Treat your Job like a Relationship

Welcome to my blog! I put up new content every Wednesday, about anything from crafts to careers, from clothes to prose poetry.

I recently wrote a post called Job Hunting for the Anxious Person, which lots of people liked (it was one of my most-read and most-liked posts!) and it got me think about what our careers mean to us.

Now, this post won’t cover everyone, and it may not cover you at the place you are in your life right now. For example, this might’ve applied to you 3 years ago before you had a baby, for instance, and now you’re taking some time out (and therefore my section about quitting a toxic job is not feesible, now matter how tempting or relatable!). Or maybe you’re long-term sick or you don’t work for whatever reason; however, I think whatever you fill your time with may still be for all intents and purposes “your job”.
It’s the thing we spend most of our time and effort on and it all too often is something we wish we could break up with.

But maybe we SHOULD treat jobs like relationships! Why? Because that’s exactly what a career is: it’s a relationship between you and the job.

Maybe your boss is the wicked in-law and your co-workers are the bratty stepkids, while the job itself is the hideous partner you can no longer stand and you’re wondering what on earth you ever saw in them.

Hopefully not; hopefully you love your job and your career is going smashingly well. Unfortunately for me, I’ve experienced every one of these examples below, and that’s why I’m able to share this with you today: because I know what’s like.

Without further ado, here’s why I think you should treat your job the same way you would a relationship:

Some jobs are trash. Dump ’em.

There’s no sugar-coating this one. Your family warned you about this. We’ve all gone through it (and if you’re like me, you’ve been served trash several times) Maybe you were on a low-ebb and blindly walked into another disastrous role, or maybe you had high-hopes and yet your coach turned into a pumpkin. Either way, this job is nothing but bad for you. Your boss is unsupportive, your co-workers are bullies, and nobody actually cares; there’s not a hint of professionalism to be found. The pay doesn’t make up for the crappy facilities, the awful clients, and the shady accounting going on behind the scenes.

This is the job that you know you are far, far too good for and there’s nothing to gain from staying – in fact, this job is dragging your worth down. You don’t even want this job on your CV, because you are out of there.

Like a trashy partner, you should have never given them a chance. You’re embarrassed to say you ever worked there. You dump them and move on.

Some jobs help you grow.

These jobs can be bitter-sweet. Maybe this was your first serious job, or it was a job you had on the road to something much better. You loved this job! It started out great; you learned lots and everything seemed to be going so smoothly. But then it started getting a little dull and repetitive, and those things you learned very quickly became old hat. It dawns on you one day that you’re bored and, yeah, while this has been great, the job’s on one path and you’re looking at taking another. You could stay, but is this job really going anywhere?

You’ve learned all you can and it’s time to move on to something more within your pay grade. You amicably split with your job, knowing that if ever you need it, it’ll be there for you: even if, deep down, you know this is probably the last time you’ll meet.

Some jobs just weren’t meant to be.

All right: it’s not you, but it’s not them either. You two got together and it should’ve worked on paper, but you know what, it just doesn’t. Things go wrong from the start and you never quite fit in there. Something just doesn’t feel right. You’re capable, yes, but it’s like fitting a square peg in a round hole. You know it, the job knows it, and your boss knows it. You can’t understand why you aren’t happy in this role. Your skills matched (roughly), you were interested in the job, and you were hired. So what’s missing?
Your heart is just not in it, that’s what. And things only get more and more strained and eventually, someone has to make the first move and admit that this just isn’t working. That someone is you.
You didn’t want to do it, but you’ve got no choice – and once you leave this job, you’re relieved. You’re just too different, and that’s okay.
You learn from this job and you move on.

Some jobs are utterly toxic.

This one nearly kills you. You feel sick when you get up in the morning and weekends are spent laying in bed, dreading Monday. Your world is bleak, grey, dark. This role is bringing you nothing but misery and pain, and it isn’t going to get better. But you’re tough, and brave, and you think you can make this work. If you just put in the hours and put in the hard work, things will start looking brighter and everything will just snap into place.

But it doesn’t, and you know it never will. You feel bullied and belittled in this role. Your boss treats you like a moron, you butt heads with your colleagues and you can’t seem to put a foot right. You don’t even care who’s to blame anymore; you just wish you’d never taken this on.

