Month: February 2016

One year ago today…

…I got made redundant from a job I’d been in for 9 years.

Even though I was unhappy, and half looking for another job anyway, it was a massive blow. I wanted to do it on my terms, not anyone else’s.

In truth, it’s the best thing that could have happened. It gave me the kick up the ass I needed.

One year ago

Oh, and it was the pre-cursor to me starting this blog, which celebrates one year of existence tomorrow.

So happy “thanks ex employers for doing me a favour” day today!

Keep calm and get a new job

And happy “one year blogging” day tomorrow!

Blog birthday

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Why I think an EU referendum is a bad idea

I’m not a political person. I don’t know enough about it, nor do I have any desire to become more involved. That might seem like a terrible attitude about something that is so important to the future of our country and the people in it, but there you go. It’s too confusing. I also think that I’m too much of a little fish in a big pond to make a difference. I appreciate that if everyone thought that way we’d be screwed, but it is what it is. So shoot me.

The trouble with politics is that you’re never going to agree with everything a party stands for, and so you’re immediately setting yourself up for disappointment. They will always agree with/vote for/pass law upon something you don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, I do exercise my right to vote, but it’s probably fair to say that I don’t look into it enough to fully understand everything I’m voting for. Because then I would talk myself into and out of multiple political parties and go round in circles. Ain’t nobody got time for that when there’s holidays to be planned and sales to be shopped.

What I do have a strong opinion on is the upcoming referendum. Not the outcome. I haven’t looked into that enough (surprise!) But the actual handing over of a momentous decision to the great British public.

EU referendum

The public are generally pretty rubbish. We vote for dogs to win Britain’s Got Talent. We watch the Brits (which by all accounts was rubbish, I wouldn’t know as I went to the pub) purely to moan about it on social media. We allow the Daily Fail to exist as an actual news delivering vehicle. None of these things are the behaviour of sensible, well rounded, intelligent beings. How then are we expected to know whether staying in the EU is a good or bad idea?!

Removing my tongue from my cheek for a moment, my concern is that people will be voting for (or against) people because of their feelings towards those people, without understanding the consequences or the bigger picture. There’s a lot of hatred for David Cameron, so there will be people who vote to leave the EU purely because he wants us to stay. “I hate David Cameron therefore I will vote the opposite to what he thinks”. Boris Johnson has a following of people who think he’s a great chap, so perhaps they will vote to leave because that’s what he’s campaigning for. “Boris is fun and he was brilliant on Have I Got News For You, so let’s agree with him” There are those small minded people who think our borders are being overrun by illegal immigrants claiming benefits or stealing “British” jobs, and will therefore vote to leave as an act of British defiance. “It’s our country and we need to regain control before the terrorists take over”. I appreciate that not everyone will vote so frivolously, and some people will actually understand the implications of our involvement in Europe and make an informed decision, but the fact remains that a chunk of people have the power to influence Britain’s future in a huge way, without the knowledge that such power requires.

I understand that there needs to be a referendum, and that the only fair way to do it is hand over the decision to the people who will be affected. It’s not a decision that the Prime Minister or his political party can make – there would be uproar.

But I do think there needs to be a helluva lot more education of Joe Public so that we’re all informed on what it means for us. Perhaps employers need to take some responsibility and explain how an in or out decision will affect their company and job roles, so people understand from a real lifescenario what it mayor may not mean for them.

Or perhaps we need to introduce IQ tests prior to issuing a ballot paper. Weed out the stupid ones so we have a chance of the right result (whatever that may be).

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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How has the Zara sale passed me by?

Zara is one of those shops I never think to look at. I’m not sure why. Probably because it’s more expensive than I like to pay (cheapskate!)

Zara

A few weeks ago I was in Oxford shopping and my sister went in to Zara, so I followed her for a nosy. I was amazed at how good their sale prices are – very heavily discounted with loads of items at £9.99 or less!

I couldn’t be bothered to try anything on in store (too much hassle to derobe the layers of winter clothes) so I checked out the online sale when I got home.

I was obviously late to the party, as the sales had been on for 3-4 weeks already, so many items will have already been out of stock or limited in sizes, but I did snaffle a couple of bargains that I’m very pleased with.

