Saturday, 27 May 2017

That Time I Tried To Give Myself Eyebrows

That Time I Tried To Give Myself Eyebrows

Although I'm a lazy girl at heart, I do sometimes make a *tiny* bit of effort.  I'm a sucker for an instagram photo or a Buzzed makeup tutorial; even if this is just to look at and gaze in wonder at the skills people have. I very rarely, if ever, have the inclination to actually *do* these things because... Well, I'm busy NOT doing these things.

One of my friends has amazing eyebrows, which I had literally no idea were largely filled in and, over the months, I've toyed with the idea of doing something with my own. I'm blonde.  Like, very blonde.  I have extremely pale skin and eyebrows that are barely there, so I figured there maybe wasn't any gain to be had from bothering with them. However, that didn't stop me from purchasing an eye brow kit from my local Superdrug, because it had the lightest powder shade I'd ever seen and I figured it would be perfect for me.  Now, not only do I know nada about eyebrows; I also know nothing about what shape they're supposed to be.  Let's say it was an interesting afternoon....

I figured anything remotely Kardashian-esque was a no go. Firstly, because I don't have dark hair and, secondly, because I have no wish to look quite that fake. Don't get me wrong; they're all gorgeous women, but the look is a bit too much for me. I don't want to look like I've spent the morning drawing all over my face.  I'm just interested to see if it makes the impact on me that it seems to on everyone else.  I settled in with my kit, which consisted of a brush type thing and three colors (in ever increasing shades of gloom) and, what I initially assumed was a clear mascara, but later found out was a gel that held my brows in place. Who knew such a thing existed and that I would ever have a use for it? Not me.

Around 30 frustratingly long minutes later, I had one beautifully sculpted and drawn in brow and another that looked like a child had drawn it on with a Sharpie. Both were dark.  REALLY dark.  So dark, in fact, that I looked absolutely deranged.  More so, I mean.  I grabbed some cotton buds and gently wiped off the excess, but I still looked quite frightening. I wiped more and more and, eventually, the colour improved enough to look like it actually belonged on my skin tone.  

Basically, I'd just taken it all back off again and, only at that point, did I start to look halfway normal.  Clearly this is something that's going to take a LOT of practice and a lot of seeing myself with actual eyebrows to get used to. Surely I can't be the only blonde that doesn't want black brows? I already suffer from severe resting bitch face and this ensemble made me look like I was about to go postal, to be honest. I doubt even my husband would have had the balls to come ask me what I wanted for dinner in case I chopped him up into little pieces. And, so, the whole Eyebrow Experiment' was pretty much a disaster and all I did was it was remind me of those Star Trek guys with the massively furrowed heads that always look cross.  Anyway, not to be put off, I tried it again (a little less heavy on the colours) the following day...and the day after that and, you know what? It doesn't look quite as shocking as it did on the first or second day and it does make a difference.  I still have resting bitch face, but 'aint nothing gonna take that away.  

Not only have I got eyebrows, I've also started scrolling through Instagram posts and Youtube videos looking at lipstick stuff.  Give me another 10 years and a whole lot of time off work and I might just be able to master what other women do every day before hitting the office. 

Suz x 

Monday, 22 May 2017

How To Lift Your Spirits After a Bad Day

How To Boost Yourself after a Bad Day
Just let me sleep and it'll all be fine. 
Today was Monday. And it was kind of a brutal day, to be honest, as I’ve been feeling pretty low of late. I was also not really in the right frame of mind for a day in the office, or not my office, anyway. Maybe someone else's would have been OK, I'm not really sure.  Anyway, my general feeling of 'meh' towards...well, Monday in general made me try and focus on how I could cheer myself up if I managed to through the day without murdering anyone. These are my sure-fire ways to de-stress after a case of the Mondays (or Tuesdays... or any other crappy day):

Some people swear by a long, hot bath but, while I'm all for the idea, I find that as soon as I'm in, I just wanna get back out. Because of this, I stick to hopping in the shower, accompanied by my favourite shower gel (Lime Natural Source, Champney's Summer or anything by Soap and Glory) and literally wash away the day.  I come out feeling refreshed at the very least, if not a touch less horrible.  It’s amazing what a bit of hot water can do.  

