Monday, 31 December 2012

it's that time of year ...

You know, when everyone reflects on what kind of year they had. What went well, what they achieved and what they didn't. I've never done a "review of the year" type post before, so this year I thought I'd give it a try.

I've taken my inspiration from Fabulous Adventures of Listgirl (aka Christine Newman's) blog, which by-the-way is a brilliant read! Christine never ceases to amaze me at just how much "living" she manages to squeeze into any given month. I frequently leave her comments saying how exhausted I am just from reading her blog! Seriously, after you've read my post (and  yes I'm hoping you'll stick around long enough to read it), head on over to Christine's blog and you'll see what I mean.

So without further ado, here's my highly condensed summary of what happened in 2012:

  • I started the year on a creative high with thank you cards and wedding invitations
  • I began a new cooking adventure, lovingly referred to as NEWrecipes52
  • We celebrated Iain's 40th birthday in Barbados
  • The weather was a talking point throughout the year (as normal) from snow and stormy winds messing up the garden, to the very few days of sunshine that was our summer
  • I baked bread for the first time
  • I received 4 bouquets of flowers throughout the year
  • I discovered (& became addicted to) Instagram
  • I "baked" two diaper cakes for friends expecting babies
  • I baked LOTS of real cakes as part of my NEWrecipes52 adventures (although I only got as far as trying out 30 new recipes rather than my intended 52)
  • I watched my beloved Chelsea win the Champions League
  • We celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with a street party at work
  • Oscraps sub-committee meeting was held in London and we welcomed some of our international friends from Holland (Diane & Maya) and Australia (Ona & Marie)
  • I celebrated by 41st birthday
  • I found Fat Mum Slim's photo-a-day inspiration lists
  • I made my first ever claim on my car insurance (I accidentally scraped the side of someones car in a car-park. The lady was very nice about it & my insurance dealt with the claim very quickly!)
  • The Olympics made me proud to be British
  • Iain and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary
  • I finally got my hair cut (after almost a year since the last visit to the salon!)
  • I blagged my way in to One Little Bird's and Paislee Press's creative teams (still pinching myself about both appointments!)
  • Hazel and I went to New York and had a BLAST
  • Iain grew a moustache for #movember and the team he was part of raised over £1000 for men's health charities
  • I created my second Blurb photo book
  • We got creative for our Christmas lunch at work
  • I uploaded 232 Instagram photos (and counting!), blogged 59 time (more than in 2011 - yeah! but less than in 2010 - boo!) and took 2728 photos (not many compared to previous years!)
  • Christmas was a quiet affair at home, just the way we like it

So there you have it, my 2012 in a nutshell. When you see it listed like this, it doesn't really look like I've done a lot. But in between all of the above, I've been working (quite a lot), relaxing (quite a lot) and generally loving my life as it currently is!

I've no doubt that I'll be asleep as the calendar flips over to from 2012 to 2013, so I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a prosperous New Year.Thanks for reading. See you next year!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

be merry

credits: One Little Bird, A Star On Top + Wrap Star

Saturday, 15 December 2012

creative fun and games at the office Chrismas lunch

On Thursday this week, my company had it's annual Christmas lunch. It usually takes the format of a staff briefing, followed by a buffet lunch, then the handing out of Secret Santa gifts. This year, they decided to change things up a little and introduce some fun competitive elements too.

The senior management team took part in their own version of the Great British Bake Off with each of the 6 senior managers bringing in [preferably homemade] mince pies for a blind tasting that was judged by the staff. My boss, Paula, was runner up for her "homemade" pies (they may have been homemade, but I'm pretty sure not by her!) and it was our MD who came first ...

Congratulations David!

We had a Christmas themed trivia quiz in which staff were grouped into teams of 5 or 6 and had answer 20 questions about all things Christmassy! The team I was in came joint third. Kudos!

We also had a homemade Christmas hat competition and the entries were all really impressive!

Cute little Santa hat ...

Gingerbread house inspired hat, complete with working lights ...

Jingle bell covered hat ...

Rudolph and Christmas tree hats ...

Tinsel and bauble crown ...

(oooppps, this is a bit more blurry than I thought - sorry!)

And a Christmas pudding hat, alongside the Grinchiest Santa ever ...

Then there was my not-so-little chimney hat, complete with fake snow, presents (at the very top) and pom-pom reindeer on the brim ...

I had no idea there were so many creative people at my company! Here's a group shot of everyone that took part, wearing their own homemade creations ...

The overall winner of the competition and now proud owner of the brilliantly ugly Christmas jumper prize was [insert drum roll here] ... Andy and his Christmas pudding hat ...

Congratulations Andy!!!

It was a really fun afternoon and probably one of the best Christmas lunches we've had in a while. But without a doubt, the funniest moment of the day came when my colleague, Hayley, tried on the winning hat ...

and did a little shoulder shimmy dance ...

Just think of the episode of Friends where Monica puts the turkey on her head and you'll get the general idea!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

adventures of a New York wanderer | the book

I'm one of those people who doesn't usually print their photos. I scrap with them, I view them on my laptop and I even blog about them, but I very rarely print them. However, following my recent NYC trip, I knew I wanted to create a photobook as a way of "showcasing" some of my favourite images ...

I used to create my book (I'd used them once before for photos from my friend's wedding in Italy in 2011). Blurb's software is really easy to use and you work "off-line" until you're ready to order the book, which meant I could fiddle with the font and the position of my images without having to have Internet connection (i.e. during my lunch-breaks at work).

Now I have to confess. I have a terrible time visualising sizes. I always have and I always will. When I created the wedding photo book, I did it in the small square size of 7in x 7in and whilst I was happy enough with the end result, the book felt a bit small in my hands. So this time, I opted for the large landscape size of 13in x 11in ... that's about the same size as my laptop. Wow!

As with most things, it's the preparation that takes the longest time; selecting which images I wanted to use, tweaking them to correct imperfections, cropping and saving them took several hours (over a period of about 4 days).

My next challenge was picking the style of my book. I knew I didn't really want any text / journaling. I just wanted the focus to be on the images, with a single line indicating the "when" and "where" kind of data ...

I decided to keep it very clean and simple with most pages (42 in total) having just 1 central image. There were a couple of exceptions though. As you can imagine, I took a LOT of images whilst visiting the Empire State building and I wanted to show the views looking north, south, east and west ...

I also wanted to include some of the photos captured on my mobile phone and knowing that these images wouldn't stand up to being enlarged, I opted for a multi-image page that meant keeping them neat and small ...

I ordered 2 copies, one for me and the other as a Christmas gift for Hazel (she doesn't read my blog so it's OK for me to share here) and they arrived yesterday. The quality of the books, the paper, dust cover and bindings etc is excellent. Mind you, they weren't cheap and even with a 20% discount coupon, the books worked out at approximately £45 each! A wee bit pricey, but I'm delighted with the end result. I just hope Hazel feels the same way when she opens hers on Christmas morning.