Happy New Year everyone!
Well, Christmas is over, and January is upon us - and for some reason this means that half the population have decided to give up alcohol. In the past I have groaned when my mates have forgone a pint in favour of a cup of tea, but this year I have decided to join them. Yes, you read that correctly - I'm off the booze for a whole month, and, to keep me on the straight and narrow, I'm going to do it for charidee, so watch this space for a link to my Just Giving page!
I have to admit that it has become apparent that a glass of vino had become a regular accompaniment to a relaxing night in, and, without it, I have noticed that I find it harder to switch off - which means I have gone into DIY overdrive! Since returning from my festive travels I have pretty much decorated my bathroom and started up-cycling my kitchen stools, and am planning my next crafting projects. So, come February, I intend to have made yet another homemade gift and possibly a yoga mat bag too! Pictures to follow...
That doesn't mean that I won't be writing too - or rather, getting on with another round of editing and typing up my latest short story which I hand wrote when sans netbook. Oh yeah. and then there's Operation:Pizza - I think we may have a winner, which you can read all about here...
Anyway, on that note, I'm off to dig out my knitting needles whilst I boil the kettle for a lovely herbal tea.
I hardly recognise myself...
No, no, I'm not talking about the whiskey and Jaegermeister I've consumed over the last week - I'm talking about that goodwill to all men, women, animals and anything in-between! I've been feeling pretty Christmassy all month, but the last week has seen my festive fever grow - and spread. Whilst I admit I've had some pretty fun nights out recently, it's been the things I've been able to do for other people that has really given me a glow. For example, on Tuesday I contributed some home-made German spiced biscuits to a bake-sale for Crisis - adding £19.50 to the £180 raised. Yesterday, I was thrilled to see my mate laugh out loud at the slogan wristband I made her for Christmas. And, the day before, I spread the love among my neighbours by delivering them all a Christmas card and gingerbread muffin - and was really touched to see the family who live below me followed by lead and everyone some chocolate on their doorstep the following day.
That's what I love about Christmas - making other people feel good, whether it's by giving them a present they love, helping them out when the stresses of the season start to get to them, or just making them smile on their commute to work. Today, after a rather frantic shopping trip, I was sat on the tube when the driver wished everyone a Happy Christmas. He probably didn't know anyone on the train, and it wasn't part of his job description, but he did - and it made me smile, despite my fatigue.
Some people of course believe in the religious origins of the holiday season. I personally don't, but embrace it whole-heartedly as an excuse to show people I love them and to spread a little cheer, whether it's by offering a complete stranger Season's Greetings, funding a bed space for a homeless person over the holidays or being there for a friend who is having a hard time. That, in my book, is the true Christmas spirit.
Well, it’s Sunday evening and I’ve been busy doing nothing – well, trying to, anyway. You see, my New Year’s Resolution is to do less so today, rather than running around like a mad woman, I’ve been pottering at home. Okay, so the pottering included cleaning, ironing and beginning my de-clutter, but it was quite restful by my standards... read more in my Anglo Info blog. Oh, and let me know if you take on my new mantra too!
Anyway, back to my day. Yep, you read that correctly – I am de-cluttering. Those of you who have visited my flat are probably rolling your eyes and muttering “about bloody time” – you see, another mantra of mine is “love me, love my tut” – but I’m not getting rid of it all by any means, just streamlining. A bit. Yes yes, I’ve read all the magazine articles and heard about Feng Shui and know that having a home clear of clobber is supposed to be good for the mind, body and soul, but my stuff is part of me. A majority of my nick-knacks are presents or bits I have picked up on my travels, and my books are full of inspiration and ideas that I wouldn’t want to lose. Okay, so I don’t really need to buy CDs anymore or get my photos printed out, but, despite my new Smart telly (which so far I have managed to use without difficulty thank you very much!), I am still something of a technophobe and can’t quite get my head around the concept of keeping all my bits and pieces on the “cloud” - or whatever you call it.
So there you go – my excuse for not extending my “less is more” mantra to my belongings. A friend who is much better at these things than me is Lisa – who was sporting the “Clean Queen” pinny I made her for Christmas whilst she did her housework yesterday. Look out for the photo which I will add to my “crafts” page in due course.
Well, that’s all from me folks – I’m off to watch a DVD and paint my nails. Mmm, I could get used to this new lifestyle...
Happy New Year everyone!
Well I hope you all had a restful and fun-filled Holiday season. I was one of the lucky ones and haven't been to work since Christmas Eve and am feeling much better for the break. However Monday is looking less than merry right now...
So, I don't know about you lot, but other than catching up with family and friends I didn't do an awful lot - which meant I had time to do some serious reading - and writing to boot. I've finished my short story The Night Before Christmas which you can read here and carried on with novel number 2, which is now at 56,000 words and counting - woo hoo! Oh, and before I take the plunge and investigate self publishing, I've contacted
a couple of agents this week in the hope that my first attempt at a novel, Faith Hope and Chocolate, will finally be snapped up by one of them first. Keep everything crossed for me...
