Friday, 30 December 2016

Belated Blogmas - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Hello all! Hope you had a fab Christmas. I honestly thought I'd have time to post something on Christmas Day, but relaxed with family instead. The day was more relaxed as I worked Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. I had croissants with nutella for breakfast, opened presents and loved watching the dogs opening their own presents. It was so funny. Click here to watch my adorable babies opening their toys with treats wrapped up inside too!

My last 11 Blogmas posts have tried to promote positive aspects of Christmas or at least be as humourous as possible. I have tried to stress the importance of giving, but it would be a lie to say I hated getting gifts. I love it. I'm not an alien!

Today's post hopes to share the stuff I received on Christmas Day alongside the stuff I received prior to Christmas on the 23rd and 24th of December, Christmas Day was filled with amazing presents including lovely gifts from my parents and one of my friends. My Mum and Dad bought me an organiser and to do list which I knew about in my wishlist post, lots of nail polish from OPI and Nails Inc, foldaway primark bag, two lovely midi skirts, Lola Rose bracelet, lots of chocolate (again as asked for in wishlist) and Dad bought me and Mum hats from a recent work visit to Belgium.

 I love the slogan - it makes me feel positive for the new year ahead. Also like it as it reminds me of a lovely gift that my friend, Julie got to cheer me up this year.

 I just love doing to-do lists. Even if I don't tick everything off, it makes me feel like I'm doing something. I love the colours of this. Great purchase from Paperchase!

 Fab choice of colours from both Nails Inc and OPI. I love the theme of Audrey Hepburn for my gifts this year! People know me too well... I've already tried one of the nude shades in Nails Inc for my nails and toes and love it.

Who doesn't love having a foldaway bag for when they go shopping?

I also received a burgundy midi skirt. They are both lovely and just my style!

I love burgundy for starters, so think this is perfect! I received a green Lola Rose bracelet from my parents for my birthday in October and fell in love. Anyone who knows me will know my love of jewellery. I used to be much more flamboyant with my choices wearing statement necklaces, large rings (including one ruler style and a huge eye once) and huge earrings. However my long love for bracelets has continued and is the main jewellery I now wear.

I love that Dad bought this back for us. He doesn't often buy things as he hates shopping, but when he does, it is so thoughtful. The lining is so soft and warm. Who thought I'd be excited for more cold?

Then, I opened my present from my close friend, Julie which included an amazing array of gifts including a scratch world map, skirt and scramble photo frame:

I love how two friends got me travel related gifts. I love hearing about travelling, seeing new places and having an adventure. I don't want to get older and regret not seeing places. Unfortunately due to different circumstances haven't done the last two years, but who knows 2017 might be the year!? I certainly hope to see more of the UK if nothing else...

I love this mini skirt. Recently after visiting Glasgow, and shopping together, we both bought the same skirt. I guess she must have another one which is a cute tradition! Might need to buy her the next matching skirt...

I love this truly personalised gift! I can't wait to find the perfect picture to fill it with.

My friends did well for gift buying this year, not that you're friends with people for their talents in buying the best pressies, but it doesn't hurt!

After Boxing Day, my grandparents visited and left yesterday. They got me some lovely gifts and ticked off some more amazing things from my wishlist including the Audrey Hepburn biography I'd been wanting, Liz Earle beauty items, my favourite mascara (Benefit Rollerlash mascara), more chocolate, clip-on earrings, Autograph nail polishes and M&S Pjs.

I think this is by far, my favourite present this year!

Audrey Hepburn is an amazing woman, who I greatly admire. She had a tough childhood being raised during world war 2, was hugely talented, very beautiful (never knew it), successful in her career, extremely fashionable with no effort, a mother and of course, most admirably did fantastic charity work for charities such as UNICEF. I don't want to say too much more without reading and knowing thoroughly. I thought who better to talk about her life than her son, so when I heard he had written a book, I knew I had to read it!

I love Liz Earle products, and it probably sounds cheesy, but is true...their products have changed my life. When I started using their cleanse and polish I realised I hadn't previously been getting all my foundation off, my skin improved (I often struggle with acne and scarring) and best of all, people comment on how healthy my skin now looks. When Gran gave me this, I was excited as these are two products I've not tried and I've tried a great few.

This is another product I adore and swear by. I adore Benefit mascaras, but this is my favourite by miles! I like how gentle it is on eyes, how long my lashes look with less time than usual and weirdly I even like the smell of it.

Got plenty of chocolate this year. Mum got me 4 bags of these too. They are my favourite chocolate buttons and sold in Aldi. They honestly do the best chocolate despite the low-low price. Gran also got me a pack of mini chocolate oranges, which I had put on the floor while opening other presents. My crazy dog thought it was a toy or something to destroy; she ripped it open (luckily without eating as it is poison for dogs). However it was funny to watch. She even growled when I got it off her.

Love the choices here. I've missed wearing the occasional pair of earrings since my piercings seem to have sealed up, so feel these clip-ons will be the best solution. Already worn the top blue pair from Accessorise.

