Sunday, 21 November 2010

Has it really been a month...

since my last post?? Well, apparently so...although I can't quite believe it. But then again, when I think about what a whirlwind it's been, maybe I can!

So what's been making me so busy? Well, if you'd noticed my last post you might have a bit of an inkling...remember those two job opportunities that I mentioned? Well, I got them both! During the space of 24 hours, I went from having no job to having two. And I've been working my ass off ever since (well most of the time anyway!!) I'm now employed as a teacher every weekday morning, when I work with groups of 7-11 year olds who are struggling with maths and literacy. And then I also work as a sales assistant 2 evenings a week. So it's been a big change for me, but one which I'm loving so far, even if I am finding it hard to adjust to the fact that my evenings and weekends aren't always my own anymore! I could go on and on about my new teaching opportunity, and suffice to say, I'll probably dedicate a whole post to that pretty soon...but as for now, I think it's time to move on.

Even though work has been a major part of my life over the past month, I have found some time for myself and I can safely say that I've valued every minute of it! Here's some of the things I've got up to:
  • Christmas Shopping: I can't believe how quickly Christmas is coming up...it'll be here in less than 5 weeks!! And as of just a week ago I was almost completely unprepared, having bought very few presents...but now, thanks to a lot of online shopping and a couple of afternoon shopping trips, I feel much happier about things. I'm not totally sorted by any means but I'm getting there!
  • Sharing in Birthday celebrations with family and friends: October and November are busy months for me in terms of birthdays, and I've really enjoyed catching up with family and friends and celebrating together. I've indulged in a Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet for my friend N's birthday and a delicious pub lunch for my Grandad's 91st! I enjoyed an evening of comedy and cocktails (only one...it was a school night!) for my friend E's 27th and made a mad dash across town after work to celebrate my friend D's special day. All were special in very different ways, and I can't wait for the next big event :-)
  • Buying tickets: Whilst spending almost 5 hours trying to book concert tickets isn't much fun, I'm so glad that I (and my sisters) did. Because, as a result of our perseverance, stubbornness and downright craziness (on my part at least!), two of my best girl friends and I will be going to see Take That in June next year!! Although I wasn't particularly a fan of them the first time around, since they've got back together I've developed a new found love for them and that coupled with the fact they've got a reputation for putting on incredible live show made me determined to get tickets no matter what!
  • Just chilling: Whether it's with a mini bottle of wine and Saturday night TV, or checking Facebook and my favourite blogs in a break from work, I've been loving those precious moments of doing nothing much.
And with that, I'm signing off. Bedtime isn't far away as I've got a 6:45 am alarm call in the morning, and I'm determined that tonight isn't going to be a late one.

Till next time...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Highs and Lows of October so far

After yet another absence from the blogging world, here I am again!! In some ways, it seems like I've done nothing this October; supply work seems to have dried up (for the moment at least) and I've spent the majority of my days staying at home. But when I actually stop and look back on the month so far, it doesn't seem like quite so much of a non-event after all. There have certainly been plenty of highs (and a few lows) that have made this month a memorable one anyway. And, without further ado, here we are:

Highs
  • Almost 2 weeks ago now, my friends N and M welcomed their second child into the world :-) He's a boy, his first name begins with J and he's an absolutely adorable addition to their little family!! I've so enjoyed being a part of his older brother H's life and watching him grow up and I can't wait to do it all again with little J!!
  • After over a month and a half of (sometimes) serious job hunting and a very definite lack of supply work which saw me becoming very disillusioned and hating the situation I found myself in, there is now the definite possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. You see, yesterday I found myself in the extremely privileged position of being contacted about not just one job opportunity but two!! I'm not going to go into too much detail at the moment but I'm just so relieved that things seem to be going my way at last. My finances are starting to become a bit of a worry, especially with Christmas and quite a few birthdays coming up, so if I get even one of these jobs (they're both part time), it would be a major load off my mind :-)
  • Right at the start of the month I was thrilled to get a part in my drama group's pantomime!! In January, we'll be staging Aladdin and I'll be playing the Spirit of the Ring (insert your own jokes here...the rest of the cast has!!). It's not the part I auditioned for, but I actually prefer this one anyway (there's no solo singing, which I'm very happy about :-) ) And, as long time readers of my blog will know, I was really disappointed not to be successful at last year's panto auditions, so to get any part is just a dream come true!! Initial readthroughs of the script have been a blast, and I'm really looking forward to more rehearsals and getting to spend more time with our amazing cast.
  • And continuing on the dramatic theme...I went to the theatre a couple of weeks ago and saw the most amazing performance of "A Streetcar Named Desire". Having never seen or read the play before, or watched the film, I didn't really know what to expect but I was absolutely blown away. All the performances were top notch, and the three hours plus running time simply flew by; definitely an experience not to miss!!
  • Spending more time with friends...what with the birth of Baby J, 2 birthdays over the past few days and another one coming up fast and numerous TV/DVD nights, I'm getting to spend some much needed quality time with my friends. And after all the "likes" I got on my new Facebook status regarding my job prospects, I'm once again reminded of just how great they are :-)
  • Lovely October weather...be it unseasonably warm, or cold and crisp, there have been some beautiful sunny days which have been just perfect for walking in
  • Autumn baking...I've tried out a couple of new recipes, both featuring apples and a subtle taste of spice (just perfect for this autumn weather!!) and I've got more up my sleeve for over the next couple of weeks...I'm thinking Halloween cookies, something involving pumpkin and sticky parkin. Oh, and I'm seriously thinking about starting a baking blog. What do you reckon??
  • Up...I was introduced to this film last weekend by one of my girl friends and I'm in love. It's seriously one of the most beautiful, funny and moving films I've ever seen and I'm hooked. Even if it did make me cry more than most other films ever have. Seriously, I was crying like a baby!! But I still love it, and I need a copy in my life, like now!!
Lows
  • Receiving some negative (and I feel pretty unwarranted) feedback from a school I worked at...again I don't want to go into detail, but there were two main issues which were raised. One which, in hindsight, I maybe could have handled slightly differently, although I feel like I was very much manipulated by the headteacher and placed in a situation in which it was very difficult for me to act appropriately. And then two, which I completely dispute and feel like it almost amounted to a personal attack, as opposed to a constructive criticism of my teaching.
  • Lack of work and money and what feels like endless hours of job hunting: As I mentioned before, this has really got me down over the past few weeks although, fingers crossed, I'll hopefully have some good news on this front soon!! Tomorrow's looking to be a red letter day...I'm making a phone call to one of the possible employers tomorrow morning to find out more details about that job and I have an interview for the other post tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed the outcomes are positive!!
And that's all for now. Hope everyone else is having a good month...I've got so many of your blogs to catch up on!! Till next time...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

I hate job hunting!!

It's taking over my life, hence my disappearance from the blogging world over the last couple of weeks or so, yet I still don't seem to be getting anywhere. It really does suck!! Part of my problem is that I really don't know what kind of job I'm looking for. All I know is that I need money and fast, as I've been out of work for two and a half months now. There hasn't really been any supply work at all since the schools went back in September, and even if I really enjoyed being a supply teacher (which I don't), I can't really afford to sit back and just wait for supply bookings to come in any more. So I've been applying for whatever I can find: temporary Christmas sales assistant posts and administration and customer service roles with quick start dates to name just two categories. But so far, no joy.

And as for the long term, well I really don't know. I'm not sure if teaching really is for me...my confidence and faith in my abilities have been shot by a combination of my inability to secure a long term post and some less than pleasurable supply experiences. As a result, I'm reluctant to apply for any teaching posts and am stuck not knowing where my heart really lies. My doubts about teaching are compounded by the fact that I disliked supply teaching a lot of the time; but then again, there were other days when I loved it and felt truly in control of things.

And then as for other posts...well, I have a degree, a postgraduate certificate and quite a substantial work history, and have been told that my CV is strong, but I'm not actually qualified to do much. I suppose I have as much chance of any graduate of getting a generic graduate job which doesn't need a specific degree, but most of those appear to either be recruitment consulting or sales. Both heavily money motivated and requiring lots of sales calls (including cold calling), these really aren't for me. I'd prefer to work in a slightly less pressured environment, where my success isn't measured in material terms, but rather in terms of the positive effect I've been able to have on others. Then I've also looked at graduate training schemes, and the majority of these seem to suffer from 1 or more of these 3 main problems: one, they have a September 2011 start date (so would only be OK if I could secure another job which could support me up until then), two, they're in sectors that don't appeal to me such as accountancy or consultancy and as graduate schemes last for an average of 2 years, it'd be a big commitment to something if I wasn't sure and finally, most of them aren't based in areas local to me, and whilst I appreciate the need to be flexible, the vast majority of my family and friends are based in the Manchester area, so I'd feel uneasy leaving the North West unless it was for my dream job. And that's assuming I'd even be accepted onto them; they're notoriously competitive and only account for a small proportion of the total number of graduate jobs available every year.

