Saturday, 31 December 2016

16 things about 2016

This annual round up thing is a bit of a tradition now, but the trouble is that the years keep increasing! Maybe by 2020 I'll just stick at 20 and go no further. 2020, sheesh, that is hard to imagine! For this year we're sticking at 16. Here goes, it's a (very!) long one so I'd make a cuppa or something! 2016, take it away! 

1. I'm going to charge right in with holidays. Woop! I love holidays the best. This year we managed to have 3 which was brilliant! We spent one glorious week in Northumberland, another glorious week in the Lake District, and then we squeezed in a cheeky long weekend in November in Northumberland again. So many adventures, so many good times, glorious blue skies (even in November!) and lots and lots of fun. We have big plans for 2017 and I already can't wait! Just have to see how the Bobster gets on at his first overnight boarding before we proceed with the planning stage...


A brilliant day at Kielder Water in Northumberland: May

Beautiful Lake Windermere: September

Secret beach in Northumberland: November
2. Old friends...this has been an awesome year for old friends. Like truly awesome. In February my bestest friend from uni came to my house for one night, leaving her babies behind for a precious few hours of non-stop talking, all the laughing, and many many fond memories. We tried to plan something similar for December but circumstances beat us! Grand plans are in place for 2017 and nothing is going to get in the way this time - well, we hope not anyway! I also got to spend some truly excellent times with some of my favourite faces, both out in the big wide world and in, and I fully intend for more of the same in 2017. The best thing though, the absolute best thing, has been the return of an old friend. This friend was, how shall I put this, lost for a while, a long while, but 2016 saw her return and I am absolutely delighted that this is the case! I'm sure this all sounds very cryptic, but I don't want to name names. I'm pretty confident that she will know this is about her, and I'm also certain that she is equally as glad to have returned! Missed you...

Tee always features on the blog! 
3. New friends...I haven't even spoken about my new job yet (probably next one!) but with new jobs come new friends. I had two new jobs in 2016 and in both I met (have met!) some cracking people who have quickly become firm friends - yay! Libraryland version 2 saw me make solid buddies with Sarah. Near to my age, very grounded and totally cool, she was my salvation when it all started to get a bit too frustrating! Luckily we left at about the same time so were both saved. We've only managed to meet up once so far but we didn't stop talking for about 3 hours - can't wait to see her again soon. New job (I promise, next one!) and my desk buddy, Rachel, has very quickly become my proper buddy. We were even called a double act the other day, which is a very accurate description. We both love cake and hot chocolate and pretty liiiiights and taking photos of sunrises/sunsets - our primary aim in life is to make the work Instagram the most beautiful of all, we just never have any bloody time to go and take loads of pictures! I'm so chuffed by my new friends! Woop!

Claire and Rachel: Love Middlesbrough double act
5. New job! I did promise! So of course one of the absolute highlights of the year was getting a new job. A full time job! That I absolutely love and have thrown myself into wholeheartedly! It took almost four years from leaving libraryland version 1, going back to school, some hideous jobs, one cracking one that sadly didn't get the funding, back to libraryland version 2 and to my new job - Digital Media Officer! Needless to say I celebrated hard - they went on for about a month. Many many bubbles were consumed, and cake of course, always cake. Working full time again is often hard, but it is so totally worth it. And it is beyond fab to be back having some spending money again. It was getting very tired telling people that I couldn't afford to go out for lunch! Cheers to the new job - long may it continue! 

6. Old car, new car. Waaaaaahhhh, one of the saddest things about 2016 (other than all the famous people dying - don't even!) was saying goodbye to my very first car, the Zip. I would happily have kept him on the road forever if it had been possible but it was all just getting a bit dodgy. A couple of times he just stopped. Dead. For no reason. Usually when you were driving down a road with someone behind you. Tricky. And then there were the warning lights. There was one, there was two, oh there's a third that's just appeared...it was all just looking a bit woeful. At 13 years old with over 100,000 miles on the clock we made the decision to let him go *sob* He was replaced by a silver car that I have only just got around to naming Sylvie (original or what?). I'm not going to lie, I don't feel anywhere near the same affection for Sylv, she's definitely not as Zippy as Zippy was and she's just not as...special. Having said that she also doesn't have any warning lights, doesn't leak, her hub caps are not held on by cable ties, she doesn't freeze on the inside when it's icy and the steamed up windows take seconds to clear - you have to see the positive side of things, chuckles. 

Zippy: may he rest in car heaven
7. Adventures! All the adventures! We managed to enjoy some cracking days out this year and I've loved them all. More of it for 2017 please. I love adventures, me! 

A Croft Nostalgia Weekend adventure
8. Weather! 2016 saw it all! We had snow! We had sun! We finally had a proper summer with temperatures up to 30 degrees! Autumn glory seemed to last forever and the winter so far has been ridiculously mild. Global warming fears aside, can't complain too much. I would like some more snow though. I love snow! 

Spring! 
Snow! 
9. 8 years! I should probably have done this as number 8... Yep, me and Dave reached 8 years together! When I first started going out with him I really didn't see anything past what was happening right there and then so it's kind of hard to believe that we've now spent 8 years of our lives together! We've had many, many happy times, some very sorrowful times with family bereavements, adventures galore and so much laughing. I think it's fair to say that he's my most favourite human and here's to the next 8! 


10. A year of books! Oooh it was a good one! I gave up recording everything on Goodreads which was like a massive weight off my shoulders and just set to enjoying the whole reading thing again. The absolute highlight of the year and definitely one of the most memorable books I have ever read was "All The Light We Cannot See". Even now, I still think about it on a daily basis and was delighted when Tee told me that she had added it to her 'to read' pile. I basically want everyone to read it so that I can talk about it! Other highlights have been a couple of re-visits. "Any Human Heart" by William Boyd is up there in my top 5 of all time and I was nervous to read it again in case I didn't like it as much. Foolish thoughts, as once again I was utterly absorbed in it and completely bereft when it was finished as it meant I couldn't visit my much loved characters everyday. My current re-read is "The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey and as before, second time reading and I am still completely enchanted by it. I'm taking my time and enjoying each page because I know I'm going to be upset when it's over! I'm starting 2017 with some pretty hefty books but I'll post about that when I'm ready to start! 

