Friday, 29 December 2017

How To Introvert The Hell Out Of Your New Year Party

Now, I know the whole concept of introverts at parties is one that may sound a bit ironic, but there are times of the year when even the most professional introvert simply cannot escape invitations and still expect people to speak to them. I know not why this is, but I just know it's true.  Therefore, in anticipation of that time, whether it be this week, or an upcoming birthday or anniversary, this is the guide to see you  through the actual hell of attending parties as an introvert:

Choose Your Table Wisely:

'You MUST scout out your surroundings before any event.  People will undoubtedly think you’re unhinged, but what do you care?  Knowing the set up of the venue will help massively with your choice of seat...'

This is primarily because you DO NOT want to sit next to the bar or the buffet.  These are heavy traffic areas and when you sit in a heavy traffic area, you will end up being spoken to by more people than you were counting on.   For normal people, this is fun.  For introverts, this is exhausting. What introverts want, more than anything in the world, is to find a table at the back of the room (preferably behind some sort of partition/curtain/cloak of invisibility), so that they can observe the actions, but not necessarily have to take part.  I realise this makes us sound horrible but we’re just not equipped to deal with lots of people at once. 

Figure Out An Escape Route:
Introverts need to know where they can get to within short notice of an OMFG episode (read: more than two people speaking to you at one time).  These are the moments when we feel so overwhelmed by a particular situation that we desperately wish we were heavy smokers so that no one would think it odd if we popped outside for a cigarette.  We also *sometimes* wish we had tiny children so that we could do the whole ‘Sorry, I’ve got to go because the babysitter needs to be away at 9:30pm’ routine.  (Note: I have actually used this excuse to get away early from a training course with a room full of random people, so don't feel that you should miss out just because you *don't* have actual children)  If someone doesn't know you from Adam, how will they ever find out?? 

Anyway, what we introverts like is an excuse to take a little bit of time out.  I find the ladies toilets at a party are the best place for this as they offer up the only real opportunity to lock yourself away in a box without people thinking you’ve lost your mind.  Bathrooms are an introvert's friend.  

Dealing With ‘Sitters’:
Sitters are lovely, friendly people that you haven’t seen for a while that take up residence at the empty chair next to you and ‘want to chat’.  We all know them.  They parade round as normal people, but they have no idea about introversion and, therefore, think nothing of their movements.  Internally, you want to scream ‘OHMYGODWHYME?’, but on the surface you simply smile pleasantly and try to look happy to see them.  I realise that sounds ungrateful and rude, but it’s not intentional.  I do like talking to people, but I don't like speaking to more than, say, two people in the course of one single evening.  I need it spread out over a period of three or four years.  Unfortunately, at any large gathering, you will come across Sitters and it’s not always possible to avoid them by looking like you were just heading to the bathroom to powder your nose. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and lie through your teeth, telling them you’ve been busy doing life stuff when, in actual fact, you’ve spent the vast majority of the last 20 years devising ways to get out of the very situation you now find yourself in.  

'Carefully come up with a few interesting conversational topics beforehand and then use them wisely throughout the night.  Write them down if you have to and then refer to them when necessary.  You won’t regret it...'

Take Back Up:
I never go to parties on my own because, well…I just couldn’t. I can barely walk into a pub on my own, even if my friends are already in there.  If it’s a party of someone I know well, it’s not as bad, but there’s literally no way on earth I’m going to party of someone I don’t know, say, as company for my sister, for example.  What ALWAYS happens, without fail, is that the person I’m with will float off to speak to someone, leaving me bereft in the corner, staring at my phone, desperately hoping that I’ve suddenly become invisible.  With back up in the shape of relatives and spouse, it’s highly unlikely that I will end up in the position where all four members of my entourage will ALL up and leave my side at the same time.  If it DOES look like this might happen, I stare at them, wild eyed, and beg them to stagger their absences so that I always have someone with me.   

Have an Exit Strategy:
You will also need to work out how quickly you can get out of the building/kitchen/wherever once the festivities are over.  The second a gathering draws to a close is the start of the all important Decompression Phase that we introverts cannot live without. This mainly consists of ignoring your husband all the way home, crawling into bed, snuggling beneath your duvet, and refusing to speak for at least 12 hours. Always know where your exits are and always, always say goodbye to the party host *before* everyone else starts.  Otherwise, you have to wait in line and that's just not good for anyone.  Having an exit strategy will greatly improve your evening, I promise. 