Comfort Food:
I'm not suggesting you come home and stuff your chops full of pizza and chocolate (although, if that's what you want to do, then please don’t let me stop you), but just because you’re having comfort food doesn’t mean it has be laden with fat.  I'm a huge fan of fresh fruit salad and, as it doesn't leave me feeling like I'll need a double session at the gym, I'm more likely to actually cheer myself up with a bowl of this, rather than a bowl of crisps, for example.  My husband, on the other hand, will never say no to cottage pie if he's feeling particularly stressed out.  As much as I'd like to also suggest wine on an evening like this, I'm not entirely sure it doesn't end up making me more morose in the long run. Also, how good can Tuesday be if you're completely hung-over?? Exactly.

This tends to divide people into two groups. On one hand, there's the group  that includes my husband, who will go work out after a crappy day (and before his cottage pie, obvs) to make pick himself up,  and then there’s my group, who really just want to go home and crawl under the duvet until the day goes away.  If I can force myself to go for a walk after work, or actually make it to the gym, I do always feel better, but it's often easier said than done.  Seriously, though, getting out for short stroll, even if that walk is around the local supermarket, while you search for cottage pie and grapes, is better than nothing and can make a positive difference to your day.  Word of warning: as much as I hate to say it, if I’m not in a good place, going to the gym can often make me decidedly homicidal.  The music is bloody awful and I have no interest in the testosterone filled weights corner where there seems to be a constant battle for supremacy going on. Apart from this, I can confirm that it's a truly wonderful place to be.

Netflix/Amazon Prime:
By the time I hit the pillow (which can be shockingly early on a Bad Day), I like to have something lined up to watch that I know will completely distract me. This can be an episode of a new show that I haven't had time to catch or one of my favourites that never gets old.  For a good laugh, Phoenix Nights does it for me every time, but I do like having something new to look forward to, so I do love knowing that I can catch up with a new episode of Homeland or House of Cards.  Also, watching these shows generally makes me feel a bit better about my day, to be honest.. Let's face it, there's unlikely to ever be an Netflix Original series about the dangers of working in the Job Centre, is there? If nothing else, at least I’m not the President of the US (although I fear I might be more qualified that the one they actually have), or involved in the Security Services like Clare Danes and being shot at on a regular basis. Life in North Wales isn’t *quite* that exciting, thankfully.

Online Shopping:
It might be a total cliché but, do I care? No. No I don't. I am a very happy bunny when I do a little online cheering up on EBay or Amazon. I generally go for something cheap and cheerful, like a kindle book or something with a dog on it (I have purchased a LOT of pug scarves on a Monday night). One of the unintentional bonuses of online shopping – aside form the fact that you can totally do it in your jammies – is that you also get a parcel through the mail shortly afterwards and this can brighten up another crappy day.  Score!

Three Things:
Even if you've had the worst day ever, if you think hard enough, you can usually come up with at least three teeny little things that were good about it. It might be a passing comment, a knowing smile, a hug, or just that someone was kind to you. When I'm having a crap day, I always make the effort to do something that I know I'll feel was positive when I look back on it. On my last shitty day, I sorted out the disaster that is the Fort Knox type security of my HSBC online banking. Honestly, it's like they don't actually want me to spend my own money.  Anyway, as annoyed and disinterested as I was when I picked up the phone, after the two hour wait, I felt like I had achieved something. Even if that something was only that I wanted to switch bank accounts. Today, however, I feel I might struggle a bit more but, if nothing else, I wrote all this crap down so that has to count for something, surely?