11. Television! All the culture! Stand out TV for me this year has been Stranger Things on Netflix, Planet Earth 2 from the BBC and without any shame whatsoever, Nashville! Yeah baby! I'm still trying to figure out how people binge watched Stranger Things in like 2 days cos it took me about 3 months, but I'm not too good with that whole binge watching thing. I worry about getting square eyes!! Mainly it gets in the way of my YouTube addiction, ha! Talk about square eyes...! If you can, I'd highly recommend Planet Earth 2. Jaw dropping! Drama! If you have HD, absolutely watch it that way as it is completely and utterly AWESOME! Annnnnd Nashville. Big hair, sequins, country music...I know, I know, I have absolutely no idea why I love it but I do! Unashamedly. I'll just get my coat now...

12. I got my mojo back! And by mojo I mean style mojo. With steady work came steady income which meant a return to style, yay! Having said all of that this year has been a serious education in how my style has changed and evolved. I've probably given more away to charity than I've bought and each purchase that I make now is done with care and consideration and definitely has to be for long term wear. The fast fashion thing has its place but not so much in my wardrobe these days. Since hitting 40 I'm definitely in the gives no f**ks about what people think about my style. My hair is probably in the best place it's ever been, thanks massively to my fabulous hairdresser, and stuff just feels good! Style mojo very definitely ON! 

Clashing patterns floats my boat! 
13. Snow Dogs! I'd only been at work a couple of weeks when I saw the Snow Dogs pop up on my Twitter feed. Without really knowing Rachel all that well, we set a date and headed up for a day out in Newcastle looking for all the Snow Dogs! It was so much fun and definitely went a long way in turning desk buddies into proper buddies, yay! We walked for chuffing miles! We climbed up hills and down hills. We loved every single one of them and I wanted to bring most of them home for my back garden. They've all been auctioned off now and are probably living all over the world or I'd highly recommend that you go and seek them out! I mean, look at them! 


14. Sparkly reindeer! The love for the sparkly reindeer started after we went to the magical Winter Wonderland at Wynyard Gardens. So many sparkly lights! So many sparkly reindeer! It was total love and I think I probably mentioned about a million times that I'd really like a sparkly reindeer for the garden. Even though that might seem like the most obvious hint hint hinty-hint, I'm really not like that at all (ask Dave!) and was mainly just excited thinking about Christmas lights in the garden. I definitely didn't expect Dave to come home with a present of not one but two sparkly reindeer of my very own! Then! A third sparkly reindeer mysteriously appeared in the garden which was a present from Fizz! Girl was totally overwhelmed by how lovely it all was and I spend many times gazing out of the back door completely loving them! So special! 


15. I want to talk about feeling inspired. By things, by people, by places. It all started in libraryland version 2, which is the least likely place I would have expected to find anything other than some nice people and regular income. When I was there I did quite a few of the school visits and I have to tell you, I was totally inspired by the littles! Where I worked is kind of an underdog area, there's a lot of poverty and life can be tough and for some of those kiddos, it was all over their faces; quite literally sometimes in the bruises that absolutely broke my heart to think about what they might be going through at home. But over and over the littles (and adults too!) completely inspired me - their joy at coming in the library, the excitement about picking out books, speaking to the staff, learning new things. Over and over I was inspired and massively motivated by what I was doing, as I came to realise very quickly how that libraryland was a lifeline for so many people. Even though I love my new job I think, hand on heart, that I will ultimately end up in some form of community work again. It fills me with many emotions but feeling inspired is definitely a big one. 


16. Wow, if you've made it through this far, thanks for reading! I wish you a very Happy New Year for 2017 - may it be filled with whatever your wish may be! For me, I want more of the same really. Fun times with my loved ones is one of my most favourite things to do and the loved ones range far and wide, from my favourite human Dave, to my family, to my friends, to the Bobster and so on. Here's to it, 2017! Let's make it a good'un! 


Friday, 30 December 2016

We got new pans / sneezing all day

I'm going in with the rubbish thing first. I finally succumbed to the office lurgy and have been sneezing and blowing my nose all day long. I've just looked in the mirror for the first time in a few hours - woah, that was not a good look! Bright red, raw nose and panda eyes from my mascara. Classy. Especially when I know I've been out in public like that...

However, it's not all bad. We got new pans! Yep, you read that right. New pans. For a gal who spends so much time in the kitchen, making and baking and tasting, new pans are very happy things for me. And they're so pretty! So shiny! So light! They have special lids that have steam holes for draining and steaming stuff. Pans have come on a long way...ha! Time to update more kitchen stuff now. 7 years of every day use starts to take its toll I guess. 

So tomorrow is the last day! I have a VERY LONG post already scheduled in, so settle down with your morning cuppa and have a read of my 2016! 

I also have this crazy idea about trying to blog every day in 2017! I know, bonkers or what?! I've actually really enjoyed this month, and even though I missed a couple of days, it has been surprisingly easy to just sit down for 10 minutes at the end of the day and create a post. We'll see how it goes. It could all fail right from the start but it would also be kind of cool to have a complete online diary for one whole year. I hope you'll follow along for the ride! 

Can you believe it's almost next year already? 2016 has been so fast! Whatever you're doing, I hope you have a very happy new year! 

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Walk walk walk walk...

Sometimes when I'm not at work it's so easy to just slip into doing absolutely nothing, sitting on my ass and whiling the hours away doing sweet-eff-A! But too much of that combined with the amount of cake I like to eat is probably not that great for said ass. Which is when having a dog comes in very handy cos they always be needing a walk. Which gets me up off my ass and out in the fresh air. Yasssssss. 

Today was one of those days. It's my first day off work as a proper annual leave day, I've finally succumbed to the office lurgy and am, definitely providing too much info, a complete snot monster. Nice! But a good walk in the blummin' freezing cold cleared away all of the cobwebs! 

