Christmas

It’s Christmas! A Meme.

I’ve been tagged in a Christmas meme by My Mills Baby which involves answering all sorts of festive questions and I’m hoping it’ll put me into more of a season-appropriate mood, so here goes!:

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

When I was younger, I’d have said going out with friends and celebrating the festive period, but now I’m a Mum my favourite bit is the moment after Sausage wakes up. For a split second, she forgets it’s Christmas and it seems like waking up on any other day. Then the realisation kicks in and a look of excitement and happiness crosses her face and it makes every second of stress in the run up to Christmas 100% worth it.

What is your favourite make-up look for the festive season?

Probably fairly similar to my usual going-out look, smoky eyes, lots of mascara and clear gloss on the lips, but maybe with the addition of a bit more sparkle on my cheeks and eyes.

Real or Fake trees?

I know a lot of people will disagree with me here, but I like fake trees. I kind of hate the way we chop down beautiful trees just to put them in a pot in our front room for a couple of weeks, then thrown them out. I’d much rather see real trees growing outside. As a kid, my family always did fake trees too, so there’s something about the smell of a fake tree coming out of the loft that is so quintessentially Christmassy for me. Plus, sod hoovering up all those fallen needles!

Giving or receiving presents?

This is a difficult one for me to answer because I much prefer giving but it also sends me into a state of heightened anxiety so it’s not all that straight-forward! I’m both blessed and cursed with a Husband who is amazing at buying gifts, in previous years he’s remembered me mentioning that I want something around the beginning of August and actually bought it for me as a Christmas gift, which is pretty good going! On the flip-side of that, it’s a stark contrast against my frankly appalling gift-buying skills, so it just makes me worry about getting it wrong for everyone each year!

Do you open your presents in the morning or evening?

MORNING! Do people really wait until the evening to open their presents? If they do, I’ve never met them and I don’t know if I want to – surely anyone who can be that restrained on Christmas Day takes life FAR too seriously?! In fact, one side of Husband’s family is part German and they do most of the gift giving on Christmas Eve, which suits my impatience even better!

It’s A Wonderful Life

What’s your favourite Christmas film?

Oh gosh, well ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was introduced to be by Husband about 6 years ago and we’ve watched it every year since as we both adore it, so that’s my absolute fave. In fact, Husband and I have said on many an occassion that we’d love to move to Bedford Falls! But actually, I love MOST Christmas films, I even sit and watch the tacky made-for-American-TV ones that they show on Xmas24. Anything set in New York goes down a particular treat too as it’s been a dream of mine to spend Christmas in NYC pretty much my whole life.

What is your favourite Christmas food?

Hmm, that’s a toughie, we all know how much I love my food! Roast dinner is one of my favourite meals at the best of times, so obviously the whole Christmas dinner is high on my list, and actually I’m one of those people who really likes turkey and thinks it’s a very underrated meat. A very close second, or possibly a draw is Christmas Day supper though. We usually spend Christmas Day with Husband’s family who will put out cold cuts of meat, pickles, crackers, smoked salmon, cheeses, homemade pickled onions, all sorts of delights and we all just tuck in and help ourselves round a big table. It’s lovely!

So, now I have to tag three other bloggers, but I’m cheating and tagging four!:

Jamillah at Bare Beginnings

Lauren at The Wonderful Adventures of Spud and Spike

Paul at I’m Well Confused, Me (maybe you could sub the make-up question out for a ‘What’s your favourite thing to wear on Christmas Day’?!)

And Mummy Barrow at Mummy Barrow!

Good luck and godspeed!

Christmas · Review

Handmade Christmas – Stamped Gift Tags

Last year, just before Christmas, I spent an inordinate amount of time on Etsy, looking at all of the lovely rubber stamps and wishing I was crafty enough to make some handmade Christmas cards. Well, this year, I thought “That’s it, I’M DOING IT!”, so I’ve thrown caution to the wind and indulged my fantasies. Luckily for me, the lovely Blossom Stamps and The English Stamp Company were kind enough to send me some samples of their wares. Here’s what we did with them (click on one of the photos to open a gallery where you can see the photos up close. Loving the new features, by the way, WordPress!):

All we used were some blank cardboard tags, some metallic felt pens, our rubber stamps and ink pads and some glitter glue, all of which, other than the stamps, we had lying around the house (mainly raided from Sausage’s art supplies!). I had had lofty plans of using the stamps to make both my Christmas cards and wrapping paper, but I’m not sure if time will permit this year as I’ve had Sausage home from school for four days now, having been very poorly. However, I think the tags will make a really nice handmade adornment to our wrapped gifts and I’m sure I’ll find ways to use them on other things in the next couple of weeks.

