Thursday, 31 January 2019

What Are You Watching This Weekend? The Drag Roast, coming 1st Feb!

You may have seen or heard of a celebrity roast - you take one celebrity, invite a group of comedians and film them 'roasting' the celebrity with witty quips, jokes at their expense and funny banter. The format is simple. And you have probably seen shows with drag queens in them, if you haven't then Google RuPaul and have fun!

Revry (a queer-owned internet TV site! So cool!) brings together drag and a roasting for 'The Drag Roast of Heklina'. Never heard of Heklina? Neither had we and to be honest it didn't make a difference! A quick summary of Heklina though:
Heklina is one of San Francisco's most well-known drag queens and has been doing drag for over 20 years. She is well known for her influence in San Francisco's LGBTQ community, whether it be through Mother, her parody shows, or her landmark venue The Oasis.

Alongside Heklina, the roast featured Alaska Thunderfuck, Jinkx Monsoon, Bob the Drag Queen, Jackie Beat, Sister Roma, Julie Brown and Peaches Christ. A couple of those names may ring a bell if you're a fan of RuPaul's Drag Race. (like we are!)

The stand outs for us were definitely Alaska and Jinkx. You could see why they made it on Drag Race, their performances made us laugh out loud and Alaska especially was funny the whole way through.

If anything, Heklina didn't really add anything for us, as she sat with an unimpressed face for most of the show. She only really laughed when Alaska and Jinkx took the mic. What was brilliant though was when the Queens were roasting one another. We would watch this episode just for the Alaska and Jinkx roasting one another!

Creator's Comments
Throughout our career, we've worked in various capacities with a range of drag queens and comedians. After the success in recent years of celebrity roasts, and in the increasingly high-stress and polictically-correct atmosphere we live in, we wanted to bring the genres of comedy and drag together to bring some levity to the world. Underneath the shade that most people associate with drag queen humor, there is a deep bond of friendship and sisterhood. With the Drag Roast series, we wanted to showcase how drag can not only entertain, but also help us face reality and deal with it, through cruel, harsh and tasteless jokes.

To watch the show click here for Revry TV on the 1st of February! What's great is that you can access it currently on a free trial! 

If you want to see a preview click here.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Baby Blogging: Maternity Leave - My Story

While pregnant with Annabelle I read quite a bit about 'what to expect on maternity leave' - and I don't mean the pay. I wanted to know how other Mum's had found it, what they had wished they had known and what I could start mentally preparing for.

Let me start by saying that here in the UK I am appreciative of the fact that we get good maternity leave benefits; that I got 6 weeks full pay and get statutory maternity pay until 9 months. I know I am super fortunate and I honestly can't get over the fact that the situation in the USA is so bad when it comes to maternity leave.

Having 9 whole months with our little girl (7 so far) has been one of the best experiences of my life. Our little moments, our morning snuggles and afternoon giggles, our silly faces and ridiculous dance routines - the lot of it- that's what I'll remember.

I also want to say that the views shared in this post are my own. I, in no way, want to assume, presume or anything else that these feelings are shared by everyone else. I just wanted to record my own thoughts and if they resonate, then great.

Before having Annabelle I dreaded maternity leave. I thought I would be stuck at home with a screaming baby, unable to do much and eagerly awaiting Laura's return each day just to have some conversation. At the start there were definitely days like that. Rather than the crying though, it was the fact that Annabelle slept so much.

After a few weeks I got into the habit of using Annabelle's sleeping time to tidy, clean and get stuff done. During particularly long naps I could even write a blog post. After figuring out how to keep Annabelle alive, this seemed a productive habit.

Then the naps got shorter. At 3 months, Annabelle was enforcing a routine - bed at 8pm, 2 or 3 night feeds, then waking up at 8/8.30am. Naps then followed every 2 - 2 1/2 hours after that. Naps were 30 - 45 minutes in length and all of a sudden my 'productive' nap times were over before they started. Bye-bye blog writing, hello racing around putting on washing, cleaning/tidying. With every wake up the to-do list seems to have grown rather than shrunk!

This to me ushered in the hardest part of my maternity leave. I wrote about the Sleep Situation here but the summary is this: at 4 months sleep regression HIT us. We all got way less sleep and we suddenly realised just how lucky we had been at the start.

The quicker naps, coupled with a baby who now needed entertaining, meant my initial feelings/worries about being bored disappeared. Bored! Now I don't get 10 minutes to myself. I relate to the memes joking that Mum's hide in the toilet.....although that's not a safe zone as Bisbee likes to join. I don't want to hide so much, I just want to check my phone.

