A Harlequin 2012 – And how I learned nothing

We’ve reached that final day of the year, when all eyes turn skywards for all the pretty lights, or in my case, snuggled up in PJs and snack at the ready, eyes turn tv-wards, and the countdown to Twenty-Thirteen is ticking away (yayy pretty, blinding fireworks!) Sparkle, Big Ben, sparkle like Tinkerbell just threw a big pinch of fairy-dust on you! Yeah, I know what fairy dust is, don’t you judge me.

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Instead of posting a load of firework-y snap crackle and bang pictures of fireworks, I thought I’d write something about my take on 2012, and what I’ve learnt this year (which you will probably begin to see very quickly – nothing.)

First, here’s a quick recap of the more memorable stuff from this year. I won’t go on about everything because, well, you probably know about all of that already.

1. The year didn’t end. Those Mayans, what jokers. It was almost like the Rupture mania all over again from last year. What do you reckon will be the predictions for next year? Aliens are going to take over on June 26th 2013 and turn us into mini-Spocks? But don’t worry, they’ll take over America first, so we’re safe for now.

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2. The Olympics came. And seriously exceeded our expectations. My sisters and I were (extremely!) lucky enough to get tickets for the Opening Ceremony rehearsal, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which we thoroughly enjoyed (despite being exhausted because we were fasting and also being a hot day. Oh how we miss those hot days now that London weather is all grey and drizzly again.) I don’t have a favourite bit (although the fiery rings come close) but I loved all of it, the music, the celebration of London and the light displays. And the Games themselves were great fun to watch, I loved how every athlete made us proud (overpaid footballers? Pah.) Next stop, Rio!

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3. I kept my job. Although I’m not as keen on keeping it anymore. As with most other organisations, my job-place went through a restructure, which meant re-applying for your jobs and re-assessing your skills. Thankfully, I kept mine, but it gave me  a real insight into what kinds of jobs I want to do, and which direction I want to go. I’ve had a lot of support from all angles, and plenty of advice, so lately I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do, where I want to go, and most importantly, how to get there. So far, I have film script writer and chocolate taster. I’m still considering my options.

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4. A beautiful niece was born, an adorable first cousin was born, and a sister was married. Big family events this year, and ones which has really brought a lot of us closer together. Not to mention all the parties and get-togethers we’ve been having lately (translation: sitting around making fun out of each other while we eat pizza and biryani). It’s been a good year for us, and no signs of slowing down (although I have a feeling that the next person to get married will probably make everyone wear Spock ears or something).

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5. I fell in love…with cheesecake. Seriously, I can’t stop eating the stuff. I think I’ve eaten more cheesecake this year than . Americanos, you lucky, luck things. All we have is the Cheesecake Shop in Barkingside which gets trashed by emos every week when they get dumped by their emo-girlfriends. Not the greatest atmosphere to eat your Mississippi Mud Pie to.

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And then there were all the things I didn’t learn, which is probably why it’s never a good reason to make promises to yourself if you know you won’t keep them.

1. Don’t rush so much. I’ve always been an impatient person, and I like doing things fastfastfast. I remember when I first started working in my current job about three years ago, I used to literally run around the building to get things done quicker, with other colleagues asking me ‘Why do you rush around do much?’ (‘I replied ‘Cos I’m younger than you’, which may be a bit cheeky.) I can count at least three times that I walked face-first into a door this year (although the door was clear glass, in my defence), and I fell down the stairs at least twice. Good times. Although falling down the stairs was not enough of a reason to be excused from the dancing shenanigans at my sister’s mehndi two days later. Have I learned to slow down? Not out of choice, usually because the person before is so slow that I HAVE to wait.

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Bolt the Superhero. I can run nearly that fast. (Image belongs to M. Rasheed)

2. Stop eating junk and eat more fruit. I’ve cut down the junk a bit. I don’t eat fried food anymore, except once in a blue mood (and when we’re fasting, because when you’re hungry, you’re hungry. And salad just doesn’t cut it when you’re craving samosa). Still need to add on the fruit-n-veg quota to my diet cos, let’s face it, I’m just not as young and skinny as I used to be. So far, my fruit intake is those yummy Innocent smoothies and some fruit-filled sweets.