I've also been lucky with my choice of nail polishes this year. I feel I might even need to get a proper box to store all my colours in now! Has anyone ever tried Autograph nail varnishes? I've never come across them yet and big on painting nails. It's the only thing that can stop me biting them. I don't picked the colour off as often as I used to either!

Finally, I got this gorgeous PJ set which I adore, and wear as I type this! They are so comfy and baggy just how I like them! My Gran also bought me another pair from M&S but didn't want to bore you too much with every picture!

As well as this, I received £100 for driving lessons and a gift card to spend in M&S from grandparents. Yesterday I even booked my first lessons for Ipswich. I'm excited, but also nervous as I've not driven since my failed test attempt in March, where I was actually shaking and highly emotional!

It's fair to say I received lots and Santa was very generous! I definitely realise how lucky I am, and hope others got everything they wanted. I hate receiving technology gifts as somehow means less to play with, and almost feel bad asking for something like that at my age. At 24, I should get something like that myself!

I learnt many things about Christmas this year:
1. Just because you get older doesn't mean it can stop being fun. You just need to adjust what you like now
2. Don't ask for chocolate as you'll get too much, eat it all and hate yourself!
3. Appreciate what you have and give where you can!
4. Looking towards goals  is one of my favourite parts (just reconfirmed what already knew)
5. As cheesy as it sounds, Christmas is all about family and enjoying time together

I love the New Year. Honestly no idea why because short of watching the countdown, my new year traditions haven't changed much since being a child. I spend the day with my parents, relax and have festive food. Then at the strike of midnight, we hug/kiss each other and wish each other a happy new year. I've only spent two years outside the house and one away from my parents. One was watching the fireballs in Stonehaven, which was lovely but very cold and crowded. Definitely something I'm glad I did, but wouldn't do again. The other was my first year moving out, and spent with my flatmate and her sister. They both fell asleep which was a disappointing start to the new year.

Why do I like new year? Well, I'm someone who loves setting goals and looking for things to look forward to. I might have already mentioned my goals for 2017 in my post: 10 things as I discuss my 10 hopes for the year ahead. Love to hear if you have any goals for the new year!

I've learnt so much this year as described in two posts: What being overweight taught me and Moving & Updates. I've learnt to accept my body shape, and increased my confidence from doing so. I've learnt what works best on my skin which is Liz Earle. I hope to write about this more in the new year! I've learnt from no longer working in fundraising and within the third sector, what it means to me. Most importantly, I've rediscovered my love of writing since starting this blog in July. 2016 has been a difficult year for not just me, but many others but I believe I've learnt many more personal lessons, which will help me in the future.

Hope you enjoyed reading my very belated Blogmas post. I wish you a merry Christmas, and my next post will be in 2017! I honestly can't wait for the new year. Happy celebrations!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Day 11 of Blogmas - Happy Christmas Eve

In many countries, today is the day to open presents; not tomorrow.

Every year my mum lets me open one present on Christmas Eve; she picks and I open it. To extend on this tradition, I let Dad open his jellybabies. I thought about giving mum a present, but that would leave her with one thing to open, which is due. This year I got her a calendar that she picked and a Laura Geller gift set. While moving, I accidentally smashed her Brighten and Glow by the brand; she was annoyed, so thought it would be nice to replace with some other great products.

Dad tried to say I was too young for this tradition, but like an advent calendar, I refuse to let my mum stop doing it. Total mummy's girl here!

Last night, I had a great Skype conversation with two of my friends, and got to open my presents. We usually meet, have a lovely meal, catch up and open presents. Not this year. It makes me sad, but I'm hopeful we will do it next year when I have more money.

One friend got me a balloon lamp and Body Shop gift set:

I've already tried some of the body lotion since my legs have blistered from chaffing (that's something nobody tells you about putting on weight). I found this lovely, cooling and just what was needed. I'm really happy with this as feel I look after my skin well, but body is actually very dry and neglected.

Another got me two packs of bath salts from Oliver Bonas, book: What would Audrey do? by Pamela Keogh and book: Ultimate Travelist: The Best Places on the planet...ranked by Lonely Planet:

As you know, I love Audrey and she's utterly my idol!

One of the places I wish to visit most!

Back to my Christmas Eve tradition, this year my mum let me open this:

I love a good pair of PJs as of late, so I'm excited to wake up wearing these.

Here are some funny conversations and things to happen on the lead-up to Christmas to end on:

Conversation 1:
A: I hate it when he screws up his wrapping year every year at Christmas.
B: (laughing) why? Everyone does that!
A: It makes it hard to recycle, it needs to be folded. I will just have to do it after he's done because he just won't.

Event 1:
Have you ever tried wrapping presents with pets? They are fascinated by wrapping paper. I was clever to do mine in my room, and away from animals. My mum not so much. One dog got tangled in sellotape and the other managed to trample on the wrapping paper.

