Wednesday, 26 February 2014

February Resolutions update - Wow I did bad...

February

Well, it’s nearing that time again for me to feel bad about myself and realise I’m doing badly at this!

But does that mean I’m going to give up? No!!

In reality should I give up? Probably…

(But I won’t)

Though I may not complete every single tiny, ickle, bitty, witty resolution for each month; I am trying! (I know it sometimes might not look that way!) 

Even though they’re not exactly the most exciting resolutions, I really am enjoying them all.

They make me think in advance about my time and how I plan my days/week/months/year! At least each month isn’t just flying by without me hitting some sort of milestone (regardless how small it maybe). 

I’m just one of those people who can just fall easily in to a routine of doing royally F all for a very long time and then, BAM, wouldn’t you know it, another year has passed.

So these resolutions are helping me not waste my time...I guess?

Any resolutions I don’t actually complete within the specified month, I’m not just going to forget about, they WILL get pulled over to the next month and the month after that until it’s completed! 

No resolution shall be left behind.

So February focused on trying new things, specifically food! (never a bad thing)...but it’s actually a lot harder than people think! Once I told people about the foods I haven’t tried I get the whole, ‘What? Really? You haven’t tried (INSERT REALLY OBVIOUS FOOD THAT I SHOULD OF TRIED BY NOW)?!?!?!’ Shock, horror, gasp!

I think I just got to a certain age or routine in my life where I continued to eat what I’m used to and/or what I liked and slowly but surely all the new and exciting foods out there just got overlooked.

Old habits die hard chicas.

To be fair on myself though, I was vegan for nearly five years and vegetarian for another five, so I have tried A LOT of different food and cuisine, but I guess some really obvious foody treats just got missed along the way!

But alas, I gave it a go and I'll continue on with trying new things and documenting it :)

Some things (like the salmon and prawns) I really did NOT want to try, but I just had to do it, I had to make my own opinion of them, but then some other food items on my list I couldn’t actually find (such as star fruit and dragon fruit). My assumption is that they are out of season at the moment, so this resolution shall be carried over to the next following months to ensure I try more different food/dishes when they are eventually available.

So here’s the list again – with one added extra to the original list as I forgot about them - PRAWNS

Kiwi – This was one of the first foods I tried. Yeh, yeh, I know…’BUT WHY HAVEN’T YOU TRIED IT?!?!’…blah blah blah – I’m sorry! Forgive me!?!




















I actually really loved Kiwis. The one I had was super sour (which I love) so I’ll be happy to continue nomming them.

Sushi – If you follow me on twitter (if you don’t – why the heck not?) you’ll know I’ve been quite sick these last few days and the plan was to have it the weekend just gone, so once I’m better, I’ll be ready for some Sushi!

Star Fruit – Not in season at the moment so this will have to wait!

Dragon fruit – Tis the season? No, it’s not the season…NEXT

Salmon – I tried Salmon in a homemade fish pie last week. All the fish was nice & fresh and all that jazz but I’m afraid Salmon gets a massive thumbs down from me. I found it too fishy and the consistency is something I just couldn't get used to! Don't get me wrong, I ate the entire plate (waste not, want not) but I wouldn't be eating this again out of choice...

(not my own photo)




















Battered Mars Bar – Don’t ask me how or why I haven’t tried this yet…I can buy one in my lunch break which I will do once I’m better!

Smores (YUM!) – Again, so ashamed I haven’t tried this yet…but oh…I will…with BELLS on!

Asparagus – This was the second foodie type for me to try on my list and the results are in….





















I LOVED ASPARAGUS! I love all my greens really and this one didn’t fail to disappoint! But oh boy, the tales are right…you know about the…you know…the…after you eat it…you..wait?…you don’t know what I’m talking about? Oh…go google it…

Kale – Haven’t tried it yet…oops.

Lobster - ….again….not tried this yet…will do soon cap’in

Pumpkin Pie – I really need to bake this as I haven’t found out where I can buy this in the UK so I have yet to try this!