If all else fails, go to bed. Seriously. The time I spend in bed should probably alarm me, but I find it almost impossible to get *more* grumpy when I'm sleeping. Also, it's totally cosy in there and I can justify ignoring the phone and interaction with any humans (my husband is excluded from this list as he’s adorable). Sometimes there's nothing left to do but put on a fresh set of bedding, make star shapes, turn your pillow on to the cold side and hope that tomorrow might be better. If nothing else, by going to bed so early, at least you shouldn't be tired in the morning.

What are your suggestions for attempting to salvage a bad day?

Suz x

Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Lazy Girl's Guide to Getting Up Earlier

I don't like getting out of bed. Ever...

I particularly hate getting out of bed on week days because it generally signals that I have to go to work and I'd much rather be snuggled up until at least, say, 9am.  OK, I lied; 10am. It's not that I haven't gone to bed early enough or that I've been awake all night; I am simply not a Morning Person.  However, in order to get stuff done and, you know, not get fired, I have to make the effort, just like millions of other full time workers in the UK. It's highly unlikely I could sustain my wine habit without a job, and that would, frankly, make me someone who wasn't only not fun in the morning, but also pretty much at every other time of the day. These are my tips for moving your lazy ass out of bed in the a.m.

Don't Roll Over and Go Back To Sleep:
I want to preface this one by saying I'd like you to do as I say and not so much as I do.  I am the Queen of Snooze. I will literally do *anything* to stay in bed for a few minutes more, even when this will inevitably result in me running around like a crazy person, getting stuck in the traffic that piles up at the college around the corner from my office, and make me even more cranky as I desperately try to get through town to my building.

I have found, however, that it needn't be *quite* this stressful in the morning. 

I have a husband who goes to work, the middle of the night, as far as I can tell.  This means I'm usually disturbed from my peaceful slumber by the weak strains of noise from an electric toothbrush being employed in the bathroom.  What I *should* do is let the sound gently rouse me.  What I *actually* do is swear a little bit and pull the duvet over my head. Waking naturally really does make me feel better during the day and, on the days when I do manage to convince myself it's an acceptable practice to stick my leg out of bed before 7:30am (OK, so it's 8:10am...) I always feel better for it.  I get time to sort my head out, grab a coffee, actually choose clothes that match, and even water all my flowers and veggies before I jump in the car.  If you're a total sleepyhead, it is hard to do, but it's also so worth it.

Listen to an Audiobook or Do a Little Reading:
If you can force yourself to open your eyes, stick on an audio book or a podcast and bring yourself around slowly.  If you're feeling really adventurous and can cope with moving your being and teaching to the nightstand to grab a book, then knock yourself out.  Waking up naturally is always the best way and if you need a little encouragement in this regard, then this is a good way to convince your brain that it needs to stand to attention.  Anyone who has read the blog before will know that I'm a huge true crime fan and my iPad is literally FULL of gnarly podcasts and creepy audiobooks that I tune into with worrying frequency.  Also, if you do listen to something chilling,  such as the story of an entire family who were slaughtered in their beds, then it's far more likely that you will have no trouble getting up that morning.  And that can only be a good thing.  Probably don't listen to true crime stuff about shower murders, though, because you still need to be performing this step in order to get ready for work. 

Go to Bed Earlier:

Part of me actually hates myself for writing this but, as much as it's cliche, it's also sadly true.  

I've spent so many years struggling to sleep, that I would be reading, watching TV, scrolling through social media looking a dogs in human clothes and the like, just to help me stave off the hours I spent on my own with nothing much to do.  I've slowly been able to stop myself from doing this and, although I always, always have a podcast or audiobook on when I lay down, I try to do this half an hour earlier than usual so that I give my brain a fighting chance of unwinding from whatever happened during the day.  I always listen to true crime but understand that, for some people, this is more likely to keep you awake and have you sat bolt upright in bed, wide-eyed with fear and wondering where you left that baseball bat than actually getting any shut eye. Luckily, all the normal people on the internet write books and produce podcasts that  have absolutely no tales of dismemberment in them and those are probably brilliant, too.   

