Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Hello all! Well it's been about 6 weeks since I last blogged, and lots has happened in that time, both good and bad, happy and sad (but mainly positive, I'm pleased to report) :-). Here's a potted summary of what I've been up to:

Since the last time I blogged, I have been:

  • Remembering my Grandad; not only on those obvious occasions like his funeral or his birthday, which was last Tuesday, but also at random moments too. We're all generally coping really well, but I think there will always be those times where something triggers a flood of memories, and those are the times we'll be smiling through our tears, knowing that we were lucky to have had such a wonderful man in our lives for so long.
  • Singing, dancing and acting up a storm with my drama buddies at our stage society. Not only are we deep into rehearsals for our forthcoming pantomime, "Jack and the Beanstalk" (I'm playing the Queen and am also a performance director), but we also put on a charity show to raise money for a local hospice and the Salvation Army in memory of one of our best loved members who sadly died of cancer earlier this year. As well as ourselves, a cheerleading troupe, 2 bands and a male vocalist also took part and the show was a massive success. We performed to packed out houses on both nights (particularly on the Saturday performance, which was sold out!) and the whole thing felt like a really fitting tribute to a wonderful lady's memory.
  • Spending quality time with my friends: I've met up with my best friend from school and been introduced to her gorgeous baby daughter for the first time, I've been to the greyhound racing and for an amazing Chinese meal to celebrate two different friends' birthdays and also enjoyed meals out just because I could. As always, being around my friends has been fantastic and I'm excited that there are more events coming up. Lion King, Manchester's Christmas Markets...I can't wait!
  • Working on a new project at work: I've recently accepted the offer of moving on to a new team at work, which has been ring fenced to deal with a particular project. Whilst some aspects of my role have remained exactly the same and I've stayed with my current manager, which I'm delighted about, I've now got a whole new challenge to tackle and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in. Plus being on this team = better hours, which I love. No more early mornings or late nights for me :-)
  • Shopping: Both for me and other people, for Christmas, birthdays or just for now, online or at the shops... there's hardly been a week gone by lately when I haven't been shopping. Regular readers of my blog will know that it's one of my favourite pastimes, and I'm only sorry that I haven't got a better camera so that I could post pictures of what I've bought on here!
  • Rekindling my love of reading (no pun intended!):  Although I bought a Kindle back in the summer, I've especially started getting back into reading in the last couple of months or so and it's really become one of the highlights of my daily commute. Plus the free and low cost books in the Kindle store mean that I've been broadening my reading horizons and trying books that I may not have considered before. Expect a full post on this soon! :-)
Anyway, that's all from me for now. How's life been treating you over the past few weeks? Anything exciting to report? Tell me all...your comments brighten my day :-)

'Til next time...

Thursday, 4 October 2012


I don't really know where to begin with this post, or even what I want to say. Maybe I want to explain my absence from my blog over the last three or so weeks and just explain a little of what has been going on with me. To be honest, lots of the things are the same as normal: not knowing what to write, being busy doing other things, forgetting to blog or just not being in the mood. But there's been another thing too. A much bigger thing. Something that I'm not really sure how to say and something that I'm not even sure if I want to talk about at all. So I think I'm just going to come out and say it; My Grandad died on 22nd September, and it was a huge shock to the system. Whilst he was elderly and had become very frail and immobile in recent months, he hadn't really been ill as such, so the news of his death came as a very unwelcome surprise. And now we're just working on coming to terms with it all; on adjusting to the fact that one of the loveliest people in our lives isn't going to be around any more. Most of the time, things feel perfectly normal (something which I'm sometimes racked with guilt about), though I'm not quite sure that we've come to terms with it yet. They always say the funeral helps bring closure, but as my Grandad's isn't till next week, it's almost like we're in limbo at the moment, unable to come to terms with what's happened and unable to move on. At the same time though, the selfish part of me doesn't want to accept it. I don't want to be at the funeral, because that means it's real. That he's gone and that I'll never see him on this earth again. But accept it I must, because it's real and deep down, I know it's probably for the best.

And I think I'll leave the emotional bit there before I upset myself and maybe scare you off. Sorry for being so personal and maybe sharing a little too much; I just wanted to explain the reason I'd disappeared especially when I kept promising to blog more regularly. I am still planning to post more frequently, but am just struggling with writing happier posts at the moment. I'd really love to share what I'm looking forward to in October, and have seen another great idea for a post in the blogosphere, but I just feel incredibly shallow in even contemplating these things. I am still going to be around though, reading all my favourite blogs and commenting on your posts, but probably just not posting myself for a while. I'm resurfacing slowly it seems.

'Til next time...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Summer To Do List: The Update

Hello! Well, it's September and even though I'm no longer working in the education sector and haven't  been a student for over 5 years now, the month still feels like the herald of a new year to me. It's a time for making plans and setting goals; for reviewing the past as well as dreaming about the future and planning for it. So with this in mind, what better to do than to review my Summer To Do list that I set out in this post. I thought the easiest way to do this would simply be to replicate the list in full and then add my annotations alongside (bold will indicate anything I've definitely done/not done and italics refer to any works in progress).

