29 January 2017

Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal

This blog post is the first of my new monthly feature which highlights a different charity every month.

This month I am talking about the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal.  This appeal has been raising funds and awareness since 1986 and has raised many millions of pounds for much needed funding.  In 2014 alone, the appeal raised £8.26 million pounds which funded 413,000 nursing hours.

Apart from making a personal donation yourself, there are many different ways that you can fund raise for this cause.  

You can volunteer to fund raise for Marie Curie by volunteering your time to selling daffodil pins to the public.  There is a simple questionnaire on the site, found here where you search for your town or city, find out the nearest fundraising site (mine is my local Tescos) and volunteer for the hours that you are available.

If you are looking to fund raise via your friends and family or work colleagues, why not make an event out of it?  

You could have a dress down day at work, with everyone donating £2 each.  Perhaps suggest that everyone wears an item of clothing that is daffodil yellow and have a donation box on the reception desk for clients and visitors to donate too?

Are you great at doing hair or have a talent with makeup?  Why not see how many many hairstyles or makeovers you can do in a day?  Every person seen could donate £5 each and it could be a really fun event.

If you fund raising alone, why not try something out of the ordinary. Why not become a human statue in a public place with the public donating funds every time they move you? If you have a musical talent, why not sing for your donations?

Happy fund raising!!

23 January 2017

You Got To Give a Little

If there is one plan (and I use the term loosely because I hate making long term plans that inevitably fall by the wayside) that I want to follow through on this year; it is to do two things.  Be more selfish, and give more.

Doesn't make sense right?  Being selfish and giving are at opposite ends of the scale.  But giving can entail many things and there is nothing wrong with scaling back on some aspects and escalating others.

When I say I want to be more selfish. I am not talking about holding on to the last Rolo or showing no consideration for others.  What I mean is that this year, I need to remember to take care of myself too.  To give a little less of myself in some areas, which will enable me to give more in others.

As I have said in my previous post I am guilty of falling into the habit of being different personalities around different people.  The "I'm fine" person, when I'm really not; the sociable person; when I want to be alone (although I need to bring that out more as it is tied to my anxiety); the shy person in a group of people, while with my friends I am never scared to put my voice forward.  Molding your personality to fit the situation is exhausting and this year I decided, I am just not doing it anymore.

I am also going to take more time out for myself.  Some me time, on my own.  I need space on my own sometimes, even if it is just shutting a door or going to spa on my own for the afternoon.  I need it; and I deserve it.  We all do.

But I also want to give more this year and that does not have to involve giving myself.  Giving can be giving some of your time, writing a blog post to promote a charity or even working charity into your everyday shopping.

So my first goal is to write something for a different charity each month.  I tried to start that last year, but I only managed a few posts.  This year I will do better.  This month I am going to write about the Marie Curie Daffodil appeal and next month I am featuring an amazing woman who is 10 years Cancer free, after having one lung removed after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Mesothelioma.  She now raises funds for research and that will be my February charity post.

Another way I intend to give is by giving money.  Although I donate some money to Women's Aid and Refuge every month, I cannot afford to give much.  So another way that you can give money is through your shopping.

After a little research, there are a number of ways that you can do this.

I am always one for finding a bargain online, any way to save money on a purchase.  I have some across a site called https://www.discountpromocodes.co.uk/ which not only finds you the discount codes for the shops that you want, it also donates 20% of it's profits every month to a different charity.  This month they raised over £200 for the Alzheimer's Society and since they began they have raised over £51,000.00.  That is just incredible. 

So this is my plan this year.  Take care of myself more, and give a little more.  We all need to look after ourselves and we all need to give a little back.  This is going to be my way of doing that.

20 January 2017

There's a Party on the Hill, Will You Come

"There's a party on the hill, can you come?  Bring your own cup and saucer and your own cream bun"
Anyone remember that nursery rhyme or am I showing my age!!

I have been planning a corporate get together this week for some of the female members of staff at my company.  Team building they call it.  We call it cocktails and food in the city.  With more cocktails.

The thing is, when organizing a party, be it a children's party or a corporate event, it is essential to either hold it at an interesting place, have some sort of theme, or an interesting gimmick.  

When it comes to children's parties, I think of the parties that my mum used to have for me as a child. Pin the tail on the donkey, musical statutes and jelly and ice cream.  Very retro now.  These days, it has become essential to have some sort of theme.

My friend Wendy holds the most amazing parties for her son.  Running her her Etsy store WendysPrintableParty as a sideline and having a young son gives her endless inspiration to hold the most amazing parties.  Science parties, dinosaur parties, music hero parties and superheroes.  Each party is a must attend event for all the children. 

