Fun & Faff: Where have I been?

Me in my natural habitat. #coffeeshop #nordicbakery #yum #daytrip #london

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Apologies I got rather caught up in that thing they call life there and didn’t find the time to blog for a little while. What the heck have I been doing you ask? Well, over the past couple of weeks I’ve been…

Working really hard at the day job

I’m working on a massive, and very challenging, project at the moment. It’s all good, but hard work and sometimes very tiring. Some evenings the last thing I’ve wanted to do is look at a computer screen when I get home, hence the lack of blogs.

Building wardrobes

Well, Hubby did this in the most part, but I did help by deciding where shelves should be stacked and drawers should be hung. I’m loving how organised our apartment is just by the addition of this one piece of furniture. God bless you Ikea!

I ❤️cake! #Claridges #London #fabdaywiththefam #afternoontea

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Enjoying afternoon tea at Claridge’s

Oh my! When we first booked this I balked at the cost (£50 per head), but now having been and experienced the magic of Claridge’s, I have to say it’s worth every penny. I’ll do a separate blog post about this soon. But, for now, let’s just say: more cake than even I can eat AND there’s a lady in the toilets who turns the tap on for you and checks the temperature of the water before you wash your hands. Opulent, posh and amazing.

Oh hello Big Ben! #FabDayWithTheFam #London #LondonEye

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More London-y stuff

As well as afternoon tea, we also strolled around London. Took in Westiminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Covent Garden, Downing Street, Horseguard’s Parade and Buckingham Palace. We also took a spin on the London Eye.

Sigmund Freud had a very nice London home. #FreudianSlips #Hampstead #dayout #London #psychoanalysis #instacollage

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And yet more London-y stuff

Not content with a weekend in the big smoke. Hubby and I returned at the weekend to do a bit more of the touristy stuff. We visited the Freud Museum and the Imperial War Museum and walked for miles.

Catching up with friends and family

‘Cause that’s a nice thing to do y’know.

Watching Keeping up With the Kardashian’s and Made in Chelsea NYC

Because after a stressful day at work you can’t beat some trash TV.

Enjoying having a stay at home Hubby

Hubby took last week off work and it was very nice and indulgent having him look after after me when I got home from work.

Booking a holiday

More on this soon, but we’ll be going away again in a few weeks – whoop, and indeed, whoop!

Boring stuff

Because sometimes you’ve gotta cook, clean and sleep. That’s just life.

So, now we’re all caught up and I’ll be back with some more blog posts very soon.

What have you been doing? Let me know in the comments box.

Fun & Fundraising: Join in the Hope House Zip Wire Challenge

ZipWire

Fancy doing something slightly daring and ever-so-much fun, all in aid of charity? 

Why not sign up for the Hope House Zip Wire Challenge? It’s on Sunday 12th October near to Telford and Bridgnorth in Shropshire, UK. 

We did it last year and loved it. You can read about my experience here

It’s the perfect challenge to shake away the ‘playing-it-safe’ cobwebs without going down the ‘so scary I daren’t’ cul-de-sac and all the money raised goes to a great cause. 

To find out more and register visit: www.hopehouse.org.uk/events or call 01691 671671. 

Altogether now, zip-e-de-do-dah zip-e-de-day. 

Fun & Fast Cars: My Nissan GTR Experience

Sam & the GTR

Are you going to go fast?

I asked the driver.

Before I knew it my head was pinned back onto the headrest and I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face.

We’d gone to the track day in Seighford so that Hubby’s Dad could redeem a gift voucher we’d purchased for him for his birthday, giving him the opportunity to drive the beast that is the Nissan GTR. Hubby didn’t need much encouragement to sign-up for a go in the high-speed motor on the day, especially as his Dad seemed so keen for someone to share the experience with him. Sure, they’d drive at different times but just having that other person who knew what you were talking about when you spoke of gear shifts, acceleration and over-taking Ferrari’s as if they were parked-up meant a lot.

Nissan GTR

Seeing the sexy Nissan GTR brought back happy memories for all of us. Rather untraditionally Hubby and his best man (his Dad) got the wedding car on our big day, with me choosing to get ready at the venue. A traditional wedding car wouldn’t have been right for a groom’s entrance and so he arrived in style (and speed) in the GTR. I was too busy getting my hair and make-up done, but if the crowds of guys around the car after the ceremony were anything to go by, I would imagine Hubby arrived to some envious stares.