Summer To Do List

  • Declutter my room (including my wardrobe) and donate as many unwanted items as I can to the charity shop (Work in progress: I've filled some bags but these haven't yet left the house! I also know that there's a lot more tidying still to be done)
  • Go on a shopping trip to fill in any gaps in my wardrobe (and maybe treat myself too!) (Done on numerous occasions...however as I've not fully decluttered yet, I'm aware that there still might be more gaps to fill.)
  • Spend some time thinking about what my dream job would be (in terms of the skills I'd . use/ my motivation for working) and searching for job opportunities that match well with this (Work in progress: I've got a vague idea of what I'd like to be doing and sometimes look at opportunities which meet my criteria but I want/need this to be much more systematic).
  • Declutter my email inboxes: delete all non-vital emails and unsubscribe from all my spam (Work in progress: Another one I've started, but something that will take a lot of work to get on top of. One of my email accounts in particular is so cluttered that I can foresee it taking a whole for a rainy day methinks!)
  • Get to know my city a little better by visiting new places and/or revisiting old ones with a fresh eye (Not yet, am going to try and dedicate some time to this during my next 4 day weekend which is approximately 2 months away)
  • Spend some quality time with my family: maybe museum trips with Amy, bowling with all my siblings, DVD nights with my mum and sisters etc (Work in progress: During my summer holiday I went to the cinema and baked with Amy and watched Bridesmaids with my mum, Amy and K (my other sister), but didn't really do as much as I would have liked to have done. I'm making an effort to keep spending more time with everyone and am sure that I'll keep everything updated on here too!!)
  • Be a better blogger: read and comment more on the blogs in my reader and post on a more regular basis (Work in progress: I'm decidedly patchy with this at best, but am sure that as I meet more of my goals, I will have more to write about and so will visit Blogger much more frequently. Also on days where I don't have time/inspiration to write, I am making more of an effort to check in with the blogs I follow.)
  • Buy a Kindle (Purchased 07/07/2012)
  • Read more frequently (either real or e-books) (Work in progress: Whilst I was off I demolished the first 2 books in a certain trilogy, but since going back to work the rate at which I'm getting through books has slowed dramatically and far too often I'm falling back into my old habits of only reading on the commute to/from work.)
  • Get back into the baking habit by baking at least once a fortnight  (Fail so far: I did bake whilst I was off on my summer break (rocky road and gingerbread if you're interested!) but nothing since. With the start of autumn however, I'll definitely be looking for seasonal inspiration, so foresee quite a bit of baking ahead!)
  • Be more active (Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week) (Work in progress: I've finally joined the gym and am currently attending 2-3 times a week, but I've not really been that active on days that I don't go.)
  • Join the gym (Done: See above!)
  • Snack more healthily (Eat chocolate and crisps 2/3 times a week only, and cut down on the amount of biscuits I eat as well as eating more fruit, nuts, cereal etc) and drink more water (Fail: For someone like myself who is an emotional eater and also uses food as a reward, this is something that I really struggle with so will definitely be one of my priorities over the coming months.)
  • Stop putting off my dental and doctor's check ups and book the appointments!! (Both booked 09/07/2012)
  • Stop biting my nails (Fail: Another annoying habit that is proving really hard to break lol!)
  • Book in at the hairdressers (Done: I actually did this during my summer break so will have to arrange another appointment very soon.)
  • Give myself a DIY pedicure (Fail: Hopefully I will find time to do this during the longer autumn nights that are quickly creeping up.)
  • Exfoliate at least once a week (So far, my efforts at exfoliation have been few and far between but am sure that this will be quite an easy addition to my weekly routine.)
  • Drink a Starbucks frappuccino (Done, and more than once I think!)
  • Go for drinks in a beer garden/outside at a friend's (Despite the generally disappointing weather, this has been something I've managed at least once this summer.
  • Recreate my own version of last years Ben and Jerry's festival with friends (Nope: Team the aforementioned atrocious weather with a large group of friends all with different plans and priorities, and it makes it very difficult to organise any outdoor activities. Maybe I'll just wait to see if the real thing comes around again next year.)
So there we have it, and to be honest, I'm quite happy with the progress I've made. I know that in my original post I did say that I wanted everything to be at least a work in progress by the start of September, but of those goals which I haven't yet started working towards, there are only perhaps one or two that I doubt my ability to be able to make any real headway with in the near future. And similarly, with those which are already in progress, I believe that I can also see these through to completion in the next few months.

So where does that leave me for now? Well, as I said at the start of my post, for me September has always been a time for making a new start; for looking back at the past, learning from it and moving on into the future. And so that means another to do list. Some items from last time will remain, whilst new ones will be added and completed ones removed, but the aim will remain the same: to make changes that will ultimately make me a happier and more fulfilled individual. And what could be better than that?