But you’ve got bills to pay and you’ve sunk a lot of time into this job. It can’t have all been a waste of time and effort, can it? Plus there’s the guilt! What you don’t realise at the time is that you’re feeling guilty, but your job, your boss, your co-workers – none of them could care less. You’re breaking your back for people who just don’t care about you.

Eventually your body makes that decision for you. You buckle under the stress and your body is plagued by in colds, coughs, aches, pains, rashes, and migraines. You start calling in sick and now they’re angry at you for that, too. You’re having a mental health crisis and you can’t stand it anymore.

When will it ever end, you ask?

Then you realise: you can end it. The sooner you get out of there the better, because this job is just plain toxic.
When you eventually leave, you feel bruised by the experience, but thankful that it’s over. You move on to something else (and hopefully much better).

Some jobs are marriage material.

Where oh where has this job been all your life?

When you start working here, everything just clicks into place. The pay is good, the benefits are fantastic, and you feel like you’ve joined a great family. Instantly you feel totally comfortable with the idea of working here for the foreseeable. You don’t have any doubts and the pace suits you just fine. You had no idea it was going to work out so well, but it did! Imagine if you’d never filled in that application? Your paths might never have crossed!

Your boss is always pleased with your progress, you get on famously well with your co-workers (who are more like friends) and the relationship is mutually beneficial. You don’t want to lose them and they don’t want to lose you either. You carry out your tasks with pride because you truly care about this role; it’s not just about the money or the fact you’re duty-bound to do it. You’re proud to put your stamp on the work you do.

You know this job is for keeps and you feel a sense of stability that you haven’t felt before, or at least not in a very long time. It’s time to put down some roots and settle in for the long-run, because you’ve found the love of your life!

It’s true what they say: when you know, you know.



So what do you think about that? Do you agree with me or have you got other ideas? How many of these examples sound familiar to you? Get in touch and let me know.

Until next Wednesday, toodles!

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

Job Hunting for the Anxious Person

One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead

Oscar Wilde, 1882, introduction to a collection of verse.

Welcome to my blog! Here I write about whatever’s on my mind or whatever fad I’ve just gotten into.

The whole New Year thing made me think about the goals people might be setting themselves for the year; specifically career goals. If you’re an anxious person or suffer profoundly from anxiety, then sorting your career out – or even finding time to prioritise it among life’s other junk – can be daunting.
I’ve always had really, really shitty anxiety, so I completely understand and I had this same fear about a career myself, to the point that for a while I even convinced myself that I didn’t really want one. But what else was I going to do? Oh yeah, I know: have depression.

So, without further waffle, here is a short list of some things I learned after graduating university as an incredibly anxious person.

This blog assumes you’ve already got a degree and perhaps have a job already, but you haven’t found what you’re looking for yet because you’re scared. This blog also assumes you’ve identified what you enjoy and the field you’d like to work in.

To reiterate: I am no expert.

I just hope this might help somebody with anxiety, because I know how it feels. Blogs like this helped me when I was in the same position.

Start with a positive attitude; and if you don’t have one, force it.

It’s a bit like forcing yourself to laugh; eventually you start finding that, in and of itself, funny – and you start laughing for real. The fact is you’ll never start making plans if you begin with “I can’t…” – you need to start saying “I can”. Do not be your own bully and start believing in yourself; stop telling yourself lies about your self-worth. Make the decision to be positive and give yourself a break.

Imagine yourself in that role.

Who would you be, ideally? Who do you see yourself being when you aren’t bogged-down with self-doubt? Break up the elements of that person and use it to create your blueprint. All right, I’m not saying you can go from being a librarian to a trauma surgeon (this isn’t The Sims) if you do this, because that’s unrealistic. However, if you’re working in Job A but know you could be working in Job B if-only-this or if-only-that, then you absolutely can.

Being scared of something is no reason not to do it anyway, not if you honestly believe it’s something you’ll do well at. (If it isn’t, then that’s a problem – more on that later) Also: keep it simple. If you eventually want to be CEO of a retailer and you’ve never worked in a shop, then picture yourself working in sales first. Give yourself an achievable starting point and then work out what you need to do to get there. If you need experience first, then go get your foot in the door. What else do you have but time? At this stage, time is your friend!