I think it could be the perfect equation. Cake + tea / dog walking = happy ass. 

Today was also the perfect day to sing In the Bleak Midwinter, in a cracked, snot monster singing voice, thus scaring all the birds away - ha! 

Frosty fields
Over and out! 

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Good Life

If you've been following this blog for a while you'll know that we are all about the good life, and by good life I mean spending lots of quality time in the garden growing and nurturing things to life. Today of all days, a rather chilly day to be honest, we decided we'd get out there and do some good life stuff! 

First of all we had to go and buy Spring bulbs. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty grumpy about the whole going into shops on Bank Holidays thing. Until we arrived and basically entered a winter wonderland full of all the pretty liiiiights, and some completely adorable fluffy penguins and polar bears and reindeers! It took quite a while until we actually found the plants, but we got there in the end. And grumpy though I was, the 70% saving on some of those plants was worth the shopping on public holidays effort. Thank you kind shop person for working to allow me to make some amazing savings on your over-priced plants in the first place, hehehe. 

Back to the garden, all the clothes on, and some serious squatting and dibbling took place while I planted all of the bulbs 10 centimetres below the ground. I'm already counting down until Spring when right outside my back door will be daffodils and hyacinths and crocuses and tulips and all sorts of other things that I've already forgotten were in the mixed bag! Extra treats when you can't remember what you've planted! 

I spotted this fabulous trough for growing veg that cost £100! Yep £100! Luckily, my very own handy person is more than capable of building one for me that will cost a fraction of that price. I took several sneaky photos so we could get an idea of the construction and plans are already underway. Yassssss! Roll on Spring! It's my most favourite time for good life-ing. 


Sidenote: there are two things that make me chuckle about this photo. One I am wearing muddy jeans and wellies yet my nails are glittery gold with snowflakes on them! And two there is a dog hair stuck to my cup. Seriously, it gets everywhere! When I was cooking on Christmas Day I must have washed my hands a million times to make sure none went in the dinner - eep! 

Monday, 26 December 2016

Happy Boxing Day!

Almost made it to daily blogging up to Christmas. Almost-ish. But you know what? It's all fine - I think for 2017 we should all work on going a little bit easier on ourselves. I started this lesson to myself on Christmas Eve as I was rushing around town and battling, literally, to get to the supermarket for the last few things I needed. I had all these plans to make and bake and do and achieve and in the end, I mentally crossed about three things off my list including the baking and just bought ready made/ready to eat, and I can honestly tell you, it felt fab! So my life advice for 2017, go easy on yourself. You're welcome. 

Anyhoo, hope you all had a fab Christmas, holidays, time off work, whatever else it might be that you do on 25th December. Mine was tip-top, spent with my most loved ones, and even though I was in charge of making the main meal, surprisingly relaxing. Except maybe that last 10 minutes when EVERYTHING needed to come out of the oven at the same time, and my oven gloves weren't working anymore and I burned my fingers - ouch. 

Here's how my Christmas went down: 

C is for the crazy curly wurly curls that I got from my fab hairdresser on Christmas Eve. I looked kinda like Shirley Temple, with glasses, who got wind burned from Storm Barbara or whoever it was that day. 

H is for happy, all the happy at spending the day with my loved ones. Mwah! 

R is for relaxing. My first real day off in a long while and it was beyond nice to spend it in my kitchen, eating and drinking and laughing with my family, serious sofa time in the evening with Dave and Bob the Dog, Christmas TV and pretty much non-stop eating. Yassssss! 

I is for indoors. I didn't step across the door all day and that was totally all right with me. Oh! Just remembered, we did pop out in the evening for a short dog stroll but it probably helped with the whole feeling like I might pop from all the food! Maybe I should be I might pop from all the food instead...

S is for shower gel. All the shower gel! I'm thrilled to have been treated to lotions and potions for my gifts as it means I don't have to buy any for months and I love trying all the different ones! This year I got 9 shower gels, 5 body lotions, 2 soaps, 2 lip balms, 1 body scrub and 1 fluffy sponge thingy - never know the proper name for them! 

T is for turkey gravy! For some reason turkey gravy was like gold dust this year - almost impossible to find! I eventually tracked some down in M&S and it cost 4 quid! 4 quid!!! I mean it was nice gravy and all but 4 quid!! Outrageous! 

M is for merry and merrry. I had such a fab day. I heart Christmas. 

A is for all the food. This is carrying on today too. It probably should stop soon. Maybe in January. Maybe...

S is for stuffed! And yet I keep on eating!! Oopsy. I'm not gonna lie, my jeans are definitely feeling too tight...! 

Today has been all kinds of fab too. We slept in, went for a very muddy dog walk and blew away all the cobwebs, ate more leftovers for lunch, then Dave went off to footy and I've spent the afternoon catching up on all my YouTube Vlogmas favourites. I've eaten more food, washed my make up brushes, doing a bit of blogging now. I could totally get on board with these lazy days - such a nice change! 

I know it's Boxing Day so the big day has gone but Merry Merry to you all. Lots of festive love! 

Festive Christmas table! 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

We watched a movie OUTSIDE!

Call it brave, call it foolish, either way me and Tee watched a Christmas movie outside today on the big screen in Centre Square! It was Miracle on 34th Street, the 1994 version with the cutie pie Mara Wilson. So good! So cold! SO COLD! 

Actually that's not strictly true. I was genuinely okay until about 90 minutes in when all of a sudden my feet felt like icicles...and then it started creeping up my legs...and by the time it was finished I was starting to do that shivery thing when you know you're never going to get warm again until you go inside and sit on top of a radiator. Luckily we didn't have to venture far - just across the road in fact to the Olde Young Tea Shop to warm ourselves up on some hot chocolate of dreams and a Snickers cupcake that was oh so very chocolatey and delicious. 

I would absolutely do it again and hope that next year there are some good films too! It all just felt so festive and cosy (despite the cold). One thing that northern lasses do very well is wrap up warm when baby it's cold outside. Today was such a day. 


