2013 a review

Like most I like to review the year that is just ending and reflect on the good and bad points and ensure that I approach the new year with no regrets just lessons learned.
I think I have felt the happiest yet:  I have the most amazing man in my life who looks after me very well;  I have some brilliant friends;  my family are wonderful; I am respected at work; I enjoy what I do and I don’t really have a care in the world.  What more could I ask for?

High points
I had many high points this year but there were a few stand out moments for me.
Firstly, ending my degree study and graduating.  I have mentioned my study journey before I never thought I would be able to achieve what I actually did.  I know I am not a total dunce and that although I found the degree hard at times I know that the hard work paid off.
My second high point was visiting the Space Center in Florida and being up close to Atlantis, I love all things to do with space and seeing the Space Shuttle and all the other exhibits was amazing.
Another high point was getting to the end of our first year of a new school, making new friends and helping the founding cohort on a new journey of discovery.  The elation knowing that we achieved great things in the first year, meeting like minded people was immense.
I was promoted and able to build up a team from scratch, a firm foundation for the future.

I went on a fantastic holiday, watched wild dolphins swim alongside the ship and fed stingrays by hand.  I cycled around an uninhibited Caribbean Island and met a Disney idol.
I was also happy to welcome 2 beautiful beings into my home extending my lovely family.

Low point.
Without getting personal and deep I was diagnosed with an illness at the beginning of the year, it was the one major low point of 2013.  It could have blighted me , it nearly held me back.  It was the love of my family that helped me through the worse times and although I have one or two bad days I have mostly good and I know I can keep getting better.

Hopes and wishes for 2014.
This is a tough one, I would like to study something else, maybe a counselling course to help others who have had a diagnosis like I had this year.  I would like to continue to help educate young minds whilst keeping my own mind alive.

2013 was a year of surprises and successes may 2014 be as enlightening.

Happy 2014 may all your own hopes and dreams become fulfilled this coming year.

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Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Maybe this is something I would not have said a while back but I think I am ready to say it now and that is that I am actually looking forward to Christmas, not super excited yet but I am facing the festivities with joy in my heart.
This week at school it has been very festive, lots of Christmas music being played and preparations for our community party were in full swing.  Yesterday was Christmas jumper day and our Christmas dinner.
The week has not been full of cheer though, Monday afternoon revealed a revelation that sent me into a spin and I spend the next few days catching my breath from it.  So it was really lovely to end the week with the Christmas dinner puller crackers and clinking glasses to shouts of cheers with my students whilst we all wore crazy Christmas jumpers.  I decided to go all glittery gold and silver for the Christmas lunch, I had gold and silver MAC pigment on my eyes and an amazing gold glitter polish from OPI “Goldeneye” on my fingernails (click here to buy from Amazon UK).  My Christmas jumper was a silver grey with a beautiful robin from Dorothy Perkins and I decided to wear my very festive red UGG boots.
It is just 5 days until we break for Christmas and boy I really do need the break.  This week really took it out of me but I guess I am lucky to have someone at home to watch out for me and for me to talk to when things get tough.

I received my Urban Decay Naked 3 pallet this morning and I am very excited about it.  The colours are very wearable and I cant wait to put a look together with it.

The packaging is in a beautiful rose gold and the pallet itself has a good range of matt and shimmer colours easy to transform a look from day to night and perfect for travelling.
I am also finishing off my eBay run with just a few more items to be added this weekend, then I am all set for Christmas.

The December Glossybox is also very festive.  It arrived in a beautiful red box with the items nestling in green wrapped in candy cane red and white paper.

So here goes, my own reviews on what I have received from Glossybox.
The first thing that really caught my eye was the Wilkinson Sword Intuition razor.  Mainly because it took up half the box.  

Its from their naturals range (click here for more details) and I have used the intuition razors before.  They are really handy for holidays and when in the gym as it has the ‘gel’ around the blades.  I like this item and I was pleased to see it .
The second item I pulled out was the Maybelline New York color tattoo 24 hour eye shadow in Everlasting Navy available in the UK in Boots.  