Apply for lots and lots of jobs once you’ve chosen where to start.


Start at the beginning and don’t over-analyse it. Think about the skills you’ll gain rather than whether this is your dream job (of course it isn’t!) For example, you want to work in HR but have no experience: so you begin with administration roles. Yeah, yeah, you’ve got a degree: so what? We all know experience does all the talking. BUT, you do not have to already be perfect. You just need to demonstrate where you’ve built up your skill-set within that field. If you want to be analysing evidence for the Police with your chemistry degree, then you’d better start off doing the grunt work in a lab.

At the height of my anxiety, I became a little arrogant, actually. I thought people were just given chances to shine and I didn’t see all the baby steps (and baby jobs) they took to get there. Transferable skills will be your trump card, so start building them up.

For the anxious person, getting your “dream job” overnight would actually be ridiculously overwhelming. Try starting on a smaller scale (entry-level jobs within that field) and teach yourself that you can do this. Baby steps.

Before walking into your interview, tell yourself three things:


(1) These people are going to really like me, and I am going to really like them.
(2) I have nothing to lose. If I don’t gain a job, I gain experience.
(3) They’ve already decided I have the skills for the job; I’m just here to show them why they were right. (It’s true!)

For me, saying those things (and telling others) took the pressure off massively. I wasn’t there to be perfect or to even get the job. I was there to like them, to be likeable, to get experience, and to add colour to what they already learned about me on my CV.

Story time: Before getting the job I have now, I was invited to an interview with a children’s cancer charity in central London (gulp). I went to it on the last day of a week-long hospital stay (and I didn’t tell them this) because I was determined to try. I wanted a new job and I was f-ing well going to get one, in spite of my previously poor health. The interview was with 2 lovely women and we got on fantastically; it was like having a fun chat. Only problem was that part of the role required fundraising/finance experience, and I was honest about being low on that front.

They took an entire week to get back to me, having said it’d be a day or so. It turns out they were conflicted over 2 candidates: someone else, and me. They wrote me a long letter (which almost sounded like an apology) saying that they really liked me, but had to go with the person who had the experience in fundraising, and hoped I would consider working with them for other roles in the future. Of course, they made the right decision! They absolutely should have hired the woman with monetary experience and I hope she’s happy there.
I was so flattered by their letter that I cried and shared it with everyone I knew. I felt amazing and I didn’t even get the job!

The point is that it isn’t all doom and gloom; there are so many opportunities for learning and you’ll be so surprised about what you find.

Practice, practice, practice your interviewing skills.

The only way you’ll get over your nerves is if you normalise it. If you aren’t getting many interviews at first or feel like you’re bombing your interviews because of nerves, then contact a local organisation (Jobcentre Plus for example) and find out where you can get some roleplaying practice. It is gruelling, but your nerves will eventually subside. I know this from experience; I used to get the shakes, my throat would glue shut, and I couldn’t think straight. I practiced and now, while I still (of course) get nervous, I manage to hold my own and confidently answer questions without going blank.

Listen to what they are asking you, pause, and reply. Do not try to predict their questions and answer with a prepared script, because this will never work. It isn’t genuine and it will never give you the chance to shine just as you are. Let yourself be vulnerable and don’t try to control the interview so much. You’ll lose and they won’t get a genuine picture of all your smart, endearing qualities.
This is so, so important, especially if you work in health, social care, or charity.

When I was interviewed for my current role, it was in front of a panel of 3 males who all worked in finance. I was scared! However, I decided to just be myself and talk about my experiences honestly. Once I got the job, I was told that others had more editorial experience than me, but they didn’t answer like I did and they didn’t have my personality. They just liked me and felt I’d fit in well (and I have!).

The point is that you matter. It isn’t all about what’s down on paper.

Listen to your instincts.

Equally, if something doesn’t feel right to you, then it probably isn’t. Sometimes it isn’t just about your nerves; sometimes you and the job just don’t fit and that’s okay. Did you have the interview and get a bad feeling about them? Did you start on the job, having been thrilled to get it, and find that you’re deeply unhappy?
Things aren’t always what we imagine them to be, and if you have to go back to the drawing board and find something else, then do it.
This is not a failure. Recognising that a role is poorly fitted to you is a skill.