Event 2:
As I might have previously mentioned in my post about Santa here, I believed in Santa until I was 11, which is probably quite old. I even believed when friends said they'd seen their parents putting out the presents. I even believed when I saw Santas at department stores or garden centres, that they were fake but help Santa. I fell for every lie my family gave me. The funniest excuse my mum came up with for why kids had seen their parents giving presents...they are naughty children, and the parents didn't want them to be upset.

That leaves me to wish you a merry Christmas. There will be one short post tomorrow, so I won't wish you a "Merry Christmas" just yet!  Not decided whether there will be anymore December posts, or whether it will be in the new year...

Friday, 23 December 2016

Day 10 of Blogmas - Power of Volunteering

First of all, I'd like to begin by thanking you all for commenting on so many of my Blogmas posts. Not just commenting, but sending huge nice compliments.

I've been thinking about writing about the importance of volunteering for a while, but after the success of my recent fundraising post and the kind comments discussing my biggest accomplishment, it confirmed that it might be useful to discuss. It's something I know about and am passionate about.

Anyway onto today's post that hopes to promote the art I believe to be volunteering. So many people I know consider it to just be working in Cancer Research or any other charity you see on the high street. I am prove of this. I've volunteered at different capacities. Here is a brief list of some of the main volunteering roles I've done:

  1. Community Event Volunteer in fundraising office for a local hospice
  2. Bid writing volunteer - applying for trusts on behalf of a charity
  3. Magazine assistant - managing social media
  4. PR and Fundraising volunteer - dealing with press releases and admin within a local charity 
  5. Office intern
  6. Marketing and fundraising volunteer
  7. Volunteering within a British Red Cross Shop
  8. Wrapping presents for local hospital
  9. Marshalling at community event
  10. Supporting and representing charity at a corporate fundraising event

I'm not just saying this to look good or make myself appear better because I know I'm amazing already (jokes). I'm promoting volunteering as I think people should all do it at one time or another. There is different kinds of volunteering for everyone, whether it is fundraising seasonally, for events, in charity shops, helping in a charity office, driving or something specific to your skills. For example, I once worked for a charity who recruited a volunteer who was able to do reflexology on clients.

Today I volunteered for the local hospital to help wrap presents for patients that were not lucky to be at home over Christmas. It was very touching. I hear the presents were also going to the community to support other causes such as Salvation Army, Womens Aid and a local homeless charity. I'm ashamed to say this is the first time I've done some volunteering for Christmas. I've known people who give up their Christmas to volunteer, or go and do oversea projects.

Why do I always look uncomfortable in pictures?

All I have to say is volunteering can give so much not only to the charity, but to you too. You help charities by helping reduce staff costs, administrative costs and decrease time to get tasks done and more time to concentrate on other areas. However in return, you can learn a new skill, boost your confidence and so much more!

Let me know your thoughts and experiences of fundraising.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Day 9 - Crafty Christmas

I can't believe we are 3 days away from Christmas, but hope my Blogmas posts have got you in the mood for Christmas. I know writing them has made me believe Christmas is upon us, I feel like I slept through most of 2016 as it's gone so quick! I've wished I had slept through some months, but moving on...

This year is the first time I've written about Christmas, and even the first time I've read Blogmas posts and watched Vlogmas posts. Since I want to be more creative in 2017, I thought it would be best to share some of my favourite craft-related posts:

1. Zoella

Who could add their favourite vlogmas posts without including Zoe Sugg. She's got so much festive spirit, it makes me feel like such a dull person. My favourite craft videos so far are: Disastrous Brownie Baubles with Mark (love these two together despite the DIY aspect not going particularly well) and Christmas Pinterest DIYs

I've been loving Zoella's 24 Days of Zoella this year. She obviously has more to add, but my favourites have included: Christmas Jumper HaulHUGE Festive Lush Haul & Demo (helped me decide on a bath thing for my Dad as mentioned as part of the tradition of buying for him as said here) and Gifts & Stocking Fillers under £20. I have been addicted to making sure I've seen them all. Zoella has been my 2016 discovery. She's so upbeat, down-to-earth and funny. Her videos have cheered me up when I've been bored, fed up or just needed a pick me up.

2. Pointless Blog 

Zoe's boyfriend, Alfie runs this channel and he usually does daily blogs, which I love again for his positivity, and an insight into their interesting life. No day is the same!

Alfie Deyes made a fab video on making DIY Giant Solid Chocolate Snowflakes. It looks so easy and fun to make. Since he's a daily vlogger, learning how to make it is towards the end of the video. He has also done other DIY videos which are fun to watch, but this seems to be the only festive one that he's done.

3. Smart School House

I don't really look at this blog , but recently came across their tutorial to make a fishbowl snowman, which is pretty cool.

I also bought beads and elastic for making bracelets from Hobbycraft, and hope to start making my own jewellery. If I get good, maybe my friends can get some lovely gifts next Christmas.

