Hampton Tutors Ad

Hampton Tutors Ad
^ This month's sponsor ^

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Things to retire for 2015

Tomorrow is the first day of 2015. As Nina Simone would croon, "It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me...and I'm feeling goooood!"

Before we ring in the New Year, I've made a list of things that we might want to consider leaving behind going forward. "Going forward" is office jargon over here in the UK. For example, "Going forward, do you see us transitioning to an outreach-based approach?" Do people say it in offices in America? Let me know.

Anyhoo, the things on my list aren't necessarily bad. Some are even good (see: 'funny A-frame signs'), but that doesn't mean they should be allowed to flourish forever. With the exception of Kardashian kulture, too much of anything is not ideal. Even the best athletes have to call it quits at some point. The very best have their numbers retired and shirts draped in the stadium for future generations to admire.

So let's agree to leave the following stuff in 2014 and use these imaginative human brains of ours to come up with some cool, original replacements in the New Year.

Words and phrases
  • That happened
  • For why
  • Facepalm
  • Adorkable
  • FTW (for the win)
  • Nom nom nom
  • Life hack
  • Epic
  • Go home [blank]; you're drunk.
Things
  • Funny A-frame signs outside restaurants/pubs
  • Nail art
  • Ironic Amazon reviews
  • Moustache-on-a-stick props in wedding photobooths (the rest can stay: feather boa, foam finger, London policeman's hat, etc.)
  • Selfies or photobombs (we can only keep one)
  • Giant plaid shirts tied at the waist (I'm looking at you, Khloe K.)

Opinions
  • Gwyneth Paltrow is annoying
  • Photoshop is ruining our body image
  • Fox News is the reason the world is going to the dogs
  • Kale is the answer.

In general, let's try to be a little less bandwagony, a little less ironic and a little more creative. 

Best of luck to us all, 

Margaret

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Luck be a Margaret toniiight

We got the camera back! So lucky!!!!!

It was waiting for us at 'Lost Property' when we arrived at Edinburgh Airport this morning. We grabbed it, paid the £10 handling fee and hopped on a plane down to Exeter. Easy like a Tuesday morning.

The guys at the Lost Property counter really had a field day looking through our snaps. We have more than 3,000 photos on our sim card, and they made it through 2,500 of them! I don't blame them though. I would do the exact same thing if I worked at an airport lost and found. Also, it's not like we have any embarrassing photos in there. Unless you count the 500 selfies of me practising my smize.

Devon (the county in England where Exeter is) gave us the perfect welcome. Lots of YELLOW sun. I emphasise the "yellow" bit, because in Edinburgh we only get white sun in the winter, which is basically just light and not sun at all. Yellow sun is what you want. It's the warm kind. The beautiful, buttery, Vitamin D kind.

BiBi and his borrowed dog, who is pooping. 

Andy pooping next to my shadow.

Brothers in the sunshine.

Me and my bro in law! And two dogs.

Sunset in Topsham. 

Andy's brother BiBi* manages a coffee/wine bar in Exeter and they're throwing a New Year's party tomorrow night. Today's mission was to sort out some balloons for the big event. Card Factory (next door) let us down, claiming they didn't have enough helium for the job. Yeah right. It's obvious they're just hoarding it so that they can sing Alvin & the Chipmunks "Christmas Don't Be Late" on their breaks. Come on, guys. Christmas is over. Give it up.

But luckily Clinton Cards (across the street) stepped up to the challenge. BiBi even threw in some huge silver number balloons to make a giant 2 0 1 5 display. How exciting!

Hope you're enjoying these last couple days of 2014.

Love,
Margaret

* Real name retracted for privacy purposes


Monday, December 29, 2014

Karma?

Back in E-burgh now.

My backpack got tagged by Ryanair during boarding, but once on the shuttle bus, I ripped the sticker off in defiance.

I immediately regretted it. What if I got caught and sent to airport prison?

Always the goody two-shoes, I reapplied the florescent label to my bag. But it wasn't as sticky this time. Now I was worried the tag would actually fall off in a tussle with the other excommunicated suitcases down below. What now? What kind of mess had I gotten myself into?

At the last minute, Andy convinced me to just take the tag off. Screw it! We went out of our way to pack light and bring only carry-on luggage. Who were they to make us wait at baggage claim with all the bad, heavy packers?

So I ripped it off again, lowered my eyes and boarded the plain as nonchalantly as possible.

Of course the overhead compartments were stuffed to the brim. I ended up having to squish the ginormous backpack under my seat. Never would I have thought that was possible until I watched myself do it (grunting and all) with my own eyes.

I'd done it! Take that Ryanair!

After landing, we breezed through passport control, walked right past those baggage claim losers and sat our efficient arses down in a comfy Edinburgh taxi.

We walked through the door about 20 minutes ago. It took me about three minutes to realise I'd left the camera on the plane. Our beautiful digital SLR. Full of snaps from Italy. It's squished under the seat and probably on its way to Shannon, Dusseldorf, Brussels Charleroi, Oslo Rygge or some other middle of nowhere D-list airport Ryanair flies to.

Me collapsing on my bag in exhaustion and defeat after realising the camera was not with us.
Note: this photo is a reenactment.

Now for the good news. We're back at Edinburgh airport tomorrow to catch a flight down south to visit Andy's brother. Surely we'll stroll up to the lost luggage counter, say "One lost camera, please" and they'll hand it right over to us. I'm sure it will be that simple. I'm absolutely sure of it!

Love,
Margaret

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Couples Massage

As a special treat to end our Christmas holiday, I booked us a "couples massage" (Google says no apostrophe) at a Thai day spa in Rome.

Although it would be my first couples massage, I felt well prepared. I've had a handful of solo massages in my life, and I've watched the Real Housewives enjoy beachside massages with their husbands plenty of times. My plan was to lie there and relax as I normally would, but then intermittently reach across, grab Andy's hand and say, "This is nice."

