Thursday, 30 January 2014

Thankyou 40's chic blog - I won!!

I have just been messaged by Lisa to say that I have won this competition! Yay! How mega excited am I right now!! As a little thankyou, I am posting a link to her blog

40s Chic: Sanctuary Spa giveaway results and hi, it's 2014: Hi everyone. Happy New Year! Please forgive my recent radio silence, but my life has undergone the biggest change since giving birth to ...

thankyou Lisa. xxx

Oasis - Day Two - Stop Crying Your Heart Out

It is Day Two of my week with Oasis. Today's pick is Stop Crying Your Heart Out. Released in 2002, this single reached number 2 in the UK charts.

The single was a track on the 2002 album, Heathen Chemistry, the band's fifth studio album. By this album, Oasis were established as British music icons, so the expectations were high. Weirdly, this song wasn't particularly well received, and I don't remember hearing it much on the radio at the time.

Fast forward 12 years to the current day, and it sounds awesome. Written by Noel Gallagher, and vocals by Liam and Noel Gallagher, this is an absolute belter of a record. Classed in the world of rock and roll as a power ballad, this song packs an emotional punch. Whilst its actually quite uplifting in its lyrics, Liam's snarling voice makes this more raw and thought provoking than it was probably intended.

Back in the day, I remember the likes of Don't Look Back in Anger, and Robbie's Angels being the songs that played out the last minutes in the bar or club. This song sounds like that - the sort that will make you a little melancholy and a quieten you down at the end of a raucous night. But that was then.

Stick this on your player now, and in comparison to the music today, it sounds big and bold. At the time, I can imagine set against the backdrop of bigger and better Oasis releases, including album tracks, that this was paled by comparison. But listen to it on its own. Take in the piano, the guitar and Liam's snarling yet beautiful voice and it will take you somewhere new.

I'm glad to have this on my week with Oasis, as its not an obvious choice. I could have picked all the big numbers, but I wanted to listen to this again to see if it has aged well. The verdict? It's better with age. Happy listening :)

For more music and reviews, check out My Music page, including yesterday's Day One pick,

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Big Brother - The End.

I'm not usually a fan of this sort of TV. I get very easily annoyed and bored of the usual ego packed facades. This year, thanks to my other half, I have been utterly glued to it!

Never have I been so compelled to watch a load of people that for the most part, I neither knew of nor cared about prior to this!

Before CBB this year, 2014, I could not stand Jim Davidson. Thanks to Linda Nolan, I am now a huge fan, and I want him to win. Thanks to Jasmine and Lee Ryan, I have felt sorry for glamour model Casey. Thanks to mad cat woman journalist, my opinion of my life is that it is great!!

Olly and Sam have been beyond cute. Louisa and Dappy so open and honest about bedroom matters that I have truly had my eyes opened.

I have to say I am really going to miss it. Sad? Yes. True? Yes.

So now the question is who will win. My money is on Jim. I never thought I would be saying that 3 weeks ago!!

But what will I do tomorrow? Oh yes. Life goes on. Its a TV programme!  :)

Wavering Will Power

I have been giving it my all - diet, fitness, gym. Making good progress, my clothes getting looser, finding my cheek bones again! My joggers would not stay up at the gym last night.

So why then, have I been starving hungry all day and wanting to blow it all and binge? Why am I so determined to de-rail? I have worked so so so hard. Tonight, it is like torture.

I am having a serious will power failure, and it is taking all my attention to really try not to give in. I have just eaten a healthy evening meal, had a pint of water and yet still, I am hungry. It's not possible! I have eaten the same amount that I do each day. I haven't skipped any meals. What is going on??

Why is it that will power can disappear overnight? I am determined to ride this out, to keep on track. But I have to tell you that it feels awful right now. I feel like the most hard done to person ever in the world, which is ridiculous. But even knowing its ridiculous doesn't make it stop!!!

I keep telling myself how I will look if I keep trying. I also keep telling myself how I will look if I don't!! My god today has been hard though. The worst since I started this resolution. Which again makes no sense. I expected to feel like this in the first week or so. Not at the end of the month! I need to stay strong, stay focused and not eat the contents of the fridge!!!! Help!!! :(

Oasis - Day One - Live Forever

Day One of my week with Oasis, and my first pick is Live Forever. Released in 1994, this is the first Oasis track that I can remember ever hearing and it blew me away. That much I do remember.

This was in fact the third single from Oasis' debut album, Definetely Maybe. It only reached number 10 in the UK chart, but was the first of the 3 to hit the top ten. It was much more important than that though, as it was this song that brought Oasis to the attention of the masses. The previous 2 singles, Supersonic and Shakermaker, whilst brilliant, didn't reach the top 10.

So enough of all that - now to the song itself. If you don't like the sound of guitars, step away now. This, is pure class. This is how rock and roll should sound. Unapologetic, perfectly tuned, great lyrics, brilliantly poignant and thought provoking, memorable, iconic. The song sounds gritty and urban, but at the same time is optimistic. So many songs at the time this was released were grunge and depressing.

This was penned by Noel Gallagher, and according to his own statements over the years, was inspired by the Rolling Stones. I don't know about that, as I was never a Stones fan really, but whatever the inspiration, this is an anthem.

When you hear either Noel or Liam Gallagher speak, you would be excused for branding them as typical Mancs - a bit arrogant, a bit full of themselves. You would not think to look or hear them that one of them could produce vocals of this elegance, such effortless perfection, or that one of them had the capability of writing such an epic.

This is a slow song, full of guitar, drums and piano. It has a distinctive sound and you know from the first its Oasis. There is no mistaking their sound even now. No-one has come close to matching them let alone surpassing them.

Unless you have been living in a hole underground for the last 20 years, its unlikely that you haven't been aware of Oasis. The thing to remember is that yes, they were argumentative, yes, they did at some points get too big for their boots, and yes, they were sometimes very over the top. But they were great. They produced music that has become forever a part of rock and roll nobility. Over the years, they stamped their mark on the UK charts.

But take a time-capsule back to 1994. Forget everything you know and just listen. Put this on, crank up the volume and just listen. I challenge you not to be as gushing about them as I have been here. I am, again, overwhelmed. If anything, this sounds even better than I remember. Maybe it's the memories it provokes, maybe its because I am that bit older that 'Live Forever' strikes more of a chord with me. Definetely Maybe its because it is a great great song. Happy listening :)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Success = losing my joggers!

Off to the gym went I this evening. I was stiff. I was aching. I felt tired, and not at all like going to do a workout. That was until I got there at any rate. That is always the hardest part - getting your behind in there in the first place.

Once there, I donned my gear and headed on out into the gym to work myself into a sweat. I began with the stepper and I worked hard. I then decided to run. This is where I hit a snag. As I began to run, I began to lose my jogging bottoms!

Now, I could take this as a sign that the gym and the diet are working. I certainly was not having this problem a few weeks ago. Quite the opposite, as I squeezed my ample derrière into them with great effort!

So there I was, warming up into my run, and having to keep pulling them up as they slid down a little off my waist. In itself, this wasn't too much of a problem at first, other than the fact that I happened to be sporting a rather unappealing pair of deep pink sports pants underneath! I really did not want to expose said under garments to the masses. So I kept pulling them up.

The problem got worse as the faster I tried to run, the faster they slid and the further they slid!! I had horrifying visions of what might happen, so I had to give it up. Instead, I walked as fast as I could on a steep incline then hopped on the stair master. The joggers seemed to remain up doing this, so my dignity was preserved at least!

Now, the scales are not dropping enough to justify the extent of this potential wardrobe malfunction, so I can only assume that I have instead lost inches from my waist and my hips. This is a result!! I think however that I had best purchase some new bottoms before things get any baggier on me!! For everyone's sake! :)

My Week With - Oasis (Week 3)

Each week, I will choose a band or artist to revisit and review; classic bands of the past, pop icons, home grown talent and bands that I am not familiar with. They will however have one thing in common - great music. Partly, I want to broaden my horizons and listen to something new. Partly, I want to remind myself of how good these tracks were and still are and rekindle my love for music of all shapes and forms. So far, I have spent a week with Blondie, and a week with The Stereophonics and it has been fantastic.