Laura and I try our best not to be on our phones constantly around Annabelle. That's why you'll see us update our Instagram stories in one go after 8pm as Annabelle is in bed. However, despite our best efforts, the phone is still something Annabelle wants to get her hands is the TV remote (anything that's not a toy right?!) - but the phone when in the hands of Annabelle is subject to chewing and all other delights. So my 'me' time is my checking my phone time.

Give me the phone.....
The routine we have leaves no time for thinking about work or the outside world. I thought I would miss the daily chat and banter. I thought I would miss work and its challenges. I thought I would be lonely. And yet I don't really miss of it and I am far from lonely!

That's not to say I haven't missed work on occasion. On my KIT days, when I am back in the swing of things, I feel like the old me. I enjoy it and feel reassured that I can still do it. I do miss the chats but I have great friends who constantly fill my WhatsApps (although I have gone from having work as my reason for not replying to having Annabelle - sorry!). But more than anything I have Laura. I have chats and banter with Laura that make me feel just as fulfilled. She listens to my 'day' updates with just as much, if not more, interest as she did when I when I came home with work news. The added bonus is that Laura and I now get more time together and that overcomes any feelings of loneliness that come up on the days when Annabelle just won't nap or is having a hard day.

In addition, I am fortunate that our local church (less that 3 minutes walk away) has a playgroup on Tuesdays and Fridays (with no added religion) so if the weather is awful or we haven't been out much we pop down there, mainly just to watch people and for Annabelle to play with different toys. I also have a development class on Thursdays and a few of the Mum's and I have gone since our babies were tiny so it's cute to see how they recognise each other.

I actually find by the weekend I am glad to have Laura to share tasks with as time in the weeks seems so busy. I almost feel naive that I thought I would be bored. Shopping trips take triple the time, a walk with Bisbee is at least double because the preparation is more involved, hell I can't even pop to the garden without prepping. I mean when I do return to work my preparation skills will be much improved!

I know I am so lucky that my maternity leave has been nothing like I thought. I am not bored raising a baby - I am entertained, enamoured, slightly obsessed, totally in love, amused, impressed, shocked, proud and happy. I also get extra time with Bisbee and that always puts a smile on my face.

My girls
There are hard days but they are few and far between and even the bad days still have moments of pure joy.

Referring back to one of the articles I read before having Annabelle (it's here) 30% of Mums feel the opposite to me - they enjoyed maternity leave LESS than they thought. 59% feel lonely and 49% feel obliged to be positive about maternity leave, even when they don't feel it.

One thing that does resonate with me is the 'sense of self'. Becoming a new Mum challenges that anyway and I have struggled with the 'how am I meant to feel' part. Ultimately I don't feel different, I just have someone new to love. But then sat on a train heading to Bournemouth for a KIT day I am sent a picture of Annabelle, of a moment I am missing and the tears start. I'm not sad. I'm just sad that this is what being myself, my old self, involves. It involves leaving, even only for a short period. I struggle with what my new self will be, what my new sense of self will be. I know I'll figure it out but my new self will definitely have to work on the tears!

As Annabelle gets older I know that the leaving will be different, not easier, just different. She'll love nursery as she'll get to play all day with kids her age and with new toys, it'll be way more fun than Mummy and the same toys. She'll have the space to run around and learn new things. We'll have a new normal and we'll all be thriving.

Seriously such good entertainment though - right?!
But for now I'd like to stay as stay at home Mummy for just a little bit longer. I'm happy as that me.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Baby Blogging: Day In The Life!

A while ago we were asked to film a 'day in the life' video and to be honest we didn't have a clue what we would record or why anyone would watch it. Anyway on Sunday we decided to give it ago, we thought worst case it will be a great reminder for us to look back on to see Annabelle at 6 months. She is definitely growing quickly!

So if you are interested in watching it's here.

We spent a family day visiting town, enjoying Nandos, taking Bisbee on a walk and relaxing at home. It was the kind of day we really enjoy having and we are lucky to have had a few quiet weekends so far this year.

Here's an old 'Day In The Life' video we did back in 2012 when we lived in London, click here.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Smear Tests #SmearforSmear Campaign!

It's a pretty taboo subject right?! No-one really loves going for their cervical screening/ smear test/ pap smear. In fact when the letter drops saying it's time for yours your heart sinks right?! Well we feel it too.

Laura and I always try to book ours together so we have the moral support and someone to talk to as the test happens. We have both had the situation where the nurse is, err busy and so conversation is stilted at best, leaving you laying there feeling everything and mentally counting down the moments until it's over. Fun fact I always started at 100 and almost every test was over by the time I'd reached 20.

It was at our last smear test appointment that I actually found out you needed to wait 3 months after having a baby before having a test. It makes sense but when I was sat in the nurses room a whole 3 weeks after having Annabelle I was just wanting it over. It's the only time you can delay having your smear! I did stay with Laura though so she had someone to talk to.

