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Race for Life 2013

Race for Life 2011

Race for Life 2011

I may not have the same level of fitness as I did two years ago but I am giving the Race for Life another go.

In 2011 I ran my first Race for Life but sadly did not reach my target of £100. I had to take a gap last year and during that time I have not seen the inside of a gym. But hey, it is for a good cause and I have a month to quickly learn how to run again.

Loads of Race for Life events take place across the UK every year where women can run, jog or walk to raise money for Cancer Research.

In 2010 my mum was diagnosed with cancer but, thankfully, by December we had received the news that treatment had worked. Before this time I barely knew anyone who had experienced cancer in their family or cancer themselves. Since this, I have discovered the huge impact it can have, not just on the sufferers but those close to them as well. For instance, I have met so many women my age and younger whose mothers have been diagnosed with cancer and, in more than one case, had lost their fight.

This is why it is so important to keep fundraising for these causes. As long as there are people out there still fighting cancer, we should keep on running against it.

I will be running the Basingstoke 5K race on Wednesday 19 June. To help me reach my target you can go to my JustGiving page at http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/meganchapple

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Personal

 

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Five reasons to volunteer

volunteersThings have been a little busy lately and what do I do when I get busy?

Get busier of course.

I recently started volunteering at my local RSPCA shop on a Saturday. Volunteering is something I have always wanted to do but never really acted upon. I tried to volunteer as a student but shops were reluctant to take on students due to many being unreliable.

Where I lived with my parents there were no charity shops but now I have moved to an area where charity shops come in abundance. Naturally I went for the charity that meant the most to me. I love animals and the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is a brilliant charity and the largest animal welfare charity in the UK.

Many people may ask why a full-time employed young woman would want to give up her Saturdays to work behind a till for free. I had my own reasons for doing this and I have also discovered some new reasons which I would like to share with you.

Five reasons to volunteer

  • Help others – This is the most obvious reasons. It is a great feeling knowing you are doing something to help others or a good cause. Volunteering does not feel like a job. If anything it reduces stress and can be both mentally and physically rewarding.
  • Meet new people – This is one of the main reasons I wanted to volunteer. My current job means I am quite often sat at a desk all week in a small office seeing the same people every day. At the shop I am constantly meeting new people and developing my people skills which is always very important. Also, as I have just moved, I am getting to meet local people and find out what is happening in my neighbourhood.
  • First dibs – Charity shops are great because stock changes every week and you have no idea what kind of gems are going to turn up. We get so many bags on a Saturday alone and we have to quickly check them over and price them before they go straight on the shelves. Good gems go quick. There have already been several occasions when I have put something out and five minutes later someone is at the till with it. As you check the stock you get to see what comes in first and if you like it you can buy it. So far I have purchased a large cup for Tom.

    Tom's new cup

    Tom’s new cup

  • New skills – I have already mentioned people skills but if you are a young person looking to develop your employability skills then volunteering can provide lots of opportunities, from event organising to numeracy. Working the till has definitely tested my numeracy skills.
  • Use your time wisely – I ask myself sometimes what would I be doing if I was not at the shop. Firstly I would have probably stayed in bed longer and secondly, unless I have an event to go to in which case they are very flexible, I would probably just be sitting at home watching TV, wasting electricity. I feel like I am actually spending my weekends doing something which also makes them go slower and I start the following week feeling like I have had a nice, rewarding break.
 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Personal

 

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Eurovision special: The countdown begins

Eurovision 2013

Eurovision 2013

All 39 entries for the 2013 Eurovision Song contest in Malmo have been announced and the countdown to this year’s competition is official on.

The 39 will be condensed to 26 after the semi-finals on Tuesday 14 May and Thursday 16 May when 10 winners from each round will join the big five (UK, Spain, France, Germany and Italy) and last year’s winner and this year’s host Sweden in the Grand Final on Saturday 18 May.

Already I can see some favourites emerging and I definitely have my ‘Top 3’ figured out but sadly my country is not one of them. Eighties singer Bonnie Tyler will represent the UK this year but although I love her power ballad “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (who doesn’t) and there is no denying Bonnie is a talented singer, we can see from previous winners in the competition that the Eurovision audience likes modern music with a mix of club and pop always at the top of the board. Even with Bonnie’s epic voice I can not help feeling there are more memorable and livelier songs in the competition.

I also do not understand why we keep using Eurovision as a platform for singers to make a comeback but maybe in future the selection method of public vote will return.

Rant over, my Top 3 so far are:

Norway – Margaret Berger – I Feed You My Love

My favourite. Love it.

Germany – Cascada – Glorious

Germany won not long ago but I really think they are going to do it again this year. Not only is Cascada a well-known artist but this song is quite good as well and it seems to be the clear favourite at the moment.

