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A Winter Cocktail

Life changing magic

Life changing magic
The Life Changing Magic

One Little Word

I thought about doing One little Word for 2012, but I wrote this in my diary instead and figured I’d follow it (which I did. In 2012 – I failed BIG). This year thought, I have put some serious thought into what my one little word should be.

And I started out thinking my word should be 'Time' as I just don't ever seem to have any. I don’t have time to repaint my nails. I don’t have time to finish that project I started months ago. I’ll be honest, most mornings I don’t even have time for make-up (it’s done in the car). I find myself rushing to not be late for work, rushing home to walk the dog, or rushing get to some commitment or other.

But it just seemed so negative. And I am not sure that's what this is all about, so my new word is;
There are so many things for me to TRY. Try to make. Try to do. Try to eat {I am a fussy eater}. Try to embrace.Try to change. Try to catch up on. Try to bite my tongue and not say. Many many thing to TRY!

Sometimes I get caught up in the negative of things, if I can't do it first time, or it doesn't make sense I am quick to give up on them before I have even tried.

So, for 2013, I will TRY.
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A wedding present.

My little brother is getting married in a few days now. They’re the sort of couple who want for nothing*. Seriously, nothing. Which makes them hard people to buy for. And I don’t have the sort of cash to buy presents for people who want for nothing. The only thing I have up my sleeve is sentiment. And the knowledge that my brother’s fiancée loves Christmas. A lot. So much so when they went to Montréal they imported a huge tree back.




With this in mind I made them a set of wedding baubles so that every year, when they put the tree up, they’ll be taken back to their wedding day {and hopefully, since my brother forgot it was my mum’s birthday the same day, it’ll jog his mind that it’s their anniversary coming up}



Their wedding invites featured some beautifully snowflaked paper, and some little diamanté snowflakes that I promptly ripped off. In hindsight, I maybe should have photographed the invites before starting on this, but I didn't.

I found these fabulous glass baubles on Panduro Hobby, along with this perfectly sized wooden box.


I popped the tops off each of the baubles and measured the opening. I sliced the sparkly bits into strips the width of the opening and curled them on a pencil. Once they were suitably curled, I posted the strips into the baubles and admired the sparkles. I am actually a magpie. Once the tops were back on they I replaced the string with some glittery thread. I then took my 6 sparkly snowflakes, and super glued them onto the outside of each of the baubles.

After I took these pictures I realised that the box wasn't very special, and it might best to protect the baubles in the box, so I lined it with some white and silver tissue paper to add a little bling to it too. 

I think they look beautiful, what do you think?

*they’re also the sort of couple who don’t read/know/care about my blog so I am safe posting this here. 
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Looking Pretty


You might recall I have a wedding to go to soon and I’d left it a little late in sorting out my outfit. Well, I think, with at exactly 1 week to spare, I might have got it all sorted. 
I went to the shops wanting something blue so I could wear the beautiful sapphires the boy gave me last year, but it turns out blue just isn't the colour of dressy dresses this year, and so I'll be partying in this outfit; 
1. dress 2. Bolaro  3. headband 4. Clutchbag (handmade) 5. Shoes

So, I came away with this stunning beige-y/pink-y dress from Ted Baker that makes me look like an extra from Midnight in Paris. Which is no bad thing. I adore the dress, and I am massively in love with my feather bolero {it does not, however, work with my PJ’s}

The headband is from accessorize. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going with any head wear until my mum spotted it and fell in love. I’m wearing it more for her than me. And the shoes are a Matalan classic, but the colour fits the beading on the dress perfectly. I’ll be honest. I hate heels so as soon as I can I’ll be swapping them out for a pair of flats.

The only shame is the clutch bag, which I love and was made by my own fair hands from the most buttery soft leather and some stunning liberty print lining is a bit too pink for the dress. I *should* have gone with the lighter shade.
{i bought the pink to match a previous dress and its just too pink. Unfortunately I don't have the cash to make buy the leather for another! Unless someone wants to buy this one from me?}

I've also been talked into buying some Bare Minerals make-up. When I had a little session with it at work, the finish was flawless - I'm just hoping I can emulate that finish too. 
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A year of reading


One of my favourite nights of the month is the first Wednesday of the month at the Fancie* bookclub – book chat, cake and some lovely ladies. I blogged about my first time at the Fancie bookclub, and if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen the monthly pictures. It’s not pretentious, no-one minds if you haven’t finished the book, and we pull no punches when discussing characters. The point of joining a book club was push me to read some things I wouldn’t have read, and it has definitely done this – there have been some books I have loved, and others I have struggled with and not finished and last night, after a half hearted discussion of Sue Townsend’s latest novel, we picked our books for 2013.

