2008: The Year That Was.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Hmm, let's see. I lived abroad (on my own for a good few months too), I travelled alone/with friends & I adopted a kitty.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I failed at blogging daily for the year (by choice) but I think for the most part I was fairly good? I hate resolutions, yet I still randomly make some up every year. 2009 is going to be all about me. Literally.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No-one super close to me, no.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit? Apart from England, I visited France, Denmark & a whole heap of states in America. It was a good year!

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? I'd like to get out and explore more of London in my free time.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? May 27th, when we brought Oscar home and November 5th, for obvious reasons.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? My independence.

9. What was your biggest failure? When I stopped running after hurting my shins. I've gone back to square one now. I suck.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Touch wood, but so far I've stayed quite healthy this year! I'm very proud of that, to be sure.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Definitely the Grand Canyon helicopter flight.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I'm drawing a blank.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I'm not sure.

14. Where did most of your money go? American travels, and random everyday expenses like groceries, etc. I did manage to save a little too, which was good.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? ROAD TRIPPING! And of course bringing Oscar home and loving every minute with him.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
(a) Happier or Sadder? Happier.
(b) Thinner or Fatter? About the same, more or less?
(c) Richer or Poorer? Richer. For now!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Wandering around the city and spending time with friends. I am the most scatterbrained person ever.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Complaining.

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2008? Traipsing around a deserted Canary Wharf and battling it out with J's family in Mario Kart on the Wii.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? I stayed in love.

22. How many one-night stands? What can I say, it was a slow year ...

23. What was your favorite TV program? Big Love, Supernatural, Grey's Anatomy.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Nope.

25. What was the best book you read? Argh, I've read so many this year. A few honourable mentions that spring to mind are A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Book Thief, The Hunt for Atlantis & of course the Twilight series.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Kings of Leon.

27. What did you want and get? I wanted a pet & got my insane-yet-lovable cat.

28. What did you want and not get? A couple more travel expeditions would have been good.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? I actually didn't see all that many, up until recently. Memorable films would be Burn After Reading & Twilight.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 24 this year, and spent it at a Thai restaurant in South Kensington, small and quiet, just the way I like it!

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Snow!

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Jeans, coats, flat shoes. I never, ever liked flat shoes until now. Strange.

33. What kept you sane? Oscar.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Ha! I like the Cullen.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Definitely the election, I haven't felt quite so anxious about politics for a really long time.

36. Who did you miss? I missed my family & friends, and the puppies.

37. Who was the best new person you met? My work colleagues, who are awesome. I wouldn't have met such a great group of people if it weren't for the move over here. Also Sarah and Carly from the States, who I can't wait to see back in Sydney for our big reunion.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. If you let yourself get carried away with the bigger picture, you'll inevitably miss all the smaller, and possibly more important snapshots along the way. I'm all for the snapshots in 2009.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. "My friend assures me, it's all or nothing - but I am not really worried, I am not overly concerned. You try to tell yourself the things you try to tell yourself to make yourself forget.. to make yourself forget. I am not worried.." Anna Begins, Counting Crows.

40. What are your resolutions for 2009? Only one: don't worry, be happy.

Post Holiday Ramblings.

So in the craziness that was Christmas (as usual) I completely forgot to celebrate my London-versary. It's been over a year now since I started calling London home, and I'm well and truly settled. So settled in fact, that I'm really not looking forward to flying back to Australia next month. (I know, right?) In all seriousness though, I'd much prefer to stay in the colder climate, working, exploring and carrying on as normal - I'd take that any day over a minimum of eight weeks of summer (gasp!), unemployment and a very drawn out waiting game.

I've spent the last few days enjoying a whole lot of downtime. Movies, Wii sessions, and making a start on the 15 or so unread books I have piling up on my bookcase - it's been amazing. I'm also trying to plan for New Years Eve, because this year I'm determined to celebrate in the open air underneath the fireworks.

To finish up, here's a newly updated 'Seven Things' post courtesy of Nathan. I've done this one in the past, so I'll try and come up with different things this time.

1. I fidget a lot, and it gets worse when I'm nervous or excited. I'll play with my hair, with food, with jewellery, with utensils, with anything I can get my hands on - until it gets to the point where I feel like a dork and have to pry my hands away. (I've been known to sit on them, just to keep them still.)

2. I don't function if I don't have music around me. If I'm out, I'm with my iPod. If I'm home, I've got the laptop on. I've just bought myself a bigger iPod, and I can't wait to drag out all my dodgy music I've not been able to fit onto my old one. It could be dangerous. (As I wrote that, Thriller just came on. Cue the dance moves, people.)