So how about you? Are you a list maker? Do you find them useful or ultimately just a paper exercise with little meaning? Tell me all, you know I always love to hear what you have to say!

'Til next time...

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

On getting older and not letting life pass you by

Source: via Julie on Pinterest

My absence from the blog world of late hasn't probably been that surprising. I haven't blogged regularly in what seems like forever and my motivation to do so has been seriously lacking. And one of the main reasons for this? The fact that I feel I have nothing to write about, that nothing interesting, exciting or worthwhile ever happens to me. The other day I met up with some old friends who I hadn't seen for well over 2 months and they asked how I was and what was new. "Fine", I replied, "but you know me. Nothing really happens; it's just same old, same old." And the fact was I couldn't honestly think of anything to tell. There wasn't one thing of any importance that I could share. The others talked about home improvements, work, holidays, meeting new people. And then there was me, with my 'same old, same old'. I used to have so many dreams, plans and ambitions when I was younger, and now it's like I've just stopped dead where I am, watching the time and my life racing by, eager for something amazing to happen and stop me in my tracks. But it never does and I remain stuck in this vicious circle. The more I sit and do nothing, the less motivated I am to start doing something and the less motivated I am...well you get the picture!

So I've come to a decision: I need to start living again. I need to shake off my sadness that my life hasn't turned out the way I hoped and make every day count. I need to stop waiting around for something wonderful to happen to me and start making my own happiness. I need to realise that I'm the one chiefly responsible for the way my life turns out and that others can only affect me as much as I let them.

And how am I going to start doing this? Well, I'm starting by making the commitment to do more of what I know makes me happy long term. I know that I feel fulfilled when I spend time with the people I love. I know that being creative and expressing myself, be it through acting, singing, writing or baking, is something that I'll probably never tire of. I know that when I make the effort to take care of myself mentally, emotionally and physically, I feel so much better than when I neglect these aspects of my life. I know that I'm happier when my mind is stimulated, no matter whether it's through great conversation, reading a good book,   learning something new or even just watching something that really makes me think. I know that I always feel better when I make the effort to 'do', than when I just sit around all day and I know that procrastinating causes me endless stress and worry.

I'm also not going to shy away from making bigger decisions and living new dreams. I'll look into how I can develop my career and turn a job I don't really enjoy into a valuable learning experience, and a step on the way to my ultimate goal. I've always wanted to travel so will look into doing just that. I may be single and not  be be earning as much as I'd like, but there's still nothing to stop me. I'll start budgeting properly and saving so that one day, maybe sooner rather than later, I'll be able to afford my own place. All of these have so far been pipe dreams, but now's the time to start making them real. I might be scared and it might take me a while to put my plans into action but I need to try. Otherwise, I know I'll just end up looking back, cursing the missed opportunities and wishing, wishing, wishing that I'd done more. And that's something I'm not going to let happen.

And's that where I'm going to leave it for today. At least with my words anyway, because I do want to share this amazing manifesto which says it so much better and more succinctly than I ever could:

'Til next time....

Monday, 9 July 2012

My Summer To Do List

Gone are the days when I used to have a summer break that lasted well over a month; as I'm not working in the education sector at the moment this is a privilege that I'm not currently entitled to. That doesn't mean I don't get holidays of course, just that I get fewer of them so that they seem extra precious when they do roll around. Luckily I'm currently at the start of a 2 week break from work and whilst I'm so looking forward to what it will bring, I'm also extra determined that I'm not going to let a single moment go to waste. With that in mind, I've created a summer to-do list full of all the things I want to achieve over the next couple of months. Some of the things will be more fun than others, but I feel that all of them will have a positive impact on me; mind, body or soul. There's no way I can get them all done in the space of a fortnight (when you see my list you'll understand!), but I can definitely give myself a head start before returning to work on 24th July   :-)

So without further ado, here's my list (starting from 01/07/12 with all items to be at least started by 01/09/12):

Summer To Do List

  • Declutter my room (including my wardrobe) and donate as many unwanted items as I can to the charity shop
  • Go on a shopping trip to fill in any gaps in my wardrobe (and maybe treat myself too!)
  • Spend some time thinking about what my dream job would be (in terms of the skills I'd use/ my motivation for working) and searching for job opportunities that match well with this
  • Declutter my email inboxes: delete all non-vital emails and unsubscribe from all my spam
  • Get to know my city a little better by visiting new places and/or revisiting old ones with a fresh eye
  • Spend some quality time with my family: maybe museum trips with Amy, bowling with all my siblings, DVD nights with my mum and sisters etc
  • Be a better blogger: read and comment more on the blogs in my reader and post on a more regular basis
  • Buy a Kindle (Purchased 07/07/2012)
  • Read more frequently (either real or e-books)
  • Get back into the baking habit by baking at least once a fortnight
  • Be more active (Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week)
  • Join the gym
  • Snack more healthily (Eat chocolate and crisps 2/3 times a week only, and cut down on the amount of biscuits I eat as well as eating more fruit, nuts, cereal etc) and drink more water
  • Stop putting off my dental and doctor's check ups and book the appointments!! (Both booked 09/07/2012)
  • Stop biting my nails
  • Book in at the hairdressers
  • Give myself a DIY pedicure
  • Exfoliate at least once a week
  • Drink a Starbucks frappuccino
  • Go for drinks in a beer garden/outside at a friend's
  • Recreate my own version of last years Ben and Jerry's festival with friends
See what I mean when I said I wouldn't be able to get all this done in 2 weeks?! I'm really looking forward to making a good start though! And now I'm interested to know about your plans and goals for the summer. Have you made a to-do list? Have you got lots of goals that you want to accomplish or are you just planning on taking it easy? Let me know, you know I'd love to hear from you!

