Saturday, 31 December 2011

It's New Year's Eve!

What is everyone up to?

We shall be sat inside, watching Bram Stoker's Dracula (and possibly Treasure Island on tv), eating Marks and Spencers party food, drinking free cava (free with aforementioned party food). And possibly gin. Because there should always be gin.

This is the first NYE I've not been partying for a little while now, and I think it will be a most welcome break. Rather than face tomorrow with an almight mess to clear up whilst battling the inevitable hangover, I shall be embracing the day safe in the knowledge that there won't be much that the dishwasher can't handle and I can get on with the other things I want to do tomorrow, such as sort my make up out, sort my wardrobe out and do some more laundry!

Whatever you are doing tonight, I hope it is a good one, and that the New Year breaks with gladness and aspiration.

Happy New Year!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Target: Reached

I did it! Through Slimming World, I have lost a total of 24.5 lbs (approx 11kg) in 12 weeks! I am so pleased, except that my wardrobe now needs a bit of work! I've largely kept my proportions as well which is nice, because I used to have such a boyish figure.

The before shot:

The after shot:

Go Slimming World!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas ala M4d and The Beard

A little bit after the event I know, but I've been really busy eating and drinking and have only just found the time to sort out all the photos that I/we took!

Finally though, I would like to present to you: Christmas. Or bits of it anyway. I didn't photograph our regular Christmas dinner as turkey with the usual trimmings isn't anything out of the ordinary!

Our decorations at home:

Julbord preparations:

Let me explain. The Beard is Swedish. Seeing as it is our last Christmas in the UK and we don't get to go to Sweden either, I thought we'd bring Sweden to Cornwall. Much to the bemusement of my lovely family, but thankfully they all thoroughly enjoyed the meal we prepared!

Swedish Christmas is celebrated on Dec 24th, much like the rest of Europe. The tradition is to have a Julbord, which is basically a Christmas buffet. Typical foods include baked ham, meatballs, gravdlax, crispbread, Jansson's Frestelse (a potato gratin with onions and anchovies), beetroot salad and cheeses. I also threw in some red cabbage done Austrian style as I had one in our veg box and in honour of our destination in 2012.

Another feature of a Swedish Christmas is a gingerbread house. It is quite easy to make the gingerbread, but we weren't satisfied with just a house... no. We decided to build a gingerbread castle!!

Making sure we don't forget anything....

The finished Julbord chez Mum and Dad:

So, on Christmas Day we had the traditional turkey with trimmings (I say traditional, its a modern tradition really, but certainly one that has stuck in our house despite trying the alternatives occasionally). As I said, it wasn't that remarkable other than being absolutely delicious because NOONE makes a roast like my Mum! But I have to share our other Christmas Day tradition, the lighting of the pudding.

This year we chose to have a Heston for Waitrose Hidden Orange Pudding, after all the fuss about them last year.

Served with Cointreau Butter and dried orange zest sprinkles. Pretty tasty, but not the best pudding I've ever had, if I'm honest!

Boxing Day for us means a walk when the weather is fine. Which it was this year. So we headed out to the Penrose estate and Loe Bar near Helston (via Tescos for some cherries which we couldn't get), and a walk along through the woods and along the cliffs to Porthleven.

Our stop in Porthleven involved a trip to the pub where I had tea, but the other non drivers had cider and beer. Then a short walk back to the car. It is one of my favourite walks in Cornwall, because despite being a South coast destination, the waves are always spectacular and the sea always a beautiful shade of turquoise.

After we returned home we ate leftovers from the Julbord and Christmas dinner, washed down with beer and gin.

So that was our Christmas! Hope you all had a good holiday, full of food and indulgence, and if you didn't last week, that you will do at some point!

For now, we're still eating leftovers that we came home with - risotto tonight. Next stop, New Year.

A great big clear out!

I'm having a clear out! I've had a pile of stuff sitting around for a while now, and whilst the pile has changed a little with my new weight, that pile of stuff has now been listed on the great Ebay (it has literally taken me all afternoon to complete this task, which could explain why the pile has been sat around for so long!).

Anyway. If you're interested in anything I have to sell, and I have a range of stuff, then please peruse the photos below and click on them to take you to the auction site :) Happy shopping!

Size 14

Size L

Size M

Size 12

Size 12

Size 16

Size 10




Size 14

Size 16, 36" leg

Size 16, 36" leg

Size 14, 36" leg

Size 7/41


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Alternative ways to spend your Christmas money

Some sales started yesterday morning, before the festivities were properly over, at seemingly ridiculous hours of the morning. Apparently there were people queueing outside of one of the big London shopping centres at 7am. For those of us who spent the day eating leftovers and participating in that traditional antidote to the gluttony of the festive season, I present to you a few things that you could spend your Christmas money on, that don't involve getting up with the larks.

1. Buy a few albums on iTunes/Amazon/Tesco/HMV.

Quite a few good albums have been released this year, as well as some crackers from years gone by, and they are all available to buy somewhere online.

