Friday, 16 May 2014

25 signs you have a 'grown-up' job...

I've been a bit quiet as of late, sorry chaps. One of the reasons being that I spent the beginning part of this year thinking about graduating out of my old job into a proper 'grown-up' job and then 3 weeks ago I started my proper 'grown-up' job. 

This led to me writing down some of my observations regarding the differences between my previous jobs and this one, which naturally turned into a bit of a list. Everyone loves a good list, right? I know I do! goes.

25 Signs You Have a Grown-up Job

1) You attend meetings. Lots of meetings. And you actually speak in them rather than just doodling on your notepad.

2) You have a workplace meta-language that extends beyond the names of the local greasy spoon and your usual postman/courier.

3) Your boss asks you to work on a project because of your 'expertise', which prompts you to frantically try to remember who you are and what the hell you do.

4) When someone calls you it’s because they want to speak to you and not just because they want to shout at someone. (Although the two are not always mutually exclusive).

5) You no longer have to wear a name badge at all times.

6) You’ve finally managed to drop the ‘assistant’ from your job title.

7) You have a pension scheme. And you signed up to it before auto-enrollment kicked in.

8) You get to decide when and where you have your lunch break. 

9) You’ve been shown how to claim for things on that you may never do it.

10) Some of your meetings may involve you travelling across the country or even the WORLD! *gasp*

11) You delete an email and when you look away for just 5 minutes, 9 more have taken its place.

12) If you don’t do something, it will have serious consequences for you and other people.

13) When it gets to 10pm, you start thinking about heading home for the night as you don’t want to have to overdose on coffee just to get through the next morning.   

14) You volunteer yourself for tasks that are long and thankless, because you think it might be good for your career in the long term.

15) You think about the long term. And not just the fantasy where you’ve won the lottery and you’re asleep in a hammock with a cocktail on your face at 3pm.

16) You finally understand networking and you’re doing it all by yourself!

17) When clothes shopping, you stop to consider whether an item will be suitable for work or not. If it is, you can justify the purchase to add to your ‘work wardrobe’.

18) You have a ‘work wardrobe’.

19) You have to make decisions beyond what to have for lunch. (Although this is the most agonising of all).

20) When you tell people your job title, they raise their eyebrows and say “aah ” or “ooh” or some variation of that noise.

21) You have the ability to, on occasion, work from home.

22) You sometimes have to work late not because your boss tells you to, but because you have a deadline and you have to get shit done.

23) You plan your annual leave around work commitments.

24) You're finally in charge of your own workload and not being micromanaged within an inch of your life. You got this!

25) You finally get paid enough to live. You may not be rich, but with any luck, you might just be able to pay off your debt, squeeze in a holiday here and there and buy a posh bit of cheese from time to time.
Living the dream, folks. Living the dream.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Halloween Parties!

It's just a week to go until my favourite time of the year.. HALLOWEEN! Hooray! I've started to plan this year's costume, albeit far, far, far later than I usually do. I've normally got it all finished weeks before Halloween but, this year, I said I wouldn't do a party. This is for a number of reasons:
  1. The wedding maxed out my event-planning energies (boy did it, I'm still exhausted!)
  2. New job/big pay cut this year means my usual £150-£200 party budget just isn't there
  3. Much, much smaller flat means we just don't have the space for more than 6-8 people to stand in our living room, let alone sit or move around in it.
  4. In recent years, guest numbers dropped, comments were made and I started to feel as though people were finding it a chore to attend rather than something fun.
So, I said, no party this year.

But, I said, that doesn't mean we can't have FUN! :D

So we have a couple of things planned, an outing on Friday 1st November to the very exciting Copperdollar: The Back of Beyond at The Old Market in Hove, a trip down to the Latin Voices Live! Day of the Dead Festival at the Brighton Dome on Saturday 2nd November and some close friends are coming round in the evening for a small, relaxed get-together with food, drinks and games. 

This will be the first Halloween in 7 years where I haven't hosted an official 'Halloween party', so I thought I'd do a little series of posts reflecting on previous parties.