We're battening down the hatches or whatever that saying is, as Storm Barbara is on her way and she is pissed! Heavy rain and mighty winds. Not much chance of a white Christmas here methinks - rubbish! 

Only 3 more sleeps to go! 

And most importantly, only one day left at work before the big day - woo hoo! 

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Of dreams!

It's been a long, hard and oh so difficult task (sarcasm) but today I have finally found it - the hot chocolate of dreams! Wowser! Let's just take a moment to admire it:


The one with all the whipped cream was basically like eating a whole pudding. I'm not going to lie, that was mine. Yummmmmmm! 

As the picture clearly indicates the hot chocolate of dreams can be found at Caffe Nero. It's salted caramel flavoured and tastes equally as good both with and without the whipped cream and ALL the caramel sauce on the top...

They also have orange and tiramisu flavours to try, which I might just have to squeeze in, all in the name of research you understand. 

Also, to be completely fair, I can award second and third place too. 

Second place goes to Espresso 10 for the simple hot choc with marshmallows and a side of sitting outside. I think it pipped number three to the post simply because I'd had the day from hell and it was sooooo unbelievably nice to just sit quietly and sip the chocolatey goodness. 

Third place goes to the Olde Young Tea House. The takeaway hot choc with the whipped cream and marshmallows was the perfect accompaniment to The Big Sing. Just the right side of sweet with a hint of keeping your hands toasty on the side. 

I know I've made the announcement now but I'm pretty sure that the search will continue, because you just never know when there might be another winner. 

Trying all the hot chocolates just to find the perfect one, blimey life is tough sometimes...

Monday, 19 December 2016

Painting things

In the past two days I've had my face painted and my nails painted. What's next - a tattoo? Hmmmm, maybe...



Also, aren't fingers weird? And very hard to photograph! 

Only 6 more sleeps! Are you getting excited yet?!?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Big Sing

Today's episode in 'my job is bloody brilliant' was all about the singing. The Big Sing in fact. Local school groups, youth groups, music choirs and a brass band all came together in one happy festive hour of Christmas songs. As you've probably gathered by now I totally threw myself into the spirit of it wearing a fabulous woolly Santa hat with a massive bobble topped with a headband that said Ho Ho Ho on it. And of course we had our faces painted. It's like our thing now, and the girls who do it are sooo good! 

We took loads of photos, we did a few Facebook live videos, we attempted our first Instagram Story, we sang our little hearts out and tried not to cry at Silent Night. We cringed, while singing, as one of the photographers decided that he wanted to take our photo and was there for ages snapping god knows how many photos - oh dear. But most of all, yet another fab day at work was had by all. 

You might be bored of me saying it now but I truly do love my new job very, very much. Once again the shit-eating grins on mine and the other half of my double act (I kid you not, we were actually called that the other day) Rach, say it all really. 


Tomorrow is Christmas nails day! Can't wait to pick my design for this year! Yassssssss! 

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

Getting my voice warmed up for tomorrow with a bit of singing as I typed the title...

The alarm went off at 6.30 in the AM this morning so that I could press snooze a few million times and finally drag myself out of bed to be ready for 8 when my Pops was picking me up. Today has been Christmas Tree day! It's like an annual tradition now, the picking of the tree - you see, where my Pops works they grow Christmas trees, and as part of his working there he's allowed to get a beautiful tree for free! This has worked out very well for me and Dave as each year he has offered us said tree as they don't really do real ones anymore...too much mess for my very tidy mam! Yasssssss! 

So up and about very early to arrive there for 8.30 to find that absolutely no-one was around! Ha! The place didn't officially open until 9 but my dad being told to be there 'first thing' actually worked out really nicely. With not another soul around, I was allowed into the area all by myself to pick out my tree! I'm not going to lie, I actually skipped a little bit in between the trees, splodging my boots in the damp leaves and gaily picking up random trees here and there to see how straight/tall/bushy they were. Of course I found the absolute perfect one and we dragged it out just in time to see the completely gorgeous sunrise across the farm. 


Time moved on, people arrived, my tree was squished through the wrapping thingy, my Pops tied it to the roof of the car and we drove home! All before 9.30am! Wowser. 

Good news: Bob isn't too bothered by the tree and so far, the greatest risk is his swishy tail as he wags it backwards and forwards if he gets too close...but at least he didn't try to pee up against it #winning 

All the pretty decorations are now on the tree. The pretty liiiiiiights are all over the house and outside the house and everything is looking cosy and festive. Christmas can officially start now! 

Today has been such a tip-top day! With no plans (other than the early start for the tree) we've had fun, we've chilled out, we've tackled some Christmas shopping, ate yummy mince pies and generally just relaxed the eff out - woop! 

I'm working tomorrow...but I'm so looking forward to it! I'm hoping to do a blog about it when I get back, as long as I can get some photos. See you then! 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Vlogmas!

Any YouTube fans out there? Are you watching Vlogmas? I am sooooo far behind! Nearly everyone in my sub box has decided to do Vlogmas so I'm overloaded and with not enough time, but doing my very best to stay up to date with it all! I'll still be the person watching Vlogmas in January though and that is absolutely okay with me. 

I can't explain why I am so attracted to vlogs and YouTube in general. I mean, obviously it's another form of entertainment. It's usually shorter than a TV programme and so you can drop in and out really easily. I think the biggest draw though is one of absolute fascination. I love people watching, and it's like people watching-tastic - quite literally really. The people I watch have such vastly different lives to mine and there's something kind of cool about being able to live vicariously through the eyes of another...I mean take this as an example, one of my subs just went out on a date night (ugh, hate that phrase!) to Disneyland! As you do! It really is just like TV in terms of my reality versus theirs! 

Anyway, I just thought I would do a little round up of some of the best vloggers for me, so that if you fancy dipping your toe in and having a quick view, you can make a really good start! 

ANDERZ or Helen Anderson as she's known on her main channel. Helen already vlogs everyday so Vlogmas is really just her usual everyday vlogs but with Christmassy stuff. I love Helen so much! She's got purple hair for one! And she's in a band! She's basically a total rock chick with a potty mouth and an eff you attitude to go with it but her vlogs are funny and real and she's not afraid to tell it like it is. LOVE HER! 