'Til next time...

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A weekend round up

I thought I'd take a trip back in time tonight and write a weekend round up. In the early(ish) days of my blog, these featured on a semi-regular basis, but fast forward a couple of years and they're something that's long since fallen by the wayside. Granted, this may have quite a lot to do with the fact that I don't really do things at weekends any more but still...!

I finished work early (I was working an 8-4 shift), then headed home to get ready for a work summer party. Having not really socialised much with my work colleagues since I started my job in September and unsure who else was going, I was initially a little apprehensive about attending but when I discovered that I would know quite a few people there and that tickets were the bargain price of £1, I thought why the hell not! And I'm really glad I did! It was a night of discovering new favourite drinks and eating delicious buffet food. Of singing my heart out and playing the tambourine in a private karaoke booth. Of witnessing people doing things you never would have expected and seeing them in a whole new light. Of cheesy dancing, random singing and (semi) drunken conversations. Of the kind of fun I haven't had in a long time. It was much needed, and the sort of night I'll be making the effort to have lots more of in the future.

I woke up about 9:30, had a leisurely breakfast of pancakes and syrup (a real favourite at the mo) and then got ready for work (one of the downsides of my job is that I have to work 2 Saturdays out of every 3). As it was Saturday, I allowed myself enough time to have lunch in Starbucks (I feel I should reward myself for working on weekends!) before making my way to work ready for my 1-9 shift. It wasn't fun. Not that working on a Saturday ever is, but yesterday was especially stressful. Basically over the last few days, the company I work for has suffered some serious problems with its IT systems, meaning that we currently have lots of unhappy customers. And while I really do sympathise with them, there's only so much unhappiness and stress a girl can take, especially when you've been dealing with much the same for the previous two days. But on the other hand, at least I was getting paid to deal with it! So I, along with my colleagues, sucked it up, tried to help as many people as we could and were all very relieved when 9 o'clock rolled around! Then I went home, had a light supper then crashed in front of the TV/computer for a couple of hours before heading to bed...that's as exciting as it got!

I had a lazy morning (ate some breakfast, had a shower, got dressed, listened to the radio) and then headed to a rehearsal for my drama group's latest show which is coming up in less than two weeks! Eek! Even though they can be a bit stressful at times, especially when it's this close to the show, it's great getting together with all my friends, having fun on stage and watching all our hard work come together. After rehearsal, I walked home in the sunshine (a welcome sight after what seems like weeks of rain) and have spent a chilled out evening on the computer and half watching the football on TV. Come on England!!

And that was my weekend (although if we're being technical I suppose as I've booked tomorrow off work it hasn't finished just yet!) How was yours? Did you get up to anything fun or was it just more of the same old, same old variety? Drop me a line and let me know, as always I'd love to hear from you!

'Til next time...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Catching Up

And so there goes another month, seemingly in the blink of an eye. It's been another month of ups and downs for me; if you'd asked me around 10 days ago, I would have said that there had been more lows than highs, but I'm happy to say that, of late, things seem to have evened out a bit more :-)  How about having a look for yourself, as I present my month in a nutshell :