I was really chuffed to get this as I wanted to try this product for some time but never got round to buying it.  The colour is like a great denim and very wearable. I cannot wait to try it.
The third item that caught my attention was the nail varnish. As you know I have a number of nail varnishes so at first I thought meh and I put it to one side but then once I put it down the colour really caught my eye.  

The brand is Seche I have never heard of it before but the colour is ‘smitten’ (click here for more details).  The photos or their own site do not do this colour justice, its a bright vibrant red slightly on the orange side in the bottle but I will post a picture when I have tried it on.
The next item was a lip gloss in a nude shade from beautiful movements cosmetics a lovely shade that will balance out a strong eye during the party season.  

I love the fact that this brand is cruelty free and I certainly will be looking on their site for more of their products.
The last item I received certainly gets a meh from me, its a perfume sample.  Now I like perfume and I like samples  but I think it should never form part of the 5 items in this subscription.  I can go to any store and get a sample to try so why should it be part of this deal.  its from Lipsy and its called ‘Glam’.  

First impressions is that it is a fruity fragrance, it is nice and would be lovely for the daytime it sits well on the skin but I am not convinced it is long lasting.  I may get the full size at some point but it is not high on my want list.
On the whole I am 90% pleased with this months Glossybox, it was the perfume sample that let it down, maybe I am not alone in thinking this.

I am off to finish my festivities planning.  I hope you are all set.

Planning

So I have had an excellent few weeks using eBay. I have really decided to use these last few weeks to become less cluttered.  I also didn’t want to be looking at a pile of things I have no use for in 2014.

The first things to get put onto eBay were my Filofaxes, I love filofax but I had too many plus I had moved to tech planning at work and that in itself had led to me really looking around for tech to help my private life organization. I found an app called informant which is an electronic version of a filofax and I have been using this alongside paper planner for last few months with no issues. Last week I finally got him indoors to go electronic and added a joint calendar to all our devices which then made the filofax in the kitchen redundant.
I am sad to see some of the Filofaxes go, I had some gems in my collection but although they were loved they were redundant and I thought it would be about time they went to a loving home whilst I make a few pennies for myself.
I am still using the staples Arc system and I have the filofax flex system still in place, I can never move completely away from paper.
We went to see Hunger Games – Catching Fire today, we were a bit late getting on the bandwagon but it was the first Sunday we were free of other commitments. So glad we went as it has remained true to the book, the first film cut lots out but the 2 1/2 hours of Catching Fire held true to the second book. It was a fantastic film and I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.
The shopping centre was busy but we had time it have a look around before the film and I think for the first time in years I felt truly festive. I guess it helps knowing I am staying home this year and that the 2 weeks off work will be restful and I can spend plenty of time with my loved ones.
I have tried a new varnish out, another OPI “peace & love & OPI” a two tone, plum/grey/lilac depending on the light, not very Christmassy but I like how it goes with everything and I know it’s going to match a Christmas gift I know I’m getting!

There are just 2 weeks of work left, the Christmas dinner is this Friday and I really think the students are looking forward to it as much as the staff.
I hope all your festivities planning are going well, don’t forget to take some time out for yourself.

November favorites

November has been a month of new discoveries and I thought it would be nice to share.

I have never been a fan of matt nail varnishes or varnishes that have a gritty feel to them……until now. I am not sure why I felt compelled to purchase a new nail varnish, I have a few already but I was drawn to ‘it’s all San Andrea’s fault’ from opi. It’s from their sand finishes range and well let’s face it the end result is a gritty matt varnish.

Despite the finish I love it, the colour is a lovely brown/fawn colour so can fit with anything you have in the wardrobe and because of the finish is very hard wearing. Opi uk have that and other varnishes in their San Francisco range http://www.opiuk.com/store/san-francisco/it-s-all-san-andreas-s-fault.  I am trying to switch up the nail varnish routine a bit now I have tried this, more matt versions are on the cards to buy now.