Fleur de Vlog is completely in contrast to Anderz. She's like the more professional side of vlogging but still totally delightful to watch. Fleur is posh and lives in a massive house and probably has tonnes of money but she's smart and funny and is hugely busy so therefore always here, there and everywhere around the world doing YouTube stuff. If you want to travel the world without leaving your sofa, Fleur is the one to follow. She's just come back from Tanzania for Comic Relief! I have a massive amount of respect for Fleur, she might seem to have it all but she works bloody hard and her vlogs are funny and charming, plus she massively loves Christmas so it's festive fun times all the way!

Claire Marshall or Hey Claire is quite simply amazing! She lives in LA and has some really tough stuff going on in her life with her mom but she is truly fascinating to watch! This is a classic example of watching a reality that is massively removed from my own and yet is still really interesting. And she's called Claire, so ya know, had to be done really! 

Alli Cherry is quite a recent discovery but I'm really enjoying her content. She's very green and right on but not in the in-your-face type way. Alli and her hubby make some AMAZING content - he is big into his drone camera and some of the videos they have made are mind-blowing! So good! So creative! Their little house is super cute too! 

Everyday Estee I couldn't talk vlogmas without mentioning the queen of vlogs herself, Estee Lalonde! She was the very first vlogger I watched and I just became hooked straightaway! Estee and her boyfriend Aslan also make some amazing content, really creative and imaginative and often beautifully filmed...I find their videos mesmerizing, they're almost film-like sometimes! Very talented humans. And gorgeous. And they have a greyhound called Reggie. A really sweet little family and definitely worth a watch. A good one to dip into to try out the whole vlog thing too. 

I could go on forever as clearly I love everyone in my sub box, but the ones above are probably my current faves and the videos I'll watch first before everyone else. 

Do you have any favourites? Let me know, I love discovering new people! 

Monday, 12 December 2016

SPARKLY REINDEER!

Yesterday was the best day! First of all Dave came home with a surprise present of my very own sparkly reindeer! A big dude and a little baby, silver and gold and covered in lights. I was so excited I squealed like a big kid and basically couldn't wait for it to get dark so that I could see them all lit up! 


Then! Dave and I popped out to help out with something at the theatre and when we came back I could see through the fence these other coloured lights and I said to Dave, there's more lights! What's going on?! Turned out him and Fizz had been cooking up some mischief between them! She too had surprised me with a sparkly reindeer!!! And while we were out, she had sneaked into our garden and placed him with the other two!! OH MY GAWD! 

Cue more squealing and excitable jumping up and down! 

I can't even express how over the moon I am with it all. In fact, I'm really quite overwhelmed at all the thoughtful-ness - girl has all the feels and best stop now or there might be some serious gushing going on and that would never do...


Here's all the family together. 

I still can't believe it. I am so so so lucky to have such fab people in my life that do such amazing things...don't even get me started or that gush tap will be turned to ON. 

Sparkly reindeer! Oh my...

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Catching up

If I do one post telling you about the whole weekend that counts as being up to date, yes? Excellent, let's begin. 

Yesterday was not your average Saturday, nope, it was Fizz's Saturday. Fizz if you'll recall, was from the previous blog life. When it's her special day we're not actually allowed to mention the b-word, we just have to say that it's Happy [insert name of day here] and enjoy present and card opening and eating all of the cake. We're totally on board with a little bit weird round here and accept all quirks lovingly. 

Summing up then, happy Saturday to Fizz, let's eat all the cake. First of all we stopped off at a Christmas market in the brilliantly named House of Blah Blah. It was small but definitely fab and I picked up some cracking gifts for Christmas. I was very tempted by a Christmas tree decoration that said 'Merry Effing Christmas' but I wasn't entirely sure who I would buy it for and we've got parental type people coming to us for Christmas and they might frown upon such words so I left that one behind. We listened to a bit of music, we drooled over some rainbow cake and then we headed off to get actual cake. I had chocolate milky way, it was delicious, and was accompanied by a stonkingly good cuppa. Everyone was happy, let's be on our way. 

Next up, the last night of Dad's Army! Wow, what a week! It's been long, hard, tough on the whole enjoying some chill out time after dinner so you can digest your food thing (translation: no time at all, get out the door woman!) BUT having said all that it's been a crackin' week and kind of made me remember why I do it all as our audiences laughed and cheered and boo-ed the baddies and applauded and applauded and applauded! We ended it in true style with an obscene amount of pizza and a couple of glasses of bubbley stuff. 

aftershow party pizza carnage
Today I'm wearing the first pair of Christmas socks (yep, on the official countdown now) and remembering what it is to have free time to simply potter around the house and just relax. Ahhhhh, what bliss. She says, having so far scheduled in some updates for the theatre socials and now tap-tap-tapping away on a blog post...

The rest of the day I have zero plans. Yep, see that, absolutely nothing! Woop! I think I'm going to get back into my kitchen and enjoy some making and some baking, watch some TV, continue to read my book (The Never List. It's okay but it's never going to be All the Light We Cannot See so my heart isn't really in it) and just enjoy doing Sunday like everyone else. 

Okay December. Now I'm ready for you, for the fun, for the festive, for all the effs and whatever else you might bring. Later, alligator. 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

#NationalChristmasTreeDay

Today is #NationalChristmasTreeDay! Really, it is, I double checked it was trending and everything. So in keeping with the whole Christmas theme, here's a picture of some very pretty Christmas trees. And oh look, there's some sparkley reindeer too (PLEASE Santa, PLEASE!) 


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Bookshelf - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I really wish I was one of those people who could write amazing book reviews. You know the ones that you read in the big Sunday papers that totally inspire you to rush right out and get the book or your life will never be the same again. If I could write those type of reviews, I would do it for 'All the Light We Cannot See'. 

Sadly I'm not one of those people so instead I'll have to try to put into my simple style why you absolutely have to read this book. 

