Sunday, 30 December 2012

Postcards from middle age

In our continued attempts to curb the festive excesses MozzyMr and I donned our wellies and went to Killerton House and ambled their ancient trees walk.  It was hard going because the ground is so saturated from all the flooding recently but worth it just to get some fresh air.  Plus a good walk means we can settle on the sofa, watch Arriety and have a cup of tea or two.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

A year of reading

So a year of reading looks a little something like this, I've done a 'out of five' rating in case you're interested:

1. When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman - ***
2. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman - ***
3. The Confessions of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn - *
4. One Day by David Nicholls - ****
5. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy - ****
6. After Dark by Haruki Murakami - ***
7. The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark - **
8. Paper Towns by John Green - *****
9. Double or Die by Charlie Higson - ****
10. Hurricane Gold by Charlie Higson - ****
11. Looking for Alaska by John Green - ****
12. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - ****
13. Enigma by Robert Harris - ***
14. By Royal Command by Charlie Higson - ****
15. The Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay - *
16. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak - *****
17. I Left My Tent in San Francisco by Emma Kennedy - ****
18. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron - ***
19. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - *
20. Wonder by R.J. Palacio - *****
21. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - ****
22. Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins - ****
23. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes - ***
24. Where Did it all go Right? by Andrew Collins - ***
25. Fatherland by Robert Harris - ***
26. Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles - ***
27. The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry - ***
28. Moranthology by Caitlin Moran - *****
29. Moranthology by Caitlin Moran - *****
30. Lost Christmas by David Logan - ***
31. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - *****
32. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - ****
33. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - ****
34. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch - ****
35. Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronvitch - ****
36. The Unicorn Crisis by Jon Rosenberg - ****
37. The Digital Wolf - by Jon Rosenberg - ****

What books have you enjoyed this year?  Any recommendations?

Friday, 28 December 2012

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Allotment geekery

Bit of a boring photo but it is illustrating something quite exciting!  The friend we share an allotment with has become uber busy recently and has struggled to keep on top of the weeds and has offered us half of her plot.  The shape overlaid on the photo shows the parts that we now have to plant stuff on!  Lots of digging and tidying to be done but hopefully production should be considerably improved this year :)

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Blowing away the cobwebs

Boxing day and it's fair to say we needed to get some fresh air and exercise, so headed to Exmouth for paddling, beaching combing and bracing sea breezes...

Monday, 24 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #24

Well thank you if you've stuck with me for the duration of the alternative advent calendar, I've loved the challenge of posting everyday but think I might just stick to my day job!  

I hope you all have a really fantastic, restful, generous, happy, tasty, glittery Christmas and I will see you on the other side!

*kiss on both cheeks* MozzyMrs xxx

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #23

Content at this stage of the alternative advent calendar can be a little difficult to find so when I found this tag on Cherry Pie I thought I would give it ago!

1. What is your favourite thing about Christmas?

I absolutely love decorating the tree and the house, when that happens it means we're in the final stretch in the Christmas countdown.  Also MozzyMr and I made advent calendars for one another this year and it has been genuinely exciting to open each door, each little drawing has been hilarious!

2. What is your favourite makeup look for the festive season?

Hmmm anyone who knows me will know that I don't really do makeup looks, if I had to choose one, smokey eyes? Having said that I once made myself up with the smokey eye look, thinking I looked ace I met with a friend and her boyfriend and he asked me if I had been punched in the face!  I haven't attempted the look again.

3. Real tree or fake tree?

Real tree all the way!  They look ace, they smell ace and for me it just wouldn't be the same with a fake tree.

4. Giving presents or receiving presents?

Tricky one especially this year.  My family all agreed to not buy one another presents this year, we're all skint and don't need more stuff.  MozzyMr and I think it's a good decision and we have extended it to the rest of our family and friends, it has taken away loads of stress and our finances are still in check which is a miracle in comparison to last year.  But in answer to the question probably giving presents, especially when you get it right.

5. Do you open presents on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning or evening?

We open them on Christmas morning, but our definition of morning is more like midday!

6. Handmade Christmas cards or bought?

Handmade, I start with a flurry of enthusiasm making cards, get bored, stop making them and resort to buying cards in the end.  One year I might actually make cards for everyone I need to send to!  Maybe.

7. What is your favourite Christmas film?

Elf.  There aren't any other Christmas films that match it are there??

8. What's your favourite Christmas food?

Oooo warm minces pies with a dash of custard, om nom nom.

9. What is your favourite Christmas song?

'Last Christmas' by Wham!  Poor Moz I sing it at him quite a lot, I have to ignore his wincing but I'm sure he'll come around to the fact that it's an awesome song one day.

10. What's your favourite Christmas memory?

I'm very lucky to have a lot of good Christmas memories to choose from but probably the anticipation when waking up on Christmas morning to see if Santa had left a stocking at the end of my bed.  My childhood stocking was a green and red striped affair and looked a bit like a snake.  Some years I half woke and through my blurry sleep ridden eyes I would get a fright before realising that it was actually my stocking, wasn't going to bite me and was full of presents!