Take The Next Day Off:
Long gone are the days when I could people for a full weekend.  With the exception of very close friends and family, dogs are the only other living creatures that I can cope with on consecutive days.  If I know I have a night out, I need to clear my entire diary for the following 24 hours to give myself time to recharge.  This mainly involves not leaving the house and not using my phone for anything that involves actual speaking.  I am often, but not always, available via text, messenger and Snapchat for important correspondence and am more than likely to rustle up a response if there's a photo or video of a dog attached.  Otherwise, I will be a fully functioning adult only after a full day has passed. 

Suz x

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The Canterbooby Tales

The Canterbooby Tales... 

I recently offered to take LT to Cambridge for the weekend as he'd made mention of his interest in visiting their archaeological museum once too often and I wanted to quiet him down.  After checking out accommodation on Airbnb, I booked a last minute apartment in the lovely suburb of Cherry Hinton and arranged to pick my husband up from work on Friday evening.  We were both looking forward to a relaxing weekend, with visions of wandering through historic city streets, drinking coffee at pavement cafes, marvelling at the Impressionist art of the Fitzwilliam Museum and, of course, one of us having a great time in the archaeological museum while the other one was waiting around the corner, drinking a large glass of red wine and sitting by the fire in a cosy, traditional pub called 'Ye Olde English Gentleman'  

Now, on my weekends, I work on a self employed basis as a mystery shopper for a wide range of different companies across the UK, so it was only natural for me to check out what Cambridge had in the way of visits and see if I might pick myself up some work while I was there.  After all, I have a husband to keep happy with regular museum outings. 

'I found a list of available jobs and located a visit to the local branch of Bravissimo where, I was promised, in return for a few minutes of my time, I would have £35 to spend in store'

Living, as I do, in rural North Wales, this isn't the kind of shop I get the chance to visit very often, so I immediately applied for the assignment and was delighted when it was allocated to me. Also, I tend to find that most high street department stores, even if I did have them around me, don't actually stock the size I need, so this job was a no brainer for me.  I was free to visit at any time on the Saturday and, as the visit was right in the centre of the city, it would fit around everything we already had planned in the way of sightseeing.  

We hit the town centre on Saturday morning, grabbed some breakfast and coffee and headed out to our first museum of the day.  This was closely followed by another.  Then another, and it wasn't long before I needed a break and decided I'd head to conduct my visit.  I found the store without any difficulty and informed Les I'd be 'like, 10 minutes or so...'.  The visit instructions were NOT to go for a fitting, but simply to choose underwear/lingerie/swimwear and try it on in order to test out the customer service.  I confidently wandered into the shop and began to quickly browse the shelves, looking for something in my chosen size.  I grabbed two bras and hustled downstairs to the fitting room where I informed the lady I already had the correct items and didn't need her to assist me with anything. After all, I'm a grown, 39 year old woman who almost has her shit together.  She led me to a changing room and promised to come back in a few minutes to check everything was OK.  I quickly tried on the bras, only to discover that they were in absolutely no way even comparable to the 34E bra I was wearing, that I'd been overjoyed to find two weeks before in a branch of Marks and Spencer.   

'When the assistant came to check on me, her only words were 'NO!!!' , accompanied by a look of absolute horror...'

And with that, she told me to hang tight (quite literally) and that she'd be back with a bigger size.  She came back just as my ribs were beginning to crack under the pressure of the beautiful yellow bra I wearing and announced that she'd found me a 34G.  Dumbstruck, I tried it on, fairly certain that this woman must've been on a commission only contract that paid her more depending on the amount of fabric she sold.  I was horrified to find that it also didn't fit.  I was mortified beyond belief when she threw a 34GG at me and it didn't fit either.  By the time she told me she would bring me an H cup, I'd had enough.  No one goes from an E to an H cup in the two weeks it'd been since I'd bought my last off the shelf bra And it was really comfy.  I told her this, but she cared not.  I was now standing, at 39 years old, being told that I was officially a 34H and that I would never, ever again find a bra in a store that wasn't exactly the one I was standing in.  Even Marks and Spencer don't stock past a FF cup (or not that I've ever seen) and most other stores literally cover from A to D and seem to have very little idea that anything bigger is humanly possible.  *I* didn't think that anything else was possible until several years before when I'd had a conversation with my Mum and sisters and realised that I'd spent years complaining about being an E cup and literally didn't know ANYTHING.  