3. I have a tendency to squish up my nose/face when I'm talking. You'd think it would be easy to stop doing it, but it's actually harder than it looks.

4. I'm very warm. Even in winter. If I'm outside and it's freezing, within minutes of being inside I've heated up again. It's like being my very own hot water bottle. Good in winter, bad in summer. Now do you see why I've moved to the Northern Hemisphere?

5. I don't think I match my star-sign (Leo) very well; so I'm a bit of a skeptic.

6. Opening mail & parcels makes me incredibly happy. Not bills, though.

7. My cheeks are always rosy. They get RED when I blush or when I drink. One of the downsides of being pale I suppose, the cheeks are always a dead giveaway.

Another Christmas..

I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday wherever you are, scattered across the globe - we had a quiet one at home, usually prying spare ribbons out of the cat's mouth and trying to stop him from devouring the Christmas tree. Today we're off to Canary Wharf for a bit of Wii action, and I'll have to try and hone in on my tendency to sulk when I lose - it's the holidays, after all.

Merry Christmas! (Oscar is not impressed.)



And as an extra special treat, here's a bit of karaoke for you all. Sing along. Just do it.





99 Things. (And they're not balloons.)

99 Things are below that I have done, want to do, or don’t want to do! This one is stolen from Mick, because I'm lazy and tired. And heck, it's the holidays!

————————————————-

Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog. (You're reading it!)

2. Slept under the stars. (Sounds dreamy.)

3. Played in a band.

4. Visited Hawaii. (I've been close, hopefully one day.)

5. Watched a meteor shower. (I'm having flashbacks to Armageddon...)

6. Given more than you can afford to charity.

7. Been to Disneyland/world. (I've been to both, and loved them.)

8. Climbed a mountain. (Ben Nevis in Scotland. In completely inappropriate footwear.)

9. Held a praying mantis.

10. Sang a solo. (Well, on Singstar. And in the shower.)

11. Bungee jumped. (And got dunked in the process.)

12. Visited Paris. (Twice now, and I love it.)

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. (I've watched one over the sea, while on a plane. Does that count?)

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. (I'm good with stick figures.)

15. Adopted a child.

16. Had food poisoning. (Blergh.)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. (I went to Liberty Island but all the walking spaces had been sold out that day.) :(

18. Grown your own vegetables. (One day!)

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. (And took a sneaky picture.)

20. Slept on an overnight train.

21. Had a pillow fight. (Love pillows.)

22. Hitch hiked.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not (physically) ill. (Cough, Cough.)

24. Built a snow fort.

25. Held a lamb. (Love babies!)

26. Gone skinny dipping.

27. Run a marathon. (I need to un-bung my leg and start running again.)

28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. (Lovely!)

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. (Sunsetttttttttts over the beaches...)

31. Hit a home run. (Um, I can do this on the Wii.)

32. Been on a cruise. (No, but I'd really love to.)

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. (I was so close, but yet so far.)

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (Lots of different places. I'm in UK now though!)

35. Seen an Amish community.

36. Taught yourself a new language. (I can't speak French.)

37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied. (I don't want your money, honey.)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. (Not actually that great.)

39. Gone rock climbing. (Sounds bone-breaking.)

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person. (And a couple imitations too.)

41. Sung Karaoke. (Hello, Singstar!)

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. (Where is that?

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa. (One day...)

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. (A long, long time ago.)

46. Been transported in an ambulance.

47. Had your portrait painted.

48. Gone deep sea fishing. (I love fishing! Just hate fish!)

49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. (And again with the sneaky pictures.)

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (Le sigh.)

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling. (I've snorkelled in New Zealand, and managed to step on a sea urchin in the process.)

52. Kissed in the rain. (Smooch.)

53. Played in the mud. (Love mud.)

54. Gone to a drive-in theatre. (Quite a bit, actually.)

55. Been in a movie.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China. (Oh, I'd love to do this one day.)

57. Started a business.

58. Taken a martial arts class.

59. Visited Russia. (On my to-do list.)

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.

62. Gone whale watching. (Would really like to do this.)

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.

64. Donated blood. (The last time I did it, I passed out. Sweet.)

65. Gone sky diving. (Hey, wasn't bungy jumping enough?)

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. (Did this in Austria, was a really bizarre experience. Very sad.)

67. Bounced a cheque.

68. Flown in a helicopter. (Over the Grand Canyon!)

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. (There are boxes of these in the garage at home.)

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. (In the pouring rain, and it was absolutely awesome. Except his eyes follow you around.)

71. Eaten Caviar. (Barf.)

72. Pieced a quilt.

73. Stood in Times Square. (Several times this trip. Love it.)

74. Toured the Everglades.

75. Been fired from a job.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. (At Buckingham Palace and in Windsor!)

77. Broken a bone. (Several in fact.)

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. (Truly magical.)

