive catalog of  viewing material for the past two months.

I do tend to be such a creature of habit though and for most of this time I've stuck to the same series, and the same method of viewing.


Apple TV

This has been my preferred viewing choice until recently and is ideal for Netflix Nights with my teenage son. So far we've continued what we started and have completed the Breaking Bad series which enthralled us entirely. We've since moved on to....

Narcos - A natural progression you might say! And yes, it's similar. Yet different too. This is a serialised portrayal of the drug lord Pablo Escobar and is quite exciting and dramatic. It's rated as 15s so it seems more appropriately aged for us, however I do wonder at this rating. We like that it's based on true events and, after some discussion, agree that half the programme being sub-titled lends more authenticity to the wonderful telling of this story. If you like to knit or crochet while Netflix viewing than an easier project would be best for this one! I did wonder if there was enough material for a second season though, and based on this article it would seem that there is. Good news then!

Better Call Saul - Oh, just a bit of harmless fun. The boy enjoys it and I guess I do too. I can certainly get more knitting done! We've only watched a couple of episodes so far but hope to catch up more during this midterm break. I'm quite interested to see how and why 'Jimmy' becomes Saul.....

House of Cards - This one was my personal viewing time and having just completed viewing all three seasons, I can tell you that I adored it. The story lines were quite shocking at times and the acting always superb. Kevin Spacey was amazing in it and hooked me right in from episode one. He'll stop at nothing, which made for some unbelievable plot lines, but his timing and delivery was always spot on. I absolutely loved his mostly one-liner asides to camera too. Robin Wright was such a cold fish, I didn't like her at all. Which I guess is totally the point. She played her character brilliantly and directed a number of the episodes too. I cannot wait for Season 4.......


Laptop

Of course watching Netflix on one screen only in the house is completely missing the point. So I finally got my act together and set it up on my laptop. And now I really can watch it any time, any where. It also means that if your partner has different TV viewing preferences then you can both stay in the same room, albeit viewing different screens. You just have to pop those earphones in and try not laugh out too loudly! Especially at my following new-found delight....

Grace and Frankie - I cannot believe that I didn't get hooked on this one sooner. No-one told me that it starred Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin you see. Such fabulous, accomplished actors, sure any series with those two in it would have to be successful. And with Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston joining them it's totally brilliant.

The first episode totally captured my attention and made me laugh. From the 'shocking news' the ladies receive, the hippy-dippiness of it all, the hilarious beach hallucinations to the 'peeing in Ryan Gosling' they had me giggling away! Quietly ... earphones, remember?! And of course the final episode of the series was such a goodie. I tell ya, whatever about bronco-bucking a large inflated pink phalanx, I most definitely want to get up on a bar and dance!

Oh, I so wanna be Grace and Frankie when I grow up...... either one. And I can't wait for season two.

Naturally the teenager has Netflix downloaded on his laptop also, which is handy for a little evening viewing when we go away on hotel breaks.

No laptop Netflix viewing at bedtime though. For me especially. I have prohibited myself from all online activity from 9.30 pm onwards, in deference to my raging insomnia.


iPhone


And then I thought..... 'sod that'. I don't sleep too great whether or not I turn off screens, so in retaliation I downloaded the Netflix app to my iPhone anyway! Take that, insomnia. It won't cure my insomnia, it may even make it worse, but it will certainly relieve the relentless boredom. And is also great for hotel breaks away. When I can't exactly play my usual 'musical chairs' with beds and sofas. Well, I could try I guess but it might get me into a lot of trouble!

I am calling this  my Nocturnal Netflix viewing. Not to be confused with our Netflix Nights above, which is a very different kettle of programmes entirely. I have lined up some, hopefully, calming nature programmes like the Blue Planet and some music ones too, in order to encourage sleep.

I have to say, although I wouldn't do it too often, I quite like watching Netflix on my phone!


So there you have it, our Netflix on the go; whenever and wherever we want it.


This is how I watch mine.


How do watch yours?


Do tell, I'd love to know.














DISCLAIMERAs a member of the worldwide #Netflix #StreamTeam I received a years subscription and an Apple TV device in exchange for some reviews. All opinions, thoughts and words are honest and mine alone. 
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