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Raaarrr. Sweet Monster scares you into eating your greens.

3. Stop spending so much. My philosophy is enjoy my money while I have some, because after I get married and have kids, I won’t have that luxury anymore (Nappies, yaayyy). My mother disagrees on that one. We’ve come to an unspoken agreement that if I put some money aside then I can spend what I have left. I’m not sure whether she’s agreed to that one, but I have anyway. For now though, I’ll enjoy those new shoes with a little skip in my step.

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4. Become fitter. I go swimming once a week. Okay, it’s meant to be once a week, but in reality, it’s once a month. And after I come back feeling extremely proud of myself, I like to ‘reward’ myself with some chocolate or three, and then I let myself relax for the rest of the week. Perhaps a bit too much. Someday I’ll get there, I’ll have a waist like Katrina Kaif and I’ll be able to touch my toes for longer than three seconds.

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I can do that too, easy. I just need an ambulance afterwards.

5. Learn how to put on eye make up properly. I remember saying this to myself last year as well. I used to look at those girls with a ton of make-up on and marvel at how they still looked  pretty good. Unfortunately, the same look on me has an instant drag-queen effect. Even when I watch the Youtube tutorials, ask for advice from those pretty women on the make-up counters about blend, blend, blend, and if I follow the pictures, mine just always comes out wrong. For a close friend’s wedding, I asked got a friend who is also a minor make-up artist to ‘do up’ my eyes extravagantly, secretly yipping in silent glee about the supermodel transformation I would get. The result I got in the mirror was a genuine, speechless shock at how I genuinely looked like a man trying to be a woman. It was a very disturbing sight. Since then, I’ve stuck to the ‘au naturale’ look which is easier and a lot less scarier.

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Lastly, are my hopes and wishes for 2013, the things I’d like to happen (I’ll come back to this at the end of 2013!):

1. I’d love to  get married. Or engaged. I feel as if I’m at the point in my life where I need to move to the next stage, and I certainly think I’m at the right age!

2. Write a book. Or begin one. Or at least label the page numbers. Find my writing mojo. So far I’m trying to start with short stories, so that I can enjoy writing and explore different writing styles.  I’ll keep you updated on that one.

3. Start painting again. Properly. I find it a lot easier to work with watercolour paints, but I love the rich colours of acrylics. Unfortunately, it’s been years since I last painted and I’ve kind of forgotten what works well and what doesn’t. I think I need to spread out newspapers on the floor again (school homework art-style and just splash about). My  problem is that I get stuck on doing the line drawings, get bored and then forget to finish the drawing. Again, one to keep you updated on.

4. Travel. Anywhere. To be fair, I do try to go to new places where I can, like around the country as well as around London, and it is not easy for me to do long-term holidays because it’s not something my family does. But I do still want to go new places, and capture beautiful places with my camera. My aim for 2013? Visit at least one exotic country!

5. Learn something new. Not knitting though, never appealed to me. Taking up a new hobby could also be a bit difficult because of time constraints, but I won’t make excuses because you have to make time for these things! Be it driving (yes I can’t drive yet), learning to cook properly (I can’t cook either, I’m really not helping myself here) or just something completely random like learning to fix cars, I think I need to push myself a bit and try something new.

Of course I have other ambitions in mind too, but they’re a bit more long-term. One thing I want to do is make sure I have at least one child born on February 29th, Not only will I have a child that’s always four times younger than everyone else’s. I’ll have saved a fortune on birthday presents too. See, I’ve thought it all out.

For now, Happy New Year everyone, I hope 2012 was as memorable a year for you as it was for me. And regardless of how you’re ringing in the New Year, I hope you have fun and aren’t making resolutions that none of us will keep. Oh, and enjoy the fireworks!

The Harlequin Tea Set xx

A View From a Bridge

Yep, I’m still on that quest for a perfect sunset (and still looking!), I really think the clouds in London are a big hindrance though – mething I need to travel outside where the air is clearer and relax on a big hill (romantic filum style) and watch the sun go down.