80. Published a book.

81. Visited the Vatican.  (Gotta love European tours.)

82. Bought a brand new car. (My lovely Ford. I miss it.)

83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper. (In high school.)

85. Read the entire Bible.

86. Visited the White House. (I saw it. And took pictures of it.)

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. (EWWWW.)

88. Had chickenpox. (I think I was 5.)

89. Saved someone’s life.

90. Sat on a jury. (Never done this!)

91. Met someone famous. (I'd like to.)

92. Joined a book club.

93. Lost a loved one.

94. Had a baby. (Not for a while yet. I'm happy with my fur baby.)

95. Seen the Alamo in person.

96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit.

98. Owned a cell phone. (Er.)

99. Been stung by a bee. (It hurt.)

A Long December.

I can't believe it's December - the 20th of December to be precise. The last few weeks have seen me turn into a social butterfly, with lots of things happening here and there and everywhere. I think it's easiest to go through it all in picture format.

It all started with us bringing out our gigantic (!) 3 foot Christmas tree..


Which we subsequently had to introduce to our third housemate. That went well..




.. for about five seconds. (The tree now lives in the kitchen when we're not around.)


I tried to get some cute pictures for Christmas shots. That was painful, literally..



There was a work Christmas party, at the Cafe Royal on Regent Street, near Piccadilly Circus. It was masquerade-dress, and there may have been free champagne..



.. which resulted in cheesy self-portraits and quite a bit of drunken text messaging.



This week there was some window shopping along Oxford Street..



.. followed by my first ice skating attempt at the Winter Wonderland festival in Hyde Park, which ended up being hilariously fun. I can stay upright. Score!



And lastly, there was a farewell bash for one of my newest and dearest work-friends.



All in all, I'm knackered. I have three more days of work left, then will celebrate a strangely quiet Christmas & New Year at home with the boys this year.

Christmas Wishlist.

I'm already completely spoiled for Christmas (well hello there, return flight to Sydney, how are you?) but I couldn't help but put together a list of 'dream' items that I'd buy for myself for Christmas, should I win the lottery.

There are a few little things on here that are small and cute, and that I may just end up buying for myself - and then there are cheeky things that I couldn't help but hint at, but all in all, I reckon it's a pretty nifty wishlist.

(Click to enlarge - it's a bit squished!)


Christmas Wishlist

What's on your wishlist for this holiday season?

December? What?

I know, I know, it's like everywhere you turn you can hear people exclaiming that they can't believe it's already December - and I'm one of them too. I love December, it's my favourite time of the year - and now that it's cold and wintery, it's my ideal season. Love winter! Love the cold! Love Christmas!

This will be the first Christmas spent solely on our own for Jason and I. I went out and found a really cute 3-ft tree and we've decorated it with bows and baubles and lights, and it's awesome. So awesome, in fact, that the cat wants to devour it and all of its awesomeness. We've had to resort to locking it in the kitchen when we're not at home to supervise, for fear that he's going to electrocute himself or choke on tinsel. Oh cat friends, any advice on how to make the tree not a toy?

I'm done with Christmas shopping for Jase - I've caved and already given him/made him open his first two. The first was a new phone, as his old one was quite literally falling to pieces. The second was a Wii - and we've been playing it like loons ever since. It's possibly the most fun I've had playing a video game for a very, very long time.

Today was a productive day, too. We headed out to Shepherd's Bush in West London to visit the new Westfield Shopping Centre that's opened up, along with hundreds of other people. Jason bought a couple of gifts for me for Christmas (he dragged me along because he had no idea what to buy) and we finished it up with a Thai lunch near Chancery Lane. We then did some more shopping, a couple of Wii games & a visit to Marks and Spencer later, we headed for home.

I'm such a good little house-girlfriend, I've got a home cooked beef & vegetable stew simmering away in the oven, the heaters blaring and we're chilling out with the cat. It's a good time of year!

Third Year Running.

I think, for now, that this will be my last NaBloPoMo.

In the beginning, I posted daily anyway - so the idea of completing it in November as well, wasn't much of a challenge. It was the same last year: I had so much going on, so many changes ahead of me that it was easy to come up with daily blog fodder. This year though, is different. I've taken a break from the daily blogging routine, I've tried to get out there and experience things outside of the ordinary, and it's been much harder to plug on through November this time around.

I've met some amazing people through this blog, and through others that I've randomly stumbled across. Some of those friends I've met in real life, I email constantly, I feel like I know better than some people that stand right in front of me on a daily basis. But it feels like people are constantly moving in different directions, and I miss the way that it used to be. That's life, I guess.

