Saturday, 21 November 2015

Happy ever after

It's easy to be swept away with wedding preparations; the scheme, the details, the drama. So often, for a few moments, brides forget the real reason behind the big day; the vows, the commitment, the happy ever after.
I speak from experience because I remember, oh so clearly, planning our wedding. Agonising over shades of green and lilac, obsessing with finding the exact lace cupcake holder.
But who could blame a girl for wanting the perfect day? The one opportunity she may have to create (and spend) to her heart's content. And let's be frank, most girls dream about their wedding day from a very young age - the day their Prince Charming rescues them from their ivory tower. Or something like that.
Apart from the vows, I think the ultimate important factor to the day is all your family and friends together. Because this can be harder than it sounds with so many of us living busy lives, perhaps miles apart from each other.
It's a wonderful time to gather all family and friends and celebrate. Goodness knows this world can be a harsh place, we all need something to celebrate once in a while. To smile, laugh, dance and cheer.
Let's raise a glass and say, "Three cheers to weddings!"
Especially the one Mark and I enjoyed last weekend.

The memorable day.

Husband and wife.

Rose petals.

Let's not forget those who can't be with us. Sadly the bride's mother lost her battle with cancer a couple of years ago.

The props were very popular at the table.

My man.

Loved dessert.

That's us!

Let's all spread some...

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Postman Pat party

Tommy is rather partial to a man with bright orange hair, a comically over sized nose, round spectacles, and a blue suit.
He goes by the name of Pat, he's a postman, and he played a starring role in Tommy's 2nd birthday celebrations.
We had a Postman Pat themed party, with exclusive invites from the man himself.

Here he is on the birthday cake.

And on the cupcakes made by yours truly.

Which went down a storm with Tommy and his cousin Will.

We played pass the parcel, with Postman Pat paper and gifts.

Not a Postman Pat toy, but a popular gift never the less. Thanks granndad!

At the end of the little family birthday party, Postman Pat goody bags were handed to Tom and Will, with a PP jigsaw, bubbles, sweets, spectacles and game.

Thanks for helping make the day extra special, Pat. See you in your red van, with your black and white cat, very soon no doubt!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Now he is 2

'Twas the night before Tommy's birthday, when all throu' the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Oh except mummy and daddy, who were blowing balloons, hanging bunting and banners, wrapping presents, listening to music and drinking wine.
Here's the result.

It was worth every single second to see his beaming face opening his presents.

Especially seeing him trying to figure out this one.

By the looks of it, he loved his garage.

And the fact we let him eat cake for breakfast.

Next was the outing to the Sensory Barn. Basically, a barn to increase children's senses.

With a tree house.

Plus tree house window.

And garage for daddy.

Then we had lunch. Accompanied with kisses.

I couldn't help thinking, although Tommy loved his healthy lunch, he was looking for cake.

Never fear, Nanny's house meant cake was near! Tommy, meet Colin the caterpillar.

Happy birthday to the most loving, characteristic, endearing, wonderful, cheeky chappy, we've ever been blessed to know.

Coming soon, the Postman Pat party. I expect you all to be waiting with baited breath.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Fair is where you buy pink candy floss

