Friday, 21 February 2014

Buy One Get One Free!

Congratulations folks! You get 2 weeks rolled into one in this post - mainly because not much happened so I don't have much to talk about!

Days in the diary were Valentine's Day (Friday), Old School Day (Sunday) and Break the Rules Day (Tuesday).

Valentine's Day - over the last few years I've spent this day on my own...and loved every minute of it!

I have to admit though that I did enjoy the novelty of buying cards and gifts this year and it was really nice to celebrate the day with someone who made an effort - not that either of us need the excuse of a special day once a year :-)

John had booked us a table at Runamocha, which was lovely, and we finished a perfect evening off at Charlie's with Charlie and his new assortment of hats!

Old School Day - I can't even remember what I did on Sunday (although in fairness it's not often that I can remember what I did yesterday never mind several days ago!), I'm not sure whether this is an age thing or a Bradley thing.

Break the Rules Day - I'm not sure about rules but I certainly gave everything else a good go! I had to make breakfast 3 times (1st time burnt, 2nd time involved an unfortunate encounter with coffee), then I broke a coathanger (I barely touched it, it just literally fell apart in my hands, honest!) and finally I set fire to the tickets, whilst cooking Chicken Nasi Goreng, for our evening adventure to the Royal Hall to see Carmen. Fortunately I was able to extinguish them before too much damage was done - to the tickets or our meal!

It was definitely another Calamity Heidi Day!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Mysterious Meditation...

This week I had to do a press-up and succeed - I'm not sure whether it counts when you're doing it against a wall but that's as successful as it got, my upper body strength is virtually non existant and my back isn't really in any state to be carrying on like that at the moment! I'm working on it though!

It was also Meditate for 10 minutes* Day (*with chanting and everything), which I did completely by accident when I somehow managed to put myself into some sort of meditative state (I think) whilst doing some of my physio exercises. John arrived home to find me sat in the middle of the bedroom floor unable to feel my hands/lower arms and unable to move. It was a toss up between meditative state and partial paralysis! I wasn't chanting though so can't claim total success. It did make me feel more inclined to actually try some sort of meditation in the near future though, I was amazed at how relaxed and calm I felt - until I remembered that everytime I consciously try to empty my mind (I subconsciously do it all the time haha - I thought I'd best say it before someone else does) I always end up sitting there feeling like I want to tear my own skin off.

And on Sunday I was supposed to be creating an air of mystery - however, this proved to be more than I could put my mind to so I'll just leave you with this instead (sorry).

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

New Year's Pampering?!

In the diary last week we had Chinese New Year on Friday and also Pamper Yourself* Day (*extra points for also being pampered by someone else) on Saturday.

I'll start with the pampering bit first so you don't lose interest (assuming you haven't already) before reaching the end of the reams of riveting Chinese New Year information I've included for your entertainment and education...

...the nearest I came to any pampering was buying myself some ridiculously reduced (to £1!) bottles of morrocan oil shampoo and conditioner (8 in total). However, when you factor in that I then had to lug them round on my shoulder for the remainder of the day, which my back was far from thankful for, I was actually going backwards in terms of pampering. And as for earning extra points for also being pampered by someone else...the fact that I also ended up carrying the 8 bottles Bernie bought meant that, in effect, I was pampering someone else.

I did buy a new hoover though - so, given that John and I have reached an agreement that he does the hoovering, I suppose you could say that I pampered him by making his household chores easier ;-)

(I'm also claiming both of these as part of my 'do 2 nice things for people each day' February mission since it was actually the 1st on Saturday!)

So to get back to Chinese New Year...

...we exited the year of the (water) Snake on Friday which no doubt will have relieved Bernie (being a snake (your own years tend to not be good ones for you)) and entered the year of the (wooden) horse - apologies to any horses out there who were expecting great things this year ;-) and Bernie and I celebrated by ordering Chinese food (although we could have gone a step further in keeping with the year and had something by Findus/Bird's Eye) and having a long overdue catch up!

I have to start by applauding the BBC subtitle system for one of its (many) funny moments...