Anyway, back to Seighford. As Hubby queued to pay up for his drive. I noticed a board offering high-speed passenger rides. I’m not the most confident of drivers and with my slightly wonky eyes didn’t feel courageous enough to take a £78,000 supercar for a spin. But I still wanted to experience it for myself, so I paid up and waited for my name to be called ready for my two lap excursion around the track.

Nissan GTR Interior

The first thing I have to say is that the GTR is a thing of beauty. It just looks swishy and sexy and sporty without being poncey or chavvy. The dials, the trim. It’s also, dare I say it, reasonably practical for a sports car – certainly more so than a flashy Lambo. And, more importantly it looks meaty, but not showy. To those who aren’t aware of its power they really could be fooled that they could beat you off the line in their mom’s old Peugeot 206 with added noisy exhaust. Aptly enough Hubby and I recently spotted a GTR with a personalised plate which spelt out – YOU LOSE – indeed you would.

As for my two laps. Sure they were over in a blink of an eye, but I have seriously never known acceleration like it. Going around with the instructor driving was actually brilliant as he knew how to push the car to its limits. Despite the wet weather he continually took the racing line, overtaking EVERYTHING on the track and leaving turns and breaking to the very last second. Making for an exciting drive that made me want to get all Tellytubby and demand ‘again, again!’.  You know when Jeremy Clarkson gets in a supercar that he loves on Top Gear and screams ‘POWERRRR’ before wetting his pants (possibly) – that was, almost, me.

If you like fast powerful cars, adrenalin rushes and things that make you smile – then get your butt in a Nissan GTR pronto!

You can find out more about track days at Seighford here.

Fun: The Art of Doing Nothing (or from FOMO To YOLO)

Slippers

In this age of FOMO (Fear of Missing out) it’s easy to caught up in trying to do something every millisecond of every day. Even more so when a Bank Holiday weekend rears its head.

 But everyone is out with friends…

Having BBQs…

Drinking Magners…

Going on country walks…

Or out for family meals…

Everyone is having more fun than me…

Or, if they’re not, they’re working on some elaborate DIY project that’s going to make their house more amazing than ours.

So says your marketers-dream subconscious.

On the Friday before the last Bank Holiday Hubby and I faced our own Bank Holiday FOMO moment.

 But we don’t have any plans… We should do something.

We said.

Fortunately, common sense prevailed. So far this year I’ve already visited Sri Lanka, Edinburgh, Bristol (twice), Birmingham, Dudmaston Hall and the National Space Centre. Not to mention gone out for numerous meals and indulged in various shopping sprees. In the coming months we have Soccer Aid, a Robbie Williams gig and a week, well, somewhere to look forward to.

We both agreed, we’d be doing something for the sake of it. Spending money when we didn’t really need to. Our FOMO was soon replaced by YOLO, but not the YOLO that you’re thinking of… no, instead we decided You’re Only Lazy Once-in-a-while as we kicked back, caught up and chilled out.

How did you spend your Bank Holiday weekend?

Fun & Festivities: Hen Party/Bachelorette Games

Hen

From Healthstones.com

Been asked to be bridesmaid and worrying about the hen night activities? Don’t panic!

Everyone’s hen night/weekend/extravaganza should be something personal to them. For some that will be a day of shopping, for others a pamper day at the spa, or – for the more rowdy – a night downing Jaeger-bombs dressed head-to-toe in willy regalia. Unless you know the bride-to-be really well I’d suggest consulting with her before you start planning anything. Your ideas and her’s of what constitutes a rip-roaring fun hen celebration may be completely different and it’s important to remember that even if her suggestions aren’t your thing – it’s her party and she’ll do what she wants to. Don’t try to modify her desires to fit in what you want to do unless you want the same to happen to you when the tables are turned!

That said, it’s always good to have a few surprises tucked away. I’m not talking strippers. I don’t think I know of any woman who would actually want a stripper at her hen party. In fact, I explicitly told my friends that if a man turned up who then proceeded to shed clothes I would run away, lock myself in the toilet, and refuse to come out until he had gone. I’m talking cheeky little nice surprises, that lighten the mood, get everyone up for a good time and have a minimal amount of embarrassment. I say minimal because I think some form of embarrassment is mandatory on a hen do.