Give Yourself Something To Get up For:
There are very rare occasions in my life when I voluntarily get up early.  No, seriously. These are: when I'm travelling, when something cataclysmic has happened on the news the night before; and when I'm too worried about something to get any more sleep.  Although these are hardly day to day occurrences, giving yourself something to look forward to the next day can convince you to drag your carcass out of bed, just a touch earlier than usual.  Whether that be a class (I can't believe I just wrote that...), meeting a friend for coffee before work, or just popping to the local library, having a plan of action for the day can really boost you.  For me, these things revolve around car sharing with my husband (which gets me up a full hour earlier than usual), giving a colleague a lift (15 minutes earlier) or popping out to the garden to check on what I'm growing/Bob The Squirrel is eating (an average of around 20-30 whole seconds earlier... Go me!) 

Whatever you need to do to get it done, it really does help to set your day up properly. It gives your brain a chance to get into gear for the hours between getting up and going back to bed. 

What are you tips for getting out of bed earlier?  

Suz x 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

How Life Has Changed: Scotland vs. Wales

How Life Has Changed: Scotland Vs. Wales

I moved to North Wales from Stirling in Scotland, after spending my whole life in, or in between, major cities, I didn't think twice about, well...anything, really.  

Everything I wanted has always been right within my reach. Take out coffee? Costa, McDonald's or the slightly dodgy stuff my local petrol station used to sell? Supermarket? Morrisons, Aldo, Lidl, Sainsburys, M&S or Asda?? And those were just in my local town.  Because of this, I've never paid any mind to how I would cope without the amenities I completely took for granted. Until I relocated to North Wales

Yes, Wales has coffee, and excellent stuff it is, too; but it's been a bit of a struggle to find a local outlet close to home. I work in the town of Dolgellau and am spoiled for choice from the gorgeous little bakeries and independent coffee shops that line Eldon Square and its surrounds.

Up in Dyffryn? Not so much. Don't get me wrong. We sell coffee and have charming little cafes, but we're just not geared up to the mad rat race of people who MUST have a double espresso before they can even contemplate going to work. Although I initially wondered how I would cope, and got way too excited when I spotted an *actual* Costa Coffee store in Porthmadog, in the 15 months I've been here, I've yet to venture inside it.  And I don't have plans to.  During the week, I make my own coffee and, on the weekends, Les and I scout out a range of fabulous local Cafes to try. Our favourite is Llew Glas in Harlech, because it's simply superb and the staff, well...they rule.  

On arriving in Harlech, where we initially rented an apartment when doing our whole 'we'll give it 6 months and see how it goes and if we don't like it, we can head back to Scotland' thing. (It's been 15 months and we've now bought a house and I have a job and my family loves coming down from Scotland to visit so, basically, we're NEVER leaving). 

After a few weeks of settling in and exploring, we decided to catch a movie one night. I checked the listings and then checked them again, sure they were only partial results. Turns out they weren't: we were at least 60 min drive away from the closest cinema in the North; 2 hrs from the closest to the North east and 1.5 hrs from the closest to the South. 'How can this be?' I yelled at Les, who was trying to disguise his unhappiness at being made to go out and see something violent and bloody. 'How can there NOT be a cinema anywhere near us?  What do people DO here?'.

Faced with the long drive, we decided against it. Then I realised that, in a year of living a 5 minute drive from a massive multiplex in Stirling; we'd been once.  I signed us up for Welsh Netflix (which is the same as every other Netflix) and we haven't left the house for months.  I jest, of course. We still go to work on occasion. Luckily for us, a brand new all singing, all dancing theatre has recently opened up at the old college building in Harlech and I can often be found, driving very slowly down the hill, desperately trying to read the movie posters as I pass.  I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who's been stuck in traffic behind me while I do this. Have we been yet? No. But we definitely will.  Just as soon as I get through binge watching the new season of Homeland.

I live on the edge of a small town, between open land and the sea. There is no noise. Previously, we lived in a semi detached house in Stirling, on a busy street, with a hairdresser and convenience store across the road, and several pubs nearby.   It was constantly noisy; day or night.  