Ideally, I'd like to be in a post where I could put my background in education to good use: I'd love to have the opportunity to be a librarian or museum education officer, for example, and then I could combine my qualifications with my interest in books or history, but jobs in those sectors are even scarcer than teaching vacancies, and they often require additional qualifications.

So to sum up, at the moment, I'm well and truly confused and it's hard to shake the feeling that my career is going nowhere. But I'm trying to stay hopeful that something will crop up eventually...adopting that resilient attitude which I claim to possess on my CV!! And I'm going to try and be more organised; dedicating different times to different aspects of my job search and keeping detailed records of what I've applied for and the outcome, as well as researching alternative career options that I haven't really considered yet. It all sounds so good written down here, hopefully I'll feel the benefits in real life too!!

Now I don't know when I'll be posting again, hopefully it will be sooner rather than later but I won't be making any rash promises...I know myself better than that by now!! Suppose it all depends how organised I really can be!! And tell me, do you have any job hunting tips?? Did you know what you wanted to do with your life as a young graduate? And how did you find your dream (or current) job?

Till next time...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Autumn Days (in words)

Today has been a beautiful autumn day...cool and crisp with lovely sunny skies. Whilst it isn't my favourite season (I don't really know if I have one to be honest), there are certainly many things that I appreciate about it, and I thought I'd share a few of them today:



  • The beautiful colours of the autumn leaves...I adore the reds and oranges, yellows and browns and hearing their crunch when they're underfoot is music to my ears!!
  • Halloween!! Whilst I'm no longer a child myself, and don't often celebrate the occasion in a big way, I still love lots of things about the date. Seeing little trick or treaters in cute costumes, and sometimes getting the chance to dress up myself, pumpkin lanterns which add an eerie glow to many a house, eating themed food...all fabulous in my book!!
  • Chilly autumn mornings when you can see your breath and the crisp, bright days that follow. I do know that we get rainy autumn days too...but I'm choosing to ignore that fact (hell, it's my blog and I can do what I like!!)
  • Buying new autumn clothes and rediscovering old favourites...I love wrapping up in cardigans and am looking forward to being able to wear my cosy boots again!!
  • Conkers...As a child, the start of the conker season was one of the main heralds of autumn for me, alongside the start of a new school year of course, and I still love collecting a few of them when I'm out walking. However, even though these days I'm particularly discerning and only pick the shiniest and most beautiful looking ones, I've still got quite a few and I'm not quite sure where I should put them or what I should do with them!!
  • The smoky scent of bonfires and fireworks...Even though I hate fireworks and so am not overly fond of Bonfire Night, I love the smells associated with it, and the smoky, slightly foggy atmosphere that lingers for a day or two afterwards. And being the food lover that I am, I also look forward to such treats as parkin (a dark and sticky ginger cake made with treacle and oats) and treacle and cinder toffees :-)
  • Dark autumn evenings spent watching TV or reading and curling up near the warm fire (I would describe it as roaring but that would be an exaggeration considering our fire is gas powered lol!!)
  • Autumn baking and cooking...This is the first autumn that I've really got into baking/cooking and I'm looking forward to making lots of seasonal treats including parkin, halloween biscuits, gingerbread, soup and lots of apple and pumpkin based cakes. I can't wait!!


And those are a few of my favourite autumn things!! What are yours?? I'd love to hear from you :-)

Till next time...

PS: I was intending to include some pretty pictures with this post, but we heart it is being slow and I'm getting impatient, so you're just going to have to wait till another day! I'll post an autumn days picture post soon, I promise!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Just a quickie...

because I think I'm going to go mad if I go any longer without blogging! I can't believe that after managing to blog every day in August, I've now gone nearly two weeks without posting. To put it simply, my absence can be put down to two main reasons: one, my laptop is away being repaired at the moment, and so my sisters and I have been sharing the family PC between us...not ideal at all, especially now K has gone back to school, and Amy has started college and they both need to use a computer for homework. And two, despite being off work myself, I've been really rather busy this week as I've spent the majority of my days jobhunting. I'll explain in more detail in another post, but basically I've come to a point where I really want a steady income. And that means getting a full time job, as opposed to relying on short term supply teaching work. As regular readers of my blog will know, I've been searching for a long term teaching post for over a year and a half now, and have so far been unsuccessful. So I've decided to broaden my horizons, and have recently been applying for jobs in a range of sectors, not just education. As I've said, more details will follow...I just wanted to give a little insight as to where I'm at right now. Fingers crossed that I'll be back to more regular posting quite soon...the girls have bought themselves a new laptop today, so I should have more use of the PC and I'm also determined to get my jobhunting routine a bit more organised, and maybe even draw up a schedule so I can allocate specific blocks of time to it, as I feel that it's all a bit messy at the mo. And I spend far too much time procrastinating, as always!!

Anyway, till next time...

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Yay...I did it!!

Remember right at the beginning of August, when I posted my Operation August goals list? Well, now we're at the end, and I'm pleased to say that this post marks the fact that I've made one of my targets...I've blogged every single day during the month!! That's 31 consecutive posts!! Granted, some of them were very rushed, and not really worth reading, but I'm still pleased that I've managed to keep going and make blogging part of my everyday life. As for how I've done with the other goals...well I'm afraid time is short, so you're just going to have to wait and see!! Suffice it to say that some I've done really well with, and others...well you get the idea!!

Anyway, I'm off out now... so happy Wednesday everyone!! Till next time...

Monday, 30 August 2010

Love this!!

Presenting possibly my favourite song at the mo:


I heard it for the first time yesterday, and whilst it took a little time for it to grow on me, now I think it's fab. So much so, that I've gone on YouTube to find it and have decided to blog about it!! There's just one problem though...for a song called Misery, it's just a little too upbeat lol!! :-) What do you think?? Hope you enjoyed as much as I did!! Till next time...

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Apologies...

because this is going to be uber short!! With 6 people in the house, and only one computer free (my laptop is currently poorly and we can only use my brother's computer when he's not watching TV, as he uses that in place of a monitor), screen time is limited and best used for essentials!! I'm also off out now, so no more blogging today!!
Till next time...

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Laziness...A quiz copied and pasted from Facebook

So basically, I had no idea what to blog about tonight and I also knew that I couldn't spend too long on the net, so I've trawled Facebook and come up with this quiz which I posted last year. Obviously the answers aren't from last year, unless they're still relevant of course!! Feel free to play along and post your answers too...it'd be great to hear from you :-)

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? Cup of tea and a banana bun

2. Where was your profile picture taken? Holy Rood Church Hall, Swinton

3. Can you play Guitar Hero? Badly!

4. Name someone who made you laugh today? My Grandad

5. How late did you stay up last night and why? I went to bed about 12:30. It would have been earlier but I was doing my usual messing around before bed thing!

6. If you could move somewhere else,where would it be?I'd stay close by if possible.

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? No...nobody would get me out under fireworks for any reason whatsoever!!

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you? N and M

9. Do you believe ex's can be friends? Sometimes

10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper? I can think of lots of nicer drinks!

11. When was the last time you cried really hard? I can't remember - maybe a few weeks ago??

12. Who took your Facebook profile picture? Someone from my drama group

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of? Myself?! I can't really remember to be honest!!

14. Was today better than yesterday? No

15. Can you live a day without TV? Yes

16. Are you upset about anything? My work prospects...I'm not really sure where my future lies at this moment in time.

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it? The right ones are

18. Are you a bad influence? I suppose I could be...I'm very lazy and love food too much, and will incite others to slack off and eat crap!

19. Night out or night in? It depends on my mood and the company.

20. What items could you not go without during the day? Phone, purse, pen, tissues, food and drink (obviously!!)

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? My grandad

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say? Thanks for the invite jules but me and linds have already made plans. Enjoy the film and we'll see you soon x

23. How do you feel about your life right now? It's ok...

24. Do you hate anyone? Not that I can think of

25. If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find? Messages

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass? Yeah

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before? Don't think so...

28. What song is stuck in your head? I haven't really got one right now...you should have asked whilst X Factor was on!!

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m, who would you like it to be? A hot guy! Only joking, I think it would have to be a friend

30. Wanna have grandkids by the time you're 50? No...I want to enjoy other things in my life first

31. Name something you are doing tomorrow? Having a driving lesson

32. Do you think too much or too little? Too much!

33. Do you smile a lot? Apparently so! (I asked my sister!)

34. Is there anything you'd change about yourself? Yeah...my weight, my pessimism and my lack of self esteem.

35. Do you have a secret crush? There's someone who I'm not really sure of my feelings of...but the situation would be complicated anyway, so it's best left well alone!!

