Monday, December 31, 2012

Fry Returns


Well hello there, all.

It has been a jolly long time since I invaded Mama Claire's blog, so I thought it was high time for a Fry post.

It has been tricky to get online recently as Claire has been off work and so you never really know when she might pop up in her study.  I mean, the nerve!

All is well here, and the katzen as a whole very much enjoyed our first Christmas with Claire and Matthew.  It has been wonderful getting so many fusses and so much attention, as well as lots of wrapping paper to fight with and TURKEY to eat.  Have you tried turkey?  It really is most exceptional!


And now it is New Year's Eve - I do so hope you all have a fun evening of love, laughter and/or napping on the cards.  Poppet, Leela and I have a busy schedule of napping and firework avoiding (nasty, noisy things!  The people of Leyton seem rather taken with them - there were even some at Christmas!  I ask you, since when did Christmas become a season for fireworks?), and a saucer of kitteh milk to toast the new year.

So I wish you all the happiest of Hogmanay's, dear friends.  May your 2013 be full of happiness, fun, love and just enough silliness to keep things interesting.

Your very good health,

Fry Zanzibar R.

2012: The Year In Review

This review is becoming something of a yearly tradition....you can find the reviews for 2007200820092010 and 2011 by clicking through! It's always nice to take stock at the end of a year and see what's happened over the last 12 months.

It has been such a big, crazy, fabulous year - I'm exhausted just thinking about all the changes that have occurred. I'll warn you in advance also; a lot of these answers are house related. :)  I

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

We bought a house.

*grown up behaviour klaxon*

And adopted three kittens.

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?

I did pretty well on my New Year's ambitions as a whole - albeit with some notable failures (swimming, story writing and weight loss, I am looking at you!).  I'm proudest of the blog posts, the reading, and the writing cards!  One thing I have definitely learned is that the more organised I am, the more successful I am!  Next year I'll be working away on my '32 in 32', but my main resolution is to get healthier and hopefully lose a decent amount of weight.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yep - lots of folk!  The little person I hear about the most is probably Struan, son of Jenna and Chris (I was their bridesmaid back in 2009).  He's such a little doll - I can't wait to have my first Skype chat with him!


4. Did anyone close to you die?

Sadly, we lost Grandad America this year.  Such an inspirational man.

5. What countries did you visit?

England, Scotland, Spain and Belgium.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?


More time to write, more time with Matthew.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

14h December will forever live in infamy for all of us, I think.  Such a sad and heartbreaking day.  Praying for those affected still.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Buying a house, and reading 52 books!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Losing weight.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Bar a few sniffles, tummy bugs and aches, I've been extremely lucky.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A house!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

I have some of the best friends on the planet....so probably them! :)

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

No-one.  It's not really my job to cast aspersions on the behaviour of others.  To quote Plato, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

14. Where did most of your money go?

House, furniture, savings and home improvements.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Oh, you guessed it....our house!  And our adorable kittens!

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

There can be only one:



17. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?

I think I'm happier - in fact, I think as this decade and season moves on I'm generally becoming more content and happy.  I have so much to be grateful for, and I think age is making me more and more appreciative of all that I have.  I am about ten pounds thinner.  And I'm probably a little poorer as per money in the bank, but undoubtedly better off as all the money I don't have is actually still there, just now tied up in brinks and mortar :).

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Spending time with friends, exercising and writing.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Worrying and being afraid.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Like this.

21. Did you meet/date anyone special in 2011?

Well, I am happily attached to Matthew, and he's definitely special and I am definitely dating him.  Four and a bit years now, hard to believe!

No 22 or 23...hmmm!

24. What was your favourite TV program?

The Big Bang Theory, The Daily Show, Downton Abbey (right up until the Christmas special!), Have I Got News For You, Homeland, How I Met Your Mother, Storage Wars, Take Me Out, 30 Rock.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I don’t believe in hate.