Starting with my very first party in 2007:

We had just moved to Brighton the year before, I was in my second year of Uni and we were living in our damp little submarine of a flat in the North Laines. It was chock a block full of stuff, with no real seating and so wasn't really set up for a party. I invited a group of friends, and then they brought friends and before you knew it we had 16 people crammed into our little studio! I was just starting to build up my collection of decorations, so they were randomly scattered about the place with no real theme.

'Movie Madness' 2008:

This party was quite a learning experience for me, to put it mildly! We were still living in the studio, so I thought it would be a good idea to hold the party in a different venue. A local pub had a good sized and reasonably priced function room, so we booked the room and I set to work inviting people. The bigger venue meant we could have more guests, resulting in the biggest Halloween party I've held to date.. I think we had just over 25 people. We had a 'Movie characters' theme for the costumes. The problems with having it at a separate venue, however, were that we couldn't get into the room until a mere 3 hours before the party was due to start. This, as it turns out, isn't enough time to set up all the decorations. We also had to lug all of the decorations to the venue and then home again that very night. The biggest problem we faced were gatecrashers, as there was no real security set up to stop people just wandering in and quite frankly they ruined the night for me and several other guests. It caused unnecessary confrontation and upset and left me feeling sour about the whole thing. Lesson learnt!

'Dia de los Muertos' 2009:

By 2009, I was done with being a student and started working full-time. We'd consequently moved out of our damp ridden studio into a slightly bigger split-level flat. It was still quite small, but I SO wanted to do a Dia de los Muertos themed party as my love for all things associated with the Mexican Day of the Dead was blossoming. So, we had a group of about 11 of us, I made Mexican food, we played Loteria (a Mexican form of bingo), it was good fun. The best challenge of this was making a whole new set of decorations - it was the first time I had ever made papel picado, traditional sugar skulls and it was the first time I've worked with paper mache since I was in school! There was a lot of tissue paper flower making involved, so everything was quite time consuming. A lovely lady from the old Halloween forum I used to frequent sent me some of her Dia de los Muertos decorations that she was no longer using, and this really helped to complete the theme. The theme was bright, colourful and a lot of fun.

So much fun, in fact, that we did it again!

'Dia de los Muertos' 2010:

Same flat as last time, same theme and a much smaller guest list (just 7 of us this time!) led to a rather more relaxed affair. We chilled out, had food, played games, drank cocktails.. much less stress and an altogether more casual gathering. Because we had done the theme before, I had all the necessary decorations at my disposal and I had a better idea of where to put decorations, so this saved a lot of time when setting up.

'Vampire Masquerade' 2011:

Then came something entirely different! In 2011, we moved again, as our previous landlady wanted to move back into her flat. The upshot of this was that we ended up in a bigger flat, the downside.. well, it was a lot more expensive. And it was a basement.. so .. dark. Pretty dark. And a bit damp to boot. To make use of the extra space, I wanted to extend the invitation for Halloween a bit wider and we had a turnout of about 13 for this one. I changed the theme as I wanted to return to a more 'classic halloween' decor and get some of my old decorations out again. The shelving unit in the living room lent itself rather nicely to a big display, and the fireplace was the perfect spot for our pumpkins. I loved this set up, but because of the extra space, I found myself wishing I had more halloween decorations (my husband would go postal if I get anymore.. 6 boxes are enough, he reckons..)

Day of the Dead Dinner Party 2012:

Last year I was already feeling the first warning signs of my impending burnout due to increasing stresses at work and at home, but I still wanted to celebrate my favourite holiday with my friends. So, originally, I planned to have a dinner party. This plan was scuppered when I realised I could not fit all of my guests round my 4-person dining table (there were only 8 of us in the end, but still too many for comfortable dining). So, I made the food as planned, and we all feasted and then played games, had drinks, etc. It was a quiet little party, and in retrospect I can see that my heart wasn't quite in it, I was burnt out with Halloween, and this was a sign of things to come. 

