It's getting closer and closer to Christmas! And as if shopping is not stressful enough, there is the small problem of getting the loved one in your life a gift that she will really love. Fear not! It's all about finding something that resonates with her style and taste whilst it doesn't have to break the bank either.
"For the past few days I haven't been to the street begging for money to buy food for me and my baby..." This was what a mother at Brent Foodbank told us recently. She was on the streets begging with her two year old baby when she was referred to our foodbank for help.
On the eight day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight tantrums throwing, seven gins a-pouring, six nits a-laying, five nappy pins, four swear words, three felt tip pens, two snotty kids and a child screaming for a wee.
Thanks to organisations such as WIL Uganda, the Christmas message isn't forgotten and we can still play pass the parcel. In fact, sticking one sneaky sable under the tree could be your way to multiple women's hearts this December.
Whilst you lot were sunning yourselves in August I went up into the loft and got out my jingle bells. I listened to five albums of Christmas hits (yes pretty painful in August) and listed the ingredients for a classic Christmas number one. So just in case YOU fancy having a go before the 25th, here's my list. I think I've cracked the formula...
I have a confession: I won't be spending Christmas Day with my boyfriend. I never have in the years we have been together, and in all honesty, I don't plan on doing it any time soon. And it's not because there is anything stopping us spending the day together, it's a conscious decision that actually, didn't take much thought.
When you look deeper, right into the heart of the build up to Christmas, you begin to see cracks in its foundations. What on the surface appears to be a time of abundant merriment for all, is actually a vicious cycle that keeps us all manipulated like puppets.
This frangipane tart is all the things you want from a festive tart. It has orange curd and almonds and spices and dried fruit. It's missing marzipan but I daren't chuck that in. I know how shirty some of you get when I become all marzipan-happy.
So your partner is out on his Christmas Do, cramming 12 months of no social life into six hours. At home it's just you and the baby who is asleep... for the moment. You are alone, you are bored. It's Christmas damn it!
To maintain my cuddly physique and stop myself edging towards the chubby abyss / heart failure I found eating when hungry rather than the set three meals a day kept me in check.
Dear Father Christmas, So my friend has asked me to write to you... I have to confess it's been hard to know what to say. Mainly because like most adults I feel preposterous asking anything of you because our time with you is surely done. Now we get our own presents, control our own fates, take responsibility for our own actions, and live in the world we have created... so it's not for us to turn around and plead for your help with the environment, the migrant crisis, the NHS, education, food banks, human rights, fundamentalism and wars. Though God knows we need all the help we can get with all these man-made problems and more.
This year's Christmas card from the family is one that Isis made herself. It says 'Merry Christmas! Isis 2015. And it arrived on the very morning I did that Pause for Thought. I didn't stop laughing for nearly half an hour. I'd say that was pretty spectacular coincidence no.2. Actually, I'd call it a Christmas miracle.
The festive period is fast approaching, and we are all looking forward to some well-earned rest and relaxation with our families at this special time. For military personnel and service families, time spent together is even more precious. Many military families have been separated for months, and reconnection as a family unit is a real necessity.
What about combining gift giving and raising money for a good cause? It makes sense, spending your money on Christmas presents for your loved ones that will also help others across the world who need it most. So here's how to make your shopping as charitable as possible this Christmas (or perhaps for next year!)...
I'm obsessed with spa smells. Walking down the stairs to the basement of the Dorchester, I'm hit with a aroma of uplifting eucalyptus, I take a deep inhalation and feel instantly relaxed - like I've had a mini treatment before I even step through the door.
I became a woman obsessed. I stopped seeing other humans. Stopped answering my phone. Every waking moment became an epic battle between myself and my creation. This must be exactly how that doctor lad, you know, that Frankenstein's creator felt.