Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

This is a very brief post to mark the end of 2012 - and the beginning of 2013.

It has been an interesting year for Owl and Panda. More than anything else we started this blog and that has all been extremely exciting! We look forward to many more blogposts and lots more lovely readers in 2013. (If you want to spread a little New Year Cheer you can always tweet about us, "Like" us on Facebook and follow our blog. We would love you forever and will send you cake)

There is always a little bit of pressure around New Years Eve for singletons. Owl would be lying if she said she wasn't super excited about having a guaranteed kiss at midnight in far TOO long. But remember - that's not what the New Year is about.

It's about remembering the past - the past 12 months in particular, reflecting on happy memories and learning our lessons from the harder ones. It's about having a bit of fun, or relaxing - overall having a nice night and thinking about what we want to make the coming year for us.

It's not about stressing out about hooking up, having someone to kiss, or whether we go out or not.

So whatever your plans are for tonight - have a good one! Make sure it's one filled with smiles and love whether you're partying til dawn or sitting in with a lovely drink and a movie.

Of course New Years Eve is always a chance for a good declaration of love speech too ;)

Happy New Year everyone! 

Lets make 2013 even better!


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Lessons from "The Holiday"

"The Holiday" is one of my most favourite Christmas movies. It's a recent favourite, having only seen it for the first time a few years ago, but on the first viewing it became a firm favourite. For me there is something just so real about the characters. And their situations - that desperate need to just run away from reality when everything goes to hell. 

As well as being brilliantly entertaining (Cameron Diaz singing out of tune to "The Killers" is one small example!) I think there are some major lessons we can learn from it - and quotes that we need to keep reminding ourselves of. 

The first is one of the more sad ones. It's this speech by Kate Winslet's character Iris that I think perfectly encapsulates the long and slow process of trying to get over someone...

What I'm trying to say is...
...I understand feeling as small and as insignificant... humanly possible.
How it can actually ache in places that you didn't know you had inside you.
It doesn't matter how many new haircuts you get...
...or gyms you join...
...or how many glasses of chardonnay you drink with girlfriends.
You still go to bed every night going over every detail...
...and wonder what you did wrong or how you could have misunderstood.
And how in the hell, for that brief moment... could think that you were that happy?
And sometimes you can even convince yourself...
...that he'll see the light and show up at your door.
And after all that...
...however long "all that" may be...'ll go somewhere new.
And you'll meet people who make you feel worthwhile again.
And little pieces of your soul will finally come back.
And all that fuzzy stuff...
...those years of your life that you wasted...
...that will eventually begin to fade.

How many of us have felt like that? I know for damn certain I have. (When I watched this movie last year, this scene had me in floods of tears - it was all just a tad too close to home) 

But it basically sums up the rule of all break ups - only time will heal it. Time and those people that remind you that you ARE worthwhile. 

The second one is an almost throw away line - but it has always stuck with me.

"You're supposed to be the
Leading Lady 
of your own life
for God's sake!"

Ladies if you listen to only one thing I ever say - listen to this please. You ARE the Leading Lady in your own life. You deserve the job, the friends, the man - whatever makes you happy, you can get it and you deserve it. Your happy ending and "ever after" - whatever that may mean to you - is waiting for you. And don't ever mistake yourself for the 'best friend' role and sort of disappear for half the screenplay. Be centre stage, and be the star for the entire movie. 

And finally I'd like to leave you with just one word. The best word ever heard in a movie EVER. And that word is:


I don't think I even need to explain it. It sounds like what it is. And whether you are the loud, scream about it type, or the quiet thinking type - always remember to have an air of Gumption about you. Be confident, be brave - be unforgettable. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmassy dates

I have been in SUCH a Christmassy mood this month! WAY more so than I normally do. Not sure what it is this year but I'm feeling so festive.

And this has definitely shown in the amount of festive y dates I have had with ELB this month. However we are both on super tight budgets, so a lot of these have also been frugal festive fun. (What was that writing rule about alliteration?)

So as I'm sure you are all dying to know - here is my brief rundown of what we've been up to, and how it has been just so Christmassy!

Putting up the decorations
This has always been a big Christmas thing for me. Since moving out, it's been weird to now have to create my own traditions, and not always be at home to share in the old ones. Especially when you live alone and Christmas is generally a time for company. I was over the moon when back in the beginning of November ELB said he would love to put my decorations up with me. I was literally counting down the days!

I can often be quite Monica about my decorations too. But this year it felt so refreshing to just watch him delight in my various decorations (especially the ones bought in America) and decide on places to put them.

