A Saturday Night In…

saturday-night-out-kidding-in-my-jammiesIt’s Saturday night, and I’ve got myself into a highly comfortable position on the couch, snuggled up in my jammies and fluffy blankets. It’s the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, it’s St. George’s Day and if any day was the day to don my England shirt and go to the pub, it would be today, but I’m having my own little personal celebration at home instead. I’ve got my headphones in as I’m listening to Steve’s Talk About Pop Music radio show, while The Bloke watches a random film with the ever lovely Jason Statham, and the cats are still snoring after stuffing their face with fresh chicken earlier in the day. I’ve made myself an Amaretto Sours too! Actually, that’s a lie – I’ve poured a load of amaretto in a pint glass, shoved some lemon juice and lemonade on top, and then tipped lots of cocktail cherries in to finish it off. The cherries are now sitting on the bottom, I’ve forgotten to put the egg white in and I can’t be bothered to get up again to sort it out, so I’m making do – it still tastes yummy regardless! I would show you a picture, but it looks like I’ve urinated into a glass… Continue reading

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

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I saw this on Facebook this morning – perfect.

I went to the pub yesterday after work to meet my friend. It has been a challenging time for her – after ending her relationship of eleven years she has had to move house and adjust to living on her own for the first time since she moved to Birmingham in 2001. Understandably, she’s been through the whole spectrum of emotions, but yesterday I noticed that there was a slight change in her – it was the first time that she hadn’t mentioned her ex and she seemed much more settled. Just before we parted ways to go home, I recalled a conversation that we had just after the break-up, where she said that she wished she could use a time machine to skip ahead by six months just so she wouldn’t have to go through the process of changing her life. Six months later, she’s at the point where she wanted to be – she’s established in her new home, she’s enjoying her own company and she has reached a point where she doesn’t think about her ex every day. I’m proud of her – she’s been so strong and I’m glad everything is beginning to work out. She deserves it.

I can totally relate to her sentiments all those months ago. I want a time machine too.

I have just six weeks left until I leave my job. I have a plan for how I want my new life to be, but it seems that every time I take a step forward something intervenes and pushes me three steps backwards. While I often live life by the proverbial seat of my pants, being far too disorganised to plan effectively in the way that others appear to do, I have had to ensure that my decision to quit a permanent, full-time post will not have a financially devastating impact on the life that The Bloke and I live. I’ve saved every penny I can and have been living off as little as possible, I booked meetings with important people who are offering me exciting employment opportunities and I finally started to see a small light at the end of the tunnel. The Bloke and I have even started saving up for our first holiday in five years. Normally, because of my contracted hours, we have always had to plan any trips during the school holidays as I am not allowed time off during term-time, but we realised that we wouldn’t have the same restriction this year. We decided that we were going to get a package deal to somewhere in Europe in September – it’s much cheaper and there would be no children around as they would be at school, and we found an offer for the beautiful Greek island of Kefalonia (watch Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to see just how stunning it is).

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Daisy, The Dream Killer

However, this week has been a continuous battle. The meetings that were booked weeks ago were cancelled, my workload has been utterly ridiculous due to the fact that it is exam season, all of the coursework has to be finished and we have two major performances (including a musical theatre production) that happen within a week of each other. To add the icing on the cake, my cat, Daisy (who will now be referred to as ‘Daisy, The Dream Killer’) needed emergency dental surgery, taking a portion of my savings – essentially the money we had put away for the holiday, so now we have to start again. Consequently, the anxiety, panic and insomnia has returned and I went into what I consider to be ‘survival mode,’ getting through each day an hour at a time instead of looking at the big picture. I’ve breathed a sigh of relief as I’ve walked through the front door to my home every evening, and congratulated myself for making it through the day. My saving grace is normally the blog, but there has been no time to even look at it aside from a quick post at the beginning of the week, never mind contribute a post or reply to comments, and worse still, I’ve been that stressed out that I didn’t even notice. It was only when I received a few messages from some lovely bloggy friends that I realised just how much I needed to catch up on (thanks, by the way).