We were running late and had to speed-walk to the place, which is good because the more stressed you are pre-massage, the better. Might as well get your money's worth.

As soon as we arrived, two tiny women whisked us into a treatment room. Warm, dim lighting. Two standard massage tables. Zen sitar music twanging through the speakers. Everything was as expected and as it should be.

One of the women handed me two small plastic parcels—a shower cap to stop the oil from getting in my bowl cut and disposable underwear to maintain some semblance of decorum. At most places I've been to, they just have you strip down to your own underwear. But I've been given disposables one time before, so this didn't throw me.

Then the woman handed Andy a plastic parcel and giggled.

"For you," she laughed.

He unwrapped it to reveal a black, disposable man thong!

The women, both laughing now, left the room so that we could get changed. Andy was appalled at first, but quickly embraced his temporary bikini bottoms. You would have thought he had been wearing them for years.

Andy's thong.
I made sure to put it in my pocket before we left. It's too fab to not blog about.

As for the massages, they were THE BEST. Really deep tissue and firm. Also, quite invasive. At one point my bare breasts were exposed! She was massaging my stomach (bizarre in and of itself) and didn't bother to gracefully rearrange the sheet over my bosom. During another part of it, she actually mounted the table, a knee on either side of me, and ran her elbows across my butt.

But I didn't care! When in Rome!

Cheers,
Margaret

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tea and coffee making facilities

It's raining in Rome and we've hit a wall.

Eight days ago we left Edinburgh with bright eyes and bushy bowl cuts. It's been the holiday of a lifetime, but today's the first day that the crowded train terminals, Google Maps and giant backpacks began to take their toll. Also, men would not stop trying to aggressively sell us umbrellas. Even though it was pouring and we really could have used one, we refused out of principle.

It also happens to be the only day we haven't managed to squeeze in a nap (wah wah).

Our legs were achy and we had low blood sugar, but then something wonderful happened. When we checked into the final hotel of our epic Italian expedition, the guy at reception uttered the best words two tired tourists can hear:

"There are tea and coffee making facilities in your room."

We ran up to the room, threw our bags on the bed, clasped hands and bounced up and down, grinning like hyenas. All hail the hospitality gods! Long may it rain Nescafe instant coffee, the heavenly gift that nourishes our stomachs, hearts and minds.



Tea and coffee making facilities are actually a rarity in Italian hotels, so this was a brilliant surprise. As soon as I finish typing this, I'm going to flick on the kettle. Just thinking about the gentle hum of that small kitchen appliance is comforting.


Sincerely,

Tired (but content) in Rome

Friday, December 26, 2014

Siena!

We're in Siena today. Wow. This city is next level awesome. It completely exceeded my expectations, which, to be honest, was easy considering I did zero research before the trip. But that said, Siena has exceeded my expectations of how cute a city can be. I didn't know they made them this charming. And I live in Edinburgh—on the Royal Mile!



The big thing to do in Siena, besides watching the historic horse races in August (basically the Italian Appleby Horse Fair, but with less grabbing), is walk around its famous Duomo.

Inside the grand cathedral there's a mural of Catherine of Siena, who's one of Italy's patron saints (Can you name the other one? 100 points if you can! No Googling). When we got back to the hotel, Andy and I read her Wikipedia page.

This excerpt stood out:

In about 1368, aged twenty-one, Catherine experienced what she described in her letters as a "Mystical Marriage" with Jesus, later a popular subject in art as the Mystic marriage of Saint Catherine. "Underlining the extent to which the marriage was a fusion with Christ's physicality Catherine received, not the ring of gold and jewels that her biographer reports in his bowdlerized version, but the ring of Christ's foreskin."

Yeah.

At Gonzaga I took a class called 'Philosophy of Mysticism'. It was taught by an ancient Jesuit priest who was so old that he couldn't stand up. He would sit stooped in his chair at the front of the class, barely visible behind his desk.

We talked a lot about old religious figures and their mystical endeavours. I remember we learned about a lady named Julien of Norwich who actually chained herself to a small enclave in the wall of a church and LIVED IN IT (I was so appalled I blogged about it way back when).

The Jesuit told us that there's a possibility most of the mystics were actually just mentally ill. He also told us that he took LSD once and often wondered whether his experience (lying in the middle of the road and listening to the blood running through his veins) might be considered 'mystical'. Needless to say, even this old Jesuit was skeptical of medieval mystics like Cathy of Siena.

In other news, Rome tomorrow for two nights. The final hurrah! Over dinner this evening Andy and I agreed that we're going to say "When in Rome..." a lot while we're there. Glad we settled that upfront.

Cheers,
Margaret of Kenmore

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas in Florence

Andy and I are enjoying an absolutely unforgettable Christmas in Florence. We've already discussed it—this is definitely going down as a life highlight for both of us.

Right now we're sitting in bed, rubbing our risotto-filled bellies and listening to a groovy band play Michael Jackson's 'Rock With You' just below our balcony.

That's right. Our BALCONY. It's incredible.

In between pizza snarfing sessions we've also managed to squeeze in some time for culture.

Lots of people watched the seven attempts to get this pic.
Unlike with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, I didn't get the sense that posing like this was the "done thing".  

But even though it's extra amazing to be here in Italy, Christmas is just great in general. One of the perks of being an American is having a genuine, non-ironic love of Christmas. I LOVE IT.

Merry Christmas!

Love, 
Margaret

P.S. I've accidentally let my bowl cut grow too much and now it's a mullet. You can kind of see it in the pic. A mullet! What fun! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 1 day

Today's Christmas photo
The classic floating head pic.

Today's Christmas memory

When I was in first grade, my teacher Mrs. Gribble gave all of us a 'Good Choice Coupon' for Christmas.