Just like most medical things, oh and the dentist, I always spend longer dreading it than it takes and actually the up side of knowing everything is okay far outweighs the un-comfortableness.

Why am I telling you this? Well did you know Cervical Cancer Prevention week is January the 21st-27th? What better time to put out a reminder that if you haven't had your recent smear test - book it in! Just do it!

I mean smear tests prevent 75% of cervical cancers! 75%!

The crazy thing is 1 in 4 people don't have their regular smear tests. Shockingly 17.8% of LGBT women have NEVER had a smear test. Part of the reason being because they don't think they need to. Ladies we all need to. The only benefit we have over straight couples is that we spend less on contraception and can't accidentally get pregnant- it doesn't mean we don't need all the same checks!

The sad fact is cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women under 35.

A school friend of mine went through and thankfully survived cervical cancer. The saddest part of all is not the toll the cancer took on her and her family it's the lasting effects. The fact that she can no longer have children. The fact that she will always be prone to cancer. I mean it's live-changing and yet a regular smear could have prevented it.

It's stories like this that will mean Laura and I are happy to be supporting the #smearforsmear campaign this year. For details check out: Jo's Trust who are organising a nationwide campaign to promote cervical cancer prevention.

If you are UK based you may remember the name Jade Goody, do you remember her story? She was made famous after appearing on Big Brother and for a time appeared on plenty of celebrity shows. Then after having two sons at the age of 28 she died of cervical cancer! It was shocking. It still is shocking. For years the 'Jade Goody story' helped increase the number of people having smear tests but recent studies showed that numbers are declining by as much as 30% every year. And are now at a 21 year low. A number you can help reverse by sharing, talking about and encouraging ladies you know to get checked.

2 women in the UK lose their life to the disease -everyday please do you bit to reduce this.

Watch and share @joscervicalcancertrust’s #SmearForSmear film to share tips that may help women feel more in control and confident to book their test:

And on w/c 21st January join us in putting up a #smearforsmear selfie - a picture of you with smeared lipstick - and let it be a reminder to someone you know, someone who follows you or someone who sees your post that now is the time to get your smear test sorted!

If it saves just one life then it's worth it!

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Review: Slug and Lettuce - Tipsy Afternoon Tea!

Are you a fan of afternoon teas? Do you like yours with tea, prosecco or maybe a cocktail? Well however you like yours it might be worth checking out Slug and Lettuce.

If, like me, you remember Slug and Lettuce for being a stop on a night out for drink deals and a selection of shots then you might be in for a surprise - the revamp is fancy! The drink deals are still there but this time they focus heavily on cocktails and afternoon teas.

We were invited to try the Tipsy Afternoon Tea at the Wolverhampton Slug and Lettuce and thought it was a perfect chance to try out a potential Valentines treat. We were right, it was!

On arrival we were shown to a birdcage style seating area decorated with flowers. The rest of the place was decorated with floral and creating a garden theme - super girly and perfect for a date.

We opted for the Tipsy Afternoon Tea with cocktails and as it was 2-4-1 on cocktails we could enjoy two during the course of our tea. The pornstar martini and pina colada were our favs the rainbow one on offer was super sugary and we'd suggest skipping the one with glitter as it tasted like weird prosecco.

Tipsy teas are £15 per person, non-alcoholic teas are £10 per person. Details are here.

The 'tea' is the same for all menu options - a selection of sandwiches, tuna, chicken and avocado & halloumi. Scones with jam and clotted cream. Then desserts with included brownies, cookie covered profiteroles and our personal favs the merginagues (meringues put together like macaroons). 

If you don't fancy an alcoholic tipple with your tea you can have a hot drink or choose from the sober scene menu!

Or if you fancy going all out they do something awesome called the Pornstar martini tree (recommended for 6 people) but you know if it's an all day date you may have the time!

The cocktail bar itself is also worth checking out - when we walked in they had signs up for S&L and we thought for a second we may have a personalised bar, sadly not just Slug and Lettuce using their initials 'S&L' - hahaha oh well. 

They are even making 'S&L style' a thing. So if you want to end dry January in style or S&L style then checking out Slug and Lettuce should be on your to-do list!

Or hold out and make it a Valentines Day treat, it's the perfect location to get romantic and enjoy cake and cocktails.

In summary, as you would be hard pressed to find many places that do two cocktails for £15 let alone £15 for cocktails and food, it makes this a really good value Afternoon Tea.

Disclaimer: We were invited try the Tipsy Afternoon Tea free of charge, however all views, experiences and photos shared in this blog are our own. 

