Feng Shui Friday: Green Lion Dancing Video

I received a link to this fantastic video in the Lillian Too Mandala which I’m subscribed to and thought it was amazing. Apparently the Green Lion is dancing over a mountain which symbolizes obstacles and shows how these can be overcome. The performance was part of her daughter’s housewarming celebrations. I was sceptical at first, but it really is a thing of beauty and very inspiring. Enjoy!

Subscribe to Lillian’s Mandala here.

Advertisements

Thrifty Thursday: Celebrating Mother’s Day on a Budget

Mothers Day Flowers

Mother’s Day is an opportunity to show our mother’s just how much we love and appreciate them. For what they do for us now, for raising us and making us who we are today and for just being their wonderful selves. If you’re anything like me you’ll think your mom is pretty fab and deserves to be spoilt rotten. However, being able to afford to do this can sometimes be a challenge. So here are my top tips for making mom feel special without breaking the bank…

1.) Don’t forget the card – whether you buy one, or opt for the super thrifty option of crafting one, your mom will appreciate a greeting of some variety on Mother’s Day.

2.) Flowers – often given on Mother’s Day, but they don’t have to be expensive. Opt for a local florist over a floral delivery service and you could save some serious money. Alternatively chose something simple such as a bunch of tulips or daffodils. It’s the thought that counts – not how much you’ve spent.

Chocolates

3.) Make something – whether your skill is in baking, crafting or sewing mom will really appreciate something which you’ve taken the time to create. I made oatmeal and raisin cookies a few years back – yum! Why not frame a favourite photo, or create a scrapbook of memories from the previous year?

4.) Go for a walk – If it’s a nice spring day, drive into the countryside with a picnic basket and a thermos to give mom some real chill out time with her nearest and dearest.

5.) Cook Sunday Lunch – How often has your mom cooked for you? Turn the tables and treat her to a delicious lunch at yours (and don’t let her anywhere near the kitchen or the washing up). If you’re not feeling up to a full three-course Sunday lunch why not opt for a brunch of Bacon sarnies or salmon sandwiches for afternoon tea?

What are you doing for your mom this Mother’s Day?

Wedding Wednesday: Setting the Date

Save the Date

When it comes to setting the date for your nuptials there are two types of couples…

Ruled by the heart…
The date has special significance to them, perhaps an anniversary or a birthday of a loved one.

Ruled by the head…
The date fits in with:

  • The availability of the venue
  • The availability of their guests
  • Their budget
  • The seasonality of where they want to go on honeymoon
  • The amount of time it gives them to plan

Our wedding day was Saturday 1st October 2012. We fancied an Autumn wedding as we wanted to space our celebrations throughout the year a bit (myself and Mr Love of my Life both have spring birthdays and our original anniversary (of our first date) was at the start of the year too). We both also love the feel of Autumn. We originally looked into September, but discovered we could save a substantial amount of money by shunting the wedding back into the next month. This fitted in with the weather of where we wanted to go on honeymoon, gave us chance to plan and, in the end, meant we had one of the hottest days of the year to get married on (who’d have thunk it – certainly not me when I was busy buying Pashminas!).

Saturday Wedding? Friday? Wednesday?
Then there’s the weekday vs weekend dilemma. For us, it had to be a Saturday wedding. It’s just the way I had already imagined it. If you are thinking of holding a weekday wedding, bear in mind..

  • People will have to take time off work. In most cases this will be fine, but make sure you give people enough notice (especially for professions such as teachers where taking time off in the week isn’t always the easiest)
  • If you want children at your wedding and you’re getting married during term time, bear in mind that school has to come first for them. Even if the kids aren’t invited spare a thought for the parents who will have to ensure someone is there to pick their kids up from the school gates.
  • Traffic – there’s no rush hour on a Saturday, but traffic on a weekday morning can be challenging. Bear this in mind when pulling together timings for your big day and make sure you leave with enough time to get to the church on time.

How did you chose your wedding date?

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Chilli Chicken Wraps

wrapIn my old job I used to spend a fortune on lunches. I’ve never been very motivated to make myself sandwiches the evening before and, besides, M&S was just over the road tempting me with it’s Fusion Sushi, Christmas Sandwiches and Percy Pigs.

My new job is in a more industrial setting and while there’s a cafe next door and a Tesco Express just up the road, I’ve been tending to make my lunch. Finding inspiration for lunches which I actually want to eat has always been difficult. I’m not a fan of packed lunches. Put a plate of sushi in front of me, or a full cooked dinner and I’ll scoff the lot. But a ham sandwich I can take or leave, depending on how hungry I am.

So, when I was looking for inspiration for a delcious dinner to cook and I stumbled across this in a British Heart Foundation cookbook I was sold.

Ingredients
Wraps
Spinach
Tomato (sliced)
Spring Onion (chopped)
Sweet Chilli Sauce
Cooked chicken pieces

wrap

Method
1.) Spread a layer of Sweet Chilli Sauce onto one of the wraps
2.) Pile the ingredients along the centre of the wrap (enough so it’s tasty, not so much as it falls apart)
3.) Roll up the wrap and tuck in the ends then chop in half and place in your sandwich box ready to be consumed at about 1:30pm the following day

wrapQuick, easy and delicious. Although I haven’t broken down the costs of this as you can see from the list of ingredients it’s hardly going to break the bank.

