So... a new week is nearly upon us. What are your plans?
Need something to read on your commute? Then look no further than my latest short story, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
Looking for somewhere to eat? Then check out my latest blog on Operation:Pizza.
Feel like painting some furniture? Then give me a shout, because these need another coat... and I have four other chairs, a coffee table and a TV stand to go too...
Okay, so maybe I've taken this upcycling thing a bit too far...
Have a good one people :-)
Good evening folks!
Well the weekend is drawing to a close, and a new week will soon be upon us. I admit, I found the last one quite tedious - the 9-5 grind was getting to me and, coupled with a lull in the old social life, I was more than a little bit grumpy. Alas, I managed to pull myself out of my gloom. How? Well I decided to book a little holiday...
Yep, that's right - in September I will be spending 10 days in San Francisco - and I can't wait! Sad as it is, knowing I have this to look forwards to seems too have perked me up no end. Coupled with the good weather, this weekend I've been pretty chirpy, getting up early and getting on with a new writing project and a bit of spring cleaning. Today I bagged a bargainous four dining room chairs and a coffee table for 40 quid, which I can't wait to paint up along with my ten pound TV stand. In fact, by the time I have my official housewarming in May, I reckon I'll be pretty close to having my flat as I want it - with perhaps the exception of a posh new three-seater sofa bed..
My point? Well, I know I'm lucky to have the means to travel to the West Coast of the US and to play at being Kirsty Allsop, but I also know that I function a lot better when I know I have something to aim for; a reward to all my hard work. At the end of the day, it is that often-tedious job that has enabled me to book that flight and pay the mortgage on the flat that I am so faithfully - and frugally - doing up.
So, as I traipse into work tomorrow, I will do my best to the thankful for all the opportunities it gives me - from stability to adventure, with the odd bit of inspiration thrown in for good measure. And, whatever you do and however challenging it can be, I hope that you feel able to do the same. And, if you can't, book yourself in for a little reward sooner rather than later, whether it be the trip of a lifetime, a jolly to the seaside or an afternoon mooching around your favourite local haunt. I doesn't have to cost a lot, or be particularly flashy. But it does need to happen.
Because Shelly said so :-)
So... how was you week?
Mine was pretty cool.
I chilled out with the Artists Who...
... wrote the follow up to my debut at the Waltham Forest Echo...
... finished the first edit of novel number two on my way to meet the lovely Lexi - who just happened to be wearing the snood I made her for Christmas...
... and pottered about in my lovely flat, newly furnished with a few more bits from my favourite furniture shop in Walthamstow, the British Heart Foundation.
Want to read more? Well, check out my latest Overground Underground blog - and keep your eyes open for my latest newsletter which you can sign up to here...
... maybe not always as easy as 1 2 3, but it sums up my last week quite nicely! Let me explain...
A is for... Alcohol Abstinence!
Yep, I've nearly finished Dry January, all in the name of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Why the MNDA? Well, take a look at my Just Giving page to find out! Or if you just want to throw caution to the wind and support this amazing charity (and inspire me to see out the rest on the month!) text GOMB99 £5 to 70070. Simples!
B is for... Blogging!
Well, duh! But not just here - I've been writing about how my beloved London has kept me entertained during the first 31 days of the year. Yesterday I ticked off three of my own suggestions with some art exhibitions, a walk along the Southbank and a trip to the cinema. Read more of my sober strategies here...and then check out my latest review for Operation:Pizza to see how one of the biggest chains compares.
And C is for... Crafting!
Okay, so I made the bag above earlier this month, but it was a birthday present for my cousin and I didn't want to spoil her surprise! This weekend, however, I finished off my latest upcycling project, turning two pine stools I picked up for £1.50 into Shelly Berry Originals - check it out!
And D? Well, when the clock strikes midnight on Saturday it will be for... drinking!
Okay, so maybe I have a problem...
So did you all survive the first full week of 2015? Amazingly I did - despite being back at work and staying "dry". Yep - I'm still off the booze and have set up my Just Giving page to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and have already raised thirty quid - woo hoo!
Despite having almost two weeks off work, my inbox was surprisingly manageable when I returned to the office on Monday, which means I've started the year leaving work at a reasonable time - something I hope to keep up over the next 12 months. This also means I've had more time in the evenings to get on with a bit of painting. Yep, the bathroom is done, and the stools I am upcycling have had their second coat - now I just need to track down some foam to top them with! I've also pulled out my oils and added another layer of "hair" to my latest picture - one that I WILL finish soon, I WILL...
In other news, on Friday I spent a good three hours printing out novel number 2 and spent my Saturday morning lie-in starting yet another round of editing. Oh, and the latest edition of Operation:Pizza is live too, this time reviewing high street chain Strada. You may be surprised by the results...
Anyway, I'm off to get myself a hot chocolate and put on my PJs - rock 'n' roll people!
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...
Yep, it's Sunday evening and I'm here as usual, blogging away. It's been a busy week, what with my frantic attempts to finish decorating the hall (STILL not quite done) and a visit from Mama and Papa Berry. It was lovely to see them both and show off my new abode to my ma, who had yet to visit, and to my pa, who has only seen it in the light of a decorator.
