I tend to find that when I make a wishlist, I babble on about what the things are I want and why I want them. The truth is, I want them because they’re pretty and because they’re Disney. However I’m trying to be really good with money right now and so I’m not buying anything. Some of these items appeared on my last wishlist post and some are new. It’s probably not even everything I’d like. However they are a combination of Beauty and the Beast items (my favourite) and Christmas decorations.
With how much more focused we are on the environment these days, being green and going paperless is not a new concept. My HSBC bank account is green by name, something I opted into almost ten years ago, meaning it would be paperless completely. I don’t get bank statements or letters (unless important), everything is done with secure online messages. In fact, the other day I was contacted to say that the account would no longer be called green, since all their accounts these days are green.
While I love getting post, I hate getting bills and I have to admit that these are largely limited these days. Most online accounts and bills I have, message me via email and then I pay online – meaning no need for statements and bills in the post. In fact, even some of the people I buy things from on Ebay, opt to send receipts and invoices via email, rather than print and enclose with the actual item.
Sadly I don’t believe I could go completely paperless in my office, but I do know that I limit it a lot more than I used to. My printer is even set to a 50 page limit each month (I use HP instant ink). Also with things like laptops, tablets and smart phones, being paperless is so much easier these days. In collaboration with IDBS and their electronic laboratory notebook, I wanted to share my top 5 tips for going paperless in the workplace.
- Track the amount of pages you print. For me, having my HP instant ink set to 50 pages, is a great way to know how much I’m printing each month. I get a warning when I get close to my usage and any unused pages get carried over to the following month. I always try to stay under 50 pages as this also keeps my monthly cost down.
- Request paperless statements from banks, online store, catalogue accounts etc. Every month you are sent something on paper that you can easily see by logging in online and viewing your account. Save both paper and space in your recycle bin, by ticking the button for paperless in as many places as you can find.
- Connected to the one above, pay bills online wherever possible – reducing the need for cheque books, paying-in slips and envelopes, etc. Pay friends and family via direct bank payments and use cards in stores. You can even say you don’t need a receipt (if you don’t!) and save a little more there.
- Recycle any non-confidential paperwork and envelopes. Need to write a note for the kids, or perhaps a shopping list? Use the back of a used envelope or bill. Kids looking for paper to draw on? Nearly all letters and bills are only printed on one side so be sure to use the other.
- Many of us find ourselves having ideas or thoughts outside of the house, outside of work etc. This means that often we carry notepads and pens to jot them down. Consider opening up a note on your phone or tablet and jotting it there. It’s quick and easy to do, often saves searching in the bottom of your bag for a pen and if you sync it up well, often transfers to your computer or email program automatically.
The truth is, I love reading proper paper books, way more than I enjoy reading ebooks on my kindle. I like to write down my orders and cross them out, to keep track on them. I scan and print the cover of each pattern I use, filing it in a poly pocket and then a binder. Although I try my best to be paperless, I don’t think I can go all the way. However with the use of my iPad, iPhone and Laptop, I definitely give it a good go.
Can you believe it’s been a year? I can’t!
Yes, that’s right, one year ago today, I opened my Closet Geek store. Something that started as just sewing for my own children, for Amy and I to cosplay and for Liv to wear to WDW, turned into this tiny little business selling hair bows, pencil cases and girls dresses.
Now a year on, I honestly can’t believe how much support and love I’ve had. I hit 1000 followers on Instagram a few months ago and I’ve had over 1500 sales on Etsy. In addition to the dresses, pencil cases and hair bows I started with, I now sell Disney ears on a fairly regular basis, bunting and cushion covers. I take inquiries for custom skirts and cosplay, along with anything else people are interested in.
Though I’m yet to crack it yet, I bought a laser cutter a while back and I also experimented with screen printing. In the next few weeks I hope to dedicate more to time to them. I’ve also signed up for 4 days of Christmas Market in Lincoln during December, so prep for that will begin soon. I made a post called “Almost a year on…” on the Closet Geek blog, discussing some of my popular items and some of my favourite.
I’d love to explore the possibility of Subscription boxes throughout the next year, plus more fandoms that just Disney and Harry Potter. I can’t wait to be writing a post that’s “two years on” and I hope that you’re all still following me to see it! Thanks again for all the support.