Enjoy!

wrap

Making Money Monday: Dealing With Agencies – Part One

elephantIs it just me, or is the term ‘agency’ simply shorthand for ‘middleman who will get in the way and make something which should be straight-forward incredibly complicated’. Estate agency. Design agency. Employment agency. I’m hard pushed to find any positive examples.

Things is, when you’re searching for a job these days, there are very few companies who do direct recruitment. Preffering instead to put their staffing needs in the hands of an agency. I truly hope employment agencies treat the recruiters better than they treat the candidates, otherwise I really cannot understand why companies would use them?!

I would be lying if I said all of my experiences with employment agencies had been negative, just the vast majority of them! And the experiences which have been good have been because of individual agents who go above and beyond, not their firm excelling in anyway.

Here are some of my experiences…

The I’ll keep talking at you until you say yes one…
Always a favourite. You’re not sure about the role they’re trying to put you forward for. They ramble on without pausing for breath (and allowing you to ask a question or interject) until you relent and say yes to the interview just to shut them up. If this happens to you – stand your ground and tell it like it is. If it’s not the job for you – tell them. If you end up being talked into something which you later regret, don’t be afraid to contact your agent and tell them that now you’ve thought it through it’s not for you.

The do you have two heads or a hunchback test.
Most agencies will want to see you in person before they put you forward for any roles. Some handle this better than others. A good meeting is where they take a full brief from you, so they can find something which fits in with your aspirations. A bad meeting is one which is blatantly a form filling exercise. I had one pre-meet with an agency where they told me to be enthusiastic in interview. I really had to stop myself from saying ‘No shit Sherlock’.

I’ve got the perfect role for you. Is Outer Mongolia commutable?
Always a favourite. One of my clear objectives with my job hunt was to cut my commute time, so when an agency called me to ask if Northampton was too far away (66 miles fact fans) I rolled my eyes and politely answered ‘yes’.

The we’ll put you forward for a job which you know nothing about whilst you’re on honeymoon one.
Yup, despite telling the agency I was away on Honeymoon they continued to phone me. When they couldn’t get hold of me (thank goodness I had put my phone on silent, there’s quite a time difference between Birmingham and Singapore!) they decided to put me forward for the job anyway. I had no clue and it caused considerable confusion when another agency put me forward for the same job later (with my permission). I never worked with the first agency again as I didn’t trust them.

The we’ve not really taken the brief properly one.
Initial conversation: “Yes, it’s a Marketing Executive role. We’ll put you forward for it.”
Feedback: “Erm, apparently they’re looking for a Marketing Director, sorry about that.”

The back fill/side fill one.
Too many questions about the role  you’re leaving, or the other interviews you’re attending means they’re more interested in creating opportunities for themselves instead of you.

There’s also the times when they can’t get your name right, when they ring you twice in the same day about exactly the same job, when they text you and ask you to ring them (erm, I’m not working but don’t worry about my phone bill?!). There’s the times when you say you can’t make that interview time and they lay on a huge guilt trip, when they don’t give you any feedback post interview, when no matter how hard you try you simply can’t get hold of them (agencies are the world champions of phone tennis).

As I say there are exceptions to the rule and those exceptions have been the ones which landed me my temping work and my current role. Which shows if it’s done properly – it works!

Before I go, I want to leave you with a final anecdote about dealing with agencies. Before I left my previous job an agency called me with an ‘exciting opportunity’ (aren’t they always?!). As he was talking me through the role he began to tell me about the various ‘elephants’ of the job. Obviously he meant ‘elements’ – I was dying to laugh but he was taking himself so seriously that I just couldn’t. Bless.

Sunday Digest: Brain Drain

This week I…

* Completed my first full week in the office in my new ‘day job’ * Thought my head was going to explode with all of the information I was taking in through all of the training at said ‘day job’ * Caught up on the day-to-day * Had my hair cut and styled for the first time in six months * Ordered me some more contact lenses * Went out for a yummy curry with my bestie * Got more freebies * Made plans for my birthday (next weekend) * Resolved to start blogging more frequently (which is why I’m currently typing away whilst languishing in bed like an anti-social kid during the school holidays).

Spend it Saturday: The Hairdressers, Contact Lenses and Curry

OK, so my first pay packet from the new ‘day job’ was a modest one. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting.

Of course, my first priority is to pay back Mr Love of my Life, which I will be doing over the next few pay packets. But I’ve still kept some funds so I can treat myself.

Which is why today I rocked up at the hairdressers and got my hair cut and styled for the first time in, uh, six months. Treat or necessity? You decide. I had it styled in the way I’m going to wear it to my Sister-in-Law’s wedding at the end of the month. I asked for Liberty London Girl volume with a curl at the end and to be honest when I first left the salon I was slightly worried I resembled Shirley Temple. The hairdresser assured me the curls would drop. Which they did, but only after a bit of coaxing from me.

glasses

I also ordered some emergency contact lenses and reinstated my contract, so I don’t have to be a speccy-four-eyes at the wedding.

And, tonight I am out for a curry with my bestie. Which is why I am typing this in a rush. That and because WordPress lost my previous draft – grr!

What are you up to this weekend?