4. Tanya Burr

I love Tanya's makeup tutorials as she makes it simple for people like me, who are useless applying makeup. I also like hearing and seeing the fun events and things she does as a Youtuber. She has been doing some fab Vlogmas posts, but her very first shows her making Christmas wreaths. Click here to see it.

5. Lost in Coffee

One of my best friends, Lisa runs this blog with her sister and has done some fantastic posts. Maybe I'm bias but I have loved all the ones I've read; they are filled with different things such as film recommendations, DIY tutorials and just good reads. I wish I'd seen this post before I had began wrapping. It details how to make wrapping look it's very best!

I did hope to have more craft posts to share, but these are the only ones I remember reading!
My crafts

I bought some elastic and beads from my local Hobbycraft, and decided to start learning to make bracelets. Jewellery has always been a big love of mine, and have been looking for something to do which is creative too.

Here is one I made tonight:

It turned out better than hoped for a first time. I just need to work out how to get it tied. I think I will ask mum tomorrow. I also might shuffle the order of beads. For example, looking at the picture I think the silver bead might look better in between the two purple beads.

If you know anything about jewellery or know how I could learn more, I'd really love to hear it.

Hope you enjoyed this crafty post! Let me know what you think, and if you have made anything for Christmas?

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Day 8 of Blogmas - 10 things

Monday's post was very negative and listed the things I dislike about Christmas. However I want to make it very clear - I don't completely hate Christmas. I don't feel as excited this year. It could be because it doesn't feel as cold, or that I feel I've only just moved; it could be getting older or it could be the fact I'm working Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

That being said, I do like spending time with family and all it entails, so here is my positive post about the things I love, am grateful for and goals for 2017.

10 things I love about Christmas:

1. Presents
Yes I'm still a total child! I've had to stop myself opening presents from two of my friends as they posted them.

2. Food
I love being greedy, and it's the one time Mum doesn't lecture me about how I will feel bad about it

3. Day off
It's a nice day off that you can spend off, where neither parents are stressing, and I can be with them

4. No pressure
There are no plans. I am not judged for staying my pjs most of the day!

5. Naps and time to chill
Sometimes I  get to sneak off for naps (I am known to have one, sometimes two and maybe three once).

6. Irn Bru
I've banned myself from drinking it as religiously as I used to. Unfortunately my skin flares up so I like the occasional treat of it on Christmas Day. Most enjoy a bellyful of alcoholic beverages, not me. I don't actually tend to drink anything alcoholic on Christmas Day

7. The aftermath
I love what comes after Christmas. It is the start of organising things for the new year, writing goals and tidying away anything new you've received.

8. Giving
I know presents came first, but this comes in equal measure. I usually start Christmas shopping at the end of October or early November, so love when I can finally exchange gifts; see how much they like it; if they like it.

9. Time for reflection
As it sounds, time to reflect similar to point 7.

10. Coming together
So many families might be far in distance, but come together and celebrate.

10 things I'm grateful for this year:

1. My dogs
2. My friends
3. My family
4. My increasing confidence
5. A home (this time of the year makes me feel for those less fortunate)
6. Learning new hobbies e.g. blog, scrapbooking and more
7. Enjoying being single - no need to look, and learning to enjoy own company
8. My health
9. A job
10. Having everything I need in terms of possessions

10 things I hope for in 2017:

1. Pass my driving test
2. Be the best Maid of Honour I can be for my close friend's wedding in August
3. Get a job in fundraising
4. Make a difference volunteering
5. Go somewhere abroad - preferably to visit my friend, Zara in Norway
6. Visit family who live further afield
7. Go to more gigs and events
8. Pursue more creative hobbies such as jewellery making
9. Start yoga properly again
10. Complete a charity challenge as discussed in yesterday's post here.

Hope you enjoyed this post. As you can probably tell, I love writing a good list! What are you looking forward to? Love to know!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Day 7 of Blogmas - 2017 Fundraising

My Mum said today that Christmas should be more about giving back, and I have to agree. So many people don't get to enjoy it because they can't afford to give or they don't even have a home. This isn't to guilt you, but to make you appreciate what you have and make you realise how important giving is.

As you might have picked up from other posts, I adore fundraising. I haven't done as much as I hoped this year, but I hope that will change in 2017. I always love to look ahead to new challenges and events in the new year, so thought this would be a fun post to encourage others too! I love so many amazing causes so have decided to list some amazing national causes and what they are doing. These causes are very close to my heart. Of course if you know me, I love charities so I found this immensely difficult to choose just 5 charities, but thought 100 might be boring!

I thought it would be best to say what events or challenges you can do with the following charities closest to my heart:

1. Samaritans
I love this charity so much for their continuous support of anyone in the UK struggling. It is amazing that charities like this are around for those in need. I believe everyone needs someone to talk to, and think we've all felt hopeless at one stage in our lives. Looking online, I didn't know that everyday, 16 people decide to take their life; they are there to help prevent.