So this week, I choose Oasis, that well known, well loved, and very controversial not to mention confrontational rock and roll band from Manchester. Fronted by Liam Gallagher, with older brother Noel Gallagher taking the lead on certain tracks, and also lead guitar. The siblings feuds became headline news over the news, ultimately leading to the final parting of this band, arguably one of the greatest of all time. 

They released their debut album in 1994, Definetely Maybe, which blasted onto the music scene with their beatle-esque rock and roll sound. Over the following years, they achieved 8 number one singles, had 8 number one albums. Not to mention an array of awards including NME, Q music, MTV and Brit Awards. They finally parted in 2009, when Noel, after a great deal or arguing and ill feeling between he and Liam, finally had enough and split for good. 

Between 1994 and 2009, Oasis released 7 studio albums, 2 compilation albums, one live album and thirty singles. It is going to be tough to pick just 7 of these to review this week! So many great tracks. However, commencing tomorrow, I shall choose my first pick of the week and I shall turn it up loud, rest assured! 

At the end of my week, assuming I haven't started argy-bargy with anyone (well if its good enough for the Gallaghers!) I shall put my chosen 7 in order of preference. I always love to listen to good music, but I have to confess to feeling more than a little bit excited to spend a week listening to Oasis. Each day I shall post my single choice, and at the end of week you find all of them here. Join in with me and let me know what you think. The only rule this week is to turn the volume up loud. It would be rude not to wouldn't it? Happy listening. :)

Monday, 27 January 2014

2 stone to lose and 12 weeks to go!!

I do not like to do things the easy way. No sirree. Not me. I make things as hard as can be. This is why I find myself with 12 weeks to go and 2 stones to lose!! It can't be done you say?? I beg to differ.

In 12 weeks, 2 pounds loss per week would put me at 24lbs lost, just 4lbs short of the goal. That is one hell of a challenge, but if I can get some big losses in on a few weeks, I just might do it. This is what it is going to take:

  • 2 x PT sessions per week
  • 2 x individual gym sessions per week (4 in total, minimum)
  • 15 mins ab work every morning
  • no carbs after 7pm
  • no alcohol on week nights
  • wine only once per week, 1 bottle max
  • lots of veg
  • lots of fruit
  • 1 litre of water per day
  • Green tea 
  • 10,500 steps per day
  • no sweets
  • no chocolate
I have a hard and challenging 12 weeks ahead of me. The results will be worth it. However, this is not just for holiday. This is the time I get this weight off for good. I am one of those people who has never been able to do moderation. I gain weight, I lose weight - I never maintain. Not ever!! I really do need to learn moderation and that will be the hardest challenge of all. But I can and I will do this. (I will worry about maintaining when I actually lose the weight). Until then I intend to take each day as a new challenge, and a fresh start, to do something that makes a difference, and be proud of myself when I accomplish it. Here goes nothing.......

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Who fancies a week with Oasis?

It is my third week of the "My Week with" series of music reviews, where I choose a band/group/artist to revisit and review. I have been mulling over who to choose - so many great artists to choose from!

In the end I have opted for Mancunian band Oasis. Starting tomorrow, I shall be choosing just seven of their tracks to revisit and review, and will be writing about the band, their style and of course their music.

I'm looking forward to it, so join me over the next 7 days as we enjoy this band, arguably one of the all time great. Check out My Music page for My Week with Blondie and My Week with The Stereophonics, and my Singles of the Week.

My Movie Reviews - White House Down

I treated myself to a Sky Box Office showing of this movie, as I'm quite the fan of political action/thriller films. White House Down appealed to me, as it's the unthinkable - an attack on the White House, or the President of the United States.

Quite a new film this one, only released in 2013. The film stars Jamie Foxx as the President, and Channing Tatum as the main lead. However the supporting cast is impressive - Maggie Gyllenhaal in a rare mainstream role, James Woods (does he ever play the good guy?) and Richard Jenkins.

The film begins with a bit of scene setting, with John Kale (Channing) attempting to secure a post with the secret service, but seemingly thwarted by Carol Finnerty (Gyllenhaal) who isn't convinced that he has what it takes. He is trying to build a better relationship with his daughter, Emily, who is excited by politics, and takes her along to the White House for his interview, and then a tour of the building. Not wanting to let her down, he lies and tells he he got the job. By chance, the President passes the tour, and Emily takes her chance to ask him a very difficult question - just how he expects to get everyone to agree to peace. Then proudly tells him that her dad is going to work for his secret service. The President whispers in Cale's ear to stop lying to children!

During the tour, a cleaner's cart blows up, and chaos ensues. It turns out to be a distraction - the main goal is a plot to kidnap the president himself. Cale's daughter was in the toilet, so gets separated from everyone else. There is lots of shooting, as the men trying to take over the White House start to kill at will. Cale escapes, but the President is captured. Walker (Woods) the retiring Head of the Presidential Detail, safely escorts the President to the operations centre, but then kills the remaining agents, revealing that he is responsible for the attack. Revenge for his dead son, who was killed on a mission that he felt had gone wrong, but being black ops was never dealt with.

During all the action, the President is presumed dead, and the Vice President, who was safely evacuated onto Air Force One is sworn in. Unfortunately, Walker has acquired the launch codes, and Air Force One is shot down. Raphelson, Speaker of the House of Representatives is sworn in, and in what appears to be a last attempt to end the crisis, orders an air strike on the White House, despite the civilians still inside.

Walker by this point, has learned of Cale's daughter's identity, and Emily is threatened with being shot if the President doesn't give him the codes. Walker intends to launch a Nuclear attack on Iran, as he believes the President is too weak and wants to send a message out to reassert their power and avenge his dead son. Sawyer, the President, refuses, even when Walker again threatens Emily, explaining that more will die if he give the codes.

Cale meanwhile, is still trying to save his daughter and the President, and has started fires off in the house. The sprinklers go off, and Cale manages to kill one of Walker's main men. Sawyer takes the chance to attack Walker, but fails and is shot. Walker, somehow has the codes and sets out to launch the air strike against Iran. Cale ploughs through the wall in a four by four, kills Walker and tells Emily about the strike that has been ordered on the White House, and she runs to the lawns with an American flag, waving it about to try and stop them. It works, and they pull back, and only then Sawyer reveals he isn't dead - the bullet had hit a watch his wife had given him.

Just when you think its all over, Finnerty (Gyllenhaal) calls Cale and tells him that Walker wasn't behind the plot after all. Cale works it out, and asks Sawyer to help draw him out. Finnerty and Raphelson arrive at the White House, and Cale tells them Sawyer is dead. Raphelson orders troops to return to the Middle East, going against the peace treaty. The call back number from Walker's pager reveals that the launch codes came from Raphelson. Sawyer is returned to the presidency, and Raphelson arrested. Cale is finally appointed to the secret service, making his daughter truly proud.

This is an action packed film, with limousine car chases, helicopter crashes and tanks. Loads of gun fire, missiles and even a nuclear missile! This isn't for the faint hearted! However, what it isn't is a brainless flick - there is no Jason Statham surviving death defying situations. It actually keeps it quite real - even some humour thrown in to keep the characters a bit more humble than is usual in these sort of films.

My particular favourites are when Channing asks the President to shoot the bad guy, and he hesitates in order to put his glasses on first, and then when they are forced to get into the limo, the President goes to get in back, and then states "force of habit". It really changes this film from action-thriller, to one more alike to the first Die Hard films, where they have clever and witty dialogue and monologue. A quip from Gyllenhaal about secret tunnels that were used by Kennedy to sneak Marilyn in being just one example! This film is made all the more enjoyable as a result.

I also like the technology used - the references to the daughter's blog, how everything is recorded and put onto You Tube, and the fact that virtually all of us have mobile phones - sorry, cell phones to use the American parlance. It makes it very present day.

It may well be a little far fetched - hacking into the American National Security system, getting explosives into the White House and so on, but if you put that aside, this is a fantastically enjoyable film. The effects are fabulous, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx are an inspired pairing. The acting is good, the storyline solid. I definitely recommend this one. 9 out 10. I loved it!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Single of the Week - Rather Be by Clean Bandit (feat Jess Glynne)

This is a brand new song, only just released - 19th Jan 2014 i.e this week! Already, I am absolutely addicted to it.