And I dont care what any feminists say - getting a man to do the difficult bits of climbing up high and hammering in nails is WELL worth it!

Walks around London

We spend an entire day walking from Liverpool Street to Surrey Docks farm where we'd heard there was a Christmas Fayre on. But we spent a blissful amount of time walking through the city, seeing the lights, drinking mulled wine in pubs and snuggling up against the cold of the Southbank.

When we got to the farm it was the teeniest little thing ever, but eating chestnuts as we walked around and took silly photos of the animals was very pleasent and reminded me about how much we need to value the simple things in life.

Christmas movies
How have I not watched Gremlins at Christmas for goodness knows how many years? How had he not watched the Muppets Christmas Carol since he was little? We don't know but we both quickly resolved those issues!

Mulled wine/Mulled cider
If you're having to spend a lot of time indoors because of the cold or lack of funds, make sure it smells festive - and also get drunk into the bargain! Nice one to combine with Christmas movies. Check out our Mulled Wine recipe here.

Lattes and last minute shopping
We took the bus into town purely to go to Starbucks and sit and enjoy the festive drinks. Starbucks obsession much? Nah surely not... Then we wandered around picking up a couple of last minute family bits before going for a last minute Chinese. The best bit? They gave us crackers and we got to sit there wearing the crowns! (Well I think he only did because I made him...)

Winter Wonderland
I had never been before, ELB could hardly believe his ears and immediately had to take me. Even though we're both broke it's well worth going if you are in London to soak up the Christmas atmosphere. My top tips:
  • Take sandwiches and possibly take a thermos if you're really broke. Sit either in the carousel bar or by the firepit to enjou them.
  • Invest in the ferris wheel - it's the best thing there! 
  • Take loads of photos - especially by the polar bears.
  • Don't get sucked in to making him win you a teddy because all the games are fixed.
And finally for the ultimate in making any date a Christmassy date...

Wear Christmas hats! 

(Even if he does protest a little...)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Am I a Commitment-Phobe?

So, I'm dating. It's the Summer of '12. It's my second date with this guy, who happens to be the first guy I have met online. The first time we meet up he seems interesting, but when I see him walking towards me for our second date, I immediately know that I don't want to see him for a third.

But I'm a good sport, I look pretty and we were having sushi, so I continue the date. He seems cool, and I think to myself (if he is up for it) we could possibly be friends later. Towards the end of the date, we're laying on some grass, taking in the scenery and sun, and I explain to him that I often go into a "me me me" zone, and I like to have guys as friends. He gets the message, he's picking up my vibe. But what he says next throws me a bit. "Are you some kind of commitment-phobe?"

Well, I had never honestly thought about it. Immediately, all my defences are up. I want to say "nope, I just don't like YOU." But I'm not usually that evil (without provocation). However, his words have struck a nerve. Am I afraid of commitment?

I have seen this in myself, ever since I started dating. My last long-term relationship was 4 years long. And that was a long 4 years, let me tell you. I worked hard on that relationship, and I didn't leave it until I knew for certain that the end was in fact the end. I have never been afraid of committing to a relationship. So why was this coming up now?

If only I could meet him...
Thinking more deeply about it all, I can see a pattern. Since that relationship, any time I've gotten close to being anywhere near a relationship, I've freaked out. Maybe not always out loud, but I've definitely felt it. My heart quickens, my mind starts racing and I am unable to function for at least a few minutes (sometimes hours). I'm thinking "what if I want to be with other people?" "what if this person isn't the one for me?" "How can I get out of this?" "What if I actually get to meet Leonardo DiCaprio in real life?" "What if there is someone else out there who is better for me?" "What if this feeling isn't real?" "Am I forcing this?" "Do I feel love?"

I've run from most relationships for the last two years, and the 2 or 3 guys I genuinely liked have either not reciprocated or have been complete twats. So what does this mean? Am I attracted to relationships that wont work?

I know a lot of this is just panic. I think about my 4 year relationship with DW. I was never afraid of being with someone long term. But I look back at it and I wonder what type of person I would become had I stayed with him. What if I'd been in that relationship for 10 years? 20 years? The thought frightens me. I'll tell you, I would be a sad woman, someone with little esteem and even less understanding of me. I would have remained in my own shadow.

I have grown and become so much more in the last 2 years, not only recovering some of my long-lost confidence but also a sense of self that I didn't even know existed. I think my fear springs from me loosing myself again and ending up with someone who isn't quite right for me. You've seen my list (if not, check that blogpost here). I want A LOT from a guy and from a relationship, but I also understand that you cant always have every single thing you want. But what if I settle and its just not-quite-right? Am I still the girl who will settle for what she has and work tirelessly to make it work? Will I be able to see the signs of it not working, and call it quits before it goes too far?