I think what I'm trying to say is that daily blogging really isn't it for me, anymore. I'm happier posting sporadically about things that I love, that have happened, or that have tickled my fancy - rather than 'just because'. (Not that there is anything wrong with 'just because' posts, heck, I love my lolcats!) So, friends who are still reading, I hope you'll continue to pop around, even without the daily posts. I would miss you tremendously, if you didn't.

And who knows? I might just finish my USA recap sometime in the next decade or so - I'm halfway through, after all! Bring on December!

The Case of the Disappearing Pens.

I have a habit of picking up pens from wherever I go, and bringing them home with me. I think it comes partly from my love of stationery (I love awesome pens) and partly because I'm scatterbrained and forget that I'm holding onto them at the time. Needless to say, I've accumulated a cute little collection of them since arriving here, and so are never short of them at home.

Until recently, that is.

Last weekend, I went to write a post-it note for Jason with the week's shopping list, and he commented that there were hardly any pens in the holder. I didn't pay much attention then, but then today? There wasn't a single pen to be found anywhere in the flat. Now I was puzzled.

Fast forward a few hours later, when we saw Oscar batting something across the floor and over to the hall runner rug. Ha! A pen! We stole it off him and put it in the holder, but five seconds later he was back, pen and all. With a little investigating, Jason lifted up the rug and lo and behold, our entire stash of missing pens (and pencils!) were hiding under there. I guess a certain someone had a great time batting them around the house, until they disappeared and he forgot about them.

We even caught him in action after that, sneaking over to the pen holder, yanking one out with his teeth and trotting across the loungeroom with it in his mouth. Yes, it's safe to say that we've solved the case of the disappearing pens. And as for the culprit, well, he is just far too cute for words.

Tee Vee.

I'm finally up to date with the new season of Grey's Anatomy - it took a while for me to catch up, but I'm there now. I'm glad this season seems to be picking up compared to the last season. I wasn't particularly impressed with that one, to be honest. I hope we figure out what's up with Izzie soon. I'm confused!

I also just finished the last cycle of America's Next Top Model, and WHAT? McKee winning threw me. (Why would she pick that name out of all the names in the world, I mean, seriously?) Samantha wasn't that great either, Annaleigh was my favourite. I would die for that face! Sometimes Tyra's cuts are so completely random. I have never predicted a winner yet - all the faces/pictures that I think are awesome, the judges rip to shreds. Apparently I'm not cut out for fashion.

What else have I been perusing in TV land? Hrm. I'm trying to catch up on my Supernatural and Big Love, even though they're older seasons now. And I've just about finished re-watching Roswell and Sex and the City. I think I need some new show recommendations. What have you been watching lately that you can't get enough of? If they're old shows, no worries - but new shows are definitely welcome too.

Oscar and I are couch potatoes who are in desperate need of your help!

Six Months.

Six months ago today, I made the journey down into South London straight after work, to pick up my new baby. I knew not long after I arrived in London that I wouldn't cope very well without one, because my whole life, I've always had animals around me. I knew a puppy was out of the question what with living in an apartment with no garden, so I considered my other options - and ended up looking at kittens. Me? A cat person? I've never had a cat before. I don't know if I even like cats!? All the same, I kept on looking.

And the more I looked, the more I convinced myself that a cat would be ideal. I researched them, I figured out costs, I looked at quarantine options for the eventual move back home to Australia for good, and I had an answer for everything. I was sold. Jase? Not so much. But we worked around it, and came to a few compromises (aka I'm on clean-up duty for the rest of my life!) and before I knew it, I'd found the right kitty.

Oscar was from a litter of four, and was a total stand out from the bunch. I remember the first time I went down to meet him, and he was this tiny TINY little ball of fluff who only wanted to be near his momma - but that was it. I was in love! I got home that very afternoon and kitten-proofed the flat; even though we wouldn't be picking him up for good for another two weeks.

We brought him home, and it's been amazing ever since. We lost him under the refrigerator a couple of times, we braved the vets and even the cattery, and all the while he's been getting bigger and bigger. Oscar has kept me sane while Jase has been away these past months, and I can't imagine what it would be like coming home to an empty apartment. When I get home, he's always there, waiting at the door for snuggles. He's my companion while I'm tapping away on the laptop, he listens when I talk to him, and he even talks back.

He's my (not so) little guy. I love him.






Frustration. I has it.

I am impatient. I went out and bought the scarf/hat set. Despite looking a bit like a giant seagull is sitting on my head (I don't wear hats well), the scarf is extra snuggly and makes me happy. Particularly since I was also shopping for a Christmas party evening dress and couldn't find anything at all that wasn't a size six, and I was not a very happy camper tonight.