Clean Bandit are a British group, and this is apparently their third single. I must confess that I have never actually heard of them before this single though. They have an album coming up on which this single and the others will feature, being their debut album.

I stumbled upon this driving back from the gym, and was humming it to myself straight away. It sticks in your head. I can see this being huge in the summer - it has that kind of beach vibe/gym workout beat. That said, its also perfect for a gloomy, grey, bleak January day, such as today!

Its an uplifting number, and quite housy and cool. Jess Glynne's vocals are beautiful, and remind me a little bit of other artists - one being a bit obscure - DB Boulevard, Another Point of View! another being a little Adele like in places. But enough of that.

However, this is a stand out for one very important reason - this is house music with strings! Now, I'm a bit of a lover of the old strings, and when done as well as here, it is nothing short of majestic. The strings kick in, and its hold on to your seats time. This is a style I've not encountered before - beautiful strings and fast beats of house music. Exciting stuff, and sure to be a chart topper.

Go take a listen, and let me know what you think.Enjoy x

My Week with the Stereophonics

My choice this week of who to spend seven days listening to was the Stereophonics. Each day, I chose a track to listen to, and then reviewed it. One week on, I can report that it has rekindled my love of this band, and piqued my curiosity for their albums, some of which are unfamiliar to me. Some of their music is now going to be a permanent fixture on my own playlists.

So the seven songs, whilst all great in different ways now need to be put in order of which I rank the highest (click the link for the full review for each). This is how they fared:

In at number 1: Dakota
Number 2: It Means Nothing
Number 3: Mr Writer
Number 4: Pick a Part That's New
Number 5: Maybe Tomorrow
Number 6: Local Boy in a Photograph
Number 7: The Bartender and the Thief

It's with a little sadness that I say goodbye to this fantastic rock band from Wales. Its been fantastic. It has re-opened my ears to the songs I remember, and how great they still sound, and has also given me the chance to listen to some new (old) music that I have now fallen in love with.

For more on The Stereophonics, and other bands and music, please visit My Music page. I am quite new to this blogging stuff, but each week I shall be adding more to my pages so you will always find something new to listen to.

If you have any suggestions for who I should spend a week with next (musically speaking of course) just pop me a comment and let me know! Or just join in with me and listen to my song choices each day. It's all good fun. Happy Listening x

Stereophonics - Day Seven - It Means Nothing

My final pick from my week with the Stereophonics is the single It Mean Nothing. Released in 2007, this single reached number 12 in the UK chart.

Taken from their album, Pull the Pin, this song is a rock ballad. Kelly's growls of It Means Nothing leave you puzzled at first, but then he continues "If I haven't got you" and it all makes sense.

This has a real rock feel and it makes you feel quite emotional. I think we have all felt that longing, that emptiness when the person we love isn't with us, or when it's unrequited. I'm not sure if this is what they had in mind when they were writing it, but its certainly what I feel when I have listened to it.

Now the odd thing with this track, is that I must have missed it first time around. I just don't remember it at all. Whether that's because it didn't chart too high, so it didn't get so much airplay, or whether I was just not listening to much new music at the time I'm not quite sure. I chose it specifically this week to have a listen to as part of my week with the Stereos, because I hadn't heard it.

I can report that it is a worthy choice to add to the 6 songs I have already listened to this week. You can imagine yourself turning this on loud if you are going through a rough patch in your relationship, or if you are in the throws of breaking up. It has that certain rawness where you feel sad, angry but still in love and in utter turmoil as a result! It sounds good though if you are loved up, or anywhere in between!

I am adding this one to my playlist as its really struck a chord with me. I think this is a fantastic record and well worth a listen. If you want to check out my other music reviews then check out My Music page. Happy listening.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Fit Tip - Ad Break Exercise

I have found a really easy way to get a bit more exercise into my days. I set myself an exercise goal - to reach 10,000 steps per day. This I have found, is easily achievable on gym days.

The problem is on my non-gym days. 10,000 steps is a lot when you aren't moving much or going anywhere! I didn't fancy walking up and down the stairs for hours, or leaping around everyday doing a workout video. I know they work, but every day?? Really??

I wanted to just do a few minutes regularly and then it hit me - get up and do something whilst the adverts are on, or just in between programmes if you are watching something on the beeb!

It doesn't matter what you do, so long as you move - put the washing away, put some washing on, dance around like a lunatic! Whatever you feel like - its only for 3 minutes max!! Put some effort in and give it some welly - we can all manage 3 min bursts!!

And the best bit? I am hitting my target steps every day! The scales are showing the difference its making. How simple is that? Result :)

Stereophonics - Day Six - Local Boy in a Photograph

This is my pick for Day Six of my week with the Stereophonics. Local Boy in a Photograph is the first single by the band. Taken from their debut album Word Gets Around.

It actually didn't fare so well on its first release back in 1997, only reaching number 51! It did better when it was re-released in 1998, when it reached number 14.

Personally, I think this song has a rawness that isn't present in their new songs. This is their first album though, and its less neat around the edges which is powerful. Bands sometimes get a little too polished for my liking.

Kelly Jones still sounds as gravelly even back in 1997, and this song set the tone for what was to follow with their soft rock style. Apparently the song was based on the true story of a boy who was killed by a train.

The album itself charted at number 6, thanks to this song, and also A Thousand Trees and More Life in a Tramps Vest, which followed this first single.

It's not the cheeriest of numbers, and it isn't particularly anthemic, but it's good. I'm not sure that it would be one I will be listening to regularly, but it was good to remind myself of where they started from - a trip down memory lane if you will. Well worth a listen, but don't forget this isn't the phonics as you know them.

For more on my week with the Stereophonics, check out My Music page. Enjoy listening :)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Stereophonics - Day Five - Mr Writer

My pick on day 5 of my week with the Stereophonics is Mr Writer. This track is actually the first single to be released from the album Just Enough Education to Perform.

Released in 2001, this single reached number 5 in the UK charts. Mr Writer is the third track on the album and was apparently written in response to some negative reviews by a journalist who toured with the band. I think it was a bit of a hit back exercise, judging by the lyrics! Apparently, this was the start of a bit of a rocky road with the Stereos and the press, but I personally think it's a cracking song!

As with the other tracks I have reviewed this week, you can feel the rawness. They have a knack of penning songs that really wear their heart on their sleeve. This track, was one of three singles from this album, the others being Have a Nice Day, and Handbags and Gladrags, which was a late addition. All three are great songs in my humble opinion.

Kelly really does snarl his way through this one, and its a fantastic result. The line "you've just enough, in my opinion, education to perform" is a real dose of sarcasm, and obviously the line that inspired the title of the album. I am quite sure that revenge was sweet when this album topped the album charts - take that Mr Writer!

If you are feeling a bit full of angst, or a bit vengeful then get this on and turn it up. For more of the Stereophonics check out My Music page. Enjoy and happy listening.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

My Beauty Trials - Step One - Nails

My resolutions this year were all about making the most of myself. I intend to try all manner of beauty products and treatments this year. With this in mind, I took the opportunity to have my nails done at lunch today.

Let me explain my nails pre session with the lovely lady who did them. Picture if you will, bitten, ragged, not very groomed looking very short nails. I have small nails anyway, even when I grow them. This meant that I was not able to have just tips - oh no. Not enough nail apparently!

I have had almost full nails stuck on, then filed down. This fascinated me. She was so patient - picking out the right size, laying them out, gluing them on.

On top of this, came the acrylic. This turned out to be liquid, mixed with some sort of powder, creating a kind of putty. Delicately spread over the false bits and my nails with a teeny brush. Then more filing and buffing.

Finally, the shellac. I had no idea what this entailed. I picked my colour first. Cue base coat, several coats of nail varnish, then top coat. Each followed by what felt like a mini sunbed for my hand after each coat. Then, to my initial horror, she took what looked like a tissue to them - they are still tacky I cried! Don't worry she told me, and wiped them with it.