Multi coloured tunic dress – £9.99

First thing the husband said when I tried this on was “that’s an eating dress”. Which it is (hurrah!) but not the reason I bought it. I spotted this in store and loved the colours, it has an oriental feel with the pattern and the kimono sleeves and I think it’s a good year round item which I could wear now with boots or in summer with sandals. It will be ideal to take on holiday to wear towards the end of a trip when all the cocktails and yummy cuisine have taken their toll on my waistline!

Ditsy print floral top – £7.99

Towards the end of last summer I bought a couple of pairs of flares that I intend to wear a lot when spring arrives, and I’ve been on the look out for tops that will work with them for that hippy 70s vibe. This one is perfect. I don’t have much yellow in my wardrobe but it will look great with blue denim, and (importantly) it won’t need ironing!

I could have bought lots more if they had my size – not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing!

I’ll definitely be first in line at sale time in future.

Are you a Zara shopper?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

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Dance like no-one is watching

A couple of nights ago, out of the blue, the husband announced that he missed dancing.

(before you get the image of him as some buffoon who just randomly says odd stuff, there was a context to it – I think there was an advert on TV for a dance music album or something, and we both spent time on the dance scene in our youth, but for different reasons. He was chasing girls. He got me. Unlucky.)

Dance like nobody's watching

I don’t actually like dancing. At least not in public. I like looning around at home and being daft. I have a weird clumsy ballet routine I do whenever Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is you comes on, because it means Christmas. I’ve even been known to indulge in a do-si-do and some 50s rockabilly jive.

But only at home.

When I dance, in public, I feel ridiculously self conscious. It’s not that I’m bad at it. I don’t have warped rhythm or move the wrong feet at the wrong time. I dare say I blend in fine with all the other dancers. I just feel so awkward. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I feel like I’m doing it wrong and that people are noticing me. Which is ridiculous, because:

a) why would people be looking at me (who do I think I am?!)

and

b) I’m just doing pretty much what everyone else does.

I like to watch dance. Choreographed coordinated group dancing is amazing. Street dance. Even ballroom, to an extent. But normal people crowding on a dancefloor and just moving around randomly strikes me as very odd. I remember an experience at a club in Sheffield once, sitting down and just looking at the dancefloor, thinking how bonkers it was. This mass group bumping into each other, moving arms about and really getting into it. I was ridiculously drunk at the time, which probably added to my strange comprehension, but it just seemed odd.

You know some people like to get dressed up and go out dancing? That sounds horrible to me. You know at a party when a great song comes on, and people cheer with recognition and rush to the dancefloor? Very very rarely me. And, when it does happen, I lose interest after about 30 seconds and wonder how quickly I can slink away.

Today, I went back to the gym. It had been a while. I’m not great at the gym because I don’t like it, and I don’t like it because I don’t get immediate results, but again I worry that people are looking at me. When everyone else is jogging on the treadmill and I’m only walking, I feel like I’m being rubbish and people are thinking I may as well have stayed in bed. When I manage a little spurt of running (again, rare) I’m convinced I run like Phoebe from Friends.

When my husband came over to check I was ok (we’re not one of those icky couples who train together, but we did share a car there today) I felt like even he was judging me. If that isn’t ridiculous I don’t know what is!

I’m rubbish at weights so I don’t do them. I get giggly and pathetic and say crap things like “I have no upper body strength”. I’m not a fighter. I don’t work to prove people wrong. I’d rather give in than look stupid (or think I look stupid).

I guess, ultimately, it just comes down to not being great at something. I can do dancing, but I don’t feel that I do it well. I can go to the gym, but I’ll never be the gym bunny who people aspire to be.

It shouldn’t matter.

It’s the taking part that counts. Isn’t that what we’re always told? But in truth only losers say that! The people who don’t excel.

It’s strange to admit to what must equate to a lack of self confidence, which is very much a weakness. If you could see some of the stunts I’ve pulled in public over the years you’d be wondering what the frick I’m talking about. I’m not shy. I’m not a wallflower.

Perhaps I’m just an over thinker. Which sounds very intellectual and much more socially acceptable than being a twit.

Thanks, as always for reading! x

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The great croissant debacle – Twit(s) of the Day

According to this morning’s news, Tesco will – from tomorrow – stop selling traditional crescent shaped croissants. This is because British consumers find them too awkward to spread filling on.

I’m not sure who’s the bigger twit here? The general British public for such a stupid opinion on a traditional food stuff, or Tesco for pandering to them?

Aside from the fact that “croissant” is defined in the Cambridge dictionary as being crescent shaped, and quite literally translates to the word crescent in French, what on earth is so difficult about it anyway?