Commitment-Phobe? Hell yeah, I'm bloody terrified! This is the rest of my life, I have to make good decisions! But I'm also scared of missing out on some great experiences with an amazing person, just because I am afraid. So I continue to date, I continue to meet new people, try new things and see what is out there. In spite of everything I have just said, I know, deep down, I'm more afraid of not experiencing the love I know I want and deserve than I am of committing to it.

"I wanna go through the tunnel to the other side!"

Friday, 14 December 2012

Single at Christmas

Christmas is one of those times of the year that seems made for couples. As soon as the temperature drops it seems couples start streaming out of the woodwork. Couples ice skating, couples sharing hot chocolate, couples holding hands in those sickening two handed mitten things.'s enough to want to make us singletons disappear under our duvets with a chocolate orange and not emerge until Spring.

But. There are many reasons why being independent and by yourself this festive season rocks! And if you don't believe us, have a look at our reasonings:

1. "Where are we going for Christmas?"
Have you ever had that awful conversation with a spouse? "Where are we spending Christmas this year?" The arguments that follow, the trade offs "Well if we spend Christmas Eve at your Mums, then Christmas Day at mine, then Boxing Day at your Grans" - then all the driving or overpriced cabs or haggling for lifts to get between all of those places. Wouldn't you rather spend three days at Mum's relaxing, getting pissed and not having to venture into the cold?

2. Think of the money you save
Owl's friend text her in excitement about the £500 gift she had just laid out on her other half. £500 is a lot to spend on one person by anyone's standards, and this friend has a big family with a lot of kids in it on a fairly modest income. That's crazy! Not to mention the stress that comes with finding that "perfect" gift. Want our advice? That's money that can be used to take yourself on a shopping spree in the January sales!

3. Eating guilt free 
Ok, so this one is kind of a given at Christmas anyway. It's Christmas after all. And we are in no way advocating unhealthy behaviour. However isn't it nicer to eat all those yummy goodies, choccies and alki-hol without worrying about being judged by your other half. Especially if you don't make it to the gym until the second week of January instead of the first.

4. Total control of the remote
DVD boxsets, BBC Specials, traditional movies, sometimes you just wanna watch what you want to watch. (Love Actually at least 3 times this month we think) And no, we don't care how awesome Die Hard's not a Christmas movie!

5. All the dating opportunities 
Christmas parties, work do's, more time out and about catching up with friends, not to mention New Years Eve! There are so many great opportunities to meet new people and arrange some fun dates to get you through January.

6. No sharingIn what should be a totally selfless time of year, you don't have to fight over the last green triangle....or give up your turn on the new Xbox game....or give your 3 year old niece her teddy bear back. Ok, we went too far. Maybe you should return the bear.

7. More time to see friends
Christmas seems to be the time everyone suddenly wants to catch up. As if the world will end on December 27th (This year its the 21st though - just a heads up) Being able to just go "Yup I'm free that day for more mulled wine" rather than checking in with the other half is extremely liberating.

8. Great excuse to volunteer
We all say it every year "I'm going to spend time helping a charity!" but lets be many of us have ever done that? If you find yourself single, but don't relish the thought of going home - do one of the best things you can ever do and be completely selfless over the holiday season. (Especially after eating all the green triangles)

Contact your local hostel, pet shelter, homeless centre, old folks home or hospice - they might all appreciate an extra pair of hands to cook, clean or entertain over the festive season. And if you're in London Crisis at Christmas are still looking for volunteers.

What about you? Do you have any other reasons to add as to why it's better to be blissfully single this time of year? Leave us a comment or send us a Tweet!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Wait for Prince Charming or Search for Mr Right?

As I begin this post, I want to say that there is nothing wrong with being single. I experience the ups and downs daily, so I'm not sugar coating the good times, nor am I ignoring the low points either. However, as the months get increasingly colder and, yet again, I do not have a snuggle-buddy (unless you count my mug of home-made mulled wine- recipe here) I have started to wonder- as women, should we be waiting for Prince Charming or searching for Mr Right?

I'm waiting.... 
As a woman who has walked both roads and come home empty handed, I wonder what the approach should be. I have a friend who is a devout Christian, and she has the belief that men choose women, that as a woman you should wait for a man to come along and make his decision to be with you. There's certainly some merit in this, as I've found through my own experiences. From what I've seen, men tend to make up their minds about things on their own accord, and trying to convince them to be in a relationship when they don't want to is like eating pasta before its boiled. If a man decides he is ready to make the choice to be with you, he will usually come knocking. That's what's happened to me. My only problem is either I didn't want that specific man, or I got tired of waiting.