Good Choice Coupons were usually something you earned sporadically for displaying extra good behaviour in the classroom. But as a Christmas gift, Mrs. Gribble gave one to each of her students for free! Then came the real kicker. She told us, "If you save your Good Choice Coupon until next Christmas—exactly one year from now—you will get to ride on Santa's sleigh."

Hanging on to that tiny square of construction paper wasn't easy. The whole appeal of a Good Choice Coupon was getting to trade it in for candy or some other treat. But I resisted. That was my ticket to the big man himself. The King of Christmas. The Prince of Presents. The Earl of Yule. The one and only, Santa Claus.

The sleigh ride voucher burned a whole in my pencil box for an entire year. I'd peek inside and see it resting—waiting—among my coloured pencils, erasers and speckled sheets of ring hole reinforcers.

I ended up being in Mrs. Gribble's class for second grade too. Bet she didn't see that one coming! A couple weeks before Christmas I received a letter in my cubby. I still have the letter, but it's tucked away in some half-finished scrapbook in Kenmore at the moment. Anyway, it went something like this:

Dear Margaret, 

I hear that you still have your Good Choice Coupon from last Christmas! Unfortunately, I won't be able to get you a ride on Santa's sleigh this year. But instead, you can choose from the following:

  • You and a friend join me and Mr. Gribble for a trip to the movie theatre to see 'Miracle on 34th Street'.
  • You and a friend come over to my house for Christmas cookies and to watch a Christmas film.
  • Choice #3 that I don't remember.
  • Choice #4 that I don't remember.
  • Choice #5 that I don't remember.

Love, 
Mrs. Gribble

P.S. Do you know if any other kids still have their Good Choice Coupon?

Needless to say, I chose the second option. I've always been nosy, and the chance to go inside my favourite teacher's house and see her in her natural habitat was beyond exciting. BEYOND. I wrote back that I'd like to choose Option #2 and to take my friend Keelyn. I also reassured her that I was the only kid that had held on to her coupon for the whole year.

The big day came and my mom drove us to her house. It was so much fun, and I don't remember being nervous at all, even though it was such a huge deal.

Today's Christmas gift idea

What!? It's Christmas Eve and you still don't have a gift! OK, don't panic. Here's what you do. Take a tin of beans from the pantry and peel off the label. Glue some printer paper around the can and decorate it with coloured marker, glitter, stickers or whatever else you can find (Bandaids, if you're desperate). Voilà! You have a homemade pencil holder.

Feliz natal,

Margaret

P.S. Bonus video!



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 2 days

Today's Christmas photo


This is it. This is the Christmas card photo that got the green light.
It made it to print and was sent out to friends and relatives near and far.
Hindsight is 20/20, and I think we can all agree that the Buick snap should have taken home the top prize.
But at least you get a better view of Francie's fleece headband in this one.

Today's Christmas memory

A few years ago Andy spent Christmas in Kenmore. My mom got us all tickets to see 'A Christmas Carol' (human version, not muppet) at the Act Theatre in Seattle. The performance was done 'in the round', which added to the play's suspense because you never knew where the actors were going to pop out.

It was Act 1—the scene where the ghost of Jacob Marley appears to Scrooge (or maybe it's just an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato...). In a bit of a twist, they had Marley jump out from under the covers just as Scrooge was about to get in bed. Scrooge was startled (as is scripted). But nobody was more taken aback than my mother, who screamed from the depths of her lungs, a deep, guttural "OHHHHH!!

Her groan of fear reminded me of when she did the exact same thing back in 1999. The two of us were at the cinema watching 'The Sixth Sense'. I forget which part of the film made her scream. But I do remember that after her howl, she said very loudly, "Ouch! I bit my hand"

She'd tried to clasp her hand over her screaming mouth, and had somehow bitten herself in the process. Everyone around us chuckled. Even though they were strangers and it was pitch black, I was 13 years old and soooooo embarrassed.

Today's Christmas gift idea

Satsumas. Let's be honest. It's Christmas Eve Eve and you ain't making no chaotic, last-minute dash to the mall. You certainly aren't ordering anything on Amazon. Not at this hour!

You can do better next year. Now it's time to throw in the towel and wrap up a few satsumas. If the recipient complains that it's not a good enough present, remind them of how lots of people don't get any presents on Christmas and tell them not to look a gift satsuma in the mouth.



Happy Eve Eve!!!

Margaret

Monday, December 22, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 3 days

Today's Christmas photo


Max and I taking the rope tow up to the top of the slope. Who needs skiing when you can inner tube instead?

Today's Christmas memory

OK, I'm running out of memories, so here's a video instead. This is from Christmas 2010.



Today's Christmas gift idea
Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree! The best Christmas book of all time. OK, it's tied with The Polar Express. Rich Kay read this aloud to us every Christmas Eve. Papa Bear up his usual tricks, as always. And it has a brilliant twist ending!

 ---> US Shoppers

 ---> UK Shoppers

Joyeux Noël,
Margaret

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 4 days

Today's Christmas photo


Max as Father Time and me as...Baby New Year? Is that a thing?

Today's Christmas memory

When I was in junior high my mom got herself, Char, Francie and I this great gig working on the Snow Train that ran from Seattle to Leavenworth, which, for all you non-Washingtonians, is a faux Bavarian town on the other side of the mountains.

It was the best deal ever. All we had to do was hand paper cups of hot cocoa and a box lunch to the passengers during the 1.5 hour journey. Maybe we led some carols. I don't really remember. I do remember it being really easy.

Then we would arrive in snowy Leavenworth, all lit up with twinkly lights and smelling of sizzling bratwurst. We'd walk around the neighbourhoods and wonder what it would be like to live there. Leavenworth's awesome at Christmas, but tacky and forgotten the rest of the year.

On the train ride back we didn't have to do anything at all. For a day's work, we would each earn 100 big bones. I don't think I was technically old enough to be working. Was the whole thing done under the table? Hmmm.