If I were more organised, I’d have like to have made handmade gifts too, but it’s just not worked out that way. Here’s to next year…!

(If I do make anything else with my lovely stamps, I’ll be sure to post about it and let you know)

Review

UGG Slippers – Like a (H)Ugg for Your Feet

Did you see what I did there?! FNAR FNAR! 

Husband and I have a long running disagreement. He’s always telling me that I should buy clothes which are slightly more expensive and better quality and would therefore last longer. I tell him that I like the tremendous sense of value I get when I go into a cheap shop and buy 5 t-shirts, two pairs of trousers, a cardigan and a pair of pyjamas, all for the price of one pair of Levis. And besides, with the amount of ketchup I spill down my front, my clothes end up stained before they wear out properly anyway, so it matters not whether they’re cheap or not, the fact is; I’m a sloppy moo.

By this token, if you’d asked me if I’d ever spend £100 on a pair of slippers, I’d probably tell you to jog on…until today. For today is the day that these arrived:

My beautiful new UGG slippers. Apologies for the slightly awkwardly shot photo, but I had trouble taking it on account of the fact that I’m NEVER TAKING THESE OFF. When the box arrived, I opened it up and was astounded by the plushness (yes, that IS a word…honest) of the inners, it didn’t look like my feet would even fit inside, but I removed the cardboard and slipped them on. OH MAMA. I can honestly say that these are the most comfortable thing I’ve ever put my feet inside.

They couldn’t have turned up at a better time either, we’ve had the heating off for a few days as Sausage’s temperature has been so high and I’m a cold-body at the best of times, so my feet were starting to feel like little icebergs. Not any more. Such cosiness they’ve never known! They look absolutely gorgeous too, the ones I’m wearing in the picture above are also available in a purpley colour, which are totally lush.

 I know a lot of people will reel at the idea of spending £100 on a pair of slippers but I commented to someone on Twitter that I can imagine these slippers lasting about 10 years, so when you think of them as an investment like that, £100 isn’t really that much. Sure, I got these for free to review, but now I know the quality of them I can honestly say that even I would save up the money and buy myself a pair of these anyway.

If you have a woman in your life who you love, or even mildly like, and want an idea of what to get her for Chrimbo, get her a pair of these. Trust me, she’ll thank you for it!

(I also love the fact that they’re currently selling pink, limited edition moccasins to raise money for Breast Cancer charity The Haven with £10 from every pair sold being donated.)

Anger

Feeling Rather Used…

So, you may remember last month, I wrote THIS post about an interview I went for? The job was as an Assistant Road Safety Officer for Southend on Sea Borough Council and the interview was a two-part process. I had to answer various questions and do the usual interview bit and then I had to do a ‘practical exercise’ and give a presentation on the following brief:

Drinking and driving is a major concern and high profile campaigns are regularly run to educate drivers of the danger. Despite this, road accidents involving alcohol remain high.

Many drivers are fully aware of the risks from drinking and driving and choose alternative transport when going home but are unaware that their alcohol levels are very likely to affect their driving ability the next morning.

How would you promote an awareness of this issue ? Be prepared to have a short discussion on your ideas for educating drivers including any slogans, events and publicity.

I spent quite a while preparing for this part of the interview and came up with a ton of ideas and even produced a mock-up poster that the Council could use for their hypothetical campaign. I uploaded the poster to my Google Drive account and showed the interviewers on my iPhone, hoping that saving paper and being tech savvy would earn me a couple of extra Brownie points in the process. This is the poster:

I went to great lengths to talk about how, when it comes to drink driving awareness there wasn’t any need to show smashed up cars and gore, that everyone in the country knew what flowers on a lamppost or by the side of a road meant and that it could provide far more stark and striking imagery than anything that’s too in-your-face and shocking.