With that in mind here are some games you could play…

Pin The Willy…

Not as rude as it sounds. Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s there was a character called Ethel in the soap EastEnders. She had a cute little pug dog whom she called Willy and often ‘my little Willy’. I’m sure you can see where this is going?!

Preparation

1. Track down a photo of Ethel with her Little Willy. I particularly like this one and print out two copies.

2. Mount one onto card, on the other carefully cut out the dog and discard the remainder of the picture.

Let the fun commence

1. When you come to play the game. Announce to the bride that you’re going to play ‘Pin the Willy’ and watch her squirm. Blindfold her and, having placed a small amount of Blu Tak on the back of the cut out of the dog, pass this to her and ask her to pin onto the picture as close to where it should be as possible (obviously on the matching image of the dog, but don’t tell her that just yet – in fact, for maximum impact, she shouldn’t see the images at all!).

2. Remove the blindfold so she can see how close she was and tut at her dirty mind – whatever did she think you were asking to pin where?!

From henpartysuperstore.co.uk

How Well Do you Know the Bride? 

One for your fellow hens. You’ll need to know the Bride pretty well yourself for this one. It’s a good giggle, which lets the bride take a breather from the games for a while and can be a great ice breaker.

Preparation

Write down a list of around ten questions about the bride. You want to get a good mix of easy questions (what is her favourite alcoholic tipple?), ones about the wedding (where did the bride and groom go on their first date?) and slightly embarrassing ones (which cartoon character did the bride once have a crush on?)

Let the fun commence

When it’s time to play, you can either give guests a pen and piece of paper to write their answers on and read out later, or get people to shout their answers out. Either way it should make for an amusing insight into what they think of the bride, or collapse into utter nonsense. You could award a prize to the person who gets the most answers correct.

Guess the Willy

Some brides stipulate a ‘no willy’ rule for their last night of freedom. But come on a hen do isn’t a hen do without some willies, right? This is a cheeky way of incorporating some classy willy!

Preparation

Source images of famous Williams from the web and print them out. Think Will I Am, Will Smith, Just William, Prince William, William Shakespeare, William Tell.

Let the fun commence

When it comes to playing, announce that you’re going to play ‘Guess the Willy’ and watch the bride temporarily squirm. Then announce that she has a selection of famous willies which she has to identify. Hold up the individual images and see if she can guess each one (if she can’t get the rest of the hens in on the guessing game).

The Mr & Mrs Game Without the Mrs (a.k.a How Well Does the Bride Know the Groom)

A classic, but a goody – so long as you know the couple are pretty tight to begin with.

Preparation

Write a list of questions to pose to the groom – these could be things like ‘What’s your favourite flavour of crisps?’, ‘What was your first car?’ and get the groom to answer them (I sent them via Facebook and played the game off my phone).

Let the fun commence

At the hen do, ask the bride-to-be the questions about her husband and see how many she gets right.

Have you played any amusing hen party games?

Fun: Our Wedding Scrapbook and Memory Box

Scrapbook

Along with the discarded craft materials and the wedding dress slung over the back of an office chair, the room where things go to die also housed a whole heap of memories. I don’t mean that we’d thrown parties in there, or even had deep discussions. Nope, our spare room housed something far messier than that…

Married in 2011 postcard

…A whole two shelves of our bookcase were home to various wedding paraphernalia – cards, RSVPs, images torn from magazines with ideas for everything from bridesmaid dresses to cakes, T-shirts from my hen do, honeymoon photos, our cake topper…

The mess wasn’t pretty; the items were! And, so, in my latest project I’ve set to creating some more suitable storage for these wedding wonders. Say hello to my wedding scrapbook, and my wedding memory box.

Wedding Box

I’d purchased both some time ago from John Lewis (back when I was a Miss in fact) and they’d lain unloved.

Cake and transport ideas

Now they’re filled with, well, love and happy memories.

There’s no real ‘how to’ lesson here. All I did was stick the memories into the scrapbook in an appropriate order with some PVA glue. Anything that was too bulky made its (strategically placed) way into the memory box.

Acceptance cards

And now I have something more manageable to store. Something which every time I look through it will make me smile. And something to show the kids/grankids/aliens from Mars when they eventually land.