I remember thinking, "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this! I should be paying them!" 

Now, although I look back on it fondly, I know I deserved my pay. That's just part of getting older—you realise that, even if you enjoy what you do, you don't work for free. It's called self-worth. And rent. And food. And a Yankee candle addiction.

Today's Christmas gift idea

Metal spider head scratcher! For the ultimate scalp sensation. Remember when I went and bought one mid blog post?

Andy and I apply the scratcher to each other while we watch TV and it never gets old. The other day I saw Khloe Kardashian using one on an episode of Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons, so you know it must be good.

 ---> US shoppers

 ---> UK shoppers


Nollaig Shona Duit,

Margaret

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 5 days

Today's Christmas photo


Oh yeah. Chosen to be on the top of the pyramid. #Skinny

Today's Christmas memory

I remember this moment well because I videotaped it with our camcorder and have watched it many times since. Allow me to set the scene for you.

My dad: Carrying a ginormous Christmas tree up the stairs, working with my someone (Max, I think) to get it to stand straight, getting down his hands and knees and attempting to twist the screws of the tree stand into the trunk, grunting and breathing loudly.
My mom: Blaring Raffi's Christmas album through the big speakers. Popping popcorn to make popcorn/cranberry garlands later. Basking in the festive spirit.
My dad: With the speaker right next to his ear, "Can somebody please turn that music down?"
My mom: Continues to monitor the popcorn, unable to hear his plea.
My dad: Can someone turn off the music?
My mom: Humming along with Raffi as he sings "On Christmas morning, I'll wake up bright and early..."
My dad: NINA! TURN OFF THE MUSIC!

Me: Filming and laughing under my breath.

Next time I go back to Kenmore, I'll hunt down the footage and post it on the blog. Maybe next Christmas.

Today's Christmas gift idea

Astronaut ice cream! It's the perfect stocking stuffer. More than just a gift—an experience! Let's face it, if Lance Bass can't fulfil his dream to go to space, than none of us stand a chance. This is as close as you'll get to space travel. Savour every last bite.

 ----> US shoppers

  ----> UK shoppers



Wesołych Świąt,
Margaret

Friday, December 19, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 6 days

Today's Christmas photo


I think this might be the Santa that turned out to be a child molester, but I'm not sure.
Wow. According to this article, the bad Santa was named Ronald McDonald!!! Chilling. 

Today's Christmas memory

Last year on Christmas Eve Andy ate so much biryani that he lost consciousness for a bit. I asked him 'What's the best present Santa ever got you?'. He responded with a meandering string of unrelated words, eventually fading to silence as his bloated eyes stared straight past me. The guy was in pain. That was the first time I'd ever seen someone eat so much that their brain stopped working.

Today's Christmas gift idea

Yankee Christmas Cookie Candle. You have to smell it to believe it. Seriously, I get compliments from everyone (Char) who comes over to the flat. Don't believe me? Look how happy it makes me.

---> US shoppers


---> UK shoppers


Gleðileg jól,
Margaret

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 7 days

Today's Christmas photo(s)






Today's Christmas memory*

We went through a stage of buying the ugliest Christmas tree we could find. One year, "ugliest" translated to "most dead". Predictably, all the needles fell off and we were left with nothing but a web of sticks. I removed all the lights and my mom drove to Yakima Fruit Market to get a replacement.

*OK, this is the one time that the photo will relate to the memory. Don't get used to it.

Today's Christmas gift idea

Love it, love it, love it. Absolutely gotta have it. Vitabath. The best-smelling bubble bath since sliced bread (which isn't even bubble bath). Could there be a better stocking stuffer? NO. There couldn't be.


---> UK shoppers

---> US shoppers


圣诞节快乐,
Margaret

P.S. Google translate it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 8 days

Today's Christmas photo

A contender for our family Christmas photo one year. Needless to say, it didn't make it past the cutting room floor.

Today's Christmas memory

I vividly remember lying in a sleeping bag next to the rest of my siblings on the floor of my parents' bedroom on Christmas Eve. Anna and Max told me that if I really really really wished for what I wanted, Santa would bring it. So, the whole night (or for the two minutes it took to fall asleep), I wished as hard as I could for one of those horse heads with the stick body. You know the ones...Googling it now...a hobby horse, that's it!

Lo and behold, the next morning a beautiful ebony-coated mare was waiting for me under the tree. I named her 'Black Beauty', because, duh.

I think this story prove that, unless the hobby horse idea was somehow planted in my head, Santa really is real.

Today's Christmas gift idea

Taylor Swift's new album. Let this one be a treat for yourself. Every song is good. Read my review for further information.

 ---> US shoppers

---> UK shoppers

Mele Kalikimaka,
Margaret

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 9 days

Today's Christmas photo

Anna, Margaret, Francie in 1991, maybe.
Is it just me, or do we never get snow like this anymore? 

Today's Christmas memory

One year, when I was about 12, my Mom suggested we give up presents and donate our gifts to a needy family instead. We all begrudgingly agreed—except Anna, who was livid at the mere suggestion. She was so unyielding in her opposition, that my Mom eventually caved and decided that we would do both—give presents to a disadvantaged family and continue to get presents ourselves. To this day, Anna won't let us forget about the year she "saved Christmas". We owe her.

Today's Christmas gift idea

Hilarious 'muffin top' baking cups (for the person who has everything). Is it bad that I laughed pretty hard at these? Note: if you do buy these for someone, make sure they don't actually have a serious muffin-top situation going on. They could take it the wrong way.

   <--- US shoppers

   < --- UK shoppers

Feliz navidad,

Margaret

Monday, December 15, 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 10 days

Andy and I are spending Christmas in Italy this year. You know what that means: pizza all day, every day. It also means I won't have reliable Internet. Sorry, Italian hotels, but I don't trust you (at least not the ones in our budget).