  • Beautiful babies: On Easter Sunday, my friends L and G became parents for the first time and I was lucky enough to be able to visit them and their darling daughter a couple of weeks ago! Baby W is absolutely adorable and I can't wait for all the fun I'll have sharing in her first years of life :-)
  • Being a winner: About 10 days ago, I was feeling really down. The weather was awful, I was off work but had nothing to do and I was feeling really isolated from all my friends. In an effort to pass some time, I decided to catch up on some of my favourite blogs and discovered that I had won a giveaway that the amazing Krysten of Why Girls Are Weird was hosting! I was so pleased that I immediately fired off a very excitable email to her in response and am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of my very own bohemian feather necklace from the very talented (and sweet) Hillery over at Clever Plumage. Look out for a reveal/review in the next couple of weeks! :-)
  • Getting good news from work: Any regular readers of my blog might know that I'm not always the biggest fan of my job and that difficult customers and the sometimes monotonous nature of my work can sometimes get me down. However, over the last week or so, my experience has been something rather different. I had a really thought provoking meeting with my manager in which I received a lot of positive feedback, and also discovered that I'd qualified for our performance related bonus in the last quarter. As someone who often feels that I struggle in my current role, this was absolutely massive for me and gave me the confidence that I can achieve highly whilst I'm there. In addition, the meeting has also encouraged me to think about how I can make the most of my current skills and past experiences both in this job, and also when making my next career move. I'm inspired! :-)
  • A special Saturday night out: Last Saturday evening I was transported back to late 19th Century Paris as three friends and I watched Phantom of the Opera at the beautiful Palace Theatre in Manchester. I don't know if it was the fabulous seats we had (literally only 4 rows from the stage!), the amazing performances or the incredible set and costume design, but I truly felt like I was sharing in the character's lives and experiences, rather than just watching a show. Definitely a must see!!
  • 4 well needed days off: Having worked for the last few Saturdays in a row, I recently enjoyed a very much needed 4 day break. I finished work on Friday 4th and didn't have to be back in until Wednesday 9th! It was heaven, and I loved every second of it, especially catching up with some very dear friends over a DVD and Scene It on Sunday afternoon! :-)
  • Easter: Extra time off work, lots of chocolate, an excuse to wear a pretty dress...these were just a few of the things I loved about Easter this year :-)


  • My grandad's health: April as a month was one that was punctuated with hospital visits and worries about my Grandad. Although he's now 92, he has remained very mentally active and although much slower at walking than he used to be, he can generally get around with only a little help. However about 6 weeks ago, he had a series of falls over the space of 2 days and was admitted to hospital. The time he spent there was one of small steps forward and big leaps back. He would start having physio and seem to be making progress, but then it would be weekend or he'd pick up a bug, and by the time the physiotherapists were available again, it'd be back to square one :-(  About 10 days ago, he was finally moved to a local nursing home for some rehabilitation, and whilst he's much happier there (the hospital ward wasn't exactly the most cheery and social of places), he's still a long way from being his old self. Fingers crossed for some progress soon.
  • Feeling isolated and lonely: Recently, I've had periods of feeling really lonely and isolated from many of my friends. As we're all getting older, more and more people I know have started to settle down and have children. Even one of my best friends who has been (mainly) single since who knows when is now all loved up with her new boyfriend. And whilst I'm happy for them, I've really begun to realise just how lonely I am. Gone are the impromptu nights out in town (granted they did stop a while back!) or even the girlie DVD nights, and in their place is Saturday night TV with the family and maybe the odd drink. Not that that's bad, it's just different and I'm not one that's great at dealing with change :-(
  • More changes at work: As of Monday, I'll be on a new team at work as my current team manager is taking on a new role. Granted the rest of my team are moving with me, but I'll still have to settle into  a different team with colleagues I don't know well and a new manager whose leadership style I'll have to adapt to. Plus for some reason neither me nor my old manager can fathom, my change in teams has also completely screwed up my shift patterns. Since I started my job in September last year, my designated weekend day in work has always been a Saturday. Always. Meaning that if I have events on a Sunday, I've always been able to attend without booking a day's holiday. And I bet you know what's designated weekend day has somehow switched to Sunday. Which means that as things stand I won't be able to attend my friend's wedding, as it's on a Sunday and there are no holiday hours available. Fingers crossed that things get switched back as I've been promised, otherwise there'll be war!!
  • Decidedly un-springlike weather: I seriously don't know what's up with this country. At the end of March the weather was absolutely glorious with clear blue skies and temperatures that rivalled any we'd expect to see in June. Since then, it's been simply shocking. We've had the coldest and wettest April since goodness knows when, and so far May isn't shaping up to be much better. Come back March, we miss you!
So there it is, and I hope you've enjoyed catching up with me as much as I've enjoyed catching up with all my favourite bloggers lately! How have the last few weeks been for you? Let me know, as always I'd love  to hear from you!

'Til next time...

