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Shortcutting… New Year Resolutions

2 Jan

Happy New Year! I do apologise for the lack of posts recently but I have been wifi-less for the past week or so. In any case, this brings me on to my first resolution: blog at all costs! I must stop silly little things like lack of wifi get in the way of my imparting words of wisdom to you. (All this talk of wifi actually reminds me of an article I read about some hilarious wifi network names of angry neighbours: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Wifi and Get Off My Lan were my favourites.)

Anyway, let’s return to resolutions. Before I go any further, I’d like to propose that resolution-wise, New Year does not start until the 2nd of January. Why? Well the vast majority of resolutions involve being healthy and whatnot, and this is nigh on impossible when suffering from the inevitable 1st of January hangover. One cannot be expected to go to the gym or shun carbohydrates when one is busy rolling around on the ground in pain feeling several glasses of champagne, a couple of cocktails and a shot or two rolling around within. I hereby declare that resolutions begin on the 2nd.

Right, so what resolutions to make? The aforementioned health kicks are generally a bad idea unless highly realistic, as they otherwise tend to last little more than a month or two, and just make you feel more depressed than you did before you tried going to the gym every day. I would suggest limiting yourself to one health-related resolution: mine’s going to be ‘drink 2 litres of water a day’ (incidentally not all that difficult to start on the 1st) – highly realistic, not particularly unpleasant, and not particularly time-consuming. Simples.

Next comes the personality one. My brother’s is to ‘keep being awesome’, but I realise that most of us are a little less self-confident, and New Year is a great time to try and improve ourselves. This can be anything like being more sociable or less shy or any little thing you wish you did differently. Mine’s going to be ‘care less what people think’, and if you don’t like it you can all sod off.

Okay, we’ve done body and soul, last up is the mind. The third essential resolution has to in some way expand your horizons and enrich your mind. This could be through reading more, learning a new language, or any kind of intellectual pursuit. I’ve already said I’m going to blog more, which is very mind-nourishing, but I’m also set this year on finishing writing the novel I’ve been planning since time began.

So there you go: mind, body and soul all dealt with. You will be healthier, more confident, and cleverer. And it’s all thanks to me. I’ll keep you updated on how mine are going, hope you don’t give up too soon!

Keep shortcutting,
Zoe

Shortcutting… Christmas Music

21 Dec

I know. I’ve been gone for far too long. You probably thought I was never coming back. You probably thought I’d abandoned you. I can only say I’m sorry. I’ve missed you too. I hope you’ll forgive me. I have two good reasons for taking such a long break: a) I’ve been very busy, and b) I felt that I was getting rather boring. So I thought I’d relieve you of the posts until I could give them my all again. And what better time than the Advent? So here I am, back at last, rejuvenated and ready for Christmas/ New Year! Woo hoo! Best present ever, right?

So then, onto more topical topics: Christmas cheer is in season – ho ho ho and all that jazz. Speaking of jazz, let’s start with the music. There are two types of people in the world. Those for whom Christmas music means ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, and those for whom it means ‘Santa Baby’. In fact, that pretty much outlines the two main approaches to Christmas: Jesus vs. Father Christmas. The Nativity vs. the grotto. But it doesn’t really matter, because they essentially have the same message – be good, or you’ll get coal in your stocking/ go to hell. So anyway, back to the music. Let’s start with the pop stuff. I wouldn’t go so far as to say you have to know Now That’s What I Call Christmas back to front, but there are a couple that you really need to know at least the chorus to if you want to get all Christmas-spirited. My own personal favourite is All I Want For Christmas Is You, and you can never escape that bloody Wham! one either, so you might as well get the lyrics to those two down. There are a few other big ones too, but rather than focus too hard on them I’d recommend having a bit of Bublé on in the background, which will seep pleasantly into your subconscious over the course of December. Oh and if you manage to find yourself a singing buddy, definitely whip out the words to Fairytale of New York, which is a brilliant one to really get into character for, especially if you’ve been on the mulled wine. As for carols, I am very proud of myself for knowing (most of) the harmony to Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, which sounds really awesome until someone else sings the normal part and I get all confused and can’t hear myself and start singing something rather unpleasant between the two. Hmm. On second thoughts, maybe just stick to the original. I think the funnest (is that a word?) carol has got to be Oh Come All Ye Faithful, because it has that brilliant bit where you’re all whisper-y and then you get LOUDER and LOUDER (I’m actually rather a loud person and not really capable of whispering, but Christmas is the one time when people don’t seem to mind that much). So anyway, there’s nothing better than a bit of caroling with all the family – actually, that reminds me, We Three Kings of Orient Are and Good King Wenceslas both have really good different parts, so you can do the whole Fairytale of New York-style getting into character but in a slightly more traditional way.

