Monday, 5 July 2010

Working for Charity - Giving World Online

Well, it’s been even longer between posts than last time! Life hasn’t really been hectic, but I’ve had a lot on my plate lately that was important, so I’m afraid the blog and hobbies have suffered. Now this may be a long post, but it’s well worth the read!

Down to the meaty bits, then. I got that job! Seems like forever ago that I was stressing over that interview and now that I’m here, I love it. Basically, I’d like to tell you a little more about my job and the wonderful people that I work for.

The company that I’m working for now is a non-profit organisation called Konnect9 and they run (amongst other projects) the charity Giving World Online. They are based in Leicester, but operate a national service and hope to extend it across more of the country. Basically, the charity links good-quality, new business surplus to those in need. The idea of the charity is based on their website, where businesses can register to give away their surplus and charities can register to receive any surplus that they may need. Best of all, it’s free!

Not only is the idea behind GWO a stroke of charitable genius, it’s so simple that I’m still amazed there is only one other organisation that offers a similar service.

Rama and Sujata Bhalla are the two wonderful ladies behind the whole thing and are two true gems. The sisters started out with just some paper that they rescued from an organisation who were going to send it to landfill. They saw opportunity in what others would see as waste and took on the task or re-distributing the paper to local community groups who could benefit from such a simple thing.

How did we get from handing out paper to becoming a fast-growing national charity? Well, truth is everything just seemed to snowball for the sisters and their charitable nature led them to accept more and more surplus and help more and more people. Where do I fit in? I am a member of the Fundraising and Income Generation team, aiming to secure funding to keep the charity afloat and help us grow. I and 19 others (basically all of the staff apart from Sujata, Rama and the volunteers) are funded currently by the government’s Future Jobs Fund scheme (giving opportunities to people who have been out of work for 6 months or more, to gain skills for their future jobs) for 6 months, enabling the charity to have a full working team at no cost to themselves. Unfortunately, the government (in their infinite wisdom) have stopped this scheme and now the charity is trying to secure funding to keep the staff on.

Ok, so down to what I really want to say in this post. I think that GWO provides an excellent service to businesses and charities alike and so I want to spread the word! Tell your family, tell your friends! You could tell your boss and see if your business could register to give some of its surplus! It’s great for their Corporate Responsibility and their pockets, because in helping charity, they will save on not only disposal costs, but storage and transport too. You could tell your favourite charity that they could get products for free, and even request anything that they might need. Just please remember that big national charities often get huge donations and the smaller ones suffer. GWO aim to make it more even by being the connection between business and charity.

Phew! That really was a long read, huh? I'll let you off for now, but I will be back with some more interesting bits from work!

If you would like more information on GWO, or to sign up to their service, visit
You can also follow their blog here, Twitter Feed here, and join their FaceBook page here.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Long time, No blog...

Wow, so it's been a while since my last post and that's been because it's been a little hectic.
I've been planning a trip to see my parents around meetings with the benefts office, sorting my bridesmaid dress and wedding flowers out, getting my other half to tide his crap up, organising some voluntary work and basically not managing to get any soaping done, though I have managed to pick up a few things for future creations! :)

All this on top of having a really badly twisted knee (don't know when I did it exactly, but its hurt like hell for weeks) and IBS flare-ups. Grr IBS is possibly the most annoying and inconvenient condition ever. It isn't all that serious at all, but the symptoms and random things it causes make me mad! I have headaches and a stiff neck most days, the stomach cramps are horrible, I feel tired most of the day, my joints ache in the cold or if I've been stood up for a long time, I'm cold and losing weight (though that's not a bad thing heehee), I can't eat some of my favourite things anymore and that's not to mention the having to rush off to the loo while I'm in the middle of something.
Stress makes it worse, but it makes me stressed some days, so in a big vicious circle I don't get any better for a week and I just feel like I'm being soft. I just needed to vent for a while, I mean I'm 22 now and I feel so old and worn out. The little time I did have to myself this week, I spent asleep or just lying down resting. I was even out shopping for things for the house on my birthday.

Well, with everything going on and feeling so tired, I think I'll officially give up on Craftjuice Tuesdays, I just can't spend time looking over people's creations and blogging, hell I haven't had the time (or a clear kitchen) to make anything for 2 weeks.
On a brighter note, our lodger has taken a carfull of his stuff out of our front room, and he'll be back next weekend for more, so things are looking up there. Plus I think I'll have a part-time job interview next week! Yey for making money!