She then tapped my new nails with her own nails, and they clinked. Dry! Amazing!! When you do them at home, you end up getting then dinged and scratched because they take so long to dry!! Very impressed, I emerged with lovely kind of sparkly red nails.

I absolutely love them, and they have even survived the gym. Excellent. Now the trick is to learn how to type with them on - I cant hit the keys properly!! They look pretty though, so a small price. :)

Gym the day after PT - impressed?

I am feeling pleased with myself this evening. Not only did I survive last night's brutal PT session, but I have been to the gym again!

Yes, I can feel the burn. I can feel everything burning if I am honest! But its a good feeling. I can feel my muscles getting stronger, and I can do more. I can lift more, run longer and faster.

The only bit I am finding disappointing is the scales. Not budging at the moment. I am sure they will. I have got to persevere. What choice is there really?

I can continue as I was before. I know the result to that game. I get bigger. My confidence gets that bit less. If I carry on being healthy, making healthy choices, working out - it has to make a difference.

I am just impatient!!! I need to convince my reluctant self that this is a lifestyle change, and results take time. Oh but how I wish for a quick fix!!

Oh well. Gym it is. Again. :)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Stereophonics - Day Four - Maybe Tomorrow

Today is Day Four of my week with the Stereophonics, and today's choice is Maybe Tomorrow. Taken from the album You Gotta Go There to Come Back, which was released in 2003. The single reached number 3 in the UK charts, also in 2003.

This track has a much softer, gentler sound than the usual Stereophonics style. Less rock, more melody. Apparently this whole album has a softer sound, but I've not listened to all of it - just revisiting this track today, but definitely liking what I hear with this one. 

It's not a fast paced number, and wouldn't be a good gym anthem, this one would be better fitted to a few drinks on the balcony as the sun goes down over the sea somewhere warm. It's like a soft breeze washing over you. 

Having said that, Kelly's voice does prevent this from being dreary. His sexy tones make this rather sensual and touching. Which is probably the reason this track was chosen to play out the credits on the movie Crash (the good one, not the pervy one!). 

This single was the band's second highest climbing single. This is also one of the band's favoured live numbers. They are well known for their fantastic festival appearances, and this song would sound great in that atmosphere. For now though, I will have to settle for listening to it in a slightly less appealing setting, but its no less appealing. 

For more music from the Stereophonics, check out My Music page. Happy listening :)

Today's Personal Training Session

I had a major panic yesterday on realising how little time I have until my hols. Less than 14 weeks and I have not made the progress I should have. But that's enough of that. Today, I made a commitment to myself to try harder. And to this end, I have succeeded.

I had Personal Training this evening, and whereas previously, I would try, I found it so hard. Tonight, I was determined to do everything he asked me to do - and to my surprise I was able to work that bit harder. So on the menu this evening we had the following:

  • dumbbell bar squats
  • jogs up and down the studio
  • step ups to the side - step box
  • step ups to the front - step box
  • dumbbell bar curl squats
  • lateral pull-downs
  • upright row machine
  • dead lifts with dumbbell bar
  • sprint training on the cross trainer
  • balance squats on the bosu
  • one leg squats on the bosu
  • burpees
Tonight, the aim of the game was upper body and cardio. Yet doing squats along with weights, boy did I feel the burn in my thighs and derrière!! But that is all good. My thighs and derrière are more than in need of working hard! 

Last week, I came to realise that balance is my nemesis. The task now is to strengthen my legs up to assist my balance. I struggle far more on my left than my right, so now I know what I need to focus on for the time-being. 

He has tasked me with getting up off the step-box from sitting on one leg. I simply cannot at present! So I am getting some very strange looks spending as much time on one leg as I can to get better at this. This is going to take some work let me tell you!

A bosu, in case you are wondering, is like a half ball with a flat plastic disc. You can either place it ball side down and try to balance on the disc, or, you can flip it and do one leg balances and squats on that side. I can report they are all immensely difficult and very likely to land you in a heap on the floor. 

I fear that my loss of dignity and grace to date are nothing in comparison to what is yet to come. 

The things we do to try and get the body we want!!! It will be worth it, it will be worth it, it will be worth it. Won't it???  

Sunday, 19 January 2014

14 weeks just under

I have just worked out how many weeks until my holiday. It's a couple of days shy of 14 weeks. OMG! There was me thinking I had ages - even if I manage a 2lb loss each week, that's still only 2 stone. It's not enough!!!

I have got to work so hard now. Having a right panic!! April seemed such a long way off when we booked it, and I have been complacent. The real work needs to start now. No excuses.

I have lost a few pounds already, don't get me wrong, but I am way off the point I should be at. At this rate, I won't fit in my holiday clothes!!

Any tips on how I can lose weight fast???

Stereophonics - Day Three - Dakota

Day Three of my week with the Stereophonics, and today's choice is Dakota. Dakota was the first single released from the album Language, Sex, Violence, Other? Released in February 2005, this was the first Stereophonics single to reach the number one spot in the UK chart.

I loved the Stereophonics older sound, and this track in particular takes them back to how they sounded on their first two albums. Its more alternative rock than the softer style they took on. I absolutely love this. From the moment it kicks in, you recognise this track - its unique. 44 weeks it stayed in the charts, proving it wasn't just me that loved it so much.

Apparently Kelly Jones wrote this track in a hotel room in Paris, and it was originally going to be titled Vermillion. The bad changed their minds when Slipknot released a song with that title, then Mercury Rev used it as the title of their album! It was renamed as Dakota, the name of the famous building in New York (you will know this is you are a John Lennon fan of course). Another fact for trivia fans - the video was actually filmed in South Dakota, USA!

I'm not usually a fan of songs that have long intro's, but this has such a strong, dramatic intro that it excites you from the start. When Kelly Jones growls "You made me feel like the one" with his melodic gravel filled voice, you really feel it too. You can feel the soul in this track - it really packs a punch. "I don't know where we are going now", he sings, finishing with "Take a look at me now".  This is a powerful track. I do not know why this wasn't already on my playlists. It is now.

I am very much enjoying my week revisiting these tracks. I have not been disappointed yet. See my choices for Day One the Bartender and the Thief and Day Two Pick a Part that's New for more, or just visit My Music page.

Introducing Tommy the Dog

Let me introduce you to the newest family addition. This is Tommy.

Tommy is lovely. He is also a handful! He cannot walk towards you, he flies, leaping off the floor and landing on you! He is still only a pup, not quite fully grown. He is my parents new dog, and they weren't quite prepared for the bundle of energy that he is!! Training is going to be fun - his latest love is to wrap himself around your neck like a scarf!! He is beautiful and cheeky as you can see!! This was his first Christmas. I think its safe to say he enjoyed it! :)

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Stereophonics - Day Two - Pick a Part That's New

I have chosen this Stereophonics song as my second of the seven I shall be revisiting and reviewing in this, my week with the Stereophonics. Pick a Part That's New was released in 1999 and reach number 4 in the UK charts.

This single was taken from the band's studio album, Performance and Cocktails, and was track 4. The video is fab - its the band taking on the Italian Job classic scene with the bus hanging over the cliff! It's the song though that I love most.

It kicks in with drums and guitar, then Jones' gravel filled voice starts. Clearly a rock and roll band, this is an uplifting song. The lyrics make you feel happy and hopeful. "You can do all the things that you like to do". It's a song well suited to summer when you can get outside in the fresh air, and feel like you can be anyone, go anywhere. That said, its not a girlie pretty song - this is definitely rock.

I like how it doesn't linger with an extended instrumental at the end. Kelly stops singing and it stops. This is a fab song, and its one that I haven't heard for many years. I used to have the album on CD, but I haven't listened to it for a very long time, and that's a shame. Listening to this today has made me want to bang on the whole album and turn it up loud. It's that sort of song. Go take a listen if you don't believe me, you will enjoy it.

All my reviews go on My Music page, so go check it out. Let me know what you think.

Stardust - My MOVIES review

This is one of my favourite films. I spied that it was on this evening, and persuaded the other half to watch it, and I am pleased to report that he has been glued to it. So enough of that - what's it about?

