Friday, 10 May 2013

New job, new happies

Yes yes yes.....bad blogger. I know I know...

But I feel I have a very valid excuse. My new job has kept me crazy busy in the very best kind of way, and even though this means I get home in the evenings knackered it's the very best kind of "Yay I worked hard and am having fun at the same time" knackered.

So as it is the main thing occupying my life at the moment, here are a few things that I am loving about my new Managerial role.

1) I'm a Manager! I wanted to be a manager for so long, I've been so fortunate to learn from some amazing people in my sector and I've always wanted to the opportunity to push myself to that level. So now I'm here it's a little scary at times, but at the same time feels awesome!

2) My colleagues are amazing. Everyone in this office is so friendly, there is a great level of fun banter and giggles without any bitchiness or nastiness. My team are especially lovely, I felt settled and part of the team almost immediately.

3) I'm back in central London! Working out in deepest Essex with nothing but a Sainsburys, greasy spoon cafe and 10 dozen chicken shops was quite depressing. Now I have history, modern architecture, great food and more Starbucks's than I can count within spitting distance from my office. Only downside is keeping that bank balance in check!

4) We're social. We have cake for birthdays, leaving drinks, even a mini-"goodbye" and congratualtions before my manager went off to get married. It just makes the office a really nice place to work and somewhere you want to come to.

5) Softball! I have been in the charity sector for 7 years and never worked somewhere with a team in the league. We just joined this year and even though we got flattened by the most notorious team in the league in our first game, I still can't wait for the rest.

6) I get to see Mat dressed as a peapod (or possibly the goat in the future!) at events.....that ones totally self explanatory surely? :)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Little life-y update

The lovely Bryan Gallagher mentioned I have not done a blog post for a while and he was hankering for an update. As such this post is dedicated to him less I incur the wrath of an ice-hockey player!

So...I feel like I have both been insanely busy but also not done "much" to report on lately. So here is a brief run down of things that have been happening in my world since the beginning of the year.

Babies babies babies! 
Everyone seems to have had a baby or be growing one as I speak! I am so proud and happy for every wonderful new parent I know right now (especially you McMuppetts as this post is dedicated to you guys!) The more I watch my friends blossom into these amazing care givers the more I amazed I am. You know that episode of How I met your Mother? "I can't believe that girls a Mum?!" - kinda like that. I think of all the random times and adventures we have and now they are responsible for this little human life. And that is phenomenal! The more I see it the more I know I'm not even close to there yet. But it means I have tons of love and affection (and gift buying) to spoil all the new little ones with. Aunty Sarah is well and truly here! 

I planned a surprise trip to Edinburgh for much Whisky tasting for Mat's big 3-0. I figured "If you're nervous about turning 30, just drink your way through it!" Seriously though, it was a lovely trip and I think he really enjoyed it. Found some new favourite whiskies too which is always a good thing. 

By the way, if you are ever in Edinburgh, I cannot recommend The Whisky Trail shop on the Royal Mile highly enough. Although a little pricier than some of the other shops we went into, there is a man in there called Jaime who is a complete expert! We got talking to him for a good half hour, and would've stayed longer if we didn't have to catch our plane home. I even managed to wangle Mat a 'wee dram' of a whisky as old (gets given filthy look) *ahem* young as he is. A bottle that had we bought the full bottle would have set us back about a months rent! 

Mum's graduation
My Mummy graduated from Canterbury Christchurch University with a 2.1 in Childhood Studies. I went along to her graduation with her and I was immensely proud of her. Although she didn't really take it seriously and ran around doing Batman impressions in her gown. Proof is any was ever needed that we only grow up if we stop having fun with life! 

Job stuffs
My manager left last month (cry and sob) and it has not been the easiest few weeks. However there are some potentially exciting things on the horizon and I will update on those as and when there are things to say. In the meantime keep your fingers crossed for me please!

And that's about it really. Elsewhere there has been the usual hanging with friends, watching the 'Friends' white boxset (extras and outtakes oh my!) and slowly making my way through Game of Thrones. Slowly as in I dont have much time to read. When I actually sit down for a few hours with it I absolutely plough through. Which is what I think I will be doing for a few blissfully relaxing hours this afternoon. 

Hope everyone had a lovely Valentines Day doing whatever you were doing, and wishing you all a happy weekend!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

A very crafty Christmas

Like most of the Western World seems to now be (and as I have mentioned *ahem* once or twice) I am addicted to Pinterest. This year at Christmas it has given me quite a lot of inspiration to make a lot of gifts for people.

As I am not generally a very crafty person, I decided to share my creations with my lovely readers. Especially as they had lovely reactions too!

Cellophane, curling ribbon and LOTS of sellotape were definitely my friends, and I got quite skilled at wrapping up pretty much anything in a pretty way - presentation really is everything.

Personalised mugs
These were very nearly a Pinterest fail. designs on porelain baked at 300C for 35 minutes is RUBBISH! However do that 3 times and then swear a lot as the designs rub off with your thumb and then bake the crap out of the mug at about 400C for an hour DOES work better. I did tell these stories when I gave them to the recipients and advised they are not washed up and perhaps used for ornamental purposes.

None-the-less, the boy and the best mate both loved their personalised mugs. I have a great photo of Marsha screaming "PIVOT!" as she opened it, but as she is in her PJs I'm not sure if she'll appreciate me sharing it ;)

The boys is Game of Thrones themed and says "Winter is Coming" then in smaller writing "Drink Toffee Nut lattes" (his fav winter drink) - and it came with a bottle of Toffee Nut syrup and chocolates.