In other news, I'm reading more and more about the documentation surrounding my Visa and OH MY HEAVENS, it's freaking me out. I have all the evidence to prove that I'm eligible, but I'm reading other people's experiences with the whole situation and it seems like the case workers in charge of sorting out and approving/rejecting the Visas are either robots or monkeys, or possibly robotic monkeys. People have complained about being rejected for completely random reasons that make no sense, whilst other people who were missing documentation and had done things wrong, recieved the Visa in record time!

Meh.

I'm an extra organised, paperwork kind of girl, so I'll be checking everything fifty thousand times in the coming months to make sure I'm prepared. But the stress is getting to me already, and I've barely even begun the process yet. I can't even imagine how nervous I'm going to be during the whole 2-3 month waiting period. Yipes.

I hate that the process is so lengthy. I know it's understandable, but still, it bothers me. Particularly when I'm one of the people doing things the right way, when there are so many illegal immigrants living here who arrived and simply never left. Gah! Frustrating! I need a drink.

Baby, It's Cold Outside.

I'm a bit of an odd-ball when it comes to weather. Most Australians who are used to the hot, hot summer weather down under, really struggle when it comes to winter in the northern hemisphere. As for me, well, I've always hated the heat, and summer is my least favourite time of year back home. Needless to say, as soon as it starts getting chilly in the mornings here in London, I'm a very happy camper.

Speaking of the cold, I found the most amazingly cute scarf/hat set that I'm ADORING - anyone who happens to be seeking a stocking filler gift for me this Christmas, I reckon you should start here! Hint Hint, Nudge, Nudge. I'll love you forever!

Then and Now.

I can't believe that a month to this day, it'll be Christmas Eve. This time last year, I was almost into my last month of teaching, and in hyper organisation mode whilst getting ready to change countries. I was living at home, saving as much as possible, missing Jase and both nervous/excited at the same time about the big move.

How fast time flies!

This year, I'm living in my own place, in our own place, albeit rented, and I'm completely settled in my life. Jase and I have our little routines mapped out, we've worked hard to save and enjoy ourselves, and we've even got Oscar now.

A year ago, travelling alone on public transport would have scared the life out of me. Here? I'm more than happy exploring the city on my own, having a night out and making my way back. There are so many random things here that I enjoy doing, things that just don't happen in Sydney. It's not every day that you can walk to work passing St Paul's Cathedral, Old Bailey and the Royal Courts of Justice.

So here we are, almost at December - and two months from now, I'll be back at home - wishing I was back at this home again. It's like I'm caught between two different worlds; I'd even go so far as to saying two different 'me's'. The old me, who will always be perfectly content living the quiet life at home, and the 'new' me, who still loves her quiet time, but also loves being independent. Such a strange feeling, but definitely one that I enjoy.

It Made Me Laff.

This video is dedicated to anyone who's ever had to do the daily commute in inner-city London - particularly on the evil, evil Central line. It's an old video, but a good'un, and I had a full blown belly chuckle listening to the comedian's recount of travelling by tube.

Hope you enjoy!

Return to Oz.

Today I did something a little spectacular - I booked a flight back to Sydney!


It's not a permanent move, and it's not a visit. The working holiday visa I've been in London on has a time limit of 12 months work, so I need to head home and upgrade to a different visa to carry on working in the UK. I've already figured out my options and should qualify, so now it's a matter of flying home and lodging the application. Unfortunately, that's the easy part. After that comes the waiting - the boring, slightly anxious waiting period, where you do nothing but keep busy for around 8-12 weeks while the British Consulate in Australia take their sweet, sweet time to process your application and hopefully eventually spit out your new, shiny visa.


It's completely nerve wracking, but it's an option that I have no choice but to take. And as a perk, at least I'll be able to see my family, my puppies, my friends - and then when all is said and done, I get to come back to my new home, here in London. It's amazing how comfortable I feel here, I feel so much more independent and have had some fantastic experiences here. It will be nice to come back again next year with a little more stability.


The downsides?


Obviously being away from Jason - again - I feel as though I've hardly seen him since July of this year. We've also got to figure out what we're going to do with Oscar; back in the cattery again, or work a way to keep him happy and looked after while I'm gone, in case Jason is also away for work. Work have been really good, despite me having to leave them for an undefined period of time. All I can do is hope they'll have a spot for me when I get back, which they're hoping to arrange.


As for the flight I just booked? Did not come cheaply. That's the problem with living in Australia, we're so isolated. I'm a lucky girl, though - Jason booked the ticket for me as a Christmas present, what a sweetie! The visa also costs a pretty penny - 700 pounds which the embassy pockets even if the application is unsuccessful for whatever reason. Doesn't seem quite right, does it?