Now, although I technically have neighbours, they’re not exactly close by and the silence is fabulous.  

At night, I hear that strains of the last train chugging along the Cambrian Coast railway and, apart from that, it’s the farm noises next door which consist of a few sheep and some bulls.  It’s bliss. On a weekend, the sea plane flies overhead, taking passengers on pleasure flights to look at the stunning outline of the Llyn Peninsula, and, on occasion, we also have the Coastguard. He’s looking for people in the sea, usually.   And that’s not quite so nice a sound.  

I’ve always been spoiled for choice with supermarkets and malls nearby to home, so coming to North Wales and living a half hour from my nearest supermarket has been somewhat of a shock. Luckily, I managed to get a job in Dolgellau, which is half an hour in the other direction and has a lovely big Co-op, just next to my office.  It has a lovely selection of wines from around the world, as well as whatever else it is you find in supermarkets.   Food, mostly, I think.

The lack of supermarkets (and often the steep pricing in the smaller towns and villages) has forced me to become far more organised about my shopping habits.   Although I buy the odd bottle of wine on a Friday night after work (and sometimes on a Thursday) when it comes to everything else, I do all my supermarket shopping on a Saturday morning.    I’ve never done this before and would often drive home from work in Scotland, using the time spent in traffic jams to decide what I wanted for dinner, before diving in to one of many, many stores to grab pizza.

Now?  I have to think ahead and decide what I want, like, DAYS in advance.  And it’s great.  The money I’m saving is enormous and, given I hate supermarkets or anywhere busy, going just once a week (with company) is fantastic.  It’s amazing how much more procrastinating I can get done around the house now that I have more time to dedicate myself to the cause.
It also (mostly) stops those additional visits, after a bad day at work, to pick up crisps. And chocolate. And wine, obviously.  My waistline should be thanking me.  As should my liver.

Suz x 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

6 Great Podcasts for True Crime Junkies

We all know that podcasts are A Thing. Some of us have even listened to a few over the years. I've previously dipped my toe into the Sea Of Podcasts, but always ended up disappointed and, well... a little empty inside, if I'm being honest. 

I always thought Podcasts were academic and boring, but no more, people: No. More.  As I've just discovered, there are actual people that make actual podcasts about actual murder.  Did you know this? If so, why didn't you tell me? What kind of monster *are* you? Anyway, I discovered them all by myself (with a bit of help from a Buzzfeed article...) and I'm completely hooked. There are the 'casts that I'm currently binge-listening to:

Podcasts for True Crime Junkies
Go to iTunes and click on True Crime.  These are the only podcasts you will ever need. 

Presented by Sarah Keonig, the first season of Serial focuses on the case of Adnan Syed and the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae. From the start, you know that Adnan has been found guilty of the murder of Hae, so the cast then takes you back to everything that led up to his arrest and subsequent conviction.

This wasn't a high profile case like it is now, but the discrepancies in different recollections of the days leading up to, and the day of the murder, are gripping. I started out thinking Adnan was innocent and then changed my mind half way through. Then, I changed my mind again and, by the end, I literally had no idea what to think. This is the OG of true crime Podcasts and it's seriously good stuff. I ended up listening to episodes when I was working out in the gym and was unable to stop myself from gasping with surprise at some of the revelations. Safe to say that no one stands next to me on the treadmill anymore.

Sword and Scale:
I loved Serial and thought no other could take its place in my sick little heart. Oh, how naive I was... 
Sword and Scale covers a different story each episode (with the exception of a few two-parters) and introduced me to a world of crime I had absolutely no idea about. Most of the episodes are fabulous, but I have skipped a few when they've been about cases I'm already over familiar with, or child abduction, which I just can't listen to. 

I've gone through 50 in the past 3 weeks and have rarely been disappointed. In fact, there are times when I've actually be wide eyed and stunned by what I've heard.  And this can never be a bad thing, in my opinion. My husband is less pleased, as I listen to them on my Ipad in bed and I don't use headphones. There have been a few instances where he's woken up to someone screaming down a phone line to the 911 operator and he's genuinely wondered WTF was going on.  I'm confident that, if I keep it going, he'll eventually come to see the whole thing as 'normal'.