Last weekend we headed off on a very last minute camping trip down to Chichester. We were loaned a brand new tent (a Vango Airbeam Evoque) which we needed to pick up on the way and didn’t arrive until 10pm. We had huge amounts of fun, putting up this brand new tent, in the pitch black, with only my car headbeams to light the way. However the tent is awesome – did you know you could get fully inflatable tents that don’t require poles?!
Anyway after pretty much arriving and going to sleep (it was midnight by then mind you), we woke around 7am the next morning and got ready for a day at Chichester Marina. The girls grandparents have a boat there and they had invited us all down for the day. I have to admit I always feel at home with Bob and Andrea (the grandparents) even though I’m separated from their son. After nipping out to the nearby village and getting some cash out (to pay for camping), we arranged to travel to the marina and meet Bob and Andrea. We parked the car and boarded the boat for the day.
The day was beautiful and the water was really calm, at least until we got out of the main marina area. We spent quite a few hours just “driving” around, before mooring up and having some lunch. Andrea made a fab spread and I was given a glass of prosecco and wine too. It was so relaxing. Next we moved the boat slightly and the girls went crabbing off a dock. Lily wasn’t really sure she was up for the idea but I persuaded her into it and both of them seemed to enjoy themselves. After what seemed like ages, Megan finally caught a crab and Lily freaked out and refused to fish for them after that. It was pretty funny. We named the crab Kevin and fed him bacon lardons, while trying to catch some more. However we were unsuccessful and in the end just placed Kevin back in the water.
Finally we headed back towards the marina to dock the boat and go for dinner. The girls both had a go at steering, as did Chris. However when we got near to the marina, Bob took over. Sadly there is a lock that you need to go through and there was a queue, so we ended up delayed for about an hour. In the end we moored up and headed to a place called The Boat House Cafe. Bob and Andrea had already told us it was there treat so it was lovely to enjoy a nice meal out. Chris, Lily and I all had burgers, while Megan had BBQ chicken breast. There was lots of wine flowing and it was such a pleasant evening. Lily ended up playing Pokemon on my phone, while Megan drew on the serviette. It was just very relaxing.
We headed back the campsite and relaxed for a while before grabbing an early night. The next morning we were up early again but this time we needed to pack up the tent and head home. It took quite a lot longer than we expected so it was around 10am when we set off. We stopped for food on the way home, but ultimately we were getting back for my sister’s house warming party so we didn’t have much time to spare.
It was a very rushed trip and a long way to go for the weekend but we had a great time. I’d love to go again next summer, but maybe for a week so we can see more of the south coast.
Guest Post – By Tom Brialey, owner of Action Storage.
You’ve got Pinterest boards filled with décor dreams but a bank balance that brings you back to reality. Almost everyone wants a stylish home, but unfortunately a stylish home comes with a hefty price tag meaning that most settle for magnolia walls and generic flat-packed furniture. This doesn’t have to be the case. Getting the home you dream of can be achieved with a little bit of budgeting and minor DIY skills.
This article will show you how to get four of 2016’s hottest interior design trends without breaking the bank:
The industrial look has gained in popularity over the last few years. A mixture of raw wood and steely metallics have been brought together to create the ultimate ‘hipster’ industrial feel, which resonates with cool bars and independent coffee shops, giving a relaxed vibe.
As soon as you type ‘industrial furniture’ into any search engine or shop you will be faced with a price tag of £150+ and after two pieces you are priced out. Don’t let this shatter your industrial hipster dreams. The look (above left) can be achieved by buying modern school lockers, and a metal paint to give it a gunmetal grey look, this will cost approximately half the price of a vintage locker. If you are not the painting type, a mesh locker (above, right) may be a better option. Use the mesh locker to display cool trinkets, maybe your record collection, or just use as general storage.
Team your new locker with an inspirational quote hand painted on a canvas and the Pinterest board ‘hipster/industrial’ becomes a reality right in your own living room.
If you are someone with itchy feet but life and various responsibilities, such as your job and bills, are stopping you from travelling, you can wake up to a view of the city (almost) in your own bedroom.
City skylines are becoming prevalent due to the minimalist trend which is popular in 2016. Simple black outlines on blank walls have hit it big and it is really easy to achieve the look for just a couple of pounds at home.