I left the store, with my new purchase, in a state of some shock, and wandered off to meet Les.  He instantly enquired as to what was wrong with my face and I simply opened my shopping bag, pushed back the fancy tissue wrapping and let him look for himself.  Les, being male, found the whole thing most amusing and genuinely couldn't understand why I was upset.  I honestly spent the rest of the day in a state of some disbelief.  Firstly, at the injustice of the whole experience and, secondly, at the thought that for the rest of my natural life I'll never ever be able to buy a bra that isn't reinforced with tungsten.  And if that's not a reason to be even more introverted and socially awkward than I already am, I really don't know what is.  

Suz x

PS - I would also like to state that the service I received in store was first class and, despite being traumatised, I couldn't have asked for better. 


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

5 Life Hacks That Actually Work

I'm a huge fan of anything that will save me time or money, or preferably both.  I love reading blogs and Buzfeed posts on anything related to quick fixes or innovative ways to use a product designed for one thing on something else entirely.  
Some of the hacks are terrible; some fairly decent and some... just some, are simple but superb.  

These are my favourite life hacks:

Shaving with Moisturiser:
I only tried this out recently after reading about it and was quite stunned that it worked so well.  My first attempt did leave my razor a little clogged; not to mention greasy, but it did the job well and I didn't have to rush into the shower.  Or you know, buy any of that bloody foam stuff.

The fact that, not only does it mean you can wear a skirt to work the next day without frightening your colleagues and customers, but it also moisturises your legs while you're at it. Two birds; one stone, so to speak.  Marvellous.  

Hand Sanitiser as Deodorant/Freshener:
I am obsessed with Bath and Body Works and always have a plentiful supply of fruity smelling anti bac hand gel lurking at the bottom of my handbag.

I use it continually in motorway service station bathrooms (obviously...) as well as just whenever I decide that I want to smell like a Peach Bellini.  Which is always.  

I have noticed that, on top of the smell, they are excellent on a hot, sticky day in Wales (yes, it does happen) when you get to late afternoon and feel like you need to shower.   As I don't actually have a shower in my office, I tend to slather myself in anti bac.   

It take two seconds to dry; freshens me up nicely; makes me feel cleaner and makes me positively reek of fresh fruit.  So much, in fact, that I often get chased to my vehicle by a swarm of wasps on my way through the car park.  True story.
Baby wipes are also great, but take up more space and don't smell nearly as good. 

Magnetic Strips on the Inside of your Bathroom Cabinet:
I lose, well...everything, really.  I live my life constantly being asked the question: 'where are the tweezers?', or 'what did you do with the nail clippers?' And, for the most part, I know that they're usually somewhere within the Narnia-esque realms of the bathroom cabinet.  

Les decided, in his wisdom, to affix a magnetic strip to aforementioned bathroom cabinet and voilĂ !, that's now where all the tweezers and nail clippers live, within easy access of my paws. Spoiler alert: while this is certainly a brilliant idea, it doesn't work so well if, say, you tend to leave your tweezers on the night stand or lounge coffee table.  However, If you always put them back in the cabinet, you're golden.

Toilet Roll Tubes as Cable Storage:
I despise looking for cables.  Mainly because every one we own is attached to every other one we own in an impossibly clingy fashion.  It can take me ages to strangle a cord only to find out that it wasn't the one I was act silly after.  This is the main reason I didn't use my Kindle for, like...a long time.  

Les spotted this hack and went through an annoying period of collecting toilet roll holders and storing them in the pantry.  Once he had enough, he dutifully separated all the cables and designated each its own lovely little brown cardboard house; obviously making sure that the all important 'end bit' was sticking out so that they could be early identified.