Stardust is a romantic fantasy - its full of magic, and love and loads of baddies. It came out in 2007, and features the Take That hit Rule the World, which Gary Barlow penned especially for it. It suits this film perfectly. Based upon a novel, this is a tale of witchcraft, love, forbidden love and daring do's.

It's packed with stars - Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Charlie Cox, Rupert Everett, Mark Strong, Henry Cavill and Peter O'Toole to name but a few of the known ones. Some of them will surprise you in the roles they have taken on here, stepping entirely away from their usual characters, and the film is all the better as a result!

The film begins in the village of Wall in England, in the magical kingdom of Stormhold. Dunstan Thorn manages to cross over the guarded wall and meets a princess, who he falls in love with. She is princess Una, who has been enslaved by a witch. Nine months later, a baby is delivered to Dunstan by the wall guard, who tells him the baby boy is Tristan, his son.

Moving on 18 years, Tristan (Charlie Cox) has grown up, and asks for the truth about his mother. His father explains all to him, and passes him the items she left for him, including the Babylon candle. Tristan, deeply in love with Victoria (Sienna Miller) has seen a falling star, and wants to get it for her to show his love. He uses the magic Babylon candle which takes him to the fallen star, who turns out to be a beautiful woman named Yvaine. He enslaves her, telling her he is taking her to Victoria - she isnt best pleased!!

In the background, the King has died. He has set his sons the task of finding the ruby he has cast into the sky, at which point they can become King. In doing so, his ruby collides with a star, bringing it to earth. This is the falling star - otherwise known as Yvaine. The sons then begin a brutal quest, killing each other, or trying to in their aim to win.

Three ancient witches in Stormhold also notice the star, and it is only by cutting out her heart that they may gain their youth and power. They give all the remaining power of the last star to Lamia (Pfeiffer) so that she can find and capture the star.

The paths of the above cross as they weave through the magical land, encountering as they do the pirate and its captain, Captain Shakespeare (De Niro). This is my favourite bit - De Niro in ladies clothes, dancing and singing - brilliant!! Tristan realises that he doesn't love Victoria, but has fallen in love with Yvaine.

Yvaine has begun to shine as she falls in love with Tristan. After spending a night together in an inn, Tristan decides to go and tell Victoria he has fallen in love with Yvaine and leaves whilst she sleeps, leaving a message for her. Yvaine awakes, and is told the news - that Tristan has returned to Victoria, and that he has realised he has found the love of his life. Wrongly thinking he has left her, she heads for the wall, but if she crosses it she will turn to nothing but dust.

Tristan finds Victoria, and gives her a piece of Yvaine's hair. When it turns to dust, he realises that Yvaine will be dust if she ever crosses and rushes back to her. Tristan's mother, encamped with dishwater Sal, the witch who enslaved her, spots Yvaine and stops her.

The film reaches its final showdown with the princes and the witches. Two witches are killed, and all the sons. Una however, has been set free and has rescued Yvaine. Tristan and Yvain are reunited, and she shines so brightly that Lamia is vapourised. Tristan gets the stone that Yvaine has been wearing, which turns out to be the ruby. It then becomes clear that he is the last male heir!!

Tristan becomes King, his father Dunstan is reunited with Una - happily ever after!! I love this film so much, and so will you.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Fire, fireworks and the setting sun !!

Last summer, there was a huge fire behind us. An industrial unit miles from us suddenly blew up and this is the result.

On the last pic you can see sparkles in the fire  - they were fireworks. The unit next to the fire was storing boxed fireworks. For near on an hour we had the most beautiful sunset, a fire and fireworks. Awesome. (noone was hurt) x

Stereophonics - Day One - The Bartender and the Thief

Stereophonics - the Bartender and the Thief. Day One of my week with the Stereophonics, this is my first pick. Released in 1998 this was one of the very first offerings I ever heard from this Welsh band.

This single is from their second album, Performance and Cocktails, this single reached number 3 in the UK charts. This song is one of their darker tracks, hence my choosing it, as it isn't the kind of song that is released for mainstream success, this song has guts, this song has feeling and soul.

This track is more rock than some of the others on this album, and the albums to come. The Stereophonics are a rock band. But they are more than that. They have a depth and an honesty that takes them far beyond that. Kelly Jones is so reminiscent of Rod Stewart that its a beautiful reminder of the great man, whilst modern and stand out in its own right.

I have actually seen this band live, many years ago, at the V Festival and by god they sound better loud than on the studio tracks. Thats unusual in itself!!

This album had many great tracks, but I chose this one to listen to today, and I have truly enjoyed it. Its been many years, but its like an old friend - it doesnt matter how many years it has been, the connection remains. Go on, take a listen and enjoy. x

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Classic Music Week 2 - Stereophonics

As part of my newly revamped blog I intend to choose different bands each week to revisit. Some will be classic bands, some will be pop icons, but they will all have one thing in common - great music. Last week, I chose Blondie. Click here if you want to take a look.

This week my choice is Welsh band Stereophonics. Fronted by Kelly Jones - he of the Rod Stewart-esque gravelly voice. The Stereophonics have released eight studio albums, and are still going strong. They have also released a successful compilation album.

Their style is rock, but its not hard rock and with Jones vocals, their sound stands out from the pack. Their earlier music had more speed and energy, but then  settled into their sound, and became more in the public awareness and mainstream with their second album, Performance and Cocktails. They have also achieved the status of five consecutive UK number one albums, putting them up there with the likes of U2! They have achieved ten top ten singles and one number one single. Not bad for a band formed in a Welsh village.

Over the next seven days, I shall choose seven of their singles to revisit and review. At the end of my week with the Stereophonics I shall put them in order of preference. I'm looking forward to it!!

For more of my music choices, check out My Music page, and happy listening. :)

Hey, I got my new shoes on!!

What woman doesn't love a new pair of shoes? Feast your eyes on these babies - my latest addition to my collection. I'm so excited!

These are Lacoste Berdine Wedges and depending which ones you choose, vary in price from £140-£170 a pair from Littlewoods or Very.  This is my foot in the pics and I can tell you they are so comfy. Higher than I thought to, which is fab for me as I do wish I was just a little bit taller!

So far, I have been charging about in them and can report that they continue to be as comfy as my Converse, and are the perfect choice for shopping. The height helps the figure, the gripped sole means you can be safe on slippy surfaces and they don't hurt your tootsies!! I love them so much! Happy Days. :)

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

My Week with Blondie

I chose classic group Blondie as my choice for the week. One week on, I have listened to a new (old) single each day and I have thoroughly enjoyed each of them. The results are in as to how they sit in terms of my favourite:

In at Number One : Sunday Girl
Number 2: Heart of Glass
Number 3: Call Me
Number 4: Atomic
Number 6: Rapture
Number 7: Dreaming

So it's with a nostalgic sadness that I say goodbye to Blondie. Some of these are going to stay with me, some are on my playlist for holiday or the gym. Others whilst it was fun, I'm not looking back and walking away. 

Who will I choose next is the question now? find out shortly - watch this page. Enjoy x

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

mini diet goals

From this point to target I want to lose 3 stones and 4 pounds. That is a total of 46lbs. As of today I have lost 3lbs. Last week, I lost 1lb. So 4lbs lost in total.

Add that to the weight I still want to lose and my new year diet goal equated to 50lb. As the weeks go on I will post the weight loss and the weight left to target.

To lose weight successfully its good to break the goal down into mini goals. For me, this will be every 7lbs I lose, and also, at each point when the starting weight changes number. I mean for instance when you are x stone 1, you lose 2 lbs and all of a sudden, you are a different number of stones and somehow it feels much more than a 2lb loss!!

Here is my plan of mini-goals:

Start                    Weight to lose           Weight lost              
                                50lb                        0lb
Mini goal 1               43lb                        7lb
Mini goal 2               36lb                        14lb
Mini goal 3               29lb                        21lb
Mini goal 4               22lb                        28lb
Mini goal 5               15lb                        35lb
Mini goal 6                8lb                         42lb
Mini goal 7                1lb                         49lb

Final goal                   0lb                         50lb!!!!!!!