Calamari – I’m been putting this one off for sometime…I’ll do it though :(

Set Honey – Can’t wait to do this one :)

Tuna - Haven’t tried it yet…

Chocolate wrapped in pancake – It’s Shrove Tuesday soon! So I’ll try this one then :)

Sweet potato pie – Again…I don’t know if I can buy this in the UK so I’ll have to bake it…

Goji Berry – I tried Goji Berries very early on in the month and my thoughts are…not the greatest fruit out there! I know they’re supposed to be superfoods and what not, but there was not much flavor or fruity pulp, it was just like eat something soft and grainy…not something I’d write home about…

Prawns – I tried these at the Brit awards last week. My sister who came with me to the Brit Awards loves prawns and said the ones we had there were really good quality. In spite of this of this fact, I still disliked them…a lot. They were almost a flaky texture and they were extremely soft too. I could probably eat them even if I didn't have any teeth! (I am not selling this am I?)…I just wasn’t a fan.
























So I only tried a whole  5 out of 17? - My bad..

Now, lets look at what naughty foods I got distracted with this month....(oh lord)...I can see why healthy options get completely overlooked with these beauties around...

I don't even have much of a sweet tooth believe it or not...but there's something about Merican' sweets I love.



























(p.s I only bought one pack of the Pop Tarts - The smores ones...absolutely no regrets)

(p.p.s The oreos were bought for me as a Valentines Day gift, so I HAD to eat them....)


Takeaway free month

BURGER KING! YOU EVIL TEMPRESS, WHY ARE YOU MY ONE WEAKNESS!?!

Yeh, so I failed…I failed hard!

I won’t lie, I had a burger king AND a Mc Donalds this month…but no takeaway pizzas or curry’s or anything like that…just the odd naughty drive through…

I clearly have a problem…

Treat my feet once a month for a year 

The girls are getting a treat tonight! Mani and pedi along with a foot massage. YAY!

Go to the Tower of London

My fingers are firmly crossed that I am better for the weekend so I can do this. But yes, I leave these outings to the end of the month as that’s when I get paid so I’ll do a separate blog about this mini adventure like I did before for the National Gallery.

Go swimming three times this month

Holy jebus I have not even thought about this one at all.

As I’m sick with a chest infection, swimming would not be the best exercise for me to do at the moment, you know, in case I decide to drown and all that…

How I've spent nearly two weeks...













































But I will rectify this! Once I’m well again, I’m doing swimming three times over two weeks!

1 hour workout everyday (1 rest day a week)

Ho ho ho ho…..Holy mary…I did not even attempt to work out ONCE this month!!!!! What is the matter with me?! Maybe I’m aiming to high for 6 days a week? For March I’ll aim a little bit , like 

3 days and week and for forty minutes…It may seem like I’m slacking but it’ll mean I’ll have no excuse not to do it!

No buying cosmetics – USE ALL THE STUFF YOU BLOODY WELL HAVE!

Oh my, can you believe it?

I actually completed one!

*the crowd goes wild*

And without bragging too much, I didn’t buy any clothes in January OR February as well! 

I have said to myself that before I can buy any new or pretty things I need to either sell, donate or swap my unwanted clothes instead of chucking them away. I just can't let them go to a landfill...it seems so wrong considering there's absolutely nothing wrong with them!

That'll probably be a whole different blog post though...



So right, overall conclusion? February didn’t go that well! But alas, I am only human, I will fail, I will make mistakes, I guess it's all part of the journey. Not to mention that all the resolutions I haven’t completed this month will be pulled over into March…great!

I really need to try harder!


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Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Brit Awards 2014


Sorry for my massive lack of writing this week, I've honestly had so much going on it's been nearly impossible to write anything at all!

But alas, as I'm held up in bed with a cold, I thought, hey, why not do that thing you're supposed to do as part of your resolutions, you lazy git!

So here goes:

On Monday morning I received an email that I genuinely thought was a joke:

‘Hi blessed_by,

You’ve won x2 VIP to the 2014 Brit Awards…

Sorry, come again? When did I even enter this competition?

I had completely forgotten about it and not to mention I didn't actually think I had a chance to win. Also, the Brit Awards were on that Wednesday…surely there wouldn't be enough time to sort my tickets and what not out?

I searched and searched for the competition I had supposedly entered to win these tickets and then bam, I found it; I was definitely the winner.

Full details of the event were emailed to me the next day; what to wear, when to show up and what to expect, but even though I was given a lot of information about the event, I was still quite nervous about going - I just had an awful feeling we wouldn’t get in.

I decided to bring my middle sister with me, Emma - Even though we’re not completely into all pop music (or whatever you want to call it – popular culture maybe?) I knew she would appreciate the event as much as me.

We both booked a half day off from work to get ready in time, as we needed to be at the O2 Arena at 5pm, though I somehow managed to become my sisters own personal hair stylist and makeup artist which meant it took me double the time to get ready! :@ Thanks Em.