Friday, 6 April 2012

What I've been loving this past month

A quick look at my blog tells me it's been exactly a month since my last post. And whilst part of me is kicking myself for not keeping my promises and posting sooner and with more regularity, there's another side which thinks it's especially fitting that I'm blogging today instead, especially as my post is concerned with all the things I've been loving over the last month or so. And here they are...
  • Spring flowers...yes, I know it's a blogger cliché (well that's how it appears to me, at least) but I just love the beautiful blooms that are such a special feature of this time of year. From cherry and apple blossom to magnolias and still my beating heart!
  • Beautiful spring weather...let's just ignore the fact that the past week has been mostly cold, grey and gloomy, shall we?! Seriously, the end of March in particular was glorious, with unbroken sunshine and temperatures that made it feel more like June. It really got me in a summery mood and made me think of holidays, fun and making plans for the months ahead.
  • Soap and Glory "Clean on Me" and Herbal Essences "Tousle me Softly" shampoo and conditioner...three of my favourite products over the last few weeks, reviews will be coming soon!!
  • Meeting new people and getting to know others better...whether it's an online acquaintance who I've finally got the opportunity to meet face to face, work colleagues who are becoming more and more like friends every day or saying hello to a friend's beautiful baby daughter for the first time, I've felt privileged to get to know every one :-)
  • Lighter evenings and longer days...add the fact that we're getting ever closer to the longest day to the clocks moving forward to signal the start of British Summer Time, and what do you get? Days where it's light well before you reach work and night that doesn't fall until around 8 pm. Catching some daylight while you can is the best cure for the workday blues in my opinion, and I love the fact that I'll be able to get just that little bit more every day :-)
  • Wearing dresses...whilst dresses have become a bigger and bigger part of my wardrobe over the past couple of years, it seems that my love of them has reached new heights this spring. They've formed an extensive part of my working wardrobe in recent weeks and every now and then, I find myself mentally adding new dresses to my spring/summer wishlist. Well a girl can dream...! :-)
So those are my loves of the last few weeks, but what about you? What have you been enjoying over the last month? Let me know, I'd love to hear from you! :-)

'Til next time...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

What a week!!

Last Monday night, I sat down to blog. I spent a good hour or two selecting the perfect photos and choosing the words that expressed exactly what I wanted to say. When I thought everything looked perfect, I hit "publish" and then went to check my shiny new post out. And there and then realised that it was an utter disaster. Lines of text were layered on top of each other making my words a garbled mess that was impossible to read and the formatting of many of my pictures was just "off". And try as I might, I couldn't get it to look right. So finally, frustrated beyond belief, I gave up, saved my post as a draft and determined to come back to it the next day. But then life took over...

Last week was long, busy and stressful and definitely one that I was glad to see the back of come Sunday night. That isn't to say there weren't any good times, there always are, but last week was definitely dominated by the negative aspects; the major one being that last Thursday a member of my drama group, who I also considered to be a friend, lost her battle against cancer. This lady was one of the bravest, strongest and most inspiring women I had ever met and whilst we weren't especially close, I still feel her loss. It was an honour to have known her and I feel privileged to have shared a stage with such an amazing lady. I know that every performance of last week's show was for her.

Yes, that's right, we also performed our annual panto last week. With performances on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights and two shows on Saturday, things were certainly busy and made all the more emotional by the events described above. So when our 'director' (I use the term lightly) decided to create a huge fuss over nothing during the interval of the Saturday matinee, which caused people to break down in tears, it was pretty much the final straw. Whilst I don't like to criticise; I have never directed anything myself after all, it seems to me that she isn't really much of a director at all. She ignores half of the work we do at rehearsals, and very rarely has a positive comment to make when she is paying attention. She doesn't take anyone else's ideas onboard when making decisions and uses her position as head of the committee as an excuse to do whatever she likes. Her bossy and highly strung nature have made what is meant to be a fun way of spending your free time a task which needs to be endured. She said she was leaving after the last show, and to be honest, I think we'll all be happier now she isn't directing anything again for a while.

But in the midst of all this sadness, negativity and weariness (I was absolutely wiped out by Sunday), there was some good. We pulled together as a group, supported each other through the hard times, the sadness and confrontations and showed that if we work together, we can make it through. As I've said before, we're more than just people with a common interest, we're friends and it's never been more evident than this past week. And I know that, because of this, our future as a group is bright and we can look ahead with optimism. Bring on the next show!

 I also managed to find some happiness in the little things last week, which always helps, and this is something I'll be talking about in an upcoming post, so what I'd like to find out from you is what are the little things that make you smile? How do you pick yourself up when you're in a bad place? Let me know, as I'd love to hear from you! Also, if I get enough responses, I might share some of them so if you don't want this to happen, just make a note of this in your comment too.

'Til next time...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Wise Words for a Wednesday

So here's the deal: I really wanted to blog today but was finding it very difficult to decide on a topic. It felt too late to discuss last week's highs and lows, I didn't want to do a product review as I'd written a beauty based post last time and I scrapped my plans to revisit "What's in My Wardrobe Wednesday" partly due to the fact that I wanted to wait until after I'd been shopping again (just in case!) and partly because I really couldn't be bothered locating items and taking photographs. Shocking, I know! ;-) Then, whilst browsing Pinterest for inspiration, it hit me. Why not post some images from one of my boards? I toyed with a couple of them but eventually plumped for some of my favourite "Wise Words". And voilà! Hope you enjoy...

Source: via Julie on Pinterest

And there we have it! Hope there was something among these lovelies that had you mentally nodding your head in agreement or made you think just that little bit harder :-) And as usual, I'm also throwing the post over to you. Which are your favourite quotes? What's the piece of advice that you swear by? Please share, as I'd love to add a few more to my mental notebook!

'Til next time...