Ah well. January 26th and I'm going down under again. And here's a little something even more special! I arrive back home on Australia Day; a pretty appropriate entrance, I reckon.  Now, any takers to join me for the not-so-pleasant 24 hour flight?

Oh, Snap.

Looks like I haven't snapped out of my clumbsy phase this week - I quite literally face planted up the stairs while walking to my train this morning. One second I was thinking about how cold it was, and the next second I was lying about an inch away from a wad of spat-out gum on the ground. Ew! I don't know what's wrong with me, but I don't like it much. I hope I'm done with this little accident prone phase for now.

It's still forecasting a cold snap this weekend, so should be interesting to see if it ends up snowing or not. The idea of snow in the lead up to Christmas makes me much, much happier than you could ever imagine. The fact that it's almost the end of NOVEMBER is mind-blowing; Christmas is my favourite holiday and I can't believe it's rolled around so quickly. Got lots of plans this year, and can't wait to get started on them!

On that note, I need your help: I'm done with J's big present this year (which he already knows about because I? Cannot keep surprises to myself), but I do want a couple of smaller stocking filler ideas for him. Any gift ideas for long term boyfriends, who have been given almost every type of gift imaginable across the past six years?

Movie Going & Other Random Nonsense.

My friend Tim and I went to the movies this evening after work - ah, the wonders of buy one, get one free passes! We decided to head to my hood, and went to the cinema inside the o2 Stadium in North Greenwich. Despite living directly across from it for nearly a year, I'd never actually been inside - and it's amazing!)

We saw Burn After Reading, which was a bit of an oddity, but that I quite enjoyed, in a sort of puzzling way. I quite literally giggled out loud in certain parts, but then was left shaking my head at others. Not quite sure how I feel about it, yet. Not bad for four quid, though!

In other random news, my thumbnail is a trifle bruised but appears to be staying put, something that I'm thankful for! I'm also anti-laundry right now as a result. Looks like Jase is on washing duty this weekend.

Speaking of this weekend... guess what the forecast is on Sunday in London? At this point in time, it says heavy snow. Did you read that right? HEAVY SNOW! I can't WAIT! I LOVE SNOW! Bring on the SNOW!

Enough with the capitals. Bedtime now. I'm barely scraping in as it is, and it's not even Friday yet. Bring on the weekend, I'm knackered and need some down time.

OW OW OW OW.

Can't type well, just slammed my thumbnail backwards on the metal door of my washing machine as I was loading laundry and OMG the PAIN is UNBEARABLE. It even warrants capitals! At first I thought I was being a wimp, but then there was blood, followed by mild panic that my finger (or at least the nail) was going to fall off and now there is just throbbing and one heck of a blood blister.

See, folks? Chores are bad.

P.S. My finger hurts.

Insert Puzzled Expression Here.

I spent today working up in our North London office, which is one heck of a commute from where I live - so I'm feeling a trifle buggered and slightly incoherent. It doesn't help that I've apparently lost my mind, because I've been scatterbrained all day.

I left the house without a coat on in 8 degree weather and didn't realise I was cold until I was already on the train to work. I didn't charge my Ipod (and conveniently forgot to pack a book in my handbag) and so spent the commute bored out of mind, having resorted to reading the Metro (ack!) and people-watching. And halfway through the way, I had the sinking feeling that I forgot to use deoderant on one of my armpits this morning, because something was just not right with that.

Crazy.

I think tonight I'm going to skip dinner and instead curl up with some America's Next Top Model reruns. At least that way I won't accidentally leave something cooking in the microwave for an hour or set the cat on fire, because at the rate I've been going today - nothing is spared!

I Met Julie!

It's been a loooooong day, but a great one - because this evening, I got to meet the gorgeous Julie from wtf have i done? during her London travels! I had hoped to stalk catch up with her while I was in New York, but I literally ran out of days and couldn't spare the trek up to Boston, so hooray for international travels!

We had dinner around Kensington in a cute little Italian place called Da Mario's - lots of history in it, apparently it was a favourite for Princess Diana to bring her boys when they were younger. Of course, still being a tourist myself, I'd never heard of it.



Can you say YUM!?! Awesome, awesome Italian food. It was such a cute tiny restaurant too, with really bizarre mismatching furniture and cute chairs. You could even sit on an elephant, if you're into that sort of thing ...


The food was fab; I had a mozarella starter with rocket, a pizza bread starter and gnocchi for my main. So full! Good meal, and good company - nice to meet some of Julie's London-based American friends. I might even have found myself a fellow Twilight fan to come and see the movie with me!