26. What was the best book you read?

I have read 52 books this year, so it's a tough call.  Gone Girl was both chilling and surprising.  Game Change was revelatory (and great to read in a US election year).  Bossypants, Moranthology and Let's Pretend This Never Happened all confirmed three of my biggest intellectual girlcrushes!

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I just kind of absorbed music this year, but there's no one act that leaps out as amazing.  I did very much enjoy Fiona Apple's album, and Taylor Swift's too!

28. What did you want and get?

A house and cats.  Winning!

29. What did you want and not get?

An iPad.  Which is awesome, because Matthew surprised me with a Chromebook for Christmas instead, which is sooooooo much better for blogging (the primary reason I wanted the iPad for)!

30. What was your favourite film of this year?

Meh.  I went to the cinema a handful of times (I've become a cheapskate in my thirties!), as I now tend to wait for movies to appear on Sky (because then they are 'free' - albeit as part of an existing payment, rather than £12 a ticket!).  That said, I did enjoy Pitch Perfect and Anna Karenina, and am looking forward to Les Miserables (inner theatre geek, activate!).

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 32 this year.  It was a fairly tame affair - a day at work, including our class party, then home for eggs and a 30 Rock marathon (complete with 'night cheese' - Liz Lemon would be proud!).

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?


Worrying less about nonsense.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Comfortable, with dashes of shiny.

34. What kept you sane?

My friends, books, and blogging.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

George Clooney, David Tennant, and Dave Grohl.

(no change again!)

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Poverty.

37. I have only just noticed that there is no 37....hmmmm....

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Probably Jo and Marny - two super girls who make me laugh a lot!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.


Look after yourself.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"This is exhausting."

Because Taylor Swift got stuck in my brain for at least two months.  What a song!

32 in 32....we continue!


1. Write 1 book/ebook.

2. Visit at least 2 other countries.

3. Give blood at least 3 times.

4. Pay off £4,000 of my student loan.

5. Run 5K, either at an organised event or just pounding the pavement!

6. Go to the theatre 6 times!

The Showstoppers (Dec 16th).

7. Visit 7 different UK cities.

Newcastle

8. Have 8 pyjama days!

Wednesday December 19th, Wednesday December 26th, Friday December 28th, Saturday 29th December (4).  This one is proving embarassingly easy!

9. Write and photograph at least 9 cookery posts.

Lamb & Lentil Yums.

10. Attract 10 new sponsors for Holiday Hampers, whether big or small.

11. Spend 11 days 'unplugged' - no phone, no internet, no TV.

12.  Frame 12 of my favourite pictures and mail them to the people involved with a note.

13. Try 13 new recipes.

14. Write 14 poems and post them here on my blog.

15. Give away/donate 15 carrier bags of stuff to the PDSA shop.

16. Workout or walk 16 times a month, all year.

17. Use the library at least 17 times.

18. Visit 18 different London landmarks.

19. Go to church at least 19 times.

20. Write to my sponsor child, Wendy 20 times.

21. Take at least 21 walks of more than 5 miles.

22. Spend 22 hours working on another language.

23. Have at least 23 'no spend' days.

Thursday 20th December, Tuesday 25th December, Saturday 29th December (3)

24. Read 24 books.

The House of Silk, Community Wins, I Can Make You Hate, What Women Fear, Redemption, What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. (6)

25. Have people over for dinner/brunch/lunch 25 times.

I'm going to count our Christmas drinks as the first, then Christmas dinner with Rory & Eileen. (2)

26. Try at least 26 homemaking/cooking tips from pinterest.

27. Make 27 gifts for people throughout the year.

28. Watch 28 new (to me) movies.

Crazy Stupid Love, What's Your Number, I Don't Know How She Does It, Pitch Perfect, The Muppets, Tangled (6).

29. Find 29 songs I like to sing on karaoke.

O Holy Night, To Make You Feel My Love, What's Love Got To Do With It, Say A Little Prayer, Son of a Preacher Man. (5)

30. Volunteer for 30 hours.

3 hours at WLAC Christmas Party (Total: 3 hours).