I think the issue comes from people who are treating croissants like a bread roll that needs to be sliced open in order to spread the fillings. That’s not how to eat them. You should tear pieces off and spread or spoon the butter/jam/honey on to each chunk.

(actually, who am I, telling people how they should eat a croissant?! I should say it’s not the best way to eat them, from a sticky finger and crumby awkwardness point of view. But the internet says I’m right anyway)

The main problem is that it’s just another example of demanding consumer stupidity. Croissants are croissants. I, for one, like the shape. Way more aesthetically pleasing, and if you hold it up to your face you get a big croissant-y smile.

Croissant smile

(image from GoodyFoodies)

A straight croissant isn’t a happy croissant.

Let me know your thoughts (if you even care!)

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Ear inspo

On my birthday in December I had two new ear piercings – tragus and conch in my right ear (for the uninitiated, your tragus is the buttony bit in the middle, connected to your head, and the conch is in the middle of your ear cavity, like where bud headphones would sit).

Me getting pierced at The Oasis

Lots of people had told me that the tragus was quite painful to heal and awkward to sleep on, but I’ve had awkward and uncomfortable piercings in the past and always managed to persevere.

So the husband kindly paid and I had them done at The Oasis in Birmingham, who I trust implicitly because there has been a piercing place there for as long as I can remember.

The piercer told me that I’d be able to change the jewellery after 6 weeks, and if I went back they’d be happy to do it for me.

It’s now been 8 weeks and I don’t think either of them are healed enough to be changed. Most probably because I’m one of life’s natural born pickers (I know!) and I do find myself inadvertently twizzling and poking them. I really ought to bathe them more, but I kind of gave up after about 3 weeks when they seemed to be healing so well.

I’m my own worst enemy and don’t deserve nice things!

20160218_165229-1

Both of them have keloid bumps on and the conch still bleeds occasionally. It’s in a funny position for healing and also my hair gets wrapped around it sometimes.

Anyway, whilst waiting for them to stop itching/bleeding/oozing and being bumpy (nice, no?)  I’ve been looking at what kind of jewellery I want to go for. I definitely want a hoop in the conch piercing (I actually wanted it pierced with a hoop, but the piercer, he say no).

Love this jewellery – opals are so beautiful

Screenshot_2016-02-16-12-55-55-1-1

Quite fancy something ornate in my tragus.

Screenshot_2016-02-16-13-03-35-1

How pretty are all these earring combos? Definitely inspiring me to get some more done once these have healed.

Screenshot_2016-02-16-12-59-16-1

You can read about my other piercings here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

 

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Love is…fun!

There’s a lot of things that encapsulate love. The hearts and flowers and mushiness is just a small part of it.

I think that one of the key factors for a long and happy relationship is fun. Being able to laugh with each other and at each other. If someone makes you laugh it’s impossible to stay mad with them for too long. Laughter makes you feel good, so it’s important to do it as much as possible.

With that in mind I found these funny Valentine’s images and cards. I’d be happy to receive any one of these on Valentine’s Day – more so than a fluffy puppy holding a heart saying “I wuff you” any day of the week.

Political and tyrannical (by Ben Kling, check out more here)

Cheesy!

Satirical (although who’d want Kanye’s face in their home?!)

Valentines card Kanye

Simple

The ones below are all from Moonpig, and some oft hem can be personalised, which is always a nice touch.

Observational!

Foodie

And, my personal favourites, punny!

 

What kind of Valentine’s card do you send, if any?

Thanks, as always, for reading!

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A (pre) Valentine’s ode to my husband

Roses are red

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I’ve got herpes

So I can’t kiss you

Romantic huh?

(I actually have got herpes, but in the coldsore on my lip variety, not the downstairs region).

In truth, I think Valentine’s Day is a complete waste of time. It makes single people feel crap, it makes people in relationships who’s partner doesn’t shower them with gifts feel crap (if they’re that kind of person) and it’s just a ruddy great commercial load of balls which creates oodles of landfill waste in the shape of soppy cards, overpriced flowers, and scraggy stuffed toys.

You could conclude from that outburst that I don’t believe in romance. You’d be very wrong. Romance to me is the small things – when my husband watches a film he’s not keen on because he knows I like it, when he tells me I’m his favourite person in the world, or strokes my head when I’m feeling poorly. Those are the things that demonstrate love. Gifts are just stuff. It’s easy to buy stuff. I buy stuff for myself. I don’t need stuff from my husband to validate how he feels or what our marriage means to both of us.