It was great to meet Julie, we've been bloggy friends for quite a while now and she's just like I imagined her to be. It's always good when you find yourself able to chat randomly without the awkwardness, and I really enjoyed tonight! Sounds like she's gotten loads done in London while she's been here, but I'll let her tell you the stories when she's back. Plus, she's totally cute.

So in true Aly style, we took two pictures together and both are slightly dodgy. Hopefully we got a better one on her camera, because in the first one it looks like my eyes are closed OR I'm glancing at her sideways in a sassy kind of way - and then in the second one, we're both very fuzzy. Still cool, just fuzzy.

My Glorious Bookshelf.

So - the post you've no doubt been waiting with baited breath to see, it's arrived! And this time I'm not only going to talk about the bookshelf, I'm going to show you pictures of it as well. Amazing! And since Oscar has refused to get off the thing since then, he features in quite a few himself.

Meet the bookshelf, freshly brought from the garbage room to the flat. Oscar is counting the shelves for me. Clever boy. He was very puzzled with this new intrusion.



We have one chest of drawers for folded clothes between us, and well, despite coming over to two drawers, I've now apparently taken over the rest of them - so Jason's clothes have now been allocated these two new drawers, and the shelf as well. Kitters has found his favourite shelf, too. Oh wow. Crooked photography.



Jason thought it would be cute to tuck Oscar in for bedtime. Har Har Har!



The finished product - well, almost. The 'paperwork' shelf will have more on it, once we sort out our bits and pieces. Sadly, that's also Oscar's shelf. He won't be pleased.



And a close up, because to be fair, a lot of the stuff crammed into the first three shelves are all mine. Highlights are my board games, my NYC Liberty Bear from the Hershey's Store in Times Square, perfumes and books. (Squee, HP boxset!)



It's not a bad little collection of books, considering I came into the UK with three all-time favourites. But alas, I've gotten through most of these now - so anyone wanting to get rid of some second hand books (& can brave UK postage!) send 'em my way!

Ah, cupboard. I love you.

Second Hand Booty!

A few days ago, I happened to be taking the garbage down to the compactors in the car park, when I stumbled across something amazing. Let me update this by saying that the garbage run is most definitely not one of my top ten household chores. (I'm always paranoid that the bag is going to break and that a spectacular assault of used kitty litter is going to explode across the hallway of the apartment complex. Don't know where that fear came from. Hope it never happens though. Would be gross.)

You might recall a good few months ago, when I discovered a box of second hand books in the trash room, with a loving sign saying 'help yourself!' - and anyone who knows me at all, would know that books = heaven. Free books = a very happy Aly. Well, the freebie this time around was even better!

Standing all alone in the corner was a tall, skinny bookshelf. At first, I thought someone might have left it there temporarily while moving other things in, so I didn't think too much of it - but the next night, I went back down and checked and it was still innocently sitting there. Upon closer inspection, the bookshelf was in amazing condition. It looked like one I've seen in an Ikea catelogue, simple but sturdy - with four moveable shelves and two drawers at the base. Too good to be true!

At the time, Jase wasn't back yet and there was no way I was lifting that baby on my own, so the bookshelf and I said our goodbyes and decided to let the fates see if it was meant to be at a later date. One of the first things I did this morning, was to send Jase down for inspection - and guess what was still there? Not anymore. Jase carried, I directed, and we've now got ourselves a lovely new cupboard in the bedroom.

Gotta love second hand stuff, especially when it's in good nick. :-) Now all of my second hand books will have a second hand home. Pictures to come tomorrow.

Saved.

... Oscar, that is. He's saved from another evening of listening to random babbling and mopey music. Why's that, you might be wondering? JASON IS BACK!

(He's been gone for seven weeks, if you didn't know. Back in Australia, sorting out his very own Visa. I didn't mention it for fear of axe murderers keen on stalkerage.)

cat


I've been very independent, and it's been kind of nice actually. Well, alright, being honest, it stopped being nice about six weeks ago. But I managed on my own, I worked, I came home, I annoyed the cat and I kept myself busy. Glad to have the boy back in the picture though. I've missed annoying him. And he's cooking dinner. Tops!

Mix It Up. (Now with MORE DORK!)

Apparently during NaBloPoMo, I'm nothing if not a follower - so when I saw some of these cool little gadgets floating around the blogosphere, I couldn't resist.


Here's my most randomly random mix of songs I love, dredged up from the depths of my Ipod and streaming free straight to your speakers! Have a flick through, pretend not to notice that half of my music collection is from the nineties, and comment!




MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes



Update!! - I've had so much fun with this player, I decided I had to create another one. (If only ALL the songs I wanted were available on that site.. but still. Music!
MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Falling Apart.