The other thing I have been loving is the pure twilight clock radio.  I had spent a long time eyeing up the unit, looking at reviews and prices weighing up whether getting a click radio that also had a sunrise/sad lamp set up was worth it. My initial thoughts are that it is an amazing bit of kit and plenty of functions to keep me happy and impressed.  The waking up is a pleasure now, the lamp comes on gradually and I am softly woken by that then the radio.  I like how it is a bed side lamp too and that you can change the lamp colours from white to soft greens, yellows, reds and oranges.

I purchased a new set of make up brushes this month. For years I have used MAC brushes and they have worn well.  I decided to put them into semi-retirement and started to look around at other options. There were many brush sets to choose from, a choice from cheap to very very expensive. After mulling it over for a few weeks I went with real techniques brushes http://realtechniques.com. What I liked about these brushes was the fact they are labeled with what they should be used for for example the contouring brush has contouring written on the handle. For someone with OCD this is a total thumbs up from me.  I also like how the handles are colour coded, gold for base, purple for eyes pink for the finishing touches like blush and highlight.  The bristles are soft synthetic so can be used for liquids, gels or powder.

Having used them for a few weeks I am really pleased with them.  They pick up product really well and I have a lovely smooth finish to my look.  They clean very well with no shedding of bristles.  The handles have flat bottoms and so can stand up on their own, making it easier for travelling.

For those who know me you would know I love space (yes I am a geek), last weekend we went to see Gravity and this weekend sees the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.  Even Google have got in on the act with their banner.  There has been plenty on the tv to commemorate and tonight sees the BBC day of the doctor.  I really cannot wait, I have been a fan of Doctor Who since the days of Tom Baker (yes you can now tell how old I am), I used to hide behind the sofa when the daleks came on.  When the BBC decided to bring back Doctor Who with Christopher Eccleston I was really excited and once again I was hooked.  I have liked every Doctor since Ecclestom but I like Matt Smith, he fits the role so well and I am truly disappointed that he is leaving at Christmas.  I am not sure who I feel about the new Doctor replacing Smith, Peter Capaldi.  Capaldi is a good actor but is he right for the new Doctor?  My niece and I discussed this during the summer when it was announced Capaldi was taking over and we both decided to keep an open mind and see ho he is on the first episode.  I will be honest when I heard Matt Smith was taking over I was unsure I decided to keep an open mind and wow he to me was the best Doctor!

Talking about TV I have also been liking Strictly Come Dancing, I know it didn’t start in November but it becomes really good this time of year when the ‘comedy’ dancers have left.  I watch it every year, I love the glitter, outfits, make up and the actual dancing.  I am not sure who I want to win yet.  Another  TV show I love is I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, you can tell we are close to Christmas when this comes on every year.  Ant and Dec really make this show, without them I don’t think it would be good especially when they take the mick out of the ‘celeb’ including Joey Essex who is “sick at counting I used to do it all the time”. 

I have also discovered American Horror, hmmm I like and dislike horror in equal measure.  I hate really bloody horror with no decent story line.  With this series there is a bit of gore but it is central to the theme and the story that runs through the series.  In the UK it is now on season 3 and the sub heading is coven, so you can guess its about witches and witchcraft this season. 

The Glossy Wishlist

It’s that time of the month when I come home and find my latest Glossy Box waiting for me (see http://www.glossybox.co.uk for how it works).

This month contained a hand cream from Yves Rocher (Yves-Rocher.co.uk) part if their collection cacao range that smelt like a chocolate orange.  I liked the packaging with this product and it looked as if it should smell of chocolate, I was please it did!

The scent like I say was chocolate orange and although I really like this scent I could see how this could clash with the other scents I choose to wear, it could also become sickly after a while. The texture was nice and my hands did not feel too greasy after use which is a big plus for me when on the go all the time.

The next item I turned my attention to was the elegant touch nail pads I see this range as an ‘old school range’ I have used these before so before opening the packaging I knew what to expect.  