There’s something brash and vulgar about certain elements of Valentine’s Day. Like sending flowers to someone at work – why? That’s blatantly to score brownie points and prove to everyone else how much you love that person. If I don’t receive flowers at work but someone else does, does that mean they’re more in love than I am? A better person? A happier couple? Of course it doesn’t.

Anyway, my husband has the best excuse for never sending me flowers – he has severe hayfever and we can’t have them in the house (a likely story, I know, but it’s true!)

Besides, the overpriced rip off of Valentine’s Day is ridiculous. Why would you spend money on a meal which is usually a “special menu” (translates to reduced choice) in a restaurant that has blatantly squeezed in more tables than usual to capitalise on our need to prove our love, surrounded by other suckers doing the same thing and wondering why their partner has only ordered white wine when the table next to them has champagne?

Not for me. We’ll exchange cards and might even be extra nice to each other for the day (I’m kidding. We won’t). But, as the saying goes, we don’t need one day to prove our love.

And, luckily, I don’t need flowers either!

What do you think of Valentine’s Day?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Yesterday we popped into town for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Like many major cities, Birmingham has a large Chinese population. In the area of the city known as “Chinatown” there are lots of Chinese restaurants and supermarkets, and it’s here that the celebrations were centred.

We’ve intended to go for the last couple of years but the weather has always been naff. Yesterday looked pretty decent, so off we popped.

Unfortunately the weather worsened not long after we arrived which, quite literally, put a dampener on proceedings. It was all a bit underwhelming anyway, which is a shame, many of the stalls were empty.

Chinese dragon

I did manage to get my picture taken with a monkey though!

Chinese New Year - me and a monkey

And a dragon!

Chinese New Year - me and a dragon

Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse after that, because we took refuge from the rain in a pub and I got horribly drunk. Too drunk to eat my Chinese food and too drunk to stay awake past 7.30pm.

And I lost my hat.

Oops.

On the plus side, being in bed for 12 hours means I’m hangover free today. So perhaps it was for the best (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

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A “chemical” diet – my diary

No, not taking drugs!

A couple of weeks ago I saw a couple of people on Twitter (@CarrieanneDrew from beautiesunlocked.com and @QueenBeady from queenbeady.com) talking about a diet where you can lose a stone in a week.

Now I know that’s ridiculous and unhealthy and all that jazz. But I’m not a patient person and I like immediate results so I thought it might kickstart me a little and give me the inspiration to get off my lazy ass and start doing stuff. I was under no illusion that I’d lose a stone (in fact I didn’t really want to, that’s scary stuff!) but half a stone would be nice and then I could transfer to healthy eating and exercise.

While the basis is very limited calories, the success comes from the composition of meals and food and how they react together to trigger weight loss. There can be no substitutes, even for items with the same calorific content, as that messes with the chemical side of things.

Here’s the diet.

Chemical diet

Now I love boiled eggs and I love grapefruit, so this seemed perfectly do-able to me. I’ve read a lot of forums of people who’ve done it and many people complain about grapefruit (it seems it’s an acquired taste). But the over-riding feedback is that it works.

Here’s how I got on:

Starting weight – 11 stone (eek!)

Day 1 – feeling optimistic and excited. Also nervous! Toast with tinned tomatoes was good. I didn’t expect fruit for lunch to fill me up, but it did! I had strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and pineapple. Boiled eggs for dinner. Salad consisted of spinach, rocket, red pepper, grated carrot & fresh beetroot.

Boiled egg salad

I’m not sure if that’s within the salad guidelines, but I don’t like the traditional lettuce/tomato/cucumber combo. Grapefruit after dinner was good – the red variety are a lot sweeter.

Day 2 – Breakfast of egg and grapefruit was fine.

Grapefruit

Didn’t enjoy lunch much as I had to reheat the chicken. Used 4 cherry tomatoes and a splash of tinned chopped tomatoes so I had some juice to dip the toast in. I was looking forward to steak for dinner, but without seasoning it was slightly bland. The salad was iceberg lettuce, red onion and a chopped red chilli. Unfortunately I added too much chilli and onion and could taste it for the rest of the night. Craved chocolate/something sweet badly, but resisted.

Day 3 – I weighed myself and had lost 4lbs!

