Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!

Merry Christmas, everybody!  

I hope you're all having a lovely day, wherever you are and whatever you're doing.  Thank you so much to everyone who reads my posts and who has followed my blog over the last few months, I've had great fun doing it!

I hope Santa was good to you all, and enjoy the festivities!


(Christmas platypus drawn by my good and extremely talented friend Marianne, you can find her blog here!)

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Past:

Last weekend I went round to help my parents and sister put up the Christmas tree at home, and I had a rummage for some classic Christmas photos to share with you all.  Instagram filters have got nothing on these babies.

Look how jolly this Christmas tree is!  I miss having a real tree, I'm definitely planning on getting one next year.  This is what Christmas morning always looks like in our house after Santa has visited.

And let's take a moment to marvel at how far artificial Christmas trees have come since the early '90s.  That's me on the right, by the way.  I found several photos of us with our faces painted, and I was always a tiger.  Rawr.

I wish it would snow like this again, even just for Christmas Day!  The chauffeur service was pretty good, too.

Here I am dressed as the 'Arch Angel Girl's Brigade' (Angel Gabriel) for a Sunday School nativity play.  Yes, the Angel Gabriel is traditionally a man, and no he isn't often pictured  wearing a hand me down flower girl dress and tinsel, but I was a really good reader for my age, okay?

We're leaping backwards and forwards in time a bit here, but I wanted to save my favourite for last.  What I would give for hair like this now!  As you can see, the dark circles under my eyes have always been there - playing was much more fun than sleeping.  I might be an 'adult' now, but I always feel about this age on the inside on Christmas morning!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Music Like A Vitamin review:

Back in October, I went to a gig at the HMV Picturehouse (put on by The Fruit Tree Foundation) called Music Like A Vitamin, and got to write a guest blog about the event.  I had a lot of fun playing journalist, and saw some amazing music, including a set by one of my favourite musicians, Withered Hand.  After a little bit of a wait, my review is finally up!  You can read it here, if you're curious, and I'm going to post a couple of photos below that I took on the night.

Sparrow and the Workshop
Jill O'Sullivan and Rod Jones
The Birthday Suit
Withered Hand
Dan Willson and Marie Collins
It was such a lovely night, organised to promote such a great cause.  I hope you all find time to have a read of my review (and the review written by the other guest blogger there that night, Tom Wheeler), and maybe I'll see you some of you at Music Like A Vitamin next year!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Useless Christmas themed oversharing:

Remember MySpace surveys?  (Remember MySpace...?)  Below is something that the cool kids are now calling a 'tag', but it's essentially just a good old Christmas themed MySpace survey.  If you're a blogger, you should do this post too and link me to it in the comments!  I TAG you to do it, see how hip I am?  If you aren't a blogger, you could post your answers in the comments.  Or post your answers on your MySpace...

1. What is your favourite Christmas movie?
It's A Wonderful Life, because I have fond memories of watching it with my family when I was little, and you can't beat a good bit of Jimmy Stewart.  Hot dog!

2. Are you on Santa's Naughty or Nice list?
Does he have a sarcastic list?  I'm probably on that, somewhere in between naughty and nice.

3. Show us an embarrassing Christmas card photo!
I don't have any Christmas card photos, but here's an old photo of me, my cousin and my sister in a traditional Christmassy dogpile for your enjoyment:

4. Have you ever had a white Christmas?
It snows quite often in Scotland during the winter, but two years ago, there was an insane amount of snow all over the UK at Christmas time.  It was a nightmare for everybody, but I love the snow (and they closed uni for a few days) so I had a great time!

5. Where do you usually spend your holiday?
At home (the house I grew up in), and sometimes at my Auntie and Uncle's house.

6. What is your favourite Christmas song?
I CAN'T CHOOSE JUST ONE, but almost anything from the Phil Spector Christmas Album is likely to go down well with me.

7. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
Once, I received a Christmas Eve present.  ONCE.  Turns out French Santa is more fun than Scottish Santa.

8. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Dasher and Dancer and Chancer and Romancer, etc.

9. Which holiday tradition are you most looking forward to this year?
Eating dinner with my parents and my sister on Christmas Eve.  We have the same dish every year (and have done for as long as I can remember!).

10. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
I love real trees, but the tree we have here in the flat and my parents' Christmas tree at home are both fake.  We used to get real ones when I was little, but they started to give my Dad really bad allergic reactions!

11. Hands down, what's your favourite Christmas food?
Having very recently eaten a delicious Fake Christmas dinner, I can confirm that I love everything about Christmas dinner (even the brussel sprouts).

12. Be honest, do you like giving or receiving gifts better?
Honestly, I like both.  Who doesn't enjoy getting a gift?  But you can't beat the feeling of seeing someone open a present that they love, especially when it's you who chose it for them.

13. What would be your dream place to visit at Christmas time?
It might sound cheesy, but I love being at home at Christmas and I wouldn't want to wake up anywhere else on Christmas morning (especially now that my parents have started letting us put the heating on).  I wouldn't mind being allowed to stay in my pyjamas/onesie all day, though.  Now that would be living the dream.

14. Does your family have a special holiday recipe you like to help make?
It's hard to help with the cooking in my house because my Mum is both an excellent, extremely organised and experienced cook, and a total control freak when it comes to cooking.  I like to contribute by eating things that I'm not meant to eat with my fingers and then running away giggling when I get caught.

15. Are you a pro present wrapper, or do you fail miserably?
I'm okay at wrapping presents.  My Dad is a pro present wrapper, taking it to a terrifying, get-the-ruler-out-and-don't-waste-any-paper level.  Compared to him, I am nothing.

16. What is your most memorable Christmas moment?
There are too many.  I could embarrass so many family members with this answer, but they would probably just embarrass me right back.  The Christmas where I didn't receive the talking Babe the Sheep Pig that I desperately wanted springs to mind, but I've already guilt tripped my parents a lot for that one, considering I was eight years old and I got a CD player instead.  Yup, gratitude.

17. What made you realise the truth about Santa?
Well, I re-watched Miracle on 34th Street the other night, and they made a pretty good pro-Santa argument, so I think I've decided to believe in him again.  (Actually, my nine year old sister told me he wasn't real when I was five...)

18. Are you anybody's Secret Santa this year?
I have been a Secret Santa for THREE different people this year!  I hope they like their gifts!

19. Do you still get excited on Christmas Eve?
YES.  Christmas Eve is one of the most exciting days of the year!  I'd say it's better than Christmas, just because of all of the anticipation.

20. Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  Do you stick to them?
Yes, I pretty much make the same ones every year.  And, no, I don't stick to them.  If I did, I'd just have to think of more resolutions to make, and that would be very time consuming.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Instagram #5:

1. Cancer charity humour...  2. More snaps with the Coca-Cola Christmas truck  3. Waiting to see the Frightened Rabbit Highlands tour film, Here, with an enormous ticket

4. So much glittery mess whilst making these baubles  5. A crazy, stormy and filter-less morning sky at the bus stop    6. An Australian furry friend on my computer at work

7. My favourite confusing Poundland find to date  8. A delicious sushi lunch  9. My feet at an awesome secret Withered Hand house gig

10. Withered Hand playing aforementioned awesome secret house gig  11. Somebody in John Lewis wasn't feeling Christmassy...  12. Supercube (IKEA style) involved a lot of shouting

13. Ruaridh post-Fake Christmas dinner  14. More wine at Fake Christmas...  15. Instagram takeover

16. Who are these people?  17. The best moment to pause Jingle All The Way ever  18. Oh Christmas tree, you so pretty

19. No filter on this morning sky either!

What've you guys been up to lately?