Well, I would go on to talk about New Years Resolutions but I plan to write about that next week in my blog for Anglo Info - so keep your eyes peeled if you want to hear more.
Well, that's all from me for now - I want to watch a DVD on my new telly before I go to bed and have a hectic day of massage, brunch and photography exhibitions tomorrow. No rest for the wicked, eh?
Well, what a week. What with unofficial Christmas drinks with friends, mountains of cake and mince pies in the office and two food-laden parties, I'm already feeling as stuffed as a turkey! Hopefully there will be a bit of respite now until the big day, when I will be cooking roast pork for my ma and pa. Yes, my mother has given me free rein of the kitchen on Christmas Day. I just hope she's also stocked up on plenty of wine to help me along...
Like most of you, today I shall be doing some last minute shopping before meeting some chums at the Serpentine Gallery. I'm in the process of convincing them to go to the Winter Wonderland after but this is proving more of a challenge. This weekend I shall also squeezing in a final run to keep the muffin top at bay and finishing off a couple of homemade Christmas presents which I started last night in front of Love Actually (Christmas movie number one - The Muppet Christmas Carol is scheduled for the epic parcel wrapping session tomorrow). Sadly I can't publish any photos of my handiwork yet or it would spoil the surprise... but I'm pleased with how they're turning out.
Well, as we're all so busy, I shall say goodbye for now. Oh, and Merry Christmas one and all. I have a feeling it's going to be a good one...
Well, I don't know about you lot, but I'm knackered. This week there has been one too many meals out, evenings in the pub and late nights followed by early mornings. I'm pooped, and very relieved that I had the foresight to cancel a weekend helping my lovely friend Darren move. Sorry Darren, but I wouldn't have been much use anyway as a week of excess has left me with a rather delicate back!
The good news is one of my meals out was with my writing chum Charlene. After a moan about work, flat hunting and Christmas shopping for those awkward family members (you know who you are!) we headed to Le Pain Quotidien in Covent Garden for a cake and to share some writing. Charlene seemed to quite like my effort (and mine hers too!), although she pointed out that it does need a bit of tweaking. But, it's Christmas. So below is a bit of a taster, just for you. I hope you like it - and I'd love to receive any feedback... Happy Reading.
In the room, someone laughed. Sam joined in automatically. She looked around, a wide smile on her face, hopeful for a clue as to what had caused such hilarity. Miranda stared back, that standard quizzical expression on her face, from the 42 inch flat screen telly Sam’s son Jason had given the family this time last year. Sam took a swig from her can of lager and watched as the comedienne bungled about.
“Stupid upper class bitch.” She muttered to herself as she put a cigarette between her lips. Taking a drag, she looked around the room again. In the corner next to the patio doors stood the Christmas tree. Sparsely decorated with twinkling fairy lights and uniform white and silver baubles (“so it doesn’t look cheap, mum” Angela had insisted) it glowed gently, a beacon of hope in the otherwise grey afternoon. Below it was the usual stack of present for the kids, the grandkids, Dave. It had been a struggle this year, but Sam wasn’t one to let the family down when it came to Christmas.
“Er, hello? Earth to mum!”
Sam turned in her seat to look at her daughter, her mouth already open to put her back in her place for her cheek. Behind her youngest stood Ellie, the new girl on the estate who seemed to have latched on to Angela and the other more established kids. Sam tried to pull herself into a more upright position on the slouched sofa but, with her can on one hand and a fag in the other, soon gave up. She heard her daughter mutter something (Pissed. She had used the word pissed.) but chose to ignore it.
“Y’all right girls? What you up to? What’s going on?”
Angela rolled her eyes to the ceiling.
“We’re going to the pub. Everyone else is going, it’s too cold to hang around out there. You got a tenner?”
She held out her hand. Her expression was beyond expectant. There was no negotiating in her daughter’s large brown eyes, the eyes that never failed to bring back her father’s face to Sam no matter how hard she tried to block it out, to forget. Sam sucked at her teeth and rolled her eyes in return as she popped her cigarette between her lips and delved into her jeans pocket. Casually she inspected the contents. One crumpled ten pound note, a couple of pound coins and some shrapnel. All she had left until the 28th. And certainly not enough to pay the rent.
The rent. Sam nearly snorted a laugh.
Okay folks, I need your advice.
How on earth does one fit in flat hunting, preparing for Christmas, having a social life AND writing around a demanding full time job? Seriously, I need to know! It has been a manic week, and, whilst it has been pretty darn good, it’s also been pretty exhausting - I haven’t had a night in since Monday. Let me summarise...
Magic Flute at the Collesium on Tuesday – a fantastic night, especially as some kind soul handed in my mobile phone rather than nicking it after I left it in the pub...
Choir practice on Wednesday – always a pleasure!
Christmas shopping and dinner at Seven Dials on Thursday – with only two stocking fillers purchased, not the most productive, but fun all the same.
Flat viewing on Friday, which lead to an offer being made (watch this space) and me losing my mobile phone once more, this time in the estate agents car. Someone shoot me.