It saves sooo much time and no longer am I filled with dread at the prospect of trying to charge my phone/kindle/iPad/camera or the other devices we must own or we wouldn't have the cords for.  

Rolling Up Clothes in Your Suitcase:
I don't iron. Like, ever.  I am the person that hangs my clothes up when they're wet and just hopes for the best, so it's perhaps no surprise that I was particularly delighted to discover that rolling up your clothes and popping in your suitcase actually *does* stop them getting crushed. I have no real idea why it works; it just does. I have also recently discovered the wonders of shower caps and packing flat shoes.  It would appear that there's literally no end to my knowledge of hacking packing skills. 

What are your favourite life hacks?

Suzanne x

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

6 Ways To Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet

6 Ways To Lose Weight Without Feeling Like You're on a Diet
Wire my jaws, please

I hate dieting, but I love eating.  And drinking.  And sitting around in my jammas like a sloth, munching on crisps and drinking wine.  

This can make it a touch difficult to stay in shape and, although I force myself to the gym as often as I can bear, it turns out I don't have to deprive myself of all the things I love in order to drop a few pounds. 

Portion Size:
I have a big appetite. Like, really big, and the portions at dinner time in our house are sizeable. Since it would appear that I'm physically unable not to eat everything on my plate, I now cut down on the amount of spaghetti or rice I usually cook in order to eat less.  It needn't be a massive amount each night, but it does mount up over the course of a week or two. 

For years, I bought semi skimmed milk from the store and hated the thought of drinking anything else. I am addicted to coffee, so I drink a LOT of milk in the course of a day. This means quite a few of my calories are consumed in this way. I have tried to cut down on my coffee intake, but it makes me cranky and life's too short to be thin and miserable when you can be chunky and caffeinated. What I decided instead was to change my milk. I now buy skimmed milk and, again, it might be a small change, but it mounts up over the weeks and reduces my calorie and fat intake without disrupting my daily routine too much.  I'm afraid I can't drink fruit tea or black coffee because...well, they're awful. 

Pedometer/Walking app:
It's amazing how having one of these things keeping an eye on you during the day can actually encourage you to up your exercise game. I have the Samsung Health app on my phone and it follows me around whether I want it to or not.  It's a great way to assess how active you usually are and how you can up this without going crazy. I keep track of mine all the time these days and I try to get out of the office during my lunch break to go for a walk with the sole focus of upping my step count.  It's a great motivator and can spur you on to exceed your totals over the week and convince yourself to go that little bit further. 

I have a very sweet tooth and, although I don't like cakes or baked goods, I do have a complete addiction to sweets and sugary rubbish. This means I eat a lot of sugar and tend to come home from the gym or work and grab a handful of sweets while I cook dinner; telling myself that it's just to keep me going until Les comes home and we can eat. I hate to think about how many extra calories I consume during the week within this tiny window each day.  What I try to do now is replace sweets with rice cakes or fruit, combined with not picking up sugary stuff when I hit the shops.  It's not always entirely successful, but it does work the majority of the time. After all, it doesn't take a genius to work out that if you don't have sweets in your cupboard, you won't be able to eat them, will you?

I spent years drinking Coke or Irn Bru (I'm Scottish, it's the law) but in recent times I've replaced this with low calorie sparkling water.  Aside from the reduction in sugar, there are some fabulous flavour combinations that work well on their own AND when combined with say, gin or vodka. Or schnapps. Or white wine, if you're a monster. 

Swapping out your regular red or white wine for a spirit can also help you cut calories to a certain extent.  Replacing a large glass of red with a vodka and a splash of apple sparkling water can help cut down on sugar. Obviously, cutting it out altogether would be even better, but this isn't about making yourself miserable. It's just about stripping back some of your calorie intake. Wine makes me happy.  I'd rather be a chunky wino that a grumpy, skinny woman. 

Beware of Low Fat: 
I went through a spell of eating a LOT of cereal bars, granola, and low fat yoghurts thinking that, because they were low fat, they were obviously good for me. Oh, how stupid I was... The sugar content in my favourite yoghurt is sky high and makes eating it a complete waste of time.  The same can be said for the cereal bars I was happily munching on and feeling all smug and virtuous.  Discovering the sheer amount of sugar in the granola I like was a rude awakening, too, I can tell you. Now I always check sugar, calories and fat content and try to at least take account of these factors before I buy something, which helps me to make real changes without missing out (too much...)