With the number 18 apparently being a Chinese lucky number due to it sounding like "certain fortune", (in Chinese I presume) here are 18 Chinese New Year facts for you (some of which might have been more useful prior to the event (for all of us) - sorry!)

1) The Chinese zodiac – or Shēngxiào – is a calendar system originating in the Han dynasty (206-220BC), which names each of the years in its 12-year cycle after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order. According to the system, the universe is made up of five elements – earth, water, fire, wood and metal – which interact with the 12 animals, resulting in the specific character of the year ahead.

2) The animal signs of each year merely indicate how others see you or how you choose to present yourself. There are also animal signs for each month, known as inner animals, signs for each day, called true animals, and animals for each hour, or secret animals.

3) Pay attention Horses -  According to superstition, in your zodiac year you will offend Tai Sui, the god of age, and will experience bad luck for the whole year. To avoid this you should wear something red, which has been given to you by someone else.

4) It is the longest and most important festival for Chinese all over the world. It is a major 15-day celebration and public holiday in countries like China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapoer, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. It is also celebrated by the Chinese communities and Chinatowns all over the world.

5) The origin of the Chinese New Year is centuries old and is based on people's defense against a mythical beast called the Nian [年] using food, firecrackers and the colour red.

6) Food offereings are especially symbolic of happiness, prosperity, luck, fertility and long life during the Chinese New Year. Fish [魚] which sounds like "excess" or "surplus" in Mandarin is featured in all meals. Prosperity is also symbolised by oranges and black moss seaweed. Chicken and prawns are for happiness, pomelos represent fertility, and noodles are for long life. In China, dumplings [餃子] that are shaped like the ancient tael is customary in the north while a glutinous cake made of brown sugar [年糕] is popular in the south. Symbolic foods are also presented in ancestral and temple prayers during the festive period.

7) Lion and dragon dances are common during the Chinese New Year due to their association with the origin of the festival, where it is believed that the loud drumming and clashing of cymbals will chase away bad luck and evil spirits.

8) Some Chinese believe you should not wash your hair on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year as you would be washing away your good luck for the new year. (whoops)

9) To ensure you're not in debt in the new year, the Chinese believe that all outstanding bills and monies owed to friends and family members should be squared off before the Chinese New Year.

10) You should tidy up the home prior to the festive period to sweep away any misfortune and make way for good luck in the coming year. However remember not to sweep or clean your home on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year as it symbolises the sweeping away of all your wealth and good fortune for the year. (whoops again - but at least I didn't tidy on new year either)

11) The Chinese believe that crying and wailing on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year will result in sad times for the remainder of the year. It is also poor form to start the new year by swearing, getting upset or blowing your top. (and again - thank you EE/Orange)

12) Red [紅] is the predominant and auspicious colour of the Chinese New Year. It symbolises fortune, good luck and joy. In addition to the red packets or envelops, it is the most commonly worn colour of new clothes throughout the Chinese New Year period. White or black clothing are often avoided as they represent the traditional colours of mourning for Chinese.

13) Red packets or envelops [红包] containing money are customary during this festive period and handed out by elders and married couples to single adults and children. The amounts of money vary depending on the giver but custom dictates that the amount should be of even numbers, with the most popular being number 8;as it sounds like "wealth" (in chinese!)

14) Chinese characters that symbolise good fortune, luck and happiness are commonly seen as decorations on doors and in homes. The most popular character is the word "fortune" [福] which is hung upside down to symbolise the arrival of blessings.

15) The Order of the Animals - this is the most widespread legend about the Chinese zodiac. The Jade Emperor (The Emperor in Heaven in Chinese folklore) ordered that animals would be designated as calendar signs and the twelve that arrived first would be selected. At that time, the cat and the rat were good friends and neighbors. When they heard of this news, the cat said to the rat: 'We should arrive early to sign up, but I usually get up late.' The rat then promised to awaken his friend and go together. However, on the morning when he got up, he was too excited to recall his promise, and went directly to the gathering place. On the way, he encountered the tiger, ox, horse, and other animals that ran much faster. In order not to fall behind them, he made the straightforward ox carry him on condition that he sang for the ox. At last, the ox and rat arrived first. The ox was happy thinking that he would be the first sign of the years, but the rat had already slid in front, and became the first lucky animal of the Chinese zodiac. Meanwhile his neighbor the cat was too late so when it finally arrived, the selection was over. That's why other animals appear behind the little rat and why the cat hates the rat so much that every time they meet, the cat will chase and kill it.