This year, we're in a whole new flat again, and tomorrow I shall be attempting to 'Halloweenify' the place, for my own amusement really. Not hosting a party this year has been a godsend to my sanity, as I've been able to just focus on the fun parts of the season that I enjoy, without the pressure of trying to create a great party atmosphere, or trying to predict who is going to bail out on me, or wondering what gatecrashers might turn up. No, instead, I'm going to go out in the city at Halloween for the first time since I moved here in 2006, then spend some time with good friends, some yummy food and spooky cocktails whilst playing games. I cannot wait! 

Next time: Costumes!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

After the Wedding...

Wow, guys! It's been just over a whole month since the Mr and I got married - how quickly time flies, eh? Married life is pretty much the same as the life before, although the novelty of calling each other 'husband' and 'wife' has still not worn off yet! ;)

For anyone wondering how it went, it went beautifully. I truly could not have hoped for it to have gone better, everyone was just so helpful and loving and positive, it was truly heartwarming to be part of it. The collective feeling of so much love enveloping you was the most amazing experience. The weather was a bit touch-and-go but it came through in the end and we had the most gorgeous sunny afternoon for our wedding. We had the ceremony outside as planned, under the trees with Chichester creek as our backdrop. The tide was in and the water was glittering, with boats bobbing along quietly in the distance. The trees were swaying above us in the breeze, the bunting fluttered lazily, silver hearts glinted and gleamed in the light. It was magical!

We bathed in the sunlight of summer's last fling as we sipped prosecco on the lawn, took photographs amidst the trees and by the blue waters of the harbour. When it was time for dinner, we entered the marquee to applause and cheers, took our seats and had the most tasty meal of tapas and paella to the music of Buena Vista Social Club. (On an iPod, obviously, not the actual band - what am I, a millionaire?!) I think everyone enjoyed it, I hope they were at the very least able to share our love and appreciation of Spanish food even if they would have preferred more...traditional.. fare. I did my speech, as planned, which was very nerve-wracking, and I did have a bit of a wobbly voice a couple of times where I was fighting back tears, but I also made people laugh and a few people cry so I think I got away with it! :) Dean did his best man speech and even managed to get a few words from our friend Sam in there all the way from China, which was so sweet, he did really well. My Dad even said a little speech, which was a total surprise and rather adorable, bless him.

After speeches, we all had cake (and boy did we have cake!) The cupcakes I made went down rather well, as did the chocolate gluten-free cake, and Amanda did an amazing job with the big cake she made for us; it was gorgeous inside and out. After cake, our beautiful friends and family moved the tables to the sides, the bar got set up and we got the music turned up so we could have a boogie! I popped back into the cottage to change into my skeleton print 50s dress and my dancing shoes, and then it was quite late so people started to make their way on their journeys homeward. I had a dance with my Dad, probably for the first time since I was a child, and not one but TWO dances with the husband for the first. Time. Ever. He was so incredibly shy about being watched when he danced that we had a spontaneous first dance to Al Green's 'Let's Get Together' and then later, when there were but a few guests watching, we did our proper slow dance to 'our' song... 'Unintended' by Muse. In the end, there was just me and the husband, the best man and his wife, our usher Rich and my mum and stepdad (how rock and roll are they!?) left. We were all dancing like lunatics until gone 1am, it was the most amazing fun and the perfect end to a perfect day.

I have learnt a lot from the past couple of years of planning and I hope to share my advice and tips with anyone else out there who comes across some of the same situations or dilemmas as myself. Now that the wedding is over, I'll be doing several posts about each part of the wedding planning process and my findings and I'll also be working on some more DIY tutorials for some of the projects I undertook so that any crafty types can have a go.

And speaking of crafting and whatnot, super duper exciting....I've started a small business: Boho Buttons! After making my bouquet, the bridesmaids' bouquets and all the buttonholes from vintage buttons and felt, I had a lot of friends and family members suggesting I make them for other people. So I've started up a little Etsy shop and made myself a website and off I go into the big, bad world! Please, won't you join me?

If you're interested in my buttony adventures, please do join me on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you, lovelies!

I will return with a proper post about the wedding very soon! For now, here's a quick pic of us as we walked back down the aisle together as "Mr and Mrs" to Bob Marley's 'Is this Love'...

Happy Days! xxx

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Final Countdown

It's the final countdown (na-na-na-nahhh... na-na-na-na-nah)! In just a few days I will be married.