PS: And if you're a fellow pinner, feel free to follow me here. The more the merrier, I'd love to see what you're all pinning!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Past posts revisited: Beauty Bits

As part of the revamp of my blog, I thought it'd be a fun idea to revisit some old posts and see how much I've changed over the years. Not only will it make it easier for me to think of things to write about (lol!), but they'll also hopefully be interesting for everyone else to read too. And first up is this post which originally featured here back in September 2009. Am I still using the same products as I was then? Have I stayed faithful to my old favourites or have I embarked on a fling with something new and exciting? Well, here are the answers:

What I'm using at the Moment:

Shampoo: Tresemme Luxurious Moisture and Dove Colour Radiance (I'm a great believer in alternating products)
Conditioner: Tresemme Salon Silk and Dove Colour Radiance
Styling Products: Umberto Giannini Flirty Curls Scrunching Jelly
Shower Gel: Just like in 2009, I have a number on the go but two I'm showing a lot of love to at the moment are Soap and Glory's Clean on Me and Dove Silk Glow Beauty Care Body Wash
Body Scrub: I love the scent and feel of Soap and Glory's The Breakfast Scrub and I'm also trying to use up my Naturals body scrub, but I still don't use these nearly as often as I should :-(
Bath Products: As we don't have a bath any more, I don't buy any of these for myself but I do try and use my stash up in the shower when I remember (which isn't very often!)
Deodorant: Soft and Gentle Wild Rose and Vanilla Roll On
Body Moisturiser: The Body Shop Cocoa Butter Body Butter
Fake Tan: Don't use
Cleanser: Lacura Creamy Face Wash (for sensitive skin)
Facial Moisturiser: Lacura Shimmering Day Cream
Facial Exfoliator: Soap and Glory Scrub Your Nose in It
Hand Cream: I alternate between Avon Care Renewing Moisture Restorative Hand Cream (what a mouthful!) and Boots Garden Collection Lavender Hand Lotion

Primer: 17 Photo Flawless Skin Primer
Foundation: Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse in Cameo
Concealer: Not using at the moment
Powder: Not using
Blusher: Natural Collection Cream Blusher in Naked Glow
Bronzer: 17 Instant Glow Bronzing Pearls in Medium
Highlighter: Don't use
Eyeshadow Base: Not currently using, although I'm tempted to try out the Frontcover Shadowbase I received in a gift set
Eyeshadows: In terms of brand, I adore Frontcover for the choice of shades and their colour payoff but when it comes to shades, my most frequently used are Frosted Almond by Frontcover and Statuesque by 17 at Boots
Eyeliner: I've recently started experimenting with Frontcover Shadowline(a solvent which you mix with any of their eyeshadows or pigments to create your own custom eyeliner)
Eyelash Curlers: Don't use
Mascara: Maybelline The Colossal Volume Express Cat Eyes or Soap and Glory Thick and Fast
Lipstick: Bourjois Lovely Brille in Rose Balneaire or 17 Shine On Lipstick in Bon Bon
Lip Gloss: Urban Decay Shot-O-Gloss in Mai Tai
Lip Balm: Visionary Soap Company Peppermint Lip Balm, Dermalogics Lip Care with Aloe Vera or Wilko Fruity Berry Lip Balm
Nail Colour: Haven't used in months but when I do, my most frequently used shade is probably Nails Inc in Instyle Mink

So have I changed? Well in some ways, no. There are still some products I'm using two and a half years on (scrunching jelly and foundation to name two), and I still love to alternate the brands that I use for others. And I'm also still on a mission to reduce my stash of bath foam and body lotion! But then, on the other hand, there are some new brands that I can't imagine not knowing about way back when. I don't know what I'd do without my Frontcover eyeshadows and Soap and Glory has rapidly become one of my brands of choice. And I'm also experimenting with new products. Primer or eyeliner anyone? Who knows where I'll be in another couple of years!

And that's pretty much it, hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse into my beauty bits and if there's any products you'd like more information/a review on or pictures of, please let me know, I'm always happy to help! But now how about you? What products are you using at the moment and which are your faves? I invite you all to tag along and join in this survey, I'd love to hear from you :-)

'Til next time...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Baking with Julie: Marble Cake

Last Sunday was a cold, grey day so what else to do but bake?! Feeling a bit unsure about what recipe to choose, I decided to take a look through the new cookery book I received off some of my dearest friends for  my birthday and based on the fact that I had a little cocoa powder to use up, and also that I wanted to try something new but not too adventurous, I eventually plumped for the marble cake (or chocolate and vanilla ring, if you're following the book exactly!)

