Thursday, 26 January 2017

Why Lesbian Loving Is The Best!

Howdy, hello and g'day! How are we? Can you believe January is almost over, how did that happen?!

Anyways I stole the title of this post from an article I read in the Metro today but I thought I would write my own version as theirs was disappointing to say the least.

It is an almost undisputed fact (not alternative fact) that Lesbian Loving is the best, if you haven't tried it I can't recommend it highly enough but then I did get lucky!

Way back when our blog used to be far more focused on all things gay and while we haven't intentionally changed the topics we write about we are lucky enough to live in a world where gay issues are a lesser part of our everyday life. We go about our married life, with our family and friends without encountering issues and we hope it will continue. At the start though the blog opened our eyes to a 'gay' world we hadn't been aware of.

In September 2012 we wrote a post on discovering the 'Real L Word' and how it opened our eyes to the gay community and how you can be gay and just a regular person (whatever that means). The post is here:

The post also brings up the book 'Sexual Fluidity' which addresses how your sexuality can shift over time. From our lives this is true in the fact that we dated men but found ultimate happiness with a woman and that brings me back to the article in the Metro.

So here's the key points that were raised that I am not so sure about:
  • A lot of the time dating women is more about friendship and community
  • Girls tend to look after one another
  • Sometimes it seems like a very small world
  • There is no such thing as a bad date
Maybe it's because I never dated - I just found Laura at work, but from speaking to friends you are only limited if you fish from one pond so to speak. With the world of online dating as it is, with social media and a ton of events, if you are willing to try new things the opportunities are far greater. We know couples who have moved cities and even continents to be with 'the one' that they met in a less traditional way.

I would like to think that girls or lesbian girls look out for one another but that is a HUGE generalisation and women are naturally bitchy, being gay doesn't change that.

As for bad dates we have shared friends experiences of a fair few bad dates. From lack of chemistry to the person not being who they said they were to the girl being dull as ditchwater the situation did not end in a friendship as the article suggested. Regardless of a gay or straight date if it's a bad date it's a bad date.

Here's the points I do agree with:
  • There is a directness to communication and lack of games
  • There is one thing all lesbians have in common, the need to share 'their story'
  • Girls like sharing food
  • You can share clothes
  • There is so much to talk about

But here is what I would add in addition:
  • Dating your best friend is the best thing ever - you can confide in them over everything and they really care about your problems / challenges
  • The intensity of the relationship - linked to the above the best way I can describe this is that feeling you have when you have had a great day with a friend but you don't want it to end. You have talked non stop, laughed, spent time doing things you thoroughly enjoy and when it comes to an end you feel bereft that it is over. It's that feeling except you don't part ways you just continue that feeling into the next day and the next and the next if you are lucky
  • You can share friends so there is no awkward it's a 'girls night' or 'i'm out with my friends', of course it's perfectly normal to have separate social lives but why spend time apart when sharing the experience is more fun
  • The sex - nuff said
  • And linked to that no surprise pregnancies or spending out on contraception - that's a saving
  • The community - the fact that you have women around you who get you. In fact it's easy to find friends because you are starting from a common ground. Some of our best friends are ladies we have met online (Twitter / Instagram) and got along with because of shared interests (not just Lesbianism :)) 
  • There are even Lesbian Tribes - just having a tribe sounds cool
  • Pride - not lesbian exclusive but who doesn't lover a rainbow coloured party
  • Shared skills - so I'm not great with hair or make up but I don't need to be as Laura is so I have my own stylist. On the other hand Laura dislikes gardening and i'm a pro. Laura cooks while I wash up. We both clean. You get the idea - in a lesbian relationship there are no roles it's just teamwork and partnership
  • We are willing to work on our relationship and be open about our challenges - linked to the non stop talking and intense friendship is the fact that all that talking means we can talk about our feelings and accept we aren't perfect. A while back we even did a Love Languages test to find out how we could understand each other better: the post is here complete with a test if you want to try. Something our straight friends have struggled to get their other halves to do
  • Watching films - I mean if a chick flick comes out there is no question we are watching it
Ah damn it my battery is dying so I will leave it there for now but you get the idea - Lesbian Loving is the best. I couldn't be happier with Laura or more grateful for the gay ladies that we have been fortunate to meet and call friends - to think if we weren't lady loving ladies we may never have met.