After the massive kerfuffle that was getting ready, we set off later than expected, but as I live in London we were lucky to arrive on time.

Emski outside the O2 Arena - TOURIST SHOTS! 
Me being a diva outside the O2 Arena - TOURIST SHOT #2!
I was still so nervous once we had arrived at the O2 – I just couldn’t believe I could have won such an amazing prize, so when we went to collect our tickets and everything went smoothly, I soon settled into the event.

Red Carpet!
What I woreWe were then directed to the ‘Sapphire’ VIP area and then shown to our private suite.Once we got in the room my mouth dropped in awe! We had such an amazing view of the entire arena and we weren’t far from all the action. Once all the celebs started arriving at their tables, it was kind of easy to make out some of them (like all the boys from One Direction).
View from our suite - sweet!
Our suite was hosted by the company who I won the tickets with – Transmitter TV (though actually I won my tickets through the Huffington Post on behalf of Transmitter TV) so we had two representatives from the company with us. Apart from the representatives, my sister and I were the first to arrive so we had this entire room to ourselves for a little while.

Inside the suite - buffet galore.
We were greeted with a glass of champagne and shown around the suite; there was a private bar and buffet, along with private seating – it was amazing.

The me and u
The noms!

After some chit chat with some other competition winners we all tucked into the food, which was absolutely incredible!

Din dins with a view - I know the food looks a mess - I ruined it by slamming it on my plate - oops
I tried a few things I had never before such as a prawn! (I know...I’m weird... judge away) but I didn't enjoy it -  it was an odd texture and taste…(I don’t think I’ll be trying prawns again too soon).

Best performances?

Elle Goulding was pretty good – I’m not a fan of her music but her performance was full of fire and pyrotechnics and as I’m easily entertained by a spectacle, she gets a huge thumbs up from me.

I have a bit of a girl crush on Katy Perry as well and I also love the song ‘Dark Horse’ so I was happy as a clam when she came on and performed that.

Obviously, Queen B was amazing to see – I did wish she performed a more upbeat song and did a proper routine but hey, I can’t really complain too much.

Bastille and Rudimental joint performance was amazing; Rudimental are natural entertainers and it was the first act of the night that everyone in the arena got up to dance, they were probably the best performance for me.


Worst performance?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Lorde; I love her album and every interview I’ve seen with her she comes across as a likeable young lady. However, I really did not enjoy her joint performance with Disclosure. I felt like there was no aim to incorporate an original beat behind her song Royals (it sounded like the same beat almost to their song ‘White Noise’, which was subsequently mixed into the performance). I felt this was a great time for Lorde to really showcase herself but she was not given the opportunity to do so. I’m not a music/marketing/PR expert, but as a fan of her, I just thought her performance wasn’t the greatest.

Arctic Monkeys opening performance


Once the main event had come to an end we made our way to the VIP after party which was also based in the O2 arena. There was free ice cream vans, a fun fair, fortune tellers, paint balling, karaoke, croquet, performers and dodgems – it was rammed with people.

Emma at the VIP party






















First things first, we obviously went on the dodgems, which was nice to do at 10:30 on a Wednesday night. 

Dodgem central!
























We then took a walk around the party and had a look at all the entertainment that was set up; there was a really vibrant atmosphere, but it was far too crowded for my liking and after one glass of wine we decided to head off home.

I didn’t meet any huge celebs, but I did meet two Youtubers I watch, danisnotonfire and Amazingphil – they were nice enough to have a photo with me :)

IGNORE MY FACE.
















I did see pictures on twitter later that night that Lily Allen and Dappy showed up in the same area we were in, along with some other celebs, though I couldn’t care any less about celeb hunting.

We were in time to catch the last train home and we were so well behaved that evening that we didn’t have too much of a hangover the next day for work - so it worked out pretty well for us.

On the whole, it was an amazing afternoon/evening - genuinely, I couldn't fault a single thing.  I want to say a huge thank you to the Huffington Post UK Entertainment for picking me to win and also for Transmitter TV for hosting such a lovely event AND to the two lovely ladies from Transmitter TV who were so welcoming and sweet.

I'm now going to head back to bed to go cough my lungs up a little bit more.

I hope you're all well - what were you thoughts on this years Brit Awards?

Toodles.