I want it to be over. It’s only six weeks, but it seems like an absolute lifetime away.

My friend provided the biggest inspiration yesterday. It’s still going to be a tough road ahead, but she’s proof that every small victory is one step closer to winning that war. Daisy has made a swift recovery and has now resumed her daily routine of sleeping, eating and sleeping some more. I still have several pay checks yet to contribute towards my savings. I will re-schedule the meetings. The next few weeks will be stressful, but it is just weeks – it’s isn’t as if I have to wait months, or years for my new life.

And when I’m sitting on a beautiful beach in September, I know the fight will be worth it.

What about you guys? How has your week been?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and you can also find me on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks and Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks

One Year On and I Still Miss Her

imageIs been a year since I lost my little friend.

For some, owning a pet is the same as buying an object, or a piece of furniture. For me, our pets become part of the family – needing the same love and care that we would give to any human being. While many may roll their eyes at the sentiment, she was my companion for thirteen years. I had adopted her from an RSPCA shelter when she was six, and by all accounts hadn’t had the easiest start in life, but I was surprised by how quickly she settled into a comfortable life with me. When so many things changed, she remained my constant through the good and bad. She was a little character, she made me laugh and crappy days at work would seem far less crappy after I had been greeted by her at the door as I arrived home. I bought her the best food I could afford, toys to play with, I had many sleepless nights when she was sick. She would regularly assist me when marking my students coursework by choosing the paper I was working on to sit on. I would wake up at 5.00am to find a fluffy paw tapping my face, indicating that she wanted breakfast, which she would then promptly ignore after her bowl had been filled. I took as many pictures of her as my friends did of their newborn babies. We were a little team, with my friends and family often enquiring after her before they asked anything about me.

A year ago she left me – at the grand old age of nineteen – and saying goodbye was one of the most painful things I have ever had to do. I know that she was ill and she had a good life with me, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her and miss her very much. I miss the 5.00am wake up calls. I miss marking coursework without having to remove her from my papers first. I miss the little squeak I would get from her when she realised I was home. Of course, I still have the other two little monsters,  but there is, and always will be, an empty space that she left behind.

I’m grateful for the years I had with her. I just wish they hadn’t gone so quickly.

Miss you, my little friend…

 

I Think My Cat Is Plotting To Kill Me…

It’s been a tough few weeks, and I’m grateful that I now have a week off in order to be able to recharge my batteries. That is, unless my cat, Daisy, carries out whatever murderous activity she is planning.

I had brought a duvet downstairs on Saturday afternoon so I could relax whilst catching up on the blog. I was joined by Daisy and her brother, Poppy, (yes, I know it’s a girl’s name – it’s a long story) and I expected her to curl up and go asleep like she usually does. Instead, she poked her head above the cover and just STARED at me for about half an hour. It wasn’t the cute, slightly sleepy stare that I usually receive from her either – she was clearly plotting to hurt me. Perhaps it’s in revenge for all those insulin injections I give her (she’s diabetic), or perhaps she’s just finally snapped after hearing me sing at her for the millionth time that day. There was an evil look in her eyes:

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Either way, it’s not looking good. What do you think? Is my cat plotting to kill me?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

Want to Increase Your Traffic? Join My #SundayBlogShare Twitter Party!

imageI have received quite a few new followers over the last few weeks and wanted to get the message out about my #SundayBlogShare Twitter parties – I started it about two months ago and I’ve been delighted with the enormous response that it has received, with hundreds of bloggers participating each week, sharing over 1,100 posts. At the end of December I decided to be a bit more serious about it and registered it with Twubs to my Twitter handle, so the hashtag is now mine! Last Sunday was the busiest yet, with lots of new bloggers joining for the first time.

It’s a simple process – post your blog links to Twitter using the hashtag #SundayBlogShare and enjoy! If you include my Twitter handles (@suzie81blog or @SundayBlogShare) in your post I can retweet it for you too! Your posts can cover any topic and you don’t have to follow my blog or any associated social media accounts. You can participate if you have been blogging for days, months or years and it’s a brilliant opportunity to develop your social networking skills and boost your traffic and following. I have received hundreds of messages from people that saw their traffic increase immediately.

