More Stuff I Do That I’m Hoping You Do Too

Following on from Five things I do that I wonder if you do too, and Using my knife as a mirror and seven other quirky things I do, I bring you – More stuff I do that I I’m hoping you do too

1) Have you ever thrown away a food wrapper into a colleague’s bin at work rather than your own because you’re kind of embarrassed about the number of food wrappers already in your bin, and you don’t want the cleaning staff to judge you?

Man denying knowledge of chocolate wrapper

Meme created by Vanessa-Jane Chapman using memegenerator.

2) Do you ever sit and imagine what fun you could have if you were someone’s pet cat or dog, but with the brain you have now? The tricks you could do to impress them, the cute stuff… and similarly, how much fun you could have if you were a baby with an adult brain, do you ever think about that?

3) At least three times per day, do you go to your phone/computer/device with a specific purpose of something you need to do, but instead get distracted by the first thing you see on there, and forget to do the thing you went to do in the first place? Three times a day? Who am I kidding? More like every hour right?

Distracted on computer

Meme created by Vanessa-Jane Chapman using memegenerator.

4) When on public transport, do you ever get up and walk towards the exit, but then realise you’ve made a mistake and it’s not your stop yet. Rather than going back to your seat though, you get off anyway because you would look a fool to go back and sit down right? Far better to have to wait half an hour for the next bus/train, or walk in the dark and rain to get to where you really wanted to get off? At least this way you’re the only one who knows you’re a fool rather than a bunch of strangers you’ll never see again.

5) Do you find yourself questioning everything you’ve ever known about life when you come across someone who doesn’t like either tea or coffee. What, neither? But surely tea? But surely coffee then? No? NEITHER one?!

No Way

Meme created by Vanessa-Jane Chapman using this other memegenerator.

Any things you do that you secretly wonder if everyone else does too?

Fun and Frolics with Food

I wanted to be sure that those of you who don’t follow my Sugarness food blog wouldn’t miss out on seeing the fun I had with this five-minute cooking video I made with my film-making friend, Stacey Morgan, from Morganic Films, and my partner Neil. You’re welcome. Do you think someone will give me my own cookery show after this? They’re bound to, right? RIGHT?!

My Year in 365 Words

Photos of Vanessa's Year 2014
At the start of 2014 I decided to keep a word-a-day journal over the year. It turned out to be quite an interesting exercise. Some days a word naturally presented itself to me, but other days I had to think a bit deeper – either because it was a day where nothing of particular interest happened, or because several things happened and I had to decide which one to pick. Sometimes I tried to find a word that could relate in some way to all the things I wanted to use from that day. Even on days where I did know which one thing I wanted to record, it wasn’t always easy to describe it in one word.

On three similar occasions I broke the one word rule by pushing together three letters and a word to make one word because it was important to me to record those in that way. A few words were used more than once over the year, and I was ok with that; if something was significant more than once, then it was. And as I was typing this up I discovered one day where I had forgotten to write a word at all, and I have recorded that one as “Blank”.

Looking back over them now I can’t remember what quite a few of the words relate to, but nevertheless, seen as a whole, they tell the story of my year in 365 words…

Essay, Hope, Suzanne, Hurt, Voice, Routine, Stereotyping, Panel, Worry, Gender, Conference, Soup, Plan, Octopus, Dentist, Singing, Strategy, Caroline, Cards, Literally, NVivo, Honoured, Theorists, Battered, Bluewater, Confused, Stabbing, Poster, Which, Quantitative, Windy, Extravagance, Putney, Drudge, Coffee, Graze, Reflecting, Meritocracy, Admiral, Swimming, Operations, Surprised, Scuppered, Sleepy, Love, Cost, Booth, Void, Tired, Trimming, Invitations, Dare, David, Filing, Angry, Woburn, Schools, Guy, Lots, Fajitas, Mud, Irritated, Chuffed, Yvonne, One, Sigh, Piercing, Manchester, Hacked, Writing, Deal, Dropped, Duke, Pleased, Productive, Eek, Idiot, Proud, Amazing, Mum, Methadone, Voice, Embassy, Confirming, Strike, Sleepless, Faint, Sofas, Amused, Shortlisting, Stressed, Energy, Continuing, Remote, Psycho, Furniture, Redo, Mike, London, Blue, Emilia, Walking, Grass, Accepted, Struggling, Struggling, Blue, Wondering, Trays, Easter, Facebook, Back, Art, Blackmail, Staff, Masquerade, Delightful, Policy, Parents, Identity, Time, Sarah, Pizza, Stacey, Westwood, Disgruntled, Deadline, Chapman, Changes, Eurovision, Fifteen, Intolerance, Knocked, Disgrace, Preparation, Neon, Luxury, Malfunctions, Arms, Plumbing, Ninja, Pickups, Planning, Anxious, Packing, International, Satisfying, Hectic, Tax, Seven, Relaxing, Back, Overload, Salad, Edward, Dolphin, Dogs, Party, Pam, Unfair, Flowers, Productive, Ruth, Meritocracy, Cancellation, Fondness, Wheat, Pirate, Coastal, Excellent, Refund, Simon, Relaxing, Sue, Pimms, Dresses, Sun, Underachievement, Uncomfortable, Crates, Last, Thankful, Pleased, Face, Delayed, Jamie, Maidstone, Small, Resolving, Appraisal, Progress, Unreasonable, Ale, Torrential, Burgers, Tidying, Hope, Praise, Analysis, Brownies, Bike, Earnest, Dashed, Broadstairs, Apes, Disproportionate, Writing, Horses, Governance, Impression, RIPNaz, Deal, Relieved, Appreciate, Ramsgate, Canterbury, Articulating, Reflections, Slots, Hope, Searching, Squeak, Limbo, Dog, Bronchitis, Rainbow, Healing, Gloomy, Expectant, Unbelievable, Over, Alton, Rita, Water, Back, Washing, Outlet, Quotes, Speakers, Smugglers, Games, Seizure, Enjoying, Washing, Completed, Gag, Absolute, Maps, Jet, Girls, Mount, Intrusive, Nearly, Cocktails, Blank, Pam, Bubble, Planning, Jacqueline, Networks, Birthday, Beagles, Robots, Desk, Orthodontist, Personnel, Happier, Baking, Pondering, Pretzels, Eclairs, Operations, Opticians, Cake, Interviews, Loving, Danish, Factor, Bus, Neil, Lethargic, Dentist, Bagels, Comfortable, Medium, Scrape, Possible, Manage, Oops, Laptop, Rainham, Willow, Score, Berlin, Finalising, Operations, Filming, Exclude, Missing, Mummy, Spread, Dragging, Together, Blood, Pleasant, Jerk, Better, Planning, Promising, Good, Rooms, Fireworks, Cakes, Power, Kicked, Smooth, Communications, Pumpkin, Productive, Figuring, RIPSuzy, Masonic, Works, Bell, Baskets, Disposing, Sad, Game, Zone, Packed, London, Black, Trust, Rolls, RIPDory, Tree, Preparing, Thirteen, Seasonal, Paint, Fluffy, Selfie, Improvement, Mockingjay, Shopping, Manchester, Stollen, Trisha, Coach, Leicester, Balloons, Sixteen, Sneaky, Baileys, Bluewater, Suzanne, Dad, Messing, Christmas, Pride, Sales, Attempting, Wonderland, Indecisive, Bang.

 Wishing you all the best for 2015!

Christmas Countdown Sundries

Vanessa with advent calendar

Photo Credit: Vanessa-Jane Chapman 2014

Let me start by asking you the question on everyone’s lips at this time of year – where do you stand on Brussels sprouts? And I don’t mean literally, like when you accidentally stand on a cooked one on the kitchen floor and it squishes on to the bottom of your foot creating a dangerously slippery surface on your slipper-sole. No, I am of course enquiring as to whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em? There is a genetic reason why some people hate them (Google it), and the Brussels sprouts hating gene is apparently present in about 50% of people, so that explains why this festive veg divides opinions as it does. Let’s see if the 50% split applies here (I’m in the love ‘em half myself) –

Now that you’ve done that, you might like to read a funny post about Brussels sprouts from the ever-entertaining Mike Allegra.

Now that we’ve covered sprouts, let’s cover this poor man with a hot warm towel!

Polar bear plunge

Polar bear plunge Calgary 2013. Photo credit: Sue Slaght

Fancy doing this icy plunge yourself? Beautiful as it looks, I think I’ll leave it to my amazing blogging friend Sue Slaght from Travel Tales of Life. On New Year’s Day, she and her husband Dave are doing a polar plunge into the icy water pictured above. They are taking part in the 6th annual Calgary Ice Breaker Polar Dip  to help raise money for the SA (Servants Anonymous) Foundation  who work to stop human trafficking. Sue explains more here  and her fundraising page is here.  Good luck Sue and Dave!

Right, so I’ve given a shout-out to Mike, and to Sue, now who was the other person I wanted to give a shout-out to? It’s on the tip of my tongue…think, think, think….oh yes! It’s me! Those of you who don’t follow my Sugarness recipe blog, won’t have seen the recipe for these Baileys chocolates I posted a few days ago –

Baileys chocolates

Photo credit: Vanessa-Jane Chapman 2014

I was rather pleased with how they came out, and with the gift boxes I found to pack them up in. There’s still time for you to make them as last-minute gifts, oh yes there is! Click here for recipe. No, no, absolutely no need to thank me, just send cash.

And finally another question – how come you never hear anything about the tenth reindeer ‘Olive’? You know, “Olive the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.”

(I know, groan!).

Well, festive wishes to those who want them, and see you in 2015!

Apparently We Have Black Friday in the UK Now?!

Black Friday
photo credit: sea turtle via photopin cc

Apparently we have Black Friday in the UK now. Turns out it’s been creeping in for a few years, but didn’t enter my radar until yesterday when I happened to catch a TV advertisement for a retailer’s Black Friday deals. This morning I decided to go online to see what Black Friday deals I could find, and discovered that even at 7am, the websites of major retailers were overloaded and I couldn’t get in to them. One site even offered me a queue number to wait in line to see the bargains. That’s right, like at the deli counter! I’m supposed to sit here staring at the computer screen, clutching my virtual ticket, waiting for my number to be called. As if I don’t have anything better to do. You know, like writing a blog post about it instead.

For those outside of the US who don’t know, Black Friday is a day of big retail sales that comes the day after Thanksgiving, semi-officially kicking off the Christmas shopping season.  It’s a day-after-Thanksgiving-thing, and we don’t have Thanksgiving in the UK. But as we do love to take on American things over here, we seem to have taken on the day-after-Thanksgiving-thing, without having the Thanksgiving thing.

But wait! I say we don’t have Thanksgiving here, and it turns out I’m wrong about that too. I should have realised what was happening when I started to see Libby’s canned pumpkin for sale in our supermarkets. I did a bit of online searching  and discovered that according to this article in the Telegraph, one in six British people now celebrate Thanksgiving. I had no idea.  The history of Thanksgiving makes it a little strange for us to be celebrating it here, but that’s ok, I’m all for it actually. Friends and Family getting together to share a delicious meal and think about what they’re thankful for. It’s a good thing right? After all, Thanksgiving would hardly be the only festival that is celebrated without much thought being given to the history behind it.

Interestingly, alongside this, I have seen blog posts and comments from Americans, lamenting the demise of the traditional Thanksgiving over there, with families getting together less, and retailers, too anxious to wait for Black Friday, opening on Thanksgiving day itself…hold on a cotton picking minute…do you see what’s happening here? That’s right, we are slowly and very sneakily stealing Thanksgiving from the Americans!  Gradually taking it as our own as the Americans stand there helplessly watching it sail across the pond. Oh the irony.

Back to today. Not wanting to be outdone by our American friends, I already see online news items talking about police being called to calm down surging crowds at UK Black Friday sales, with fights breaking out and arrests being made. I do love a good bargain myself, but I really have no desire to be part of all that. So instead I shall just sit here, clutching my virtual ticket, staring at my screen, and waiting for my number to be called.

What do you do for Thanksgiving, and/or Black Friday? What else do you think us Brits should adopt from America? (If there’s anything left that we haven’t yet adopted).

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Finally a quick belated congratulations to Linda Larrabee! Linda is the lucky winner of a $16 Amazon gift card which she won by getting the most right playing Truth or Fiction with author Lorna Lee. Linda doesn’t have a blog herself, she’s just a fan of Lorna’s, and who wouldn’t be, right? If you want to see what the answers were, I’ve updated the original post with the answers in red. If you didn’t win, you can console yourself by reading Lorna’s wonderful book, Never Turn Back, details here. You’re welcome.

Probably the Most Contrived Story You’ll Ever Read

A rose and an open book

On my last post I provided a list of 21 really bad analogies (or mostly similes, but whatever). A few commenters suggested I should write a story incorporating all 21 of them. At first I scoffed at the idea, but then I pondered on it and decided to take up the challenge! I’ve made the font green for all 21 so that you can easily see how I’ve included them. I give you…

The Case of the Unsolved Mystery, Like a Mystery that Remains Unsolved

Some say it was fate that they ended up seated together that night in London. You wouldn’t believe it if you’d seen them but John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. They were strangers before that night and yet there they were together, laughing and chatting like old friends. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up. I sat two rows behind them. I was drawn to them, compelled to listen in a way that unnerved me. When the curtain went up, they became silent and I turned my attention to the stage. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant. It was breathtaking, and for forty-five minutes I was focused on the stage alone.

The applause signalled the end of the first half. John stood. He was tall. My guess is that he was as tall as a 6’3″ tree. But as soon as he moved I could see that he was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

“Gee, you’re like really sort of like tall ain’t ya!” she said. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever. Yet as I listened to her talking about the first half of the ballet, I could tell that her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. It was an interesting juxtaposition. I moved with them as they walked to the end of the row.

“I should probably look for my wife,” he said. There was a sense of reluctance to his words. I studied her face as she turned away from him towards the back of the theatre. I could see that her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center, and they glistened with moisture that spoke of intense disappointment.

“Yeah,” she said. “S’pose you should.” I could tell that it hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

“We said we’d meet in the attic bar during the interval,” he said pointing at the staircase that led up to the attic bar. The staircase was set in a wall at the side of the auditorium. The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon. “Perhaps you could join us if you…” he trailed off, uncertain of his own suggestion.

“Don’t fink that’s a good idea, she might like, you know, get the wrong idea or someink,” she said.

“Perhaps you’re right,” said John. “Actually no. Do come. I’m grateful for the mix-up with the seating this evening because I got to meet you. I’ve actually had the loveliest time I can remember for years. To tell you the truth Mary, my wife has been cheating on me and so I don’t care what she thinks! Can you believe it? 30 years of marriage and it might all be over!” Seeing the surprise on Mary’s face I could tell the revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM. She wasn’t sure how to respond.

“How’s did yous twos, like, you know, meet and stuff?”

“I was a boxing promoter back then. One day she walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs. She had her brother with her, a young man with great promise. She’d heard I was good and wanted me to help his career. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while. I took him on, and-” John was in the middle of his story when from the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

“What was that?” Mary instinctively reached for John’s arm. I couldn’t help but notice that John didn’t look surprised by the noise. And maybe I even saw a slight smile. Maybe.

They ran up the stairs to the bar and I followed. A small crowd had gathered around the body of a woman. I heard the words, “She’s dead.”

I pushed my way through. “Let me through!” I said, “I’m a lawyer.” Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master. Blood pooled around her head, and next to her was a broken lamp. The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object. Somehow I knew right away that the woman was John’s wife.

A voiced pierced through, “It was him!” The barmaid pointed at John. “It was him! He hit her over the head with the lamp, and then ran off, I saw him, he killed her!” As if to punctuate her words, a clap of thunder rumbled outside. The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play. Others nodded and pointed, “Yes, it was him! It was him!” The voices were unified in their accusation.

Mary shook her head. “No, no! He’s been wiv me all night, it can’t be him, he’s been wiv me I tell ya!”

I gave John my card, “You’re going to need a defence lawyer,” I said. “Call me.” He took my card and nodded. Some say he must have had a twin, but they never found one, nor did they ever find any other evidence to support the witnesses and so John walked free. He and I kept in touch. John and Mary had become close after that fateful night. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef, and before long they were lovers. And yet their love was doomed. Not six months after their relationship began to blossom, Mary’s mother, who lived in New York, died, and Mary was forced to move there to take care of her younger sister.

That could have been the end of John and Mary except for one thing. Black Friday. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools. John had heard of Black Friday, and as an avid shopper, told me he had decided to make the trip from London to New York to scoop up some bargains. He had not long arrived when he chose to take a stroll through Central Park. In the distance, across the grass, he saw her. She saw him. They were motionless for a while, each unsure of what to do, and then they ran. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

They spent a joyous afternoon together in Central Park, running and laughing. They bought food and sat at the edge of the Turtle Pond to eat. John made a boat out of his sub wrapper. “This is our love,” he said, “drifting and free, where will it go?” He set the boat on the water and gave it a push. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

Some say John confessed to the killing of his wife that afternoon. Some say that’s why Mary walked away and told him she never wanted to see him again. Some say that. But he couldn’t have done it…could he?

THE END.

Paper boat

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photo credits:
Atilla1000 via photopin cc
John-Morgan via photopin cc

Bad Analogies

Anna Loggie (Analogy) being reprimanded

I had planned on announcing the winner of Come and play with Lorna to win an Amazon gift card today, but I can’t yet as I’m waiting for the winner to get back to me about something first. But in short, if you haven’t received an email from me, then you haven’t won. Sorry!

By way of consolation, I have an amusing list of collected bad analogies for you, although wait…most are similes, and…is that a metaphor I see there? Anyway, if you’ve seen these before, then I’m afraid you will be inconsolable around here today, I have nothing else for you…

1) Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.

2) He was as tall as a 6′3″ tree.

3) Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

4) From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

5) John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

6) She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

7) The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

8) He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

9) Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever. (Vanessa’s note – I object to this one being classed as bad, I think it’s actually rather clever).

10) She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

11) The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.

12) The lamp just sat there, like an inanimate object.

13) Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

14) The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

15) She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

16) The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

17) It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

18) It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

19) The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.

20) Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

21) The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.

DISCLAIMER: Online these are purported to be actual analogies from essays written by high school students, but after digging a bit deeper, I discovered that they’re almost certainly not. This was after I had spent all that time creating the hilarious picture at the top of this post, so I’ve posted it anyway, because they’re still funny, not as funny as, you know, if they really were from essays, but funny anyway!
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photo credit: Original photo Paula Satijn via photopin cc, hilarious Photoshopping by Vanessa-Jane Chapman

Vanessa’s Getting All Meta Again

How's my blogging sign

Like many bloggers, every now and again I like to get a bit meta, and write a blog post about blogging. Previous examples of mine are An open letter to WordPress, Want to know what it takes to get Freshly Pressed?, Do you suffer from blog envy, Have you lost your blogging mojo lately?, When the real world merges with the blogging world, and The mind blowing world of informal blogging networks. Phew! The current example of one, is this one I’m writing right now, but you knew that right? I give you my latest selected musings on blogging…

Funny spam

Funny spam pic

Those of us on WordPress, and presumably other blogging platforms too, are often amused by some of the spam comments that make it through to the blog. These comments may praise us for writing such insightful posts, or try to engage us in some way by asking for advice, or offering to help solve some issue they have identified with our blog. One of my favourites was a comment I received congratulating me on how brave I had been for tackling such a controversial issue that many people consider taboo, and how important it is for people to speak more openly about this topic – the post that this comment appeared on was a recipe for quick apple pie that I wrote on my Sugarness blog! I ask you, can you think of anything LESS taboo than an apple pie recipe?

The first to comment

Winning a race

On some of the more popular blogs, there is a certain pleasure to be found in being the first person to comment on a post (come on, admit you, you like it too right?) – you happen to be in the process of blog browsing when – Bazahm! (That’s the noise of a new post arriving) a new post is published by a popular blogger you follow. You know that if you read it really quickly, you might be able to be the first to comment, to secure that coveted top spot on the comment list (you might even beat Carrie if you’re REALLY quick!) – that top spot means that all who come after you will see your comment when they get to the bottom of the post. You quickly write a hilarious comment and submit, there! You’re the first, hurrah!…but wait…what’s this? Noooo!!!! You had forgotten that they are one of those bloggers who have their comment order set in reverse so that new comments always go to the top rather than stacking underneath, and slowly, slowly, your comment gets pushed further down and down…Sigh.

The search terms

Child with magnifying glass
This is another source of great amusement for us bloggers. On the stats page we get to see what search terms people entered into search engines that led them to our blog. Usually we can understand how that term led them to us, other times it’s like “What?! Well they’re going to be extremely disappointed if they think they’re going to find anything about THAT here!” Most of the search terms in my blog continue to be about fudge because as you know, I am the wise woman of fudge.

Some search terms that led to my blog in the last month…

– what happens when i put my gooey alien in the fridge
– israel xxl fat kids
– do the people in corfu look like normal people
– is a bushbaby one who clear paths on a safari
– do bears have uvulas?
– do jellyfish have uvulas?
– octopus smoking
– seagull parenting
– if I ask vanessa about my fudge will it go hard

And finally…

On a different subject, don’t forget you have until Monday to enter for the chance of winning an Amazon gift card on my last post, by playing with Lorna!

What do you have to say about blogging then huh?

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photo credits:
Blogging sign – Scott Beale via photopin cc
Funny spam – Joelstuff V4 via photopin cc
Race winning – Mitchell Media via photopin cc
Boy searching – woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

Come and Play with Lorna to Win an Amazon Gift Card!

Lorna Lee talking

Would you like to meet Lorna? Would you like to play a game called Truth or Fiction? Would you like to win a £10 (approx $16 USD) Amazon Gift card? Of course you would!

Lorna Lee has just written and published her second book, a wonderful novel called Never Turn Backwhich I LOVED. 

Never Turn Back

It is based on the life of her grandmother and is part fiction, part reality, which is what led Lorna and I to come up with this genius idea of playing Truth or Fiction. I’m SO excited to play this!

First, let’s meet the lady herself. Hello Lorna, welcome, could you please tell everyone about the game?

Hi Vanessa, thank you, yes certainly I can, but first maybe we should tell them about…

Hang on! Sorry to interrupt, but I’m too excited! I’ll just tell everyone about the game myself! Is that ok?

Er, well yes, but maybe first we should tell them about the bo…

Wait! First we should tell them about the book. I’m surprised you didn’t think of that Lorna!

Indeed, glad YOU thought of that Vanessa. Ok, here’s the book blurb:

Meri Vaarsara had a dream and something to prove. She also had incredibly bad fortune and even worse timing.

Her dream was to become a famous fashion designer in Paris, a dream born from a need to prove herself worthy of love and a happy life, something her stern Finnish mother never fostered but her seafaring father always knew was hers for the taking. So at the tender age of eighteen, Meri left the security of her family and her home for a country where she didn’t speak the language and she didn’t know a soul.

Paris in the late 1920s was not friendly to immigrants, even those with extraordinary talents. Forced to find work as a domestic, Meri forged ahead through turns of fate and misfortune as Paris braced for Hitler’s invasion. By choice, Meri becomes a single mother caring for her half-Jewish daughter throughout the occupation of France. Once the war was over, she used her feminine wiles to find her way to America, the land of milk and honey, with the hope of finally being able to work as a designer in a New York fashion house. But that too was not to be, until fate and a kind stranger stepped in to help.

Great, thanks Lorna. Now do you want to tell them about the game? Oh no wait, I’m too excited! I’ll tell them! No, you tell them…go on!

Ok, well if you’re sure. I’m going to read out eight statements about myself, and some of them will be tr…

Hush now Lorna, I need to tell them about the game!

But you sai…

Sshhh! Some of the statements will be true and some will be fiction, and all everyone has to do is guess which are which! The person who gets the most right wins, and if there’s a tie then we’ll do a random drawing from those! Anyway, go ahead with the statements Lorna, we haven’t got all day.

Whatever you say Vanessa, right…

POST UPDATE: As the deadline has passed, I’ve put the answers to the statements below in red.

1. I hate chocolate and never eat it. TRUE

2. In my spare time, I crochet afghans (the blankets, not the people). FALSE

3. I have been struck by lightning twice. TRUE

4. My biggest phobia is of worms. TRUE

Worm saying he won't hurt Lorna

5. I am so enamoured with gorgeous blonde cultural icons, that my engagement ring is a replica of Princess Diana’s ring. TRUE

6. As someone who loves and respects language, I ensure that I always use proper English in my blog posts. FALSE

7. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to have a large family. FALSE

8. I am a non-violent, Buddhist who happens to be a great shot with a pistol. TRUE

Thanks Lorna! Now, tell them that regular followers of your blog, and those who have read your memoir, may be at an advantage with some of those.

Erm, well I think you already…

Also tell them that they have until Monday, November 17, to submit their answers using this form (nobody else will be able to see what is entered and submitted using the form) -


Again Vanessa, I don’t think I need to tell them because you already tol…

Tell them that the contest is open to anyone, from anywhere in the world, and the winner will receive a £10 (or equivalent in their currency) Amazon Gift Card. Go on, tell them!

You want me to repeat what you just said?

Oh I’m so excited! Anyway, no need to tell them those things Lorna, I already did, why would you want to repeat what I’ve already said?

Good point Vanessa, good point. Sigh.

And finally, tell them where they can buy Never Turn Back from. Never mind, I’ll tell them, you’ll probably just get it wrong:

- amazon.com
- amazon.co.uk
- amazon.fr

And they can also read my review of the book on those links.

Well thank you so much for stopping by Lorna. A little bit of advice for you – in future try to be a bit more prepared, I had to cover your back a few times there, I don’t think anyone will have noticed though.

Sure Vanessa, I’ll keep that in mind, thanks for having me, and good luck with the contest everyone!

Things I Don’t Like That Happen in Restaurants

Man with sandwich board outside restaurant

1. When the server memorises your order rather than writing it down. It makes me nervous. Listen buddy, I didn’t come here to be impressed by your incredible feats of memory, I just want you to get our order right, and I’d feel much more relaxed about that if you wrote it down, ok?

2. When you finally decide what to order after having turned the waiter away an embarrassing number of times, and then it turns out they’ve now run out of that thing because you took so long, so rather than going to your second choice, you panic order something that hadn’t even made it into your final shortlist of five, something that you don’t even like, but once you’ve said the words it’s too late, you would look a fool if you said “No, wait! I don’t like that!” Far better to eat and pay for something you can’t stand.

3. When you order a load of drinks and they add it up in their head, far too quickly for my liking, and throw a random figure at you. Well ok, it’s probably not a random figure, but it may as well be for all the confidence I have in it. Again, I don’t need a demonstration of your impressive mental arithmetic skills my good man, I just want to know that you’re charging us the right amount!

Vanessa looking at drinks

Ok wait, nobody drink anything else until I’ve added this up myself…

4. When they think you’re stupid. I had a waiter in a restaurant once try to convince me that spinach turns white when you cook it. This was in response to me questioning why my spinach risotto was completely white. Seriously.

5. If you’ve gone to a restaurant with a group of people, and you deliberately only order a small bowl of soup and a glass of tap water in order to keep your costs down, and others have had lobster, filet mignon, a crate of wine each followed by aged whiskey, and then someone says “Let’s just split the bill equally, it’s much easier that way!” Yeah, much easier for you if I pay six times as much as my meal actually cost!

6. This is one for my fellow introverts – when you’ve gone to a restaurant because it’s your birthday, and despite you giving strict instructions to the people you are with NOT to tell the server it’s your birthday, they do anyway while you are momentarily distracted by a falling napkin, and next thing you know, you’re being forced to lead a balloon and pineapple dance around the restaurant wearing a penis hat and doing monkey impressions, whilst everyone sings a hilarious alternative version of Happy Birthday and throws peanuts at you.

7. When you’re with people who want to try your meal, and want you to try theirs, and they start shovelling forkfuls of their meal onto your plate and then they’re cutting bits off your meal and loading it onto their plate. No. I’ve ordered this because this is what I wanted. You ordered that because presumably that is what you wanted. If I wanted that I’d have ordered that and if you wanted this, then you should have ordered this!

8. When the meals arrive and you wish you’d ordered what the person next to you has got. But that doesn’t mean you want to start swapping some of yours for some of theirs, oh no no no, number 7 above still applies, got it?

I know at this point, you’re probably thinking “Gee that Vanessa sounds like a real joy to go out with!” so in order to redress the balance, I will finish on a positive note and tell you something that I DO like when I go out to restaurants…

– I like it when numbers 1 to 8 above don’t happen.

There, see, I AM fun to go out with after all!

Vanessa grinning

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photo credit (top photo of man with sandwich board) : pheezy via photopin cc