So they're my answers, and like I said, it would be great to read yours too!! Till next time...

Friday, 27 August 2010

Smile...it's Friday!!

Hope everyone's feeling happy today...after all, the weekend starts here!! I had a bit of an up and down start to this week, but things really settled down and I've had lots of things to smile about. Here are some of them:
  • My sister Amy's fantastic exam results: she got an A, 7 Bs, 3 Cs and 2Ds, and I was so proud!! I was also smiling about my other sister K's test results: she achieved an A and 3 Bs and I'm sure she'll do really well in her exams next year.
  • My Grandad feeling much better: On Monday, my grandad was admitted to hospital suffering from a bad chest infection. After visiting him on the Tuesday, my family and I were really worried as he looked so ill and didn't seem himself at all, but luckily, by Wednesday his condition had started to improve and now he's practically his old self again :-) He has got to stay in hospital a bit longer, just so the medical staff can keep an eye on him, but he'll hopefully be home early next week.
  • Going to the Comedy Store with friends: I had a really good laugh and it was also a break from the norm. I think I'll definitely be going back more often in the future.
  • A long conversation with a friend after they'd given me a lift home
  • Finding amazing images on we heart it (yeah, that's where the one at the top is from too!!)...it's turning into my new obsession, along with Frontierville!!

And fingers crossed the smiles won't stop there, as I'm looking forward to a (3 day!!) weekend full of friends, family and fun. And I hope that everyone has a fantastic weekend ahead too, whatever you're doing. Till next time...

Thursday, 26 August 2010

I heart these...



















As you'd know if you read my blog yesterday, I've just started exploring we heart it and have uncovered some beautiful images. Above are 10 of my favourites so far, including some I only came across today...so maybe being unable to post pictures yesterday was a good thing, as I would have missed out on some of the best. And my online album is sure to be getting fuller and fuller, so I reckon that image posts might be making a more regular appearance on the blog, as I can't resist sharing them with you all. Would you like to see more photos on my blog? And how would you like them to be arranged? I'm thinking of doing a mix of both random and themed posts, but there's nothing set in stone yet!!
Till next time...


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I heart it...

As a blogger for over a year, I've spent many a moment not just reading the words that fellow bloggers write, but also losing myself in the beauty of some of the pictures that they've shared. Some are their own photographs; snapshots that will forever capture a special moment in their lives but others are images they've found elsewhere. So then I wonder: "Where do they uncover such amazing images?" And luckily some of those blogs gave this curious girl an answer...they came from we heart it. For the uninitiated, this is a site full of "inspiring images and videos" which allows you to create an online album (or heart) and lets you add pictures/videos to it just by clicking on them. Now, as I've previously said, I have been aware of the site for a while, but have never properly got into it...until today. Whilst I was a bit slow to get started, after that I found many amazing images, and was really keen to share some with you today. But unfortunately,Blogger is refusing to play ball and upload my pictures so I guess we'll all just have to wait a little longer!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

So I suppose I'll end with a question (or two!!) instead. Are you a fan of weheartit? Where have you discovered your favourite images? It'd be great to hear from you :-)

Till next time...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Some beauty favourites...Part 1

Like most girls, I'm interested in the way I look, and as a result, I always enjoy both buying, and also being bought, new beauty products. So much so that, again like many of us, I have far too many of them. Some of which I've tried and don't like, so they've been banished to the back of the cupboard. Others I do like but, as I have so many of that particular kind of product or don't have much need for them in my daily routine, they don't get used that often. Then there are the ones that have never even been used due to my desire to use up open products first. And finally, and by far the smallest category, are the products I use regularly...all of which I like using; some of which I love! Those are my favourites, and they're what I'm going to share with you right now:

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation
I've been using this for a while now; over 2 years I think, and when I first purchased it I was basically just jumping on the bandwagon. I'd seen the adverts proclaiming it to be Britain's bestselling foundation and decided to see what the fuss was about. And I've never looked back (maybe sideways...but more about that later!) And why do I love this? Well, for quite a few reasons. Firstly, I love the coverage. As someone who suffers from redness and frequent blemishes, especially around my T zone, I need a foundation that neutralises and covers these and Dream Matte Mousse does just that. Also, it's longlasting...if I've been working or for a night out, I may need to do a mini touch up once, but other than that, no action is required. And loads always comes off on my remover wipe when taking it off. It's also reasonably priced, easy to apply and blend and one jar lasts a long time.

Bourjois 10 Hour Sleep Effect Foundation
Right now I suppose you might be thinking "If you love the first foundation so much, why bother with another?" Well, I'll tell you. Despite the fact I love the mousse, I think it's a bit too heavy and matte looking for summer wear...I want something lighter and fresher looking. And this is where this comes in. Not only does it leave my skin glowing; almost radiant in fact, it also has a gorgeous smell and is longlasting. Now, as it provides lighter coverage than the first, it does mean that I often have to add a couple of minutes onto my make up routine...using concealer and/or Dream Matte Mousse on any spots/blemishes before the Bourjois, and then dusting pressed powder over my T zone afterwards, but for the look it gives, I think it's well worth it.

Rimmel Extra Super Lash Lash Building Mascara
Now when it comes to mascara, I've experimented with a fair few in my time. From budget (Primark and Natural Collection) to high end (Benefit) and volumising to lengthening. I've tried those with white base coats and waterproof varieties. There've been big brushes, standard brushes and bendy plastic wands. But the one I've always come back to is this this one. Why? Because it does exactly what it says on the tin. It truly "builds a natural to dramatic look". One coat and I'm ready for work or a night in with friends. Two or three...and it's party time!! Whilst it may not be waterproof, it is longlasting and at the cheaper end for a brand name mascara. So really, what's not to love?

Urban Decay Lube in a Tube Miami
I came across this product by chance in a local discount fashion and beauty shop (Ethel Austin) for, I think, £1.50 and was instantly attracted by four things: the colour, the description on the packaging, the fact that it was Urban Decay and, of course, the price! Basically this is my favourite lip product because it combines all the things I like in one...it has the moisturising properties of a balm (thanks to the shea butter which is one of its ingredients) with the pigmentation you'd expect from a lipstick or gloss. So for someone with limited room in their make up bag (a la me) it's ideal! As well as moisturising and giving my lips a lovely reddy-pinky colourcolour, it also gives them the tingliest feeling on application. I'm not quite sure why (maybe it's the mint which is another active ingredient), but it's definitely a pleasant sensation :-) In terms of reapplication, I'd normally put another coat on every couple of hours or so, which is pretty standard for me when it comes to lip products, so it isn't disappointing in that sense either.

And that's all for now...stay tuned for some more favourites coming up!! What are your favourite make up products/brands?? Let me know...it'll be great to hear from you :-)

Till next time...

Monday, 23 August 2010

Who do you think you are?

Something I've never mentioned on the blog before is my interest in genealogy and tracing my family's history back through the generations. But after I watched the lastest episode of "Who Do You Think You Are", on TV earlier tonight, I had a desire not just to research some more of my own family history, but also to blog about what I've been doing. Well, in a nutshell...since starting to dig into my past well over a year ago (my sister Amy and I have been working intermittently since then), I've confirmed that not only do I have English, Scottish and Welsh blood in me, but that there's also at least a little Irish..you could say I'm truly British. And despite being a proud Northerner, I've found to my utter dismay that my great grandmother's family came from Essex and also Suffolk, which are most definitely situated in the south of England. And some distant cousins of mine even live in New Zealand...such a shock to this girl who always presumed that all of her family lived in the UK. Yet on the other hand, 5 or 6 generations of my maternal grandfather's family have lived within a mile or so of where I do now...maybe that explains why I'm such a homebird!!

I've been able to trace happy events like marriages and births...but have also discovered some sad ones that, although maybe commonplace at the time, seem positively tragic to me in the present day, especially as they've happened to my ancestors; my own flesh and blood. Maybe disappointingly, I haven't uncovered any great scandals although I do know that there was a divorce in my family early last century which would have been quite shocking at the time. And I do have some suspicions that one of my ancestors may have been illegitimate, and this really interests me...maybe her father was the rich and important person that I'd be so excited to find. Because on the surface my family tree is filled with ordinary people...not rich, nor important; just normal individuals, mostly working class who seemed to lead ordinary lives. Probably not interesting or important enough to make it onto an episode of Who Do You Think You Are!! But, although it'd be fun to find an important ancestor, as far as I'm concerned, the normal people would be the stars of my show because without them I wouldn't be here today. These ordinary people make me want to visit churches hundreds of miles away; make me determined to overcome the barriers that adoption,divorce and illegitamacy pose when I'm researching; make me thrilled every time I can add a new name to my family tree. Because that's who I am...part of an ordinary group of people who, to me, are the most crucially important of all.