So, thinking ahead like the responsible adult I am, I decided to schedule my blog posts in advance. Starting today, I'll be sharing a Christmas photo, memory and gift idea as I count down the days until December 25th.

Remember, your present for me can be clicking through the Amazon ads and spending the big bucks. Don't forget to buy yourself a treat too. Something real nice.

Today's Christmas photo


Christmas 1986.
Very difficult to tell Char and Francie apart in this one. C in the middle, F on the right? I think that's it. 


Today's Christmas memory*

It was my family's annual Christmas party and all evening my cousin Willem (about 11 at the time) had been planning to serenade the guests with Raffi's 'Douglas Mountain'. He got up on "stage", made it halfway through and then the nerves got to him. He ran off down the hall after the first verse and hid in my parents' bedroom. As a choir girl myself, I really felt for him. Singing in front of people is incredibly nerve-wracking. But good on him for giving it a go!

*The Christmas memory will not relate to the photo. I'm good, but I'm not that good. 

Today's gift idea 

Smartwool socks! The best sock known to man (and woman). The wool is super warm, but also thin and breathable. They hug your feet like it's the long-lost sibling they never knew they had. Absolute perfection.

 < --- US shoppers

 < --- UK shoppers


Now bring me some figgy pudding,
Margaret

Sunday, December 14, 2014

That's a wrap!

Tonight was present-wrapping night in the Kay/Williamson household. It started off great. We had everything we needed—Christmas tunes on Spotify, two pairs of scissors, four rolls of tape and two types of wrapping paper to keep things interesting.

But as I got wrapping, my enthusiasm began to wane. I need to start doing yoga again because, wow, who knew wrapping presents could be such a workout?

I tried sitting cross-legged on the floor. Uncomfortable.

I tried kneeling. Ouch my knees.

I tried sitting on the couch and bending down to wrap the present as it rested on the floor. Not that flexible.

I tried bringing the present up to my lap and wrapping it there. Bad wrap job; lots of wrinkles.

But I persevered and in the end, I did it. All the presents cheerfully concealed with colourful paper. That's a wrap!

Christmas smize.

In other news

  • 'Heroes' actress and dolphin fan Hayden Panettiere and her ginormous fiancé had a baby. 
  • The final episode of season one of 'Serial' airs this Thursday. If you haven't jumped on the Serial bandwagon yet, you have four days to catch up. Better start binge-listening now.
  • In case you missed it, North Korea hacked Sony's emails, and we now know lots of juicy stuff about Hollywood's biggest stars, including:
    • Angelina Jolie is a "minimally talented spoiled brat" (I actually could have guessed that one).
    • Jennifer Lawrence got paid 7% of the profits of 'American Hustle', when co-stars Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale each got paid 9%. You could argue that BC and CB had larger parts than her, but you could also blame Sexism. I'm not sure what the reasoning was, but what I will say is that she made that movie.
    • Matthew Knowles, Beyonce's dad, approached Sony about making a Destiny's Child film. Um, why didn't this get the green-light? Sounds like box office gold to me. 
  • Woah—breaking. As I typed this (probably not), Kourtney Kardashian just gave birth to her son. On today of all days! December 14th! What's the significance, you ask? Today is already her son Mason's birthday. The brothers will have to share a birthday now. It's OK though. Char and Francie did it their whole life, and they turned out alright. 
  • Martin Freeman starred as Bilbo Baggins in a Middle Earth/The Office mash-up for SNL last night. The concept was funnier than the result. But it's a thing that the Internet is talking about today. 

The end. 

Margaret




Saturday, December 13, 2014

My clog scroll

I was going to title this post 'My bucket list', because that's what it's going to feature.

But then I thought: Hmm....'bucket list' is so overdone. Maybe it's time to coin a new term that means 'things I want to do before I die'.

This led me to the brilliant Wikipedia page 'List of expressions related to death'. Among my favourite on the list are:
  • To ride the pale horse
  • To shuffle off this mortal coil
  • To hop the twig
  • To snuff it
  • To pop one's clogs
So I've decided to call my bucket list my 'clog scroll' instead—just to mix things up a bit. 

Not to be earthy, but isn't it amazing that fruit just grows on trees? Wait, is coconut a fruit?
I just Googled it and it's a "fibrous one-seeded drupe".
Image by Alex via Flickr

My clog scroll


Before I die, I would like to:
  • Fry an egg on the sidewalk.
  • Do that prank where you put someone's hand in warm water so they pee the bed. 
  • Shimmy up a palm tree. Grab a coconut. Shimmy back down. Crack the coconut on a rock. Hold one half up to my mouth. Pour the sweet juices down my gullet. 
  • Go dogsledding. 
  • Float around in one of those zero-gravity simulators. 
  • Brew and bottle my own root beer. 
  • Do this with Andy:

  • Write a book. 
  • Get hypnotherapy. 
  • Own a juicer. 
  • Score the winning goal in the World Cup and/or win a Nobel Prize.

Cheers, 
Margaret


Friday, December 12, 2014

Things that really had their day in the sun

The purpose of this post is to make you think:

"Yeah, that thing really did have its day in the sun there for a bit. Ha, funny." 

And then go back to picking dead skin off your feet, or whatever it is you were doing.

Here we go.


Kashi 'Good Friends' cereal
Image by John Carleton via Flickr

The Weakest Link
Image by rickh710 via Flickr

Old Navy
Image by Steve Morgan via Wikimedia Commons

Shrugs

Desperate Housewives
Image by ฿lαcĸouт14* via Flickr

Paris Hilton
Image by via Flickr

Dippin' Dots
Image by Navin75 via Flickr




What else would you add to the list?

Ciao,
Margaret

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Today I...



Today I...

SAW a woman walking in front of me who had a giant splatter of white seagull poop on the back of her black jacket. I said nothing.