I will remind everyone again each week but here are a few rules for everyone who wishes to participate.

1. #SundayBlogShare is a happy place. Racist, sexist and homophobic propaganda will not be tolerated, and if you disagree with the content of a post it should be done in a polite and respectful manner.

2. Blog posts only. NO Amazon book promos, company promos, music promos, inspirational quotes, newspaper articles, random selfies of you drinking coffee, Justin Bieber fan promotion etc… you get the idea.

3. No pornographic images are allowed.

4. Do not use it as an opportunity to demand follows and retweets from others, but feel free to retweet posts that you like. Be generous with this – the more you retweet, the more likely you will get them in return!

5. Don’t go overboard with the amount that you post… If the Twitter feed is just a list of your own posts, you’re doing it too much. Post a few, spend some time reading and retweeting others and then come back later to post again.

6. Hashtag spamming is not allowed. For those of you who participated last week, you’ll be aware that because of the popularity of the hashtag, there was a high level of spam from people who used it as an opportunity to post hundreds of links within an hour, clearly using the hashtag to spam potential clients. I have contacted Twitter and Twubs, and hopefully the matter has been resolved, but if this sort of thing appears tomorrow I would really appreciate it if you would block and report them. Don’t engage with them, just block and report.

It starts each Sunday morning and will end at midnight. I’m in the UK, so you will need to work out times for whichever country you live in. This may mean that some of you may be participating on Saturday, or going into Monday, but please use the same hashtag…

Looking forward to seeing you there!

You can find me on Tumblr @suzie81blog and I’d love it if you would hop on over to my Facebook page and give it a cheeky ‘like.’ http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, my account is @suzie81blog.

#SundayBlogShare: The Final Sunday Twitter Party of 2014!

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It’s Saturday night, which means only one thing – tomorrow is my #SundayBlogShare party on Twitter! It’s the ninth consecutive party and I’ve been overwhelmed by how quickly it has grown, with nearly a thousand posts being shared last week! However, it’s also the last one of 2014, and I need your help to make it go out with a bang! 

Everyone is welcome to participate – you don’t have to follow Suzie81 Speaks or its associated social media accounts, there are no limits on the amount of posts that you share and you don’t need to have a specific theme to your blog or the links that you share. Simply tweet your link with the hashtag #SundayBlogShare and enjoy! Meet hundreds of other bloggers, retweet their posts and build your own Twitter following!

The rules are simple and easy to follow:

1. #SundayBlogShare is a happy place. Anything that contains racist, homophobic and/or sexist material will be removed and reported.

2. Blog posts only! No inspirational quotes, links to book promotions on Amazon or porn.

3. Share the #bloglove! Follow, retweet and enjoy lots of posts from blogger all over the world. However, don’t be desperate enough to beg for or demand retweets and follows from others.

You can also include my Twitter handle @suzie81blog and I can easily retweet you!

The party is on all day – you are welcome to join us at anytime throughout Sunday!

Here is where I need your help my lovely bloggy friends. The more people you invite, the more of a success it is going to be… I’ll get the drinks and the party hats, you share the hashtag with everyone you know.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

Travelling Home For Christmas

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I’m on a train up to Manchester to spend Christmas with my mum, sisters and brother-in-law. I got up early in an attempt to beat the thousands of people that are embarking on similar journeys today, and I appear to have made the right decision- my carriage is almost empty, very quiet and calm. The Bloke is going to his mum’s tomorrow and my friend is looking after the cats, so aside from braving the hoards of people that will undoubtedly be in a blind panic in Marks and Spencer’s later to purchase something for our Christmas dinner tomorrow I’m pretty much set for the next few days.