Till next time...

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Third time lucky!!

So after 2 days of trying, I've finally got the time to write a proper blog post as opposed to a rushed apology and I'm so relieved :-) Today's post is going to be an update on how I'm doing with my Operation August goals as I've been planning to do for a few days now, and I'm going to fit in the posts that I intended to write on Friday and Saturday at another time. So, now on to the topic at hand: Operation August. We're now over two thirds of the way through the month and I can't believe how fast it's going...only just over a week and it'll be September!! And how am I doing with my goals? Well, I have made some progress but I think I've still got a way to go yet; I can see the next 10 days being really busy ones for me! Here's the breakdown of my progress by category:

Senses
  1. I still haven't bought any new DVDs for myself this month, but have made no further progress in getting through my collection either...I'm going to really try to make some headway with this during the week.
  2. No new MP3 player yet, but this is a priority before I go back to work; listening to music makes long bus journeys so much more bearable!!
  3. I've read one book so far this month (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes from this wonderful set) and am on the lookout for another book to get stuck into.
  4. Last Thursday, I baked a new recipe from my Hummingbird Bakery book and took a couple of photos to go with it...the blog post will be coming soon!!
  5. Since my last goals update, I've watched Toy Story 3 and have got some vague plans to see Inception at some point during the week. No A Team as yet, and I think it might be a challenge to organise a trip, as most of my friends have already seen it.

Social

  1. No outing organised yet...I'm thinking of arranging something for the Bank Holiday Monday which is coming up in just over a week.
  2. Goal achieved!! The weather was kind and allowed my friends and I to watch these films without getting soaked :-) Fingers crossed that we might even be able to watch more films at Spinningfields before the season ends.
  3. This is something that I'm shamefully behind on; another priority for the upcoming week methinks.
  4. No real progress since the last goals catch up...I think I'm definitely going to have to be more proactive and send a few texts/fb messages to those friends who I don't see much of.

Professional

  1. No progress...thinking about my career gets me stressed at the moment so I've been (rather foolishly) avoiding it. I know this ian't the best course of action, however, so am resolved to do something about this soon.
  2. I've not done anything about this either. I think my first step is going to be investigating how much demand there would be for Avon products amongst my friends and family, as they'd form the bulk of my customer base.

Mind and Body

  1. Not done...I'm going to have to pre plan and dedicate an evening to this.
  2. This has tailed off since my last goals update... I've tended to spend more time reading outside than walking lol!! Although the scales tell me I've put on a few pounds, so I reckon I need to get back to good habits pretty sharpish.
  3. I've looked into places to visit but haven't really found any new ones that I could get to within a reasonable time so I reckon it'll probably be Manchester again. I've got no idea yet what I'll do though!!
  4. I have looked at evening classes at my local college and nothing really appeals so I'm definitely going to investigate online courses instead.
  5. Not achieved yet, although I have made an appointment for the end of August. Hopefully I'll be fit and well and able to donate, unlike at the last donation session I attended where I was suffering from cold symptoms.
  6. Not done...I am a shameful procrastinator, but in my defence, I know that it'll be an all day job, so I'm waiting for a completely free (hopefully rainy!!) day.
  7. As was true last time my wardrobes have been sorted, but my drawers still haven't.
  8. I'm on track to meet this goal so far...if only just!!
  9. Still not done, mainly because I have lingering doubts about my ability but also because I simply keep forgetting to do it!!

And that's it...August may be slipping away, but I'm still determined to make Operation August a success!! Till next time...

Saturday, 21 August 2010

And it's serious deja vu...!!

Thank you Beyonce!! Seriously though, I'm starting to lose count of the number of times I've intended to write meaningful posts this month, but have ended up rushing because I'm meant to be somewhere else. And tonight's no exception...I went out late afternoon, thinking that I'd be able to come home at some point during the evening, but it looks like things are going to continue into the night, so I've excused myself just so I could come home for a little and do the things I was intending to do i.e. blogging and checking emails at my leisure. So again my utmost apologies...I really really hope that normal service is resumed tomorrow!!

Till next time...

Friday, 20 August 2010

Why can things never go to plan??

Or, more specifically, why can my blogging never go to plan?! After posting only yesterday about my planned blogging schedule for the next few days, the Internet demons have decided to throw a spanner in the works. Namely, that when I was ready to log in to Blogger and write my post, I couldn't access the Internet for neither love nor money but now when I really have no time to be blogging, as I'm due to leave the house in 10 minutes max, it decides it wants to play nice again!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

So, I suppose this is one part apology, another part explanation, and finally a thank you to my followers and commenters new and old...I appreciate your comments and support, and I hopefully be back to posting what I intended as of tomorrow :-)

Till next time...

Thursday, 19 August 2010

And now it's over to you...

Whilst I've been blogging, I've come across a range of different opinions as to who we, as bloggers, are writing for. Some bloggers say "I blog for myself, and no one else, my blog is my own private space where I can write whatever I feel like". And whilst I agree with this principle (I wouldn't blog about anything unless I felt the inclination to do so), I'm also aware of the fact that I'm writing for an audience. That I have followers who may take time (albeit only a minute or two) out of their day to read my posts. That there's always the chance of other visitors passing by. And whilst my blog is my domain, that doesn't mean that I don't want to make visitors welcome. That I don't care about how other people feel about my blog. That I don't want to take account of their opinions. And this is where you (my followers and any other visitors) come in:
What would you like to see in my blog??
Just as an idea, here's whatI'm thinking of blogging about over the next few days:
Friday: My favourite beauty products (inspired by O. is me)
Saturday: Baking post (Banana cake)
Sunday: Operation August goals update
Monday: Weekend Round Up/Highs and Lows of the Week
And that's as far as I've got. What do you think?? Is there anything in my blog that you'd like to see more or less of?? Or anything new that you'd like me to try?? Let me know...this may be my blog, but as they say 2 (or more) heads are better than 1!!
Till next time...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Phew...

I didn't think I was going to get the chance to post before 12:00, which would have meant that my goal of posting every day this month would have gone straight out of the window! :-( Talk about cutting it fine though...my computer is telling me it's 3 minutes to midnight, and here's me still typing! I just hope that my clock isn't slow, and it's not Thursday already! Anyway, I suppose if I want to be sure, I'd better stop typing now lol! ;-)

Till next time...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Food, fun and friends...

are three of my favourite things, and I'm happy to say I'll be enjoying all three over the next couple of days, as I'm going out for a meal at my local Italian restaurant this evening to celebrate one friend's birthday and a pub lunch for another friend's birthday tomorrow. I'm just so excited...good food is a particular weakness of mine and eating it surrounded by some of my closest friends will make it all the better. Add to that the fact that I'm off work at the mo and so will be able to indulge with a couple of glasses of wine, and it sounds practically perfect (well, to me anyway!!) The only slight downside is the cost involved...why do birthday presents and delicious food and good wine have to be so expensive?! And how about you? Do you have any evening plans? What's your favourite indulgence? Tell me all!

Till next time...

Monday, 16 August 2010

What a day for a daydream...

I haven't really been daydreaming today, but if I had wanted to it would have been pretty much the perfect day. Warm sunshine, with just a light breeze...the ideal day to sit or lie on the grass and let your mind take flight. And if I had have been dreaming, I might have been spirited away to exotic shores, or imagined myself as an actress starring in the latest hit TV show or film, or simply created my dream guy in my head. I could have gone anywhere I wanted and been whoever I wanted to be. But today I was just me, spending time in my local area...today I was web surfing, and reading and shopping. But tomorrow could be a different story...!! As for you, are you a daydreamer? If so, what's your favourite dream? Feel free to share...I'd love to hear your stories :-)

Till next time...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Highs and Lows of the Week

I've not done one of these for a while, so with that in mind, and also because it's the end of the week, I thought I'd share my highs and lows of the past 7 days. So, without further ado, here they are:

Highs
  • Time spent with friends: Most of my evenings this week have been spent in the company of some of my favourite people aka my friends! Whether we've been at the cinema, at a party or just relaxing by watching DVDs and having a chat, I've had a fantastic time and I know their company is something that I really value; basically I'd be lost without them!
  • Good films: Over the past week, I've watched some amazing films. There's been Toy Story 3 at the cinema (I cried...proof that I have a soul!!), Stand by Me on the big screen at Spinningfields and Spaceballs and The Goonies on DVD at my friend's house. All very different...but all great. I have a feeling that I'll be adding some more DVDs to my collection once my buying ban is up at the end of the month!!
  • The fantastic weather this weekend: If you're a frequent visitor to my blog, you'll know that I've recently been bemoaning the terrible weather we've been having over the last few weeks. Well, the weather fairies must have been listening to me because the last two days have been glorious. Sunny, but not too hot...the perfect weather for sitting outside and reading my book or for going for a leisurely walk. Hopefully it'll last into next week too!!
  • A fantastic driving lesson: My last driving lesson was one of those blessed ones where everything just came together. I even managed to get my bay parking right twice in a row!! Now I just need to book my test...hopefully before I have a terrible lesson and lose my confidence!!
  • Stress-free shopping: On Friday, one of my closest friends and I had to go shopping to buy a present for our friend's 21st birthday. As her party was that evening, our schedule was pretty tight, and I was half expecting the trip to be fraught with tension, as we rushed from shop to shop to find the perfect gift. But no...it was one of the easiest gift shopping trips I've been on in a while. It turns out that we had similar ideas on what to get, so selecting the gifts was a breeze. And we even had time for a well deserved Starbucks before heading home!!
  • The summer holidays: I'm currently half way through my summer holidays, and even though I've been moaning about the weather, I've definitely been enjoying the freedom to stay up late, without having to worry about being up early for work the next day :-)

Now I'm meant to write about my lows, but to be honest, I can't really think of any!! So I'll leave it here for today. Till next time...

