My Summer Bucket List

As summer is right around the corner, I thought it was about time that I made a list of things I would like to do before it’s over.

As my eldest, Gning, is now in full-time school, my summer falls in line with his.  He breaks up for the summer holidays on 21 July, and he goes back on 4 September.

That gives me a little over 6 whole weeks to try to mark everything off on my bucket list…  I have the final week of the holidays off work, so the list I have made below has to either fit around my usual working times, and then take advantage of having the week off to complete the list.

I’m going to revisit this post in September, to see exactly what I managed to accomplish, and what is still outstanding.  I think this could be a rather interesting experiment!  So, without further ado, here is my Summer Bucket List of 30 things to complete within my son’s 6 weeks holidays.

  1. Have a bonfire
  2. Attend an outdoor concert
  3. Watch the waves
  4. Lie in the grass
  5. Go to a funfair / amusement park
  6. Have an ice cream at the beach
  7. Have a picnic
  8. Make a summer soundtrack
  9. Have a water balloon / water pistol fight
  10. Have a BBQ
  11. Go camping
  12. Take more pictures
  13. Finish a book
  14. Make homemade salsa
  15. Play frisbee
  16. Visit a water park
  17. Visit a heritage garden
  18. Go on a day trip
  19. Make ice pops
  20. Wear flowers in my hair for a day
  21. Feed the ducks
  22. Walk up a hill with the boys
  23. Buy a helium balloon, tie a message to it, and let it go
  24. Swim outdoors! (Bear in mind that I live in the north west of England…)
  25. Draw on the driveway with chalks
  26. Finger paint a summer picture
  27. Have fish & chips at the beach
  28. Visit a park we’ve never been to before
  29. Watch a family film together – snacks incl. popcorn essential
  30. Spend more time with the boys!

20 Satisfying Pictures

The work day can be pretty monotonous and deflate your spirits at times. Just when your day gets super boring, the internet, particularly Reddit, has a way of snapping you back to reality and giving you exactly what you need. I dug through the catacombs of Reddit to find you the most satisfying/pleasing/inspiring pictures, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Here are 20 pictures to lift your spirits today.

1. The way this peak comes through the clouds.

2. This man posted a before and after shot of his physical progress after ditching alcohol.

“One year of no alcohol has changed my life. I lost 53 pounds and I’m 1000 times happier. I tried to recreate my bloated pic,” said Klamsykrawl.

3. This kitty coming up for a quick boop.

4. The lengths these two brothers went to recreate this old photo from their childhood.

5. These beautiful cherry blossoms over the Meguro River in Tokyo.

6. “Every time I mow the lawn….” wrote joey_r00 on Reddit. 

7. This one-day-old kitten.

8. This wood has been dyed and totally looks like a brick of lava.

9. Are you as happy as this pug running through a garden of tulips?

10. This sandcastle that is so perfect it needs to be preserved forever.

11. This cute leaf that looks exactly like a dolphin.

12. This amazing shot.

13. How could this not lift your spirits?

“My son’s knee looks like a worried teenage mutant ninja turtle,” wrote danowar5000.

14. This amazing shot using some trickery.

15. “Home Depot’s cutest employee,” wrote pregglt on this adorable picture. 

16. This water is so clear in Sweden that Reddit user Suborb had to check for evidence that there was even water.   If you look closely, you can see the water around his wrist…

17. This awesome Easter photo from Jim Carrey.

18. This incredible piece of art found under a Denver overpass.

19. This person finally figured out what this compartment in his car is used for.

Wish I had one of those compartments…

20. This shot from a drone capturing a calf and mother humpback whale.

9 Things You Should Do Every Single Day

I could write a post about how important it is to take yourself off for 30 minute strolls, meditating, yoga, and checking your posture and all that, but hey, where’s the fun in that?

So instead, this is built up of the things that I believe you should aim for every single day. The little things that can make an average, dull day into a great day. Into a productive day. Into a day that you actually appreciated.

It’s not always all that easy to actually follow the ‘live every day like it’s your last’ motto, but you can at least get to the end of every day, as you’re rolling about your crumpled bed sheets trying not to let the whir of anxieties and emails and conversations send you into a bout of insomnia, and feel like you succeeded. Feel like you did an alright job of being a living, breathing human.

 

1. Compliment someone

Tell your colleague you love her sassy new strappy heels from Zara, tell someone you adore their blog post and that it’s the best thing you’ve read all week, text your husband and tell him how much you bloody well love him. Be nice because it’s so easy to be nice and it instantly, instantly, within that second, changes someone’s day. We could all do with being told we’re great every once in a while, right?