16) Zodiac Signs and Times
  • Rat: 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., named zi shi (time period of zi). This is the time rats actively seek food
  • Ox: 1 to 3 a.m., named chou shi (time period of chou). This is the time that oxen ruminate.
  • Tiger: 3 to 5 a.m., named yin shi (time period of yin). Tigers hunt prey and display their fiercest nature.
  • Rabbit: 5 to 7 a.m., named mao shi (time period of mao). Based on tales, the jade rabbit on the moon was busy pounding medicinal herb with a pestle.
  • Dragon: 7 to 9 a.m., named chen shi (time period of Chen). Dragons were said to hover in the sky at that time to give people rainfall.
  • Snake: 9 to 11 a.m., named si shi (time period of si). Snakes start to leave their burrows.
  • Horse: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., named wu shi (time period of wu). The day is flourishing with the sun high above. Other animals are lying down for a rest while the unconstrained horse is still vigorous.
  • Sheep: 1 to 3 p.m., named wei shi (time period of wei). It was said that if sheep ate grass at this time, they would grow stronger.
  • Monkey: 3 to 5 p.m., named shen shi (time period of shen). Monkeys become lively.
  • Rooster: 5 to 7 p.m., named you shi (time period of you). Roosters return to their roost as it is dark.
  • Dog: 7 to 9 p.m., named shu shi (time period of shu). Dogs begin to carry out their duty to guard entrances.
  • Pig: 9 to 11 p.m., named hai shi (time period of hai). All is quiet and pigs are sleeping soundly
17) In China the year is now 4712.

18) The rush of Chinese people returning home for New Year is the biggest annual human migration in the world. Due to having t o queue for extended periods for travel tickets supermarkets report a 50% increase in sales of adult diapers during this time.

And a bonus day for this week would have been National Yorkshire Pudding Day on Sunday, I say would have been because by the time we got home from the mammoth pool session in town it was far too late to faff on with making the planned toad in the hole.

As far I know they haven't yet invented a National Cheese on Toast Day.

(Once I said it I had to Google it..yep, there is a National Cheese on Toast Day. For those of you who are interested (and who wouldn't be?!) it seems to take place in April but the date varies from year to year. As I can't find a specific date for this year, and wouldn't want it to be missed, I'd recommend copious amounts of cheese on toast consumption throughout April - just to be on the safe side you understand.)

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

February Mission!

Should I choose to accept it is to:

  • Be the LOVEMINATOR (seriously?)
  • Be ridiculously lovely to EVERYONE* (*especially of course my good self)
  • Rescue cute animals* (*or look at pictures of them if this is slightly more convenient)
  • Champion power ballards
  • Become a LOVE NINJA* (*in the non-rude and rude senses)
  • Spread good karma
  • Do at least 2 nice things for other people every day

This February I must Go Forth and Be the Love!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Ssssshhhhh...(January Mission) - The Results

A recap of this month's goals can be found here -

Hahahaha! If only!

I've come to the conclusion that stopping worrying is far beyond my capabilities - I can still laugh in the face of what-ifs and if-onlys (see above) and have indeed ventured this month into the why-nots (although whether or not they've been in any way, shape or form related to my true destiny is questionable!) BUT not without even a tiny little corner of my mind frantically worrying away! Unfortunately most of the things I fear actually DO come to pass, and then some!

I said YES and LET'S DO IT to dipping mini milk ice creams into poached eggs (see below), if you want more fearless than that you'll have to look elsewhere!

(and, based on this month, it's not looking too promising on the world domination front either!)