Bringing me to my opposing thought- do we as women "put ourselves out there" like Charlotte from SATC, and have our eyes on the prize? That's certainly been my approach more recently, since I've put myself back on the proverbial shelf. Although I must stress, I am not as, erm, enthusiastic as I was in my late teens/early 20s, where I'd approach guys at bars and ask for their phone numbers (my youthful overconfidence gave them the wrong impression of me and what I actually wanted, if you know what I mean). Putting myself out there this time round has meant that I am open to receive. I'm on a dating website and I give my number to guys I think are cute. However, I am also looking for what I want (my list is a testament to this). What I've found now is that I put pressure on myself to find someone decent, and as the months get colder, I'm reminded of how lonely I felt this time last year, adding to my desire to find someone, and soon.

Owl would tell me to relax and wait, that someone is out there for me. But does that mean I should sit idle, waiting, or should I be out there trying to find him?

Help me out. What do you think?

Friday, 7 December 2012

Game of Thrones guys

Warning, this post does contain spoilers (from the TV series having not read past book 1 yet). If you are planning on reading or watching this series or are only part way through please please please do not read ahead! This way be spoilers! 

You have been warned....this is a series you really don't want to have spoilers for. 

Whilst reading through the Game of Thrones Facebook page, I came across this article "GoT guys and whether you should marry them" this cracked me up and thought I needed to post my two-peneth worth on some of the hotties in this season!

And ladies be warned - there are a fair few of them! 

So in reverse order here are MY fav Thones guys, and why I would choose them. 

 Robb Stark

Gorgeous. In a slightly ruggedy way compared to his half brother Jon. But this is a man with a quiet confidence, who knows what he wants and how to get it. Especially when it comes to the girl he loves. 

Plus *that* scene of passion? Yum! 

Khal Drogo

*fans self* Woo! Now here's a man for if you ever needed a steaming hot pile of testosterone! He has that classic bad boy thing going on and although the abuse of women complex he has to start off with is not his best selling point, he becomes such a romantic loving thing when he meets the right girl. A classic case of "But I can change him!" And how cute are the nicknames "Moon of my life" and "My sun and stars"? 

Jon Snow
The eyes....oh the eyes...he has a bit of a Heath Ledger in "10 Things I hate about you" vibe about him. Despite his hard exterior you can see he has a softer side. He's not had the easiest youth and tries to put a brave face on things. Really you just want to look after him although like Ygtitte I think I'd need to put him in his place quite often and show him who's really in charge! I also love his sense of humour (that shows more in the books though) AND he has an adorable Direwolf. 

Tyrion Lannister
WHAT?! I hear women of the world cry. He's your FIRST choice? Over and above all the gorgeous strapping men you listed?! (And the ones you didnt. Hello Sean Bean anyone?) And yes I know it seems an odd choice but Tyrion has the strongest strength of character. This is a man who knows himself, his an intelligent man and although not a fighter; brave enough of fight when he needs to. Not to mention he is so god damn FUNNY! 

All of these things, along with his intense vulnerability that only those he truly trusts will ever see make him a pretty awesome guy if you ask me. On top of that he also has such a huge amount of love he wants to give to the right girl. When he finds someone that truly cares about him, he will love and cherish her above all else - even when he doesn't truly believe he deserves it. (End of season 2? I wept. Wept and sobbed for him with happiness!) 

Not to mention, that although described as fairly "ugly" in the books Peter Dinklage is pretty easy on the eye if you ask me! 

Bonus Jon Snow picture. Just for funsies!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Attachment and taking risks

I get attached quite easily. It's not that I'm needy or co-dependent. I just think life's too short to not love what you love.

Of course this can be a bad thing. I made sure when I first got back into dating that I had a bit of a barrier up. There was no way I could allow myself to become attached to every guy I went on a date with or slept with - it would've been a recipe for heartache.

This is never an attractive look...
I wish I could tell you how exactly I did this. Partly it was just telling myself "I will not get attached". When asked 'Do you like him' I would always respond "Too early to tell" and distract myself with a task to try and not over think it.

However, as soon as you admit to yourself you like someone, that barrier comes down. And the vulnerability comes flooding in. Suddenly this person has the potential to affect your emotions on a deeper level. And it is SCARY!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I am a romantic. I love the feeling of being in love, I love the butterflies of excitement when you first meet someone and realise there is a connection. I do wear my heart on my sleeve a little bit in this respect and I often wonder if this is a good thing.

