Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Getting into the Festive Spirit

Slowly but surely I think the season is starting to creep up on me.

This month week has been a busy one.

The world as I know it normally stopped for the non-stop action that Christmas double editions. Festive films, spiced orange mocha breaks and thank yous that taste like chocolate, I find those are the best ones!

One thing about driving home when it's late you get to see all the Christmas lights in all their glory.

This year the husband is chief decorator, and I can almost say the festive season is feeling a bit ill and has been sick all over our tree!

I'm putting my few minutes of down time to good use and planning next month's posts. I am determined to get organised. Yes I know I say this every year.

All the presents have been bought, they still need wrapping - and in some cases delivering. The cards still need to be written... I'm so bad at doing cards. Sorry family who live away, I haven't the foggiest clue where I wrote your addresses down. But be safe in the knowledge that I'm thinking of you!

One more week of this manic production in the office and I will again be able to breathe a breath of TV Lisitings relief, that is until Easter!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

January: I Want List

I've put a self-imposed spending ban on unnecessary items for the next few months. Could you almost call it a spending diet. 

This doesn't take away the urge to window shop. 

So far Winter hasn't really hit here in the East Riding, and it is still positively mild. I was still walking to work without a coat right up until Christmas it has been that unseasonal. With this in mind my eye is looking to Spring-like items. 

From Yours Clothing

How gorgeous is this Navy and White Block Stripe Skater Dress from Yours Clothing? It is coming soon, and at £35 I wouldn't want to miss it. There is a keyhole neckline to break the eye up, but without showing too much cleavage. I'd even be tempted to give this a go in the office, or for an event, Christening or Wedding perhaps. Add a pair of red heels and a clutch. Jobs a good un. 

from Office
From Dorothy Perkins

Then I'm also thinking of some casual wear. I'm drawn to vest tops and indigo jeans with a plethora of scarfs. 

Lately there have been some fabulous options on Keep an eye out as their stock sells out fast, but equally quickly new items also arrive. 

I already have this number. 

I just need to find a non-greying white vest to wear it with!

This Gothic Skull Scarf is also rather eye-catching at £13

Now all I have to do is avoid the shops... and unlink my cards from paypal. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Free For All Friday: How to talk to new people

In the spirit of my Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calender I thought I would compile a list of ways to start a conversation with a stranger.

Obviously, you don't want to go around grinning and looking like the crazy person off the bus just walking up to random folk on the street. But sometimes a few words to someone in the shop, or queue at the bank is enough to brighten their day.

You will never truly know what is happening in someone else's life and just a few kind words could be enough to turn their day around. Sometimes even just a smile will do.

1. In a queue?: I love your scarf/hat/bag, where did you get it? a great one for starters.

2. In a book shop: Have you read this? Is it any good?

3. A bright and breezy 'hello' with a smile does wonders.

4. Don't worry about what the outcome may be. It really doesn't matter, but reaching out to new people is never a bad experience.

5. Try and make a person laugh. I'm not talking about a full on comedy routine with added slapstick. But if something goes horribly wrong

6. Find out if you have anything in common. So many people have similar hobbies that you would never normally place together but that one thing is what binds them.

7. Swallow your pride and just go for it. If you don't try you don't know.

8. Don't forget to make eye contact. You will be able to tell how receptive a person may be to your 'advances'.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Bobble Hat Day

Next Wednesday (10th December 2014) is NSPCC's Bobble Hat Day. 

An event to raise money for the NSPCC and their Childline service over Christmas. 

So the NSPCC, obviously must have had a hands in the weather turning so cold so fast!, have come up with the idea of grabbing a wooly hat and meeting up with pals for a festive fundraiser. 

If sponsorship isn't your 'thing' you can buy hats that give a donation to the charity from Tesco stores. 

So in the spirit of bobble hats, I thought I'd show you my new favourite winter hat from Cherry Diva and the best of the rest. Sadly the double pom pom hat is now Sold out.

Christmas Pudding Hat - Tesco £4


Santa Pom Pom Beanie - Tesco £5 and a percentage goes to FareShare Food Bank. 

Neon Beanie Hat - Asda £5

Striped Pom Pom Beanie Hat - Matalan £6

Snowman Hat - Matalan £5

Stars and Stripes Bobble Hat - Cherry Diva £9.50

Keep your ears nice and snuggly warm this winter, and drop £2 into the NSPCC pot by texting BOBBLE to 70744 and posting a bobble hat photo on Twitter using the hashtag #BOBBLEHATDAY

Monday, 1 December 2014

I Hate Christmas

It's true, I do. 