Lithuania – Andrius Pojavis – Something

Lithuania are always really underrated in the competition but I always think their songs are not that bad. This one has not been rated very highly by other Eurovision enthusiasts but I think it deserves a second listen.

And the UK’s entry

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2013 in Personal

 

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Getting crafty: Mother’s Day

Spring cupcakes

Sorry it has been a while since my last post. I have had ideas for posts in the last few weeks but unfortunately I have been a little busy with more car troubles and a hectic diary.

What’s new

If you have followed me on Twitter (@MeganC101) you will see that I have recently discovered Pinterest which is very useful for someone who is in desperate need of decorating ideas for her new flat. Pinterest allows users to post pictures to a board to give themselves ideas or share with others. I would like to say I have added a few aspirational pictures here and there.

I have dyed my hair again but still not to the desired shade of purple so next time I am going to bite the bullet and  bleach it. Wish me luck.

I have bought my Download festival tickets for this year following a great time last year (hopefully without the rain this time). Headliners this year are Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Rammstein.

Also, the Eurovision 2013 countdown is on as many countries have now announced their entries  Expect a Eurovision prediction post in the coming weeks.

Mother’s Day

Yesterday was Mothering Sunday in the UK. Many countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May but in the UK it is always the second Sunday of March. Reverting back to my childhood when I used to make my mum gifts on this day, I decided to create a card for her and bake some ‘spring’ cupcakes (pictured above).

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I went to a craft fair two weeks ago which was a great opportunity to explore what was out there. Luckily there were loads of papercraft stalls, the level I think I would like to stay on for now. I managed to get a lot of cheap starter packs to get me going, with odd bits of material from the bargain bins. This gave me plenty to work with.

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I made the border by gluing a blue ribbon around the card and placed a pretty piece of white see-through ribbon over the top.

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Then I decided to challenge to myself my gluing a bit of pale blue tulle (a bit at a time) to the centre of the card to form a circle tulle border under my paper doily – which I glued on top. I finished with a border of plastic stick-on pearls.

Using the outer edge of the doily, I made a border for the message. Just wish I had a nicer pen to write with.

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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Getting crafty

 

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Getting Crafty: Valentine’s special

My first creative project of 2013 is for Valentine’s Day. This time it is not just about the box or the cake, but the card as well.

Decoupage card

Decoupage cardDecoupage is the art of decorating an object by glueing bits and pieces to it. As this was my first time at making a decoupage card, I will admit I did not stray far from the practice design but I’m happy with the outcome, and I hope Tom will like it too.

A lovely box

Cupcake box

I was lucky to have a lot of red bits to stick to my box and, following a coat of black marker, I now have a beautiful box to display my cupcake in. These boxes are definitely getting easier to make and less is definitely more.

Valentine’s cupcakes

Valentine's Cupcakes

I found these edible rose decorations at ASDA and of course, chocolate is the flavour of choice for Valentine’s Day.

Mix 85g butter, 85g caster sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in a bowl. Beat in two eggs and then sift in 70g plain flour, 1 tbsp cocoa powder and 1 tsp baking powder. Fold until combined. Place six cases on a baking tray and divide the mixture between them. Cook in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes. When done, place on a cooling rack and leave until fully cooled. For the icing, mix 55g butter, 115g icing sugar and 25g melted butter. Decorate the cakes with icing and the edible roses.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Getting crafty

 

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Snow days and car troubles

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So it snowed recently.

In many countries that is not a big deal. In the UK it is national news. Discussing the weather is something we Brits do often, which is weird because the weather does not change much here. It is either raining, snowing, raining, sunny, raining or raining. We just like warm temperatures with clear blue skies and we are ill-prepared (and terrified) of anything else.

wpid-IMAG1933.jpgThe snow arrived on Friday 18 January. Major roads were gritted making two-thirds of my journey to work relatively easy. Then I turned off the main road and on to a quiet road which had seen very few cars that morning. After slipping, sliding and stalling several times the Megmobile (right) gave up and I ended up at my parents’ house until the snow cleared.

So the moral of the story is – don’t complain about the weather but don’t risk it either. Just prepare for it and enjoy it. Here’s a video of my dog enjoying/eating the snow.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Personal

 

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Moving on out

1483_10151192027212967_245453102_nThe last couple of weeks have been kind of hectic. I decided to move out of my parents’ house and in with my boyfriend Tom…over Christmas!

We spent the first couple of days sleeping on an air bed using empty cardboard boxes and a blanket as a sofa. We didn’t even have a shower curtain!

But three weeks later, following several shopping trips during the January sales and a couple of trips home and back, our flat finally looks and feels like a home.

I have discovered what it means to be house-proud by complaining every time Tom leaves his clothes on the floor or food wrappers on the table, and I’m constantly on the look out for small furnishings that can make our flat more cosy and comfortable.