HEARD the latest episode of Serial. It was...meh. I am that horrible listener who wants answers and speculation and closure. That's not a complaint; it's a statement.

TASTED cheese toast with Tabasco sauce, the world's most delicious food. Tabasco sauce is the tampon of the culinary world—a bit uncomfortable at first, but after a few tries you never go back!

TOUCHED the first snowflakes of the season. Let's hope they aren't the last. They were big, fat flakes that made Edinburgh look just like Hogsmeade. Andy and I sang "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" as we packed our bags for work.

Cheers,
Margaret

P.S. I am SO sorry about that tampon thing.

P.P.S. Proof?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mental dares

I'm gonna tell it to ya straight: I'm tired. Not a complaint! Just a statement. A STATEMENT. God, can't people make statements anymore without getting the third degree?

I've spent the last few days writing about the UK's upcoming pension reforms and my brain hurts. Learning new things—who knew it could be so hard?

Anyway, I'm dying to get in bed, sip some Tesco's Finest Peppermint Tea (in a posh mesh bag) and crack open a pack of purple Skittles. They've been burning a hole in my pocket for three hours.

So I'll keep this short and sweet (kinda like how I like my men? haha?).



The other day I read about a man who was sentenced to six years in jail for punching a hole through an £8million Monet painting. He claimed he fainted and his fist just happened to take a tumble across the lovely 'Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat'.

But security footage said differently. It showed him walking up to that impressionist masterpiece, looking it square in the eye sailboat, and doing what Manet (I assume Manet and Monet were rivals) had always dreamed of doing. He gave that 140-year-old overrated collection of blurry brushstrokes a knuckle sandwich!

Now, it turns out he did it to "get back at the state" (Ireland, in this case). But I like to think he just did it. No reason. Just wanted to do it and did it. Why do I like this theory better? Because I think of doing crazy stuff like that all the time. It's actually bad. It's a compulsion. I'll walk by a stack of produce in the supermarket and think to myself, just knock all those lemons over! Just do it!

The worst mental dare I give myself is to kiss the random acquaintance/stranger I happen to be talking to. Just lean over and interrupt them mid-sentence with a big, sloppy smooch. I never have and never will act on such an absurd and possibly criminal thought, but I can't seem to shake the recurring "just kiss them, just do it" dare from my head.

I thought I was alone in my madness, but Andy told me that Bill Burr talks about this in his standup.



Would you look at that? Turns out this post isn't as short as I originally anticipated. I guess if you spend the first couple paragraphs complaining explaining how you're tired, the words really start to add up.

Before I forget, the magic eye from yesterday was a rose. But I got it off a creative commons website and it looks like some girl just made it (it wasn't an officially sanctioned 'Magic Eye'). So don't feel bad if you didn't get it. She could just be lying to us and there's actually nothing hidden in there at all.

Love,
Margaret

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Unmotivated eyes

As promised, today I will expand on the following blog post brief, as assigned by my past self:

I don't have bad eyesight, my eyes are just unmotivated. Can't focus when I'm on the computer, but when I go to take an eye test, they step up their game. Can you get glasses for eyes that can't be bothered?

That's pretty much the gist of it. My eyes do what they want, and sometimes what they want more than anything is to do nothing. I can relate.

But what can I do to get these peepers back in gear? I went to Specsavers fully prepared to buy some super cute hipster glasses, and I aced the eye exam! When my eyes apply themselves, they score a perfect 20/20. The problem is that they're just lazy a lot of the time.

Dead eyes = rough photo. Tyra knows best. 

Here are just a few examples of when my eyes like to take a lil' break from their ocular duties.

Using the computer 

Sometimes, especially in the morning, trying to get my eyes to focus on a Google doc is a total lost cause. Even reading a Facebook comment is a struggle. That might not sound like a big deal, but my fans rely on me to 'like' their comments within 30 seconds of them writing it. If you had a dedicated fanbase that hangs on your every word, you'd understand.

Identifying approaching faces

OK, half of the time I am intentionally ignoring you. But if I completely blank you as we pass on the street, there's a 50% chance that it's just these dang unmotivated eyes! Blame them, not me! When I'm walking, my eyes struggle to focus on faces. There's too much movement, there's wind whipping round my pupils and everything becomes a blur.

Hunting for something in the refrigerator 

Actually, when it comes to the fridge, Andy's eyes can't be arsed even more than mine. He's constantly hollering at me 'Where are the eggs?' 'What happened to the spinach?' 'Are we out of ketchup?' — my answer's always the same: bottom shelf, bottom shelf, bottom shelf. I suspect that he just doesn't want to bend down that far.

Attempting to decipher 'magic eyes'

This could be a case of 'impatient eyes' more than 'unmotivated eyes', but semantics aside, I SUCK at magic eyes. I blogged about it back in 2011, so no need to get into the gritty details again.

But here, let's try one together. Just for ol' time's sake.

Image via DeviantArt

Any idea? I thought it was a train track. I was wrong. Post a comment with your guess and I'll let you know if you got it right tomorrow.

Cheers,
Margaret


P.S. A PayPal commercial just came on TV. It's absolutely terrible. I can't stand the 'Na na na na na, people rule!' part at the end. Seriously—people rule? That's the slogan you've decided to go with? PEOPLE RULE? What kind of 1998 5th-grade-boy backwards baseball cap lingo is that? This isn't a No Fear t-shirt, it's an advert for an online payment platform—a product that requires you to enter your debit card number and bank account details for goodness' sake.

Watch:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Greetings from a bed of sand

When I first wrote the title of this post, I accidentally wrote 'Greetings from a bed of sad'. These blogging fingers must know me better than I know myself, because that typo works. It really works.

You see, I'm not relaxing on a white sand beach, hooked up to resort WiFi and typing this post whilst sipping an umbrella-clad cocktail. Oh no. I'm just sitting on my normal bed in my frigid flat under sheets that are covered in countless miniature pieces of rock. Oh yeah, SAND. Lots of it.