There are so many events you can do for them including:
Brighton Marathon - 9th April 2017
London Marathon - 23rd April 2017
Edinburgh Marathon Festival - 27th/28th May 2017
London 2 Brighton - 27/28th May 2017
London 10,000 - 29th May 2017
Trek Canada Rockies - choose between dates: 10-18th June or 9-17th September 2017
Trek Iceland - choose between dates: 28th June-2nd July or 30th August-3rd September 2017
Climb Kilimanjaro - as you know, climbing Kilimanjaro is the best thing I've done to date, so encourage anyone and everyone to do it! There are various dates for this.
Ride London - Surrey 100 - 30th July 2017
South Coast Challenge - 26/27th August 2017
Thames Path Challenge - 9/10th September 2017
Great North Run - 10th September 2017
Berlin Marathon - 24th September 2017
Bournemouth Marathon - 7th/8th October 2017
Royal Parks Half Marathon - 8th October 2017
Cycle Vietnam to Cambodia - choose between three dates: 7-15th October, 11-19th October or 21-29th October 2017.
Skydiving - can be done in various locations and dates
Tough Mudder - can be done in various locations and dates
Spartan Race - can be done in various locations and dates
Zombie Evacuation Race - can be done in various locations and dates
Swim Serpentine - in London, but dates tbc

2. Childreach International

I first came across Childreach International while at university, and actually climbed Kilimanjaro for them. They work in countries to help children to fulfil their potential working to ensure they have access to education, healthcare and protection, they work with children, teachers, parents and the communities they work in.

There are a whole load of challenges you can do including: climbing Kilimanjaro (of course), Everest Base Camp, Great North Run, Great Wall of China, Amazon Adventure, London Marathon, British 10K, India on 2 Wheels, Euro City Cycle, Edinburgh Half Marathon, Great Birmingham Half Marathon, London to Paris Cycle, Edinburgh Night Ride, Machu Picchu and skydives. Check out their website to discover more about the charity, and how to get involved.

3. Maggie's
I look so miserable, but pictures sometimes scare me!

This is a charity very close to my heart. If you've not heard of them, they have cancer centre across the UK. They believe in the benefit of having somewhere for people affected by cancer to go to, which is beautiful and designed by architects. They are always built on the site of an NHS hospital, so that patients, relatives or friends can go to between treatments or to access support needed. The staff are fully trained professionals and included clinical psychologists, cancer support specialists, benefit advisors and Centre heads to manage the centre.

There are a whole host of things you can do for them, it is best to see what is going on locally with them as you'll find more tailored things, but here are the main ones they do to fundraise:
Virgin Money London Marathon - 23rd April 2017
Maserati Tour De Yorkshire - 30th April 2017
MK Superhero Run -1st May 2017
Edinburgh Marathon Festival - 27/28th May 2017
Moonwalk - working with Walk the Walk, they fundraise for this. This takes place in June in Edinburgh or London.
Culture Crawl - They've done Culture Crawl London for a while, but in the last two years, they've developed to do it in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Swansea and many more cities. It is a great way to learn about a city, and support charity at the same time. It usually takes place in September or October.
Great North Run - 10th September 2017
Royal Parks Half Marathon - 8th October 2017
Skydive - various dates and locations in UK

I don't need to say much here. I just love animals - mainly dogs and cats, but couldn't imagine harming even a fly so hurts to think others do. We shouldn't need charities like this, people should be nice to animals. They also work to protect them from their environment such as getting trapped somewhere etc. I did do my skydive for SPCA which is the Scottish version of the charity. Not sure I have any pictures from that terrifying experience!

Their website doesn't tell you a great lot about what events are happening in 2017, but I'd suggest getting in touch with your local RSPCA to find out more:
Brighton Marathon - 9th April 2017
London Marathon - 23rd April 2017
Great North Run - 10th September 2017
BIG Walkies - I don't know much about this one, but it sounds really cool.

Who can't support a children's charity? If asked to name a children's charity, this is the first to come to mind. As a child, I might not have known my number, but I knew Childline (luckily I never used it, but it's amazing to know it's there). I believe I had a near perfect childhood, and feel every child is entitled to that. NSPCC work towards supporting to end cruelty, help support those bullied and generally support children when they need it most!

Here are some incredible events you might consider:
City Fine Wine Challenge - 23rd February 2017
Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon - 12th March 2017
Lapland Husky Trail - 17th March 2017
Brighton Marathon  - 9th April 2017
Brighton 10K - 9th April 2017
Virgin Money London Marathon - 23rd April 2017
London 10K
Isle of Wight Challenge - 29th April 2017
Tough Mudder - 29th April 2017
Yorkshire 3 Peak Challenge - various dates between 1st May and 30th October 2017
National 3 Peaks Challenge - various dates between 1st May and 31st October 2017
Machu Picchu Trek - 12th - 21st May 2017
London 2 Brighton - 27th May 2017
Edinburgh Marathon Festival - 27th May 2017
Great Mancester Run - 28th May 2017
Colour Run - 11th June 2017
Velo Birmingham - 24th September 2017

To find more events on NSPCC, check out the website here.