I've always associated the title 'Mrs' with being a 'proper' grown up. So now I'm about to take that title on, there's a little voice inside my head screaming "you can't do that, you're too young to be a grown up!"

"No I'm not," I reply, "I'm nearly 30!"

"Oh", the voice says. "Still talking to yourself though, huh?"

Indeed. So with just a few days left on the countdown, have I succeeded in all of my DIY projects for the wedding? I am pleased to report that yes, for the most part, I have! There are just a few things left on my to-do list now:

  1. Finish place settings
  2. Back up all of our music playlists
  3. Pack our bags
  4. Make 24 red velvet cupcakes & 1 gluten-free chocolate cake
Okay, so that last one is a bit of a biggy, but that's why I have tomorrow off work. I am feeling a little more confident now that all the big DIY projects are complete. In total, I DIYed the following:

  • Bunting (oh SO MUCH bunting) from recycled fabrics
  • Buttonholes from felt flowers and vintage buttons
  • Bridesmaids bouquets and my own bouquet from felt flowers and vintage buttons
  • My flower crown
  • Heart sequin clips for my wedding shoes
  • Papel picado
  • Tissue paper pom poms
  • All wedding stationery including Save the Dates, Invitations, Menus, Table names, Seating Plan, Place settings, Programme fans, Order of the Day board and Welcome sign
  • Peg doll cake topper
  • Cake bunting/Totoro cake toppers
  • Our wedding website
  • Direction signs made from old pallet wood
  • Vases and candle holders made from old food jars and lace
  • Tablecloths/table runners from Parc fabric and hessian
  • Wedding cupcakes/gluten free cake for coeliac guests
  • Guestbook - Fingerprint tree
I've had help from my amazing mum, maid of honour and husband-to-be with my projects and I am so proud with what we have achieved. It has been a lot of work, but on our wedding day it will be so wonderful to look around and see pieces of our personalities in nearly everything around us. This will be my last blog entry as Miss Diy-Dolly and I will soon join you again with plenty of pictures and tutorials of my creations as MRS Diy-Dolly...although I can't promise I will be anymore grown up. 

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Less than 1 month to go...

When I first got engaged back in December 2011, September 2013 seemed so very far away. Now, the wedding date is in just under 1 month and time is just pouring through my fingers like sand! I have been thinking today about how much has changed since Mr Diy-Dolly proposed on Charles Bridge on that cold Thursday afternoon.

During the wedding planning process, there has been a fair amount of drama and changes of circumstances. All of the following have happened in the past year or so:
  • We got a dog
  • I lost weight 
  • My dad got married
  • I made a lovely new friend
  • Our best man got married
  • My sister-in-law-to-be got married
  • I bought a wedding dress that did not fit
  • My bridesmaid 'quit the wedding'
  • I lost several old friends
  • I had a nervous breakdown
  • We mourned the loss of our beloved dog
  • We moved house
  • I quit my job of 4 years
  • I put on weight
  • My maid of honour got married
  • My maid of honour got pregnant
  • I got a new job
  • My dad was made redundant
  • My poor maid of honour had a miscarriage
  • My stepdad is potentially losing his job
Life is life, I know, but it's been a bit of a rollercoaster couple of years for me, my husband-to-be, my family and my friends. The wedding will be a time when all of us come together and for just one day, try to put the negative experiences of the past behind us and celebrate the positives, as well as the wonderful things we may do or have in the future. 

And on this moment of reflection, I have to thank everyone that has stood by me through one of the most difficult and changeable times in my life to date. They say everyone goes through a major personality change every 10 years or so, but what they don't tell you is that it is normally in reaction to life changing drastically around you. I am truly blessed to have some amazing people in my life who, despite all these changes, still love me for who I am. Not least of all, my ever enduring husband-to-be, without whom I would not be here today. And in 3 weeks and 5 days I get to stand up in front of all those amazing people and tell him just that. :)

Friday, 2 August 2013

Hyperjapan 2013

Hi folks!