Breakfast of egg and grapefruit was enjoyable again, although I felt hungry by the time I even got to work. Fruit for lunch – I had strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pineapple, mango and mixed grapes.

Fruit for lunch

By the time I finished work I was feeling a little bit wibbly and shaky, like I hadn’t eaten enough. I got stuck in motorway traffic which didn’t help, then had to stop for petrol. I simultaneously remembered some cheese doritos in the cupboard, which I began obsessing over! Had half of my grapefruit as soon as I got in, to stave off hunger pains and give me a sugar boost, then gave in and had two doritos. I was cooking chill for the husband, and I have to say that my chilli is really good, so I caved and had a couple of spoonfuls and some more doritos. Lamb was good (I had steaks instead of chops). For the salad I chopped up some red onion and tomato into tiny pieces and added some garlic pepper to make a salsa type dressing (I read this suggestion on a forum). Everything just feels a bit bland though due to the lack of seasoning. So I gave in and had some more chilli (only a couple more spoonfuls) and a couple of handfuls of doritos. So good! Then I finished off the Cadbury’s chocolate shoe from my birthday. Felt horribly guilty, but satiated to have had some actual flavour! I was probably still under the recommended 2000 calories a day because I hadn’t eaten much at breakfast or lunch, but had totally fucked up the chemical balance of the diet.

Day 4 – weighed myself expecting bad things, but no change; still 4lbs down

I wasn’t looking forward to a slice of dry toast, but it was surprisingly edible. Fruit for lunch – same combo as yesterday. Dinner of boiled eggs and salad, on a Friday night, jeez! An afternoon text to the husband bemoaning the state of my life (!!) was reciprocated with him also craving something nice, so we ended up going out for Moroccan food, oops. The food was pretty healthy (mussels to start, chicken tagine with cous cous, sautéed potatoes and tomato and onion salad) but the beer and wine weren’t. I’m so easily persuaded! But I was really missing flavour and spice and taste, so I didn’t even feel guilty!

Day 5 – I felt slightly hungover and the thought of dry toast didn’t appeal, so I switched it up and had grapefruit instead. Fruit for lunch – pineapple, mango and mixed grapes. Around lunchtime I started feeling poorly with a cold and was snotting and sneezing all afternoon (if sneezing was classed as exercise I did a work out and a half!) I had to cancel plans to see friends, which had also involved a much longed for takeaway, but felt so poorly and sorry for myself that I just had two slices of dry toast and some tinned tomatoes. I don’t like to think the illness was punishment for spectacularly falling off the diet wagon on Friday night, but who knows?!

Day 6 – by now I had realised that I’m a weak and pathetic person who deserves to be heavier than I want to be forever so I decided to not even pretend to stick to it any longer. I had a healthy breakfast of omelette (two eggs, mushrooms, peppers, one babybel and some chopped tomato & onion relish) then in the evening had a roast dinner with chicken, roast potatoes, parsnips, stuffing, sprouts, roast carrots and gravy. Lush.

So, what did I learn? Surprisingly, quite a lot. It actually wasn’t a complete waste of time!

I learnt that I don’t need to snack between meals when I’m at work – and I won’t die if I feel hungry.

I learnt that fruit is much more filling than I realised and I can eat it as a meal.

I learnt that I’d forgotten how much I love grapefruit! Definitely a weekly staple in my grocery shopping from now on.

I learnt that breaking the habit of alcohol in the week isn’t that difficult.

Obviously I also learnt that my willpower is even more pathetic than I thought.

And that I rely on flavour and spice to enjoy meals.

Post diet, I have been having half a grapefruit and a boiled egg for breakfast which has kept me going until lunch (previously I would have two boiled eggs and a mid morning snack of low fat crisps). I’ve been having vegetables and meat for lunch – probably around 250 calories – and not needing an afternoon snack (I would usually have a babybel).Yesterday and today I had only fruit for breakfast (half a grapefruit followed by raspberries and blackberries) and my world didn’t end. I didn’t faint or eat my own arm.

So that’s progress!

I might try the diet again in a couple of weeks, but with a few tweaks so I can stick to it. Perhaps some flavouring on the meat or a spray of balsamic vinegar on the salad.

In the meantime I’m going to stick with my breakfast and lunchtime patterns, try and get to the gym (famous last words) and cut out alcohol for alcohol’s sake (sob, I do love having an evening drink after work).

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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