Monday, 14 January 2019

Baby Blogging: Annabelle is 6 months old!

Did you see our first post of the year, a vlog update on Annabelle's first six months.

For some reason Annabelle hitting 6 months has helped us take a sigh of relief. All the SIDS (safe sleeping) guidance seems to say that after 6 month babies are less likely to die of cot death or something else in their sleep and as that is the the only time we aren't watching her like a hawk it has helped us relax. Phew!

Annabelle can also sit up and support herself meaning there is a lot less responsibility on us to support her neck. Although she does have the tendency to face plant or fall back when she is concentrating too much so we're not totally out of the woods. In fact only today she face planted so badly she bruised her head, I was cms away and couldn't catch her. #badmum

Six months is also a big milestone for us as we have managed to keep a human alive for that length of time and have adapted to our new normal. We thankfully still get to sleep in (thanks Annabelle) but there are still one or two or three wake ups in the night. Mainly for food, sometimes as she has rolled on to her front and can't get comfy! #hardlife

We still haven't plucked up the courage to put Annabelle in her cot for the nights, I say courage - I'm not sure it's that. I like having her near me, it's easier for feeds. Plus if she is crying and I can't reassure her I am a ninja at de-sleep suiting her and getting her in bed with us where she sleeps soundly. We always go straight back to sleep and sleep for longer.

Annabelle is eating - well starting to. Our weaning process have involved following Ella's Kitchen guide and the 'Young Gums - Baby Food With Attitude' book by Beth Bentley. It has a general guide as well as recipes that you can make one handed. Even better the recipes are also for adults and encourage you not to make separate food. So far we have tried:

  • Mash potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Brocolli
  • Green beans
  • Egg
  • Peas
  • Suede

We are loving it more than Annabelle but she's definitely embracing it.

Six months of breast feeding. Way back when I first started I wrote this post - it was a simple but painful start. I always maintained I would continue as long as I could (well it's free) but I never thought I would be sitting here at 6 months saying I was still feeding. Thankfully it is still working for us both and so I will continue until it doesn't and she is getting all she needs from food.

And so without further a do a quick round-up of Annabelle's 'main' achievements so far:

There have been plenty of little moments along the way to and I never thought I would be the kind of Mum who spent her days posing her baby to celebrate each milestone but Annabelle seems to enjoy it - it doesn't take much to get her to smile and the ring light seems to be a source of interest and amusement.

Being her Mum is an absolute joy, the great, happy moments far outweigh the hard times and every day she'll do something new that has me amazed.

Six months really is a great age, all Laura and I want to do is make Annabelle laugh and smile. In fact it is literally what we spend the majority of our day doing. Lots of peek-a-boo, tickling, throwing around and general silliness....we haven't laughed this much, this frequently for a long time either.

So here are Annabelle's monthly pictures:

We can't wait for the next 6 months and the years to come!

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

5 LGBT Good News Stories!

Okay so who remembers the last time we posted something LGBT related?! Us either and we feel bad that it's been that long. The good news is that a lot of the drama we used to post about- gay marriage for the UK and the USA is starting to become a distant memory. In fact in our world - our small, mainly Birmingham and UK, based world things couldn't be better for us. Our life as a lesbian couple is exactly like all of our straight friends life's....except with a lot more teamwork.

But anyway this post wasn't/isn't about us. On new years eve I was looking for some good news that had happened in 2018 so we could leave the negativity of Brexit and Trump aside. What I found was a heartwarming post filled to the brim with 99 good news stories we had never heard about....I am guessing you may not have either.

If you want to read the whole post it can be found here. It is written for Future Crunch who focus on collating good news stories.

We wanted to pick out the key LGBT headlines that we found interesting. We know the rest of the world has a long way to go with improving rights and understanding of/for the community so any good news is positive.

Here are the top 5 headlines we found:
  • Costa Rica's supreme court ruled their ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional
  • India's highest court struck down a century old prohibition on homosexual sex
  • Lebanon issued a new judgement saying homosexuality is not a crime
  • Trinidad and Tobago high court ruled a law banning gay sex as unconstitutional
  • Pakistan passed a law giving transgender citizens basic rights and banning employers from discriminating
Other points we thought were really interesting:
  • In 2018, for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of the world is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty 
  • Teenage drinking across Europe declined and the UK saw the steepest decline
  • Scotland became the first country to guarantee free sanity products to all students AND
  • Scotland became the first country to teach pupils about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights in schools

Anyway the whole 99 stories will take you abut 15 minutes to read if you have time and my mind was blown! It's amazing how many good things are going on in the world, they just don't make great headlines so we miss them. Well we do.

Anyway bring on an awesome 2019 and many, many more good news stories!