Meantimes, is this view from the big bridge leading to Westfield shopping centre (not taking during the mad sales, I swear), which I liked because of the silhouette outline of everything, and the fact that the blue sky blends into white and yellow. Would have preferred a bit more colour in the sky though!

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We Love Miniatures <3: Teeny Tiny Knitted Amigurumi Animals

I’ve recently discovered the Japanese art of Amigurumi, which is basically teeny tiny knitted or crocheted animals, which look adorable and very exquistely made. I found this seller on Etsy who sells some beautiful knitted animals (they’re not cheap though, at around £30 -60 per tiny knitted animal loveliness), and these are just a few of the animals I want in my imaginary dollhouse-slash-ark. Along with the mini Cookie Monster, ‘kay?

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Weekly Xmas Tv Links

It’s that wonderful time of the years again…time to watch all the scheduled Chrissmuss tv, eat chocolate from the sales and lots of noisy kids.
Here’s some links to get you in good cheer : )

The Twelve Memes of Christmas. Partridge in a pear tree? Pah, this is the updated version – tweeting y’all.

Bouncy, bouncy cats. Gotta love the crazy peoples on the internets. Don’t act like you don’t enjoy this stuff.

I swear, celebrity endorsement is just weird sometimes. For all you Ryan Gosling fangirls (yeuch), here’s something to swoon over. A Ryan Gosling colouring book. I have no words.

Preetyyyyy. I’m gonna try this out with my nephews’ cars (I don’t think they have this many, but it’s worth a shot.)

So why didn’t the world end last Friday? Here’s the reasons why.

I bloomin love Tina Fey.

Just because I like cute monkeys, and this one is wearing a coat. “Monkey screaming” indeed.

10 Ridiculously Ugly Christmas Sweaters. I don’t see what’s so bad about them, we had worse when we were kids.

Zombie attacks? More like gnome attacks. Here’s a survival guide if it ever does happen.

Enjoy the holidays all, hope you’re getting some rest, cos I sure will be (my pile o’ books are testament to this).

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The Gummy Bear Chandelier

…cos that’s something normal to have in your house. Not that I wouldn’t love to have one of these, it’s more the fear that I’d wake up one morning to find that half of it has been gummy-napped. And eaten. Artist Kevin Champeny has designed this yummylicious chandelier made of 3,000 hand-cast acrylic gummy bears, called ‘Candelier‘ for home furnishings company Jellio (you should see the other stuff this company has, it’s amazing. There’s giant gummy bear night-lights whose butts light up at night. No joke). You just have to fork out about £4k for a large-sized one, but think of all the nights you’d spend staring up at the ceiling, licking your lips over your expensive jelly bears…maybe not.

Gotta love the minds at work here, though.

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Fairy Tales & Long Tails: The Top 10 Witches

One aspect of supernatural and fairy tales which take many forms is witchcraft, and of course, the witches who practise it. And witches have always appealed to me (more than the twee vampire stuff that’s floating around these days anyway), because of idea of magic they are able to have access to, and the idea of abilities beyond human ones. Here’s a list of the top ten witches which are most recognisable in both literature and film.

1. The Grand WitchThe Witches, Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl made us shiver with his imagination when we were kids, and with a kid-murdering, bald, toe-less, evil group of witches like these, it’s no wonder why. And of them all, the Grand Witch (is majestically and wonderfully captured by that good old magician Quentin Blake) is the scariest witch, being a creepy, mad-eyed woman whose beautiful mask hides an ugly heart and a plot to turn all the smelly children into miceys. If you didn’t read this in your childhood then you won’t know what a witch is.

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2. The Three Hubble Bubble witchesMacbeth, Shakespeare
One from the classic, the ‘original’ three witches who warn Macbeth of his future as a king. Sort of like a medieval, Scottish version of the three Greek Fates, but without the single eyeball between them. Much of the witchy lines we recognise today is taken from this play (“Something wicked this way comes” for example) and while their appearance in the famous play isn’t very long, they are pivotal to the plot and give a dark tone to the idea of being King . We never find out what’s boiling and toiling in the cauldron though.

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3. Jadis, or The White WitchNarnia Chronicles, C. S. Lewis
Literally a cool one, she a white witch by colour only, but her intent is all black. Keeping the land of Narnia in permanent Winter, turning her rivals and opposers into stone, sacrificing Aslan the lion and feeding Turkish Delight to Edward, the crime list goes on (I never forgave her for the Turkish Delight, I absolutely hate that stuff. Yeuch.) While her arrogance is her undoing, her reign in Narnia is one which becomes legend in both the book itself and in Narnia.

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Vogue baby, vogue.

4. Hocus Pocus sister witchesHocus Pocus
We loved watching Hocus Pocus (still do), if only because the witches are amazingly dopey, each sillier than the last. And they’re a personal favourite in my house because all of my sisters like to describe each other as being one of the witches (apparently I’m the Sarah Jessica Parker one, probably cos she jumps around a lot with her hair flying out. I dunno.) Bette Midler is never better as the goofy, evil witch in this film, and while it’s cheeky, it’s also a hilarious combination. The classic line in my house is ‘booooookk‘. Now there’s a real book lover.

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5. SabrinaSabrina the teenaged witch
Who said all witches had to be bad? Sabrina was the witch who was just like us…and also a secret witch. And who wouldn’t want to change her clothes in the morning with just a click of fingers? Sure, there were nosey Aunts, philandering black cat familiars and the annoying love rival at school, but Sabrina managed it all in time to come home for tea and do her homework in time.

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6. Mildred, The Worst WitchJill Murphy
I remember reading this series when I was younger, about a scatty, unorganised witch with the worst luck ever, making her a terrible witch. But it was always great fun, there was something slightly Enid Blyton-ish about reading about her school adventures, her little cat Tabby and of course her teachers, such as Miss Cackle (obvious name, no?) – although she also appealed to me because of her slightly geeky, and very messy plaits.

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7. HermoineHarry Potter series, J. K. Rowling
Who can forget this witch? She’s a genius with her academics, she’s  a crazily talented witch, and she seems to prefer redheads. ‘Nuff said.

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8. Samantha, BewitchedBewitched tv series
Witches have marriages, in-law issues and parent problems too. And no one does a nose-squiggle like Samantha. I always liked the older series over the new version, if only because I kinda want my marriage to be one like Samantha’s and Darrin’s (including the random penguins you’ll find walking around in their house!)

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9. Serafina PekkalaThe Golden Compass/Northern Lights trilogy, Philip Pullman
This is one of the more interesting witches, she’s young, beautiful and fights on the side of evil. I like the protrayal of witches in the Golden Compass trilogy because of how non-conventional the witches are, they are seen as full of fire and vivacity, with Serafina Pekkala at the forefront as the witch queen. I thought Eva Green played this role quite well in the movie, especially because her style lends itself a lot to the fanstasy aspects of the novel.

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10. The Wicked Witch of the West, or ElphabaWizard of Oz, Wicked by Gregory Murphy, Orange mobile adverts
Out of all of them, this has got to be one of my favourites. And not just because of her stripy tights (I used to have a similar pair in high school. Those were not my best fashion moments). The Wicked Witch seems to encapsulate all the clichéd things about witches we grew up with – a green, pointy face, a black hat and cap, a wicked cackly laugh and evil creatures to do her bidding. One of my friends once said that I look a bit like green witch in the Orange adverts. All I can say is that if I had a team of flying monkeys at my disposal, I wouldn’t be chasing after a girl for her sparkly shoes, I’d send them to Louboutin instead. I also LOVE the re-interpretation of the Wicked Witch (and her sister, the Witch of the East) in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, showing the political struggles of animals and their hierarchy, as well as the discrimination suffered by Elphaba  the green ‘witch’ due to the colour of her skin.

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I did try to think of more witches but didn’t have a lot of luck (apart from the ‘Disney witches like Snow White’s Evil Queen, or the cannibal witch in Hansel and Greta, similar to the Baba Yaga type character in African stories), especially because I didn’t want to churn out a list of the standardised idea of what a witch should be. For example, I was going to include the evil witch Maleficent from the classic Sleeping Beauty, but she’s more of an evil fairy, and there are many versions of this story which means there will always be another type of fairy or witch.

What other witches can you think of? And would you put fairies and witches in the same category?