On Saturday I was treated to a West Show, this time The Lion King. Whilst I was impressed by the singing, dancing and puppetry, I admit I wasn't blown away. As my ma pointed out, the story was a little one-dimensional, but I think it was something else that really bugged me. I couldn't help but wonder how an African would see the Westernized, Disney-fied interpretation of their country. What would they make of the sanitized version of the vibrant outfits I saw when I visited Kenya, or the semi-clad actors and supporting dancers who seem to play to that tired, old stereotype that black people are, like women, little more than sex objects?
I wonder if my discomfort came from a conversation I had earlier that week about the way we describe people from different ethnic groups. Whilst I understand that to the older generation the label "coloured" was once much more acceptable than the term "black", I had to point out that it basically puts anyone who isn't "white" into the same ethnic group - essentially lumping together anyone who isn't Caucasian as the other. Whilst I accept that not all people mean to be derogatory when they use the word, when you look under the surface, it screams of notions of white supremacy. Not pretty.
But then, who am I to judge? In my day job, I spend a lot of time telling people how they should behave and what they should do to improve their lives - people who are often from a different class, ethnic background and generation to me. Whilst my colleagues and I work hard to make a positive difference, I wonder if we always listen to the people we are supposed to be helping - and whether we truly welcome and take on board their views.
So when I attend my evening meeting tomorrow, I'm going to make a conscious effort to really listen to what people are saying - and do my best to ensure that their views are taken into consideration in the follow-up work that we do. I like to think that I already do this. but if I'm brutally honest, I wonder if I'm just kidding myself, and I ask anyone who reads this to let me know if they think that I am - and perhaps to take stock of their own practice and views when dealing with people who are different from themselves.
Well hello there...
I hope you're all feeling refreshed after that extra hour in bed? I can't really say that I am, but that's got more to do with the three-day-decorating-marathon I just completed with my dad than a sleep shortage. Yep, that's right - I have another room under my belt. Here's a photo of it one coat in - and keep an eye on Twitter for the finished article once I've got it straight again...
When I haven't been preoccupied with my pad this week I've been working on an application for an internship. Okay, so I might look a bit old for work experience, but this one is designed for us slightly more "experienced" folk who want to try something new. I showed my first draft to my mate Vicky. After politely nodding at my gushing prose on how much I loved the company and why I was suited to it, she suggested that I should instead tell them my story.
"Eh?" Even as a writer, the concept baffled me.
"It's at a magazine, so they'll want someone who has been on a journey that they can share with their readers."
I nodded as I made notes. Now, not only did I need to convince them that I wouldn't be a complete waste of space, I wanted to make myself sound worthy of such an opportunity. So I went for it. And, whilst I don't know whether spending the last 13 years trying to make other people's lives better will impress them or not, I hope that admitting that it is only in my 30's that I feel able to pursue the dreams I've had since I was a teenager will resonate with someone on the shortlisting panel.
And, if it doesn't, I won't give up. If I do, I know I'll live to regret it - not because I might miss my chance, but because I don't want to live my life thinking "what if?" Besides, as the little plaque my mum once bought me says;
"Reach for the moon. If you don't make it, you'll still be among the stars."
Okay, so as a statement it might be factually incorrect, but as a proverb it is one that I'm living by. I recommend you give it a go too.
Yep, I'm watching the American Football live from our very own Wembley. It's been a busy weekend, what with another installment for Operation:Pizza, upcycling (I WILL finish that bookcase, I WILL,) editing, and booking a foray to Berlin for my Birthday, so I'm enjoying watching someone else run around for a change...
I've also been doing my bit for the planet. Earlier this year I came to the conclusion that, rather than solely supporting charities that help people, it was time to help the physical world that we rely on to exist. So, on Friday, I joined the Conservation Volunteers at Lloyd Park for a few hours before heading out to a fundraiser for Greenpeace. Okay, so I know some of you might find their methods extreme, but until our Government starts putting sanctions on those corporations that seem hell-bent on putting profit before the environment, someone needs to take action - and action Greenpeace take.
Anyway, mini rant over, it was a great night, and I fully recommend their dos to anyone who wants to support their work whilst enjoying live music, comedy and cake. Besides, who says giving to charity has to be completely selfless? Weeding around sapling trees and clearing rosebeds of litter on Friday was a very calming experience and one I probably wouldn't have signed up to if I hadn't expected some personal benefit. Even after giving blood on Tuesday I got a packet of ginger nuts and several glasses of squash. It almost made the dizzy spell worth it!
So, so forth people - do something for charidee. Just make sure you enjoy it too...
So. I usually get this blog out every Sunday. But for some reason I've been really tired the last couple of days and just didn't really have the energy to write it.
I have no idea why. I mean, I've had a five day weekend to get it done. Okay, so I've been out and about a bit, meeting friends for food and drink, going to the Stow Music Festival...
... and checking out other artists at work at Making:Uncovered, but the rest of the time I've been chilling. Well, apart from replacing the light fitting in my lounge, sorting out my electricity account, setting up my life insurance, and registering with a GP that is.
But other than that I've just been pottering at home, mainly sat on my backside writing my Operation:Pizza blog, my Overground Underground blog and doing a bit of editing.
Hey, I even sat on my butt when I did a bit more work on my latest picture and cracked on with some up-cycling - hell, I was even on my arse for half of yoga! In fact, the only thing I didn't do resting on my behind was paint the hallway.
Yeah, I've no idea why I don't feel fully rested...
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...