The Bloke and I had our own little Christmas together on Sunday. We awoke in the morning and exchanged gifts. As usual, he’d spoilt me rotten with thoughtful and amusing presents, including a DVD of Masters of the Universe. It was the first film I ever saw at the cinema, and I have been in love with Dolph Lundgren ever since. I made a passing comment a few weeks ago about the fact that I only own it in VHS and can’t find it on DVD anywhere, so he imported it from the States. Awesome. He also made me this:

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I cried laughing – I had seen a similar image on a blog post a while ago and have been trawling the Internet for a t shirt, only to discover that he had made transfers and ironed it on. Genius. The only trouble is, I’m not sure where I could wear it without getting beaten up by die hard Nirvana fans…

We ate a beautiful dinner with all the trimmings, indulged in an epic amount of chocolate whilst watching Masters of the Universe and spent the rest of the day snuggled up with the cats (once they had finished kicking the crap out of their Christmas presents – catnip filled stuffed mice) and talking. It was nice. No, it was more than nice, it was perfect. We’ve been together for years and have only spent one Christmas together properly, so it’s great that we can create our own with our own little family.

I’m looking forward to a few days of fun, laughter and plenty of sleep with the family- after reconciling a number of issues recently it’s going to be the first one in years that we will all be able to enjoy each other’s company!

If I don’t get the opportunity to tell you so beforehand, have a lovely festive season, whether you celebrate Christmas or not!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

2014: A Blogging Review

2014 is almost over, and it has been a roller coaster of a year. My blogging endeavours began in April 2013. I was experiencing a difficult time in my personal life and as I have always found writing therapeutic, starting a blog seemed to be the perfect solution.

Twenty months later, Suzie81 Speaks has grown above and beyond all expectectations and has become the most effective form of therapy that I have ever received. I have built up a community of over 9,000 followers and hit the 300,000 view mark earlier this month. This year in particular has been wonderful – I have been featured on Mumsnet several times (which I find amazing considering the fact that I don’t have children), I was lucky enough to be invited to a blog community meet up in Birmingham a few months ago and #SundayBlogShare, my weekly Twitter party that I started in October now has hundreds of participants every week. Above all, I have been able to communicate with a truly amazing group of people from all over the world, some of whom are now email and Facebook friends.

The process has been a huge learning curve, predominantly because I knew nothing about blogging when I started. Suzie81 Speaks does not have a theme or a niche – I like to have the freedom to write about whatever topic I am interested in at the time. Consequently, I have created a collection of varied and eclectic posts. I like to take the opportunity to review these regularly, deleting and editing where necessary, and recently I have created buttons for some of my favourites which you can see in the sidebar. I wanted to be able to share with you some of these with you – you are welcome to click on the images that take you directly to the post.

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What about you? What have been your favourite posts from your blog over the last year? If you wish to share a link, you’re welcome to do so in the comment section below!

Santa Hats and a Sober Tree

imageI think I enjoy the build up to the festive season more than the actual day itself. The German Market arrives in the city centre, encouraging us to consume enormous sausages (!!),  hot gluhwein, crepes and pofferjies covered in Nutella, and endless craft based crap that we didn’t realise that we wanted until we saw it. Carols and festive songs appear in all the stores and on every television advert. I get to buy presents for everyone and celebrate with my favourite people. Work finishes for a few weeks. I love it. I love the excitement, the decorations that appear, the atmosphere. Aside from the occasional hot, sunny days that the UK receives every summer, this is absolutely my favourite time of year.

I decided to join in the festive spirit and decorate our tree. The Bloke and I bought a fake one (due to the fact that the cats would attempt to eat a real one) about five years ago from Argos, and each year we diligently take it out of it’s box and joke about the fact that it looks drunk. He set it up and put the lights on it while I was away at my mother’s house ready for my return on Sunday, but as I was feeling rough I didn’t tackle it until yesterday evening. Amidst the box of random decorations that we have collected over the years I discovered something that would provide me with hours of entertainment…

I found the Santa hats.

Two years ago I purchased three small Santa hats for the cats, and I consider the fact that I was able to get a photograph of all three of them sitting together and wearing them to be one of my greatest achievements of that year. Sadly, I lost one of the cats earlier in the year at the age of nineteen, so I decided that The Bloke needed to take her place instead (with an adult sized one, of course – we wouldn’t want him looking stupid, would we?). On went the hats, and out came the camera.