Story time: I worked for my local council and one day saw an advert for a fast-track diploma to become a social worker, with the option of completing a Masters. Great! I was bored in my role and always wondered what it’d be like. I was invited to interview for 3 available places. Over 10,000 people applied nation-wide and hundreds of local people applied for those 3 roles.
I was invited to interview: great! It was a day-long 3-stage process of a group interview/discussion with adults who had grown up in care, a time roleplaying session where you “answered” a call from a distressed child in front of an examiner, and a standard interview with a panel of 3 social workers.
To my astonishment, I did really well and I was offered a place. I went to Cambridge to study for a couple of months, where we did dreaded roleplay (and a filmed roleplay exam) and the usual essays. This was not a good time for me personally; I was dating a horrible person and my health was spiraling down. I hadn’t long recovered from major surgery and I was incredibly fragile mentally; everything seemed too much for me and I felt I couldn’t give any more. Everyone else seemed to be dealing with the stresses of the course, and by the time the actual work placement began, I was hanging on by a thread. Then when I didn’t get along with my workplace mentor, it all just collapsed. The slightest criticism sent me to tears and I was having such severe migraines that I was vomiting all the time. It was horrible.

I sat and asked myself: Ashleigh, is this actually want you want? Is this really for you? Even if it was, would it be worth it with your health in such a state?

No, none of it was worth it. Sadly, I left the course, but I was instantly relieved. I was hospitalised many times in the year that followed for a week at a time (which would have forced me to leave the course anyway), so things happen for a reason. It led me to where I am.

I felt guilty that I’d taken the place of someone who potentially would have flourished where I didn’t, but I couldn’t predict that my health (mental and physical) would have nose-dived the way it did.

You have got to look after yourself. Fuck anyone who thinks that’s wrong of you. It isn’t. YOU MATTER.

Overall, my advice is to take baby steps and be kind to yourself.

You know the phrase: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Yes, making the first leap into something new and unknown is terrifiyng, and like me, you might discover that it’s not right for you.

This is all good. It’s part of the learning experience. How dull must a person be if they never try, never fail, and never collect these experiences, both good and bad?

Sometimes the path of least-resistance only feels easier because, you know what? You’re good at it. That’s your path. That’s your thing. Don’t spend your whole life battling against who you are. You are an anxious (likely introverted, like me) person with a heart and you are not made of stone. You don’t need to work anywhere where you have to pretend to be.

Perhaps one never seems so much at one’s ease as when one has to play a part.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Snag Tights Review

Good day to you! Happy New Year and welcome to my weekly blog, where I talk about literally anything I happen to be into at the time. I put up new content every Wednesday.

The following post is not sponsored. I just really wanted to review these tights!

Featured: Raspberry Pie (no filter!!)

What I hoped for

Now, I’ve been seeing these amazing adverts for Snag Tights for a long while now, and the reason they peaked my interest is because they looked *so* inclusive. Their models looked like quirky eclectic people I’d be mates with and they were anywhere from diddy to (frankly) very large, and all shapes and sizes. Their ads included men in tights (sadly, no Robin Hood) and people in wheelchairs, on crutches, or otherwise differently abled – in other words, real people you would live and work with. Which means I could RELATE to these people and I thought: “Ah! This product must be aimed at me!”

What’s more, they all looked really, really cool in these gorgeous brightly-coloured opaque tights – every one of them. The quality did not change between sizes in the photos, and the brand purportedly prided itself on this. This was their whole selling point: everyone can wear gorgeous tights.

The ads and the website assured me that I would no longer be hoiking them up, tearing the crotch, or feeling them digging painfully into the tops of my thighs. I wouldn’t even need to wear a second pair of knickers over the top, because they wouldn’t slide down.

Well, I thought: that’s a bold claim indeed! Since childhood (and certainly in my fishnet teen years) tights had been the bane of my life for those very reasons. Tights were awful. They ripped, got twisted, laddered, and rolled down to the point of abject discomfort. So I abandoned tights and resigned myself to a life of Primani leggings, even though I wanted tights.