 

2. Read something

Even if it’s just the link to that BBC news article someone shared on your Facebook. Everything I read, be it a blog post, a newspaper article or a physical book, gives me something to take away with me and think about – something that adds to my brain and way of thinking in some way. A thought, a new understanding of something or a new turn of phrase that I want to incorporate into my own words. It’s so easy to stop reading once you leave education, but sometimes, I find myself losing an entire hour because I am so engrossed in the articles on Buzzfeed (yep – even though it’s just junk, it’s funny junk, and it makes me laugh).

 

3. Wash your skin with a flannel

I mean sure, you’re technically supposed to do it twice a day, but face it.  We are just too busy to have to stick to certain rules, aren’t we?

Lather up dry skin with a cleanser, or a gentle soap, and then remove with a flannel that’s been run under warm/hot water. Skin feels instantly the cleanest it’s been since 1998.

 

4. Eat something damn good

Not good like a chia seed, avocado, or spoon of almond butter that’s full of the good shit, but something that genuinely makes your mouth do a little saliva orgasm, something that seriously makes you happy.

I’m not saying like, eat a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger every day and just lie about and count your rolls, but have something, even if it’s a Diet Coke or bag of salt n sweet popcorn that gets you a little bit excited. What’s the point of being alive if you can’t make the most of ALL 5 senses?

 

5. Go an hour without your phone

Or your emails. Have some time away from work and social media. Lie and fester in front of the TV, take yourself out on a stroll to buy ice cream…  Or what about an undistracted conversation with your other half? Have you time without comparison or addiction or any of that rubbish stuff that your iPhone is engulfed in, because, let’s face it – the real world is so much more interesting.

 

6. Dream big

I like to remind myself of all the things I want from the future.  I think about where I’d like to be in a year, I think about things I’d like to get done that week, I think about where I’d like to go on my next holiday, or about a career change – all the big stuff. I don’t feel like it weighs me down with pressure to succeed, I feel like it keeps me on the right path and stands as a constant reminder of why I need to get out of bed and be the best I can.

 

7. Write something

Write a page in a diary, write a blog post, write a sentence on a post it note that makes you smile – an inspirational quote, a joke, something you’ve seen on Twitter that you MUST remember.

Handwriting constantly excites me in a world that’s so computer obsessed. Even if it’s an ‘I love you’ scrawl on a piece of paper, make sure you get your emotions and your thoughts out of your head, for some damned reason it just clears your brain and makes everything make sense.  Besides, who doesn’t love a bit of #PenmanshipPorn

 

8. Share a story

Have social time with real people who know YOU – your favourite people, the people who make you smile even when it feels like there’s nothing to smile about. Face to face is my favourite and definitely the most rewarding on your wellbeing, even if it’s a 15 minute catch-up and story-telling session over coffee.

If not? You’ve always got facebook messenger, Skype and Facetime. Seeing a friendly face instantly gives a little surge of happy hormones through your blood stream.

 

9. Find happiness

Some days are shit. Like really shit. It rains, you get told off at work, a bill appears out of nowhere and then what, how are you going to pay your rent and then you have an argument with your other half or kids. You want to cry yourself into a 3-month long hibernation. But, buried deep into every day is a little big of magic.

There is always, always something to be grateful for, something that can make a situation less aggressively hindering on your soul. Maybe it’s fresh bed sheets, maybe it’s watching Frozen for the 20th time, maybe it’s just a gigantic bowl of pasta.

If you can’t find even the tiniest ray of light, the tiniest fleeting moment to be thankful for, to smile for, then what’s the point?

20 recent positive news stories…

Noticed this video in my timeline this morning on Facebook, and I knew that I just had to share it.

Here’s 20 recent positive news stories that you probably didn’t know…

17 pairs of boobies that are practically perfect

1. Let’s just settle this once and for all, there is no such thing as a perfectly matching pair of boobies.

Let's just settle this once and for all, there is no such thing as a perfectly matching pair of boobies.

Lake Skinner / Via Flickr: pazzani

2. In fact, boobies come in all different shapes…

In fact, boobies come in all different shapes...

Mindstorm-inc / Getty Images

3. …sizes…

...sizes...

Estivillml / Getty Images

4. …and colors.

...and colors.

Kjorgen / Getty Images

5. Some pairs of boobies don’t even look remotely the same.

Some pairs of boobies don't even look remotely the same.

Chemistkane / Getty Images

6. While others look almost like twins. ALMOST.

While others look almost like twins. ALMOST.