31. Swim 31 times.

32. Lose 32 pounds.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The twilight of the year

This point in the year always feels twilighty, don't you think?  Like that hour after dusk where you await the velvety magic of the night descending, there's a bittersweet, otherworldy edge to the tailend of the year.

Another year, done.

Another year, about to begin.

2012 has been quite the year for my loved ones - moves and new jobs and rings and weddings and babies aplenty as we whirl around on this crazy ride called life.  And 2013 looks like more of the same - precious moments, happy times, challenges and successes, quiet times and times where you feel like you can't remember what quiet is.

It's been a big year for Matthew and I too - buying our first home has been exciting, exhilirating, terrifying, wonderful and trying.  Sometimes all at the same time!  We are so lucky to have found this place and to have the money to put a deposit down, and I'm so grateful to all our friends and family for their help and understanding - whether helping us to buy a sofa, bombarding us with new home cards, rescuing us for a supper away from the boxes or wielding a paintbrush or a screwdriver.  Our house is truly a home, and I love sharing it with all our visitors and guests.  When I look around this house, already I see glimpses of good times shared here - long may it continue!  It's also been the year of the cat(s!) - our three furballs have added so much to the silliness quota in the house!

And now, 2013 is just around the corner.  We have lots of plans, but as always I'm holding out for the unexpected joys, the surprises.  And until 2013 arrives I shall enjoy the twilight, this passing from the old to new.

Sunday Social

Sunday Social
1. Favorite New Years eve you’ve had before

Ah, New Year's Eve!  As a Scot I used to love Hogmanay and really had some very fun ones as a teen and twenty-something.  In Scotland it's all about a big party, congregating with most of your town at about 11.45pm, hipflasks, pipes and drums at midnight, first footing and a big meal with loved ones on January 1st.

My absolute favourite was probably 1999 into 2000 - standing on a flower stand by the Mercat Cross in Forres with some lovely folk, watching the start of a new millennium.

2. Are you doing anything for NYE this year and if so what?

As I've gotten older (and especially since moving to London, where organised events charge INSANE amounts to listen to music you don't like in a place you can't afford a taxi back from....) NYE has lost a little of its lustre.  This year should be different, however - out lovely friends James and Laura are having a party, so I'm looking forward to dressing up, popping some bubbles, and toasting a very exciting year!

3. Name a book we should all read come January?

Probably Gone Girl.  I read it for my book group and found it chilling and fascinating in equal measure!  A real treat.

4. What are your new years resolutions?

The main one is to lose weight.  I am going to focus a lot of time and energy into this, and hope that after eleventy million false starts this will be my year.  Because it has to be, frankly.  I'm miserable at the size I am and am so sick of hating my reflection.  I'm looking forward to making some grown up choices and rocking the Weight Watchers as hard as I can!  I've lost a little weight in 2012, but now it is my time to really commit.  If you see me eating more than the occasional cookie or skipping more than one workout, feel free to tell me off - I'm hoping to be able to turn to y'all for moral support.

I also have a whole range of things I'm working on for my 32 in 32 challenge too.

I hope you all have a wonderful Hogmanay and a very, very happy 2013!




Friday, December 28, 2012

Music: 2012

For once, I've actually listened to some contemporary music this year.  Thanks to spotify and my class's taste for cheesey pop radio stations, I'm actually more away of current music than ever.  And here, for your listening delectation, are my top ten tunes of 2012!  Some are songs I genuinely love....others have made the cut for their ubiquity.  Several on the list will always remind me of this year!

Allergy warning:  If you're lactose intolerant this may cause issues.....because the cheese quota is HIGH.  While there are several albums I've enjoyed (Fiona Apple especially), most of the singles I've rated have been poptacular - this may be because of the taste of my class coupled with the fact I mainly listen to cheesey songs when I'm working out or walking.

Enjoy!

1. We Are Young ~ Fun

This was released right at the tail end of 2011, I think, but I really became aware of it this year.  It's one of those songs I knew had to make the cut, by sheer force of its impact.  It has been everywhere.