All you will need is:
- Spirit level
- Washi Tape
- Picture of your chosen skyline
Start by carefully drawing the outline of the skyline you have chosen in pencil, use the ruler and avoid skylines with too many curves, the tape will only be able to make straight lines.
When, using your spirit level, you think you have all your lines straight, and are happy with your pencil drawing, start covering the pencil with the tape. Remember to stand back and look from a distance as you go along. Hey presto! A chic city skyline for less than £10.
A few years ago the idea of upcycling popped into a few peoples heads. Instead of buying something new, why not repurpose or refurbish something old and unloved, and so the trend was born. Often referred to as a waste product, pallets became the star of the show when a few clever busy bodies decided to create all kinds of furniture out of them.
Those without the imagination, or necessary DIY skills, lusted after these items and suddenly there was a demand, and with demand comes the supply, at a hefty price. A pallet coffee table can go for as much as £200 online. This price for something that, once upon a time, was essentially rubbish.
Luckily, if you would like to add a piece of pallet furniture to your décor there are hundreds of FREE online DIY tutorials, either found through Pinterest or on YouTube. Ask local businesses if they have any pallets that they can spare or you can pay a small price for. Failing that you can spend time scouring eBay, Gumtree or Freecycle to see if people want to get rid of them but don’t fancy a trip to the tip.
Your only issue will be not having enough space in your house for all the amazing pallet furniture you will end up making.
The geometric trend allows those who like minimalism to enjoy bursts of colour in their home. Although geometric décor is big for 2016 it is in no way a new trend, bold geometric patterns could be seen on walls, art and clothing in the 1960s.
Luckily you don’t have to be Piet Mondrian, or pay those kinds of prices, to achieve the look. All you will need is:
- Thin masking tape or Washi tape
- A Canvas
- Acrylic paints
- A paint brush
Section the canvas into a geometric pattern, it is best to have an image in mind to ensure you know what the finished piece will look like. You can lightly use a pencil and a ruler if you are not confident putting tape on freehand.
Paint the different parts of the canvas in different but complementing colours, if you don’t want to have white lines between the shapes you will have to wait for sections to dry before moving the tape.
When it has all dried, carefully peel the tape off and you should have a beautiful geometric work of art, perfect for the minimalist and those who rent will be pleased to know that canvases are generally quite light, this means no nasty holes in the walls as well as ensuring you get your deposit back.
There you have it, four ideas to help you make sure your house stays on trend without costing you a lot of money.
Not this weekend just gone but the one before, myself and my best friend Nat took Megan and Lily with us to Nottingham, to a Harry Potter convention and then followed by a Yule Ball. We’d had it booked since about February and we were all looking forward to it. We had a hotel booked for the night, but also so we could get changed in between the convention and the ball. Although we had a weekend ticket for the convention, we had pretty much decided we would only attend on the Saturday (unless it was really good and then we might go again on the Sunday morning). However in the end we actually decided to only go Saturday after, checking into the hotel (Premier Inn) first and then walking around.
In the morning I still needed to work but while doing that I made us all bows. Megan was Ravenclaw, Lily Gryffindor and since I sway between Gryffindor and Slytherin, I picked Slytherin. Nat is Gryffindor too so she decided on a Deathly Hallows inspired Gryffindor bow. We all wore Harry Potter t-shirts too. We set off for Nottingham around 2pm and were there for about 3pm. We checked into the Premier Inn and then walked the 10 minutes to the convention.
When we got to where the convention was (Nottingham Conference Centre), there was a blue ford Anglia car outside and a replica of Hagrid’s bike. Sadly I don’t think either were genuine. We headed inside and there definitely wasn’t much of a wow. Outside were some owls, inside were some stalls (both upstairs and downstairs). Apparently there were some workshops and special effects stuff but there was no timetable or map to carry around so we just looked at stalls. Megan bought a watch and Lily bought a pokemon (yeah not HP related). We spotted a reptile area on the way out but otherwise we spent about an hour looking at stalls and nothing else.
We headed back to the Premier Inn, grabbed a cup of tea and sat for a while before deciding we should get ready for the Ball. Nat curled Megan’s hair, while I did Lily’s. We had attempted to do Lily’s hair beforehand with the help of some Curlformers I’d bought but sadly they had mostly fallen out. It took about an hour to get them both ready and then about the same again for Nat and I. We put on our dresses and makeup, heading out of the hotel around 7.30pm (the ball was due to start 6.30pm but we didn’t want to be too early).