My favourite albums of 2011 have been Within Temptation's The Unforgiving and Van Canto's Break The Silence. The former has been played at least once a day since it was released, and the latter is a newer discovery of mine that I also can't stop listening to!

2. Buy a Sophie Lancaster Foundation wristband

Or a hat. Or a tshirt. Or a shopping bag. But definitely a wristband if you don't already have one. Sylvia Lancaster and her team are doing amazing work, and every purchase from their merch store helps to fund it.

3. Invest in some Gareth Pugh for MAC make up

This couture collection designed by the gothy Gareth Pugh hit the UK earlier in December, but MAC still have some left. The collection features a dark and a light side, all packaged in lovely black, glossy, geometric packaging. I treated myself to the Deceit pigment when it was released and I love its purpley brown/grey colour. Get it while stocks last!

4. A good pair of boots

A good pair of boots is a key staple for any wardrobe, and the right boots will be amazingly versatile. Personally, I favour New Rocks, having worn and loved mine for several years now. But if your budget doesn't stretch that far, try Demonia or Doc Martens, or perhaps even your local army surplus store for a suitably gothy/steampunk/post apocalyptic alternative. Check online for local stockists - boots are one thing I would always advocate going to try on!

5. A piece of art

Now I'm not going to advise on this, because art is so subjective. I personally love John Miller prints, which are gorgeous, simplistic paintings of various bits of Cornwall. I have a few on my walls. I also love Mucha, the Czech artist who was most famous for his bilboard advertising in Paris, for brands such as Moet. So, go hunt some art, find something you like and hang it on your walls.

And if you truly do want to spend your Christmas money on clothes (I myself am seriously lusting after a new leather jacket to replace mine which is now a bit too big!), remember my one golden rule:
If you wouldn't pay full price for it, you shouldn't pay half price for it.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, 19 December 2011

A little a capella goes a long way

Or not, as is the case for me with Van Canto, who I cannot get enough of.

Van Canto are a German a capella metal band. Yes, a capella metal. A friend showed me their cover of Nightwish's "Wishmaster" and I watched amazed. Because this is a band with a drummer, a beautiful lead singer and a bunch of burly German blokes. Who make the most hilarious faces whilst plying their trade. Watch and see what I mean:

Van Canto: "Wishmaster"

Ok, so now you've picked your jaw up off the floor, watch this. Which still has the comedy faces. But I can't stop listening to it. 
Van Canto ft Chris Botendahl: "Rebellion"

They have done a good range of covers, and also have a wealth of their own material. I would love to see them live, and definitely hope to check them out when I'm a bit closer to their home turf than I am currently! Maybe they'll make an appearance at one of the festivals in central Europe!

Check out their website for more information, and tour dates. I have totally fallen in love with this band, they are something different and unusual. They are a good soundtrack for an afternoon of Skyrim (I'm also a little chuffed that they are following me on Twitter!).

Probably my favourite cover they have done to finish....

Friday, 9 December 2011

Giveaway winners!!

Firstly, my total apologies for not sorting this out earlier - life has been a tad on the hectic side this last couple of weeks!

Anyway, I have now done the draws for the Burts Bees and random samples giveaway I was running and these are the results.

The person who will receive the Burts bees and the bar of soap is.....

Domestic Diva!! 

The recipient of the samples set (and I found a couple of others as well that I'll throw in!) is....


I'll be in touch to get your postal addresses and will get your goodies in the post before Christmas :) 

Monday, 5 December 2011

The hills are alive.....

With the sound of....

I can finally reveal our big plans for 2012!!

The Beard has now told his boss and workplace about his plans, so that means I can tell you all!

As the video above suggests, I'm getting to live out my lifetime dream of moving to Austria! The Beard spent the majority of his teenage years in Vienna, and I fell in love with the place within about 2 hours of being there in 2008. We've been talking about this, and working it out since then, and finally we have a proposed date and our dreams will hopefully become reality.

Obviously we have a fair bit to organise between now and then, but it's pretty darn exciting!

When I was a kid I loved The Sound of Music (I still do), and dreamt of living in the Austrian alps. I also used to devour The Chalet School books which were originally set in the Austrian Tyrol. I dreamt of chalets and skiing and all that wonderful culture. My great aunt used to run a chalet school in Switzerland and I thought it was such a romantic idea. Living in Austria was one of my childhood fantasies. And guess what? Dreams do come true.

So far I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to be doing, other than my dissertation, so I'm currently applying for jobs and trying desperately to learn some German! I'm not a complete novice in the language, having gained an A* in my GCSE. I still remember a lot of the grammar rules and basic principles, thanks to a pretty good teacher who was really insistent on drilling the foundations of the language into us. Plan Z is to be an English speaking tour guide in the city - when I worked for my MP in my gap year I was an occasional tour guide and loved it.

So yeah. Wir werden von April 2012 in Wien leben.


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