Finally both of my gift receivers didn't realise I'd made them at first which made me doubly proud!

Date Jar
My sister and her fiance are both money and time poor and don't get the opportunity for many dates. I think sometimes a little creativity is all that's needed but when you a million other things on your mind its very easy for those to fall by the way-side. So I gave them a bit of a helping hand.

I had great fun thinking of nice dates I've had, unique places I've been in London and when all else failed - Googling! I split the lollipop sticks into categories so they can choose easily depending on their budget. I made sure there were lots of "Free" and split that into "Free - Romantic" and "Free - fun"

A few of my ideas included:

  • Go to the park and play on the swings
  • Edit photos of each other
  • Stay up all night and watch the sunrise
  • Go on a daytrip to France
  • Play hide and Tesco!

I didn't get any great photos when it was finished but I made a label that I glued on the side and top detailing the colour categories  and I also include a photo album. I personalised the inside telling them both to "Make lots of memories together". It was a lovely album where you can write a few lines next to each photo.

On the same theme I also made a "dates with baby" jar for a certain amazing McMuppett who is soon expecting. I really hope it arrives in the States before she reads this ;) Instead of using lollypop sticks I used wooden hearts from Hobbycraft.

Re-creating old photos
I think this was the gift I was most proud of. It was a joint effort with my sister after I had seen a much "simpler" version on Pinterest where someone had just recreated one photo.

In our family there are a lot of "iconic" photos of me and my sister - generally in very silly outfits  We spent an entire day recreating these, and framed them along with the originals. We were really pleased with how they came out in the end - especially with all the effort we put in with finding similar outfits and getting the locations as close as possible.

Although shorts in the garden on the coldest day of the year was not the most fun we've ever had!

I think the best bit of this though was our Mums reaction when she opened it. We pondered for quite a while on the best way to present it, before settling on pre-hanging them for her and "wrapping" the wall.

However we took it one step further. We figured out the placement and banged in all the nails whilst she was out. Then we took everything down again and waited until she had gone to bed on Christmas Eve before hanging and "wrapping" them.

It was the last gift opened on Christmas morning and I really wished I had videoed her reaction. It was priceless - I have never seen my Mum get this emotional over anything! She squealed, clapped her hands jumping up and down...and then burst into tears.

Seriously if you need an idea for a Christmas gift - do this! Parents, grandparents, Aunties, cousins - anyone in the family who loves photos.

We also got a "nice" one as we were in matching outfits (something we haven't done since we were very young!) However the one we were most happy with was us literally under the tree. We then customised a simple wooden frame with Christmas crafty bits and are really happy with it. - Sort of an alpine lodgey feel.

We hope this will become a permanent Christmas decoration in our home now.

Movie boxes
Way back in the summer I saw these adorable plastic popcorn holders, and as I had recently picked up a massive box of proper American microwave popcorn I knew I could make great gifts from those. Sadly they were just SLIGHTLY too narrow to fit a DVD in them but with my cellophane magic-ness I think it worked out pretty nicely. I didnt pack the entire thing with sweets and chocolates, but instead padded the bottom with balled up paper so I could then arrange the top with sweety goodness.

This photo is for a certain second McMuppett and was meant to be given during our pre-Christmas meet up but sadly she was struck down with lurgy. Get better soon Becca and this will be waiting for you when I see you next!

Cellophane gift sets
I bought a couple of little bottles of whisky for the boy and wanted a creative way to present them. In addition I bought a couple of the discounted Soap and Glory mega gift sets (Thank you Martin Lewis!) and then split them up into smaller personalised gifts. I was tres pleased with this super thrifty gift ideas and I still have lots of bits stashed away for future gifts or maybe even a blog giveaway.

Inexpensive cellophane and pretty curling ribbon and the gifts are good to go!

Overall I just love how thrifty, crafy and personal I have been with my gift giving this year. Sure there were also DVD's and various other "normal" gifts but I think these were the best ones to give and receive.

And it seemed I wasn't the only one getting creative. My Mum MADE - yes MADE me this amazing Friends photo frame! Unfortunately as my front door is plastic coated I can't hang it there as in the show, instead it will get pride of place on either my front room or bedroom door.

My sister gave me a very personal gift that is kind of long winded to explain, but it basically marks my (now non-existent) room at my Mums and had a lovely poem along with it too.

Marsha (my Wife for all intents and purposes except legally. Does anyone else have this with their best mates? Eh we're weird and we love it - role with it!) had an "engagement ring" commissioned for me from my uber talented sister! Except I had no idea about this on Christmas day and it was a lovely 'Christmas magic' present.

Our long term family friends the Lawrences made me a lovely gift basket of scrummy sauces and dips. It was really personal and I'm loving trying all the different flavours. Especially the balsamic vinegar which I had tonight and could plough through very easily! (I didn't get a photo before I started trying them all)

And even the boy got creative with this amazing gift for his sister - framed prints of her favourite bands album covers. I thought that was a lovely idea and I hear she was very happy with them.

If you would like to make homemade gifts for your loved ones, my best advice is to start planning now. A few of my friends said they ran out of time to get supplies and literally to sit down and put gifts together. I was planning most of mine from the Summer. It does take some time but it is so worth it!

Also don't put too much pressure on yourself. I had originally planned to sit down on one day and make everything at once, but I actually found myself making a couple of things each evening in front of the telly. Very relaxing and enjoyable.

Did you get or give anything homemade for Christmas? Planning on anything crafty for upcoming Birthdays, Valentines Day or next year?

Leave me a comment, tweet me or pin any of the images from this post :)