It’s a pretty mixed bag and I’d love to know if you’ve read any of them, or if they’re on your to read list;  

January – A Proper Family Christmas – Jane Gordon Cumming {yes, I know it might seem a little late to be discussing a Christmas book, but we’ll meet the 3rd January, so reading will be done in December}
Nov – Dawn’s choice
Dec – Mo’s choice

Each member came along with a list of books they fancied reading {mine were mostly taken from twitter and included American Wife, The book of lost things, and we discussed it as a group. Then the top choice from each person was popped in a tea cup and picked out at will. Randomly, the names 2 regulars who couldn’t make it were picked out last, that why we just have names there!

*If you’re not from Sheffield you might not know about Fancie – but they’re an amazing cake company who’s first shop sits about a 15 minute walk from my house. It’s a dangerous thing and, now, it may be dangerous for you as they've just started shipping countrywide!
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Gift Guide: Puppy Presents

As you might have gathered if you follow me on Instagram, I am a little bit in love with my puppy, Grandmaster Flash. He’s basically my favourite – but, shhhhhh, don’t tell the boy or he might stop making me dinner!

And I know he doesn’t know what Christmas is, and I know he’ll probably get me in trouble by eating all the Christmas decorations and opening all the presents, but that doesn’t mean he won’t want gifts.

So, if I were a small, naughty, puppy, this is what would be on my Christmas list*;



1 Tweed dog bed. 2 Glow in the dark lead. 3 A ball, any ball, every ball. 4 A snowsuit 5 Bone. 
6 A little pug - although he might like a little brother more ;)

*This, however, is not necesserilly what Flash would choose, he's way butcher than these choices! Honest. 
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Diarising

Being a massive stationery geek, this time of year is just perfect. Choosing Christmas cards, using the right pen, writing gift tags and notes and importantly, a choosing new diary.
Yes, I know i work in digital and everything should be on my phone, but I love a new diary. I love that moment when you start a new and watch it get more and more used and handbag battered throughout the year. My current 2012 diary started out a deep purple but now it’s a faded lilac-y number, bursting with bits of paper and notes and my movements from the year. 
What I can't decide is which one to buy.

Which one would you go for?
We also have a year planner to try and keep track of our coupley movements {mostly so we don’t double book ourselves} so if you have any ideas on those i’m looking for one of those too. 
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I have a new daily game. It’s called ‘what to wear that won’t annoy HR’.

I have been on a steep learning curve since starting my new job. It’s not the work. The work is fine. It’s nothing I can’t handle. But the dress code. Now that’s a tough one to get my head around.

Agency life is one of smart-ish jeans and a top for most days, a dress or something nice for meetings. As was my last job. But my new job is a whole different story - there is a dress code. Yup. An actual, in print, talked through by HR, dress code. And as I have found out, it’s strictly enforced. I knew that I would have to start dressing like a worker rather than dressing like me, but I had hoped some of the clothes I had would still be suitable, unfortunately though it seems a whole new wardrobe will be in order.

So, let’s take a look at some of it and I’ll let you know where my problems lie;


Dresses and skirts should be kne e length or longer, and dresses must have a cap sleeve or a collar. I am fine with the cap sleeve/collar thing but the knee length. If you’ve met me before I don’t do knee length.
Shoes should match your outfit. How subjective is this? What if I think they match but someone else doesn’t. And say you’re wearing a dress, do you match them to your tights or your dress?
Tops need to have an appropriate neckline and be made from a suitable fabric that is not revealing. I am not about to wear tops with plunging necklines but again, what is appropriate to me might not be appropriate to you.

Knee length tailored shorts can be worn. Erm. Wtf? Who has knee length tailored shorts? I did try and get away with mid thigh shorts and someone dobbed me into HR so I’ll not be trying that again.