How would you respond to these questions?

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Friday, 21 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #21

A number of blogs I follow have featured 'a photo an hour' posts that I just love, so I thought I would give it ago for my Alternative Advent Calendar.  Being on holiday I thought I might have something interesting to show you..... yeah.. sorry about this.

9am - Not an early start, but then I'm on holiday and I'm not a morning person, so meh who cares?  Starting the day right with a proper cup of coffee POW!

10am - I only seem to get to the studio when I'm on holiday and so getting a painting finished is a long and arduous process. 

11am - Progress being made...

12am - I forgot my lunch so had to be satisfied with two cans of diet cokes and a peruse of The Brownie Guide Handbook.

4pm - (ok not quite a photo an hour but surely there is only so much of this you can take?) So after six hours in the studio it was time to head home, there is only so much staring at a canvas and scanning the internet on your phone you can do...

7pm - MozzyMr and I these days don't seem able to get our timings right, we once turned up to a Birthday party a week early.  So this is me cutting out snowflakes to attach to gifts to be sent via last courier today.  Panic!!

8pm - I've been toying with getting this for ages now but the cheapest I could find it was £29.99 which I'm just not prepared to pay for a board game, but I found this on Wednesday in WHSmith's for £17 which I was happy with.  The thing is Moz is convinced he is a shoe in to win, I however know that this is my time to shine!  I'll let you know how we get on...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #20

I was tasked with getting table presents for a work lunch we held last Wednesday, as the costs were coming out of my pocket I really didn't want to spend more than a tenner.  Having searched Hawkins Bazaar, WHSmiths, Wilkinsons, and Paperchase it became clear that there are no cheap presents on the High Street at the moment, literally none so I was heading home present-less and a bit hacked off when I remembered Fizzy Wizzy Woo on Fore Street in Exeter.  These fab bags filled with sweets and little gifts were 99p each, looked great and everyone seemed appreciative, hazaar!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #19

MozzyMr has a real bee in his bonnet at the moment because I say I don't really like food.  The thing is... I don't really like food.  A few years ago I developed an intolerance to lactose *cue rolling of eyes* which makes food a bit of a nightmare.  I'm the awkward one who has to check everything if we go to a restaurant, the awkward one people are terrified to cater for (eggs?!  Can you have eggs?!), the awkward one who has to check every packet before I buy anything at the supermarket and the awkward one who usually has to stick to the same narrow selection of food because I know it won't make me ill.  So, no I can't really be arsed with food that much, it's just fuel to get me through the day.  But MozzyMr's argument that I do like food is based on the fact that I love cookery programmes, especially Christmas cookery programmes.  Nigella, Jamie, Hugh, Lorraine, Heston, Delia and the Hairy Bikers are great!  I'll even watch the hybrid chef/hobbit Nigel on occasion, but I draw the line at Gordon.  They're all part of my Christmas countdown, it's rare that I'll make any of their recipes but ooo the twinkly lights!  The lush looking Christmas baked cheesecake!  The Christmas jumpers and the obligatory trip to Lapland where the chefs cook up a reindeer!  Love it.  Now I'm off to have a dry piece of miserable toast, ta-rah!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #18

Meet our office secret Santa, sexy huh?  We had our work Christmas party last Friday, this year the food for us was free so everyone ordered three courses and completely over indulged.  In fact I think I've only just come out of my food coma....

Monday, 17 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #17

OK this is a weird one, but the Christmas edition of the Radio Times coming out equals the home stretch in the Christmas countdown.  For the last couple of years MozzyMr and I have had a Christmas at home and it has been lovely.  Work for both of us is always hectic at this time of year so on Christmas Eve we get to shut the door, put the jammers on and relax.  No doubt a Christmas film or two will feature in the festivities this year and BOOM that's where the Radio Times planning comes into play.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #16

A walk home post for you today, well technically this was a walk to work on a frosty morn.  I'm lucky to have these views on my commute, I wouldn't have it any other way and frankly you can keep your stressful car or train journeys thanks.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #14

Tree purchased it has been on with decorating the house, from indestructible decorations, via the shooting star outdoor light I bought at a car boot sale last March which looks great on the side board to the 1950's plastic Nativity set a colleague gave me several years ago.  Things are looking fairly festive in the Mozzy household, we're both very much looking forward to just chilling out over the holiday and what better environment to do that in?

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #13

Woop woop! Christmas tree time!  For the last three years we've purchased our tree from Halden Christmas tree centre, the smell of the place is amazing and really gets me in the festive mood.  I'm sorry to those who like an artificial tree but for me it has to be a real one, it just wouldn't be the same for me if we had a plastic one!