When we got to the conference centre, it wasn’t really that clear where to go so we asked. There was a bar and the ball upstairs and a hog roast outside. We headed for the bar first and got drinks, then into the ball which was like a wedding no one wanted to be at. There was a band playing but everyone was sat down looking miserable. After about five minutes we decided to head out to the hog roast instead. Luckily, this was amazing and sitting outside was nice too. After not being there long, a string quartet started up and it was quite enjoyable to sit there and listen.
Though to be honest, Nat and I could quite easily have left at this point, Megan was all for it too, Lily asked if we could go back into the Ball. As we headed inside there was a photobooth (pretty rubbish at that) so we had a picture taken and then went back up. Lucky that we did really as a few people were dancing and we bit the bullet and joined in. Within 15 minutes everyone was up, the live band were back and the lights were dimmed. This last hour was the best of all and thanks to Lily we ended on a high note. Though we didn’t stay quite till 10, we made the most of the evening and enjoyed it despite its lameness. I’m glad we went but it wasn’t worth £25 each.
We headed back to the hotel, got changed and climbed into bed. It had been a pretty nice evening but really we had made it enjoyable between the four of us, rather than the event itself being good.
For ages now I’ve wanted to take the girls camping (I used to go a lot myself), but they were either too young or we didn’t have the tent, or we didn’t have the time. Finally we decided to bite the bullet and a couple of weekends ago, we went on our first camping trip. Though we had the tent, we had very little else. We bought a couple of camping mats, Lily needed a sleeping bag and I had to dig out all sorts of old bits and pieces like the airbeds from our youth, the car cigarette lighter air pump and things like that. We also borrowed a few bits and I bought a book with campsites in it, all before we were ready to go (I later found a site called Planet Camping which would have been great to buy things from). We settled on a weekend away, up in North Yorkshire. The village was called Staxton, though technically we were only a few miles from Scarborough.
We set off after Chris finished work and the journey was only about an hour and a half. The place we were staying at was called Spring Willows and it was specially picked (partly by availability) because it had a swimming pool. We arrived around 7.30pm and quickly set up the tent. It took a while as it had been ages since I last used it, but we got there fairly easily. Next we blew up the kids airbeds, got the sleeping bags ready and settled in for the night.
In the morning, we had a light breakfast of cereal bars, brioche and iced coffee. Afterwards we headed to John Bull Rock in Bridlington, only to realise the factory was closed and it was a wasted trip. However we stopped for a coffee anyway and then headed back to Scarborough. When we arrived and parked, we decided to walk around the shops. We stopped at Subway for lunch and eventually made our way to the beach and the amusement arcades.
After a while spent in the arcades, we went for a walk along the promenade. We stopped for a drink and to catch Pokemon (!!). Eventually we wanted back to the town and then back to the car, before heading back to the campsite. After relaxing for a while, we went out for dinner. There was a local fish and chip shop which we had decided to eat at and it didn’t disappoint! Afterwards we went back to the campsite and chilled out. We spent a little time in the games room, playing pool, air hockey and pinball. However in the end we went back to the tents and slept (we’d caved to buying air beds for Chris and I while shopping that day so it was a comfier night sleep!).
When we woke in the morning, we had breakfast again and then packed up the car. We had missed the swimming times the day before so we made it our mission to catch swimming that morning. The pool was amazing but I actually enjoyed the shower afterwards even more. Once we were finished, we headed to the car and drove to York. Since we still wanted to enjoy our weekend, we had decided on another day out, walking around the shops and having lunch out in York.
The weather was lovely as we strolled around York, popping in and out of shops. We visited the Disney Store (of course) and then had a late lunch at Bella Italia as we all love it there. Eventually though we headed home, getting back for around 5pm. We had a lovely weekend away and can’t wait to go camping again!
I’ve been a little quiet lately and that’s partly because I’m busy with Closet Geek but also because the kids are off on Summer holidays. While we haven’t done much so far, we have been camping (last weekend) and we’re going to a Harry Potter convention this weekend (followed by a Yule Ball).
I have updates to make including my round up of July, our camping trip to Staxton (near Scarborough), of course the Harry Potter convention and maybe even a review of Curlformers. Please understand that it’s not because I don’t want to be here, its just that I want to enjoy my time with the kids and of course, complete my orders!