2. First Steps ~ Elbow et al.

The Olympics was such a huge part of 2012, and having them right on our doorstep (seriously, you can seeing the 'Orbit' statue and the athletes village from our bedroom window) was a privilege I'll never forget and will no doubt tell pupils/grandchildren/anyone who'll listen of in the years to come.



3. Blow Me (One Last Kiss) ~ Pink

She's just awesome, isn't she?  I love that we have a brace of female pop star who're the real deal - intelligent, talented, fearless, true showwomen (Gaga, Pink, Madonna, Kylie).  There's far too much dross out there - huzzah for the girls with a bit of gumption!


4. Drive By ~ Train

This is such a catchy tune - and a million miles from their other stuff - and such a great 'listen to while you're getting ready for a date out / putting up displays / walking off a big lunch'.  Fact.


5. Live While We're Young ~ One Direction

In the seminal film Josie and the Pussycats, pop songs are revealed to have subliminal messages running through them.  Whenever I hear a 1D song, I can't help but be reminded of this, because it's like an aural narcotic....it gets you hooked.  There are actually a fair few 'can't get this out of my head' songs on this countdown, actually...


6. Safe and Sound ~ Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars

Taken from The Hunger Games, I fell for this song as soon as I heard it (on a Radio 2 country show, as I recall.  I'm a big Bob Harris fan.).  Perfect fit for the melancholy of the film.  Can't wait for the next installment!


7. We Are Never Getting Back Together ~ Taylor Swift

Yeah, more Taylor.  This was my song of the year, and is still my jam despite being played EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME.  Catchy, fun, highly quotable, great video.  Team T.Swizzle, for real.


8. Call Me Maybe ~ Carly Rae Jepsen

Apparently Scooter Braun has learned how to hotwire the charts....  This was definitely the summer track on the radio.


9. Wings ~ Little Mix

I don't watch the X Factor, so I wasn't really aware of Little Mix before now.  This song, however, is workout gold.


10.  Gangnam Style ~ PSY

I think this will be the song we all remember from 2012, regardless of taste, age, location....even my parents know who PSY is and how this song goes (and they hate pop radio and tend not to listen to any contemporary music!).  My class also love it.  It's part of the culture now!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kitteh update - Poppet

The third of our lovely crew is Poppet, our mummy cat!  She is definitely the boss of the house and keeps all the kittens and humans in line!


Poppet likes to keep to herself more than the tiny cats, but she's very fond of us too, I think.  Here she is waiting for Matthew to get home.  She loooooves Matthew!

Shy girl!


She likes to teach the kitzen katzen many skills - here she is extolling the virtues of being nosey.

While Poppet is often out exploring and is less fond of being held than the other two she dearly loves a good fuss, and naps *hard*.  Her favourite place to sleep is in her donut - and when she's done and gets up for a snack or some water she loves to flip it upside down so no-one else can use it, ha!

She loves to hunt (but hasn't yet figured out how to kill prey...) and to guard too (here she is guarding the cans of kitteh nom!).  She is such a beautiful and quiet cat, and is really well settled into life here now.  Poppet rules!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Christmas

What a lovely Christmas!

How were your celebrations?  I dearly hope that you all had a sweet and lovely day.  Our Christmas really has been a triumph of comfort and ease.  I'm sat here typing this post in the wee hours of Boxing Day, tapping away on my Christmas present (thank you, badger!), watching Downton Abbey and sipping a frosty G&T.  Here are a few pictures from the days events.


Our table, all set and ready for action earlier today.


 My late night leftovers sandwich - turkey, stuffing & cranberry sauce.  Absolutely delicious!  I swear, this is my favourite meal of the whole season.


Lunch!  We had such a delicious selection - beef, turkey, pigs in blankets, stuffing, roasties, gravy, sprouts, carrots, squash, red cabbage and cranberry sauce.  I feel stuffed just looking at it!


My gift from Matthew!  I am such a lucky girl.  I am typing away on it right now and am very much enjoying getting to know how it works.  It's so zippy!