It's beautiful. Like seriously beautiful. It's not exactly the most lighthearted story and it deals with some really serious subject matters but every word, every chapter is quite simply beautiful - the writing, the descriptions, the vivid images that he draws for you to soak up and throw yourself into completely...

The characters in the book, oh, I can't even begin to describe them - I so wish I could. Can I say beautiful again? For me there wasn't one weak character, they were all just so absorbing. It's one of those books that you don't want to end because you know you're going to miss everyone in it. Days later and I still feel like that.

It catches you off guard. One minute I was reading along and then I'd turn over the page and be so totally and utterly overwhelmed that tears just sprung out of nowhere...and then something else would happen to distract you away from the tears...

I don't want to put you off. I only cried three times and it's a pretty hefty read. And ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I'm a big cry-er when it comes to books. And films. And television. And adverts. Just sayin' 

The most satisfying thing of all is that it has a proper ending. Hallelujah! So many times lately I've committed to a book, it's had me gripped the whole way through and then the ending has been hurried and felt incomplete somehow. But not this, absolutely not this, yep I'm going to say it again - beautiful. 

I cannot urge you enough to pick this up. And if you have read it, please let me know in the comments what you thought. I want to talk about it with everyone! 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Dear Santa...

...all I want for Christmas is my own sparkley reindeer. Please. 

Yours sincerely

Claire 


Monday, 5 December 2016

You stupid boy!

You know all that busy I've been rabbiting on about? Well the results of that finally come into one glorious show tonight as my theatre group opens our December production, Dad's Army. Yep, that comedy classic! 

Even though it's been a pretty gruelling schedule, with work events and life events, it has been fun...sometimes. Rehearsals particularly have been hilarious and I can honestly tell you that most of the cast are actually morphing into the characters that they are playing - it's uncanny! 

In case you fancy it, here's a poster with all the details. I'll be there every night, dressed up like a 1940s cigarette girl with victory rolls in my hair and a bright red lip - worth it just for that then, really! See you there! 


PS. For anyone who doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about, the blog post title is a quote from the TV/play! 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

My hat is better than your hat

Today has been a bit of a strange one. I was supposed to be getting up very early to get on a train and travel to Leeds to meet up with my bestie from university. We've been solid besties since 1995, when we lived on the same floor in halls. We shared houses all the time we lived in London and were pretty much inseparable until miles separated us; there was even a sea between us at one point! The miles never really make any difference though, and neither does the time apart - when we meet up we pick up exactly where we were the last time we met and generally never shut up talking and laughing! 

Sadly life got in the way for this trip and her little boy was ill so we had to cancel. Boooo! However, seldom one to let things get me down for too long I tried to find the positive in the situation. I mean first of all I didn't have to get up at 6am anymore! Instead I've embraced my first day off in two weeks in good style - a lazy morning catching up on blogs and reading a few more pages of my book, a trip to theatre (I've been there every day so far this week, might as well go today), caught up with my folks who I haven't seen in weeks due to work and life busy-ness, done the food shopping, scheduled in some social media for theatre and now I'm blogging! A quiet day somehow became the usual busy! Plans for the evening include some tasty dinner and maybe a film or some TV. Nice! 

Also, you can't be sad for too long when you find what might possibly be the BEST HAT EVER when you have to work at lots of outdoor Christmas events. Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to admire it for yourselves:


Isn't it fabulous?!? I can't wait to wear it for The Big Sing! 

Over and out. 

Friday, 2 December 2016

Friday crush/Listen Up!

I've pretty much given up pretending that I have any street cred these days. Even though this song makes me feel like I'm 13 and watching the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, it's kind of the most played at the moment. Okay not kind of, is. I admit it. 

Also, can we just agree that he is a teeny tiny bit eye candy...?

Oh god, I'll just get my coat...

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Christmas is open for business!

Okay, it's here: Day 1 of my now annual advent where I do my best (very best!) to post something every single day in December. Feeling pretty chuffed that I actually made a solid start. I'm not going to lie, some of this stuff will be scheduled in ready to go out cos girl is busy, but you know that already. I hope you like it. Feel free to join in the comments below and post your own photos/life updates/general chit-chatty fun times - I would proper love that! 

So day 1. Let's talk Christmas jumpers. Last year I was a person who had zero Christmas jumpers, this year I am a person who has three, and a t-shirt that says 'Santa Squad'. If I recall correctly I kept my Christmas joy much better hidden last year by wearing festive socks all month, but this year I am all out - Christmas jumpers all the way! Except in the office, as frankly it's hotter than inside an oven and the idea of wearing a jumper in there is enough to make me swoon. 

This particular beauty is my newest purchase and was bought specifically to wear for the Reindeer Parade when I met Rudolph. Yes that actually happened. It is truly glorious, has a 3D bobble on that baby reindeer's hat and is fuzzy all over! 


I know, I know, it's awesome. If you want to get one yourself, and I really won't mind because who wouldn't, then it's available at your local Tesco. Or at least mine was...

I'll be cracking the Christmas socks out too, but I tend to wear skirts and dresses for work so not quite sure how that's going to work. Tights and socks, especially of the Christmas variety is a hard look to pull off when you're trying for the casual biz-ness dress look. Any suggestions on how to rock that feel free to leave them below. 

See ya tomorrow! 

Monday, 28 November 2016

FUZZY NOSES!

So you might have seen from my post yesterday that I had plans to meet with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Just for the record, I totally did! Okay, okay, he didn't exactly have a red nose, but he did have a very fuzzy one! And fuzzy antlers! And a fuzzy bum with a cutie little tail. Basically, it was like my best day ever. And I'm not sure how I'm ever going to be able to top it...unless I get to sit on Santa's knee which I may just make my mission for the December month of daily blogging. Daily-ish. And, it could just happen as I know Santa, I totally do! 

Back to the reindeers though. There were 6 of them, including two babies that were born in May that were even more fuzzy than the big ones and might have made me squeak out loud at the total cuteness factor. Even though my life would have been made if I had got to touch a fuzzy nose, they were 'acclimatising' to their new environment - translation: eating all the food - before heading out on the magical parade so I just did a lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing and left them to it. 