I like to end on a good note, so that's all for now folks. Hope I get the time to blog again soon.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Second Batch (no Gremlins though!)

I've been busy in the kitchen again cooking up some ideas into reality!

(Apologies for no pictures, I took them, but then my memory card decided to break in half. I'll try and update when I can with pics just as soon as I get a new card.)

First up is chocolate cupcake soaps with vanilla icing!
I had this idea when I first decided to make melt and pour soaps but I've only just plucked up the courage to make them now that I think I have the hang of the technique. I used real cocoa for the main part of it, and it's made them a nice chocolatey brown and they smelled good even before they cooled! I then topped them off with "icing", a thin layer of plain white base lightly scented with vanilla.

Second up, (a first for me making two different batches in the same day, I usually let my equipment air dry overnight) is my first proper soap loaf! And it's a layered loaf too! The top is summery scented, orange opaque soap and the bottom is a clear base with orange peel exfoliator and a tiny bit of citrus scent to make it all really pop. The orange smells deliciously sweet and I'm really looking forward to testing a slice myself!

UPDATE: The inevitable happened and the layered loaf came apart haha! Ah well I'm not bothered as it looks quite nice as a pair of fairly chunky soap bars :)

Most of my creations are going into a little tester gift basket for my best friend's birthday (which is actually today, but she has to wait until they cure heehee) and I'll squeeze some feedback out of her once she's tested them, the rest will probably be spread between a couple more friends and family as well as used myself. Well, you have to have enough faith in your product to use it yourself, don't you!

I'm calling this my second batch of soaps because the first testers really have turned into a bit of a disaster. It would be nice to know what went wrong so that I can avoid it in the future, but I think the problem was in the base. It might have been old, I don't know if melt and pour base goes "off" when it's old or been kept in bad conditions?
Well, lesson learned with that one, all my bases will come from reputable sites in future. eBay is a false economy for some things.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

No Craftjuice Today

Massive apologies to all of those wonderful crafters that deserve the "big up" they get from Craftjuice Tuesdays, but this week has been hectic so far and I don't have the time.

Sorry again. XxX

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

My First Soap Creations!

I finally did it! I made my first batch of Melt and Pour Soaps!
They don't look like the prettiest things in the world, but frankly as it was my very first time, I'm just happy that it wasn't a disaster.
I decided for my first batch to use the worst quality base that I had. I got a lot of stuff off a woman on eBay that didn't have the time to make soaps, but this base looked like it had been melted a couple of times before. It was cloudy white and it had a few bits in it. Wierd, I know but this literally was just a test.

The first half of the batch is Tea Tree scented, only lightly as I know a lot of Tea Tree can even make my eyes water, and I am not sensitive to any scent that I've come across. I tried to add some blue and green colour to make a nice Tea Tree turquoise but I don't think I added enough, lol you can't really see any colour in the photo and only a little in reality.
You can see the inevitable bubbles on the top, I haven't got my alcohol spray sorted yet.

To the second half of the batch, I added some chamomile and meant to add Vitamin E too, but in all my excitement, I plain forgot! It has added a nice pale yellow-green to the soap and it smells lovely with the Tea Tree, fresh and calming yet it's really subtle. I think I can pronounce the recipie a success though, and I'll be using chamomile again! You can't really see it from the pictures, but it really gives a nice hand-made look to the soap.
I did have a little bit of an incident as I left the soaps in the kitchen overnight and they were slightly slimy in the morning. I believe this is because the kitchen was damp and it's reacted with the soap a bit, but never fear, I took ahold of my trusty kitchen roll and gave them a wipe over to get rid of the slime before I wrapped them in cling film and put them in an airtight container for storage.
I'm not too bothered that they didn't come out so beautiful, like I said this is my first time so it was just a test, and after all, they're only going to be sent to friends and family for "testing" right now. No sales until I get my safety assessment, I'm afraid.

I think I'm hooked, though, so there's probably going to be more on the way this week! Maybe even this afternoon... I just can't wait!

Small update: It must have been a dodgy batch of base because it doesn't lather... at all. Maybe those will stay in the "lesson learnt" box haha.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Craftjuice Tuesday 23rd March (late)

Wow, I forgot it was Tuesday! So caught up making my first batch of soaps today (I'll probably post pics and a description about those tomorrow when I've found the lead for my camera.

