Monday, December 19, 2011

Revolting Resolutions!

As this alcoholic squirrel will testify - The desire to change may be strong but the flesh is sometimes weak

New Year’s Resolutions. You’ve gotta love ‘em haven’t you? They’re basically just another opportunity for us to set ourselves up to fail, one more reason for us to hate ourselves.

I have in the past made New Year’s resolutions that I’ve actually kept, like in 2008 when I resolved to read 100 books in the year. I made it to 104 in the end, although that did include quite a few very slim volumes, and a few Nancy Drew books. It definitely counts though, Nancy Drew gets herself involved in some pretty intense mysteries you know.

Most of the time though, the ‘get thin and fit’ type resolutions never happen – the lure of Sky+ and the biscuit tin for some unfathomable reason being stronger than the lure of getting sweaty and out of breath in a dank, poorly lit room, with a group of chubby strangers. Funny that.

So, this year, how about going all out? You know you’re going to fail anyway, so at least be ambitious about it. Here are my top three resolution suggestions:

Lose three stone

Already only nine stone? Sod it, everyone wants to be a size zero don’t they? Resolve to eat the following daily diet, and by the end of the year you too could be unattractively bony and suffering from an eating disorder:

• Breakfast – half a grapefruit and three blueberries.

• Lunch – Chew half a sandwich and then spit it in the bin.

• Dinner – Glance in the direction of a tuna steak. Not for long though.

• Snack – Half a dozen post-it notes

Become super intelligent and interesting

We all know it, but just don’t want to admit it – Legally Blond = Bad, Boring subtitled film about the plight of shrimp in Argentina = Good. Make this the year you become all worldly and knowledgeable, with my foolproof plan:

Carry a copy of the Financial Times or the Economist under your arm at all times. Make sure it is folded open at an interesting article, to give the impression you were in the middle of reading it when you were interrupted by a Very Important Call.

Snort derisively at the mention of Strictly Come Dancing, X-Factor or Eastenders.

Shake your head in a cynical, if-only-you-knew kind of way every time someone talks to you about politics, the economy or the environment. This will create an impressive air of mystery and superiority. Try to imply by the way you raise your eyebrows that you may be a spy/national newspaper editor/secret Government consultant.

Stick to this and by the end of the year you should be able to answer at least 20% of the questions on University Challenge. Result.

Become an Olympic gold medallist

How many of you have joined a gym in January, only to give up after your third or fourth visit? It could be because you’re setting your sights too low, and are lacking motivation. Perhaps you need to consider aiming higher, and becoming an Olympic gold medallist?

There’s never been a better time to launch a career in sport in the UK – with the Olympics all set to bankrupt us next summer, at least you’ll not have to fork out too much in the way of travel expenses.

Picking a sport is the first step. I’d avoid athletics if I were you, as some of those runners are really fast, and you’d probably get left behind. I’ve had a look at the list of events for 2012 and think something like archery or show jumping would be your best bet. Or perhaps BMX?

Yes, there are cynics who’ll say you’ve probably left it a bit late to start your training, but what do they know? You just have to believe in yourself. You can do it!

This guest post was brought to you by the lovely Jo at Slummy Single Mummy. You can also follow her on twitter here.

As for me - I did resolve to be less vain last year but it has to be said it was a monumental failure. I have a wonderful new hair stylist called Danny who does my highlights who is the closest I will ever come to finding religion - Danny you are my hero! I am also still obsessed with having my nails done in every kind of new fangled design under the sun and have just had my nails decorated with tiny snowmen and snowflakes:

Is it wrong to thrive on long martini lunches, shopping with pals, reading chick lit, buying high heeled shoes and gossiping about who's had a facelift? No, it isn't. I can't do it any more. Can't keep up the pretence of being an intellectual. Like Jo, I can't pretend to be interested in really boring Ingmar Bergman movies or reading Booker Prize tomes where nothing happens apart from someone washes their hands and watches a snowflake settle on the nose of a cat as a metaphor for the war in Iraq.

Enough of this madness! I am GOING VAIN in 2012. That's not the same as Sarah Palin's claim to be GOING ROGUE. If I can give her some advice it would be to start GOING ROUGE instead. Put down your elk blasting gun this Christmas Sarah and dab a little festive pink on your cheeks - you'll feel so much better, trust me!

But in my attempt at GOING VAIN let's hope I don't tumble from kitsch into the territory of bad taste. My snowmen nails are only the start. I fear it is only a matter of time before I don one of those reindeer sweaters with flashing lights on them that seem to be something of a hit around here. Please pray for me that I don't take it too far.....

So dish it. What about you? Are you doing a list of resolutions this year or simply giving them a two fingered salute?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Would you spend £700 on a designer potty?

Today I'm dealing with strange products marketed at children that make you scratch your head and think, hmm, who thought that up?

1. Posh Potty

Psst, Posh Spice, here's the latest word in stylish pottys. Harper's probably getting to the stage soon when she'll be wanting to do number ones and twos in a fashion forward setting.

My Carry Potty in Swarovski Crystal

So if you want something sparkly for Harper then grab this exclusive potty that's studded with Swarovski crystals. And if you dear reader are sobbing that you simply haven't got that kind of cash to spend on a potty to bribe your daughter, then all I can say is, there are plenty of cheaper bribes out there that can work equally well. Believe me, we've all been there - potty training bribes are what it's all about. From chocolate buttons to letting kids play mind numbing games like Angry Birds every time they poop in the correct hole, when the shit hits the fan you do what you can.

Read more here

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I'm not a tourist, I live here

It is a funny old life, being an expat. I suppose when you tell people you are an expat it gives the impression that you have chosen a life of fun, excitement and adventure by choosing to wear the expat hat, when in some (namely my own) cases you were simply offered an opportunity to leave your country of birth and hopefully ended up somewhere better. I came to Baltimore, USA eleven years ago without much of a clue as to where I was moving to. The locals told me 'Baltimore grows on you' which sounded much like an unwanted wart on the sole of my foot! But I have to say I did grow to love Baltimore more with every passing year. It has a real community feel to it and pretentious people are thankfully few and far between. In fact, I was reading through the The Expat Explorer survey (The largest survey of its kind. In 2011 over 3000 expats answered questions relating to their finances, quality of life and even what it's like to raise children abroad) and must say it's a really fascinating read.

It has a neat little function where you can compare and contrast two countries to see which one is the better deal. I typed in the UK and the US and you can see the results here. It did feel great to find out that in most ways I was doing better in the USA. I also have still not gotten over the fact that people here say 'has anyone ever told you you look like Kate Winslet?' The answer is 'No, well no one outside the USA.' The Americans here hold the Brits in high esteem are always gushing about my 'cute British accent.' I don't want to burst their bubble by saying, 'Yeah I am pretty unique, there are only about 60 million of us back home!' What I'm saying is if you become an expat you become a somewhat unique person in your host country especially in a smaller place like Baltimore where I have only met maybe 30 other Brits.

But what about the rest of the expat world? If you are an expat check out the survey and see how your new country compares to your old and if it is doing better then give yourself  a slap on the back.

And remember, if you are a bored expat sitting by the pool idly fiddling with your iPad that our fabulous book Cocktails at Naptime - A Woefully Inadequate Guide To Early Motherhood by Gillian Martin and Emma Kaufmann is now available for download worldwide. It can be downloaded to an Apple device such as an iPad or iPhone at the ibookstore here.

The book is a laugh out loud guide to the first year after birth and is the funniest book about childbirth since the New Testament. So what are you waiting for? Download it now! And if you want to know how two authors wrote a book in cyberspace go here.