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All of them were less than impressed, particularly Daisy when I decided to double my fun.

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I eventually stopped laughing, The Bloke stopped rolling his eyes and I got my decorating on. I tried to spend a little more time on it than in previous years, attempting to space them all equally, colour coordinating etc, and after a few catastrophes with bits of tinsel and standing on a few stray decorations that had fallen on the floor, I stepped back to admire my masterpiece.

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“What do you think?” I asked The Bloke. He turned his head to one side.

“Yup.”

Cheers for that dear. Upon closer inspection, it actually wasn’t too bad – for once my little tree seemed to be… Sober!

Win!

 

What about you guys? Have you got any silly traditions within your family during the holiday season?

You can also find my on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

The Cat Owner’s Guide To Wrapping Christmas Presents

Items needed:

  • Presents
  • Wrapping paper
  • Ribbon
  • Gift tags
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • Two cats: Cat A that has decided he wants a cuddle and Cat B that has just woken up after sleeping for the majority of the day and is in the mood to play.

Instructions:

Step 1: Sit on floor in the middle of the room. Remove Cat A from lap.

Step 2: Take out items needed from carrier bag, having previously purchased them that day from the only card shop in your local area amidst a fury of seemingly angry women and their screaming children. Stop Cat B from sniffing the scissors.

Step 3: Cut strips of sticky tape and stick them along the edge of the wooden coffee table to make the wrapping process easier. Stop Cat B from batting at the sticky tape.

Step 4: Remove wrapping paper from clear plastic film. Stop Cat B from attempting to chew this. Remove Cat A from lap.

Step 5. Unroll wrapping paper and attempt to cut out required amount of wrapping paper on the floor. Remove Cat A from the middle of the paper. End up cutting out paper while standing up. Stop Cat B from batting sticky tape.

Step 6: Wrap present while Cat A sticks his nose in the middle of the paper. Avoid accidentally sticking Cat A’s whiskers to the paper when adding sticky tape. Notice that Cat B is shaking her paw furiously and realise that she has got a piece of sticky tape stuck to it. Remove sticky tape from paw. Remove Cat A from lap.

Step 7: Cut ribbon. Stop Cat A and Cat B from playing with the ends of ribbon.

Step 8: Write gift tag. Write another gift tag after Cat B, who is still on a personal mission to play with the ribbon, pounces and nudges the pen, resulting in a line across the original gift tag.

Step 9: Stand up to cut another piece of wrapping paper out. Sit back down and place wrapping paper on floor. Remove Cat A from paper. Stand up to cut another piece of paper after Cat A digs claws into paper during removal process, ripping a hole in the middle of it.

Step 10: Repeat Steps 6 and 7.

Step 11: Remove both cats from room and continue to wrap presents. Listen to Cat B cry loudly for ten minutes.

Step 12: Go upstairs after remembering a forgotten present. Upon your return, remove Cat A from carrier bag.

Step 13: Wrap present surprisingly easily. Spend ten minutes looking for pen to write gift card. Discover Cat B playing with pen on kitchen floor.

Step 14: Return to room to find Cat A chewing on the corner of the ribbon on one of the presents. Remove ribbon from Cat A’s mouth, only to discover a large patch of cat slobber on the corner of the paper. Re-wrap present.

Step 15: Give discarded ribbon to Cat A. Watch as Cat A sniffs it and walks away.

Step 16: Take out some gift bags to put presents in. Start to place presents in first bag. Remove Cat B from second bag. Stop Cat A from chewing on handle of third bag.

Step 17: Place filled bags in wardrobe. Sit on couch to write Christmas cards. Hear a faint cry from upstairs. Remove cat from wardrobe.

It’s a good job they’re cute…

Exhibit A: Daisy (Cat B)

Exhibit A: Daisy (Cat B)

What about you guys? Do your animals make a seemingly easy process much more complicated?

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Image 1 credit: newschoolnomads.com