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Competition Wins - January/February

Here are some of the latest competitions I have been extremely lucky to win within the month of January and February (they are in no particular order).

Saviour Snack box from Zip Car UK

I only received this a few days ago but already nearly all the snacks have been eaten! They were all just so delicious. There were several bags of assorted nuts and fruits and also some wonderful healthy treats! For full details on what is included in this box, please see the below link. 

https://twitter.com/ZipcarUK
https://twitter.com/savioursnacks
http://www.savioursnacks.com/snack-collections/super-skinny-box/





MistAir Tanning Mousse 

I cannot wait to try this out once the weather is better and I can show off my tan (no one will need to know it's fake)

https://twitter.com/MistAirUK




Bareminerals night set

I was so happy that I won this amazing Bareminerals set from Debenhams Beauty. I will be doing a separate blog on some of these items as they actually work wonders. 

https://twitter.com/DebenhamsBeauty


Beefeater £30 voucher

Let's face it, free food will always taste better - and this was no exception. My other half and myself thoroughly enjoyed our trip to our local Beefeater! The atmosphere was great (not too busy but not too quiet), the service was good and the food was great! I had the sirloin steak which was cooked perfectly and my other half had the ribs; he loves ribs - Beefeater - he gave a big thumbs up! Even the waitress was impressed with my win and couldn't believe that we only had to pay £2.55 for two three course meals! So thanks again Beefeater! We had a great time.

https://twitter.com/beefeatergrill







Guppys Handmade Truffles

First things first, I won this competition on the 11/02/2014 and I received the chocolate in the post on the 12/02/2014. For me, if any company can deliver their goods that fast, they get a huge thumbs up from me.

Secondly, these chocolates are divine. They are so light, yet chocolaty, tasty and moreish. They're not too sweet like a lot of commercial chocolate, but they're actually really nice with delicate flavors. I loved the one topped with coconut! Yum! 

Not only are they tasty as heck, they're also so wonderfully presented - look at how cute they are!

Sadly, these truffles didn't last long in my household. But my mum, other half and his family - all thoroughly enjoyed these tasty little treats!

https://twitter.com/guppyschocolate
https://twitter.com/local_food



So there you have it, my latest wins. 

I hope my good luck rubs off on to you lot!

Toodles.

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Monday, 10 February 2014

Saturday 1st February 2014 - National Gallery.

I love cold and frosty days when they’re mixed with endless blue skies and sunshine; they just seem so perfect and crisp. I hold many amazing memories on days such as this; so when the day begun and the sun was shining across the frosty grass, I knew it was going to be a lovely day.

I had an early morning driving lesson that went well. I say it went well, as I didn't mow anyone down or lose my temper, so A+ for me I suppose!

After I was done burning rubber, I met up with my middle sister, Emma, so we could both go to the National Gallery in Trafalgar square together. We both have never been to this gallery before (check us out, the uncultured club!) so it was nice to experience it with someone who had the same perspective as me and was able to walk around with fresh eyes. 

Emma on the train 

Us being twits

Such beauties right?

Emma was great company to have, as like me, she liked to go from painting to painting and read all the descriptions and stories behind each painting. I enjoyed discussing each one we found interesting, it was lovely to have her with me :)

I got told off by a guard for taking this one haha!

I thoroughly enjoyed the gallery, the building itself was beautiful and grand, but was a complete maze! There were so many different rooms all leading off one another we ended up getting lost several times!

There are some paintings in the gallery that I’m sure will surprise people - I was surprised! There are some well known paintings there, perfect masterpieces that I wouldn't of thought they would be on display here.

There are sections dedicated to Monet, Manet, Van Gough to name a few, but honestly, if you haven't been, go. It’s free! There’s no excuse.

We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the gallery, but I noted some memorable paintings so I could share them on here.

I haven't included the obvious choices such as the Japanese Bridge Over Pool of Water Lilies or Music in the Tuileries Garden, but instead, just some of the paintings that I personally enjoyed
and thought were interesting or thought provoking.

I have included all the information from the National Gallery's website under each photo so you can at least know the reasoning behind some of them.

 A girl and a window 

Artist - Louis-Léopold Boilly

Painted as a grisaille (a work of varying tones, but a single colour), this picture is intended as an imitation of a mounted engraving, although the subject does not duplicate that of any known print. It is probably a derivative by Boilly of hisSalon picture of 1799.