The whole other rest of the day passed by in an absolute blur. I was there to work, not just to meet fuzzy nose reindeers, and work I did! This particular work included running which we all know is not my top thing to do, but all for the sake of the job dahhhling. It was deffo worth all the running around as all the stuff we were putting out got all the love, particularly the Facebook Live videos which I've never done before but were so much fun to film!  

As well as reindeers of dreams, I also got to dance and jig about to one of my favourite local bands, The Wildcats of Kilkenny, join in with all the singing, countdown from TEN to ONE at the top of my voice and then watch all the pretty liiiiiiiights as they were switched on to massive cheers and applause, all in the name of work! I know, right?! It truly was an absolute blast and I was buzzing off it! I can honestly say, hand on heart, that it was my best day at work EVER! I love my new job so much! If you don't believe me take a look at the massive shit-eating grin in the photo below of me and my desk buddy Rach and all the pretty liiiiiiights:


Yes we are indeedy covered in all the sparkles on our faces. 

And I had Rudolph painted on my other cheek. 

And finally, can we say a big Yasssssss for the fact that I got to wear a bright yellow jacket...you will not believe how many people ask you questions when you wear a bright yellow vest! All the questions, all the day! 

Top class Sunday. 

I am very very tired now. But I have to go to rehearsal...until next time! 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The one where I meet Rudolph the Reindeer

Today I am meeting Rudolph the Reindeer. To be fair, I'm not sure if his nose will actually be red, but if it isn't fuzzy I am going to be very disappointed. 

Yep, I am working the Reindeer Parade and the Christmas Lights Switch On! I am very, very, very excited! Kind of like I am 5 years old. Even though I am at work I will try super hard to get some photos so that I can share the experience with you. 

Stay tuned...

Friday, 25 November 2016

Listen Up! And hold onto your judgement...

I have absolutely zero shame in admitting that this is currently my favourite song. As soon as it comes on in the car I turn up the volume and sing very loudly, and dance in my seat, while driving very very safely of course... 

I don't even have an ex that I want to shout out to, it's just a blummin fab, catchy pop song, and sometimes that is all you need in life. 

Take it away ladies! 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Bad Blogger, No Biscuits

So it turns out that this full time work, PA at theatre, keeping up with all the housework, and having to work on weekends turns you into a bad blogger. However I have decided that is okay, as I am pretty certain (hopeful!) that the people who follow along will patiently await my return...especially when I come back with two posts this week! 

So how have you been? You already know my story/busy - what have you been up to? Anything exciting? I baked my Christmas cake today! I know! How can it be that Christmas is only a few weeks away now? Scary. I also tackled the giant, mountainous ironing pile, first of all by watching Nashville...I love it, don't judge me. Closely followed by watching Wreck It Ralph, again I say, no judgement. However, have you seen that film? It was kind of like an hour and a half of Candy Crush, on speed. A little bit too much if I'm honest. 

On a side note, I recently decided that reinstalling Candy Crush was what I needed in my life. It took about a week to decide all over again that it was soul destroying and needed to be gone. Especially when I started seeing the orange candy thing floating in front of my eyes. Not good. That was a week I'll never get back again. 

We also took a stroll down the beach with the Bobbo this weekend which was frankly totally effin freezing, but I did wear my new 'Team Internet' sweatshirt which is possibly my most favourite purchase recently, as I am, well and truly, part of the team that loves the internet. Even when it's weird and odd and yep, even a little bit scary mary. It's best not to think about the scary side too much or you might lock yourself away in a room protected by a giant bubble and not come back out until it's all just gone away. You want to talk scary? My niece recently posted a selfie to her Instagram and 26 people commented to tell her she looked 'sexy' and 'hot' ... she is 12 ... I am terrified. And I have to admit, sorely tempted to bring her to the room bubble thing because hello, seriously, what the blinkin' eff?!?! For this I very much blame YouTube, but that is a post for a whole other day/life and maybe not one to focus on just yet or the fear will properly take over. 

To counteract this, here is me wearing my cool sweatshirt, wet hair fresh from the shower and a bobble hat. I know, I know, hot, sexy, oh yeah baby...HA! I cannot tell you how glad I am that I'm not 12! Interestingly though, a friend of mine recently commented about how cool it would be to be 18 but with the knowledge and experience that we have now...I think in some ways yes and in other ways, no thank you! Most of the fun was in making all of the mistakes! 



So there you have it. Random ramblings indeedy. I go away for a few days and all that profesh thing that I try to have on the blog goes right out of the window! 

I am still contemplating doing the whole December, post a day advent thingy. If I say I will and then miss a few days will you still come along for the ride? What say you? Reply in the comments with a Yassssss or a Nooooo you fool

Over and out. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Northumberland and Chill

Do you ever get that feeling when you just know that you need a break? Everything seems to be just that little bit too much and a general air of being frazzled follows around you like a black cloud? Yeah that was us. Busy work, busy life, busy at theatre, busy busy busy - definitely time for a holiday! Good job we had one booked in then, eh? 

Oh Northumberland. You beautiful, beautiful place with your massive skies and endless beaches that often have absolutely not a soul on them except you and your loves. It's my absolute favourite place to go, and a big part of my heart lies in it. We've had fab family holidays up there as kids, we had one king-size, all the family holiday as adults that is one of the most fun holidays I've ever had, and Dave and I have had a whole heap of brillo holidays up there too in the long while we've been together. And it's really just up the road a bit so absolutely ideal for a long weekend in November. 

The house we were staying in was absolutely cute as a button, even though we arrived in the dark and toured round the tiny village of Beadnell looking for it! We spent the weekend eating, drinking, strolling the endless beaches, running up and down the sand dunes with Bob and in and out of the sea - him that is, not us. The North Sea in November? No chuffin' way!! Reading, watching tv, listening to music, just pretty much enjoying doing absolutely nothing at all. 

It has truly worked a treat. I've come back rested and ready to face the bonkers that is to come in the run up to Christmas. 