Elisalocci / Getty Images

7. Some pairs of boobies like to face a specific direction together.

Some pairs of boobies like to face a specific direction together.

8. While other pairs of boobies face the total opposite direction from each other.

While other pairs of boobies face the total opposite direction from each other.

Mike’s Birds

9. Some pairs of boobies sit up high.

Some pairs of boobies sit up high.

Donyanedomam / Getty Images

10. Other pairs hang out down low.

Other pairs hang out down low.

Bartus Hendrikse / Getty Images

11. Some booby pairs sit far apart.

Some booby pairs sit far apart.

Jtstewartphoto / Getty Images

12. While others sit very close together.

While others sit very close together.

Drew Avery / Via Flickr: 33590535@N06

13. Boobies can appear long and lean.

Boobies can appear long and lean.

Bk-photos / Getty Images

14. Or short and squat.

Or short and squat.

Goddard_photography / Getty Images

15. Sometimes boobies point up high, while others point down low…even in the same pair!

Sometimes boobies point up high, while others point down low...even in the same pair!

Estivillml / Getty Images

16. Basically, boobies are the best…

Basically, boobies are the best...

Javarman3 / Getty Images

17. …and each and every pair is uniquely beautiful.

...and each and every pair is uniquely beautiful.
Bkk2008 / Getty Images
Repost.  Full credit given to this post on Buzz Feed

How to single-handedly run a cocaine lab

I have always enjoyed gaming – occasionally collecting the rings with Sonic; bouncing crazily around, with no point to the game, with “Thing on a Spring” (Amstrad game); and even building beautiful houses with The Sims; however my passion for the gaming world really started when my hubby came along.

I’ve had an Amstrad, where you had to hook up the cassette player to the system to load a game on a tape; an Atari (which I still have somewhere); a Sega Megadrive, 16-bit; PSOne; and a PS2.  I dabbled, but never really took it seriously.

It was 2008, and my (now) husband introduced me to the xbox 360.  Mainly I just played the poker game – “Texas Hold ’em”, and I often lost my temper with the “pussycat” who always made me raise, then fold, only for me to lose out to an “orange”.  Of course, I’m talking about AI characters here, and no matter how often you lost your rag with them, you’d still end up in the same situation – shouting at the TV.

I was heavily pregnant with Donut when I thought I would give Grand Theft Auto V a try.  I must have been about 7 months gone, and I felt like I had been sentenced to bed rest by my midwife and high risk consultant.  I had just finished work, on maternity leave, and I was already bored with poker, Minecraft and Fallout: New Vegas (yeah, really), when hubby dearest suggested I give GTAV a try.

I loaded the game, had several attempts of the first mission, where Trevor, Michael and a couple of others robbed a bank (spoiler alert!), and already I was getting frustrated with it.  I wasn’t interested in the actual story – I just wanted to play the open world.  Hubby said that I had to complete the first mission to be able to unlock the open world, so I sighed, and went back to it.  It took a lot of patience and tries, but eventually I cracked it.

Once I finally got in the open world, I cheated immediately by buying a few of those ‘Shark Cards’, where it fills your account up with cash.  I then bought my high end apartment, a couple of cars, and enhanced the performance of them before taking part in random races and missions with the hubby.

Almost 18 months down the line, and I’m still playing it now – although I am only a level 63 (still good, but when you see other players in their level 400’s+, then you realise you’re still a bottom feeder), I’m just starting to get the hang of the game.

A few months ago, Rockstar introduced a new expansion pack – “Motorcycle Club”, and I bit.  My best asset in the game had been my bike – a Dinka Double T, and I was a rather dab hand at riding it.  I had millions of (deliberate) near-misses, and after I supped it up to the maximum enhancements, it was a pretty smooth and speedy ride.  Very few outrun me, and I was always guaranteed to lose a 5-star wanted level from the police.  Granted, it took me a long time to be able to do it, but I got there.

Anyway, I digress…

I jumped straight in to the stunt races that were now available, as I realised they (along with solo missions) were the easiest way to raise a bit of cash.  Once I got enough funding, I went to the foreclosure site (on the internet, in the game) and purchased a clubhouse.  It wasn’t great, and I couldn’t afford any upgrades, but I didn’t care.  I had my clubhouse, and I was now president of my own motorcycle club.

Only I wasn’t.

Even though I had bought the club, I had to go in to the select menu to make myself the president (you have to do this in every session you enter, otherwise you are just a civilian).