7 small goals adding up to one final goal = happy!!! Now what should I reward myself with a each mini goal I reach? Any ideas?

3lbs down - 3 stone to go!

Losing weight is so hard. Exercise is exhausting. That feeling when you pop on the scales and the weight has dropped? Priceless. Imagine my delight today - 3lbs drop!!

Feeling wonderful right now. Unfortunately a way to go yet, but its a good start isn't it?

C'mon - tell me how your resolutions are going? :)

Monday, 13 January 2014

Debenhams Womenwear Winter Challenge

My Daytime Look

This look is all about being versatile. A lovely glamourous dress, played down with practical but funky boots and a snug coat - ready for anything!! Accessories to make it fit for any daytime occasion - ladies lunch, city shopping - you name it!!

Principles by Ben de Lisi - Designer black scroll print tunic £38 & H! by Henry Holland Black flocked heart leggings £18. Red Herring Black studded lace up boots Was £60.00 reduced to £18.

Quiz Stone Rose Faux Fur Coat Was £54.99  Now £49.99 & Fossil Light turquoise leather and chain bracelet Was £45.00 Now £22.50. Fiorelli Cream twist lock shoulder bag Was £49.00 Now £39.20

Total price for this daytime look: £185.69

My Evening Look

This look is to take you from early evening cocktails, to late night clubbing. Smart jacket, tailored leggings - ideal for in and out of taxi rides or falling off bar stools, right through to sequins for the dance floor! Killer heels and sparkles - glamour, sexy grown up girl about town. Perfect for this time of year - who wants flimsy skirts when its raining?

Principles by Ben de Lisi Designer black slim and trim leggings £25.00. Butterfly by Matthew Williamson
Designer navy graduated sequin vest Was £35.00 Now £24.50 Now £17.50. Faith Black diamante caged side high peep toe shoes £55.00


Principles by Ben de Lisi Designer black zip pocket blazer £50.00. Shimla Silver triple pave ball drop earrings £55.00. Floozie by Frost French Silver multi chain charm bracelet Was £18.00 Now £9.00
J by Jasper Conran Designer Black embellished clutch bag was £45 reduced to £33.75. 

Total price for the evening look is £245.25. 

Problem skin?

My New Year's resolutions missed something - my goal to this year finally try and find a skin regime that works. I am well into my 30's now and have always had problems with my skin, going back as far as my late teens.

Over the years I have tried different brands, different treatments, but have struggled to maintain any sort of smooth complexion. At best I have days when its not as bad, but most of the time it gets me down.

So my plan is to try some new things and revisit some old ones that I did not really give a chance to work. I'm not expecting miracles - if there was a miracle cure we would all have perfect skin!

The first thing I am going to establish is a thorough cleansing and toning habit - morning and evening. My plan this week is to do some internet research into the best products for this, then choose one for my skin type and go and purchase said items. If this shows improvement, I shall move onto a new moisturiser and I believe there are all sorts of products out there that might help.

Balms, serums, masks, scrubs - where to start? Start with the basics. My skin is suffering - dehydrated from central heating, cold weather and hot showers at the gym. I have been guilty of not removing make up on a few occasions too - the ultimate beauty sin! My diet has been pretty rubbish up until this point which also hasn't helped one bit.

I will keep you posted on the products I try and how things progress. Here's to hoping this year I find the elusive solution! By now I had hoped my skin would have calmed itself down, but as this is showing zero signs of happening, this must be done.

Off now to have a look what is out there. Watch this space for more, and share your tips if you have problems with your skin that you have great products to recommend using - I would very much appreciate it.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Dress Dilemma!

If you have read my previous blogs, you will know that I have an ongoing diet. As a consequence of being a weight yo-yo I still have a variety of sizes hanging in my wardrobe. Amongst some of these items, are some that have lingered for many a year.

Sometime ago I began the massive job of thinning out my clothing - I do have less, but my drawers, shelves and wardrobe are still stuffed and packed to the rafters. Lingering in there are some items that I know I need to cull.

There are others that I have to keep if only to reach that elusive point when all these things collide: the weight at which I can get into the item; the body with which the item actually looks good (not just being able to get in it!); the right occasion to allow me to wear it - summer dresses on christmas? no? You see what I mean.

And then there is this. This one is my dilemma:

This is a slip dress from TopShop. Bought several years ago, my intention was to rock it up with knee high boots and a leather jacket. I am the wrong side of 35 now and I no longer feel that I can pull off that look. I am very pale skinned and on its own it sort of looks like I am wearing a nightie not a dress. 

I don't want to part with it unworn. But what on earth do I wear it with that will look half decent? Suggestions most welcome! Help!! 

Let Battle Commence

My New Year Resolutions have had a set back. Not even one week into January and I failed. In my defence, this was not my fault at all. I have been poorly. All week. Since last weekend. No work, no gym, no movement to speak of - certainly no exercise.

This also resulted in snacking - once I was up to even that!! Now, I am back at square one. So tomorrow I recommence the resolutions - to diet, to battle the bulge and to get fit and toned!! The one and only advantage to being stuck in the house ill is that I have spent nothing!! So at least one resolution is still on track!!

Tomorrow I have personal training. It is going to kill me - I know this. Does it have to be done? Hell yes. no choice. Well, if you class remaining overweight and unhealthy as a choice then I guess there is a choice, but not one I want to choose! I choose something else.

So now the hard work starts. Again.........

 I have 3 stones to lose. This will be accomplished one pound at a time. To be continued...... Here I go - wish me luck. I've a feeling that I am going to need it!!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Blondie - Atomic - today's single pick

Atomic is a classic song from Blondie. Released in 1980, it was in fact the third single from their album Eat to the Beat. It reached number one in the UK and stayed there for 2 weeks.

But enough about that - lets talk about the song itself. This is a real stomper of a song. Blondie were of an undefined genre at the time - neither rock, punk or disco, but somehow melded all those styles in absolutely original sounds. You can tell this is a Blondie song as soon as it kicks in.

That familiar instrumental, mainly bass guitar starts up, which I am confident most of us will recognise as this song has been well used in TV and film - most memorably when it was covered and used in the film Trainspotting! Then Debbie Harry kicks in and her beautiful voice takes the song to a different place than you think it is going.

This is now a club classic, and the beat that kicks in the background still sounds both raunchy, daring and modern. Debbie Harry almost growls the title "Atomic", and the result is a sexy prowl through a pacy record. This to me is the most exciting of the Blondie product. Its uplifting and dark at the same time.

Whilst this is a 1980 song, it stands out from the other music of the time. It doesn't have that dated feel to it. This is also the song that propelled Harry into the consciousness (if she were not already) of a league of new fans by wearing a "garbage bag" in the video - intended to look futuristic. However, this spawned fans who proclaimed her to be so beautiful she could even look good in a bin bag!!

I have listened to 2 other Blondie singles so far this week - Heart of Glass and Call Me. This one though is my favourite by far. I have even added it to my playlist. It sticks in your head. I am really enjoying my revisit to this bands music - join in if you like and go and have yourself a listen. Enjoy. x

Friday, 10 January 2014

Jack and Jill - My MOVIE REVIEW

Jack and Jill is an Adam Sandler film. As a rule, I do not like Adam Sandler films. My partner decided to put this film on yesterday, and whilst it is daft, I actually did enjoy it. Dangerous territory reviewing a film like this as I can well understand why many wouldn't rate this at all but it made me laugh, so I thought I would share that with you. We all need to have a bit of silliness in our lives - sometimes!!

So Jack and Jill are twins. The film starts with them as kids, with Jack clearly being the smarter twin. The film then moves forward to them as adults. Jack is a success - pretty wife, nice house, good job, kids. Jack doesn't like his twin Jill (Sandler in drag!!) as she annoys and irritates him. I have to confess the dinner scene when Jill arrives is the cringiest moment, and I thought it was hilarious. The little boy taping things to himself, such as the pepper mill, and the homeless guy preferring to leave - priceless!

In the midst of his sister's visit, Jack is assigned the task of obtaining Al Pacino consent to star in a Do-nut ad. A random encounter between Jill and Pacino results in Pacino relentlessly pursuing a completely unimpressed and uninterested Jill. He gives her his phone number by writing it in mustard on a hotdog that he sends to her! The calibre of having Pacino star in this adds to the humour in my humble opinion.