Have you ever been in a situation where you know it's unhealthy to dream of a positive outcome, you know it could be dangerous to your well-being to believe something could happen, yet you do it anyway?
Because sometimes, as much as you try to keep your feet firmly on the ground, you still imagine yourself flying high and all the wonderful things you could gain.
For a few enchanting moments, you believe you have conquered. And damn it feels good.
Then, wallop! Reality hits you smack in the face.
Like a cold, wet, dead fish.
This is what happened to me last Wednesday, at roughly 3.13pm.
Despite telling myself not to over analyse or over wish, I did. Then my manager shattered all my illusions in one unfair sentence:
"That's why we have offered the job to Steve."
She gave the job to my colleague!
To add insult to injury, he was the guy I interviewed for my maternity cover.
He stole the job which should have been mine. Because apparently, I beat the external candidates, "Hands down."
And isn't it ironic that I wasn't even convinced about applying at first, until my manager encouraged me (twice) and I allowed myself to believe that I was the next Production Manager. Plus the money was ever so good, it would have meant we could comfortably afford nursery fees. We could have moved to a bigger house, with a garden containing grass for Tommy to run about in, even a playroom for his vast growing toys, and an office for yours truly.
Yes I told myself not to get carried away, but I did anyway. Especially after my boss congratulated me on an excellent interview, praised me for my confidence, and highlighted all the necessary skills I possessed for the position.
Oh how I lost myself in fantasising about the recognition and respect. I've been working in publishing for twenty five years, after all. Surely it was time to be rewarded for my hard work and commitment?
At my current employment I have saved the company thousands of pounds, due to detailed and thorough tender processes, I have slogged away and ensured smooth handover procedures with new suppliers. I have built professional relationships externally and internally. I have demonstrated problem solving skills and proved I am motivated and able to multitask with many important projects.
I was robbed.
Steve earned four extra points than me due to his technical knowledge. A fact I was bitterly disappointed in as it was the one area I was concerned with, and my boss assured me not everyone would tick all the boxes.
Dear readers, I have had to swallow my pride and admit defeat in the most awkward manner.
I aint been happy about it.
I've had to pick myself up, brush myself down and start all over again. Then I've had to put things into perspective. I still have a job, we still have a roof over our heads and food in the cupboards.
It was nice to dream for a while.
Now normal services must resume.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

How to loose five pounds

I have the ability to drive myself potty.
For example, I received an invite to a hen day. It was for a relaxing event at a local spa.
Did I:
a - Jump at the chance to become Tommy free on a Saturday (no offence Tommy) and think about self indulgence and Prosecco.
b - Decline, I am far too busy for such things.
c - Accept, and spend weeks hardly eating anything and worrying how I would look in a swimming costume, next to girls up to thirteen years younger than me and two stone lighter than me.
Have you guessed it yet?
It was c.
Although to be fair, I finally lost five pounds. (The Cake and Bake Show was my day off, and yes I did manage to justify it!)
During the weeks leading up to said hen day, let me explain just how seriously the invite affected me:
I deprived myself of all my favourite, delicious, meals in the office canteen, and stuck to tuna salads.
I watched enviously as Mark tucked into hearty home-cooked dinners, as I nibbled on carrot sticks and lettuce leaves.
I said, "No!" to my mother's desserts. I never do this. Especially chocolate profiterole roll night.
I exercised my heart out at the gym, until my hair was sticking to my scalp. This has never happened to me before.
I weighed myself continuously and sighed. Usually I avoid the bathroom scales at all costs.
I spent days surfing the Internet for a 'miracle swimsuit' which did not cost the equivalent of a small, precious, pearl. Finally I found one.
I looked nervous when skinny, young, friends mentioned the hen do.
I treated myself to a spray tan the night before. Fat looks better brown.
So, dear readers, taking into account all the above, when the day of the hen do finally arrived, let me explain my time frame. Because it was most unusual:
I bathed, without Tommy. It was a rare, relaxing and weird situation.
I washed my hair, this is the norm every day but I actually gave myself time, and wanted to - BLOW DRY. That's right, I did not leave the house with a soggy mess on my head. I made the effort.
I painted my toe nails pillar box red. Alas, this is a neglected area and colour these days.
I moisturised myself from head to toe, such a frivolous activity has been banned from my life these days.
I wore my new black and white sixty's style dress, with brown knee high boots and miracle swimsuit underneath.
And I was ready to rock and roll! Or at the very least, visit a spa with skinnier, younger, friends.
Dear readers, you may think the above way too much preparation, and on reflection, I am inclined to agree. But please allow me to explain, I am neither vain nor high maintenance, but I think I needed to be reminded, sometimes it's okay to care and bother about your appearance, and maybe I do neglect this a teeny bit.
So I arrived at the spa, slimmer, browner, somewhat polished and preened, and slightly more confident as a consequence, especially with the knowledge of miracle swimsuit underneath white robe.
And guess what?
To my great surprise and pleasure, most of the hen party did not jump in pool, with all skinny and young frames on show. We sat around in white robes, drinking Prosecco, and enjoying a spot of self indulgence. Including a fabulous back massage. I did not, I repeat, I did not, take my white robe off all day.
After all that worrying and preparing!
If only I'd known.
Still, at least it made me loose (a very much needed) five pounds.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