What do you do when you need to cut back?

Suz x 

Monday, 20 November 2017

8 Top Tips to Calm You Down

Top Tips on How to Calm Down
think of calm seas...
Everyone has a limit for how much they can take before they lose their temper. For some people, it's seemingly endless amounts of annoyance, and then there are people who have absolutely no tolerance of anything and tend to fly off the handle at the slightest thing. I sit somewhere in between the two. I don't have much patience, but I will put up with a LOT before I finally put my foot down. This doesn't happen often but, when it does, it tends to be something that sticks with me for days on end, eating away at my happiness and generally, ruining my days. And there's nothing I hate more than knowing that some idiot has the ability to wreck my day when they don't really deserve a second thought. That said, it's often easier said that done to push things out of your mind and not let them interfere with your mood. These are my ways of dealing with the things in life that drive me to distraction:

I use music as a way to chill out and shake off my shift on the way home from the office. Every. Single. Day. The worse my day has been, the louder the music will be. I'm a huge fan of very loud singing (read: screeching) and can often be heard from several towns over, giving my own very, very original version of Miranda Lambert's biggest hits. For some reason, the louder I sing, the less tense i feel. Plus, I often find when you sing at the top of your lungs, it's far more difficult to concentrate on anything else apart from the words of the song. And the driving, obviously. Please don't forget about the driving. I am also always armed with a set of ear buds, which I store in my handbag and employ during my lunch break if I happen to be wandering around town on my own. Not only are they an introvert's favourite accessory (they put everyone off stopping for a chat). but putting on my favourite songs as I aimlessly stroll around getting some fresh air is always a good way of unwinding if something's bothering me.

As much as I hate to admit it (and believe me, I do), going to the gym, for the most part, keeps me from carrying my mood out of the office and back to the house. The little haven that is Barmouth Leisure Centre, which conveniently lies between my work place and my home, is where I like to stop of an evening and relax to take my mind off anything that's happened during the day. That way, by the time I get home, I've usually perked up and bit. And if I haven't, I've at least worked out like a crazy woman and there's a calorie burning bonus in that. It's sometimes the very last thing I want to do if I'm feeling miserable, but it's genuinely never made me feel worse.

I mean talking, not ranting. Ranting is the easiest thing to do when you're in a fit of anger, but I don't find it really helps in the long run. It might help you blow off steam in the first instance but, for me, it merely keep me agitated for a longer period of time, and that just makes it all the more difficult to calm down later on. What I like to do is find someone who might understand the situation I'm in, but not necessary just agree with me to make me feel better. Again, having someone agree with you for the Hell of it might help at first,, but if you've gone off on a tangent and have genuinely been acting unreasonable, having someone back this up is of no use. What you need is someone who isn't afraid to tell you you've been acting like an idiot and will encourage you to look at things from all sides. 

Obviously, you're doing this anyway (hopefully...), but when things get too much, actually focusing on your breathing can help to slow down your heart rate and make you feel calmer. Having 5 minutes to hide yourself in the kitchen at work or, even better, locking yourself away in bathroom gives you a short break to do some exercises and focus your mind. Try closing your eyes and inhaling deeply for 3 or 4 seconds before exhaling for 3 or 4 seconds and repeating as many times as necessary. It won't solve the problem, but it might give you enough breathing space and time out to think about things instead of saying something you might regret. 

Counting Backwards:
It is surprisingly difficult to be super annoyed about anything when you're trying to count backwards and remember which number comes before 37. It's 36, just in case you were wondering...  Anyway, the point I'm making is that saying the numbers out loud, or internally, makes no difference, it's having something else to concentrate on that help to distract you from the problem at hand. It's tough to argue with someone in your head while you're counting. It's even harder to do it while going through multiplication tables or square roots. Don't go overboard, though. No one likes a smart ass. 