If I have missed anything obvious drop me a comment!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Amazon Echo - Our Review

Can you believe it's a month since Christmas?!

January has flown by and we are excited to get to Saturday and board our plane to Oz.

As a month has passed I thought it was a good time to write a review post on one of our Christmas gifts in case you have birthdays or celebrations coming up.

The main present we received the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Dot. Have you heard of them?

I'll be the first to admit that I was not convinced that this was a 'must have' gift but over the past month I may be slowly coming around to the idea of having an AI (artificial intelligence) product in our home. 

For a start I was convinced this was a gateway to spending more money, and in some ways it is. If you have the funds you can purchase lights that can be controlled by the Amazon Echo/Dot, you can purchase heating devices that can be controlled by the Amazon Echo/Dot. You can even set up the ability to purchase products at your request. The easiest way to spend ever. 

As it stands we haven't set any of those up so I can't confirm how well it works. 

What I can confirm is that the tasks it advertises work really well.....if you ask it in the right way. And a weekly email telling you how to ask the Amazon Echo/Dot for certain things helps. Plus there are tons of YouTube clips with tips.

We frequently ask Amazon Echo/Dot for the weather, the time, cooking conversions, to set an alarm or a timer and to play music. We have asked for currency conversions, maths equations, for jokes, for definitions and facts and when friends are around they spend ages asking all kinds of things. We have played rainforest sounds to relax us and asked for travel updates or news headlines.

This provides both opportunity and challenge. We have learnt things we wouldn't have necessarily bothered to Google. We have also learnt how to ask questions in different ways - a skill I'm sure will come in handy. It can be frustrating though, if you don't get the pronunciation right or ask the question in the right way then you can be there for a good 10 minutes. Entertaining after a drink, frustrating when it's a fairly simple question. 

We also like the fact you can get it to add items to a shopping list, or a to-do list - much easier than finding a scrap of paper to make a note. 

There is also room for improvement in the fact that it is very clearly an American product. It has no clue about sport unless it is American or a Premier League Football team. It way it pronounces things is not always accurate - it very clearly reads words phonetically, which doesn't always work with place names in the UK. I'm sure over time these things can be rectified though and you do get used to it.

One thing that is impressive is that the App that you install actually asks for your feedback - true testament to that fact that this product will only improve. The App also gives a transcript of everything asked so it can be pretty funny to read through after a session of asking it questions. We have even tried to pronounce things in the way it picked it up to see if that helps. 

I'm sure we have only scratched the surface of the capabilities but so far it has been fun having the addition. 

You can name the device as well - I believe you get the choice of 'Echo', 'Amazon' or 'Alexa' - we went with 'Alexa'. It is fair to say that Bisbee is still confused as to who Alexa is and I have no idea who the neighbours think we are talking to :)

We are yet to get to grips with the 'Skills' additions - there are around 3000 capabilities, including exercise classes or ordering takeaway through JustEat, a taxi from Uber. It can read you audiobooks, read your tweets, tell you what movies are on near by - it appears endless. 

Here's some commands to try if you do have one:

The main question we get asked is what the difference is between the Dot and the Echo (other than the size). We haven't actually found many differences, in fact the main difference is the quality of the speaker is significantly better on the Echo. 

Both are super easy to set up, both have to remain plugged into mains (which I'm not personally a fan of), both have good voice recognition- although on that note both will react to you whenever they think you have said the 'Alexa' command and start asking you how it can help or that it didn't understand the question - which freaked us out a bit initially. 

The other thing is to remember in the real world there is no Alexa / Amazon Echo/Dot and that a 'please and thank you' after a request goes a long way. Alexa doesn't require it but if you do thank the device will respond. It also responds if you say good morning and good night to it. Strange but weirdly comforting. 

