09 December 2008

More cupcakery!

So I attempted to make some more cupcakes last night, this time with the Christmas theme and with proper butter (not saturated fat (margarine)).

Feast your eyes on these...


I used the sprinkles I bought from ebay; hollies & berries, christmas trees, snowflakes, and some others I'd already bought.


I even put them in their own little Christmas presentation box...


There are some plain chocolate ones, with no frosting, as I screwed up the red frosting by adding far too much food colouring to get the shade I wanted. All I could get with little food colouring was pink - what?! I shall have to figure that one out as I really want red buttercream icing.

I need to make another batch (my housemate, R and I ate a few) ready for the big sleepover reunion this weekend.

And next on the list; Christmas cookies and mince pies! Wooo!

02 December 2008

Ch-ch-changes

I'm still trying to change my bloomin' blog and I'm still not bloomin' getting anywhere!

Sorry for the ugliness of my blog right now... it's 10pm and I've spent 3 hours fiddling with it already - and getting nowhere - Im gonna give up with it and try to spent my evening doing something more productive!

Here's a sexy picture of Paul McCartney for you. It has nothing to do with the fact that it came up when Googling 'changes' for a picture related to this post. No! I actually think he looks hot here.*#


*Crossed my fingers. Doesn't count.

01 December 2008

Cupcake Adventures so far!

So I'm finally here to give an account of my cupcake adventures since I decided to invest time, money and energy into my new hobby last weekend. I would love to to tell you worked perfectly first time round, but I'd be lying. The cupcakes themselves were fine and lovely...


Before...



... & After

and I had success with both lemon and chocolate cupcakes. However, it was the buttercream icing (frosting) that turned out to be the difficult part. Initially, with the lemon cupcakes, it was my own fault as I halved everything in the recipe, to make less frosting, but forgot to halv the amount of water I put in, so it was mega-runny.

Lemon cupcakes and plain buttercream icing



But I had another go with the chocolate cupcakes I made and the lemon buttercream icing turned out much better...

Chocolate cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting
I couldn't resist eating one!









Chocolate and lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream icing

However, next time I don't think I would even bother adding any water next time as I would prefer it much stiffer. I also had a go at making some Swiss meringue icing but I managed to add butter before I had even whipped the egg whites because I wasn't giving the recipe my full attention - what a fool and a waste of ingredients. Nevermind.


All that still hasn't discouraged me anyway, not by a long shot! I am now looking forward to making Christmas themed cupcakes.

I'm inspired by the lovely Christmas selection I found over at Crumbs and Dollies blog (also found on their website here).

And so I have started preparing myself for my Christmas baking extravaganza! I have a Christmas Meal Party lined up for December 14th. Each person has to bring one homemade dish and one Secret Santa gift and we have a large Christmas Dinner Buffet. Well, I chose dessert (as I love them so much) but as I can't decide what to bake, I shall make a selection;

Mince pies
Christmas cookies
Christmas cupcakes
Sherry Christmas trifle

A week before that, I'm attending a reunion for my undergraduate degree and aim to use the attendees as guinea pigs for my cooking of the first 3 baked goodies. I've already got myself some Christmas shaped cookie cutters and double sided pastry cutters for the mince pies. Each were a bargain at £1.50 and £1.71, respectively. I think I shall decorate the cookies with fondant and the food colouring I've bought.

I also used ebay to pick up some Christmas sprinkles; including snowflakes, stars, christmas trees and hollies & berries; and a large star piping nozzle for the large icing swirls.

So I am muchos enjoying my cupcake baking so far! It's really fun. Watch this space for some more cupcakery goings-on.

24 November 2008

Variety is the spice...

I definately need to spice up my life a little. It started with the choir...

And now I am going to attempt to adopt another hobby; cake making, well more specifically, cupcake making. I toyed with the idea of cake decorating i.e. large cakes but I much prefer the simpler, daintier cake variety.

Sooo... to prepare for my new hobby this weekend, I went shopping for the neccessary equipment. It wasn't a completely blind venture, as I have been subscribed to a few cake/cupcake websites and blogs now so I know the general jist but the first thing on my list was a cupcake cookery book. Waterstones, here I come! (WHSmiths are useless by the way, why don't they alphabetise their titles?!) I spent a good hour in Waterstones, completely undecided on which one I should get; there are so many good ones out there. But I settled on this one; 'Cupcakes' by Sue McMahon;

The cupcake on the front looks so yummy for start ! It comes in a quaint little A5 ringbinder style book - so the pages are easy to turn - with simple, easy-to-follow recipes, hints and tips and great cupcake designs. It also has a section for gluten-free, diary-free and low fat recipes, etc. All for only £9.99. I was very happy with my purchase and excited to get started!

Onwards and upwards in my quest for cupcake baking equipment...