I didn’t get the job, as you’ll know if you read the previous post, and I was pretty cut up about it, especially as the interviewers had congratulated me on how well I’d done and asked what my start availability was like. Then, yesterday, the local free paper dropped through my door. This was on the front cover:

A lovely Christmas infomercial, dominating the entire front page, using my ideas and imagery pretty much verbatim.

So, I wasn’t good enough to do the job I applied and interviewed for, but I was good enough to have my ideas stolen from me and used in a Borough-wide Drink Driving campaign by the Road Safety Team, the ones who’d rejected me.

When I opened the folded paper, I was really shocked. Then I felt mind-bubblingly angry. Now? I feel completely used. This is the second time this year that I’ve applied for a job with a creative aspect and had my ideas used, despite not getting the jobs. Is this really how things work? People do a recruitment drive with a creative assignment attached to the process and then just use the ideas for free? Is this how our Council is saving money, by stealing advertising instead of commissioning it?

I’m sure I don’t have a leg to stand on, in terms of the legalities of it. The only proof I have that this was my idea is the uploaded file to my Google Drive account, showing the date I saved it and a Facebook conversation where I shared my ideas with some friends in a private group, but I’m not clued up enough on intellectual property to even know if this makes a difference.

Either way, I feel totally used and let down. And STILL without a job. No thanks to Southend Borough Council.

Oh well, if I’ve learned anything it’s that I DO have some good ideas after all…

Christmas · Parenting · Review

What to Buy The Kid Who Has Everything! – Bean Bag Bazaar Review

This year, Christmas present buying hasn’t been quite so simple. Sausage is getting older now and is at a bit of an in-betweeny phase – lots of stuff seems either too young or too old for her and she has quite a lot of everything already. Plus, don’t you find that you spend a few months caching ideas of what to get your kids for Christmas, only to be asked by lots of relatives what they’d like and you end up giving all of your ideas away?!

One thing that has saved us a bit, in terms of ideas, is that we’re giving Sausage’s bedroom a bit of a makeover to bring it up to her new ‘big-girl-who-goes-to-school-now’ standards so we’ve been thinking of things that we can get her to make it into her very own girl-cave! For one of her big presents, we’ll be getting her her first TV so that she can watch her DVDs in her room and have her Wii console in there too. We had wanted to get her a small armchair to go in there too but all of the ones we liked were astronomically priced, so we looked at beanbags instead and found Bean Bag Bazaar.

Bean Bag Bazaar doesn’t just cater for kids, they sell bean bags for adults too for both indoor and outdoor use, bean bags which are ideal for gaming and some beautiful kids ones to boot. They also have a range of Jacqueline Wilson bean bags which are brightly coloured and perfect for a reading corner or a spot of TV watching, and we’ve been lucky enough to be sent one to review.

The one we chose was the Jacqueline Wilson™ Kids Classic Bean Bag – Bookshelf (£49.99 pictured above) and although we’ve put it away for Sausage to have at Christmas, Husband and I have given it a through once-over and the quality is really very high. The material that the bag is made of is not only bright and beautiful but feels incredibly hard-wearing too and I can imagine it taking a real battering without any problems! The blurb on the site says:

“This Jacqueline Wilson™  style bean bag is officially designed by BeanBagBazaar. It has a pretty bookshelf print and is the perfect accompaniment to the latest Jacqueline Wilson™ book. It is made from strong and sturdy water-resistant fabric and features double zips, to keep all beans secure inside the beanbag.”

It’s suitable for ages 3-10 and the he best part about the beanbag is that it can be used indoors and outdoors, which means it will be perfect for Sausage to sit on in the garden and read her books or do some drawing when the weather starts to improve. We can even imagine taking it camping or to the beach in the summer as a handy seat too!

If you’ve got a kid who’s hard to buy for, I can highly recommend any of the Jacqueline Wilson range and judging by the quality of this beanbag, the rest of the ones on the site would be a great buy too! Oh and all kids beanbags are buy one get one half price at the moment. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up from The Crammonds!