That giant smile below? Says it all really. Northumberland - you truly are the best! 


Friday, 11 November 2016

November Jollies

For the past few years we've foolishly decided that November is the perfect time to get away from it all. Not to a hot country with a beach, usually to somewhere even farther north than us that might just have snow. This year is no exception and this family of mine are off up to Northumberland for a long weekend. In November. We might freeze to death. 

But there will be endless beaches with no-one on them that Bob can run up and down to his heart's content. 

There will be some yummy, warming food, and hopefully some hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. 

We're taking the camera, and this time we've even remembered the SD card #winning 

If we don't freeze to death I'll report back on what we get up to. Have an awesome weekend, wherever you may be! 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Le Week-End

Look at that, another weekend vanished, poof! Why so fast weekend? This is the trouble with being in a theatre group that needs a giant set building - your Saturday, that first heady day of the weekend that you look forward to so much, becomes yet another working day that involves physical and manual labour! Sheesh, it's like having two full time jobs!! 

So Saturday. Building, painting, inappropriate sawing stations - just a usual working Saturday really...if you are in any way health and safety inclined, do not look at the photo below of Dave busily sawing away. No that is not a cigarette in his mouth but a pencil, a true Chippy! 


Sidenote: it was the ability to make things and be super handy that was a big part of me falling for Dave. Hope that didn't make anyone barf too much...

The rest of the weekend was also pretty busy but kinda cool. After a full day at the theatre job, we settled in for the evening with a cracking dinner, some pink fizz and proceeded to get really rather tipsy for no reason at all. We followed up the tasty tea by watching 'Le Week-End', a rather delightful film starring Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan that was all kinds of good and made me immediately want to go back to Paris. Immediately. We're already thinking Spring. CAN'T WAIT! 

On Sunday morning we cleaned the house from top to bottom. And did laundry. There is no way to make this sound exciting. 

I went shopping and bought a stupid amount of clothes for both work and play, including a fake leather skirt that I wasn't at all sure about, but a shout out to my gal pals on Facebook (and a text to my 12 year old niece who is equally as cool as her Aunty Claire) reassured me that it did look cool, I did not look like mutton, and now I need a night out when I can wear it. Yasssssss! 

My mam came round, which was lovely, as I hardly see her these days due all of the working. And secretly she misses the Bobster so likes to pop round every now and then to give his ears a good scratch. 

The evening ended with more tasty dinner treats and some TV watching before rolling into bed ready to start it all over again. 

Why is this month always so busy? I do not get it. If only we had 8 days in a week...

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

All of the -ing

I am such a gad-about these days! Seriously, I'm hardly ever in the house so when I am it's all about throwing on my PJs, kicking back and doing some good old fashioned consuming of the things. So I thought why not share, and then you can share too and maybe we'll all get some new ideas for some further consuming. Tis the season for hibernation and all that! 

Doing
I somehow ended up being a production assistant again for the upcoming show at my theatre group. I know, I know, how many times have I sworn to never do it again? Anyway, this one is Dad's Army so at least rehearsals are funny. I'm working on charming the director into believing that he only needs me there once a week, otherwise how will I fit in all my gad-about-ing that is being done? Tricky...

Doing #2 - all the pretty liiiiiiiights!
Not only have I found a fellow cake fiend as my new work buddy(I say again, this cannot end well), I've also found someone who loves pretty liiiiiights as much as me. Luckily there is a whole shed full of pretty light stuff happening at the moment so plenty of opportunity to fulfil this new hobby of mine - chasing the pretty liiiiights. I already talked about 'Neon and That', this week I'm attending a 'Fire and Light Festival' - all together now, oooooh pretty liiiights, and then very soon it's the Christmas Lights Switch On for my work! Which also coincides with the Reindeer Parade. If I don't get a close up photo of a fuzzy reindeer nose I am going to be beyond consoling as it's my only mission in life right now. 

Watching
Going pretty well on the whole watching front, I've almost finished watching 'Stranger Things' - interesting observation, everybody else seemed to binge watch this in like 8 hours or something absurd like that. I think I'm about 2 months in now...I'm not very good at binge watching, I like to go to bed at 10pm, staying up until 3am to watch TV is not my idea of a good time. We've also been watching loads of 'Motive' which is tip top cop stuff and even though Dave hates it I'm loving Angie's new hairdo. Also watched a few films including 'The Imitation Game' with Benedict Cummerbund which I absolutely loved and made me cry muchly at the end. Very moving. And also weirdly thrilling, on the edge of your seat type thing when they finally figured out how to make Christopher work. I'm going to see 'Girl on a Train' tonight and am very keen to see how well/badly this has been adapted for film. The book had me gripped until the end when I was massively disappointed, will update you further. Finally my cake fiend/pretty liiiiiights desk buddy wants me to watch 'Orphan Black' ... I'm not sure how I'm going to fit all this in. Send help. 

Reading
Still reading my free book as part of the Big Bookcycle. I think it's by Camilla Lackberg and I've forgotten the title. This says a lot. I'm honestly a bit confused. There are a lot of characters and I can't keep up with it all. But now that I've given up the whole read a million books in 5 minutes challenge I'm not feeling as much pressure to finish. Though I do have the next in the MJ Arlidge, DI Helen Grace series on my bedside table which is calling my name. Such a great crime series, highly recommended! 

Listening
Mainly to Radio 1 in the car, particularly the Breakfast Show which often makes me laugh out loud and I'm sure looks very funny to other drivers who probably go out of their way to avoid the bizarre woman laughing at herself in the little silver car. I also love the drive-time show home and Rage against the Answering Machine is absolutely my favourite feature. I'm still telling everyone about the woman ranting about her friend's excessive use of hashtags! There's sometimes actual music as we eat tea, but that's usually the time we're catching up and chitting the chat too. 

Thus ends all of the -ing. How about you? Tell me about some of your favourite consuming and I'll add it to my list of things I wish I had the time for! 

Oh also, PS. hello two blog posts in two days! Time is creeping by and it's almost time for my annual advent blog month so I thought I'd get some practice in now!