My top tips to raise or exceed your target:
1. Tell everyone you know - whether it's texting, posting on social media or writing letters to neighbours. I raised a lot posting online about what I was doing and even got £20 from a neighbour.
2. Get your work involved - while fundraising for Kilimanjaro, my work at the time helped so much! They helped me organise a quiz night, held a bring and buy sale in the staff room, sold cakes to the staff and people donated online. One person was even pregnant and held a "guess the baby weight". Remember it makes them look good. Employers look good to other employees and the public too!
3. Do what you enjoy - I love organising events so did a race night, date auction (valentine-themed) and of course the quiz night.
4. Sell online - I raised £200 from selling items online that people either gave me to sell, or I sold myself
5. Ask for help - friends and family always want to help and they all have their own ways.

For 2017, I would love to do a firewalk for charity, but haven't found a charity who do it yet. I'm desperate to do another challenge, I just don't know. Maybe another trek, and then it might help me lose weight too! Killing two birds with one stone, or whatever the phrase is...I'm tired!

Hope you enjoyed reading and feel inspired to give something back in 2017! Having done a lot of fundraising, I'm always keen to help people raise more for charities, so feel free to comment below or like and comment on the Facebook page.

If you missed yesterday's post on being a scrooge, and what I hate most about Christmas, click here.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Day 6 of Blogmas - Bah Humbug!

I love to spread Christmas joy and generally write positive posts, but feel like a moan or rant is always fun to read. Therefore today's post lists all the things I dislike about Christmas and the festive period leading up to it.

Here are some of my biggest niggles, which I think many of you might share:

1. It's just one day!
I find it so annoying that people crowd shops particularly places like the Card Factory, and make it near impossible to look round. Christmas adverts take over the entire television for two months (maybe more) guilting you into spending too much money, and what for? It is consumerism gone crazy! I think the true reason and spirit of Christmas has gone. I'm in no way religious, but think it should be more about appreciating those you spend the time with, than how much you spend, what you're getting and feeling you need to show your love in buying form!

I find that so many people descend and waste SO MUCH money on food, and act like they'll be in hibernation for a month. My mother included!

2. The stress
I get so stressed about wasting money on presents that people won't like. I have no idea why because 9/10 I see people using the gifts I gave them, and think I'm generally good at gift buying. Other people get so stressed about time with in-laws, annoying family members and being forced to be together. And why? We're continuously told that life is short, so why waste it with people you dislike?

3. Snow
I know so many people wish for a white christmas, but truth to be told I absolutely detest snow (I know I must be the only person). I wish snow could be like in the films - turn up on Christmas Eve and gone by Boxing Day. Snow brings with ice, black ice and plenty of painful falls.

4. The Sales
Don't get me wrong everyone loves a good sale, and grabbing a bargain. I do too! I don't enjoy being pushed, shoved or being on top of people in a sauna of body heat. I believe we live with technology now, so believe all sales should be online, and especially at this time of year. Why do poor retailers have to deal with rude customers on the run-up to Christmas, and then work on Boxing Day? How can they enjoy their Christmas, when they are working the next day?

5. The boredom
I know this will be very unpopular, but I actually get so bored on Christmas Day. I forget every year how much until it comes round again. Sitting in the house all day, wearing pjs, opening presents and then nothing. To me, it's like a dull Sunday with presents.

6. Films
It is the only time I find it socially acceptable to watch a film again. I love to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Harry Potter films. However instead my parents force some crime thriller or action film, that any other time of year, I'd go watch my own thing, but feel like "you have to" be with them.

7. TV
The television is generally crap; even more so than the rest of the year. Hopefully this year is different. I think it's important too as we tend to stay in all day, and don't visit anyone.

8. Christmas cards
I still buy them to go alongside presents, and find it important to send to grandparents, and know my mum always likes/expects her. However I feel they are pointless, as many people aren't like me. By the new year, they are thrown in the bin. Whereas I tend to collect all mine (as long as I like the picture and it's from someone I like).

9. Diet
It's the only time of the year, where it is acceptable to say "f**k it!" I disagree with this idea, and think we need to not overindulge. That being said, I will probably be the first to stuff my face with chocolate. My waistline suffer and stomach will be sore!

10. Christmas songs
You can't help but sing to them, but think it's more of a nostaglia thing; they remind you of Christmas past and good spirit. However I find them cheesy and can't think of one I like. I'm not sure whether heading Christmas songs on repeat from September/October to December, while working in retail sucked any enjoyment I got. I think I hated them before then though!

Let me know if you have any of the same annoyances about Christmas or wish to let me know I'm the female version of Scrooge! I somehow think I will have missed some. Either way I hope you enjoyed reading...

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Day 5 of Blogmas - Last day of Christmas Shopping!

Marking the 5th day of my 12 days of Blogmas posts, I thought it would be best to describe what happened today. I did the most festive thing I can think of (well for me). Christmas shopping!

