lashesoflifestyle

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Christmas Presents on a Budget

Christmas is coming, and fast. But we all know that! Have we all finished Christmas Shopping? A lot of people I have asked have said they have,or that they only need to get the odd thing. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has only started recently.

I  started wondering just how much people spend on Christmas. From my experience, my parents have always gone over the top, and still do even though we’ve all grown up, but then I guess it’s always hard to admit your children are now old enough to cut back. I have always wanted my presents to appear amazing and look like I’ve spent a lot, so perhaps this is from my upbringing; but normally this is still budgetted (with a larger budget for the BF – but no where near as crazy as my friend who is spending over £200 on one watch!), I just search for the best options.

This year, things are going to be different. Of course I still want my presents to look amazing, but after 2 months unpaid work experience and living on part time wage, I have little money available for presents so I have decided to MAKE my presents!

My ideas started with sweets and treats which I could wrap, pack into jars or boxes as gifts. With some great recommendations I came up with these ideas:

  • Toffee
  • Peppermint creams
  • Fudge
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Truffles

(Keep an eye out for my post on how my fudge making goes!)

I also decided I was going to use my ‘arty’ side for gifts too. One idea was a collage for my boyfriends mum, along with some other great ideas for certain people who I know read my blog so I have to keep quiet about those!

I used different media, but all were easily accessible, or very cheap! I decided I was going to do one pencil drawing, one with felt tips, one with biro and I really wanted to do a painting (or use paint with a biro outline) but all my paints were at my parents house. Having ventured into a 99p shop (which is amazing!), I found some acrylic paints for 99p which definitely made my mind up.

After getting back I found I didn’t have any paintbrushes (I did think a stray may have been found in one of my boxes – very dissappointing), looking around the house for spares, I realised I could use anything and make it a challenge! I began mixing and painting the one part of my collage with cotton buds, cotton pads and cocktail sticks – so much fun!

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I spent the whole day yesterday doing art. I finally finished my 4 parts, putting together my finished work in a photoframe I already had and not used. I also made the most of old magazines, by cutting out peachy colours to use as a background for my collage.

And here is what I made … (Still debating with myself whether to put letters spelling out family in the top corner…)

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I have loved my challenge of thinking of cheaper gift ideas, and it is still ongoing as got my family to do now. It feels great when you have made something for a gift, and takes so much effort and thought, I believe it could even make as a better present!

 

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First Work Event Coming Up? Feeling Daunted? Don’t Be!

Last night I had my first ever work event … yes first ever, apart from when I worked at the wacky warehouse, but I’m sure conferences where they imitated what a kids party should be like – you playing conga, musical chairs, dressing up games and eating buffet food doesn’t really count as a proper work event.

Last night I attended the SmartCookie party at the Covent Garden Hotel – Very swanky location, gorgeous place to have an event!

When I first left the office, I felt nervous. I didn’t know how well I’d perform at a networking event, all I could do is think POSITIVE, CONFIDENCE and cross my fingers (and toes!! Which, just to let you know, were freezing..silly weather).

Me and my other colleague, Alice, turned up a little later than the other half of our team (Work can’t just stop at 5:30pm because we have a party to go to). When we got to The Covent Garden Hotel we put our coats and bags in the cloakroom and made our way into the room where the get together was being held.

We were greeted with cocktails (Yes, there were non-alcoholic versions…No, I didn’t go for those – would you after a hard day at work?!). The canapes being served were amazing, tiny little renditions of meals; fish and chips, shepherds pies, curry followed by bannoffee pie and scones – all tiny so you don’t have to feel guilty about eating dessert.

At the beginning things did feel a little awkward. I met a few people through Alice, and then went and stood with the other half of the team who were chatting with one of our clients. It was all quite interesting, and I joined in when I could.

We were soon all ‘shushed’ and the organiser of the party made a speech. He introduced the band who were playing in the other room – little, cosy space. Such a nice set up!

Everyone moved into the little room to discover this new band. After a short while listening to the music, we moved back into the main room. We got talking to one woman from one of the other companies, and had a great conversation about the difference between English and American culture and travel (She was from America..), and she soon introduced me to other people in her company, and others she had met that night. It was great! I was ‘flying all by myself’. So happy that I was making the most of the night, speaking to other people, and hopefully making a great impression to help with my career.

I really enjoyed last night, and we even came away with some amazing goody bags!

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Tips I would give for anyone coming up to having their first/one of their first work events:

  • Confidence is everything! Even if you aren’t confident, act confident. SHINE!
  • Look interested, make conversation, and if you get talking to one person they might just introduce you to others – great way to make your way around the room for a beginner.
  • Take cards – (check your card holder  beforehand- don’t forget to fill it! I know someone who has done this, it is quite funny at the time)
  • Don’t get drunk. The cocktails may taste great, BUT always stay less drunk than the others. Keep on top of the ball and make the best impression you can.
  • Anyone can do it…Just believe in yourself!
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Dogs are a Man’s Best Friend (Woman’s in my Case)

When you’ve been living away from home for a while, you miss certain things – being made cups of tea when you wake up (No I wasn’t spoilt), Cuddling up on the sofa in front of the wood burner, having family there whenever you need them. One thing I really do miss is having my dogs around.

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For all you non-dog owners out there, dog owners get so used to having dogs around; Laying their head/paws on you for attention; watching over you when they think something is wrong, just generally being around. They are like an additional member to the family. So for all of you who miss your family, think about having another person you miss.

Currently having an evening where I’m thinking about my parent’s house and home home, as I’m home alone, and thinking about my cute pups (well, not quite puppies anymore, but they have just as much energy!). I’d love them to be hear to keep me warm.