As you may be aware, last weekend was the Hyperjapan 2013 event at Earls Court in London, which is a wonderful celebration of all things Japanese! It includes a cosplay parade, gaming area, plenty of Japanese food stalls, Japanese cooking lessons, a huge range of stalls selling everything from anime DVDs and manga comics to cute accessories and traditional kimono. There are also two different stage areas with various music, fashion and art performances throughout the day and a small dojo area where martial arts and dance performances were taking place. There really is something for everyone and I highly recommend it! The atmosphere is buzzing and lots of people are dressed up in cute and colourful cosplays and Japanese inspired outfits.

I dressed up in a casual lolita-esque outfit made up mainly of items I already had to hand as with the wedding looming I didn't have enough time to make a costume:

My full outfit consisted of:
  • Black polka dot swing dress from Lady V London
  • Black Crinoline (purchased from ebay)
  • Pink cardigan from Dorothy Perkins
  • Black and pink knee high socks (from ebay)
  • Black pumps (ebay)
  • Tarina Tarantino Gothic Hello Kitty heart necklace (from Dollydagger)
  • Pink heart clip by BonjourHoney (on Etsy)
  • Brown curly lolita wig (ebay)
  • Pink heart bag (Topshop)
We got to Earls Court for about 11am, which by the sounds of other peoples' blogs was very lucky indeed as after that the queues started to grow quite considerably. We were fortunate, however, and went straight in without any issues. If you ever do decide to go to Hyperjapan, my advice is: get there EARLY! :)

Upon entering, I clocked this pair and just had to ask them for a picture. Don't they look amazing?

After a little while of walking around having a little nose at the stalls, we booked ourselves onto one of the cookery workshops. Then, my friends and I decided the best course of action was to have an early lunch. We headed to the ramen stall and these guys served us a massive cup of ramen each, and a cheeky beer!

I had ebi-fried prawn ramen, which was delicious but there were a few too many beansprouts for my liking. I do like beansprouts, but it was a sort of 50/50 situation with the noodles...and I like my noodles! After a quick lunch, we ambled our way over to the food and drink demo area to partake of our sushi lesson. The lady running these workshops was lovely and has a new book out called Sushi at Home, which I would very much like to get my hands on one day. These lessons are great as not only do they teach you how to make the food, but you also get to try some for yourself! Free sushi? YES PLEASE.

Our friends didn't like their sushi so Mr DIY-Dolly and I had extra. They were inside-out rolls too, my absolute favourite sushi. Yum! After the lesson, we headed over to the games area. I couldn't resist checking out the Animal Crossing bit and having my photo taken in the little stand:

I played a little Animal Crossing on the DS and it hasn't changed a bit. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing...We spent the rest of the day wandering around checking out all the amazing stalls and bumping into cool cosplayers. We had just started watching 'Attack on Titan' the night before, so when we saw the Colossal Titan, we just had to take his picture! Here are some of my favourite cosplay pics of the day:

I just caught the end of this lady's amazing dance routine on the dojo mat, she was incredible:

Couldn't resist the opportunity to take a photo with the amazing blinged-out van with a bed in the back. It reminded me of Saints Row 3! I was too embarrassed to get in it as lots of people were looking and my skirt was so huge I thought I might get I just perched on the edge.

 After lots more walking around, we had a little snack before watching the cosplay parade and heading back home. It just wouldn't be Hyperjapan if the mister and I didn't share a bento box, so we went to the lovely guys at Feng Sushi to get a salmon bento:

On the left is our bento, but our friends most definitely not being sushi fans opted for fried chicken yakitori instead. It looked amazeballs so I must admit I had a little food envy.

And finally here's all the little bits and pieces I acquired on the day:

  • Gloomy Bear plush
  • Fan that I customised at the Japan Language school stand - the writing reads "Happy Claire"
  • Purple hair accessory (planning to use this for the wedding somewhen..)
  • Cute notebook from Artbox (couldn't resist!)
And my freebies!
  • Recipe book
  • Pen 
  • Lipbalm
  • Onitsuka Tiger mini shoe keyring and badge
I did also buy some Wonka Sweetarts from the Cybercandy stall but..well..they didn't even last the train ride home.

Did you go to Hyperjapan this year? If so, what did you think of it? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time, thank you for reading! xxx

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