Poppet enjoyed having lots of people around to tell her she is beautiful.


Pile o' gifts!


Eileen and Rory joined us for the day, and it was so nice to have them with us!  We ate, drank, and were very merry!


Dave the tree in all his glory, beladen with gifts.


Fry very much enjoyed the wrapping paper remnants.


Sweet Leela just wanted to smile for the camera (as ever!),


The evening was board games.  We were a little underwhelmed with Rummikub....



...discovered that Rory is a shark when it comes to Scrabble...


...and played a couple of games of Trivial Pursuit.  As well as having a wee relax in front of the TV for a couple of hours to let the food digest!

A happy Boxing Day to you all!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours, a very Merry Christmas!

Below, behold what happens when you try to take a Christmas shot with kittens around...

 Composition...

 ...help, part 1....

 ....part 2....
...and scene.

Here it's a day of gifts, food, love, family and friends.  And kittens. I hope you all have a blessed and lovely Christmas, together with whoever and whatever makes you happy.


Christmas Drinks

Last Tuesday, we had our fourth annual Christmas Drinks - out first in our own home!  Despite an awful lot of our guests being detained due to travel hiccups and ill health, we still had a very decent turnout and it was so nice to toast the season with such a lovely bunch of people.

A huge thank you to everyone who came along!


We had so much yummy food - cheese, dips, crackers, fruit, crisps, bread, mince pies, brownies, cookies, sweets, mulled wine and champagne cocktails amongst other things!  We greeted the first guests at a little after 5 and bid the last few adieu at half past 11.  A fun, fun night!


Hannah being silly!
 Mid-convo action shot!

 Mmmmm.  Brownies.  And Lou!

Eileen sampling some of the goodies.

32 in 32

1. Write 1 book/ebook.

2. Visit at least 2 other countries.

3. Give blood at least 3 times.

4. Pay off £4,000 of my student loan.

5. Run 5K, either at an organised event or just pounding the pavement!

6. Go to the theatre 6 times!

The Showstoppers (Dec 16th).

7. Visit 7 different UK cities.

Newcastle

8. Have 8 pyjama days!

Wednesday December 19th

9. Write and photograph at least 9 cookery posts.

Lamb & Lentil Yums.
 
10. Attract 10 new sponsors for Holiday Hampers, whether big or small.

11. Spend 11 days 'unplugged' - no phone, no internet, no TV.

12.  Frame 12 of my favourite pictures and mail them to the people involved with a note.

13. Try 13 new recipes.



14. Write 14 poems and post them here on my blog.

15. Give away/donate 15 carrier bags of stuff to the PDSA shop.

16. Workout or walk 16 times a month, all year.

17. Use the library at least 17 times.

18. Visit 18 different London landmarks.

19. Go to church at least 19 times.

20. Write to my sponsor child, Wendy 20 times.

21. Take at least 21 walks of more than 5 miles.

22. Spend 22 hours working on another language.

23. Have at least 23 'no spend' days.


Thursday 20th December

24. Read 24 books.

The House of Silk, Community Wins

25. Have people over for dinner/brunch/lunch 25 times.



I'm going to count our Christmas drinks as the first!

26. Try at least 26 homemaking/cooking tips from pinterest.

27. Make 27 gifts for people throughout the year.

28. Watch 28 new (to me) movies.

Crazy Stupid Love, What's Your Number, I Don't Know How She Does It, Pitch Perfect
 
29. Find 29 songs I like to sing on karaoke.

30. Volunteer for 30 hours.

3 hours at WLAC Christmas Party (Total: 3 hours).
 
31. Swim 31 times.

32. Lose 32 pounds.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kitteh update - Leela

The smallest of our three kittens is Leela.  In the five months since she joined our household she has blossomed, growing from a timid and scared little thing to one of the soppiest cats on the planet!


Leela used to be quite terrified of any humans, but now adores attention.  One of her favourite things is in the morning when I come down to make coffee & tea and she gets to gallop up the stairs to greet Matthew for a morning snuggle.