Marble Cake (or Chocolate and Vanilla Ring, if you prefer)

Source: Very slightly adapted from Traditional Family Cakes (I'm pretty sure this is the same book I have, the only difference seems to be the cover design)


  • Oil or melted butter for greasing (I used soft spread margarine instead)
  • 175g plain white flour (Replaced this with self -raising and also omitted the 1 tbsp baking powder that the original recipe called for)
  • 175g unsalted butter, softened (I again used soft spread margarine)
  • 175g caster sugar (Substituted this with granulated sugar; to my mind there's no real difference between the two)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (Didn't use as I had none in)
  • Icing sugar for dusting (Omitted this step)
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/325 degrees F/Gas Mark 3. Grease a baking tin (The recipe calls for a 1.5 litre/2.75 pint ring tin but I used a roasting tin instead and I'm not too sure of the actual dimensions!)
  2. Sift the flour (and baking powder, if using) into a large bowl and add the butter/margarine, sugar and eggs. Beat well until the mixture is smooth. Transfer half the mixture to a separate bowl.
  3. Mix the cocoa powder with the milk and stir into one bowl of mixture. (Add the vanilla extract to the other bowl, if using, and mix evenly). Spoon alternate tablespoons of the two mixtures into the prepared tin and swirl lightly for a marbled effect (The recipe suggests using a palette knife for this, I just used a spoon and it worked fine.)
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50minutes, or until risen, firm and golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and finish cooling on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar before serving, if desired.
Serves: 12 (Or 20-24 if you cut your cake into smaller pieces like I do!!)

Overall, I was delighted with the way the recipe turned out. The marble effect really worked well and the cake tasted delicious; I really don't think it suffered for the substitutions and omissions I made at all. And I have to say my family agreed, as the cake vanished within a couple of days and there's now not a crumb to be found anywhere! And I'm hopeful that the other recipes in the book will work out as well, there's several that I intend to make over the coming weeks and months and I can't wait to share them with you all!

'Til next time...

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

January round up

I honestly can't believe that we're approaching the end of January already, it certainly doesn't seem like a whole month ago that I awoke with a stinking headache, no phone and only a hazy recollection of the events of the night before! But somehow it has been, and here's my round up of what I've got up to in the last 31 days:

This January I have:

  • Vowed not to drink too much ever escapades on New Year's Eve cost me my recently upgraded mobile phone and some of my favourite eyeshadows as well as leaving me with a killer hangover, a badly grazed shoulder and severe embarrassment. Methinks I'll leave the drunkenness to other people from now on.
  • Celebrated 4 family birthdays, including my own. I turned 28 on 22nd January and enjoyed a lovely weekend with some of my closest friends and family, during which I was thoroughly spoiled. I really am a very lucky girl! :-)
  • Indulged in some shopping of both the sales and non-sales will be up as soon as I can get hold of a decent camera!
  • Enjoyed a lovely 9 day holiday from work :-) I didn't really do much, but it was very nice to get up and go to bed when I pleased, go shopping and get my hair done and generally just laze around <3
  • And on the subject of work, I have actually felt more settled in my job and happier with my performance over the last few weeks. Whilst I'm nowhere near as competent and confident as I'd like to be, there have been definite signs of improvement and I'm hopeful that I'm moving in the right direction :-)
  • Seen my best friend J (and her husband) for the first time since last summer. The three of us met up for coffee and a chat on Saturday, and whilst we didn't have much time together ( they were only visiting for the weekend so had a seriously packed schedule!) it was lovely to see her again and catch up with all her news. I was especially delighted to discover that she's 14 weeks pregnant (she's due in late July) and to see a scan picture...I'm seriously so happy for her and her husband S and I can't wait for the new arrival.
  • Indulged in some girl time with 3 of my favourite ladies. We spent a little time shopping, saw "The Sitter" at the cinema and then rounded our afternoon off with a Nandos. It was an absolutely fantastic few hours and we were all agreed that we should make it a regular occurrence; it was the perfect Sunday treat.
  • Enjoyed nights in and out with old friends; these are often some of the highlights of my week and there was no exception this month. I'm so lucky to have such a fantastic group of friends and hope that we'll always be as close as we are now.
And that was my January. How was yours? Did you do anything exciting? Tell all...I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Just a very quick post to explain that a few changes are happening around here. Firstly, in terms of my blog layout and design, I've added a couple of new buttons and also created some new pages which I'll be updating in the near future. Secondly, I'll also be making a real effort to post a lot more frequently. I don't exactly know where my blogging mojo has been for all these months but it seems to have well and truly returned, and I've got lots of ideas for posts safely tucked away. Some will mark the return of old features (Highs and Lows, weekend  round ups, recipes and fashion posts), whereas others will be something new (I've got plans to write a series of reviews and I also want to experiment with beauty blogging). In addition, I'll also be revisiting many of the tags and memes I've participated in since I started blogging, and seeing just how much I've changed in the meantime! I know I've made similar claims before, but this really does feel like a new start for me and my blog and I'm really excited about starting to post regularly again!

And this, dear readers, is where you come in! Whilst my blog is first and foremost an outlet for personal expression and a place for me to explore my passions and interests and share what's important to me, it would be nothing without people to read it. So I'm asking you to have a read through my previous posts and tell me what works for you (and what doesn't), or just think about the kind of posts that you enjoy reading on your favourite blogs and let me know. The more ideas, the better as far as I'm concerned!

Anyway, that's all for now. Til next time...