Wedding invite

What have you done with your wedding memories?

Wedding scrapbook

Fun: Turn Your Greetings Cards Into Gift Tags

Materials for making gift tags

While we’ve already figured out what to do with the greetings cards you can’t bear to throw away. But what do you do with the others? The ones that are pretty enough, but not life changing. You could recycle them, or you could get crafty and save yourself a bob or two by turning them into super thrifty gift tags with this really easy craft project.

You’ll need…

  • Old greetings cards that were destined for the bin/recycling
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors and/or craft knife, metal rule and cutting mat
  • Ribbon – either curling ribbon or material ribbons would work
  • Pencil
  • Various sizes of drinking glasses (if you want to make circular tags)

Homemade gift tags

Get crafty…

  • Take a look through your cards and select images that will work well on tags, you’re looking for small isolated images that won’t look odd when they stand alone. You’ll also need to make sure the back of the image is blank as that’s where you’ll want to write your message once you’ve turned it into a gift tag (last thing you want is some words from Great Aunt Ethel, no matter how sweet, messing up your craft session).
  • Decide whether the image would work better cut out as a square/rectangle or in a circle. If you opt for a circle simply draw around an appropriate sized drinking glass to get a perfect circle.  I tend to freehand the squares/rectangles with my ruler/craft knife/cutting mat combo – but you could cut out with scissors too.
  • Once you’ve got your tag use the hole punch to, erm, punch a hole in the top (be careful on placement, I’ve had a few gift tag casualties at this stage… no one wants to wish someone a Happy irthday – oops!)
  • Finally thread an appropriate length of ribbon through the punched hole and tie a double-knot to secure it to the tag. It’s THAT easy!

Another project from ‘the room where project go to die’, check out the other projects that I’ve resuscitated:

Painted picture frames
Really Simple Felt decorations
Wall Art

Have you been crafting recently? I’d love to see what you’ve made. Share your links in the comments below.

Fun: Create Your Own Wall Art

Star_Wall_Art

The pot of gold paint used to paint the photo frames in my previous project was originally intended for creating some artwork on canvas. The idea was to draw a series of hearts and use the metallic paint to fill them in with various patterns. I thought it would look good hung in our bedroom. That was back when we were going for a cream and gold theme in our boudoir.

The heart picture, unfortunately, never happened. For one, we opted for a grey colour scheme in our bedroom (reveal coming soon!) and the canvas got crushed under a pile of other craft items in the room where projects go to die (a.k.a our spare room).

But I was determined to make use of this beautiful pot of paint and so, as well as the aforementioned photo frames, I decided to create me a bit of wall art. I scrapped the idea of hearts in favour of a big bold star. It fitted with the colour of the paint, was bold and fun… and I’m slightly obsessed with stars anyway (plus Hubby loves astronomy).

I grabbed some leftover card from my box frame project and cut it to A4 using a craft knife, cutting pad and metal rule. Then I downloaded a template of a star from the web and  carefully cut out the centre leaving me with a perfect star template.

Star_template

I placed this onto my card and stuck down the edges with masking tape to prevent it moving.

Gold_paint

Then I poured some gold paint into a clean take-away container, got a washing up sponge and dabbed it over the template, ensuring even coverage. I gave the star three applications of gold paint in total, allowing each coat to dry overnight.

When the star was completely dry I removed the template and added one of my favourite sayings in black pen.

Without the dark… we’d never see the stars

It’s no Picasso, but I love its rustic edge, I enjoyed creating it and it makes me smile when I walk past it in our hallway. It’s also a good reminder that crappy days are par for the course and you’ve just gotta roll with them until the good times shine through.

Have you created any of your own wall art? I’d love to see. Share your links to your creations below…

Fun: Making Felt Decorations – Hearts and Snowflakes

Felt_Decoration

Given my recent admission that I’m crap at sewing it might come as a surprise that my latest clear-the-clutter-craft involves this very skill! But, hey, everyone loves a trier right?

Excepting the fact that I had to find a YouTube video so I could re-learn how to do blanket stitch (I used this one, in case you’re interested) I actually quite enjoyed creating these little decorations and although these are Christmas ones, I think you could create something similar for other occasions – with Easter just around the corner I think chicks, bunnies and eggs created out of pastel shades of felt would look adorable. OK, so the finished article is a tad (a-hem) rustic, but they’re proof that if I can do it, anyone can!