This year I've done most of my Christmas shopping online. With all my people sorted, I thought it would be fun to give you some inspiration. While touring the shops today, I realised how overwhelming it can be; I was just grateful my shopping was done!

First of all, here are some tips for starting/continuing your Christmas shopping:

1. I like to write a list of all the people I need to buy for
I think it is essential so you don't miss anyone! That might seem impossible, but for those with bigger families with parents, step-parents, grandparents, children, aunties, uncles, friends, colleagues and other extended family, it's easily done. In recent years, I've also become more savvy with who I choose to buy for. Christmas is a season to give and be generous, but sometimes you need to think properly who you buy for. I'd say I have a lot of good friends, but now only buy items for my best friends who I am closest to. I think it saves awkward moments. I also like to buy for secret santas at work (it's just good fun), but currently I am in a temporary job so don't really have "friends" at work as such. 

2. Then I write what each person likes or might be wanting for Christmas
For example, this is some of the things from my list:
Friend 1: Loves anything rabbit-related, home stuff, drinking, disney, or something personalised
Friend 2: Loves Disney, Star Wars, Ru Paul, makeup, beauty, bath etc
Friend 3: Loves zombie things, makeup, bath, candles, books, stationery
Dad: Needs new clothes. Usually get him a bath-related item, jelly babies, something jokey in terms of t-shirt or whatever.

3. I look these things up online
Like most people, I have favourite websites to buy from and ones that I trust using more than others. This year, I looked up things on websites including: FireboxDebenhamsEtsy, not on the high streetAmazoneBay and QVC.

Firebox, Etsy and Not on the High Street are brilliant for getting that thing that is original or bit different. I don't want to give too much away but there are endless possibilities on these sites from making things with personalised pictures, messages and specific memorabilia for fans of things like Marvel, Star Wars or any films/TV. 

Debenhams had some amazing bargains especially during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. I bought heaps online through their click and collect. I even bought my remaining shopping from there today. There were lots of amazing items, and only reason I didn't get more was because I got everything I needed for certain people, and presents were already sent.

I didn't see anything on Amazon this year, but they are often the go-to for so many people. I find them really good for affordable books, DVDs and anything in-between. My Dad keeps getting packages for them for just about everything (not even christmas related - Mum buys everything for him!)

QVC is a big addiction in my family. It's where we get many great deals on beauty items from the likes of Tarte, Liz Earle, Laura Geller, Elemis and many more. I also bought my first Lulu Guinness through them because you could pay in three easy payments. A lot of their items do this, which is amazing. Best of all, it's interest free. You just pay through easy payments of 2, 3 or 4 depending on what it is.

At first, I tried to buy things completely online but feel there are pros and cons to doing online or being shops. For example, being in shops you can gain advice for shop assistants who know more about the products, look and touch them before paying a penny and get a better view of the colours etc. However staying online, you feel more organised, avoid the crowds and get to buy things from the comfort of your home.

I've found nice stocking fillers or small things to add to presents in Primark this year. For example, the obligatory sock purchase and accessories. I've also found fab things in Marks and Spencer which I don't usually like such as the shirt for Dad. I also liked the underwear, pjs and accessories for myself! I bought bath related gift for my Dad at Lush. Other than that, it's all been online.

4. I research the best places to buy from
Sometimes I have a specific item in mind, but want to get it at the best price. For example, I wanted to get a friend a candle-related item from Flamingo Candles, but wanted to see if there were sites that sold it cheaper. Luckily I saved about £5 buying on eBay (brand new and from a business) and kept doing things like this throughout my shop. I also found the items at Aldi to be amazing with great festive food, and love their chocolate the most! Aldi is also selling heaps of Disney, Star Wars, hats, socks and Christmas jumpers which make amazing presents.

5. Budget and buy!
Similar to above, I tend to set limits on how much I spend on people. For example, I strictly spend £30 on each of my friends which means I can get lots of little bits. It's great because I used to spend £20 but found it really hard to find decent things that price or it would just be one big present. I usually spend about £30-£50 on my Dad and £50-£100 on my Mum, but this isn't strict. If I see other things, I tend to get them or if I feel what I've got is a lot, I leave it.

6. Post things in time
Royal mail says to send second-class you need to send your items by the 21st December. I sent all mine by last Saturday. I can honestly say it was an annoying expense, but worth it to spread joy to my friends who live further away. I'm not being ungenerous, but this is because you not only pay to get it sent but also: box to fit perfectly, wrapping, and then the postage for every item you have separately. I think the best presents are lots of little things rather than one big thing.

7. Enjoy doing it!
It's easy to get stressed shopping for Christmas. I know I can feel overwhelmed and full of too many ideas. However I think it's important to not get worked-up and enjoy it! I usually try to make little traditions; some are things I do alone, some are recent traditions and some are just nice things to do on the build-up to Christmas.