Small Town Murder:
This podcast goes hand in hand with Crime in Sports as they're both presented by the same guys. They're equally fantastic, although one covers all the mad crimes committed by sporting figures, while the other by 'regular' psychos.  The unique draw of this weekly series is that both male presenters are comics. This means that there's a lot of teasing and wicked observations made during the show that some people will definitely think is way too much. They don't so much mock the victims, and they are very respectful, but you do need a pretty dark sense of humour to get through the episodes.

Luckily, I have such a sense of humour and the funny duo of Jimmie Whisman and James Pietragallo keep me chuckling during my commutes from work on a Friday night. After all, what better way to kick start the weekend, making your way home to your own small town, by listening to all the grim tales from other people's small towns?  

The Minds of Madness:
This is a new podcast for 2017, introducing, as many of them do, some of the lesser known crimes that don't hit the headlines here in the UK. This has quickly become one of my favourites and it's suspenseful without being overly dramatic. One of the things I love about US crime is that they have access to 911 call recordings, and nothing freaks me out more in the wee hours of the morning than listening to some bloke call the police to very calmly report that his daughter's been kidnapped from her bedroom like it's the most normal thing in the world.  It gives so much more of an insight into the story when you can hear directly from the people involved. It will also make you judge people *instantly*.  

My Favourite Murder:
Following along the same lines as Small Town Crime, Karen Kilgarrif and Georgia Hardstack are two comedians from California, who have an unnatural obsession with true crime. Knowing they were almost certainly not alone in this, they started a podcast to report on some of their favourite homicide cases. The 'casts cover a mix of the cases that everyone's heard of, to the ones that no one outside the zip code that the crime took part in knows about.  As well as being funny as hell, it's pretty educational (if you can call amassing knowledge of heinous murders 'education'), and it will literally have you questioning everyone around you. 

Crime Stories with Nancy Grace:
I know who Nancy Grace is, despite not having the opportunity to watch her in the UK. When I spotted her face while I was scrolling through iTunes, my first thought was whether I'd be able to make it through her confrontational style without feeling anxious.  However, that Georgia accent more than makes up for all her fighting talk and you can't help but appreciate the fact that she's one of few true crime podcasters with extensive prosecutorial and legal experience. 

Most of the episodes are a bit shorter than I'm used to, but I won't hold that against her.  Mostly because she'll kick my ass. The podcast often uses 911 recordings and, given Grace's stature, lots of exclusive interviews with families of victims. 

Do you have any other true crime recommendations?

Suz x

Monday, 1 May 2017

How To Achieve 10,000 Steps Each Day Without Breaking a Sweat

'I'll be the first to admit that I can be lazy.  Super lazy, actually.  I also really like food.  Like, really.' 

Given I'm unlikely to stop eating, the only way I can keep my weight down is to exercise. And I hate exercise. I literally force myself to the gym three times most weeks, but I still needed to do much more on my off days. This is how I tricked myself into 10,000 steps a day*

How to Achieve 10,000 step a day
If only it was this easy, huh? 

'Parking in, say, another town, won't be of much benefit and you'll only end up being late.'

Park a little farther away:
It's true; it works. Don't go overboard though. Parking in, say, another town, won't be of much benefit and you'll only end up being late. Parking a *touch* further away will absolutely up your step count. I park in the local leisure centre spaces (I have a pass, so don't bother reporting me to the Council staff) and this means I have a couple of minutes walk from my car to the office door.  Most of the time, this is fine. In the winter, it's not. Like, at ALL. In the winter, it's just torturous, but as I walk an average of 13 steps a day when it's cold, it all helps to boost my daily count. 