I hate Christmas. 

Yes, I am aware that this makes me sound very Bah! Humbugish, and puts me on a list with Scrooge McDuck. However, let me elaborate. 

I hate what Christmas has become. 

I hate that there is so much commercially created bits and pieces. I hate that it has become about the gifts and not about the message. 

I hate that we, as a generation, have become obsessed by the frivolities and the expense. That people feel pressured to spend, spend, spend to make their Christmas complete. 

I was brought up in a Christian home, by a single mum with very little spare cash. She worked hard to get me what I wanted. The year I got a pair of roller boots is still my favourite Christmas. 

That was it. My biggest Christmas present... and I was beyond happy. 

She worked right up until mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve. I would be at my Grandparent's house putting up and decorating their tree. Sticking the cardboard angel with tinselly bits to the mirror and cutting a switch of holly from the bush in the garden to put over the fireplace. 

Presents were wrapped all together. With a hot drink and a festive film. 

As I got older I started to go to Midnight Mass. It is still one of the most magical services in the church calendar for me. As the soprano leads the procession in singing Once in Royal David's City. 

Then Mum got a new job as a prison officer, and started to work on Christmas Day. So those other officers who had small families could be at home with their children. I did the same in my jobs too. I worked the nasty shifts. They were busy and grimy - particularly the Eves when I was partaking in bar and restaurant work.

Many things have happened over the years that have shook my faith. I'm not agnostic or an atheist. I do believe that there is something. I also believe that this is part of the human condition. We look and search for something bigger than ourselves. I don't think we want to know that this is it. We are alone. 

Since I've been a parent, I find the day itself is really stressful. Juggling the excitement of the boys, with everything else. Trying to make everything perfect. It is a thankless task. I married an atheist, and the boys are starting to lose their believe in the magic of Christmas. 

I don't hate everything about Christmas. I fully embrace festive mugs and decorations. I adore Christmas songs and films. I'm even onboard for seasonal foods. There is something about them that makes winter magical. 

It's the magic of Christmas I think is now missing. The I want for Christmas is so strong. I remember in my Religious Studies exam there was a cartoon about Christmas that we had to discuss. The banner across a bustling town centre read 'Hosannah Christmas in the High st'. A sad reflection even 20 years ago on how commercial the season had become. 

So this year I have 2 advent calendars on the go. One is candles, the other I shared on here last week. My Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. I'm hoping that this year by making a concerted effort to embrace what I believe to be the true meaning of Christmas that I can hold on to the magic a bit longer and show my boys that it is a magical time for families and thinking of other people.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Frugal Friday: Christmas Stocking Fillers For Under £5

Today I've put together a quick gallery of fun, pretty and cheap gifts or stocking fillers. If any of them found their way under my tree I wouldn't be unhappy! 

I hope the boys at home are paying attention. 

Wooden 'Follow Your Dreams' Plaque - £3

Available from Matalan online and in store

Beauty Boutique Duo Bag - £5

Available from Asda online and in store

George Red Christmas Mug - £2

Available from Asda online and in store
GWR Chopstick Challenge - £5

Available from Wilkos online and in store

Barely Bath Pearl Bauble - £1

Available from Wilkos online and in store

Reindeer Sweater Necklace - £3

Available from Cherry Diva

The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas by McBusted's Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter - £4

Available from Amazon and other good bookstores

Moustache Nail File - £2

Available at Boots online and in selected stores

Yankie Candle Gift Box - £2.99

Available at Boots online and in selected stores

NPW Chubby Glitter Stick in Silver - £4

Available at Boots online and in selected stores

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Random Acts of Kindness for Christmas

This year I thought for Advent I would do something a little different. 

So I have decided that for each day of Advent I will do something that will spread the Christmas cheer and benefit other people.

I know that I have mentioned before that I work incredibly hard and for long hours over December to make sure that magazines and newspapers are printed in time for the festive period. You know those TV pages that seem to come round earlier each year? Yep, some of that is me. 

For the children I have found a list of ideas of Christmas activities. With a mix different ideas for good turns and festive crafty bits too. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

What BeeBee Made: Cheat's Flapjack

Sometimes you need something sweet, but you just don't feel like baking. This is perfect for those moments. There are just 3 ingredients, I don't think anything except rice krispie treats could be easier.

350g museli
130g butter
130g dairy toffees

Over a low heat in a medium-size pan melt the butter and toffees.

