Thursday, 28 August 2014

Why I'm NOT doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

I've been nominated twice now for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by my friends on Facebook, and I'm sorry to disappoint but I will not be taking part. 

Hopefully my friends will be able to understand, as I hope will you, and I also hope that I am not criticised for my personal opinions.

So anyways, I was scrolling through Facebook, watching the endless amount of videos that have already been posted and I came across one that had been 'shared' by one of my friends. Some of you may have seen it - it basically features a man sitting in a wheelie bin of ice, reading facts from a piece of paper. I was curious about his findings and decided to look it up myself!

The ALS Association is a charitable organisation but only 27 pence from every pound you donate actually goes towards research. Added to this the fact that their CEO has a salary of $339,475 per year, I have decided that I do not want to give my money to them. (You can view this information for yourself at the bottom of this post)

So next I researched the same information about Cancer Research - a charity that I am particularly fond of - and found that 80 pence per pound funds research. While this is already a million times better than ALS I was pretty disheartened to find that the CEO earns £100,000 per year. 

... Rant over, moving on...

So it got me thinking again... Since I want to spend my money how I want to - and ALS have already raised SO much, mine won't make much of a difference - I feel that it needs to go to a deserved place and one that is close to my heart. Before my uncle passed away, he was cared for in a Cancer Specialist Hospice in North-West London. It costs £1,000 to care for one patient for one week, which is funded solely by donations. They cared for my uncle SO well and tended to his every need. I will be giving my money to them, along with a few other things such as books for the patients to read.

I'm not trying to preach to you, I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty and I am also not trying to be a killjoy - I'm simply expressing my opinion. I've enjoyed watching the ice bucket videos and I know that ALS have raised a lot of money which I hope they will use wisely.

You're all doing brilliantly - good luck!!

Here are the salaries for the leadership of the ALS group from the 2013 tax return:

  • Jane H. Gilbert – President and CEO – $339,475.00
  • Daniel M. Reznikov – Chief Financial Officer – $201,260.00
  • Steve Gibson – Chief Public Policy Officer – $182,862.00
  • Kimberly Maginnis - Chief of Care Services Officer – $160,646.00
  • Lance Slaughter - Chief Chapter Relations and Development Officer – $152,692.00
  • Michelle Keegan – Chief Development Officer – $178,744.00
  • John Applegate – Association Finance Officer – $118.726.00
  • David Moses – Director of Planned Giving – $112,509.00
  • Carrie Munk – Chief Communications and Marketing Officer – $142,875.00
  • Patrick Wildman – Director of Public Policy – $112,358.00
  • Kathi Kromer – Director of State Advocacy – $110,661.00

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Furry Babies

I've been thinking... 
It's probably about time I introduce you to the three furry babies that have stolen my heart.

I was never a cat person until I met my bf and he completely changed my outlook by introducing me to his cats.

This is Lenny:

He's the man of the house and looks out for his sisters. He's getting pretty old now - I think he's about 11 years old - and we all joke about him getting old because he's starting to get little flecks of grey in his fur. I hate to admit this, but there's a part of me that's actually quite scared of Lenny, purely because of his teeth and his claws. He doesn't do it intentionally, but if he gets excited or really comfortable and starts 'kneading' it can be very painful! He's also reeeeally hard to take a good photo of, because most of the time he just looks like a big fluffy blob.

This is Florence:

She's such a sweetheart and actually high-fives! She has the most beautiful eyes and the way she tilts her head when she's looking at you is just adorable. It's like she's actually thinking really hard about what's going on. She's four years old and has big puffy white gloves - all the better to catch things with (and high-five).

This is Connie:

Connie is my princess. She's four years old too, but two weeks younger than Florence. It's apparently quite rare to have a ginger girl, as ginger cats are usually male. She's super sweet and, unlike the other two, never goes out. It's completely her choice, she just prefers to stay in the warm and get comfortable. She's a very tactile cat and needs lots of cuddles and attention otherwise she gets upset. She also loves a good box or carrier bag to climb into!

If you've blogged about your furry children, I would love to read them! 
Please comment your links below and I will take a look :-)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Engagement Party Prep

This Saturday is my bf's sister's engagement party. She's a very busy bee as she works in the legal industry and her fiancĂ©e travels for his job. Due to their time constraints and the fact that they're on a tight budget, knowing how much of a super-scrimper I am and how much I love making things, she asked me if I could make the cakes and bunting. Of course I jumped at the chance!

She sent me photos from Pinterest that she likes and I told her I would use these as a theme...

She was quite indecisive but she liked clean white cupcakes which were part of a 'set'. I told her not to worry and that I would surprise her with them on the day. My colour scheme is silver and white!

I had a quick practice the other night and took photos for the menu...

There will be six flavours: vanilla, lemon, carrot cake, date and walnut, coffee and champagne, so I'm going to be doing a LOT of baking on Thursday! I'll be icing them on Friday so they're the right temperature. I've got a seven tier cupcake stand to present them on and I'll top it off with a round sponge cake. I've even made the cake topper in the shape of their initials using acrylic and diamanté crystals. But shhh! It's a surprise!

As for the bunting, she sent me these pictures...

Credits: top, bottom

And these are my versions...

I'm not going to let you see the completely finished products yet, as I will take some nice photos on Saturday during the party.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Eltham Palace

A couple of weeks ago, the bf and I took a trip to Eltham Palace. Neither of us had ever been there before and with a name like 'Palace' we had great expectations. 

The grounds were beautiful and so serene. It was hard to believe that we were actually in London as it felt like we were walking around a Kent country garden

If I'm honest, the decor wasn't really to my taste. It was very Art Deco with lots of wood panelling and every room had that 'antique-y' smell to it.  

After we'd left the house we headed to the tea rooms where we both bought ice creams. It was lovely to be able to sit in the gardens, take in the gorgeous scenery and talk to each other about the house.

This little archway was so cute and curious. We walked down the steps and it lead to another beautiful garden. There were lots of people having picnics down there!

This is my favourite photo :-)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

A Day in London

During the holidays, the bf and I took a trip into London. It's strange, we live so close to the capital, yet we very rarely go there! It's just so much effort and everything's so expensive, but less of my pessimism...

We walked though Trafalgar Square and saw lots of street artists performing. The masks scared me but I HAD to take some photos. The yoda one is my favourite!!
This guys art was incredible!! Using only blue ballpoint pen, he was drawing an amazing portrait, drawn from a photograph. I so wish I could do that!
We headed through Trafalgar Square to get to Leicester Square where I fulfilled my dream of going to M&M world; four floors of chocolate (M&M) heaven! They sold literally everything you can imagine with the M&M logo or picture on. You could even personalise your own M&Ms! If I did that I'd never eat them though...

We took a short walk from M&M world to Soho. On the way, we passed this Mini Cooper, covered in Swarovski crystals.
We went to Soho especially to see one shop in particular, Choccywoccydoodah! If you've never heard of it, the sell magnificent cakes decorated with oodles of chocolate. They have a couple of shops now, there's one in Brighton that, I think, is the main shop. They did a documentary on TV about the shop that you just NEED to watch!

Just around the corner from Choccywoccydoodah is Liberty, the famous department store. Sadly I didn't take any photos of the inside and I didn't buy anything.
We stopped of for some lunch at Carnaby Street (popular in the 60s with the Mod rockers, apparently!)
I saw this sign while we were eating, which made me chuckle and I couldn't resist taking a cheeky snap of it!