The girl loves snuggles - I had to interrupt her photo shoot to have a wee cuddle!
Little face.  As well as Leela, she is also called Miss Paws, and she has a ferocious and enthusiastic purr.  She loves cuddles and attention and is a proper 'dogcat' - she is always waiting for me when I get in from work, ready to tell me all about their day!

Leela loves to miaow and have a chat.  She is also fanscinated by cameras.

And the kitty Christmas tree.  Such a sweet baby girl.

Sunday Social

Sunday Social

Another Sunday, another chance to link up with Neely and Ashley!

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Probably mint choc chip.  Or Phish Food.

What is your favorite smell?

The ground after it rains.

The air before it snows.

 Freshly baked bread.

Sweet peas.

Chicken fajitas.

Newly mown grass.

What is your favorite TV commercial? (Past or Present)

I think at this point in the holidays, it has to be one of these two:


What is your favorite day of the week?

Saturday, for sure.  After years of Saturday school as a student and then as a teacher, having a whole weekend (even if there's marking or prep to do) is delicious!
 
What is your favorite way to waste time?

Reading funny stuff online, watching comedy shows, playing with kittens!
 
What is your favorite article of clothing? 

Any of my awesome pairs of pyjamas.  I'm addicted!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pinterest: Christmas

So, are you all set? I love the run up to Christmas and it has been such fun making all the preparations. As ever, a few gifts will be going late (too heavy to post)....a few cards haven't made it...and no doubt I've forgotten something on the big long list of purchases, but now the time has come to relax and enjoy this lovely season. One last round up of the inspiration on Pinterest...

Source: nextot.com via Claire on Pinterest


A tinsel wreath?  How incredibly clever!  I'd love to make a set of these for our doorways next year!
 

Such a great ambience.  Love the laidback beiges and whites.


Disney Christmas cookies - made me think of Ashley!



Just so pretty!  I have baubles in our fruit bowl that look a little like this!
 




What an amazing tree!

However you have decorated, and however youy celebrate, I hope you have a fantastic Christmas! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Kitteh Update - Fry

We've had our little katzen for nearly six months now and I realised I hadn't done an update recently!  Now we're on winter break I thought it would be the perfect time for them to have centre stage :)  The three of them are so well settled now and are a real delight (and a real handful!), but it's lovely to see their natures emerging :)


Fry is our little boy cat, and he is now 7 months old.  He is turning into a real tomcat, stocky and strong!


He has the softest, silkiest fur and big yellow green eyes, and he adores having fusses and giving 'kisses'.



He likes hanging out with Leela and Poppet, but can sometimes get a little rough - he's a proper boycat and loves rough and tumble.  He is determined to take after his mother and become a jumper before long.  He loves chasing things, food, visitors and shiny paper.


He has the sweetest nature and the teeniest squeak in place of a miaow.  He dearly loves humans and adores Matthew, but hates the hoover and loud music.  He has incredibly sharp claws which he doesn't always know how to control, but he's learning.


As well as Fry, he also responds to the name 'Pookie' (long story) and he is beyond transfixed by tinsel and baubles.

Such a sweet boy!

The last day on earth?




Hopefully not.

But it's not often I get to share one of my favourite sad songs and when it fits quite so perfectly!

Let's leave it on a sunnier note...


Good luck, all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Show Us Your Life: Christmas Cards

This week Kelly's link up is all about Christmas Cards!  Christmas cards really are one of my favourite parts of the festive season.  I love hearing the letterbox and rushing down to see what goodies have arrived.  As someone who loves post anyway, it's a delight to get so many jolly letters and cards arriving all at once!

We display almost all of ours in our sitting room, either tacked up on the door or on the shelves.





Below is our Christmas card for this year.  I decided to change it up a little and go for a Christmas postcard rather than a card and I was so pleased with the final result.  I used Erin Condren (such a fan of their designs), and the service was top notch ~ quick, friendly, thorough and beautiful!



Merry Christmas, all!

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