So yes, I think that’s quite enough homework for one night, but never fear, this is only the first in a Christmas series… (That is, if the world doesn’t end before the next one – ooh that would be a good theme for a post wouldn’t it…)

Merry Christmas and keep shortcutting,

Zoe

P.S. Here’s a little Christmas meme I made to get you in the spirit (it’s a Harry Potter reference so don’t bother if you haven’t seen it…)

Harry Potter Christmas

Shortcutting… Cocktails

21 Jul

Let’s face it: During the day, holidays are tough. There’s sand – ew, sun – phew, and other assorted hardships to contest with. So what better way to relax and forget your troubles than alcohol. Alcohol is, of course, the go-to sorrow-drowner for any self-respecting person, but holidays have their own special breed of it: the cocktail. Cocktails essentially use sweet, fruity juices and the like to disguise hardcore spirits, most frequently vodka, rum, gin, and tequila, so that before you know it, you’re on the floor, miniature umbrella resting gently on your face. Okay, I exaggerate, but they do sneak up on you, these things. Here are a couple I have tried and enjoyed:

The Mojito
Contains: White rum, lime juice, mint leaves, sugar, soda water
Feedback: The strength of this one can change it wildly but it’s pretty straightforward, with nothing fruity to distract from it. The predominant taste (except alcohol) is lime. Good if you’re not into fruit.

The Pina Colada
Contains: White rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice
Feedback: This one is somehow very summery, probably because of the pineapple, but don’t have it unless you like coconut! The great thing about it is that they have it everywhere so if unsure you can always turn to it for a reliable drink.

The Strawberry Daiquiri
Contains: White rum, lime juice, sugar, strawberry
Feedback: This one’s a particular favourite, and tends not to be too strong, which, depending on your aims, may or may not be a good thing. You can get different types of Daiquiri but I’ve only tried the strawberry version so do let me know if you have more daiquiri experience.

The Sex on the Beach
Contains: Vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, cranberry juice (or other juices)

Feedback: I remember feeling slightly awkward ordering my first one, as though it was all some big practical joke and I was actually asking for something very different from a cocktail, but never fear, it is a certified cocktail (an International Bartenders Association Official Cocktail in case you were wondering). Again, this one’s pretty fruity, which I like, but don’t drink it too fast!

The Harvey Wallbanger
Contains: Vodka, Galliano, orange juice

Feedback: Okay, not going to lie – I don’t actually like this one, but it’s a friend’s favourite so I thought I’d include it. As I can’t say much for the taste (in fairness, I think the one I tried happened to be very strong), I will just say this – it’s a very nice, bright yellow colour.

The Alabama Slammer
Contains: Vodka, amaretto, Southern Comfort, grenadine and orange juice

Feedback: This is the only one on my list which isn’t IBA certified, and as such doesn’t have an official recipe, but I had to include it because it’s just so damn good (with these ingredients anyway). You probably won’t find it in many places but the grenadine makes it really nice and sweet, and the three types of alcohol ensure a spinning head at the end. Woop!

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor…

Keep shortcutting,
Zoe

Here's a pic of my Alabama Slammer and my friend's lovely yellow Harvey Wallbanger

Here’s a pic of my Alabama Slammer and my friend’s lovely yellow Harvey Wallbanger

Shortcutting… Finding People in Train Stations

14 Jul

Just a quick word from me today, before I pass out from exhaustion, not to wake for at least twelve hours (drama queen? Me?). I thought you might like to hear my insight into the art of finding someone at a train station, as I had to practise it this afternoon. It was one of those situations where you both keep calling each other, are not quite able to hear/ understand what the other person is saying, arrange to meet at Burger King when it turns out there are two Burger Kings, etc. etc., although you’ll be relieved to hear that we found each other in the end. Here are my tips: if you haven’t met the other person before/ haven’t seen them in a while, a bit of Facebook stalking is probably a good idea to refresh your memory. (I should add that this wasn’t the case for me, in case said person reads this post and thinks I’d forgotten what they looked like.) If signal is bad/ you’re having difficulty understanding each other, texting is often better, although if you’re a super-slow texter then maybe don’t bother unless you’re really desperate. Arrange a meeting place which you’re certain is unique and unmistakeable in the station: Right = station clock/ big departures board, wrong = Burger King/ Starbucks/ long bench with a bin next to it. It is also quite handy to know from where in the station the other person is coming, although this doesn’t make it impossible for you to miss each other. And it has just occurred to me that there’s probably some sort of GPS app thing to help you out, although I haven’t looked into it yet, which can show you exactly (or each to within fifteen metres) the other person is.

Good luck with the emotional reunion!