I think I’ve had my own MC club for about 2 months now, and it was only this weekend (just gone) that I managed to save up enough of the cash (again!) to buy a sideline business.  I had a fair amount of cash, and a few different businesses to choose from.  I had the choice of buying a document forgery office, a weed farm, counterfeit cash, a meth lab, or a cocaine lab.  I had just enough money to buy the smallest cocaine lab, as, through research, this was shown to be the best choice for generating income.

Of course, as with any business – real or virtual – you have to have supplies to be able to create any produce, so that had to be my number one priority.

When entering the black market, you have a two options.  You can either buy your supplies, or steal them – where you have to go and get them yourself.

I’ve noticed that if you choose the latter, the more you do, the harder it gets.

If you’re a player already, you know that you can see who else is in the world with you, by pressing down on the digipad.  Alongside the other players names, you will often see either a picture of a motorbike, or a triangle.  Sometimes, there will be no icon next to the name…  If there is no icon, this means that this player is not a part of a MC, or corporation.  The triangle represents ‘Securoserve’, and they are a CEO of a business, or working for one.  The motorbike represents their status as either being a MC president, or a biker – in that gang.

The more players that are in the game – especially if there are more MC players, the more risky your supply run can be.

There is a simple reasoning behind this.  When you collect the supplies, a “blip” is put out across the world to say exactly what you have done.  This is a warning to other players, telling them what you have done, and they have the opportunity to literally chase you to steal the supplies for their own uses.

It’s the same as when the final product is made, and you’re ready to sell – it’s all about timing your stealings and sellings appropriately.  You don’t know who else is around, and who you need to pass to be able to complete your business needs.

My timings surround just that.  If there are lots of players in the world, I buy my supplies.  If there are just a handful, I steal.

Let’s backtrack slightly – after the stealing / buying, yet before you do the drug run.

When you have your supplies at your warehouse, always try to upgrade your business as quickly as possible.  Obviously, you need a fair amount of cash to do this too, but with the adversary modes that are currently offering 2x cash and 2x RP, it’s well worth doing an hour or two of those first of all (personally, I find the Deadline adversary modes hilarious!).  When upgrading, security should be your main priority, followed by the staff, followed by your actual lab.  It may make more sense to you to do it the other way around, but when your fiddling the law, securing your business from any raids or thefts should be the way to go.

On entering your warehouse, you get two new bars showing at the bottom right of your screen.  The top bar is your product; the bottom is your supplies.  I tend to use the black market computer in the warehouse to give me my options, as I find this a lot easier to understand.

When I go in to the “Sell Stock” option, I get two options.  Both are to sell my produce, but one is ‘safer’ than the other.

There are two amounts offered.

The lower is based in Blaine County, and is a much less hazardous route to take.

The higher amount is based in Los Santos itself, and can be incredibly dangerous.  You run the risk of losing all your stock by being robbed, or by being killed…  Which you can respawn and try to get your stock back, but it all depends on how far away from your death-spot you are, and who it was who killed you.  Some other players who have business interests of their own could hunt you, take your stock, and you’re at a loss.  If you’re one of the lucky ones, you just get a wanted level, and perhaps shot by the police, and then when you respawn, you can go and claim your items again.  I’ve been killed once by the police, and they did not confiscate my stock, but I cannot comment that it will never happen…

If I’m being honest, I’ve got a bit of a greed on me, and I have never taken the lesser amount.

So far I have made approximately 10 supply runs, and just 3 deliveries.  From the deliveries, I have brought in a little over $630k.  I could have got a lot more, but I’m inpatient.

Do’s and Don’t’s for Dummies

  • Do make every effort to steal your supplies.
  • Do buy your supplies when the servers are full.
  • Don’t steal from the lone biker…  Chances are that they have no one else in their club (same as me), and it’s difficult enough for them to do the supply run, with the general bad guys on their tails, than having you hunt them down too.  Chances are if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone too.
  • Don’t sell your produce at the lower level.  Take a chance, and it’ll be worth your time.
  • Do upgrade, but do it in order.  Security first, then staff, then the lab.
  • Do practice your flying skills.  There are a lot of selling opportunities that require you to fly a plane, or helicopter, so make sure you’re a bit of a dab hand to prevent crashing and losing your stock.
  • Don’t worry about the police being on your tail.  If you’ve outrun them before, you can outrun them now.
  • Do bare in mind that once you’re an MC president, you CANNOT go in to passive mode.
  • Don’t worry if no one accepts your invite for being a part of your MC.  No one ever accepts my invites (except for hubby, when he’s playing), and I’m doing pretty well for myself.
  • Do keep your eye on your map.  If you’re hunting for supplies / stock, look out for the red blips.  Also, if you’re the one being hunted, you can usually tell by the amount of players blips coming closer to your position.
  • Do make sure that you’re fully stocked up on your ammo…  Only got one homing missile left?  You need more…  You never know who’s coming after you in a fighter jet.