The composition derives from a type of genre scene popular in 17th-century Holland and which also became popular with collectors in France in the later 18th century. The highly finished style in this picture recalls such 17th-century Dutch painters as Caspar Netscher.


Lord John Stuart and his brother Lord Bernard Stuart 

Artist - Anthony van Dyck

This imposing double portrait shows the youngest sons of the third Duke of Lennox. Lord John Stuart (1621 - 1644), left, and Lord Bernard Stuart (1622 - 1645) were younger brothers of the Duke of Richmond and Lord George Stuart, who also sat for Van Dyck. Both young men fell on the Royalist side in the Civil War.

The brothers were granted leave to make a three-year tour of the Continent in 1639 and may have sat for Van Dyck shortly before their departure. The simple background sets off the aquiline features, confident poses and rich clothing.

The old woman and ugly Duchess

Artist - Quinten Massys

This picture was probably intended to satirise old women who try inappropriately to recreate their youth. Massys has evidently depicted a woman who suffered from Paget’s disease, a malformation of bone. Leonardo da Vinci seems to have been inspired by Massys’s painting.

Portrait of Bibi la Puree

Artist - Pablo Picasso

At the age of 20, Picasso returned to Paris in 1901. Excited by the city’s vibrant art scene and flamboyant characters, he painted with explosive new conviction.
This portrait shows Bibi, a well-known eccentric from bohemian Montmartre. A former actor and inveterate absinthe drinker, he was for sometime private secretary to the poet Paul Verlaine.
Painted in broad, gestural strokes and harsh colours, the portrait captures Bibi’s grotesque energy.

Christ teaching from Saint Peter's boat

Artist - Herman Saftleven

Jesus used Andrew and Peter's boat to preach to the crowds, and then led the fishermen to a miraculous catch of fish. New Testament (Luke 5: 1-10). After this he called on them to be fishers of men. The subject refers to the contemporary theological debate about outdoor preaching. The artist has placed the scene in a fantastic mountainous landscape. The high viewpoint, the vastness of the space and the large number of figures almost obscure the actual event. 

This type of landscape, with its rich colours and precise handling of details, is based on the Flemish tradition represented by Jan Brueghel the Elder and his followers.

Saint Margaret of Antioch

Artist - Francisco de Zurbarán

Most of Zurbarán's paintings of female saints were commissioned as series and executed largely by assistants. In 1647 he received an order for twenty-four canvases of Virgin Saints for Lima, and in 1649 one for fifteen destined for Buenos Aires. His painting of Saint Margaret, probably of the early or mid-1630s, is unusual in being an autograph work and not apparently one of a series. The saint was a virgin martyr of 4th-century Antioch. She was believed to have overcome a dragon and is shown with a shepherd's crook in reference to the legend that she was responsible for grazing the sheep of her nurse.

In Zurburán's painting she is represented in picturesque costume with a saddle bag ('alforjas') over her arm, a book in her hand, and oblivious to the dragon at her side. Her head and dress show to advantage the careful and smooth technique of the painter, attentive to the definition of detail.

Susannah and the elders 

Artist - Guido Reni

This episode is taken from the Old Testament Apocrypha (Susannah 15-24). As the virtuous and beautiful Susannah bathes in her garden, she is approached by two elders who, lusting after her, threaten to accuse her of adultery if she does not sleep with them. She refuses and is falsely accused by them, but her innocence is proved and prevents her from being stoned. Ludovico Carracci also painted a version of 'Susannah and the Elders'.

Since cleaning in 1984, it has been suggested that this work is wholly by Reni. Since the late 18th century it has been hung as a pendant to the artist's 'Lot and his Daughters leaving Sodom'

Witches and their incantations


Artist - Salvator Rosa

Scenes of the occult were rare, though not unknown, in 17th- century Italy. During his years in Florence (1640-9) Rosa produced a number of scenes of witchcraft, of which this (signed) painting is the most ambitious surviving example. It may be the painting referred to in a letter by Rosa of 1666 as having been painted twenty years earlier and one of his finest, and it is probably contemporary with one of Rosa's poems entitled 'The Witch'.

Spells are cast in the centre, below a man hanged from a withered tree. The brightly illuminated foreground is contrasted with the nocturnal landscape behind.

 Emma as we were leaving...

Us being twits again...




So that was our adventure for the day and another resolution completed

I hope you enjoyed this, have you ever been to the National Gallery? If so, what was your favorite painting or section? If not, what other galleries would you recommend?

Take care all.

Toodles.


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