There is also the budget side of it but we will only know if it is really working when we get our first lot of bills through. Until then we can look out for cheaper ways of living for example reduced food at the supermarket and shopping online for the best deals on household goods.

Before we moved in

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Living room

Bedroom

Bedroom

After the move

Sofa one

Sofa one

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Sofa two

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Home sweet home

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Life after uni

 

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The BBC Book List Challenge

BBC Book ListMy New Year’s resolution is to read all the books listed on the BBC Book List Challenge.

I have read some at school and through my independent reading but I still have 84 left to read which means seven a month (or one and a half a week) for the whole of 2013. Based on how long it takes me to read one book at the moment, I am aiming for the impossible so it is a good thing that I like a challenge.

It is not too late to join me. Below are all the books you need to read and in bold are the ones I have read so far. You can see my progress in the Goodreads Widget on the right-hand side of my blog. Wish me luck!

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

5. Animal Farm by George Orwell

6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

8. 1984 by George Orwell

9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

10. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

11. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

12. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

13. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

14. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

15. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

16. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

17. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

18. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

19. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

20. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

21. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

22. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

23. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

24. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

25. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

26. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

27. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

28. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

29. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

30. Holy Bible: The New King James Version by Anonymous

31. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

32. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

33. Atonement by Ian McEwan

34. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

35. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

36. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

37. Dracula by Bram Stoker – currently reading

38. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

39. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

40. The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

41. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

42. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

44. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

45.The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

46. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

47. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

48. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

49. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

50. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

51. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

52. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

53. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

54. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

55. Persuasion by Jane Austen

56. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

57. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

58. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

59. The Complete Works by William Shakespeare

60. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

61. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy – currently reading

62. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

63. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

64. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

65. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

66. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

67. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

68. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

69. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

70. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

71. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

72. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

73. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

74. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

75. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

76. Emma by Jane Austen

77. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

78. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

79. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

80. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

81. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

82. The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton

83. Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War by Sebastian Faulks

84. Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life by George Eliot

85. Bleak House by Charles Dickens

86. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

87. Possession by A.S. Byatt

88. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

89. Dune by Frank Herbert

90. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

91. Watership Down by Richard Adams

92. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

93. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

94. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

95. Ulysses by James Joyce

96. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

97. Germinal by Émile Zola

98. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

99. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

100. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Personal

 

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Project 365 round-up and goodbye 2012

IMG_2170I would like to say Happy New Year to all my readers and subscribers and I hope you have had an excellent 2012.

It has been a big year, especially for us Brits with the Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games.

2011 was a big year for me. I graduated, passed my driving test and got a job so I knew it was going to be a difficult year to top. I did, however, complete my two big New Year’s resolutions this year which were to complete Project 365 and move out. The latter I have only just managed to do (four days before Christmas). Still I have a few good points from this year which, instead of doing a ‘Top Ten’ like I did last year, I have decided to summarise each month with a photo thanks to my Project 365. I would like to thank everyone who followed my Project 365 for your support. It is a lot harder than it looks so if you are going to do this project, make sure you have lots of hobbies so you have lots of things to take pictures of. It is not something I would do again but it was fun while it lasted and I am glad I stuck with it to the end.

January

January

I began the year by walking a quarter of the way up Cader Idris, North Wales with Tom. I made a resolution that I would walk up to the top of a mountain at some point during the year. On Day 190 I made it to the top of Pen y Fan.

February

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For Valentine’s Day Tom and I went tree climbing at a Go Ape course. Better than a romantic meal out.

March

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In March we went on a beer tour at the Hogs Back Brewery...

April

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…and were so inspired by the brewery tour, we went on to make our own beer. A moderate success.

May

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As I have said many times, Eurovision is one of my favourite events of the year and here I am with my university friend Steph having our own Eurovision party.

June

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Download Festival 2012, one of my favourite moments of 2012.

July

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I welcomed the Olympic Torch to the UK in July as the torch passed through Newbury.

August

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In August I celebrated a chilled out birthday at a spa.

September

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In September, Tom and I went on a weekend break to Tortworth Court to celebrate our two-year anniversary.

October

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In October I went to Alton Towers for Scarefest with a group of friends.

November

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Fireworks for Bonfire Night.

December

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Last month I moved out of my parents’ home and into my new flat with Tom. A great way to end the year!

I do not have a set goal for 2013 so I am going to go with the flow. My one project for this year is to complete the BBC Book List Challenge. I have already read some of the books but I have a long way to go. It is a good thing I like to read.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Personal, project 365

 

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Project 365: BONUS DAY (Happy New Year!)

Happy New Year to all my readers and subscribers! Sorry for the blur at the bottom. I was in the firing line of some champagne before I began filming.

My round-up of 2012 and Project 365 is coming soon. Watch this space!

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in project 365

 

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