Materials

Sheets of felt
Needle
Embroidery silks
Buttons
Ribbons
Fabric Scissors
Templates
Anything else you feel like adding to them (how about beads or sequins?)
Pencil

Felt_Decoration

Method

1. If your felt is wrinkled, like mine was, iron on a cool heat or through on old tea towel.

2. Download, print and cut out an appropriate template from t’internet. I used this one for the hearts and this one for the snowflakes.

3. Place the template on your sheet of felt, draw around it with the pencil to leave the outline of the template on the felt.

4. Repeat step 3 in a different area of the felt (imagine you’re making jam tarts to get the maximum amount of decorations out of your sheet of felt).

5. Using your fabric scissors, carefully cut the shapes out from the felt and place them on top of each other, ensuring the patterns match.

6. Blanket stitch the two pieces together using embroidery silk in a contrasting shade.

7. Cut an appropriate length of ribbon and sew onto the top of your decoration, along with the button.

8. Et viola, you have a decoration fit for a Christmas tree, or to add to a nice artsy display of twigs, or to put on a Christmas gift, or to do whatever you want with to be honest.

And, like I say, if I can do this – seriously – anyone can!

Have you tried any crafts recently? Share your creations in the comments below.

Felt_Decorations

Fun: Painted Picture Frames

Painted_Photo_Frame

The crap in my spare room,

it was getting me down (my friend).

Like some crafts in a bag,

looking so sad

The time has come around…

Excuse my poor paraphrasing of The Verve, but to be honest, I couldn’t resist.

As you may know I’ve been sorting out our spare room a.k.a (adopts scary booming voice) ‘the room where projects go to die’ and in doing so I’ve stumbled across a helluva lot of unloved craft materials. Projects that seemed a good idea when I saw them on Pinterest. I’d even gone so far as sourcing the materials in Hobbycraft. Yep, I was all up for the retail therapy side of crafting, just not so prepared for the doing bit. But, wanting to clear my spare room of junk, and liberate my brain by not having a whole heap of half-finished projects weighing me down, I set to crafting, sticking, sewing and creating. Here I share with you the first of my endeavours…

Greetings Cards as Decorations

Every once in a while you receive a card that stands out from the rest, for whatever reason. Maybe its got a nice vintage design, or it’s been sent to you by someone special. Whatever it is, there’s something about it, you just can’t stop looking at it and when it comes to card recycling time you just can’t bear to chuck it. I had a couple of cards of this ilk. One a gorgeous vintage design, the other super cute. I’d slung them in my Christmas box, not really knowing what to do with them. Each year they would be taken out of the Christmas box, but unlike it’s housemates – the other Christmas decorations – they would never make it on display. What was the point in keeping them if they just sat in a box? And so I decided, if I liked the cards that much, I should make decorations out of them!

What you need

Greetings cards
Photo frames
Sandpaper
Paint
Paintbrush

Method

Photo_Frames

1. Firstly, source photo frames that are the right size and design for your cards. If the frames are also the right colour – bonus – you’ve just saved yourself a job! Otherwise look for frames that have an uncoated wood finish, or are a light colour as it makes them easier to paint. I got mine from Wilko, but you might be able to get some from charity shops too.

2. Make sure your cards fit perfectly – you might have to do some trimming. Once you’re happy, put your cards somewhere safe and out of the way of the prep and painting.

3. Remove the glass from the frame and start preparing the frame by rubbing it all over with sandpaper. Wipe down with a damp cloth, followed by a dry cloth.

4. Now you’re ready to paint! I had some gold paint left over from another craft project which seemed the perfect shade for displaying Christmas cards, but you could use whatever shade you want. Leftover wall paint would work fine, or buy small pots from a DIY or craft store. Paint a coat at a time, leaving each coat to dry overnight (make sure you cover all surfaces and clothes to prevent getting paint where you don’t want it, obvs!).

5. When you’re happy with the finish (I went for three coats of paint on the wood frame and four coats on the white frame) and the frames are dry, put the glass back in, add your cards, snap the back on et voila decorations crafted from those cards you just can’t bear to throw away.

Painted_Photo_Frames