Goodbye, 2011...

Posted by Judy Johnson On Saturday, 31 December 2011 22:00 0 comments
Yes, it’s the obligatory look-back-at-the-year post that everyone does but it’s been quite a year so it deserves it, don't you think? There haven’t been as many changes as I’d hoped for but I’ve ticked off a few things from the to-do list, more so than I have in any other year. There have been a decent number of ups, a few too many downs but it was a huge improvement on 2010… so, 2012, can you do better than this? 

In 2011, I:

Learned Spanish
Ok, so I haven’t learned ALL the Spanish there is to learn, but I made a start, which is fairly impressive for me – I’m generally all talk when it comes to aspirations. I did level one and two with Cactus language and am hoping I can stretch some pennies to cover level three in the new year so I can get further than just ‘I’m from England’ and ‘walk straight on’. Seriously.

Revisited Ibiza
...and had the best holiday of my life. I may say this every time I go to another country (I love to travel, in case you’d missed that) but seriously, this really was the best.  I discovered Flower Power at Pacha, I partied every single night, I forgot all about home troubles and really, well and truly had fun. I also met some great people and one who I still think about a little too often, but that's another story...

Got my second nephew! 
Brandon is quite possibly the cutest baby ever (don’t tell the other nephew) and is also the easiest to look after – having spent the last week with him I have been dubbed by my family as ‘good with kids’ a ‘natural mum’ and if Brandon could speak I am sure he would say I am pretty goddamn funny, because he smiles a LOT.

Had my first ever feature published in print 
I freelance whenever I can and this year I was lucky enough to write for Expert Beauty, for their special issue during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Writing all about boobs and what the risks are when it comes to this horrid disease, not only did I learn a lot, but I learned more about the ways of freelancing and felt more like a journalist than ever. More to come next year!

Went to my first UK festival
Yes, I donned my boots (I never have owned wellies) and went down to Brighton for the Shakedown festival and partied in the rain like a true music-loving Brit. Ed Sheeran and Example were brilliant, the toilet queues were not so brilliant, but all in all I loved it and can't wait to do some more festivals next year, funding-dependent.

Sadly, it wasn't all good in 2011 - there was plenty of bad stuff going on too. From supporting my parents as they put their all into setting up a business, having it pretty much sabotaged by an evil woman who shall have to remain nameless and then comforting them when it went horribly wrong and left them both ill, to then saying goodbye to my hometown, officially, after they had to move due to business/job changes/landlord changes, I stressed myself out way too much with their problems as well as mine. Plus I discovered that being single is often tough; being single when none of your friends are is tougher. Booo. 

But, all is not lost - 2011 was better than 2010 by miles, and though I am about to turn 26 (holy crapola) I am planning a pretty fantastic and travel-tastic 2012 already. Wish me luck!

Christmas Gift-Giving 2011

Posted by Judy Johnson On 15:37 0 comments
Everyone always asks what you got for Christmas, but we don’t really do presents for myself and my sisters now, and rightfully so (though I did get a perfume, thanks mum and dad, you rock). We treat my over-excited nephews instead, and as I am the single one with no mouths to feed other than my own Malteser-loving one I tend to buy for parents too, with something small for the sisters. So instead of telling you what I got for Christmas, which to be honest I hate hearing from people (er, boasting much?!), I thought I’d share what I gave - you never know, it might help you when shopping next year...

For mum: 

My mum is beauty-obsessed, and clearly where I got my passion for makeup from. I always treat her to something beauty related as well as giving her freebies throughout the year (very lucky I can do that thanks to my job, occasionally) so this year I gave a mixture. First up was Divaderme brush-on lashes (on a Wahanda deal, of course), and she absolutely loves them. I have to say I am impressed she puts them on so well, as I had Twitter feedback that it was fiddly, but she seems to have got the hang of it very quickly and won't stop talking about them. Tick! 

Next up was Benefit’s Foam Cleanser, which she loves after trying out their new range when I got her a sample set in the summer. For a woman who won’t step away from her Clinique, Estee Lauder and Clarins creams, this is an achievement for  me – I've got her hooked on affordable yet lovely skincare! I also got her the latest Nicholas Sparks book, a makeup bag for all those cosmetics and a perfume called Tous that came from a beauty journalist friend and that smelt fresh and dewy. Double tick!

For dad: 

My dad hates sport, doesn’t do much gardening and rejects most new helpful gadgets so can be tricky to buy for, so this year I went for tried and trusted presents. A cord shirt from Marks and Sparks’ Blue Harbour range, a book on motorbikes, and an Amazon voucher all went down very well to start with, and then I gave a meditation CD from Meditainment (thanks Twitter for the recommendation) because I want him and my mum to learn how to relax in 2012... it's about time they put their feet up and stopped worrying so I'm showing them how it's done!

For the 2 year old nephew:

A jacket with detachable sleeves from Matalan, aka the queen of affordable baby clothes - I love that place and always find something good for the kids in there. I also found bathtub crayons on the almighty Amazon so he can draw in the bath ( I want some too!) and a Fireman Sam backpack. Smiles all round.

For the 3 month old nephew: 

A very very very cute outfit, also from Matalan, and some nursery cube thingies that were Winnie the Pooh branded from M&S – overpriced but supersoft and will look lovely in his new nursery, even if he has no idea what to do with them...

For the grandparents:

My dear grandparents needed cheering up so I used Interflora to send them a hamper this year - I'd never done it before as I worried they were too fussy to like much in any of them but they were so happy with it (I heard how amazing the basket was about ten times, anyway) that I think I'll be doing that every year from now on. Easy!

I couldn't leave out my two older sisters and their partners, so they got an Amazon voucher (seriously, isn’t Amazon just amazing?) and chocolate coins. Can’t go wrong!

The best bit about this Christmas was having all the family around - cheesy, but true - but I do love knowing that I've got someone a gift that they really love. What did you give this year that you’re a bit proud of? Go on, give me ideas for next year…

A Visit from The Fairy Hobmother

Posted by Judy Johnson On Monday, 5 December 2011 22:31 0 comments
Don't worry, I haven't gone absolutely loopy at last - I still don't believe in fairytales (though The Notebook most definitely could happen, right?) but believe it or not, there are people out there who know what they're doing when it comes to blogger outreach. 

Appliances Online have come up with a pretty smart way of both rewarding bloggers and of course getting a little SEO-friendly link back too - and given my job and my wishes for this blog to grow, I can hardly complain about that. After being contacted herself, a friend forwarded on the info from the Fairy Hobmother who is waving her magic wand over blogs all over the interwebs and granting wishes so I was more than happy to get involved.

Personally, I think this is a great idea that so many companies are trying to do, yet perfectly executed in a cute and rewarding style. In exchange for a link I was given some Amazon vouchers which are going straight into my dwindling budget for Christmas presents - not bad eh?

To spread the festive cheer a little further, any commenters on this post could get a visit from the Fairy Hobmother - so tell me, what do you want this Christmas?

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