When it comes to organizing an adult birthday party or a hen night, it is still important to get the details right.  The right venue or theme can really make the night.  For the more active why not organise a paint ball party based around a weekend away, or a cocktail making experience for those that love a drink and a dance.

When arranging a corporate party event, if you are organising for more than 50 people, make use of the resources available to you and hire an event management company.  There are so many interesting places and spectacles that you can organise events that will be a real talking point and make the experience.  Hiring a professional in these cases when organising for 50 plus people is essential.

For Northern events for a more sporty kind of event, why nor organise an Office Olympiad event or or something more cultural in the capital, a tour of the London Dungeons with an interactive aspect. Or a free bar haha, whatever works for your company.

The point is to make whatever you are organising interesting, fun and a talking point.  With that, you are guaranteed an amazing time. 

17 January 2017

Out With The New, In With The Old

After we emerge from the hangovers of New Years Eve, you always see one catchphrase.  New Year, New You.  I hate it.  The idea that on the first day of the year, every year, companies and society tells you that you are not good enough, you have to improve you.  I talked about my dislike for this in my New Year Post

What I prefer to do is add to my character, not change it.  This year, I want to revisit the classics.  Not Shakespeare, but books from Jules Verne like Journey to the Centre of the Earth, must reads like Little Women and To Kill a Mockingbird.  Books that stand the test of time.

Films are like that.  There are some films that will last forever.  Films that can not, and should not, ever be revisited.  I do not mind a "remake" if the original can be improved or the story can be added to, but there are some films that you should never, ever, touch.  Films that cannot be improved by CGI or a 21st century mindset. 

Films that are perfect, just the way they are.

Jaws for example.   Could the special effects be improved?  Of course.  But would I change one iota of that film for a more realistic shark?  Never.

I am currently running a competition on Twitter to win some classic films, see below for how to enter.

 These films should never be touched.  Can you imagine anyone else ever playing Celie from The Color Purple than Whoopi Goldberg?  Can you comprehend a remake of the Towering Inferno? Tom Cruise playing Steve McQueen's character, scaling down the building Mission Impossible style?  The Rock?  NO.  Just no.

To win the classic movies as pictured above, all you have to do is head over to Twitter and RT the competition tweet (here is the link) The competition ends at midnight on the 31st January and is UK only.

Should you wish to buy any of the films about, they can be found here

What is your favourite classic film?

10 January 2017

The Stigma of Mental Health

This is one of those posts where I am starting with no idea what the end will be.  I am just talking, through my fingers tapping against the keyboard.

When you have a headache, you take an aspirin.  When you have a cold you take Vitamin C.  When you wake up in the morning feeling really ill, you call in sick at work.  Mental health is different.  It is stigmatized by society in a way that you feel that you have to hide it.  Are obliged to.

My work is great.  I have never had any indication that if I called in with a mental issue, that they would be anything but nice about it.  But yet, I hide it.  

Last night, I was having major anxiety.   I have not had an episode for a while now, but like a boomerang, eventually, it always comes back.  At 1.20am this morning I posed a thought on Twitter which still plagues me now, whilst my anxiety ravages me once again.  I was praying for physical illness today.  To have a "real excuse" to call in sick.

I got to sleep around 3.00am and awoke with the same feeling.  Sometimes my anxiety lasts a few hours, sometimes a few days/weeks.  The feeling is always the same.  Irrational worry, fear, panic; tears.  When I woke this morning I begged my head to sort itself out.  But instead, I cried when my eyeliner broke, whilst simultaneously thinking how utterly pathetic I was for crying about eyeliner.

I wasn't crying about eyeliner,  I was crying because my damn soul hurt.  For reasons I did not know or could explain.

Yet, I got ready for work.  I piled on the makeup to cover my ravaged face.  I put a nice dress on to detract people from looking directly into my eyes.  I stood at the bus stop, wondering how the hell I was going to get through the day, eyes streaming from pain I could not, can never, understand.

9.00am hit and my "I'm fine" personality kicks.  I smile, I joke, I overcompensate.  No one notices.  I have played this game so many times before that I wonder if my personality has split, like the pieces of a Horcrux.  Regular happy Vicky, mentally screwed Vicky, work Vicky.  

There are so many pieces of me, so many images that I portray that sometimes I wonder who the real me is.  The real me is the one I was at New Year.  Drinking cocktails, sharing fun with friends; throwing death stars; shoulders utterly relaxed and my mind clear.

It is midnight now.  My heads is clearing a little as I write.  Writing helps me.  But yet I know that as soon as I stop tapping the keys, the cogs of my mind will start turning again.  The fear, of what I do not know, will come back.  The tears.  I am tempted to use my coping mechanism, which can work on the second night of an episode.  A complete brain switch off.  My mind locked away whilst music plays in my ears.  An escape from me. 