I'm not a big shopper, particularly for clothes. I'm my own worst critic, I hate trying things on, and to be fair, most of the cute clothes I really like don't suit people my size - so I avoid it as much as possible. Needless to say, if I find something I love? I wear it until it quite literally starts to fall apart.

My 'wear all the time' black zip up jacket went yesterday, with the sleeve practically ripping off. One of my favourite pairs of shoes went in the bin just last week, because they had worn a hole away in the lining. And today? My 'all time favourite' dressy cardigan split down the arm. (I've had the latter for the part three years, and I'm devastated it's dead. What am I going to do without it?)

It really sucks at the moment, because the last thing that I feel like doing is clothes shopping. I'm trying to save money for my return trip back to Australia (doesn't come cheap, let me tell you!) and it's just plain annoying. I'm wondering if I can get away with what I have for at least the next couple of months, before topping up my supply back home where the dollar is cheaper...

What's your all-time favourite clothing item that you'd feel lost without?

Ah, Winter.

Want to know my best little discovery of the day?



Toffee Nut Latte at Starbucks.


It's heaven in a cup, I tell you. It's even yummy on skinny milk!


NOM NOM NOM.

It Goes A Long Way.

I think after NaBloPoMo is done, I'll go back to my sporadic posting. I think more people read my posts these days when I take my time and leave a bit of a gap between them - not that it matters, but the comments this time around have been pretty average!

It was a beautiful evening tonight, albeit wet and windy. I walked the 20-25 minute route to Bank station, as I'm trying to a) avoid the Central line at all costs and b) add some more regular exercise to my days, and as I was on my way I decided to step into the bank and withdraw some cash. The HSBC around the corner from work has its ATM's inside, so I decided to opt for that one.

As I opened the door, I wasn't alone - a homeless guy was curled up on the floor, escaping the wintery weather outside and enjoying the warmth. He asked for some change, which I literally didn't have to give him, and also asked for cigarettes. I had neither, and he thanked me regardless and asked me what my Christmas plans were in a lovely Scottish accent. He wasn't rude, he wasn't probing; he was just polite, and actually made me smile as he wished me a lovely evening as I headed for the door.

It's that sort of random niceness from strangers that makes you stop and think; and as I continued on my journey to the station, all of my random worries seemed so insignificant - because at least I was heading home to a comfortable bed and a cooked meal. If I see that man again, I'll definitely be passing him some change.

P.S. I Love You.

A few weeks ago, I came across a copy of P.S. I Love You. Yes, I know, I know, I'm the last person on the planet who hadn't read that book. But having stumbled upon it, I gave it a go and rather enjoyed it - even if certain parts of it annoyed me a tiny bit. The idea in itself is really quite sweet, and I liked all of the characters.

This evening, I remembered I had the film waiting around to be watched, so decided to give that a go. I wasn't convinced at the beginning, because it's quite drastically different from the book, but it definitely grew on me. It helped having random conversations about it on Facebook, too. Gotta love film reviews from friends. As for the actors! The dreamy men! With accents! Phwoar. Gerard Butler is too cute, James Marsters (Spike!) is always gorgeous, and I'm secretly going to elope with Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

I do feel sad now though after watching it, and can't wait for the boy to come home. And I suddenly want to visit Ireland, quite badly. It's only an hour or so away, too ... one day, soon I hope. It looks absolutely amazing!

Texas, Yee-Haw!

I'm halfway across the country so far, so if you've stuck it out this long, keep reading!

10. Amarillo, Texas.

Home of lots of cattle and HUGE steak houses! Our first stop into the city was at the Cadillac Ranch, part of Route 66 that my parents had always talked about. I remember that they had signed and stickered a cadillac the last time they were there, so was trying to frantically text them to find out which one was 'their' cadillac. I had no idea the amount of visitors they get, though - and it's literally layer upon layer of spray paint. It was great fun - had a ball taking pictures of them, albeit that the smell of cow manure was a trifle overpowering. After this, we headed into the Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of an obscene challenge involving a hunk of meat and an hour. Four people were trying it while we were eating our regular meals, and all failed. Ew.








11. Dallas, Texas.

Not really sure what I was expecting of Dallas - was just a rather big city! I love the history involving JFK so seeing all of those historical memories and being on the actual site of the assassination was really, really sad. So many buildings in Dallas, and then nice little patches of green scattered around it too. It was so hot while we were there, wow. Remind me never to go trekking across the south in summer again, please? The first night there I was meant to go out to a rodeo, but I felt a bit ill so gave that a miss. The following night we went out to eat at Dick's - home of the famous mean waiters & rude paper bag messages. I guess I came off relatively easily, and decided to take my hat message as a compliment.










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