That is, until now…👻

What I received

“Raspberry Pie”, “Beach Bum”, and “Suffragette” (no filter, but poor lighting)

I ordered 3 pairs, judging purely by the photos on the website which were, as before, all inclusive and depicted genuine people who loved wearing these cool tights. I chose Raspberry Pie (bright pink), Beach Bum (teal), and Suffragette (purple). These were £6.99 each, but with a 3+ purchase discount, they wound up costing about £21.00 including postage (so free postage, basically). I believe I got these in an ‘E’, or whatever a size 16 was. I’ve got chunky legs, but I was confident these would fit beautifully.

The tights arrived within a few days of ordering and were packaged delightfully in vintage-style paper sweetie bags. I love these touches and felt like I was unwrapping candy. I couldn’t wait to get ’em on.

Snag Tights’ Big Day Out

My tights having a ride on the train to work (NO FILTER!)

I put my brand new tights on at about 7.30am. They went on – no joke – like leggings. As easy as that – they just slipped on. They were thin and yet felt incredibly durable and stretchy, but unlike most stretchy fabrics, they did not feel even remotely too tight, or loose for that matter. The colour was freakin’ amazing – you need no filters with these tights! They look ace with a dress and DMs, which is my standard wardrobe combination on the daily, if I do say so myself.

Now granted, I don’t have an active job. I sit on my bum at my desk. However, I went from the train, over a bridge, a short walk to work, an 8 hour day, a run to my train and a walk to my car, and I didn’t have to hoik them up ONCE! Even before and after trips to the loo, they just resumed the position. No twisting, overstretching, tearing. No effort. I kept going to hoik them only to find that no hoiking was required!

These tights fit my shape seamlessly and felt like they were working with me, not against me – like these tights have your back. I’m serious here – you might have to name them, because they’re your friends.

The fabric is breathable and flexible and I never once felt hot or uncomfortable the way I do with standard tights.

I’m honestly in shock, because this never, ever happens. In my experience, tights are an irritant which get laddered and chucked within days of purchase. Snag Tights have upped the game, I’ll tell you that.

Final verdict

Applause, applause. Gold star for you, Snag Tights.

No matter where you work or how active your job is, you can absolutely where these stretchy, comfy, gorgeous tights all day long and you will be so, so comfortable.

Granted, I have only tried one pair for a day so far, but I’ll be wearing the others tomorrow and I can bet I will have the same experience.

I’m just going to say: I f-ing loved these tights and I’m not about to wear any others. Not only do I love the brand’s ethos, practice, and their look, but their product is second to none.

Seriously, do not waste your money on fast-fashion tearable, tight, itchy, awkward tights that don’t fit anymore. For £6.99 a pair, I genuinely think these are an absolute bargain, because there’s no reason these shouldn’t last ages and ages if you look after them – and even then, I get the impression these can take a battering and still look amazing. You will not even know you’re wearing these tights, but everyone else will.

Snag Tights: I love this product and you have yourself a fan. Oh, and If you find yourself in want of another model, I’m totally volunteering. 🙋‍♀️ (and how lovely to know you could, without having to be a 6 foot 6 size zero, eh?)

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

Happy New Decade, 2020!

It’s the roaring 2020s. My god, let this be a better decade for me and for everyone. Don’t you think this planet has had enough grief for the foreseeable?

Normal service will resume next week, along with my work (and blog!) routine and what I hope will be a better year ahead. The last few years for me have been utterly disastrous, both in my personal life and my health. My new year starts off with an appointment to review some MRI results, which I’m nervous about. MRI scans are standard for me; I’ve had many, many scans. This one is to determine if a little lump near my pancreas/bowel is anything scary to worry about. Please keep me in your good thoughts and I’m sure, in some way, the universe will send me your well-wishes.

From me, I wish you a very Happy New Year and a great decade ahead. May you be happy in life and love, may your health be rosy, and may your creativity blossom like daffodils in May (and may your clichés be as strong as mine, especially).

I hope to do a lot more writing and reading this year; my Christmas book haul of children’s classics, which I wanted to catch up on, will be a fantastic start. I’ve made it my mission to read all the amazing classics that I never read as a child, because I was too busy swatting up on Jacqueline Wilson and Darren Shan, who were all the rage and deservedly so.

So Happy New Year everyone! I’ll be back next Wednesday as usual to share whatever quirky bits and bobs I want to talk about next. I never started a blog for anything other than to keep a regular hobby, and to force me to show off any creative successes.
Towards the end of 2019, I was accepted into an NHS poetry anthology by Michael Rosen and invited to their book launch, which is an amazing start. I hope this is a sign of more creative conquests to come!