Keep shortcutting,
Zoe

Shortcutting… Two Months!

12 Jul

Okay, I’m not going to do this every month, but the truth is I couldn’t really think of anything else to blog about today so here it is: I’ve been blogging for two months now – yeee haaaw (or however you spell that). I can now look back on my one month celebratory blog post with the condescension of an older and more mature person: ‘it’s been a whole lotta fun boring y’all with my random daily thoughts‘? Ugh. What a pretentious freak I was back then. Who would say that? I thought I was being soo funny. And ‘please keep on reading, even if I do a couple of really awful ones‘? How desperate can you get? God I was clingy. Good thing I’ve changed. I’m so much cooler and more relaxed and more effortlessly hilarious than I was back then. In fact, I don’t even feel the need to beg you to keep reading. I can just sign off, fully confident that my magnetic personality is enough to keep bringing you back.

Keep shortcutting. If you feel like it. I’m totally not bothered.

Zoe

P.S. I love you, don’t ever leave me!

Shortcutting… National Holidays

4 Jul

It’s the fourth of July today, and even an inattentive Brit like me knows what that means: American Independence Day! Yay! When I think about it, it probably isn’t, historically, a very good reason for  me to celebrate, but I like to see myself as a very international person who celebrates everyone’s holidays – I don’t discriminate y’all! On that note, I thought today I’d take a look at some other national holidays and try to make myself (and you) a little calendar of times to get down and partay about other countries’ achievements (I’m basically going to start with my own limited knowledge and then search random countries on the internet and see when their big days are, including as many independence days as I can find).

1st January – Cameroon – Independence Day

15th February – Serbia – Independence Day

17th March – Ireland – St. Patrick’s Day

25th March – Greece – Independence Day

26th March – Bangladesh – Independence Day

23rd April – England – St. George’s Day (this one’s legit for me)

5th May – The Netherlands – Independence Day

2nd June – Italy – Festa della Repubblica

6th June – Sweden – Independence Day

4th July – United States – Independence Day

9th July – Argentina – Independence Day

14th July – France – Bastille Day

19th August – Afghanistan – Independence Day

7th September – Brazil – Independence Day

3rd October – Germany – German Unity Day

12th October – Spain – Fiesta Nacional de España

26th October – Austria – Independence Day

21st November – Everywhere – My Birthday (I give you permission to partay!)

30th November – Scotland – St. Andrew’s Day

1st December – Iceland – Independence Day

Hope this random selection is enough to keep you going throughout a long year, and see you at all those Argentinian independence parties next week!

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe

Shortcutting… Memories

3 Jul

Today I took a trip down memory lane – with the help of Facebook of course – looking at photos from different occasions and getting that warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia that old memories always bring. Everything was so much better in the good old days of last summer, wasn’t it? That’s the great thing about nostalgia – it makes any time in the past seem wonderful and glorious and so much better than the now (actually that part’s not so great, it’s a bit of a downer really…). So anyway, I’ve found some sure-fire ways to keep those memories alive and taunting:

  • Photos: It’s an obvious one but I think some people still underestimate them. Some people have a problem with people who take pictures of every experience rather than just living it, but you can’t show off living it to other people in the future can you? And you know what they say: a picture paints a thousand words! (Yes, I know, another cliche – give me a break!) Because the sad and sorry truth is that if you don’t take photos, you’ll forget things (I should point out that there needs to be a healthy balance between living it and seeing it through a lens, but do keep a camera handy if possible…) One great thing about posting photos on Facebook too is that not only do you get to show off how amazing your life is to all your ‘friends’, but also the people involved can comment on the photo with all their fond memories of the time in question, so if you’ve forgotten a few hilarious or heartwarming moments there’s bound to be someone to remind you.
  • Reunions: I should stress that these are to be done in moderation!!, but having a group reunion every now and then is a great way to rekindle that kind of warm, friendly atmosphere of last summer’s trip to Greece or wherever. The risk with having reunions too frequently is that the nostalgia starts to wear off and you start remembering all the bad parts too, like how annoying it was when Jenny was always really bossy and controlling, or Joey was really rude and obnoxious. But a rare get-together is great for reminiscing and replaying every wonderful moment.
  • Lists: Okay, this is going to sound super lame, but hear me out. One on or two holidays, I and my fellow holiday-makers have, all emotional on the last day, made a list of our favourite moments of the trip. It just seemed like a nice way to end it at the time, but I looked at one today and started smiling and laughing and feeling all warm and nostalgic all over again. It’s the same idea as a picture, but you tend to get a higher memory density, so it’s higher on the nostalgia scale.

I’m sorry if you didn’t enjoy reading this: my posts just aren’t as good as they used to be… (Yes, that was a joke, fool!)

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe