Saturday, 7 December 2013
If you've never read THE self help tome of the last few years, Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret", you're either incredibly well adjusted psychologically or you've been living in a cave. I love to read self help manuals and my natural home is the "Mind, Body, Spirit" section of Waterstones. Needless to say, The Husband thinks the entire genre is fraudulent nonsense and refers to it as "weirdy, beardy shite". Men.
The basic premise of "The Secret" is that we are all subject to the universal Law of Attraction and we attract what we think about most. Whatever we most desire, therefore, can be obtained by thinking positively and focusing on what it is we do want, not what we don't. Thus, to attract riches, you have to train yourself to think "I am rich" not "I have a lot of credit card bills I have unfortunately accrued during numerous peri-menopausal shopping sprees". "The Secret" achieved its global fame due to supporters like Oprah Winfrey and she always seems to be quite perky to me. Although I wonder if you're as rich as Oprah whether there are many things left to worry about.
Yes, "The Secret"'s pages are filled with the wisdom of numerous American 'pseudo' spiritualists and doctors and the whole thing smacks slightly of quackery, but on a dark day it does cheer me up no end to think that I too could be up there with the world's greats (Newton, Da Vinci, Shakespeare) if I just get a grip and think on the bright side.
Come to think of it, that's exactly what The Husband tells me regularly.
Further information: "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne is available at Amazon.co.uk and your local branch of Waterstones.
Thursday, 5 December 2013
We are big fans of Shrek here at Downton Shabby and the box set of films is much loved and often played. The kids were thrilled when we had the opportunity to review the dvd of Dreamworks "Shrek The Musical".
This is the Broadway production and the staging, choreography and singing are superb. The musical has a strong sound track which mixes sing-along numbers with some songs in rock / pop style which makes for an incredibly catch score.
The plot remains largely faithful to that of the first movie where ogre Shrek meets the irrepressible donkey and together they set off to rescue Princess Fiona from the evil clutches of Lord Farquahar.
The musical's principal characters (Shrek, Donkey, Fiona and Lord Farquahar) are supported by a talented cast playing characters from fairy stories and other Disney characters. Because this is the Broadway version, the cast is unknown, however, this did not matter in the slightest. The Three Little Pigs are there, as is Pinocchio. There are also some very clever references to other musicals such as The Lion King.
The banter between Shrek and Donkey matches anything that the film characters (Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy) have to offer and there are enough jokes for the grown-ups to keep them amused too. Lord Farquahar short stature is hilariously portrayed by the actor kneeling throughout with a pair of 'comedy legs'. The scene where Shrek and Fiona fall for one another is also very funny with each rivalling the other by burping and other methods of wind expulsion! Needless to say, the kids giggled throughout this scene.
Donkey's paramour, the dragon also takes a central role to the plot and appears as an enormous puppet figure, as does the Gingerbread Man (yes, the Muffin Man joke is there too, for Shrek connoisseurs).
I wondered if Caitlin and Ieuan would enjoy the musical as much as the film and, by and large, they did, although the production at 130 minutes was about 20 minutes too long to keep Ieuan fixed on the sofa. In the end we watched the dvd in two parts.
I really enjoyed Shrek The Musical (possibly more than the kids) because, as mentioned, it is written to appeal to all age groups. I'd highly recommend it as good family viewing this Christmas to make a change from endless repeats of Harry Potter and Star Wars.
Available at £9.99 at Amazon, this edition also contains a special feature of a songbook with 7 sing-along songs.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Shrek The Musical DVD for the purposes of this review, however, all the views expressed herein are my own.
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Despite the fact that she probably has a troupe of nannies and au pairs cleaning her immaculately decorated house, I quite like Kirsty Allsopp. The Husband and I have spent many a happy evening shouting "oh just make a decision" at various prospective purchasers on "Location, Location, Location", whilst admiring Phil's natty knitwear collection and wondering whether Kirsty's tights will ever co-ordinate with her dresses.
Kirsty is the kind of woman who could feed an army with two bread rolls and a pack of corned beef. I like her no-nonsense approach to making candles and other slightly Victorian decorations from jam jars and bits of tat lurking behind the sofa.
And I particularly like her range of bedding which, when I have finally run away from The Husband and set up my own croft and organic garden in a remote part of Scotland (which I threaten whenever he is particularly annoying), will be displayed in all its crisp cotton glory.
I'm not sure there is a John Lewis in the Outer Hebrides but someone somewhere will have a boat.
Further information: www.johnlewis.com. The Abbey bedding range is crafted from soft cotton in a percale weave. It features a zigzag pattern comprising floral ditsy prints and stockinette stitch patterns. The range includes standard pillowcase, single, double, kingsize and superkingsize duvet covers
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Uh oh, Mummy's Gone Funny Again
Around this time of year, I find my stress levels rising and I tend to become, well, shall we say less centered and calm than usual.
I know everyone has one or two weird habits and quirks but mine all seem to come to the fore with a vengeance.
How many of these do you identify with (please try hard so I feel at least vaguely normal).
1. Buying the Christmas Radio Times and marking with pen the programmes I intend to watch - (despite already having at least 3 Xmas TV guides) - and then not watching any of them.
2. Recording whole swathes of films - which I then don't watch.
3. Having a yearning for dried figs and Di Saronno.
4. Becoming extremely tetchy if I have to wrap presents which are not completely symmetrical.
5. Finding the writing and posting of a dozen Christmas cards very hard work.
6. Going completely blank when asked what I would like for Christmas, despite having a list as long as your arm the rest of the year.
7. Eating a mince pie a day. From 1st December.
8. Reading diet books whilst eating said mince pies, figs and Di Saronno.
9. Wondering what happened to Meltis Mulberry Fruits
10. Watching all the Christmas Day soap episodes, even though Emmerdale is the only one I watch all year.
11. Compiling a New Year's Resolution list which even the Dalai Lama would find challenging
12. Never EVER having the right shoes to go with my evening dress
13. Ditto coat
14. Sanctioning the eating of chocolate (from Advent Calendars) before 9 am which must surely by now be against some EU convention or other.
15. Vowing to wear decent, matching underwear and then finding it too cold to take my thermals off - a situation which usually lasts till the end of the following May.
16. Listening to "Now That's What I Called Christmas" on repeat so that I feel like I'm trapped in a lift in Debenahams
17. Coming over very peculiar in the Debenhams Beauty Hall and finding the lure of the MAC / Benefit / Estee counters stronger than Luke Skywalker's lightsabre.
18. Despite this, being unable to actually BUY anything due to 'seasonal guilt' and the irrational belief that, come 1st January, prices will plummet by at least 40%
19. Finding I can still sing the descant part of numerous Christmas carols and embarrassing the hell out of the family in church.
20. Never being able to find my gloves. Until the snow has gone.
Any Christmas weirdnesses you'd like to share?
Monday, 2 December 2013
This is a lovely 24 piece jigsaw with nice big pieces for little hands. It forms a Fireman Sam picture with each jigsaw piece being numbered 1-24 and each having a little door which can be removed to reveal characters from the show in Christmassy scenes.
The fact that each piece was numbered made it easier for Ieuan (age 4) to complete. Caitlin and I turned finishing the puzzle into a race which he loved. He had soon grasped how to order the pieces and I found it was a more effective way of getting him to complete a jigsaw than the traditional method of trial and error.
The idea behind the puzzle is obviously that a door is opened each day but, because there are no chocolates involved, I'm not sure how long interest will be maintained if you choose to use it as a traditional advent calendar. You'll also need to find somewhere for the puzzle to remain completed - no mean feat with little ones about. But it's not difficult to improvise with chocolate, is it? One for the kids, one for mum obviously.
The Fireman Sam Advent Puzzle is very well made and if you're canny, you'll get one or two years' use out of it. Bargain!
The doors are completely removed and reveal Christmassy scenes. The doors form extra jigsaw pieces.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the puzzle for review purposes. All the views expressed herein are my own.