For people who like cake

I was sitting on my cousin Sarah's sofa, eating my auntie Helen's chocolate cake, when my auntie Leslie approached me and said, "You like cake, don't you?"
I nodded enthusiastically. (I had a mouthful of sponge, and considered it rude to open my mouth and spill its contents, by attempting to speak.)
She was dead right though. I do like cake. I like eating it, baking it, and watching other people bake it on the aptly named, The Great British Bake Off.
It was my cousin Sarah's birthday tea, and not wishing to break tradition, we had all gathered at her house for nibbles and cake.
After the liking cake comment, my auntie Leslie handed me two, free, tickets to The Cake And Bake Show, at London, Docklands. I smiled my biggest smile and thanked her. (The sponge had been swallowed by then, you will be pleased to know.)
You see, my cousin Jack's girlfriend works for a conference company and one of the perks for her dedication and professionalism, is free tickets to events. How thoughtful of her, in this instance, to provide entrance for myself, my cousin, my cousin's daughter, my two aunts, and my mum.
We were all going to London to eat cake!
On the day of the big occasion, I wore comfy shoes, loose clothes, and carried plenty of cash in my purse. I wasn't quite sure what to expect at such an outing, but it really was heaven in a conference centre.
It had lots of stalls handing out free and yummy samples of cake, cheese, pizza and vodka, to be enjoyed with family. In my eyes, that is an act of heaven!
It also boasted stalls demonstrating fancy gadgets for the kitchen (I bought a silver power whisk), stalls selling shabby chic items for the home (my mum bought me a gorgeous vintage looking chalkboard), stalls featuring antique teapots etc (I bought my mum a huge silver spoon) and lots, lots more.
We even all sat down for a family catch up, with coffee and cupcakes. It really was bliss at a table.
Here's a few of my memories from the day.

There were quite a lot of steps to climb, until we reached our destination. Rather like I imagine heaven to be, ha, ha.

Inside. One of the many pretty displays.

The official show cake. I would be proud of this creation.

I was rather taken with this ornate offering.

Loved the rustic charm of this stall.

All things considered, it was a very successful day. Without a hint of calorie awareness.
My kind of day indeed.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

You had the power all along, my dear - Glinda, the good witch

My comfort zone is the place I feel the most confident and at ease with. It is my comfort zone, after all.
Yet sometimes in life, I have to remind myself, if I cautiously step outside this zone, potentially great things could occur.
Yes it's often tempting to take the easy route, especially as I find drastic change daunting, and I'm very happy, thank you, when life is simple.
But if you don't take a few chances in life, how will you ever reap the rewards?
That's what I've decided, dear readers. I have to take one of my few chances, and for my trouble, I sincerely hope to gain.
It has actually taken me seven days to reach my most recent decision.
It's a big 'un.
In a world where my most common questions are; shall we have fish cakes or chicken stir fry for dinner? Shall we go to Sainsburys before or after Tommy's nap?
So I am a little out of touch when faced with anything larger than my mobile phone bill or my weekly shopping list.
Therefore, I have not taken this decision lightly, I have discussed, dissected and dreamed my dilemma.
It is time for me to make myself clearer; I am applying for the role of Production Manager, at my current company.
Some might think this would be an easy conclusion; more money, more responsibility, more recognition.
Of course it is all these things. Plus; more commitment, more meetings, more time in the office, more stress. Which is exactly what I was trying to avoid!
I'll admit, when my manager, the current Production Manager, approached me about the position, my heart sank. Because I realised, before Tommy I would have jumped at the chance. Now, with Tommy, he's my priority, not promotion. The plan was to cut back my hours/days/tasks, not gain!
You see, that's exactly what unnerved me, I had it all planned out, this wasn't supposed to happen!
But it did. And I decided I should be positive that my boss was encouraging me, the salary would be beneficial, we could then afford to place Tommy in nursery three mornings a week, to ease my mum and my commitments. (We have a date in the diary next Wednesday, to view a recommended nursery, and don't even get me started on all the changes this involves!)
Plus, maybe, I would like to think, I have to stop being scared and believe I am good enough to be a Production Manager, just as Glinda the good witch quoted; "You had the power all along, my dear."
Let's hope so.
Wish me luck.
Interview with scary presentation coming soon.