This photo was just to throw you off. And to break up the text, because your 2014 brain can't handle large chunks of words.
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Temperatures are dropping here in Edinburgh, so yesterday I grabbed an old plaid blanket from the linen cupboard and threw it on the bed. Little did I know it was covered in sand from a long forgotten picnic of yesteryear.

What's the lesson to take away? Think about your future self. If I had only thought of future, wintertime Margaret when I was folding that sandy blanket and putting it back into the cupboard, I wouldn't be lying in a bed of sad.

The upside? Finally, a way to exfoliate my legs while I sleep!

The other upside? Today I found a Text Edit document titled 'Blog Ideas' hidden amongst a billion other icons on my cluttered computer desktop. This is what was inside:

Blog Ideas

 - I don't have bad eyesight, my eyes are just unmotivated. Can't focus when I'm on the computer, but when I go to take an eye test, they step up their game. Can you get glasses for eyes that can't be bothered?

 - Air stewardesses and sock buns - who's going to tell them that, like the gaucho pant before it, the sock bun was a fleeting trend.


Ha, proof that I do sometimes think of my future self! That's tomorrow and Wednesday's posts sorted. Stay tuned.

Cheers,
Margaret


Sunday, December 7, 2014

My three favourite Christmas films

It's difficult to narrow it down to three. But, with the Celebrity Jungle finale airing in less than an hour and Sainsbury's 'Melt in the Middle, Smoked Haddock, Leek & Cheddar Fishcakes' roasting in the oven, I am blessed by the incentivising power of a tight deadline.

Here they are in no particular order.

Muppet Christmas Carol

This is the best Scrooge film of them all, and I like to think Dickens would agree. As long as you fast forward through the part where Belle and young adult Ebenezer sing to each other in the park, this movie never disappoints. I sing the opening tune ("There goes Mr. Humbug, there goes Mr. Grim...") all year 'round.



Meet Me in St. Louis

People might not consider this a 'Christmas' movie per se, but I definitely do. It features all of the seasons, but Christmas is where the film reaches its climax, and it's when Judy Garland famously sings 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' in the—SOB—most emotional scene ever.

Part of what makes this movie so good is that the stars are H-O-T-T. Not just Judy, but her older sister (Rose) and her love interest (John Truett, the boy next door). They're all stunning, elegant and charming. Also, it's a comedy! The humour holds up to this day.



Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

My mom rented this from Blockbuster one December of yore and we all begrudgingly agreed to watch it. No offence to Nadinski, but the cover looked shite. Old fashioned. Boring. Lame.

Well, it was actually FANTASTIC. As an outspoken 'It's a Wonderful Life' hater, I was thrilled to finally have a black and white Christmas flick to hang my Santa hat on.

The plot: basically, a Martha Stewart/Blake Lively type woman who writes a weekly homemaking column in the newspaper heads to Connecticut to host Christmas dinner for some war hero guy. It's a big PR thing, but the problem is: she can't actually cook! She's a complete phoney who writes all her columns from a city centre apartment. When she attempts to convince the hunky veteran that she's a married housewife who can roast a perfect turkey, hilarity ensures.

The trailer doesn't do it justice (and its pretty sexist), but here it is anyway:

 




Runners up:

  • White Christmas
  • A Christmas Story
  • Elf
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
  • Home Alone
  • Miracle on 34th Street (both versions)

Pulled Andy's Santa onesie out of mothballs today and boy is it cosy.
I might have to retract what I said about onesies two posts ago. 

Frohe fast Weihnachten,

Margaret

P.S. When Googling 'Christmas in Connecticut', I also came across a 1992 re-make of the film, directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It looks like a real stinker. Don't watch that version by accident.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wildest dream


Since I was a kid, I've always dreamed of being presented with shoeboxes full of strangers' photos that happen to capture me in the background. Every unintentional photobomb I'd ever done in my entire life. There'd be videos too. And I would spend all day studying the prints and watching the footage of my true self. 

One time Andy's brother was clicking his way through various friends-of-friends' Facebook photos and came across a zoomed out shot of Australia's Bondi Beach. It was packed towel-to-towel with sunbathers, but who did he spot in the bottom left corner? It was Andy! This random guy who took the photo—a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of Andy's brother—just happened to be in Australia, at Bondi Beach, on the same day as Andy in 2006. 

When he sent us the link to the photo, we freaked out. It was CRAZY. Like that time, freshman year, when Barbie and I each said "there's a snake in my boot" at the exact same time completely unprompted and for no clear reason whatsoever. We'd been sitting in silence for about an hour studying, and then we just said it. It was creepy.

It must have been such a thrill for Andy to see himself in the wild like that. He came as close as anyone could to experiencing my shoebox dream. #Jealous

That's all for this Saturday evening. I put up some Christmas lights in our kitchen window, and pushpins + hard wooden window sill = blister on my thumb. But in some positive boil-related news, my zit from yesterday has formed a whitehead! The end is nigh for that sore-nose eyesore!

See ya, 
Margaret

P.S. Now I can't find the photo of Andy on Bondi Beach. I am working on it though. 

P.P.S. This post still needs a photo. This one should do. It's from a controversial gender-defying 'sexy Santa' photo shoot I did with Andy back in 2009. 

Too edgy for Madgspace?
Come on, people. It's called ART.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Signs I'm maturing, and signs I'm not

Oy vey. Bring on the weekend. Am I right? I mean, seriously. Can I get a HECK YEAH up in here? If you're anything like me, then you loooove the weekend. Where my weekend fans at? You know what I mean? Like, is it even possible for me to convey my excitement for the weekend in a friendlier, more relatable way?

Yikes. Thank goodness that's over. Moving on.