Get up from your desk every hour:
I drink a shit ton of coffee during the working day. Primarily because I'm addicted, but also because it gets me out of my seat and headed towards the kitchen. As well as giving yourself a break from your computer screen, it just helps you escape from work for a few minutes and there 'ain't nuthin' bad 'bout that. Also, if you're like me and have the World's Smallest Bladder, drinking so much coffee means that you also have to visit the toilet regularly, which means even more steps. Score! 

Lunchtime walks:
I work in a really small town, so wandering around at lunch is quite pleasant. I also have a serious charity shop obsession, so the mere thought of finding a bargain during the working day is usually enough to eject me from my office chair and into the town centre.  You'll be surprised at just how many steps you can rack up from a short walk and it all adds up. 

'Wheeling a bin down to the end of the driveway pales in comparison with utter hell that is putting stuff in the compost bin. There are WORMS in there.'

Taking out the rubbish/compost:
I hate taking bins out because obviously. However, wheeling a bin down to the end of the driveway pales in comparison with utter hell that is putting stuff in the compost bin. There are WORMS in there. We have an old plastic Quality Street tub in the kitchen that we keep our veggie peelings in and it's a trek of Everest proportions from there to the compost bin. Seriously: it's really far. Also, it's often cold and wet. Anyway, I have been trying my best to grab hold of these opportunities recently, despite the increasingly worried glances from my husband.  I now dart out to the bin, hold my breath as I lift the lid, and dump the contents on top of all the decomposing, smelly, rotten crap that lives in there.  This, people, is my commitment to 10,000 steps a day.  If you're lucky enough not to have a compost bin, just empty your other bins more often.  Or you can expend just as much mental energy working whether it's blue, brown or green week because that's even more exhausting. 

Marching while you cook dinner:
I can often be found cooking in my kitchen of an evening. While I'm cooking, however, I stand my iPad on the counter and put on something distracting (Sherlock or Whitechapel are my personal favourites) while I march around the room, like a maniacal General, staking out the front line between the fridge, the cupboards, and the hob. Please note that there is some risk involved with this. For example, don't do it when you're chopping because that will *never* end well.  Only do it when safe to do so. Like when you're stirring. Or waiting. Under no circumstances can you sit down until the meal is prepared. Or at least until your husband comes home and wonders what in all that is Holy you're up to now. 

'It gets me the stuff I need, increases my heart rate (MAN, my stairs are steep) and I often pretend like I'm on Crystal Maze...y'know, just to make it more interesting.'

Do things individually:
OK, so it's not the most efficient use of time, but it does mean more movement, which means more steps. Instead of piling my arms high with my phone, laptop, schedule, pens, sweater, and all manner of assorted items that I seem to carry backwards and forwards from my desk each day, I now take two or three trips. And I simply do it faster. It gets me the stuff I need, increases my heart rate (MAN, my stairs are steep) and I often pretend like I'm on Crystal Maze...y'know, just to make it more interesting. Also, I don't drop so much any more, which is always a bonus. 

Get a Dog:
To be fair, this is my answer to All Of The World's Problems. Getting a rescue doggo, or adopting a beautiful pupper will absolutely, certainly up your step count. We don't all have time for that kind of daily commitment to feeding and snuggling (I'm sorry, but what kind of monster can't commit to puppy snuggling?), so we often have to borrow other people's pets to get us off the sofa on a Monday night. Dog walking can also raise you a few extra pounds each week AND you get to speak to dogs. What, I ask, could possibly be better than walking 10,000 steps a day and having a heavy jowled companion to do it with?  Nothing, that's what. NOTHING. NADA. ZERO. 

What do you do to be a bit more active during the week?

Suz x 

*I try to do this on my gym days, too.  You know, if I can be bothered. 

Sunday, 30 April 2017

What's Occurrin' - April 2017

April Monthly Round Up

It’s that time of the month again when I realise that all the things I promised I'd do have been crammed into the last week of the month after realising I'd forgotten all about them. One day I'll learn, but it’s unlikely to be any time soon. This is my April round-up:

Amazon Prime: The Fall
I managed to miss the entire 3rd season of this, despite tithe first two seasons being the best things I’ve watched forever so I decided, in order to refresh my tiny little brain, I’d re-watch Season 2 before starting on the latest episodes. This was part of my cunning plan in the hope that I when I DID get round to Season 3, I wouldn’t be all like: How many people are dead now? Is Jamie Dornan still a serial killer? Where’s that really annoying school girl gone? You know, that kind of thing. 