Have an amazing 2020!

Merry Christmas 2019!

Have a wonderful day! I’m naturally busy today and i’m sure you are too, but I will leave you with this: The Tailor of Gloucester.

This beautiful Christmas story is a favourite from Beatrix Potter, and was a key part of my childhood. I hold this particular film close to my heart. Enjoy it – it’s a mere 30 minutes long!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Best wishes,

Ashleigh

Christmas Angel Quilling

Welcome to my blog! I put out new posts every Wednesday about crafts, life, health, and poetry.

Right now all I care about is winding up work and have a lovely week off for Christmas. There will be booze and there will be baking and, oh god, there will be sweets.

This weekend my boyfriend and I are having our own little Christmas day (or weekend rather) and we’ll be exchanging our gifts and just having a lovely time. Then we’ll be spending Christmas day with our respective families. I insisted, actually, because we’re buying a house next year (all being well) and I’d like one more chance to be a kid before I go 50/50 on a property for the first time. It’s a scary step – but I am very excited.

Having experienced a lot of illness and hospital stays in the last few years (as well as other issues), I’ve lived with family and relied on them for a lot of support – I’ll be devastated to leave them. However, I will not be going far – no farther than drop-in distance for a cup of tea. It’s my partner who will be making a huge life-change and moving his business to be with me, so here’s hoping it all goes smoothly once we’ve started the ball rolling.

So it’s because I’ve got such a big year planned ahead that I’ll be 100% slobbing it in my jammies this year, being a big child, which is what I do best.

Angel quilling

Have you ever tried this craft? My brother introduced me to it – there seems to be hundreds of ways to quill and so many different crafts to come up with. My brother and I made some angels together, which was fiddly work at first, but it’s one of those things that becomes a lot easier once you’ve found your rhythm.

If you didn’t know: quilling is an art/craft which involves rolling, bending, or manipulating thin strips of paper into intricate designs or figures.

My first impression was that this is an amazingly economical hobby – as Fanny Cradock would say, ‘This won’t stretch your purse’.

Now there are millions of ways to do this and so many different designs, so have a look online or Youtube to find something you like. We made little finger-poppet angels, but once you have the basic figure made, you can create anything.

This isn’t a step-by-step or anything, but I just wanted to show you something cute I tried out recently. I would recommend a Youtube tutorial to get the technique down.

To make angels or little figures, you will need:

– Thin strips of paper from an A4 sheet (around 5mm) in desired colours
– PVA glue
– Quilling needle
– Scissors

Body
The body of these angels is made up of a small cone of quilled papers, about the size of a large thimble (to pop over your fingers!). You’ll need to glue about 8 strips end-to-end, allow to dry, and then coil together into a standard wheel with the quilling needle. Glue the end to the wheel to prevent it unravelling. Next, you need to gently push it in from the middle and keep going until it forms a cone shape. Do this very gently indeed – if you slip-up then the wheel will unravel and you’ll have to start again.

Once you have the shape down, smear a small amount of pva glue inside it, covering it all, and leave it to dry in its shape.

Head
Using the same technique as above, you’re going to make two wheels of 5 strips and push them out gently, just until you’ve made two little domes. Glue the inside of these, leave to dry, and then you can glue them together – now you have a little globe for a head.

Arms
These are just one strip of paper each, but be careful: small and fiddly = easy to fluff up. Push these tiny wheels out into little cones for the arms, glue inside, and leave.

Once all these are dry, you now have your basic figures. You can make these into anything now – a little santa, elves, angels – little devils, even. Fairys? Why not.

I think Quilling usually results in angels and fairies purely because people can make such beautiful wing designs.

Wings
For simple wings, make one larger wheel and four smaller ones. Before gluing the end of your strip down to the body of the wheel, let it unravel a little – you’ll see the strips separating. Before it goes too far (and once it is the desired size), pinch it between your thumb and forefinger and glue it in shape – this will make a tear-drop shape. One large teardrop + three smaller teardrops = one very cute wing.
8 tear drops in total will make a nice, small set of pretty wings – but you can make these as big and elaborate as you like. You can also look up the different spiral techniques and find some really intricate ideas if that’s your thing.