Choir concert and The Dance Before Christmas at The Vaults on Saturday, fuelled by Red Bull, great music and a large Cornish pasty.
And this week isn’t looking any quieter...
The good news is, among the mayhem, I have managed to write three quarters of a short story which I intend to share with my writing buddy Charlene on Tuesday over dinner and, if I’m happy with the end result, I hope to enter in the ABC Tales Christmas competition. Watch this space for its online publication...
On that note, I shall say adieu. Its seven thirty and I want to call my sister and my mum, polish off said short story and have a well earned soak in the tub before bed... wish me luck!
Well I don’t know about you lot but, for a change, I’m pooped. This week, however, it is for a good reason. You see, I’ve just got back from a day at Twickenham watching the Barbarians play Fiji with my pa. It’s the first time I’ve been to a rugby match – and the first time I’ve managed to coerce by dad down to London on his own – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And, by the end of the match, I felt qualified to shout at the referee as much as everyone else. I mean, another video referee? Come on, man!
Since last week’s blog, things have been, as always, busy – but in a good way. As well as enjoying the delights of London, from a spa and afternoon tea at the Montcalm Hotel (who knew finger sandwiches could be so good!), checking out Artist’s Who... private view in Bermondsey (on until 3rd December – so hop to it!) and today’s addition to my list of pastimes, I’ve been sampling the delights of our second largest city, Birmingham. I popped up there last weekend to check out the Christmas market (very nice), enjoy a curry in the Balti Triangle (Al Faisal’s to be exact – NOM!) and dance the night away (two nights running – oops!) and had a great time. But, you know what? Sorry Brum, but you’ve got a long way to go before you come anywhere close to my lovely London. However if you decide to donate that DKNY handbag I saw in Selfridges to Shelly Berry Original, I may be persuaded otherwise...
In other news, I’ve been painting again. In fact I’ve been painting the same painting again. I decided that my latest offering needed touching up a bit - according to some people it doesn’t look any different, but I’m happier with it. But my palette is still out, just in case I decide to play with it a bit more. Oh, and keep an eye on my Tweets this week too for some special offers at the Shelly Berry Original Etsy shop, especially if you’re struggling for ideas writing that Christmas shopping list.
Right, time for some ukulele practice – yep, added that to the list of hobbies this month too. Laters!
Today is a good day. Not only do I have the day off work, but I’m spending this afternoon in a spa before heading to Brimingham for a weekend of fun and frolics. And the best bit? I have Monday off work too. Woo hoo!
Okay, so Birmingham might not be the obvious choice for a girly weekend away, but with Europe’s largest Christmas fair (so I’ve been told), a thriving nightlife (“Snobs” has been recommended to me – please tell me if you know anywhere better!) and more than a few curry houses to fuel our fun, it is actually looking to be a darn good weekend.
Of course, I’m hoping to do a fair bit of Christmas shopping too. As far as I’m concerned, Christmas shopping is all about finding that perfect something for your nearest and dearest – and if it is something unique, all the better. The next few weeks I’ll be trawling London’s markets in my quest for the perfect gifts for my friends and families – Camden, Greenwich and Spitalfields, look out – but I’ll also be browsing the web too. No, not Amazon, but virtual craft markets like Etsy, notonthehightstreet.com – and of course CRAFTfest.
Yes, I know, I’ve been banging on about if all week on Twitter (and here for a while too) but not only has it given me the opportunity to show case my own work, but it’s also given me loads of ideas for my own shopping too. Obviously I can’t go into detail (you have to wait for Santa to visit!) but I’ve got a few people sorted – and some ideas for a couple more too. And, even though CRAFTfest finishes tomorrow, I should be able to pick up any bits I’ve seen after the event as all items are sold via Etsy and other online shops. Groovy!
Anyhow peeps, I better go – I have a weekend away to pack for and some serious shopping to do...
Well, it’s Saturday night and I’m enjoying a beer whilst I listen to my The Commitments soundtrack (I saw the show last night and LOVED it – but not quite as much as the film) and getting ready for a big night... snuggling under my blanket with a hot chocolate. It would appear that the fun and frolics of my birthday weekend have caught up with me and, coupled with a few late nights this week too (guys, you know who you are!), I’m pretty pooped.
However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve let things slide at Shelly Berry Original. Oh, no.
Today, ladies and gentlemen, is the first day of CRAFTfest, a virtual Christmas market where I am selling some of my art and crafts. This means that I have not only had to get my stall together but have also been promoting my rather rotund behind off! Keep an eye on Twitter to learn more and to see my pick of my fellow crafter’s work – and come back here to check out my special CRAFTfest blog next Saturday, which the lovely guys at Creative Connections will be promoting. Hurrah!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get in my pyjamas and replenish my Kettle Chips bowl. It’s gonna be a long night - and week...
Here you will find my latest news, including what I have been up to and what I have been writing (and making). Hopefully you'll like what I have to say - and perhaps I will motivate you to get creative too...