Write it Down:
This works for me in the vast majority of cases, but it's not always a quick fix. For the first few minutes, I can be heard attacking the life out of my keyboard before I eventually get it out of my system. You can then read it back and stare at your journal in wide eyed fear at what an angry person you've become. Alternatively, if you do it on a regular basis, it can help you pick up any traits or behaviours that you might need to work on. For me, it simply means getting it out of my head, which makes it less likely that my husband will have to put up with my talking about it for the rest of my evening/weekend/natural life.

I love anything that smells like fruit. I like it particularly if this isn't *actual* fruit.  I have a mild candle obsession and love buying shower gels and lotions that make me smell like Carmen Miranda. While I don't find staring at the glow of a candle particularly relaxing in itself, when combined with, say, typing or stretching, it almost always has the desired effect. I care not about the quality of the candle, just solely about how strongly it smells like something I might like to drink on deserted beach somewhere... Citrus especially has been linked to an increase norepinephrine, which is a stress related hormone. If you have no candles, simply walk around the streets of your local town with a lemon stuffed beneath your nose and, voila! Calm seas.   

I'm in no way suggesting that you approach random people on the street, because that will get you into a world of trouble that cannot be cured be even a whole tree full of lemons. I'm not even suggesting you find a human for this. The best thing in the world for you to snuggle is undoubtedly a doggo. I have tested this over many, many years and it has *never* failed to work. If you, like me, don't have your own doggo, most people are fairly amenable to you cuddling theirs, just as long as you let them go once you're done.  AND, if you walk around with a pocket full of snacks, you won't even have to ask for snuggles; you will be approached by All Of The Doggos without having to make the first move. Sneaky but effective.

What are your top tips for calming down?

Suz x


Thursday, 2 November 2017

8 Things To Look Forward To This Autumn

8 Things To Look Forward To This Autumn

It seems that everyone's mood dips a little when the summer ends but, as I live I'm Wales (and am from Scotland), I can genuinely say that I've barely noticed the difference. I jest, of course; we had two beautiful days in August. Anyway, instead of looking at the changing season in a negative light, these are the things I'm genuinely looking forward to...

Darker Nights

I know not everyone is a fan, but darker nights mean candles and blankets in my house. There's something great about snuggling up on the sofa while the wind and dark swirl around outside. You can find me, watching Forensic Files, surrounded by candles, eating crisps (obviously), feeling pretty happy all round.

Taylor Swift's Reputation

I haven't been this in to the lead up to a new album since Beyonce dropped Formation from Lemonade. I know it got millions of YouTube hits but, if we're being honest, at least half of them were mine. Now that Taylor had released the first 2 tracks from 'Reputation', and I've been listening to them both on repeat, I'm so looking forward to the album release on November 10th.

Murder on The Orient Express

I'm not sure how many times this book has been dramatised, and every single one is my favourite, but I actually do think this new one will be my favourite favourite.  Aside from the fact that it has Kenneth Branagh playing Hercule Poirot (and we've already spoken about his acting talents...), it also has Dame Judi Dench and a slew of other famous famous.   It's pretty much impossible to go wrong with Agatha Christie as the quality of writing and twists and turns are genius, so it's hard to see how this can be anything but amazing.  Also - those outfits and the really posh English accents make me want to go back in time.  The new movie is released in December.

Robert Harris' Munich

Granted, this title is already out (as of Sept 21st), but I'm a little slower on the uptake than most people and am still making my way through the last Virgil Flowers book by John Sandford.  Anyway, apart from anything else, this book just *sounds* like it needs to be read in a darkened rooms, lit by a single flame, and me, with my map of Europe on the lounge coffee table, working out where I'm going to annex next.   I'm assuming that's how it was done back in the day, but I could well be wrong.   Anyway, I haven't met a Robert Harris book I haven't loved, so far, so I can't see why this new title would be any different.  I love the mix of historical fact meets fictional unreality that his volumes bring.  It's like you're cheating on your old history textbooks with something way cooler.

John Sandford's Deep Freeze

I'm still reading the last Virgil Flowers book (well, I say 'reading' but I'm actually listening through Audible, but a book's a book, right?), so I kinda need to get a move on since Deep Freeze dropped on October 19th.  Although the cases are always different, the lead characters lives move on with the books and, since I don't like my timeline being out of sync, I gotta read them in the order God intended.