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Finding a balance...

between reading and writing, speaking and listening. This is something I'm really struggling with at the mo. As any of my readers will know, I've set myself a goal to blog every day during the month of August, partially because I'm keen to grow my blog and wanted to see if blogging daily would have any impact on my number of followers, but mainly because I was sick of how infrequent my posts were becoming, particularly because there were lots of things that I intended to blog about that were just getting left by the wayside. But now I'm having the opposite problem...I don't have enough things to blog about. And not only that, I'm rushing posts and feeling like I'm short changing both myself, and my readers, in the process. I know I wouldn't want to read a series of posts saying "Sorry, I've got no time to do a proper post today, I'm off out now"!! And not only that, I've found it's been ages since I've actually sat down and read and commented on any of the blogs I follow...in my desire to be a better blogger, I've lost touch with one of the major parts of it. The reading and listening. The time spent finding out what my blog friends (because I do consider many bloggers I follow to be friends) are thinking and feeling. The time spent sharing their highs and their lows. The few minutes it takes to leave a supportive comment. If I lose that, I'll be far worse for it.

So from now on, I'm striving to get my balance back. I'm not going to give up blogging every day...I've set myself a goal and as far as I'm concerned, there's no going back! But I'll be trying to manage my time a little better...to find moments to read, as well as write. To contribute to the blogs of others, instead of being so focused on my own. I'm part of a big blogging community, now's the time to act like it!!

Till next time...

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday night...

and I'm just about to start getting ready for my friend's 21st (that doesn't half make me feel old lol!) It'll be great to go out, especially as I'll get to catch up with everyone from my drama group who I've not seen for nearly a month. It's been too long!! Anyway, as they say, time waits for no man (or woman!), so I'd better get off. Sorry for the length...half hearted blog posts aren't my favourite things either, but they seem to be a necessary evil at the mo...especially as I'm wasting far too much time on Facebook!!

Till next time...

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Sweet Treats: Rocky Road

Something a little different today, as I've decided to do a baking post. You might know from reading my "Operation August" goals that one of them was to try a new recipe and blog about it. Well, rocky road isn't new to me, but when I was deciding what to make to take along to a get together with some friends this evening, it was my first choice as it's pretty much a guaranteed crowd pleaser!!

I use this recipe with a few adaptations: I use half and half plain and milk chocolate for a slightly sweeter taste, drinking chocolate instead of cocoa powder and substitute digestive or mixed broken biscuits for the ginger nuts. Here's a picture of my ingredients:

You may notice a few extra ingredients as well. Basically, I just stir whatever I feel like into my chocolate sauce...this time I omitted the maltesers, instead adding a chopped up Mars Bar, 100g cornflakes and some dried fruit (dried apricots and glace cherries). And it looks amazing...if I do say so myself!! And the aroma of the warm chocolate sauce, well words can't do it justice...just make it for yourself, and you'll see what I mean!!

Ok so I've made the sauce, prepared my dry ingredients and stirred everything in. I've spooned the mixture into a prepared tray and left it to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. And voila, this is the end result:


I think I could have done with a little bit more chocolate to cover those rogue cornflakes, but other than that, I think it's turned out pretty well. And I'm pleased to report that it tastes ok too (naturally there were lots of rogue crumbs when I was cutting it that my family and I just couldn't resist sampling!!) And now I'm sat here, with most of it packed up in a box ready to take to Spinningfields where my friends and I are going to watch "Stand By Me". Food, a film, fresh air and fun...sounds like a pretty good evening to me!! Till next time...

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

What's-in-my-Wardrobe Wednesday: Summer Dresses


Well, Wednesday's come around again and for my blog that means just one thing: it's time for another instalment of "What's in my Wardrobe Wednesday"! This week I'm going to be focusing on summer dresses in a vain hope that it might make summer make a most welcome return to my part of the world. Whilst the early summer (the end of May, most of June and the beginning of July) was warm and gloriously sunny, the past month or so has been a complete washout. It's rained practically every day and temperatures have been near or below the average for the time of year. But let's just ignore that for now, shall we, and focus on a summer where I'd be able to wear all of the following on a regular basis!!



Cream garden print cap sleeve dress



This is one of my favourite summer dresses, not least because it was a real bargain...I picked it up for just a fiver off one of the stalls at my village's summer festival. I adore its vintage look, and think the print is simply gorgeous...it pretty much sums summer up for me. Plus it's really flattering to wear, this is something that doesn't come across well on the hanger...I kind of wish I'd made the effort to take some pictures of me wearing it now! There's only one thing I'd change about it if I could, and that's the fact that the skirt has 3 layers: a silky underskirt, a net one over that and then the main skirt itself. Whilst they give it a lovely shape, they make it just a little too hot for high summer wear, as I discovered to my peril as I wore this to the theatre on one of the hottest days of the year so far!






Close up of the back...I love the heart button detail!!





Coral broderie anglaise sun dress

Coral is my summer colour, so much so that this is the first of 3 coral dresses to be featured in this post! It's bright and cheery and looks great with a tan...even if I don't have much of one most of the time! As well as the colour, I also love the fact that it's so easy to wear. I've had this dress for 3 or 4 years now, and it's not dated or gone out of style, and I can dress it both up (with wedges) or down (with flat sandals and my light denim jacket). Simply perfect!!




Full skirted floral print shirt dress


To be honest, this is technically much more than a summer dress...I often wear it in the cooler months with either black opaques for night, or black leggings for day, and its versatility is one of its major plus points for me. As with many of the other pieces I own, I can dress it up or down, and I've been able to wear this for so many different occasions ranging from a trip to the park to a meal with friends to a night out in town to name just three. I also adore the femininity of this dress...with its full skirt and bow which accentuates my waist, it makes me feel really womanly. Just as a side note, I think it looks pretty similar to this dress by Luella from a couple of seasons ago. What do you think? Not bad considering mine's just a cheapo version from Primark lol!!


Coral and grey flower and leaf print dress


Now, I love this dress. It's light and flowy, so it's perfect for summer wear and I love the fact that it's just a little bit different...probably because it was a limited edition piece. But what I love most about this dress was that it most certainly didn't have a limited edition price tag. This little beauty cost me the grand sum of £1.00!! That's right, it was just £1.00!! Like the first dress, this was a bargain from my home town's summer festival, but this is a more recent acquisition, having only been purchased a few weeks ago. But unlike the other dress, this still had its original tags on, which told me that it was from the Marks and Spencer Limited Collection and had started life at £45. Yet there it was, on the £1 bargain rail. I couldn't believe my luck...and am still convinced the stall holder had made a mistake. But I didn't question it...I just marched up to him, said "This is from the pound rail", and waited for him to bag the dress up lol!! Now being M and S, the only downside is that it ran a little big, but lucky for me my Mum is a whizz with a needle, and was able to put a couple of darts with no trouble :-)


Coral tulip skirt shift dress

Yet another coral dress; this was a favourite for summer evenings out last year and has even managed to get one or two outings this time around, despite the less than summery weather. I love the fact that this dress is very figure flattering; it nips me in at the waist, adds to the curve of my hips and hits just the right spot above my knees. And it has pockets...I love dresses with pockets. Sometimes I wear it as is, other times I wear it with a thick black waist belt to give me an even more defined waist (and to show more of my legs!!), but I wouldn't recommend doing that if you were eating out whilst wearing it...suffice it to say, I've tried it and it's not the most comfortable thing ever!! The coral colour also matches well with a range of accessories...I've worn it with cream, stone and grey shoes and gold, neutral and silver/pewter toned jewellery and it's looked great each time...another reason why I love versatile pieces!!

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse inside my wardrobe :-) Till next time...

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Off out again...