One thing we have managed to avoid is a fail like this:

So far we know at least 2 people who have got an EchoDot since playing with ours - are you tempted? Do you have one? What are your thoughts?

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Being gay is so offensive!

Time for a quick rant. 

I was reading an article today on the Daily Mail (sorry) and ever since have been slightly seething. The article was about how advertising standards watchdogs allowed 'offensive' adverts to be aired in the UK last year.

There were a few where there may have been a point - I mean kicking a cat is not acceptable in any world. Here's the article for you to make you're own mind up:

The reason I am mad though is because's advert for 'someone will love your imperfections' was the third most complained about because of this:

That's right two women kissing is the third most offensive thing on TV! I mean really!

And despite the tag line showing in the picture above potentially showing lesbianism as an imperfection the advert was actually normalising gay relationships and we loved it.

Here's the ad in case you missed it:

More over we need more of this type of advertising to silence those complainers. While Gay Pride parades in the UK have become somewhat of a advertising stage for major employers including Nando's, Sainsburys, Tesco, Marks and Spencers', British Airways and tons of others it has always been a positive for us. We want the visibility, we need the visibility and we need to continue to fight for it as long as any advert showing 'gay' is featured on a list of 'inappropriate/ offensive advertising.

May 2017 see more of these:
Sainsburys Christmas advert 2016

Not because I want to replace 'traditional' families but because the world is changing and if it isn't reflected in advertising then anyone outside of that 'traditional family' is discounted.

We know how key visibility is to those struggling, to those who feel isolated in within their own families and to those who think it's just them. If this blog has taught us anything it is that there are so many reasons to embrace being gay but to publicly show that love is love regardless of gender.

Visibility has always been a key thing for us, remember the post we did on whether Lesbian Tribes exist or more to the point are visible? Or when we were doing 'What's Happening hot Stuff' that always included the latest 'gay visibility news'

I hope in reading next years article things have moved on....please - especially with Trumps impending presidency - can we make acceptance the theme for 2017?!

Let us come together and dance in the light rather like those who gathered to dance outside mike Pence's house last night:
For we know that;

Stay strong, stay visible and know that you are never offensive if you are showing love. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Thank you Obama!

Okay it's getting horribly real now and I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. How did this happen so fast? The Obama's are leaving the White House and I am just not ready to accept it.

Am I the only one who can't watch the farewell speech without wiping away tears?!

President Obama and First Lady Michelle have been a key part of my adult life and saying goodbye is totes emosh. I mean for me they went above and beyond turning the American Presidency into something I was interested in. That I cared about. They made politics real to me. They made me take notice and i'm not even American.
Love this!

Throughout the five and a half years that we have been writing this blog Obama has been President and involved in some major decisions that have had an impact on our lives. Search 'Obama' in the search bar and there are over 47 mentions of him in our posts (type Cameron or any other Prime Minister in and the results are less than 5).

When we were doing our 'What's Happening Hot Stuff' rounds ups we frequently reported on the up's and downs of USA politics and the impact decisions were having on us personally. Would Obama come out in support of gay marriage? Would gay marriage be allowed? Would our marriage be legal? Fast forward a couple of years and those questions seem like distant memories. Thankfully. And even though our marriage wasn't legal at the time (because some charmer called Butch Otter put up £1 million dollars to stop gay marriage in Idaho in the month we got married) so many people we know have been able to marry legally. Thanks Obama.

We also consoled ourselves with the letter he and Michelle very kindly wrote us a congratulations letter on the occasion.

And that wasn't the first time he wrote to us. The first letter is here.

Obama's support of gay marriage promoted us to write an entire What We Love Wednesday post dedicated to him. Do you remember his first statements on how he felt? Here's one:
According to ABC News, Mr Obama said: ”I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.

Can you imagine a similar thing coming out of the mouth of the current President Elect?

Oh and the joy and relief when Obama got his 2nd term - do you remember that election? We stayed up to 4.30am and unlike like the recent election I stayed up from excitement instead of fear. Not only was Obama back where he belonged but the highest number of women were voted into senate, an openly gay senator was elected and pot was legalised in two states.