The cycle will start again tomorrow.  Either I will wake up and my anxiety will have left me, or it will keep its hold, while I fake my way through the day ahead.

It should not be like this.  Someone with mental health issues should not have to do this.  Yet we do.  Some people, every damn day.  We should not have to hide, which only makes us worse.  We should not have to fracture our personalities to hide what we are going through.  Someone with the flu is visible, we are the invisible.

I guess one way to combat this is through awareness.  Being as honest as we can, as I am being now.  Yet I am a coward, because tomorrow again I will hide.  Because we know what society thinks of mental issues.  How those who do not understand will never look at us the same way again if we admit our struggles.

Writing at this time of night gives me clarity.  Honesty.  I say how I am feeling, without a filter.  It is my sanctuary, for a short time, until the laptop lids closes.  But I have recorded me tonight.  My feelings.  No filter.

Someday, I hope, that the filter will be gone.  That I will not be ashamed of something that I cannot control.  This is a small step.  It is the second step though, not the first, that takes us where we really want to go.

8 January 2017

Home Security

When it comes to home security, we all know how to keep our homes safe, as much as possible.

Burglar alarms, locks on our doors, our windows, timer lights; they are all things that we have in place and do without much thought.  When it comes to our outside spaces however, I know that I for one am a bit lackadaisical.

With that in mind I thought that I would share an odd little story with you today of what happened to us a few weeks ago.

We live in a Northern town at the top of a small cul de sac.  We are very lucky in that our bungalow is mostly surrounded by green space owned by the Water Board so looking out of the majority of our windows, you could believe that you lived in the country.

Our garage is a brick free standing space which is mostly used for storage now as we do not have a car now.  Everything from electrical appliances and our clothes dryer to the general junk that everyone stores in their garages.

Having lost the main garage door key ages ago, we have been relying on the back door to go in and out.  Being in an enclosed space with access only through a gate or over a high wall, we have never worried too much about security.  The key was frequently accidentally left in the lock and we often lost the key, only to find it later in a coat pocket.

A few weeks ago however the key went missing.  Coats were searched and the patio area were fully searched but to no avail.  Sure that the key would turn up at some point, but needing access to the garage, we decided to change the lock after a few days.

Now this is where the story gets weird.  Because the day after we changed the lock, the old key showed up.  Not in a coat pocket or a kitchen surface, but right outside our front door.  Not in a place that we could have overlooked, we would have literally had to step on the key to go outside.

This was very worrying to say the least.  That someone potentially had taken the key with a view to accessing the garage to steal or who knows what was a frightening prospect.  Especially we have previously always felt so safe here.

Having checked that nothing was stolen, we took some additional precautions.  There is now a security light on the gate so anyone trying to access our patio area at night will trigger it.  The back door to the garage now has our overfull garden bin next to it, not easy to move if you are trying to be quiet.

In addition, we located a replacement key service and now use the main garage door as our access point.

It just goes to show that you can never be too careful when it comes to security in and around your home.

What security improvements do you think you could work on?

*In collaboration with Fastkeys

6 January 2017

Vintage Jewellery Wishlist

Happy New Year to you all!

I cannot believe how quickly the Christmas and New Year break went; it seemed no more of a blink of the eye before I was back to work.

After getting thoroughly spoiled at Christmas, I have had a clear out of many things in my bedroom from unused products and makeup, to jewellery that I no longer wear.  

So what happens after a major clear out?  You have space to buy more and update your tastes.

After buying a vintage 1940s silver brush and mirror set from a recent 40's weekend, I have been lusting after everything vintage and vintage inspired.  This has particularly been taken up with my love for vintage and vintage inspired jewellery.  It is always a quest to find out where to buy vintage jewellery.

Here are some of my current favourites on my wishlist.

Lovett & Co

I love this necklace.  I would wear this with a black dress for a formal event but equally might wear it in a casual style outfit, a patterned t-shirt and jeans for example to change things up a bit.

Rock My Vintage

I currently own this brooch and it is sitting pretty on my black boring work coat, giving it a little sparkle to combat against the black.


I absolutely love this brooch pin.  I am really getting into brooches at the moment and this pin could easily double up as a hat pin.  Perfect for these freezing cold months when we have a snuggy hat on our heads.  No reason why they do not deserve glamour too!
 Glitzy Secrets

This Gatsby style bracelet is just gorgeous and I love the intricate detailing.

Katherine Swaine

When it comes to earrings I like to make a statement.  These marcasite swirl earrings certainly do that and are really something special.

So those are my currently vintage inspired favourite pieces, what are you loving at the moment?