This is a great item to use when traveling or to keep in the desk drawer at work, I loathe chipped nail varnish and I absolutely hate getting chips when at work.

The third item I looked at was from Gosh Cosmetics (superdrug.com) a lipstick from their velvet touch range in shade ‘Sundown’.

I will be honest I saw the colour upon opening and thought OMG when am I going to wear that?However, I swatched it on the back of my hand and it didn’t look so scary.  It is orange but fairly sheer and it does feel lovely on the lips.  Not keen on the packaging, it looked cheap and not the normal style of lipstick packaging I go for, maybe better suited to teenagers.

The next item was an eye shadow from Emite Make Up (emitemakeup.com).  A gorgeous black, highly pigmented shadow that felt absolutely lovely on.  

This eye shadow is free from oil, nickel, parabens and perfume.  The packaging is simple in its design, the plastic container thinner than a MAC eyeshadow container but the size of the shadow was about the same size as one from MAC.  I know I will get a lot of use from this shadow over the next few months.

The last item was from Vichy (boots.com) it’s their first skin idealiser called Idealia Life Serum, helping to transform the appearance of the skin’s quality.  I liked how this had been put together by glossybox 3 small boxes in a pink gauze bag.  

I will be looking forward to using this item over the next few days, hoping for no breakouts.

I must say I like how glossybox are now packaging their boxes, the magazine is just right with a few snippets of information and a card with the details of the products in the box.

I will be honest I have had better months from them with better products, in most cases I have gone out and repurchased the item after using is in the monthly box that to me is what glossybox is all about.
In other make up news I am back using MAC paint pots and loose pigments, now I have reorganized my makeup I have found changing my make up products around far easier and not just sticking to the same old same old.  The MAC Christmas range has been released and I had a good look at their gift products last weekend whilst out Christmas shopping and like every year I could pick out many items I would like to receive this Christmas.
Since getting back to work it has been very busy, we are still waiting for ofsted to come in and we are on tender hooks until they do finally turn up.
I had also been nominated for an award, I was shocked to be nominated but also pleased that my hard work had been recognized.  The school days are long but every day is different, some more challenging than others but I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
I also had a house guest for a few days and that can always throw my routine out a bit.
I know it’s still mid November but I made a start on the Christmas shopping, I have a lot of people to buy for this year and I can’t do it all on 1 pay packet so I made a start at the weekend and I will be honest I feel quite proud of myself as I manged to get a number of key gifts in 1 go. That means the next shopping trip won’t be stressful and could even be completed on line.
Have you made a start to your Christmas gift shopping? Or are you a last minute person?  Whatever you are enjoy the build up to the festivities and stay safe.

Mixtures of madness and loss

Well its good to be back next to the computer.  The last few months have been crazy, busy but for the most truly enjoyable.

So for the last few months I have been getting my head down at work and getting my personal life into order and I guess you could say I have been successful on both counts.

Work has been mad since September, we are due an OFSTED visit before Christmas, newly opened educational establishments expect a visit before the end of term four.  This half term marked the half way point to the end of term four, I guess the next seven weeks will be interesting.
So we have new staff to meet the growing demands of the school and a new intake, we have 363 students now 180 year eight (our original intake) and 183 new year seven’s.  As staff we strive to provide a great education to our students sometimes we find ourselves providing this outstanding education against a backdrop of varying attitudes.  Most of our students come from good strong homes with good decent role models around them but I know that is not the case everywhere.  Society has changed a great deal from when I was at school, from what I remember we had to work hard at school, there was no easy option to get what was wanted, no quick fix.  My parents were the baby boomers, born after the second world war, they grew up knowing what it was like to go without, to work hard and that ethic rubbed off on me and my peers.  These days I do see parents who have not matured enough to provide decent boundaries for their children, I see children watching modern culture e.g ‘quick fame’ like x factor or ‘I want to be famous for no reason’ Big Brother, and aspire to be famous whether they have a talent or not.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with aiming high but you still have to work hard at what you want and have a back up plan.
I think I am lucky doing the job I do, working with young people helping them grow and aspire to have hopes and dreams and working with them to achieve their utmost.  Its also a responsible job what happens between the ages of 11-16 could shape that persons future, making it better or worse.
Working in education means no two days are the same and I see that I am helping educate a future, doctor, lawyer, banker, nurse, inventor etc amazing.
The new intake have really kept my department on their toes, I have employed a good set of people into my team and I know they have had to hit the ground running, just like I had to last year.  We have come across some really interesting students this year all with differing needs all needing assistance in one form or another.  I love my job, even on the tough days, I love the people I work with and I really love the vision and the ethos of the school.