Anyway, I have successfully trawled my way back through Season 2, catching up with the murky and, quite frankly, sick world of the lovely Jamie Dornan, and the more organised life of Gillian Anderson, the detective stalking his every move. If you haven’t seen The Fall, and you like crime drama and Northern Irish accents, I highly recommend you check it out. Now, in fact. 

Movies: Copycat
OK, so I’ve seen this movie on more than one occasion and I love it but, as my hubby hadn’t seen it, I forced him to sit through it in the hope that he will, one day, become as obsessed with crime and stuff as I am. I'm still waiting. 

The basic premise is that Helen Hunt (Sigourney Weaver) testified against a rather scary looking Darrel Lee Cullum (brilliantly played by Harry Connick Jr) and gets him banged up. Fast forward a few years and Darrel manages to find himself a disciple on the outside to carry out a series of copycat murders to rival the great serial killers of the 20th Century.  He mirrors the MOs and signatures down to the last detail and it’s not long before homicide detective, MJ (Holly Hunter) is chasing him down to a thrilling conclusion.  The movie is from waaaay back in 1995 but, apart from the hair and some dodgy outfits, it has more than stood the test of time. It’s superb.

Books: Peter May - The Killing Room
This title is the third of Peter May's 'China Thriller' series and is, appropriately, set in Beijing and Shanghai. I've read a few of his earlier titles, which involve a different character and were set on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, so I had a bit of knowledge of the author before picking this up.

Aside from the fact that May is a fellow Scot, I was interested in these books from a personal point of view. As my husband and his family are Chinese I find that, as a Westerner with little knowledge of the culture, I sometimes struggle to really understand it. I thought this volume, based on an American forensic pathologist who travels to China to work and has problems fitting in with the expectations of women in the east compared to her native USA, would be quite interesting. And it was.

The tale surrounds the discovery of some pretty gnarled body parts on a construction site and leads you through the murky world of abortion clinics and the pretty severe consequences of the Chinese Government’s one child policy, as well as their preference to baby boys over girls.

Music: Colbie Caillat - The Malibu Sessions
This is just as much of a shock to me as it is to anyone who knows how partial I am to my country music. It’s not like me to stray, but I saw Colbie Caillat supporting John Mayer way back in 2007 and I love her voice. I haven’t heard from her for years (or rather, I haven’t looked beyond the ‘Folk and Country’ genre on Apple Music…) so it was lovely to see she had some new stuff out.

The album is just as bubbly as the previous ones and she does have a knack of making you feel like you’re driving along the PCH in California, despite the fact that you’re actually stuck in the pouring rain on country road in North Wales.  I think we can all agree that takes quite some talent.

Podcast:  Sword and Scale
I honestly don’t know where to start with this, but it’s absolutely brilliant. If you, like me, love your true crime and aren’t horrified by listening to audio recordings of actual 911 emergency calls, or horrendous court proceedings, then this is the podcast for you. I discovered it through Buzzfeed (literally where I discover everything in life) and downloaded the first season to test it out. I was instantly hooked and, if I’m being honest, I haven’t slept *quite* the same for the past couple of weeks from being quite literally wide eyed in the middle of the night, marvelling at how sick the world is. Seriously. 
So far, I’ve explored the murky world of child abuse and abduction, what happens when lethal injections don’t quite go according to plan and, just last night, heard testimony from a man who shot and killed a stranger in a Florida cinema because he lobbed a bag of popcorn at him.  I don’t know about you lot, but I never go to the cinema without a loaded gun because, how would I deal with someone who threw popcorn at me if I didn’t???  This is clearly a case of self defence...  

What have you been up to in April?

Suz x