I know I said I'd stop doing this but you're going to have to put up with me doing a really rushed post just one more time as I'm off out again shortly. This evening some friends and I are going to see Toy Story 3 (one of my goals!!), and having heard great things about the film, I'm really looking forward to it. It may sound weird, but I'm hopeful that I'll cry at the end...I've heard of so many adults that have that I'll kind of feel that I've got no soul if I don't lol!! I'm also planning on getting some delicious Ben and Jerry's to take in with me...Cookie Dough and Chocolate Fudge Brownie Froyo are my current flavours of choice. I just hope I get there in time, as I really want to indulge!! Anyway, I suppose I'd better wrap this post up now...I don't want to be the person holding everyone else up, and my lift is due to arrive any minute. Hope everyone has a great rest of the day, whatever you're doing, and I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully with another "What's in my Wardrobe Wednesday", but knowing me, you'll just have to wait and see!! Till next time...

Monday, 9 August 2010

The last thing I...

I'm trying something a bit different today, as I'm seriously running out of things to blog about on a daily basis! So I thought I'd make a list of some of the last things I've done in different categories. So, in no particular order, here are the last things I:

ate: a hobnob and a sport biscuit
drank: a cup of tea (what else?!)
heard: my sisters talking, and the TV in the background
watched: TV programme: The Simpsons
Film: The Blues Brothers
bought: a 21st birthday card for my friend
read: a list of the last things that people had done (on an Internet messageboard)
blogged about: well other than this, it was an update on my Operation August goals list
thought: "I wonder if this blog post is going to be a load of rubbish...??"

How about you?? What were the last things you did? Or what are you doing right now? Let me know...it'd be great to hear from you :-) Till next time...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Operation August: Goals List Update (Week 1)

Well, the first week of August is almost over, and I thought I'd round it off with an update on how I'm doing with my Operation August goals so far. To be honest, I haven't made as much progress as I'd have liked, but as the saying goes, "Every journey begins with a small step"... and hopefully I'll be making a few more next week. But enough beating around the bush...here's what I've achieved so far:

Senses
  • Well I haven't bought any new DVDs this month (well except for "Shutter Island", which was part of my friend's birthday present), but I haven't made any progress in getting through my collection either. Hopefully, I'll watch more next week!!
  • There's been no real progress towards my other goals in this category...a few half hearted efforts perhaps, but that's about as far as it's gone!

Social

  • As I blogged about on Friday, I got to see Blues Brothers at Spinningfields on Thursday night, which means I'm half way towards my goal to watching two films there. Yay!!
  • I met up with a good few friends last night for one of their birthdays. It was good to catch up with people I hadn't seen for at least a couple of weeks, but I still feel like I should be making more of an active effort to stay in touch with my friends, rather than waiting for events to take place.

Mind and Body

  • I think I've managed to get in my required exercise this week, even though I haven't been overly active. I've taken a walk most afternoons or evenings...it's one of my favourite forms of exercise as I love the fact that I'm out in the open air.
  • I sorted out one of my wardrobes on Monday in preparation for Tuesday's shopping trip, and managed to clear out quite a few things to go to charity (either to clothing collections or to a local charity shop). However, that's only the beginning of my task...I've got another cupboard and some drawers to go yet!!
  • I have managed to blog everyday this week...if only just!! My aim for next week is make more time for it so that half my posts aren't just 5 minute rush jobs when I'm panicking!!

And that's pretty much it...I haven't bothered to blog about the goals in the "professional" category because I haven't made any progress towards them...fingers crossed I'll have more to report next week!! And now, all that's left for me to say is hope that you've had a good week and relaxing weekend. whatever you've been doing!! Till next time...

Saturday, 7 August 2010

And three!!

I can't believe how forgetful I'm becoming when it comes to blogging!! Another uber quick one...it's my friend's birthday today so we're heading out for a meal and drinks in town. I'm leaving in about 20 mins and I've not even done my make up yet...eek!!

To make up for three rushed posts now, I promise that (most of) my forthcoming ones will be more lovingly written and will have a lot more time and attention spent on them as I do really want to make a proper go of this blogging everyday lark :-)

Till next time...

Friday, 6 August 2010

Oops, I nearly forgot...

to blog!! Much like yesterday, I'm due to go out very soon and have realised that despite being at home for the majority of the day, I haven't actually blogged. Highlights since yesterday evening have included:
  • Watching "Blues Brothers" at Spinningfields...that means that I'm half way towards my goal of watching 2 films at the big screen there!! And it was also a fantastic night...watching a hilarious film with great company and eating loads of junk is always fun, and then add to that the amazing atmosphere that last night brought with it, and it was pretty much perfect. I loved the way that people were getting up and dancing during the songs, and how much effort some individuals had put into preparing for the night...some people had got dressed up as the Blues Brothers, and a couple even dressed their dogs up and brought them along too!! Fabulous!!
  • My hair getting a well needed cut and restyle...I think my last appointment had been in April, so needless to say it needed quite a bit taking off!!
  • Eating delicious home made chocolate chip cookies that my sister had baked whilst I was out.
  • The rain holding off while I went for an evening walk!! :-)

And that's it for today!! Till next time...

Thursday, 5 August 2010

My day: short but (pretty) sweet

Now, this is going to be rather rushed...I'm due to go out in an hour, and I haven't yet had the shower which I've been intending to have all day!! And it's been quite a lazy day too...I slept in a bit, had a driving lesson, helped my sister with her paper round and then spent the afternoon chilling...mainly messing around on the net and watching a DVD. Never mind, I suppose...I'll be signing off in a mo, and my going out this evening is for a great cause. Not only will I get to spend time with some of my best friends, my activities this evening should help contribute towards one of my Operation August goals. Yay!!

And that's your lot for today...promise I'll be back with something longer and hopefully more coherent tomorrow!! :-) Till next time...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

What's-in-my-Wardrobe Wednesday: Yesterday's Buys

It's back!! After months and months, "What's in my Wardrobe Wednesday" has finally returned!! :-) Can you tell I'm just a little excited?! Anyway, without further ado, onto the most important thing: the clothes...and the shoes...and the accessories...I'm sure you're getting the idea lol! Now as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've done a bit of shopping, so what better way to share my purchases than by blogging about them in a Wardrobe Wednesday??
All of yesterday's buys came from Primark...if you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that it's one of my most favourite shops ever! If not, well you do now! Having said that, I was just a little bit disappointed with it yesterday. Whilst I did buy some fabulous things, there wasn't really that much that jumped out at me and begged me to take it home, and that's a bit of a rarity. But never mind...I suppose it saved me money, at least ;-) And finally, for your delectation, here are the pieces that did return home with me:


Denim effect leggings in black and blue

Just a couple of basic buys to begin my post with, these leggings will help refresh my quite tired looking leggings collection...I can think of at least one pair that have seen better days! They'll be a wardrobe staple worn underneath longer length tops for a more casual look (I'm wearing the blue pair today with a blue and white striped cotton cami) and I know from experience that they're especially comfy to wear on fat days lol!



Black, white and grey floral print skater dress

This is a piece that definitely has autumn written all over it (or maybe even summer if our recent weather's anything to go by!). I think it'll look great worn over black leggings or super opaque tights, and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to dress it up or down depending on my footwear and accessory choices.

Dark grey stud detail pumps
Grey canvas pumps or high tops have been a wardrobe staple of mine for well over a year now, and I was desperately in need of some new ones, due to the fact that my old ones are letting water in. These are a bit darker than the ones I've previously gone for, but I was attracted by the stud design, which you can see more clearly here:


Whilst I love the originality of these (and also think the checked lining is pretty funky), the one downside is that they're cut quite low at the front, meaning that if I wear them with leggings you can see quite a lot of my socks...not such a good look!! So I get a feeling I'll be saving these for wearing with jeans/trousers and keeping my old pumps for wearing with leggings based outfits like today's.

Coral and teal rose print scarf

I absolutely love the colours in this scarf...I think they're gorgeous!! This is actually a piece that's caught my eye a couple of times before, but I've resisted up until now, as I wasn't quite sure what I was going to pair it with. To be honest, I'm still not, but I thought that it was too pretty an item not to be mine!!
And last but not least...

Beige shiny effect mac

A classic mac was also on my shopping list for yesterday's trip, and I think this one's absolutely perfect and can see myself hopefully wearing this for years to come. I love how the subtle sheen makes it a little different, whilst still being timeless and elegant in design, and I love the fact that the belt is long enough to tie in a proper bow (although this is something I've obviously not quite mastered yet judging by the photo!!)

Here's a back view:


Ignore the creases on the back and focus on the puffed shoulders and back vent detail instead!! I'm really looking forward to wearing this, both for work and also to help smarten up more casual outfits. My first beige mac...I almost feel like a proper adult!!