For example, I love to treat myself to something specific to reward myself for completing my Christmas shopping in time. I don't mean buying the usual things you might from month to month such as a new top, going out dress or a favourite makeup thing. I mean something you might have wanted for some time! One year I bought myself tickets to see Alan Carr, other years I've treated myself to beauty items I've been curious about or something that bit more expensive. I love this tradition!

Recent traditions have including opening one present on Christmas Eve from my mother before the big day. It's sometimes something very small like it started with a crystal keyring. Since then, I've not let her forget it. Other traditions are included in my recent post here.

Hope my tips help, and here are pictures of the items I bought today for my Dad:

Mr Grumpy Mug, Debenhams, £8

Jelly Babies, Iceland, 2 for £4

Belgian White Chocolate, Waitrose, £1.70

Earphones, Primark, £1.50

It sounds like a rubbish present, but my Dad is always running around losing his earphones and saying I took them despite mine being a different colour, so thought these might stand out for him.

Toaster Tin with Cookies inside, Waitrose, £6.27

Red Check Shirt, Marks and Spencer, £19.50

Then I got myself:

Urban Decay - Naked Skin Concealer, Debenhams, £17.50

Black Pumps - Primark, £3

How is your Christmas shopping coming along? One week until doesn't even feel real!

Hope you are loving the Blogmas posts, and didn't miss yesterday's post about my favourite Christmas adverts.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Day 4 of Blogmas - Favourite Christmas Adverts ever!

Can you believe we're 1/3 into the 12 days of Blogmas? Feel free to look at the other Blogmas posts. Yesterday was all about Father Christmas - facts and traditions surrounding him. In case you missed it, feel free to click here.

Today was going to be a post all about fundraising and encouraging you take up a challenge in 2017. However, there is a lot to get through and feel if I tried today it might not be finished or as perfect as I want it to be. Instead I'm going to go through something that has got so many people speaking in recent years: the festive ads.

Here are some of my favourites in no particular order:

1. Polish Advert for a Polish Auction Site (2016)

You would need to be utterly heartless to not be touched by this advert. One of my friends shared it with me and I just loved it. It features an old man learning english and the reason why makes it truly beautiful. Click here to watch this interesting story.

2. Coca Cola

I couldn't do this list without including this brand. After all, they were the ones who marketed so well that they created Santa as we know today as discussed in my previous post. You can't help, but get wrapped up in the Christmas spirit when you hear the bells #Holidaysarecoming.The advert always used to get me excited because unlike other adverts, it didn't feature too early. After all, how adverts are non-christmas related at the moment? It has been like this since November, maybe October.

3. Irn Bru and the Snowman (2007)

As you'll know from many of my posts (especially in my recent post, 20 things I love about Scotland), I adore Irn Bru! I'm actually more excited for drinking some on Christmas Day than anything else. I may or not said, I suffer badly with things like acne and it often flairs  up when I drink fizzy drinks like irn bru so have been avoiding my favourite beverage. Since I have work early the next day, I won't be drinking anything alcoholic, but weirdly I don't really.

4. Yellow Pages - Mistletoe (1992)

This might have been made the year I was born, but I have seen it many times. It is such an adorable advert. Click here.

5. Budweiser - Snowball Fight (2005)

There doesn't need to be a warm fussy feeling, I love funny adverts too! Remember those horses doing a snowball fight?

6. Kellogg's Cornflakes - Waiting for Santa (1991)

What a lovely advert which captures the magic of Christmas. It also so happens to advertise one of my favourite cereals, which says a lot as a cereal addict! Click here to see this adorable advert.

7. John Lewis - Buster the dog (2016)

This year's John Lewis ad had to be my favourite from them yet. They are known for their amazing advertising, but to me this combines everything that's important in Christmas. The joy of giving, families and good humour. John Lewis have done some powerful advertising on the lead-up for Christmas, and have even got people excited to see their adverts. I also loved last year's advert, the man on the moon. It was powerful and promoted giving to charity, and thinking of others which are very important messages.

8. Sainsbury's - Mog's Christmas Calamity (2015)

I remember being transfixed in the story of this. It gave me goosebumps as it promoted the power of community spirit and coming together. Watch it here.

9. Marks and Spencer - With love from Mrs Claus (2016)

I adore this one! It demonstrates to me that behind every amazing man is a hard-working woman. It is lovely like any advert from M&S, whether it promotes their underwear or whether they seductively describe their food! Click here to see it for yourself.

10. WWF - #iProtectTigers Christmas Advert (2016)

I was unsure what to have as my 10th as there were a few good ones. Aldi had Kevin the carrot, which was ok but I would have only added it for it's other adverts such as these ones. I also thought about the impressive animation of Very. However as a previous fundraiser with a love of supporting charity during the festive period, I knew I had to promote WWF's recent advert. For anyone who hasn't seen it, it features a family caring for a tiger. I don't want to spoil it for you, but it is very heartwarming! Watch it here.

Let me know what you think, do you have any favourites that aren't here? Do you look forward to seeing adverts from any of your favourite adverts.