Signs I'm maturing:
  • I like prawns now. PRAWNS. Probably one of the grossest things imaginable. Glorified maggots. Except I like them now. They're tasty! And full of protein. 
  • I (most of the time) can accept that people have opinions other than my own. 
  • I sometimes watch the news and say things like, "Oh politicians, they're all the same. What a bunch of phonies!"
Signs I'm not:
  • I wear hooded sweatshirts, especially my new black one that's still so soft on the inside. 
  • I cheat on chocolate-filled advent calendars. #NoSelfControl
  • I've tried, but I still can't wrap my head around insurance. Just seems like such a scam. Pay for something I might never reap the benefits of...just in case? God, that's a big ask. 
  • I have a huge zit in the smack dab centre of my nose. 
It hurts.
Covered it in toothpaste for an hour last night, but it's bigger than ever.
Why am I always wearing this sweatshirt in my blog close-ups? BECAUSE I BLOODY LOVE IT!



    My 'oy vey' intro reminds me of when I stood in the frigid cold and watched a movie called 'Oy Vey My Son is Gay' being filmed in Spokane. It was the biggest thing to happen to Spokompton since the Planned Parenthood bombing. I was determined to get my eyes on its all-star cast, which, looking back, is even better than I remembered. To name just a few:
    • Jai Rodriguez ('Culture vulture' on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy)
    • Bruce Vilanch (Best known for his four-year stint on Hollywood Squares)
    • Carmen Electra (Oscar-winning actress and humanitarian)
    Hold on. Why read when you could watch? Have a look and I guarantee you'll be illegally streaming bad boy for your cosy Friday night in:


    Full disclosure: I haven't actually watched 'Oy Vey My Son is Gay'. But I have watched 'End Game', starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Angie Harmon, also filmed in Spokane. I even wrote a review of it for the Gonzaga Bulletin (which, as I recall, underwent a heavy copy edit, ridding it of all its grassyllama flare). 

    Have an amazing weekend,
    Margaret

    Thursday, December 4, 2014

    6 alternatives to the ugly Christmas sweater party

    Don't get me wrong; I like ugly sweater parties as much as the next gal. They're definitely here to stay, and I'm happy that they're a part of contemporary Christmas culture. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a market for new holiday party ideas. Diversification is always a good thing (prime example: the Papa John's Fritos Chili Pizza).



    So, if you fancy having your pals around for a festive soirée, but you're already attending three ugly sweater parties this week alone, then here are some alternatives to consider:

    1) A Kompletely Kardashian Khristmas! 
    Dress like a Kardashian. Jumpsuits, bandage cut-out dresses, turtleneck crop-tops, airbrushed makeup—the whole kit and kaboodle. Basically, dress as fiercely and glamorously as you would every day if you had the balls and the budget.

    Men attending the party can wear socks from Rob Kardashian's sock line. They can put the socks on their hands so they don't have to lift up their trouser hem to show people. See, I've thought of everything!

    2) Christmas Halloween!
    OK, this is just like Halloween, except instead of dressing up as Halloweeny stuff (vampire, ghost, pumpkin, etc.) you dress as something Christmas themed (snowman, candy cane, reindeer, etc.). Call it 'Christmas Halloween', because it's just confusing enough to work!

    3) Santa Party!
    Everyone, be they a man or a woman, dresses as Santa. Simple.

    4) Winter Solstice Party!
    Gather your friends around a backyard bonfire and embrace your inner pagan. Wear some crazy costume inspired by nature. Paint yourself blue, put leaves in your hair, drink wine out of a dried yak esophagus—anything goes!

    5) 'Christmas Morning PJ' Party!
    You know how Santa used to get everyone in your family a new pair of matching flannel pyjamas for Christmas? Nope, me neither. But that was part of my cousins' Christmas tradition and I always thought it was brilliant.

    Tell your friends to wear their comfiest Christmas PJs, but also set some ground rules:

    • NO "onesies" allowed. If it's marketed as a "onesie" or found in the novelty/costume section of the shop, it doesn't count as pyjamas. You want proper PJs. Ma in her kerchief and I in my cap type stuff. None of this Miley Cyrus rave-chic "look at how quirky I am" bullroar (sorry Miley). 

    6) Retro Ski Lodge Party!
    Dress like you're lounging around a ski lodge in the 70s. Tell everyone to bring a retro appetiser and serve eggnog in moose mugs. 


    Cheers,
    Margaret

    P.S. If you're British, you can just ignore this entire post and go to the pub with your mates instead.

    Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    Meta

    I'm babysitting for Char and William tonight, and you know what that means: pizza party for one!

    As I sit here pressing the refresh button on Domnio's Order Tracker, I am desperately trying to think of something to blog about. And then it occurred to me, make the brainstorming process the blog itself! Genius! Two birds, one stone.


    OK, my conversation with myself, as it just unfolded:
    • Write about flu vaccines, and how you're going to get your first ever this year.
    • Write about how, at least in some cases, refusing to engage with anxiety is the best way to overcome it. For example, instead of losing sleep over an important business meeting and telling everyone who asks that you're nervous about it, just don't talk about it or even allow yourself to think about it. Kick those negative thoughts sky high into another dimension. Every time the cause of your anxiety pops into your head, ignore it. Think of something else. Drink a glass of water. Distract yourself. Pretend the anxiety isn't happening. Lie to yourself! Is this terrible advice? 
    • Write about how it's so hard to do anything when you're hungry.
    • Write about how you can't think of what to write about. YES! That's it! You've definitely done this before, several times, but woops, too late, you're already writing. You're screenshotting the pizza tracker. We're doing this. Buckle up. 
    Aaaaand there's the buzzer. Pizza's here! 

    Until next time, 

    Margaret

    P.S. 
    1) Scarf scarf scarf (my version of 'Nom nom nom', which I loathe)
    2) I like jalepenos, but not in every dang bite.
    3) Think of how many gallons of garlic dipping sauce Domino's must waste each year. 
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...