For now, this is a speedy Craftjuice Tuesday with a couple of PURPLE things I saw and want. I have an obsession with all things purple and rarely go out without something purple on :D

There's an Octopus in my bathroom! by TwinDreams

I am so impressed with the detail on this soap! It looks gorgeous and I'm sure it would be one of the ones that I'd not use until he started to lose his shape a bit or get dusty!
I wonder what octopus smells like...

Orchid Cuttlefish Necklace by Noadi
I think there's another accidental theme going on here! Cephalopods unite! But isn't he adorable? Look at those cute, innocent eyes! Beautifully hand sculpted with a lovely attention to detail and personality!

Purple Haze Treasure Necklace by VintageKitschMagpie
Now this would be just great for me! I don't wear bracelets but I've always wanted a charm bracelet because they're so cute! I love how all the little things here just go well together and I think it might just have inspired me to start looking into making myself a charm necklace!

That's all for my (slightly late in the day) post for today! There's clearing up to be done and an Other Half to keep from prodding my setting soaps when he gets home!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Craftjuice Tuesday!

Well, my first list for Craftjuice Tuesday!
For those of you that don't know what Craftjuice is, or let alone what Craftjuice Tuesday is, let me explain a little. Craftjuice is a site where people can show off their best hand-made crafts. You don't have to have anything to show to join up and all members can vote for the pieces that they like the best. Anything with 5 or more votes will be put on the front page and thus generate the crafters more advertising, just for being a great creator!
On a Craftjuice Tuesday, members of the Crafts Forum blog about their favourite things on Craftjuice!

I think my first theme is going to be my first love, all things wacky and just a bit unusual! Things that make me laugh because frankly, they're inspired! There are many, many gorgeous things that I could post, and I'm having some trouble keeping the numbers down, but here are a few things that I just love!

First up is a pair of Bacon Drop Earrings by BirdcageCreative.
Bacon? In earrings!? I love it! It's wacky AND a tiny version of something edible! That just makes it perfect in my eyes. I would certainly wear something like this. I wonder if they do a matching fried egg necklace...

Next is a Naruto Cupcake Necklace by glamasaurus!
It's Naruto! In a cupcake! Haha, chibi things make me giggle like a schoolgirl and frankly, who wouldn't want a Noisy Ninja in a cake! It's a fabulous little figure made even better by being set in something almost as random as Naruto himself. Very true to the spirit of the cartoon, even if it never really happened. ^.^

Now here's something that made me laugh a little too. A Little Wooden Pendant featuring a Chirpy Cricket by geelizzie.
I don't know why, but that little cricket sounds so sarcastic to me! "Chirp. Yes, I chirp." It's a gorgeous and very understated necklace but the details are fantastic, and I think it's my favourite of geelizzie's necklaces, though I could happily buy them all if money were no object!

Just in time for Easter, we have a Buzzy Blue Easter Bunny Robot by RobotsAreAwesome.

Maybe this is the future of the Easter Bunny? In years to come he may be too old to bounce around and hide eggs for all the little ones, so he builds this springy bunny-bot to lend a helping hand. Hey that's my little fantasy! I love the character behind this bunny-bot, he just looks like he could hop around all day spreading geeky-Easter-happiness!

Now, last but not least... Monkey Farts Soy Candle by AromaFields.
I know this is an old posting, but as I was going through I just saw the name of the candle and did a double take! I love it! Of course, it's nothing disgusting and the scent is described as "...a combination of fresh ripe bananas, juicy grapefruit with hints of strawberries and vanilla. Light and refreshing!" Just like a monkey fart! I love it, an imaginative name for what sounds like a scrummy smelling candle.

I guess that's all for this week, folks. I hope I did this right or I'm going to let the crafters down!
I'll blog again soon as I have an "informal job interview" today and then off to get the last of my supplies for soaping (apart from what I've ordered online). Eep! Things move so fast one week and so slow another!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A Scrummy Smelling Package

My supplies arrived on Monday and just picking the box up from the Sorting Office, the smell was fantastic. This was mainly because the lady that I bought it from thinks one sheet of brown paper is enough packaging for lots of soap base and glass fragrance bottles along with bags of dried herbs, thus the bag of lavender has ripped a little. But nevertheless it tickled my excitement muscle and I can't wait to get started either this weekend or next week.
I have so many ideas it's unbelievable! I think my first attempts shall be some cupcake soaps scented with cocoa and vanilla. It may seem a little ambitious but I'm not one to make anything that's not a challenge! Now, on to a website that sells cheap Vitamin E to preserve the cocoa!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

First Video

Finally, I've finished my Trailer for the series of videos I'm creating (with a little help from some friends) about Lost Perfect World. It's only a minute long and some of the effects are... dodgy to say the least, but it's the first thing I've made in Adobe Premier so I'm pretty happy with it.
I realised when I was uploading it that I shouldn't have used a Widescreen format, but that will be changed in the next video.