Me? I keep it simple.
Glue these pieces gently together, allow to dry, and then glue in between any bits you might have missed. Once dry, you can glue these to the body of your angel – try to use glue that’s been out for 15 mins or so so that it’s tackier and easier to mount wings onto and keep them in place without slipping off while they dry.

Glue on your head and arms and you are good to go! All your angel needs is a wig and maybe a halo. You can fashion a hair-do by quilling just the tips of the strips to make flicky-hair (as pictured) or coil a wheel to make a bun, but there will be much more exciting ideas online – play around and see what you can come up with.

Once you get in the swing of things, you can make some adorable paper figures which, once dry, are actually quite sturdy – and even better, if you make them the way I’ve detailed above, you can pop them on your fingers and make ’em dance.

Cute idea, huh?

As Neil Buchanan would say: why don’t you try it out for yourself?

This is a great craft to do with kids, but again, very fiddly – for little ones, maybe make the bodies first and then let them decorate and play.

My next blog will be due on Christmas day – I’m not sure what I’ll be posting yet, but I promise it’ll be festive, so please subscribe if you’d like to see more from me. I put out new blogs every Wednesday.

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

Chocolate Yule Log in an Hour

Welcome back! I put out new blogs every Wednesday.

Continuing our Christmas crafting (or baking!) seeing as it ’tis the season, I give you: the lazygirl chocolate yule log.
I just made that up, but it works.

My boyfriend and I desperately wanted to bake something last Sunday evening, but only the little express stores were open and it was raining, so we dug about in the cupboards, hoping that we’d had ingredients for yule log. And we did! The only thing we were worried about missing was a bar of chocolate, and lo and behold, he found some vegan chocolate he’d bought to try ages ago, having never bothered to eat it. Happy days!

We decided to make chocolate buttercream rather than ganache, and it worked out lovely. We spliced two recipes together: one for sponge, and one for the buttercream.

This was so quick to make that you could definitely do this in an hour if you have all your ingredients ready. The only delay is the cooling, but with such a thin sponge, it took hardly any time at all (and you can of course shove it in the freezer for 10 minutes – trust me, it gets the job done)

You will need:

Icing

  • 100g chocolate
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar (and more to dust)
  • 5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

Sponge

Combine your ingredients with a spatula and whip with an electric whisk if you have one, before transferring it into a 33cm x 23cm dish lined with grease proof paper. This will create an inch thick rectangle of sponge. Bake at 200C for 20 minutes.

(Mary Berry’s recipe states 8-10 mins, but it wasn’t nearly done for me and needed double the time)

No butter! This mostly-egg recipe ensures that the sponge is flexible enough to roll over and yet strong enough not to crumble apart. All very clever.

Once it’s cooked, let it cool for a few minutes. Turn the cake out onto another sheet of grease proof paper and peel off the backing. Next, score a line 2.5cm in, lengthways, along one long edge of the cake. Use this to fold it over on itself in a swiss-roll shape. Pull the grease proof paper over with the first roll and let it roll inside. This will help you unfurl it later when you want to add the filling.

Leave it to cool in this rolled shape.

Next, make your icing. Start with gently combining your softened butter with the icing sugar. Add in your cocoa powder. Melt the chocolate in your preferred manner (in a bowl within a pan of boiling water, or in the microwave at 20 sec intervals) and add this to the mix, folding it all in together. The mix will start feeling a bit stiff and claggy – use the milk to smooth it out and give it some moisture.

Once your cake is cooled, you can unfurl it and start smoothing liberal amounts of buttercream inside it, coating the lot, before rolling it back up again and pasting buttercream on top. You can use a fork to create streaks like bark, add holly, whatever you like – me? I was happy to dust it with icing sugar and eat the thing.

So there you have it! The world’s laziest yule log.

Quick, easy, and definitely yummy – we scoffed this while watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

You could make this Vegan by using egg replacer/oil, vegan chocolate, vegan milk, and vegan butter – though if you’re vegan, you’ll have all this down already and won’t need me to advise you.

I hope you enjoyed that tasty little treat! See you next time – I put new blogs up every Wednesday about crafts, hobbies, writing, health – my life, really.