Back in September I had my graduation, it really hit home what I had achieved since 2009.  The moment I put my robes on I felt on top of the world, the feeling was indescribable little old me with a degree!  I walked up on stage after my name was called, hearing the applause from my family knowing that I had made them proud.  I met an idol of mine Dr Lucy Worsley, she was there receiving an honorary degree and was on stage when I received my degree, I turned to her and said I was huge fan and shook her hand.  That day will remain with me for a very long time.

My little babies have been keeping me on my toes too, they bring me daily joy and pictures have been posted onto twitter.  Maybe I will post some on my next blog.

Lastly, my Nan passed away at the beginning of October, she was my last living Grandparent.  Although her passing was very sad I take comfort in the fact that she is no longer suffering, the last few years were hard for her, she had no quality of life and had many things wrong with her.  Doctors kept saying for the last few years how lucky she was to still be alive but her time had come.  The funeral was held at Corbets Tey and was very simple, my favourite hymn was sung, the entrance and exit music was beautiful, things were designed with simplicity in mind.  Lovely details of her life were mentioned, her work during the war driving an ambulance, meeting Granddad in the NAFFI and being very happy with him and how they had produced 8 children and numerous grandchildren and now even great grandchildren.  Her funeral brought together a fragmented family from every corner for a few hours together.  As I type there is a picture of Nan and Granddad behind me and their wedding picture (with my Great Granddads and Great Grandmothers) in front of me and I take comfort in knowing they are together watching over us all.  God bless Nan x.

Taking care of business

“Taking Care of Business” – Bachman-Turner Overdrive was the wake up call on flight day 2 for the STS-103 crew.  Why am I referring to that you may wonder?  Allow me to explain, Space Shuttle Discovery launched on 19 December 1999 and I was lucky enough to be in Florida at that time, this was the first time I was in the States and that visit has stayed with me, even though I have been back many times since.  I like Discovery, the name comes from a Ship commanded by Captain James Cook, those in the know would know he lived not very far from where I live now.  Discovery is now parked up near Dulles Airport and has flown over Virgina, another reason why Discover is close to my heart.  Anyway since then I have been lucky enough to be up close and personal with Space Shuttle Atlantis and read about the journey of many brave men and women who ventured further than this planet, some sadly never made it back.  Brave people like Captain Cook hundreds of years ago left what was familiar to discover new lands and hundreds of years later brave people once again ventured out and explored space.  I find it amazing that people felt strong and brave enough to set of across the seas to unknown places to explore and discover and centuries later to be launched into space to discover what lies beyond.

We all need to keep that sense of adventure and also have the drive to push us into discovering more, doing more, this is something that as an educator I am keen to keep doing for myself but also keen to encourage the students to do.
As the new school year begins I want to keep that sense of adventure I felt this time last year and bring that to this school year.  What was achieved in the last year was amazing and we will never have another year like it but we can make this year even better.  So I have taken care of business and I am all set ready to get going.  I have a new team about to join me and I am ready for anything, braver and stronger than I was before.  I am glad to be moving forward and I am so very positive about the future.  I have a lot of people to be thankful to but I also have to acknowledge that I have also contributed through grit and hard work.

For those who follow on Twitter you would have seen that I have also got new members of my family, I am so thrilled and it has been very exciting.