Missing Maura Murray Podcast

I discovered true crime podcasts at the beginning of 2017 and have been addicted ever since.  Until now, I’ve only listened to ‘casts that have covered different stories each week, so when I found this one – which covers a single missing person case from 2004 – I wasn’t sure what they could possibly find to talk about each week to keep it interesting.   I started listening tentatively, sure I’d get totally bored after I got through the events of the actual disappearance of Maura Murray but, as it turns out, there’s so much more to the person, the investigation, the family members, boyfriend, friends, college acquaintances than I ever imagined.  In fact, the whole situation is odd right from the start.  Lance and Tim, who are the presenters, do a really great job of investigating and take a look at all angles, without pushing their own theories, which I found helpful.  That, so far, has allowed me to start to form my own opinions on the case.  If you want to become slightly obsessed with a girl who mysteriously vanished into thin air one cold February evening in rural New Hampshire, then this is definitely some essential autumn listening.  At the last count, there are around 55 episodes.  I’m at 12 and I’m already in way too deep.  Please listen and then come back and tell me what you think.  I really need someone to discuss it with and LT is so not interested.

You can find Missing Maura Murray Podcast on Podbean, iTunes and, I daresay, various other podcast listening apps that I’m unfamiliar with.

EmiSunshine's Ragged Dreams

I found this singer on a Rolling Stone’s list called something like ‘OMG Suz, You Will LOVE These Artists’, or something like that (it *may* have been Hot New Country Artists To Watch but whatever).  I downloaded an album called ‘Ragged Dreams’ from Apple Music and had a quick listen in my car on the way to work, in between bouts of practising my harmonies on Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s ‘Go Ahead and Break My Heart’, obviously.  And it’s scarily good.  When I Googled Emilie Sunshine, it turns out she was born in 2004, which makes her, like…..SO young it’s not even funny.  I mean, my first wedding was in 2004 and I’ve been married, divorced, relocated, reengaged and remarried since then.  Anyway, the fact that my life is kinda like some of the songs on this CD is neither here nor there.  The main thing is that this lady can SING.  And play ukulele.  And write songs.  And she’s amazing at ALL OF IT.   She’s a bona-fide artist whose Dad and brother play in her band (I’m not crying, you are…) and it might just be the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. She reminds me of Natalie Mains of Dixie Chicks and I am so looking forward to belting out her songs on the way to and from work over the coming months.


I live in a tourist haven and it's hell for 6 weeks of summer because it becomes largely impossible to conduct your business, find car spaces, go to the bank, enjoy the tranquillity of your local coffee house and get to work on time, when your usually sleepy town transforms into a kind of Welsh Las Vegas. Everyone has now returned to where ever they came from and day to day tasks are easy again!

Don't get me wrong - it's fabulous that so many people come here and tourism is a major source of income for local business, but it's also lovely when it's all over. At least until the Christmas break...

Suzanne x

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

July: Hits and Misses

July: Hits and Misses

July has been a good month for discovering new stuffs in the Tam household.  Most of these have been food or drink based, but what can you do?  After a busy month involving a trip home to Scotland, my sister and cousin coming to Wales for a weekend, and a some down time at home, these are July's hits and misses:


Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb Liqueur:
OHMYGODTHISSTUFFISAMAZING.  Seriously.  I'm not a huge fan of gin, and by that I mean that I like wine more, but my Mum has a penchant for this stuff and Les and I had a few glasses while we were visiting my parents this month.  On the way home from Scotland, we popped in to the supermarket to do our usual weekly shopping and quickly realised that this is also sold in Wales. Wrexham, no less.  Clearly, in order to support my home nation, I had to buy a bottle.  Safe to say it hasn't lasted particularly long. It's 20% and we drink it neat. It's very sweet, but has the best smell ever.  It literally smells like rhubarb and custard boiled sweets and tastes like them, too.  Also: it's currently on offer for £16 a bottle, so buy two. 