Hair should be a natural colour. I am not planning a hair colour change, but I got told even a bright red is out of the question.
Nail varnish needs to be a natural colour and not chipped. Nails must also be unbitten. A natural coloured nail varnish. What is the point? And I am the worst person at having none chipped nails. I can even chip a shellac, in my sleep.

No visible tattoos or piercings. The tongue stud is out. For good (it healed up) and my nose stud comes out daily. I am not looking forwards to covering my foot tat in the summer.

No leggings (or footless tights) or jersey material. Not even tshirts!
No blue denim. Any other colour is ok apparently though. 

There are also rules about strappy tops, party dresses (they are a no no), hoods and flip flops. 

Does your company have a dress code? And can anyone help me figure out how to dress for work, not get in trouble and not be a massive frump!
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December ShareAdvent

I stumbled across this fun little festive crafting mission by Skin & Blister on The Mrs Makes and thought it might be fun to try and give it a go. I know I won't be able to do every day because work will get in the way, and we're having an Elf showing on the 1st so I know I'll be watching it way before the 17th, but it does look like fun. 

The plan is to tweet, Instagram or blog the prompts you join in with and use the #ShareAdvent. 

If you fancy joing me head on over to Skin & Blister and sign up to the linky so you can see the other people who have signed up too. 


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Vintage Ski

I have a new website and # obsession.
Yes. Its a bit of an odd one, but if you have spent as much time on the snow, spotting misguided Europeans and their beloved une-pieces, as I have, you might love it too. Plus, I am pretty sure some of the outfits featured are the exact ones my parents wore on the mountain in the 70's.

Seriously - just look at that outfit below and then visit Vintage Ski or search #retroskifriday


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Dressing up.

My brother gets married just before christmas and I've been told I need to look wonderful, but dressy dress shopping just doesn't come natural to me, I'm much more comfortable in my jeans. And crazily, for once I have a bit of cash to splash on something, but I just can't figure out what I want. 

I'm terrified of looking frumpy, or huge, and I'd love something a bit cool, but its just so hard to do with my body shape {big boobs, expanding waistline, ok legs!}

If anyone can help me, point me in the right direction of websites to visit, or find me a personal shopper who'll just do it for me, please shout. 

And just so you know how serious I am I've made a pinboard {of course I have. Have you met me before?}

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Insta-addict


Have you seen the new Instagram feed pages? I know they've had a lot of stick for being too 'facebooky' but I have to say I love it. I like the way the images rotate and I love that there is a presence without using a third party. It does tell me that I may have instagrammed far too many photo's whilst I wasn't working though.

You can now follow me over on mine if you want at ohgoshem
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Counting down

When I was little* we always had an advent calendar, usually one of those cheap chocolate ones, but an advent none the less.
And when I moved out I bought a fabulous M&S number - little stockings that fit perfectly over the fireplace like this one and can be filled with treats. But I thought it might be time to investigate some other cool advent options;

The Whisky Advent - it's a little pricey but tres cool. If I had the cash, one for my dad, defo! 
The obligatory Star Wars Lego one. I say Meh, but I am sure the boy would love it. 
This Selfridges Beauty Advent - A little pricey, but how wonderful would it be. 

This Hotel Chocolat one has 2 chocolates in it - in case I fancy sharing, or eating 2 treats a day.
And now for my all time fav - seriously, I am having to talk myself OUT of buying this. {But I am pretty sure it would be the best money I spent all Christmas - at least I'd be pretty merry} 
And finally, the perfect one for me, Following from last years 1mtr x 1 mtr Gin Blog advent, they've come up with the more  manageable sized Ginvent
UPDATE: After a little twitter chat with friends and readers I have a couple more advents to show you;

The Lakeland cracker nativity as suggested by @fayBerg

The Tea Advent. Not being a tea drinker, Ginvent is defo more up my street, but @bish_a_lish is pretty excited for this one! 

Do you have an advent calendar still? And which one would you choose? Would you want chocolate still, or a toy, or would you join me on the booze?

*until I was about 25!
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Home-made Puppy Treats


We're attending a one of Flash's puppy club friends, Stan's, 2nd birthday party on Saturday and I promised to bring some puppy treats. They're like best buddies so it's the least I can do.*

I did a bit of pinteresting and came up with a loose idea of a recipe to make - Peanut Butter with Bacon and Cheese Puppy Treats. 