Friday, 7 December 2012

Personalised Christmas baubles:

Remember this Christmas decoration from my Fake Christmas post?  I made a personalised bauble for each of my guests, and it was much easier than I thought it would be!  Making them is just common sense really, but in case any of you are inspired by this idea, here's how I did it:

Step 1: Buy some Christmas baubles (I got 12 for £1, which meant I had room for mistakes) or use old decorations you have already.  As long as they have a smooth surface, you should be fine!  Use liquid glue to draw or write whichever shape or name you like on the bauble.  (If you make a mistake, quickly wipe the wet glue off with kitchen towel and start again.)

Step 2: Completely cover the wet glue in loose glitter.  I used two colours of glitter on the majority of my baubles to make them a little more interesting.  WARNING - there will be glitter EVERYWHERE.  FOREVER.

Step 3: Lay those beauties out to dry for as long as is humanly possible.  I left mine for a couple of days (and then hoovered up glitter constantly for a couple more days...).

Step 4: Once your glue is completely dry, clean the excess glitter off the baubles with a Q-tip and try not to inhale too much of it in the process.  Then just lay your hands on some narrow ribbon (I got a roll from John Lewis) and string them up, ready to go on a tree!

Have any of you crafty types made your own decorations this year?  I'd love to see them, as this is about as crafty as I ever get!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Fake Christmas 2012:

Fake Christmas was a success!  Here are some photos of my set up before everything got a bit drunken and messy...

The dinner table (meant for four people, set for seven) in the harsh light of day, complete with tacky Poundland plastic tablecloth and tacky (but amazing) Santa centrepiece.

And here's the table with some people around it!  See that gap with no leg room and a plate at it?  Yeah, that was my seat...

Will this microwave be all right in the Christmas tree?

As predicted, I managed to get away with doing basically no cooking or food prep whatsoever, but I did help with the food shopping (of which there was much!).

Craig's kitchen kingdom in panorama, because there was simply too much food...

(Here's how he coped.)

Before I forget, here's the nearest I got to a close up of my cheesy Christmas jumper.  It's a Weasley Christmas jumper, okay?  And if you don't get the reference, then that's your own fault.

And here's this year's Christmas card.

Are you throwing (or attending) a Fake Christmas celebration this year?  My friend Ruaridh is going to three, and that's not including real Christmas dinner!  I hope you're all enjoying the start of the festive season as much as I am!  No doubt I'll be all Christmassed out by the time it gets to the 25th.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

A 'hurry up'date:

It's less than a week until Fake Christmas, and I'm getting ready to decorate the flat ridiculously early and get under Craig's feet while he does a much better job at cooking than I ever could...  (Craig's response: 'Oh, I'm cooking, am I?!')  I might not be a dab hand with a baster, but I'm hoping to provide a sensationally tacky Christmas experience for my second family.  In case anyone was worried, I now have both a cheesy Christmas jumper and a present for my lucky Secret Santa recipient in my possession.  Phew!

To get you all in a Christmassy mood (and because I know you're dying to see it) here's the long awaited official photo of my friend Margaret and me in front of the Coca-Cola Christmas truck:

Good, eh?  Subtle advertising, too.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Holidays are comin':

Apologies for the ridiculous product placement (I don't even drink Coke anymore because it's so bad for my teeth!) but the Coca Cola Christmas truck was in Edinburgh city centre today! As you all should know, the legend goes that it isn't Christmas time until they start showing the Coca Cola Christmas advert on TV, but of course they show it earlier and earlier every year...  Still, even if it is only mid-November, it was quite fun and festive to go and see the truck and have a photo taken in front of what is pretty much an iconic piece of advertising.  Official photo (taken by a Coca Cola Christmas elf!) to follow.  Phew, I should be getting paid for the number of times I wrote 'Coca Cola' there!