Take my current situation. I know I like him. A lot. We just spent 5 lovely days together. I was very happy. Although I love my independence, I operate better around other people. The more I like a person, the happier I am just being in their presence  I can quite happily have friends round and we all sit on our laptops working on projects of blogs or whatever and I will be very content. Same with a partner, I don't mind if we each have stuff to do. One of us doing housework, one of us pottering away on the computer. Or even if maybe he has something that needs doing - it gives me a chance to catch up on some reading or that girlie TV show that he hates (*cough cough* '2 Broke Girls' anyone?) I just enjoy being in that special persons company.

However I do catch myself worrying that I might be alone in this thought. I often worry about being clingy or "too" attached. Please note - I do not mean co-dependent. I know that as much as I care about someone, I strive to not allow one person to be the be all and end all of my life. I am fortunate to have a large amount of awesome people in my life and I have seen first hand in friends the danger of shutting yourself off and living in an isolated bubble with your partner. Even more so if you're actually in that bubble alone and they have no idea!

But I guess what I'm trying to say, is that this bit here in a relationship is the scariest bit for me. We're deeper than the "This is new and exciting and squeeing when I get a text and planning the perfect outfit for our next date" but not at the "We are in a committed relationship - we know where we're each at and it's comfortable". This stage of liking him, but always second guessing myself with how much he likes me, and if my actions are potentially going to scare him off. (Or if I don't my crazy family and psycho friends might!)

I'm sure I'm being silly, and this is predominantly all in my mind. As yet he has shown no signs of loosing interest and seems just as happy as I am. I hope! This is logic and evidence talking. But I can't shake this little dark thought that keeps tugging at the corner of my mind.

I guess I'm just scared. I would like to think that I don't let the past affect me too much. I start each new venture with lessons learned and a clean slate. But I guess my last break up got to me more than I realised. I was in a happy committed engagement, planning a whole life together, and it ended. Just like that. Out of nowhere - with no explanation or reason as to why. And if I want to be really honest, I'm scared of that happening again if I get too attached.

But what's the alternative? Never like someone again? Never fall in love again? No. That's not an option for Owl. I just have to face the fear.

Throw myself out of the plane with blind faith that the parachute will open.

After all....what is life for if not for taking risks?

PS. Two days after writing this post, I just found this very interesting article. That's me all over (except maybe the playing games part) It feels very reassuring to know I am not the only person who feels like this in relationships. And I agree - big big advocator of sharing your feelings and telling your partner what you need. They are not mind readers after all! 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Winter Warmer! Try our patented Mulled Wine recipe!

Okay, so its not patented. And yeah, we basically threw together some bits and bobs we'd heard from Jamie Oliver and read off the net. But we can guarentee that THIS recipe will give you a lot of laughs and keep you cozy and sweet leading up to Christmas (and possibly afterwards too!)

Owl and Panda came up with this recipe last year (2011). Both single and and nursing the wounds of broken hearts, we spent a lot of time together around Xmas, watching films in Owl's cozy living room, chatting about our lives and generally enjoying each other's company. This recipe means a lot to us, we hope you can enjoy the benefits too.

Before you continue, you should know, when it comes to cooking, Owl and Panda truly believe it is an art (unlike baking, which Panda will attest is a true science!) Therefore, no real measurements are given. Add everything to taste and don't burn it- that's all the advice we can give!

All you need is...

  • A cheapish bottle of red wine
  • A couple of sliced Lemons
  • A Sliced Orange
  • Golden caster sugar
  • Cloves
  • Star Anise
  • Cinammon Sticks
  • A large pot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Your best mate (makes it even nicer!)

A word on the wine- don't put too much thought into which one to buy. Panda tends to go for ones that don't smell like vinegar >.< ! It doesn't have to be an expensive one, we have found it doesn't really make much of a difference either way.

  1. Pour red wine into a large pot on a medium heat.
  2. Slice up your lemons and orange, add to the pot.
  3. Break the star anise up, crack the cinnamon sticks and throw them into the pot. Add some cloves.
  4. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. stir, let it settle and taste. The mixture should be warm and sweet, but add sugar until you're content.
  5. Turn heat down and allow to simmer. You're home will begin to smell like Christmas!
  6. Pour heated wine through a sieve into a jug, then pour into a mug/glass/goblet or chalice to drink out of.

If you're anything like Panda, you will enjoy drinking this out of your favourite mug (in her case, Owl's honeypot mug!). Owl prefers to drink hers out of an oversized wine glass that is more like a goblet! 

Enjoy the aroma of Christmas!

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