We aren't just fans of Barack Obama though, we have and continue to love Michelle. Her first feature on the blog was in our Powerful Women we admire post and then she got her own follow up 'What We Love Wednesday' post about how awesome she is. Since writing that post our respect for her has increased ten-fold (her last Democratic Convention Speech - amazing). In face we are pro her running for President in 4 years. Her articulate, poignant, meaningful speeches are inspirational. Not just in what is said but in delivery. Michelle has poise like no other and while Beyonce may be Queen-B i'd take Michelle Obama as President any day.

Here's a highlight reel that Sky released that made me smile:

What will we do without them?! I guess it was going to be a pretty tough act to follow whoever took over it's just made worse by the fact that the worst (2nd worst? Is Pence worse?!) person is now president. What a legacy though, in two terms, and against the odds, Obama:

He'll certainly take some beating as the best president we have in our lifetime. 

Deep sigh.....let the cheeto presidency begin.....sob.....weep.....sniffle.....wipe away tears. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

New Year, New Us....we yoga now!

Isn't that how all January posts start?! Oh it's January we must start the diet, commit to our new years resolutions, become a whole new person. Or in our case whole new people. Well i'm anti it all, kinda. I'm not against people who are gung-ho come the 1st and are able to stick to changing but at the grand old age of 33 I know myself well enough to know that it doesn't work for me.

Take dieting, after a Christmas binge if I was to suddenly starve myself the new me would be a seriously hungry and grumpy person. I can just about get my brain into gear getting up in the dark, if I had to get through the morning on nothing more than fruit my output would not be worthy of employment.

A few of my diet thoughts in the past have included:

Of course we could do Veganuary but realistically it's too much of a step change to be something we stick to this early in the year. Although if you are interested in the benefits check out and here's why we tried veganism last year.  We have decided to try to re-introduce vegan meals though as they do seem to be healthier - even if dinner just becomes a ton of veg. But don't try and tell me courgetti is just as filling as spaghetti - it may taste the same but one leaves me satisfies and the other leaves me hungry.

Our January plan is simple, eat less, move more. 

As we aren't doing anything revolutionary we aren't expecting revolutionary results but we have to start somewhere and this is a plan we can both stick to.

In terms of the move more well leaving the house is already achieving that - I kid, I mean we did manage a dog walk almost daily over Christmas so we moved. Plus cooking two Christmas dinners really worked up a sweat.

On a serious note though we are building more moving into our days. We signed up to a 30 day yoga trial where we paid a one of £30 fee and can go as many times as we want in 30 days. It has been enlightening....and not in a spiritual sense! I had NO idea what to expect and other than downward dog I hadn't heard too much about what was involved. On turning up at I took a deep breath and got ready to om.......

The first session was eye opening so I thought I would share my thoughts in a quick list of what I wished i'd known:

  1. You don't actually have to flexible to go to Yoga the classes focus more of stretching and lengthening you rather than twisting and contorting you - that's for later
  2. You do sweat - depending on the level of natural fitness will depend on the level of sweat
  3. It will seem like everyone will turn up with a Yoga mat and seem to know all the poses but actually that doesn't matter at all and it's useful to have more people than the instructor to watch 
  4. There will be people pulling out poses / stretches while you wait for the class.....don't worry just find a mat and relax, the instructor gets everyone doing the same thing
  5. If you don't want to be touched you don't have to be! This was a point of concern that the instructor might try to bend me in a way I can't naturally go but they actually help adjust your poses or help you stretch in the right way 
  6. Take water
  7. You may fall asleep during the corpse pose and that's okay - 3 classes in and I've heard at least 2 snores
  8. The stretches may make you far I have survived but they did acknowledge that should air escape just continue the pose and everyone will move on
  9. Even as a non spiritual person I can see the mind and body benefits - I come out of class feeling straighter (physically) and more at peace (unfortunately after the first class I found the car had been hit so my namaste when to namasnae)
  10. It is for everyone. Sure the instructors are super skinny, muscle god and goddesses but there are all ages and sizes in our classes and there are straps to help you reach your toes and blocks to help you reach the ground. Plus there is always baby pose to save you
  11. Oh the names - baby pose, warrior, happy baby, downward dog, cat, cow, plank and a whole lot more and we are only 3 sessions in, you don't have to know them but it helps to not laugh when you a room of grown adults on their backs legs in the air holding on to their toes in the happy baby pose!

Here's a video from our studio:

When we aren't yoga-ing, which is at least half the week as 1) there is no way we can do back to back classes - we tried and the second one almost had us weeping and 2) life is busy - we are doing work out videos at home and I still have netball in the schedule. And we still have to walk Bisbee.

At this point I have no idea how long we can stick to our current regime but with swimsuits to get into for Sydney in less that 4 weeks we have a reason to get fit and hopefully lose a few pounds. It'll be worth it to not be super sweaty when enjoying our trip down memory lane. We may even recreate a few of these gems!

BBQ breakfasts, days at the beach or in the city - ah why did we move back?!

We have also managed to pass on most of our edible Christmas gifts and had a final farewell to the remainders last weekend at a mini-Friendsgiving celebration we had with friends who had missed Thanksmas due to a wedding. We barely ate anything all day in order to enjoy a gammon (cooked in a slow cooker with coca-cola - divine) and a ton of veggies.

A few of my co-workers tried to off load their final treats at our team meeting today and I was proud I could resist, although it did lead to a 45 minute discussion on everyone's keep fit plans which almost had me diving for the chocolates :)

In case i'm missing something I think the only thing every dietitian or fitness guru can agree on is eat more of the good stuff, less of the bad and move more. If I am missing something though please feel free to let me know - i'm always up for a quick win!

Happy January - good luck if you are trying a new regime!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

January Blues and Santorini dreaming

January is in full swing and after battling through two very long days at work I am finally getting back into the swing of things. Is it me or are those first days back just the worst?!

I was welcomed back to work by this and I think it sums up the last couple of weeks.....

We already completed out getaway plans as Laura's Pop turns 90 in February so we are jetting off to Oz to celebrate with him. On the first day back my first action was to book a holiday. Not bad at all. The only thing is by April I am sure i'll be struggling with only 2 weeks annual leave to get me through the rest of the year. 

Oz will be awesome though. It's been 6 years since we were last there and we can't wait to check out all our old haunts from living there. We will be in Sydney for a week then up to the Central coast for family time. It'll be a flying visit but hopefully a sun-kissed one.

To deal with the January blues I have mainly been watching and re-watching the wonderful video Laura put together of our trip to Santorini. You can check it out here: Santorini two year Anniversary Trip. We have also been loving This Is Us and The Crown.

It's the trip we also recorded a two year Q&A video, check it out here.

We aren't majorly into vlogging but these videos are great reminders of an amazing trip and such a happy time. These are just a few of the photos from the trip and if you do plan on making a trip our recommendations on where to stay can be found: here

We hope you January is starting well for you.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 in review!

Happy New Year to you. 2016 is over bring on 2017. 

What a shame that 2017 started with such an awful shooting in Turkey. I guess we'd be naive to think new year, new world.

For us 2016 was a pretty good year. While there were no major milestone events for us personally we managed to tick off a few bucket list items with our travels.

So here's a quick review of our 2016, thanks for joining our journey.....

January got of to a bright start with a visit to London to check out Lumiere light festival. It was a free event that involved light installations around key parts of London. To check out the full post click here. The event was a one off with no plans to bring it back but a smaller local event in Birmingham meant we saw lights at the end of year too at Magic Lantern Festival.

Laura managed to add a few new recipes to her repertoire, partly helped by our foray in to Veganism and Vegetarianism. While we understand the benefits of both diets - health and socially responsibility wise - we have agreed that it's not for us 100% of the time. Life is for living after all and we might as well enjoy it. For 2017 we plan to go vegan and/or vegetarian for a few months and we hope to start yoga shortly. 

We passed our seven year anniversary of getting together in March, it was a good chance to reflect on the 7 years and for Laura to list her favourite 7 things about me :) The post is here
With the weather improving in April we started to venture out and that included a trip to Wollaton Hall - a sight any Batman fans will recognise as Wayne Manor. It had beautiful grounds with wild deer and a great museum. 

We also saw Adele in Birmingham and her performance was amazing! We were lucky with the seats we got but to be honest wherever you were in the venue you were treated to a wonderful evening or great music by a superb artist. 

May was a busy month from a blogger perspective, we joined Brum Bloggers and attended a host of local events which helped us get to know the area we live in. As you may know by now we LOVE where we live and moving here has proved to be a great decision, the blogging group just helped solidify that. From the Stable restaurant that sources and produces locally flavoured pizzas to the Digbeth Dining Club that brings together local food vans you will never go hungry here. The choice of bars is also impressive - we have more cocktail bars than we realised, including the Alchemist that produces science experiments that just happen to taste delicious. The Island Bar that does a huge range of delicious cocktails and a host of others. 

 A quick glance yesterday showed our social media stats as:
On the blog: 320,500 views
Instagram: 1,607 followers
Twitter: 1,500 followers
Youtube: 687 subscribers + 210,000 video views
Facebook: 337 likes 
A fair improvement on May's stats. 

As summer approached we headed to Paris to celebrate Laura's Mum's 60th birthday. We stayed in a gorgeous French apartment in the Sacré-Cœur area allowing us easy access to plenty of tourist attractions and the week was filled with discovery new parts of Paris and revisiting previous highlights. 

June also saw the Orlando night club shooting, an event that made the Pride celebrations of 2016 even more poignant. It is easy to forget those that are still victimised for who they love when there seems to have been progress made in so other ways. 

Our 2nd year wedding anniversary happened on the 28th of June. We celebrated in Santorini. It is still one of our most talked about 2016 highlights. The location was beautiful, the weather glorious and the chance to relax together with a whole 7 days to ourselves was bliss. We haven't posted much on the blog about it but our Instagram was filled with pictures. We did a post on where we would recommend staying if you plan to head that way, check it out here

Over Summer we explored more of Birmingham and discovered a pub near to us that does mini-brewery tours. we fell under the spell of Pokemon Go and we started wrapping our activities up in Smith catch-up's.

Smith catch up 1: Santorini, Laura's parents visit, a whole lot of travel planning including Euro Disney and Niagara Falls!
Smith catch up 2: Erm we seemed to have missed this one - sorry
Smith catch up 3: Windsor Races, Reading Football Club celebration for my Dad's 60th, VFestival
Smith catch up 4: Manchester Pride and hunting (wildish) elephants in Sheffield
Smith catch up 5: A year of netball and a weekend in Barcelona 

In October we headed to the USA via Canada and visited Niagara Falls (Canada side) with two of the best tour guides we could have asked for. We had known Victoria and Emily over social media for a number of years and they welcomed us to Toronto and made the two days we spent there really memorable. Then on to Boise for a wedding and back again just under a week later. 

Having only used a weeks holiday for our stateside trip we had annual leave available to enjoy a quick trip to Euro Disney with our friends Sara and Sam. We timed it so the Christmas decorations were up and it was a perfect pre-Christmas festive break. I'm yet to post about this on the blog but it was a definite highlight!

As America went mad and voted in an orange buffoon to be their next president- as if England voting to leave the EU wasn't bad enough - we continued to try and focus on the positives. While the deaths of house hold names left us upset, the appearance of Christmas lights filled us with the joy of the season. December was jam packed and full of fun, family and amazing memories. 

We ended 2016 surrounded by friends in Sheffield at a dinner party with a 2016 theme. Canapes were themed on people who left us - Manuel Mexican bites, Slytherin Sliders, Vision of Europe bites, Carrie Fisher buns and Trump tasters - all were so good. It was followed by starters of runner bean samosa's in tribute to Mo Farah's OBE, then a Brexit Fry feast complete with steak. We made dessert a death by chocolate cake. The night was topped and tailed with champagne and cocktails and included plenty of games and laughter.

We wish you a very happy new year!