Jill however, gets invited to the gardener, Felipe's, family get together. This is brilliant, with Jill playing sports and accidentally hitting grandma on the head repeatedly with different things - pinata, footballs.... So funny. to the point where they even discreetly check she is a girl!! They confirm she is by looking up her skirt!!!

Pacino basically gives Jack an ultimatum - he either gets with Jill or no Do-nut ad. Jack invites Jill on their family cruise and she is so excited to finally be wanted. Little does she know Jack's reason is to pair her up! When she makes Jack skip rope with her, he finally gives in and has a little fun. Only to then tell her she's not someone he likes!! Jack then realises its hopeless and gets dressed up as Jill and heads off for the rendez-vous with Pacino.  I love the bit where Jack goes into the gents to change, and is helped by the clerk who rearranges his melons. When he later tries the same thing with Jill she punches him clean out!!

Cue much more cringy scenes with Pacino refusing to give up on making Jill his!! He comments on how much more feminine she seems, less muscular when in fact it is Jack! Jill meanwhile shows her strength in the gym!! Brilliant. Finally, Jack leaves him and goes back to the ship to try and make it up with Jill, only to find she has gone home to the Bronx having realised why Jack invited her along.

On New Year's Eve, Jill goes to a restaurant with a photo of her mother who has passed away. A group of old school classmates are there, but they used to bully Jill. They taunt her, but then Jack and his family arrive. Pacino also arrives, but she turns him down again - but how cool does she look to the classmates now!She goes home for a surprise arranged by Jack. This turns out to be Felipe - Jill is overjoyed.

The best part is the last little bit - Pacino's Do-nut commercial. I have no idea how much money they paid him to do this - this is Al Pacino! I mean the makers of Jack and Jill by the way. He dances and sings and it is the ultimate embarassment! In the film, Pacino instructs Jack after viewing it that it has to be burned before anyone sees it. I can understand that - its truly awful, but funny just isn't the word.

Now don't get me wrong here. Jill is truly annoying. Sandler in a dress? Really? It's a bit cheesy, a bit hammy - it's not a film for deep plotlines or character development. It is however downright funny at times, and in between its watch-able. Overall, its enjoyable. I enjoyed it any way! You may hate it - many have. If you relax in the knowledge that this is a cheerful, light hearted, bit of silliness and just enjoy it for what it is then you won't go far wrong. Definitely a good choice for January and post Christmas drabness and a good few weeks still until payday!! Go on, give it a go. :)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Classic Music Week 1 - Blondie

Right then, to kick us off with the new style blog, I'm choosing a band each week to revisit classic bands, pop icons, rock and roll stars, and just to appreciate great music. This week's choice is Blondie.

Blondie are an American band, fronted by Debbie Harry. They were classed as new wave or even punk in their style, but in truth they didn't really have a specific music style - they didn't follow the rules. Blondie released six studio albums but then split up in 1982. The reformed in 1997 and continue onwards, with a new album apparently to be released this year. Harry herself continued as a solo artist in the years in between with varied success, but none close to the success of the band.

As a woman I admire Harry - her figure, her ability to look good in anything she wore. But most of all, that voice!! Debbie Harry. Voice of a rock star, face of an angel. She was the face that everyone knew and she was beautiful. Her voice however is awesome and unique, and her personal style was always a statement. Their music pulled on so many musical genres they are difficult to define - probably the point really. Pop, disco, rock, punk - new wave.

I grew up in an era post Blondie, but my dad had quite the thing about Ms Harry & Blondie's music. The first song that I can recall hearing by them is Heart of Glass. It wasn't their first song, no. This was from the band's third album, but its the one that to me most comes to mind. (see my review of this song here Heart of Glass)

So today's homework is to listen to Heart of Glass by Blondie. Great song, sticks in your head and has survived the test of time. A true classic. Over the coming days I shall update My Music page with individual singles by Blondie you might want to listen to. Come back for more. :)

New Look for the New Year

Right then, as its New Year, I have given my blog a make-over. What do you think of the new look? It's a bit brighter, more in keeping with me and the things I post. Which brings me to the next change.

For anyone who has viewed my blog before you will also see that my Pages have changed. Some have faced the chop altogether. The rest I have now renamed to make them a bit more tangible and so that you can easily see what they are about.

I've come to realise that this blog is something that I enjoy (bit obvious this - I wouldn't actually bother otherwise). But more than that, now I've been up and running a little longer (still a Novice girl mind), I've also come to realise that I want you to enjoy it too. I found that I had too many things going on, and they weren't joined up - it was a bit random!

So what you now see before you is my loves in life. That is My MoviesMy MusicMy Battle with the BulgeMy TravelsMy FamilyFoodie StuffMy Top Tips and finally My Wardrobe.

Over the coming weeks, I shall add more information to these pages - playlist suggestions for the gym or for your holiday (My Music), things to do at the weekend (My Travels), tips for toning up and losing weight (My Battles with the Bulge) that don't require forking out for expensive diet clubs!!

As its New Year, its now just my blog that I am giving a makeover. Its me too!! As I continue my battles to be body confident, I shall share my tips with you as I go. I want to make the most of what I have, and I am going to move out of my comfort zone and try new things. I shall also review some of these and share my experiences with you. There is no point in us all learning the hard way now is there?

From time to time, I will also share some lovely competitions with you - but only if they are for anything related to my pages. It's my aim to make my blog more fun for all of us. As I write this, my blog has just tipped over the 4000 page views mark from its very beginning. That makes me very proud, so thankyou to all of you - here's to a great 2014!

Now, if you have a moment, I love comments so please tell me about your plans for 2014, or what you think of the new look?

Thanks everyone,

The Eternal Hopeful. xxx

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Despicable Me 2 - My MOVIE REVIEW

Despicable Me 2. I have seen that this has topped every chart for Christmas, and was the number one DVD purchased. In our house there is an 8 year old girl who has non-stop informed us all about Gru and the Minions over Christmas. This will all make sense momentarily, trust me.

I have to confess, I only half watched the first one, Despicable Me, so I wasn't all that genned up on the plot. It's a kids film I thought, I will be fine. So finally, I gave in, and tonight, we have watched Despicable Me 2. All I can say is FAB!!!

Right from the start you can tell that Gru and Lucy are so going to fall for one another. It begins with Gru no longer being evil. He is asked to help foil another evil type, and reluctantly agrees to , which means working undercover with Lucy.

They have a cover story - the aptly named "Bake my Day" bakery, in order to carry out their covert operation. Gru investigates wig merchant Floyd Eagle-san, and ends up donning a dodgy wig on a dodgy date! Lucy rescues him by shooting Shannon with a tranquilliser dart just as she is about to de-wig him!

Gru really suspects Eduardo, the mexican restaurant owner, but fails to find any evidence. The wig merchant is arrested, and the case is closed, but as Lucy is reassigned to Australia, finally Gru realises he loves her. Being too embarrassed to ask her out, she gets on the plane and leaves. Gru takes the girls to Eduardo's party, and there finds evidence that he is in fact super villain El Macho!!

In the background, minions have been kidnapped, and secretly have been turned into violent purple monsters, by use of stolen equipment! Gru's old assistant has joined forces with El Macho to secretly turn the lovely yellow ones into these aggressive mutants! (Funny there are - I prefer them and want to find a furry one! )

Gru is determined to get them back, and in the meantime Lucy jumps from the plane she is on, flying in on the party. Cue damsel in distress to rescue as well. Gru rises to the challenge, spraying the purple mutants with a powerful jelly, which turns them back into the lovable yellow ones! He rescues Lucy, and Eduardo is beaten.

Finally, Gru and Lucy marry to the minions renditions of "I swear" which is hilarious, followed by the even better "YMCA" minion stylie!! This is a fantastic film, made for kids but absolute pure class entertainment for adults!! I believe I shall watch this a good many times - possibly even with little G!!! honestly, if you haven't seen it, get it downloaded, buy the DVD, as this is a classic.