So, did I miss anything?  Probably, but I’m still learning myself.

Happy new year! It’s confession time…

Happy 2016 everyone!  I hope you all had an amazing Christmas, and a wonderful New Years Eve celebrations.

It was slightly different than the usual in the Insanely Normal household…  We went to my parents house for Christmas dinner, as usual, however, when we got there, my mum asked if I had any meat in our fridge…  I must have looked rather puzzled, as she quickly continued with, “we can’t have the meat that your dad bought, as it’s not ‘dinner meat'”.

My dad had bought a rather large Serrano ham full leg, and although it still had the trotter on, it looked rather tasty.  Dad had sliced the smallest amount off the ham on Christmas morning, to taste it.  To say he was disappointed was an understatement.  He described it more as a “tapas meat” – the type that you use to wrap the likes of asparagus, or the like.

I had to taste it, to see what the fuss was about.  Surely it couldn’t be that bad..?

Yep.  It was.  It was like chewing on the sole of an old pair of shoes…  I think it took me almost 5 minutes to chew, and swallow the smallest slither of ham.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the slice was about 1 inch by 1 inch, and was wafer thin.  Bleurgh.

So that was our Christmas dinner…  A plate full of veg.  Thank God mum had a packet of fresh beef meatballs in the fridge…  It was certainly different, and definitely one that will be remembered for many a year to come.

New Years Eve & Day came and went…  Again, we celebrated at my parents house.

Skip forward a couple of rather lethargic days, and we’re on today.  Sunday, 3 January 2016.

After church this morning, I made a big decision.  I would pull out everything that I have stored in the food cupboard, fridge and freezer, and make a stock-list.  I would then go on to prepare a meal plan.

I bet you’re waiting for the confession part..?  Afterall, that’s the title of this post, right?  Ok, here goes.

Hi.  My name is Barbara.  In my household, we waste A LOT of food.

I’m not just talking about filling the plates up too much, when dinner is made…  I’m talking about buying foodstuffs, putting them away in the cupboard / fridge / freezer, only to pull them out again several months later to chuck in the bin.  My decision to sort and plan meals would mean that we would not buy any more foodstuffs (other than bread, milk and fresh veg – when required) until the cupboard, fridge and freezer were completely empty.  I mean, we’re bound to save a few pennies there, right?

I seem to remember making a bit of a blog post about wasting eggs earlier on in 2015…

Back to the subject.

We have one of those fridge-freezer combis…  The freezer is constantly full, yet we barely dip in there.  Our fridge is practically empty, and although we do tend to fill it up completely once every 7-10 days, most of the fresh meat ends up in the freezer.  See a bit of a conveyor belt there?

As for our food cupboard, it is full.  Full of tins, packets, sachets…  Whenever we buy tins and / or packets, we place them in front of the items already in the cupboard.  Bad habit, I know.

Anyway, I pulled everything out, and made a few lists…

WP_20160103_005

The list above, on the right, is for “Donuts'” items.

WP_20160103_006

Although cleaning out the cupboards, fridge and freezer can be thought of as a rather daunting task, I did actually enjoy making a stocktake!

After the list making, it was time to create some form of meal plan.  I made up a quick template – listing the days (Mon-Sun) reading down the left hand side, and the week (1,2,3 and 4) across the top.  I would then have the hand-written lists of produce by my side, as I carefully planned meals.

At the end of the plan, I had proposed a plan, filling 21 days for main meals, using almost everything that I have already.

WP_20160103_009

The plan was then handed to hubby-dearest, to proof-read, and to give his opinion on.  I got the “go ahead” straight away, and the above is what we come up with.

The only thing that we’re thinking about now is, “what about lunches?

So, we’re altering the above – slightly.

We’re settled on all of the above as meals, but we’re now not limiting ourselves to only having (i.e.) fish, chips, peas & carrot on Saturday for our evening meal.  I mean, what is we want the pizza, topped with extra cheese for lunch on that day too?

So, what we have now is a list of meals.  Still, 21 items, but now this will more likely last us 10.5 days instead of 21 (accounting for 1 lunch and 1 evening meal a day).  Do you know what though?  I don’t mind.  The food quantity that we are stocking is still on the decrease, and hopefully, will not be wasted!

Let’s just say – it will now give me something to look forward to, and may even mean that we can experiment a little more, as we’re going to have a “blank canvas” every time we need to go food shopping.

We’ll see.