And there we have it...hope you enjoyed :-) Till next time...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Nothing exciting to say...

but it is one of my goals to blog every day this month, so I'd better write something anyway!! Today's been relatively uneventful...I went shopping with my Mum and sisters this morning (will be blogging about my purchases in the near future), and have spent the rest of the day relaxing...messing around on the Internet, watching TV and going for a walk. Nothing exciting, but I don't suppose that every day can be after all!!

Hope everyone else is having a good day, whatever you're doing :-)!! Till next time...

Monday, 2 August 2010

Mingling on a Monday!!

Today, I did something I've never done before...I headed over to Life of Meg to join in with her "Mingle Monday". Now, I can't remember exactly how I found out about it in the first place... I want to say that I read about it over at Diary of a Chocoholic a few weeks ago, but that might just be my imagination lol!! Anyway, today I finally took the plunge and mingled on a Monday for the first time. And it was great! :-) Basically, all you do is add your blog's name and a little picture to a linky list at the bottom of the Mingle Monday post. Then you just click on two (or as many as you like) of the other pictures on the list, and voila...you've discovered some great new blogs!! Finally you just leave a comment on any of the blogs you've visited and then head back to Meg's to leave a short review of them. Seriously, it's as simple as that, and in my opinion, it's well worth doing. First off, Meg's blog itself is fab...I love the layout, her posts, the whole Mingle Monday idea...I really can't get enough. And secondly, it's such a quick and easy way of finding new blogs to follow. No trawling through your friend's blogrolls to see if you can uncover any hidden gems; instead they're all there at your fingertips, just waiting to be clicked on.

So, will I be participating again? Absolutely! Am I going to recommend Mingle Monday to all my followers and readers? Definitely! Till next time...

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Operation August: The Goals List

So I blogged yesterday about how fed up I was of wasting my holidays (and, indeed, much of my life,) by doing nothing, and about how I'd set myself a list of goals to help ensure that my August was more rewarding for me, be it personally, socially or professionally. And here they are...some are things I've been meaning to get round to for a while, others are things that have occurred to me over the last few days but all are things I'm hopeful of achieving over the next 30 days. I've tried to organise them into categories as best as I can, some maybe a little vague so just bear with me!

Goals
Senses
  1. Buy no new DVDs this month...watch only those already in my collection (including Season 5 of House)
  2. Buy a new MP3 player and load it with music.
  3. Read at least 2 novels/collections of short stories (can be those I already own or new additions!)
  4. Try at least one new recipe this month and blog about it (complete with photos!)
  5. Watch the following films: Toy Story 3, Inception and The A Team

Social

  1. Organise an outing for me and my friends...possibly a picnic in the park (weather permitting!)
  2. Watch "The Blues Brothers" and "Stand by Me" at Spinningfields with friends.
  3. Reconnect with at least five old friends via Facebook
  4. Be in contact with every member of my circle of friends at some point this month (This may sound like an odd one, but as I have quite a large group of friends it's rare that we're all in the same place at the same time, and I don't always make the effort to be in touch with them outside those occasions.)

Professional

  1. Investigate job opportunities outside of teaching.
  2. Find out more about becoming an Avon representative.

Mind and Body

  1. Give myself a girly pamper day (do my hair and nails, use a face mask, have a long Lush bath etc)
  2. Do at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week
  3. Take a day out to be a tourist in a city of my choice
  4. Investigate evening classes or online courses (with the aim of taking at least one in September)
  5. Donate blood
  6. Sort out my room once and for all
  7. Clear out my wardrobes and drawers
  8. Blog every day throughout the month
  9. Book my driving practical test (I wasn't really sure where to put the last 4 items so I thought this section was as good as any!!)

And there we have it! Some of the goals may seem a little frivolous, but as I mentioned at the start, I'm aiming to do things that will fulfil me on a variety of levels, not just at the deepest one. And as one of my goals is to blog every day, I'll be documenting my progress throughout this project, with lots of details on what I've done, and I'll also be crossing off the goals on the list as I go, of course!! But rest assured, I'm not only going to be blogging about "Operation August", there'll be other things in the mix too. I'm planning on bringing back "What's in my Wardrobe Wednesday" with a bang, there'll be weekend updates and "Highs and Lows" posts and as I'm trying to grow my blog at the mo, I'm going to get involved with other bloggers' themed days too!

And that's all from day 1 of Operation August. Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 2, when I'm hopefully going to be blogging about something new (to me), that I think is an absolutely fabulous idea!! Till then...

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Enough is enough!!

Ok, I've had just about enough. Just about enough of doing nothing, that is!! I've been off work since last Friday, and I've spent the majority of my time since then just sitting or pottering around, with most days just melting seamlessly into each other because they're all the same!! Now to be fair, I've spent the last few of them trying to shake off a cold which hasn't exactly left me feeling 100%, but still my laziness and lack of motivation does leave a lot to be desired!! Should I watch a DVD? No, I can't be bothered. Should I do some blogging? No, I can't be bothered. Should I do anything other than sitting on my bottom for the entire day?? No, because I really can't be bothered. And it's stupid. Stupid for 2 main reasons. One, when I eventually do these things, I really enjoy them...blogging, for example, or at least feel pleased that I've met a goal...e.g. updating my CV and registering my interest in working at the BBC( finally completed today...woohoo!!). And secondly, if I never do anything, I'm never going to get anywhere with my life. My mind and body and soul will just stagnate. I'll never find the job that suits me down to the ground. I'll never find new favourite films and books and TV series that I can lose myself in over and over and over again. I'll never discover places and things and people that could inspire me more than anything. There'll never be a way to find that person that I actually want spend to my life with, the one with whom my baggage will not be an issue, because my love for him will outweigh my nostalgia for the past and the wishes of that one treacherous corner of my heart for the man I loved at 18 to be the one. It seems like a pretty hefty price to pay simply because I couldn't be bothered!! So from now on, I'm going to seize each day, and with August beginning tomorrow it's perfect timing. Because I've got a whole month to use. A whole month to get out and do things, go places, meet new people and discover new opportunities. And alongside this I'm going to have some mini goals for the month, which I'm going to share in tomorrow's post. And tomorrow's post is going to be the first of many because one of my goals is going to be to blog every day in August because if I'm going to be keeping busy, I'll have much more to blog about,right?! But that's all you're getting for now...just a taster as I begin my journey to creating the me, and the life, I want.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

I love drama...but only the theatrical kind!!

As a bit of a frustrated performer, two of my major interests are acting and singing, and over the past 2 years, I've been lucky enough to find an outlet for these by being a member of a local stage society. During that time, I've performed in musical revues and pantomimes and I've loved almost every minute of it!! Despite the fact that I sometimes bitch and moan about the shows we do and even though some rehearsals are deathly dull due to the fact that we repeat the same section of the show over and over and over, I wouldn't miss any of them for the world!! Coming off the back of my latest show (a musical revue that we performed over the past 2 weekends to sell out audiences each night!!), I've realised how fantastic the group is and why I'm so lucky to be a part of it! Here's just some of my reasons:

  1. Friendship and support

One of the most fantastic things about the stage society is how it brings people together, so we're not just acquaintances with a common interest, we're friends. Friends who've added each other on Facebook and follow each other on Twitter. Friends who get invited to each other's birthday parties and anniversary celebrations. Friends who are willing to open their houses to the entire society so that we can enjoy amazing after show parties!! People who enjoy spending time with each other so much that they organise social events outside rehearsal periods so that everyone has a chance to catch up on all the latest gossip! But it's not just about the social side; the going out and having fun. It's also about the support we give to one another. During the last show, pretty much all you heard in the wings and ante rooms at the side of the stage was people congratulating others after their solos and dance spots or reassuring them and calming their nerves before they're due to go on stage. And at the end of a solo/duet/small group performance, as well as the applause from the audience, you'd also hear cast members clapping and cheering behind the curtains to show their appreciation. It may not be professional (or so I've been told) but I wouldn't have it any other way. And society members who aren't taking part often come and watch...I got a lovely Facebook message from one of them early last week, saying how much they enjoyed my solo performance and it was just overwhelming. But it's not just on show nights, whenever anyone has a problem or worry, you can pretty much rely on someone from the society to be there for them; asking them how things are because they genuinely care. And that's what I love so much.

2. Opening new horizons

Being a member of the stage society has truly broadened my horizons. Since joining I've sung all kinds of songs that I wouldn't even have listened to before and although they're not all to my taste, it's been a learning experience, to say the least!! And I've also met and got to know people of all ages, from all walks of life. People ranging from age 12 to their early 70s. People who are students, teachers, shop workers, retired. People who I wouldn't normally have the opprtunity, or maybe even the inclination to spend time with, but thanks to the society, I've got to know and like them!!