Rarely do I give high scores for animations, not since Shrek, but wow. 9 1/2 out 10 for this one. And the half is only lost because I think the purple ones should have a bigger part!! Fabulous!! Pure entertainment.

Wardrobe clear out!

Ok, so it's 2014. My wardrobe is absolutely bursting at the seams. Yesterday, I had the bright idea to empty the ironing pile (I'm ashamed to say some items have lingered for a while - since last holiday to be precise). so it had to be done.

I felt so pleased with my self when I finally reached the bottom of the ironing basket. I hate ironing so much. Unfortunately, this has led to a wardrobe crisis. The reason being that I couldn't fit the ironing in the wardrobe without squashing it all up and defeating the point of ironing it in the first place!!

This is what the wardrobe looks like pre-ironing!! How on earth I am supposed to fit anything else in there I do not know. This calls for a radical overhaul I think. New year is going to be the year of a more organised wardrobe!

The ironing is not far off the same amount of items already in the wardrobe so I have a problem here. This is only one side of the wardrobe (it's a double wardrobe). My partner has his own, and won't let me use it!

I also have several sets of drawers which are equally crammed with clothes! I have some lovely things, but I do find myself wearing the same items all the time. This is partly due to gaining some weight, as I can't get in some of it at the moment, but it is mostly due to not being able to find anything because everything is so squished!!

So this is going to be quite a job. I have got to be ruthless and clear out. Ebay here I come!! 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New dresses New Year

So these are my two new bargains. The job now is to slim into them!! What do you think?

Now, when I say new, what I mean is new for me. Both still have tags on. The first one is from Miss Selfridge, and has mesh panels, so revealing but still classy. Stretchy material and zip up back.

The second one is AX Paris, and is stretchy, with studded details to the front. Both I have bought off ebay, hence looking slightly crumpled!!

The first one I can see on holiday with a tan, the second, for me, would have to be with leggings of some description!! I have decided to scrap my old faithfuls and try a new look this year.

over the coming weeks I shall share my fashion experiments, and when I get brave enough, may even post wearing some of them!! We shall see how the resolutions go! I have never worn a white dress before, white isn't my thing as a rule, but as I say, this is my experiment for 2014.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Let me introduce you to Neko!

Over Christmas, we had the family over. They bought with them their Jug (Pug& Jack Russell) Neko!

He's a bit grumpy at the moment as his mum and dad have had a baby and he loves fuss! He is more demanding than their new baby!!

They all went out shopping, and left him with me for a bit. He did sulk a little, and for the first time since they arrived, he actually wanted to know me and came to sit with me. When I say with me, what I mean is on me:

I was stuck like that for a good half hour, as once he was comfortable, he really didn't want to be moved. I bore with it for a while, then I needed to crack on with the housework. Neko then vanished. I hunted the house for him, expecting him to be curled up somewhere, but couldn't find him. Finally, I went in one of the bedrooms, through a closed door I may add, and then he was!

Somehow, he had got into a closed room, but then got himself stuck in there as the door closed behind him! i then began to hoover, expecting him to run from the hoover but no, he thought this was a game! The stairs were hairier than they were when I started, so I gave up with the hoover. It looked better anyway.

I loaded up the washer, dusted and he had vanished again. I knew where to look this time - sure enough, he was in the room again! When his mum and dad came home, I told them about his antics, and they assured me it was quite normal for him as he barges through doors managing to open them!!

He is such a character, and I enjoyed him being here. He took a liking to sitting on the chaise and watching the park from the windows. My other half is also nosey and enjoys that seat - the two of them were competing for the view!! Neko wins though - he's just so cute, and he is always smiling!

Elysium - my MOVIE REVIEW

Elysium is the sort of film that appeals to me. Trailed as a bit sci-fi, but also action, it was one I have been wanting to watch with anticipation.

The movie stars Matt Damon, who I like in some things, but not others. Sometimes he can be a bit much for me, a bit full of himself, but that said I do like him in the Oceans films, and I do like him as Bourne, so was optimistic. The other big star in this is Jodie Foster. Whether you are a fan of hers or not, she is a great actress.

The story is set in the future, 2154, when the world has become a very different place. As is the norm in these sort of films, the future doesn't appear rosy and it seems a very unpleasant place indeed. Damon plays a character called Max, who has had a troubled past in and out of trouble with the law and as a result has no choice but to live in a ruined LA, with no money and a horrible and dangerous manual job.

Max gets injured when he is a bit cheeky to the robot police, and meets his childhood sweetheart Frey who is now a doctor at the hospital. Returning to work an accident leaves him poisoned by radiation and he is given just 5 days to live. I warn you now, this film is brutal - no empathy is given for the suffering of those left on the planet and Max's boss makes comment on leaving no mess on the blanket when he is laid out dying after the accident.

Elysium by contrast, is a perfect haven, with no illness. Foster plays Secretary of Defence, Jessica Delacourt, who doesn't hesitate but to have anyone who tries to get onto Elysium illegally dealt with. She summons sleeper agent Kruger to destroy them, and he willingly does so.

Max, knowing Elysium is his only hope of survival, determines to go back to his criminal associate Spider in order to find a way to get there. Spider assigns his an impossible task, taking advantage of his desperation. Also realising that Max is telling the truth, he arranges for him to be mechanised to make him stronger. Surgery sees him wake with robot parts, and an implant in his head to allow him to carry out the task of stealing data from his previous CEO Carlyle, he that showed such compassion! The mission is successful, but Kruger is assigned by Delacourt to stop him, and mercilessly hunts him down.

Max is the only survivor, and waits outside the hospital to find Frey. She helps him heal his injuries, but Kruger finds her and takes her and her terminally ill child. Max and spider plot how to use the data now inside his head, and work out a plan. Max then hands himself to Kruger, not realising at first that Frey has been taken.

Kruger takes them to Elysium, but a fight results in a grenade going off in his face. Its a bit gruesome but once on Elysium, he is put in a med bay and his face is reconstructed. He then too becomes more robotised, and goes after Max, killing Delacourt on the way. Max and Kruger fight to the death, with Max winning.

Ultimately Max and Spider determine the only way how to save Frey and all those on earth is to retrieve the data held in Max's head, stolen from Carlyle, and make them legal. Max realises that he must sacrifice himself and speaks to Frey where she is waiting by a med bay for her daughter to be cured from leukaemia. Treatment cannot be provided, until Max has given the instruction, but once he has he will die. He says what his last words to her and pushes the button. The machine does its stuff, and her daughter is cured. Ships are sent to earth to help heal the suffering there.

Now please don't think this is particularly sad, as the toughness of Max prevents this from being overly emotional, and he has only just met Frey again since childhood. It is however a gritty, action packed sci-fi tale. I personally thought it was brilliant and well worth a watch, but there are issues to overcome.

To start with you can really tell it's from the same guy who was responsible for District 9 - the parts on Earth look identical! Foster's accent is extremely odd and its a bit distracting.  Her role isn't really developed - she is just the hard bitch who makes horrible decisions and in my opinion they should have explored that further. Likewise, although the film is called Elysium, the film doesn't say much about the place itself. Other than the med bays and the advances in technology, you are left a bit in the dark on the details. The characters aren't given much depth at all, which is fine if you just want a high action sci-fi flick, but not so much if you want a classic. It's not a classic, but it is enjoyable. I would only give this a 5 out of 10, and that's for the effects and for Damon himself. Worth a watch if this is your genre, but avoid if not.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The decorations are down, Christmas is over for another year

The house is now post Christmas and looks very bare in the absence of the tree, the lights and the decorations! It also looks loads bigger now, and I have been able to hoover and dust in places I could not get to whilst they were up!!

Why is it though that it always seems to take longer to take them down and put them away than it does to put them up?

Here is the tree before and after:

Poor tree - looked liked it had been robbed!! It looked even worse when I started to take it apart. So many decorations - I don't remember putting all that many on it, but they just kept coming! I placed them all on the rug first so I didn't step on them whilst dismantling!

And now finally, things are back to normal. The room looks clean and tidy and that's it for another year. I do love Christmas but goodness it is exhausting. I need a holiday!