Butternut Fingers Coconut Cups:
I adore anything that smells or tastes of coconut.  I'm talking coconut shampoo and conditioner, lip balm, body spray and, obviously for me, dry shampoo. I do try not to eat massive amounts of chocolate, but I found it impossible to walk past these as they cried out to me from the special foods aisle in Asda.  I'd only ever seen the original ones while travelling in the States, so had no idea they had deviated so deliciously from their original recipe.  To be honest, they taste like bounty bars, but better.  I don't know how they're better, but they just are. They were on special offer for £1 for a pack of four and taste even better when enjoyed with a cup of We Are Little's Coconut Coffee.  

Chocolate Rice Cakes:
I love salt and vinegar and paprika rice cakes as they have really strong tastes and I'm a fan of anything low fat that tastes like it probably shouldn't be. I had always shied away from the chocolate ones as they just, well...looked disgusting, if I'm being honest. As it turns out, they're not too bad. Not sure I could eat many at one sitting and that, my friends, is exactly the reason I should be buying more of them. 

Jo Nesbo - The Thirst:
I've been waiting way too long for the latest instalment in the life of my favourite Norwegian crime fighter, Harry Hole, and July was the month when I finally got my hands on the audiobook version of The Thirst. I use audio books to help me sleep and have a monthly account with Audible (Amazon's audiobook company). Apart from loving the writing and the character, I love the narration, which is always done by Sean Barratt. I am now incapable of buying an actual Jo Nesbo book as I miss hearing Barratt reading it out to me in his wonderful voice. 

The new title surrounds an old nemesis from the past, who manages to bring Hole out of retirement to track him down. The crimes are crazy and, as always, the darkness and sometimes bleak surroundings of Oslo fit the books perfectly.  I also found out on fb the other day that Michael Fassbender is playing Harry in the movie version of The Snowman.  I honestly can't wait to see him on the big screen. 

Coconut and Vanilla Deodorant Balm:
The fact that this smells of coconut always meant it had to be exceptionally bad for me not to instantly love it. Unfortunately, I'm someone who tends to overheat a lot and I find body sprays to be fairly ineffective on me. I use them simply for the smell as I tend not to use perfume (read: I'm quite lazy). I tend to stick exclusively to solid anti perspirants, which are usually Dove, but this little pot of joy has proven to be equally effective. I got it as part of my July Birchbox and it's the only thing I've had, so far, that I'll definitely be buying again.  I love trying all the samples, but this is the first thing I've found that I've decided I'll be unable to live without when it's gone. It's made by Native Unearthed and is entirely natural. It's around £6.60 for a 60ml pot. 

24 Box Set:
Yeah, I know, I'm like a decade behind, but I always get there eventually.  I've been staring at this box set for ever and, after a recent panic attack about my impending 40th birthday, I made it my mission to watch it. I have no idea what these things have to do with each other but, like I said, I was panicking. Anyway, it's so good!  Why didn't anyone tell me?? 
Obviously, I decided to start watching 24 *just* when Amazon Prime decided that since everyone in the world had seen it, they'd remove it from my package. Clearly, this makes it a *touch* more difficult to tune it, but I have my ways. Les and I decided we'd watch it together, so progress has been slow to say the least. I have no doubt we'll make it through, oooh, at least 2 seasons before I hit my next birthday in January 2018.  I'm nothing if not ambitious. 


I watched the remake. It wasn't good. 

The Dark Knight Rises:
I actually put this on Prime on a sunday afternoon, thinking it was The Dark Knight.  I had no idea they'd even made a new one (I don't pay much attention....). I realised after the first few minutes, when I hadn't seen Heath Ledger, that this was a whole new chapter I hadn't seen. And it was good, but not a patch on it's predecessor.  I spent most of the movie trying to imitate Bane's voice, but without much success. 

Stephen King - IT (audiobook)
I'd like to start this by saying that it's not the book that's the actual miss here, it's the fact that it's audio and creepy AF.  I listen to audiobooks to help me sleep and, well...this one in no way does that.  Why I *ever* thought it would is beyond me.  What can I say? I'm not the brightest.  Despite the fact that it's a fabulous book, I'm having to listen on alternate nights so as not to completely scare the bejesus out of myself. I am nothing if not determined, though, so I will get to the end of it eventually.  Even if this means seeing balloons where ever I go and being deathly scared of opening fortune cookies for the rest of my natural life. 

What have you been up to in July?  

Suz x