Remove from heat and mix well to combine. Add the museli and stir well.

Add the sticky mixture to a lined square cake tin (or brownie pan) and press down well (I line with extra strong foil - minimal washing up!).

Leave the flapjack to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Cut into 12 fingers and serve.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

What BeeBee Wants: The ShoeZone Want List

It's that time of year again. The weather is turning and my office are heading into a month long casual clothing frenzy. 

Here in rural East Yorkshire we have been getting off quite lightly weather wise this year. I'm obviously not including the floods that got my home town media coverage and it's own floodwatch account on Facebook! 

I've only broken my coat out for work this week. The last week in November! It has been crazy warm, even in the office (again not something I'm used to as until recently I sat in sub-zero like conditions).

So, as a person with giant man-sized feet I have few outlets for reasonably priced seasonal fashion shoes. I don't always want to pay over the odds for a party shoe I know I'll only wear a handful (footful?) of times. 

And as you all know I also have a habit of getting bored, very quickly, with most things. So here are a few of my favourite titbits from Shoe Zone. All available in Size 9!!!!

I have my eye on these as a walking to the office in comfort-type boot. In the last few years boots that have been inspired by the Ugg/Emu trend have been massive, however the soles haven't been upto much. Leading to wet feet and a lean on! This firm soul with grips look like they could over come the leaf mulch on the paths quiet nicely and not shy away from a puddle or two. 

I love a good canvas shoe. However, I don't always want to wear high tops. This will match perfectly with my black jeans and Xmas jumpers/t-shirts I have for the office and other casual events next month. 

These are my go to style for a party shoe. At 5'11" I don't need the extra added height, and when you spend most of the night on the dance floor why not do it in comfort! I would pair this with either a green dress or a spangly bag for the party season. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Doing Things For Me

It has taken it's time, but I am finally feeling more able to do things for me.

My whole life I have put myself way down the line of things that need my attention. 

This blog does help in a small way. 

Saying that much of what I do for myself, entails me doing things for other people. 

Being able to step outside of being a mum or even an office worker (and the office I work in is not the most normal of places).

This time of year can become all consuming. Christmas is the busiest time of the year in my office without a shadow of a doubt. We work at an accelerated rate from October and through November, then once December arrives overtime is here too.

God bless newspapers and magazines and all those who read them.

Then there is home. Christmas with 2 kids, in the same play, in the same school. Who, just for a change want different things.

So right now, just for a change, I'm doing things for me. I went to that Casino Night event. I embraced the terror of going to Leeds on a train on my own, and the nerves accompanied with going to an event on my own.

I have a couple of Christmas crafty courses coming up. I have started a Crafty Coffee Morning so people can come for a coffee and bring their knitting or crochet or quilling... I think you get the gist. As a project it's only new, but hopefully month after month it will pick up in popularity.

A perfect opportunity to have a cuppa, a chat and enjoy some crafts. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bullying, Body Shaming and Trolls

I will put my hands up now and say I have never watched TOWIE, nor have I seen any of this series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

I do, however, need to keep up with who is in them for my day job. 

Since the rumours of Gemma Collins entering the jungle started there has been some awful things written about her. Both by professionals looking to shock and by the public looking to be noticed. By the time she entered the Jungle they were deafening and hard to ignore.

Why do people think it's okay to shout, type and publish abuse purely based on someone's appearance? 

I don't know Ms Collins, but from the bits that I have read she's not the happiest of bunnies. Nor is she the most secure within herself. Putting herself in a position to be watched 24/7 was a brave one, just  not a position she had thought through entirely. I doubt it was the cameras being on her that created her decision to leave within 3 days of the programme starting, as Gemma would already be used to cameras following her, so much as being worn down by circumstance. 

Gemma has also been vilified for that most heinous of crimes; being hungry, and talking about it, with her other contestants. She is very much a glamour puss. Likes to look just so. This, in my opinion, is like a mask or a disguise. Something she can control and hide behind. 

In the jungle this bit of her has been torn away. 

Before she flew off to Australia she did an interview with Closer magazine, in which she described being shouted at down the street, or when she was driving her car. She wanted this experience to change people's perception of her. 

Speaking to Closer before the launch she said: ‘I was meant to lose weight before I went in the jungle, but I couldn’t stop eating, so losing weight once I am in there will be great!’ 


“I’d certainly consider having a holiday romance. Why not? I’m a single girl.”  