Real Christmas might be a while away yet, but my preparations for Fake Christmas are  getting under way, slowly but surely.  One of my stipulations in the invite was that everyone MUST come dressed in the ugliest Christmas jumper they can get their hands on.  I've been keeping my eye on some beauties on eBay, including these stunners:

It turns out that people are willing to pay a surprising amount for horrific knitwear...  In fact, when it comes to eBay the rule seems to be the uglier the sweater, the higher the price!  I might miss out on these particular gems, but hopefully I can make an even better (read: more cringeworthy) ugly jumper my own in time for Fake Christmas!

Friday, 16 November 2012

The easiest way organise a Secret Santa:

I've decided to host a Fake Christmas dinner at our flat this year, and I've invited a few friends (who we will hopefully be able to fit around our modest dining table...) round for a traditionally awkward family Christmas experience.  I have lots of ideas for the menu and for entertainment, but everyone knows the most important part of Christmas is getting presents...  No, not really.  But, also, yes really.

So rather than spending lots of money on presents for all of my eight friends who are coming, I decided to organise a silly Secret Santa with a £5 budget.  This way, everyone will get something to open, but nobody will be majorly out of pocket as a result.  Plus, my friends are funny people, so specifically telling them to buy silly presents for each other will probably generate some pretty interesting results!

I used the above Secret Santa generator to allocate a Secret Santa for everyone instead of the age old 'names in a hat' method, which makes it a lot easier when everyone lives in different places.  There are plenty of other online generators, and it's really just as simple as setting a budget, making sure you have the email address of everyone taking part and typing them in correctly.  Once you've submitted everyone's name and email address, the generator will automatically send a random name to each person involved, with a reminder of how much they're allowed to spend.  Just remember to put your own email on the list so you aren't accidentally left out!

And if you're a Secret Santa who is stumped about what to buy, there are lots of ideas here on the blogosphere, including the lovely Seonaid's Christmas gift guide series.  Here's my favourite of her gift guides so far, just to get you started!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Office Space:

I pretty much gave up on being chained to a desk by third year of uni, preferring to keep warm (and give myself a bad back) with my laptop on my knee in bed.  Still, not too long ago I decided that I really needed my own creative space in the flat, and a desk seemed the logical choice.  I've turned one otherwise unused corner of our spare room into my little 'office' space (I don't need a study space, and 'writing space' just sounded pretentious...).  Here's the mess I was dealing with before:

And here's what I managed to achieve with the help of some flat packed furniture and some cupboards to hide things in...  Even looking at these photos makes me breathe a sigh of relief!

If you're curious, the desk and chair are both from IKEA (MICKE desk and KLEMENS swivel chair).  I know the chair isn't the cutest, but I was serious about the sore back I got from sitting at my old desk in Dundee, so I wanted to get something with a bit more support. Just so you know, I built these all by myself!  I'm very proud.

The giant ampersand bookend is from Primark, and it's holding up just part of my enormous notebook collection, the majority of which have never been used.  I think I have a problem.

This huge drawer is my favourite feature of this desk, because it means I can keep my clutter hidden and give myself as much free desk space as possible.  Look at all my stationery!  Can I be a writer now?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Instagram #4:

1. Some cupcakes that got very damaged in transit...  2. My best wee pals!  3. Treat day at Starbucks

4. 'Will this microwave be all right in the microwave?'  5. A cosy outfit of the day  6. Did you know that this is what an egg looks like when you shine a light on it?!

7. Withered Hand playing Music Like A Vitamin at the HMV Picturehouse  8. Flowers from Craig when I wasn't feeling well :)  9. Hocus Pocus and Halloween nails!

10. The winter scarf is officially out!  11. Steven's Doc Brown look  12. A Richard Nixon Dracula mask

13. Craig wearing a matching shirt to a small boy in a '70s horror flick  14. Ruaridh pretending he can play guitar  15. My horribly drunk face...

16. A pancake breakfast for Craig's birthday  17. An odd note on Bruntsfield Links  18. Craig tempting fate with the glacier at Dynamic Earth