Last Christmas I saw on Pinterest this idea for storing decorations, the baubles pictured here used to be my MoMa and MoPa's and I think MoMa even said they might have been Mo...Gran (?)'s previously.  Sadly I won't be able to use these baubles until Mewster the cat learns that destroying decorations doesn't win you salmony treats.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #12

*Squee* getting very excited about watching The Snowman and the Snowdog coming to Channel 4 over Christmas.  As a kid I loved Raymond Briggs' The Snowman, and cried, cried, cried at the end of it, that slightly creepy silent crying as well.  I'm wondering what I'll be like at the end of this installment of the story?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #11

My friend and I spent the evening doing some late night Christmas shopping and some soaking up of the atmosphere at the Christmas Market.  The market was packed but the mood was festive, each way you turned there were some amazing stalls selling tasty, tasty looking food.

After a Bratwurst and a cheeky mulled cider at the Firehouse it was time to go home.  Exeter is getting a lot better at this continental market lark, I wonder what it will be like next year....

Monday, 10 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #10

Last weekend we met up with MoMa and MoPa for lunch and a little Christmas crafting,  I took down some stamps and other bits a bobs for us to use.  After a tentative start MoMa found her style and made these great Christmas wreath cards using Yellow Owl Workshop stamps!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #9

This year MozzyMr and I made advent calendars for one another, they basically form a review of our year in silly pictures and in jokes.  Much better than cheap chocolate!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Alternative advent calendar #8

1. Lost Christmas by David Logan

A couple of week's ago I noticed an article on the Guardian website featuring Eddie Izzard, in it Izzard talks about Lost Christmas as he is starring in the adaptation of it.  Lost Christmas is a young adult book and follows the life of Goose, whose one seemingly insignificant action leads to devastating consequences.  Mysterious stranger Antony (to be played by Eddie Izzard) enters Gooses' life when he is at his lowest ebb and the two go on a 'journey of discovery' together.  Have I made this sound naff enough?  It's not but there is no hiding the fact that this is a 'journey of discovery' type book.  I don't think this book will blow you out of the water but it did bring a little festive cheer, it's young adult fiction and sometimes that means the plot is predictable but no less enjoying.

2. My Family and Other Disasters by Lucy Mangan

Pfft.  I have never read the work of someone so highly regarded by their editor whose articles are so dreary and hateful of almost everything.  Not hateful in a racist, sexist, ignorant type of hateful way, but more a stark, condescending observation of people who might have fun, or feel joy.  Mangan pities these people because clearly these people are stupid for they don't like to stay in their flats or homes reading books like she does.  Jeeeez this one got binned.

3. A Week in December by Sebastien Faulks

This one isn't crossed through because I didn't enjoy it, I didn't finish it because my Kindle arrived and it was unceremoniously shoved back on the 'to read' pile whilst I revelled in the soft glow of a backlit e-reader *cozy*.

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Ahh John Green, I'm resisting the temptation to go all misty eyed and I'm stopping myself staring off into the distance whilst I think about how much I love his books.  Once again Green has written what can only really be described as a modern classic.  The subject matter will make you cry, you will care about the characters, you will enjoy the story, if you haven't read his books before but do on the basis of this or any of my previous recommendations you will thank me for it, and most importantly you will have found a new favourite author.  A quote for your viewing pleasure:

"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in the world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you.  I like my choices.  I hope she likes hers."

If you have 3.47 minutes to spare watch this video of John Green recommending books.

5. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

So I tried describing this book to MozzyMr and when talk of detectives consulting with ghosts and the whole idea of a London filled with magic came up he thought it sounded bobbins.  WRONG!  I loved this book, it's like Harry Potter for adults based in London not Hogwarts, expect it's nothing like Harry Potter and there is lots more murdering afoot.  I was delighted to find that it isn't a stand alone book it's part of a series of three, hazaar!  Put this book of your Christmas wish list you won't be disappointed!

6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Sensing a John Green theme?  Will Grayson, Will Grayson has me caught up with everything that I am aware of John Green writing, so frankly the man needs to step up and release another book.  This time in collaboration with Levithan the two authors explore the lives of teenage boys Will Grayson, and Will Grayson.  The first Will Grayson has Tiny, his overweight but uber fabulous out-and-out gay best friend, whilst the second Will Grayson is only just coming out whilst dealing with a case of serious cyber bullying.  Green in all of his books deals with some of the very serious issues that teenagers face, but writes about them in such a normal and human way, not in an overtly Hollywood 'look how they've overcome adversity' type way *insert montage here*.

Books 1, 4, 5 and 6 listed here would make great Christmas reading so if you have a bit of spare cash, treat yourself to one of them, if you're stuck for something to buy as a gift buy a book, one of these or any book!  Buy them from an actual book shop where you can go and talk to people who really love reading and can tell you what they've enjoyed reading.  I know I bestow the virtues of the Kindle but I won't give up the smell of a new book for anyone and will be pressing my face into an actual book or two over the Christmas holiday!

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