160g rolled oats
300g wholemeal flour
1 1/4 cups boiling water & 1 meat stock cube
1 egg
185g peanut butter
50g butter
100g grated cheese
4 slices bacon - cooked crisply. 

I added all the ingredients apart from the cheese and bacon to a bowl. I found softening the butter first helped, as did heating up the spoon to get the peanut butter from the jar cleanly. 

I tried cutting up the bacon really small and eventually got bored and blitzed it in the mini chopper {the boy raves about it so I thought I'd give it a go} and this worked really well, but you could just add bigger chunks for food process it. 


Once the bacon was in small pieces, I added about 3/4 of both the bacon and cheese to the mixture and  mixed it all together until if formed a pretty sticky mass. I tried to do this with a spoon but in the end I had to get my fingers in there and mix it by hand. I'm not a fan of peanut butter so it wasn't the greatest thing to be smelling on my hands!


Once it was all mixed together, I formed it into a ball, and then mine sat in the fridge for a couple of hours whilst went out for a drink with friends.


When you're ready to bake, dust the surface and rolling pin with some flour and roll it out. I had to cut the ball in half before I started rolling as it was far too big for the rolling pin. 

I rolled it to about 5mm thick, which might have been a bit thin really, but the dogs attending the party aren't huge and the cookie cutter was looking quite large at that point, so I went a bit thinner than I would have if it was a smaller cutter.


I used this 6cm bone shaped cutter, and got about 80 bones from it. I'll be honest - I got a bit bored towards the end of re-rolling the scraps and after I'd hit 80 treats, I just threw them on to the baking sheet. These scrappy ones are just for Flash, but lets face it, to him, food is food - he'll never know it's not properly shaped. 

I sprinkled the left over bacon bits and cheese on the biscuits before baking and popped them in the oven for 15minutes until they were going a little golden brown and hard. 


I've not tried them {dog treats just aren't my sort of thing} but Flash loves them. He was going mental at just the smell this morning whilst I tried to photograph them, and he managed to scramble his way onto the table and eat my props when my back was turned!


And just for the party I've created some little doggy bags with 8 treats in each. I just hope they all like them as much as Flash does or we'll have a fat puppy on our hands.  


And here they are - Flash and Stan. 


*I totally get this opening sentence makes me a crazy puppy lady. But meh! I'm not that bothered. 
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Signing on.

If you've read some of my previous blog posts you'll know that I've not been working for a while. Finding a job has been slightly harder than I thought, so eventually I had to turn to the government for a bit of help. And oh my, what a demoralising experience that was.

Having worked all my life I've never even contemplated attending a job centre before, until my dad told me I had to to get my national insurance 'stamp'. I had no idea at all what to expect. And I've been twice now. I'm glad I only have to go back once more.

My first time I sat for a good 15 minutes after my appointment time listening to the staff chatting about their weekends. They weren't even good stories. A bit of gossip or scandal I might have forgiven them!

The lady I eventually saw was nice enough, but not awfully helpful - to start with, the system didn't have any marketing roles on it, let alone digital marketing. It did however have 'cheese maker' listed. Which, lets face it, sounds awesome. I was then handed a piece of paper with my sign-on details - I was to go in, every other Thursday, 11.15. The most surprising part of the whole meeting was the 'commitment' I had to make to do 3 things a week to find a job. And these 3 things could include looking online or talking to a recruitment consultant. 3 Things. What the? No wonder people are unemployed!

My second meeting was slightly better than the first. We went through my working history. He read my CV. I made the same commitment to do 3 things a week to find work. I also had to sign to say that in a month if I didn't have a job, I'd look for other lines of work. I was told I'd be expected to take a job within a 90 minute commute and I had to attend a CV writing class, which he acknowledged I'd probably be qualified to teach. I was told my claim hadn't been processed yet. I was given a date in December to go back and visit them. That's it. But my experience was slightly better than the unfortunate man who sat on the desk next to me, he didn't speak much English, but from what I could tell, actually wanted a job. His worker however dismissed every role he gave her to apply for, even the ones he thought he could do.