3. Confidence and self esteem

Maybe it's because I've met lots of new people. Maybe it's due to the fact that I've performed on stage and got pretty much nothing but positive feedback and applause in return. Whatever it is, I now find it much easier to talk to people, and even though my confidence has taken a knock due to the saga of my job hunting and my (very) mixed experiences on supply, I know that there are things that I'm good at and that some people think I'm fantastic just by being me!! And if all else fails, I can use my acting skills to (hopefully) ace a job interview sooner or later!!

4. A chance to be someone else/somewhere else

One of the things I love most about being on stage is the opportunity it gives me to be another pesron. Whilst this is more apparent in acting than in a song and dance show, it's still there regardless. When singing "Will you Still Love me Tomorrow", for example, I wasn't me, I was a confused, lovestruck girl wondering if, and hoping beyond hope that, the man she loved felt the same about her. And when I walk on stage, and the lights hit me, I'm somewhere else too. When acting in the past, I've been to 17th century New England, modern day London and a fairytale kingdom. My mind is free to explore another person's life in another place, and it can be a great escape, especially when real life isn't so good!

So there's my list. Drama has been one of the things I've enjoyed most over the last couple of yours and now I'm interested about you. What are your interests and hobbies? Are you a performer like me or are you a more backstage type of person? Are you into sport or a couch potato? Whatever it is, let me know!! 'Til next time...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

An end...but also a beginning

Yet another couple of weeks has gone by without me blogging, and again I can't believe how long it's actually been since my last post!! I can attribute my absence to two main factors: one, I've been actually rather busy with work the last couple of weeks (it's been quite a surprise given how late on in the school year it is) and two, I've had all kinds of mixed up thoughts, feelings and emotions running through my head lately, and I've not really known how to put them down on 'paper', especially as my mood has been very changeable of late. But now I've come to a decision, albeit a very vague one, I feel it's time to break my silence.

And so to the title of this post...in many ways, I'm currently facing the end of a chapter in my life story. As I've mentioned, it's very nearly the end of the school year. And as things stand, the end of the school year will also bring my time as a supply teacher to a close. Due to circumstances beyond my control (a ridiculous government ruling), newly qualified teachers i.e. me, can only do short term supply for 16 months before completing their induction period (a year/3 terms where NQTs have to demonstrate they meet certain standards and are supported by a teacher mentor at their school). After your 16 months is up (it starts counting down from the very first day you work on short term supply, and doesn't stop...even if you don't work as a supply teacher after that initial day, your 16 months would be up at the same time as someone who had done supply for the duration!!), that's it! No more short term supply (anything less than a term) until your induction's in the bag!! And this puts me in a really tricky position...basically to give you a potted work history, I qualified in June '07, and started doing short term supply from the September of that year. I covered a maternity leave from May to December of 2008, thereby completing a term of my induction, and have been doing short term supply ever since. I found out about the 16 month ruling in September of last year (it's been around for a while but is very rarely flagged up to anyone; I only found out by complete chance), and was able to secure a 3 term extension taking me up to now. Now where I have been unable to secure a long term/permanent teaching post that would let me finish my induction. Now where my teaching career appears to be at an end, momentarily at least. I know that supply teaching wasn't the job I would have chosen in an ideal world...I've been longing for my own classroom and I know that I've definitely had more bad than good experiences of the supply teaching world, but I'm still angry that my teaching career's being taken out of my hands through no fault of my own and there's nothing that I can do about it!!

But with an end also comes a beginning. This hiatus in my teaching means that I'm free to try new things although, for a while, I was at a loss to exactly what they were. Should I try and get a permanent teaching assistant job as the next best thing to teaching? Find some temping work unrelated to teaching? Embark on an altogether new career path by applying for full time jobs outside the education sector (or at least outside school settings)? Go back to uni and work part time to help support myself in the meantime? I considered all of these and more, and have recently come to a decision. My new beginning is hopefully going to be working as a teaching assistant on a supply basis. This has the advantage of still enabling me to work with children, without having all the responsibilty and stress that comes with being a teacher, and it will hopefully allow me to gain more experience of working in the EYFS with the youngest children in the primary age range (3-5 year olds); this is one area I'm currently lacking in and I'm keen to do something about it! Plus I'll still have the flexibility I've come to really value on supply so if I need a day off or get offered a long term post elsewhere I'll be able to take it wothout feeling I'm letting anyone down. Of course, there will also be disadvantages. Pay won't be as good; I'll probably have to work a full week to earn the same wage I'd get for 2 or 3 days of supply teaching, and there's no guarantee that work will be available all the time. Also I'm preparing myself for some awkward questions: Why am I doing TA work when I'm a qualified teacher? How come I've not been able to finish my induction yet when I've been qualified for 3 years? But these are things I'm just going to have to live with. I'm still planning to carry on applying for teaching jobs as I have been doing over the past 18 months so nothing's really changed in that respect, I'll just be filling out slightly different details in the "current employment" box on my applications!! At the moment, I've got a vague idea of giving things another year, but I suppose I'll just wait and see what happens between now and then.

But maybe thinking about September before the school year's even out might be a little premature. After all, there's the summer to think of first. A summer that I plan to spend sleeping in, reading, seeing friends and spending alone time, soaking up the sun (hopefully!), getting out and about but also having some time at home. Time that I'll dedicate to me. Not in a selfish way, but in a useful way. Time that I'll use to plan for the future, time where I can hopefully begin to discover what really makes me tick. At the minute, new ideas are popping up on a regular basis! I'm considering becoming an Avon representative, and am also interested in finding other ways of earning some extra money. Who knows, I might even find something I love so much, I'll know exactly where my future lies! But whether I do or not, I know that I'll have a good summer nonetheless. So here's to a well deserved break (if I do say so myself!!) To happy(ish) endings and new beginnings...I'm going to do my best to make the most of each and every one of them!!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Searching for Inspiration

Over the past 2 weeks, I've been pretty much silent on the blogging front...I've kept up with the blogs I follow (to a degree anyway!) and commented on a few, but in terms of posting there's been nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch...I think you get the idea!! Now part of me had put this down to being busy and having other more "important" things to do, but a larger part had thought that I may have lost my inspiration...because even when I do sit down to blog, half the time I just can't think of what to write so I abandon the idea. I've toyed with the idea of introducing more themed days to make things easier on me, and also to hopefully help make the blog more interesting as it would be updated more regularly, but something has held me back. I think what that boils down to is that ideally I want the freedom to write about whatever I want whenever I want to, without worrying that I'm going to upset the pattern and routine of my posts if I do so. But as I started to ponder where my inspiration might have gone, I realised that it actually wasn't lacking at all. It was still there; what had disappeared, however, was my motivation. Take this example, for instance: I have an ever growing list of blog posts that I'm intending to write, some of them weeks or even months old. Amy and I went on our town hall tour in April, but the post I wanted to write is still pending. We've had our new kitten for around 2 months, and there are still no pictures of him on here! You see what I'm getting at?! And I think my problem with these is their lack of relevancy...the ideas have been around for so long they just don't seem meaningful any more!!

And relevancy and meaning brings me onto my second proof that I can still be inspired...my morning scribbles. If I'm not prebooked on a given day, once I've had my breakfast and got myself ready, I sit and wait for a call that might not even come. Sitting and waiting isn't quite all I do, however, as that would drive me crazy very quickly. I used to read while I waited, now I write. And I write whatever comes into my head. Often it's lists; to-do lists for the day/week/weekend ahead, lists of blog posts like the ones I mentioned before. Lists that I don't often stick to, but that are somehow comforting as they give order and structure to my semi chaos. But lately, my writing is increasingly likely to be a full blown piece. Something that I'm intending to post on my blog but, inevitably, by the time I get round to doing so, it's lost its urgency and immediacy, its meaningfulness and relevance, so I shelve it and stare at the computer screen instead, racking my brains for a viable alternative. The bulk of this post actually comes from one such example...I wrote it on Monday morning, and looking at my original draft, I got to this point at 8:35 lol!! But although it's taken me almost a week to post, and it isn't quite in its original, first draft, state, I was determined not to let this piece go the way of the others.

So I'm posting this, mainly because mornings are when I find my true inspiration. For me, it seems the desire to fill those dangerous moments between the possibility of a stressful, last-minute dash to work and the (almost) certain knowledge that I'll no longer get an early morning call at such a late stage, has led to something unexpected. My tension seems to breed creativity. I get an urge to write...and I don't want to stop writing until the clock strikes 9 and I'm safe from stress and uncertainty. So out of my cloud, that situation I absolutely hate has come my silver lining...I've found that I can produce writing that's true and honest and straight from my heart. Writing that has meaning and urgency...words that I have to say now as I simply can't keep quiet any longer, even if I haven't realised it before I put pen to paper. So it's those tricky mornings that are, surprisingly, proving to be my inspiration, and I'd like to know...where and when do you find yours??