Plans are in place for the first proper part of the video, but it's on hold until I can get footage of characters from the Lost server.

Anyone that would like to be involved can drop me a line on the LostPW forum or comment here, but please note you will have to have a LostPW account, or be willing to record a voice-over and have me use it.

Oh my days, I think I just gave away a little of my plan ;)

Anyway here's the vid, enjoy and feel free to comment!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Epic Clear-Up

So, I won the auction, I have just about everything I need to start making some tester soaps on the way to me! (Not looking forward to missing the postman as it's going to be something close to 5Kg! And I think my postman doesn't bother to deliver anything that's more than one bit of paper in an envelope, but don't get me started on that.) I'm excited to finally get started but before that, there's a whole room to clear out. It was our lodger's bedroom and though he officially moved out back in January, there's still a lot of his stuff in there, not to mention the bed and chair taking up room too, so there's not much space to move!
As I've said before, I plan on taking over a good half of the room and setting it up as a sort of studio. Our kitchen is tiny so it's not really practical for me to use it and get all of my stuff out of the way before dinner. There's a set of shelves I think I can salvage at least some of and a lot of wood hanging about that we were going to make a wall with at one point. After drying the damp out of the room, I'm going to make a nice long workbench with plenty of room for everything, including the old microwave I laid claim to so I don't have to walk to the kitchen and back with sloppy soap!
Yeah, up until now there's not been a lot of jobs finished around our house, but along with this new hobby, I plan on motivating us to get things done that need finishing. A freshly tidied room always makes everything else look bad, right?
So today, my fella's getting off work early and after a couple of really important things get done, I'm going to try and get him to help me move some things, that's if he can get some boxes from work. When I was a kid, you could get cardboard boxes anywhere! But now with the big save the Earth thing, people are just putting them for recycling without actually giving me a chance to use them again first! Does that seem like a backwards step to you?

Anyway, there's the eternal housework to get on with, so that's it until I get something else done that's blogworthy.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

First Steps

Lately, I've been looking at starting out into soap making and other crafts as a way of making a little bit of money for myself while I'm looking for full-time work.
I've always made things, as long as I can remember I haven't been happy unless I'm creating something, whether it's writing stories (I have one that's been slowly growing since I was 15) or painting, making papier mache or trying the latest kid-fad like friendship bracelets or scoubidous.
So I'm putting my mediocre skills to work and I think it'll be interesting if I keep a blog of my progress, plus it will give me more reason to keep working on, and even finish some projects for once!

Right now I have three projects that I'm working on.
One is a painting as a wedding present for my best friend. I think it'll be a lovely and personal gift, and seeing as they have just about every practical thing for their house, it'll be nice to have something decorative. I'm split between ideas for it though. I first thought of a close-up of a couple's hands, holding on to each other and symbolising unity.
Second is my video! My first time using Adobe Premier and I've decided to make a small series of videos based around Lost Perfect World, a Perfect World MMO private server that I play. It will be the tale of an alien/native species hybrid and her struggles in the world. So far I have about 20 seconds of intro but I'm proud of the quality. No blue background, white text combo for me! The server is currently down for maintenance, so progress is halted for a while, but the developers there are usually speedy and I'm expecting a large update when they get back.
Finally, there's my big new project. Soap making. I looked at some interesting crafts on the web, eventually bought Making Candles and Soaps for Dummies from eBay and I'm stuck on the idea. This is my big project, my money-maker (hopefully) and what's going to take most of my time once I have it all set up. Currently, I'm gathering what's left of the things that I'll need to make melt and pour soaps. Some might say this isn't "true" soap making, because the glycerin soap base is pre-made, but I'll be spending time making it into beautiful creations with wonderful colours and scents. Once I'm set-up I'll be testing my creations on friends and family to get a good opinion, then if everything is good to go, I'll set up an eBay shop and delve into being a cottage industry.

That's all for today, I'm just waiting now to win an eBay auction for a bargain set of supplies! Fingers crossed!