Gemma also seemed to think that the magic key would have been to lose a significant amount of weight  while she was on camera. Here I think was her main crux. She is obviously not happy within herself. 

“Hopefully I’ll walk out of the jungle in three weeks’ time with my head sorted out, my heart repaired and I’ll be 3st lighter. I’d be so happy.”

I don't know what type of 'sorting' out she would be able to get emotionally, and I doubt that she expected to be banished to the 'Celebrity Slammer' either. 

Less we forget, this is not a hardened adventurer or a scout/guide. Gemma is a boutique owner and a clothing designer (who has some lovely ranges). She was never going to just sail by. And the timing of the series for her personally was really bad. 

All this being said it is never right to abuse someone for how they look. Whether they be tall, short, fat, thin, top heavy, basically concave. It's just not right. If it was religion or the colour of a person's skin being vilified charges would probably be being brought against those who shared their thoughts for hate crimes. 

I'm not on my high horse just because I am one of the groaning many who are unhealthily obese and much bigger than is recommended. I am though able to understand where this poor lady is right now. 

I have been in the street and been jeered at for daring to exercise. I have been accosted and touched up on night's out. Even on my wedding day a stranger came up to me and told me I should have lost weight for my wedding. She never even asked my name, or said congratulations. 

But it doesn't matter what size you are, when your favourite jeans don't fit you still get that pit of your stomach feeling. You begin to question what you have left that you can wear. The problem is when it is then expressed, frequently and publicly by strangers that what you already know begins to drag you down. 

Remember over all that every one in these new breeds of Reality TV are actually real people, no matter how cartooney and over-inflated and confident they appear on their show. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

What I Ate Wednesday

It's another busy week, and I'm finding it really difficult to get up in a morning. When time is precious I have a habit of reaching for a friend egg sandwich. Warm, full of protein and has a smattering of tomato sauce in there too. 

Lunch was homemade veggie chilli with wholegrain rice and a bit of cheese. (mmm cheese)
You can also see my diet coke habit is still in force. 

Throughout the day I have been drinking my current favourite coffee Ginger Bread by Beanies - I add half a tsp of brown sugar and a glug of milk for a perfect autumnal hot drink.

I spied this yesterday in the Co-Operative next to my office, mmm nutella choc dip. Yummy!

Tea is courtesy of my hubby, chicken curry and white long-grain rice. 

It's not been the healthiest day. But it has been a tasty one. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Stick or Twist

While I've been on hiatus and beavering away in more than one fashion, I was given the fabulous opportunity to learn how to play Roulette and Black Jack by the lovely people at bgo.

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I grabbed my bag, and camera is disappeared off to Leeds for the evening, at the White Cloth Gallery. I lovely little bar/event room near the train station. I'd have been happy to just wander round there for a couple of hours looking at the photographs on display.

No, that's not what I was there for. Along with a handful of other bloggers I was ushered into a gallery that they had turned into a casino for the evening. With two Black Jack tables and a Roulette wheel.

I was given a lesson in how to place bets, sheer luck when it comes to Roulette. However, if you put your chips on a single number the payout is greater than if you edge your bets and choose either 'red' or 'black' or top/middle/bottom third. I found the pace of this game slow. There was a lot of waiting around and there didn't seem to be much of a buzz. Although some people seemed to make a lot of money there very quickly.

I much preferred the Black Jack tables.

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There is a certain pace, I'm certain that there was something in the fact I got paired with a sarcastically funny dealer with quick wit and a questioning manner. Black Jack is practically the same game I played as a child with my grandfather, oddly often while mum was altering dresses for a croupiers at a casino in hull. I remember the dresses as long slinky black numbers with a diamante encrusted diamond at the cleavage. It made me think that all casinos were glamorous places filled with the beautiful people.

Never did it occur to me that those inside the casinos would be playing 21s/pontoon or whatever else it was called.

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There also appears to be a little bit more skill to Black Jack, being able to decide if you are going to risk what card is to be added to your waning hand. I must admit, when playing with someone else's money I did have a go big or go home attitude and had both big wins and big losses.

I can honestly see where the addiction part comes in.

It was a fantastic evening, and hope that I get to repeat it again. It was also nice to meet other bloggers from the Yorkshire region, albeit still a little bit distant from me in the little ol'east Riding.

I had to sneak off at the end of the night so missed who won the prizes. Again I'd like to thank bgo for a fantastic night, and for teaching me a new skill - and that I really am best avoiding the Roulette table at the Office Christmas Party!