Yes they can be annoying, especially when dog breath comes on the scene – euwwww. The one thing I do love is the walks

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When the weather was nice, and we used to live closer to home home, me and my boyfriend used to go for long walks with the dogs. Well I say walks, but my boyfriend would run off and play chase/tag/races/I don’t know what he was doing. We used to play fetch with them, and we’d all be really worn out when we got back, the dogs (plus the boyfriend, as he spent more time with the dogs than the rest of us) would collapse in a heap on the floor.

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I’d love to get a dog in London, but it’s so expensive and so much responsibility whilst I’m building my life here. So, tonight I made the decision, that once I have my life/career sorted I am going to offer dog walking services to neighbours, or volunteer to get my doggy dose (plus when I eventually get weekends off I will be able to visit home more often, and visit my own doggies).

I still need to do my research, but watch this space!

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Work Experience – The Money Debate

Should people really do unpaid work experience?

Does this mean the company won’t value the work you do for them?

Will managers take advantage of having someone doing unpaid work experience with them, giving them all the jobs they don’t want to do?

Preparing to do unpaid work experience, the planning and research through to budgeting, does take time and a lot of consideration. Money being a huge factor – especially if you’re supporting yourself, like I am (AND living in London).

In September, after 5 months as a resourcer in PR recruitment I decided that the career really wasn’t for me. It was boring, and I found myself doing the same tedious jobs day in-day out. That wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I considered waiting until the new year to do internships/work experience, so that I could book holidays and use my time off, meaning I wouldn’t be out of a full time job. But that was going to take too long, and I realised that from the 20 days a year holiday we received (5 of which had to be used over Christmas), I would not be able to do enough work experience to actually get a new career off the ground.

I made my leap of faith at the end of September (Well, more of a pre-organised, budgeted and well planned jump). I saved all the money I could during September and researched where I could carry out work experience, from October, even if it was unpaid ( I put all my prejudices to the side and thought I would give it a go; in the worst case scenario I would have to do hospitality work until I could sort something else out) – I needed the experience! I e-mailed and spoke with a few PR agencies (being selective about where I wanted to gain experience), and also applied for part time jobs, in anything I could find (I hit oxford street for retail jobs, and also looked online for any waitressing jobs I could find).

I knew working 7 days a week would be hard! But, it’s actually quite fun. I have met a lot of people from my time in work experience placement at, so far, 3 different agencies, and also from having a part time job in a west-end retail chain. The money is tight, and yes I am on a tight budget, but I am hoping that it will all be worth it!

I have learnt so much over the last month and a half. Initially I was worried about going into another career, as I knew I had already tried one and found it not quite right for me, I didn’t want to jump straight into something else. Doing work experience has allowed me to explore my options, whilst not being tied to anything .

I used to be against unpaid work experience. I used to think what a lot of people think, “I’m not working for free”. But it really does give you lots of experience and opens many opportunities – And no you aren’t just making tea or stuffing letters into envelopes if you do work experience. Companies will get you to try everything, and they do really appreciate the work you do for them. I would recommend it to anyone -obviously you do need to plan it all out really well, especially if you’re supporting yourself like I am, but it can be done.

When you know what you want, put your mind to it and Go for it! Don’t let anything hold you back. Especially your prejudices about working unpaid. Doing unpaid work experience, doesn’t mean you’ll be working unpaid forever!

Good Luck to everyone doing/thinking about doing work experience! But also HAVE FUN!

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Wakey Wakey, Rise and Shine!

Alarm goes off… (This week it’s constantly set for 6.50am, but it depends on where I’m working that week, as currently doing work experience); Then comes the big decision, as I only just reach consciousness…Do I snooze?

Does snoozing really make you feel worse? I always debate with myself in the morning whether I really need to snooze, which probably takes the same amount of time as a snooze, so really I’m just delaying the process of sticking my feet out of the duvet, and dragging the rest of me from my cosy bed! Once I’m up it’s never too bad, and I suddenly have a burst of energy whilst getting ready, even though it’s still dark outside.

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I leave the house and the fresh air hits. Love that feeling first thing in the morning. Taking a deep breath, I attack the hill up to the bus stop, and wait for the bus. This is where I sort my morning journey…the music! Plugging my headphones in, blocking out the world, I  notice how much I’m missing my hiphop sessions (stupid budgeting whilst on work experience!)…My body and head start bobbing and moving to the beat without thinking about it, and I start smiling to myself…to the outside world, I must look like I have something wrong with me! But I don’t really mind, I may never see these people again, London is such a big place. This definitely sets my mood for the day! Even when I get off the bus or tube, my speed picks up, my walk a little bouncier, and I arrive to work in a great mood (shining!) ready to take on the World! – perhaps with a coffee too!

I realised recently just how moody and depressed Londoners look in the morning. Is life really that bad? And will I turn out like that once I’ve been here for a long time? I hope not. I understand that being packed like sardines into a metal carriage, flying to the next stop, and having people jostle past you to get on or off this creation which saves so much time in the morning, obviously isn’t the most amazing way to start the day. But even on the bus, and on the walk from the bus stop/station to work, people just don’t seem happy…It’s almost like walking through some zombie apocalypse.

Zombie_2013229b 5153426_fast_london_555x203(Pics from (Top photo) – http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02013/Zombie_2013229b.jpg; (Bottom Photo) – www.bbc.co.uk)

This morning I made a conscious note to self. Sat in Costa drinking hot chocolate for my friday treat (with the new toffee nut syrup in it, which is my favourite), deciding to write my new blog post about the mornings in London…

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…I am making sure I never change the way I am in the mornings.Perhaps work isn’t great that week, Or I’ll be having a day where I’m shattered. But everyday is a new day, and as long as I start it right to put me in a great mood, I can make anything happen!

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