I go back again Thursday to sign on, and hopefully, finally, to get a little financial help and to tell them I have a job and I wont be going back. As a friend put it, I'll just be another good number for their statistics.
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Pretty Packages

I am just a massive sucker for a pretty package. I'm the sort of person who will buy from anthro over somewhere else because the post always arrives just like a little gift! Who doesn't lovegifts?

Right now I am just finalising a little Etsy shop and of course the packaging is uber important - if not impossible to decide upon, so here are a few of my favourite's from a Pinterest trawl;








1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7

What would be your dream packaging?
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Puppy Pumpkin - A DIY on how to Halloween your dog


Want to learn how to turn your puppy into a pumpkin? I made a super simple costume for Flash for Halloween and you can too.

Look at that face - can't you just tell he LOVES it.


For this tutorial you’ll need
  • Orange fabric – I used a £1.99 fleecy Dunelm throw as i thought fleece would be soft on the puppy’s skin, but you can use anything. You’ll need enough to comfortably wrap round your pet, plus a little extra for the hood.
  • A4 piece of Black felt
  • Some scraps of green felt
  • A scrap of brown felt.
  • Black thread.
  • Scissors.
  • Sewing machine (you can do it by hand but it might take longer)
  • Tape measure.
  • Fabric pen.
What you need to do; 
1. Start by measuring round your pet’s neck and the fattest part of their belly and from the nape of their neck to their tale. Jot these numbers down and then half the neck and belly numbers. On a piece of paper (I can use A4 as Flash is small, but you might need to use something bigger, maybe a broadsheet newspaper?) First cut the paper down to the length of your pups body, then measure out the halved neck size at the top of the page, at the bottom measure out the halved belly width and draw a curved line up. Now is the tricky bit – making the arm holes. I had him stand on the paper and drew roughly where his paws were –but I’ll be honest it took a few goes until it fitted him so using cheap paper might be best! Your finished article will look something like this;
2. Next I popped the template on my fleecy fabric and cut myself a couple of orange body shapes, leaving a couple of cm’s each side for the seams. I checked they were the right size to his body before I cut the arm holes.
Don’t throw the template away as you can reuse it to make more puppy jumpers – like this one.

3. If you’re using fabric with ‘right sides’ place them together and from what will be the inside of the jumper, sew up the sides, following the line of the cloth. Try it on your pup, just to make sure it fits. (The fleece didn’t have right sides, which makes everything easier.)
4. Now it’s time to shape the hoodie. Flash is a little boy dog so he needs a little more space to wee than a girl dog might, but i cut an arc out of the layer that covers his tummy and it’s not impeded his weeing yet!

5. Now it’s time to make the hood! Cut a piece of the fabric that is as long as your dog’s neck measurement. Fold it in half and then cut a hood shaped arc from it, like this;
I then sewed up the curved side of the hood, tried it on flash’s head and for size and then hemmed folded back the front of the hood to hem it.
6. To attach the hood I turned the sweater back inside out, turned the hood inside out and placed it inside the jumper, the right side of the hood next to the right side of the jumper – like this;
Inside of hood I lined up the front of the jumper so the hood almost met in the middle and pinned it. Once I sewed it and turned it the right side out it looks like this.
Now the jumper is done. It’s time to make the decorations.

7. Cut out 3 black triangles for the eyes and nose and a mouth. I’m not going to give you exact sizes as they need to look in proportion to the rest of the jumper. I hand sewed these on to the jumper.
8. To make the leaves and stalk, cut out 3-4 leaves from the green fabric, and a rectangle from the brown. Fold the ‘stalk’ in half, right sides together if you have them, and sew up the long edge. To turn it the right way round I wiggled a pencil through it, whilst making sure some of the fabric had ‘caught’ until it was right way round again. I sewed up one end and filled it with the scraps left over from the leaf edges. I then sewed the leaves to the top of the hood, and the stalk into the middle of them.
Phew – that sounds like a far longer process than it was – but it took me about 45mins in all – that included searching for the dog to try on his new jumper, snapping some pics as we went and a few breaks to check twitter and the likes.

But now I have a dog who can be dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween! Even if he’s not that happy about it!
And with a bit of adjustment to the decorations and colour you could turn your pup into any seasonal character you want.



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