I managed to puchase a piping bag with 8 different nozzles, so I can do different styles on icing topping; a wooden rolling pin and er... yeh that was as far as I got! Oh no wait, I got some flavourings and food colouring. I still have a bun-hole cake tin, cutters, paper cases and ready-to-roll icing to get and then I think I'm all set to get cupcake baking!

I think tonight is the night too...

So watch this space people, I shall share my trials and tribulations of my new found hobby; cupcake baking!

p.s. I also have an awesome present in progress for my mom's birthday on December 4th (but it has to be a little secret right now). All I can say about it is, it's a race against time to get the present finished between now and then. Fingers crossed!

Ciao.

14 November 2008

Boxed Up and the Choir

I would like to share a website I've recently discovered and found to be rather good. It's called 'Boxed Up' and, to quote the website itself, it is a place to;

" Organise your internet shopping and make it more fun with boxed up...

Discover and share things with your friends and community. "


And yup, I actually really like it. It has received Gingerella's seal of approval. Some might say I join too many websites but I say er... no I don't? OK, rubbish comeback but let us continue...

06 November 2008

No title

I haven't updated in ages and I don't really have time right now to formulate a proper update but I shall just mention a few things (where this post will seat equally between personal and academic life).

I think I'm making headway with my equipment and the calibration process but my motivation is somewhat shot again. I really must make a move and I only really have about 2 months until I need to have a draft abstract about planned experiments finished and ready for submission to SPIE. I have faith, but pray for me!

I am still feeling some slight ill effects from being ill a couple of weeks ago, my tummy is behaving very funnily. But I am OK.

Finally, There are still a few things I have in the pipeline, including;

  • my new blog design: I'm not really getting enough spare time at the moment to finish it. The design, and deciding, process seem to take so long, especially with my perfectionism affliction. But, I think I am getting into the groove and really want to finish it soon.
  • more YouTube videos: I haven't yet mentioned that I make - well, used to make - videos on YouTube known as video logs or vlogs, some of which were a teeny bit popular. I am not going to divulge my YouTube identity here just yet - and if you find it out, I shall be most impressed - but I might do eventually. Anyway, I want to make more videos and I have a few video ideas, which takes me onto the last thing...
  • Europe tour videos collage: when R, his two siblings and I went to Europe in the summer, we made a series of video diaries which I am currently converting (from .mov to .avi to please Windows Movie Maker) and plan to edit together to make a movie about the trip. I have made the title images for the movie (using Inkscape) which I want to share with you guys and hear what you think;





You can do some pretty clever stuff with Inkscape, I think it's easier to navigate and understand than Photoshop and it's free! Here ends my lovely plug for Inkscape.

OK, that will do for now and I shall hopefully be back soon.

Au revoir!

p.s. I have another new follower; Chantel of Chantels fave things, who has a lovely blog design. I am not quite sure how she found me or even why she likes my blog but it's great to have another cool follower! Muchos appreciation.

29 October 2008

Humph

Morning.

Well, I've got the hump today. It's one of those humps without real reason, well only minor reason, so I'm optimistic I can dispell my hump quickly and quietly. Rudyard Kipling had a rather interesting take on how the camel got his hump as well as how the leopard got his spots and the elephant his trunk. If you're interested, I direct you to his 'Just So Stories', a book I loved as a youngster.

Anyway, as I haven't got much to write about yet this morning, I thought reviving a post from an old and long forgotten blog (sitting rusty and broken on Xanga) would fill the gap. Buuuut after scouring the posts, I've realised I used to write some complete chuff! Hang on, what am I on about used to? =p

In conclusion, the only worthwhile contribution I found was this website that allows you to IM chat with 'god'; iGod. Some pretty funny results have been produced - like the one I've pasted below - but have a little fiddle yourself.

28 October 2008

Blog Design

I've spent a lot of time using Inkscape (the free alternative to Photoshop) to redesign my blog and what I've got so far, I don't really like;

Firstly, a 'blue shades' blog design, the inspiration for which came from The Blog of Doug Cloud.

Overall, I like it and although I am simple, this is just too simple; boring in fact!

There was also a hitch with the background and overlap so it's just white for now but it should have looked like this.

I said firstly but I haven't got any other complete designs, just bits and bobs. So back to the drawing board I suppose. I might keep the little Gingerella characature as it's quite cute. I shall post more designs when I have some.

First Follower!

Yay! I have my first follower - Rocket Fuel - incidientally a new blogger member, but I do actually already know him. Not the point; he's still a follower! :D *mini-celebration*

I am suffering today from my self-inflicted lactose ingestion. :( This one was mammoth by my proportions; a massive bowl of cereal with full fat milk (which R says could have been off), a dish of ice-cream and a chocolate bar! Almost immediately, my breathing was limited with slight chest pains then all through the night and still this morning I have stomach cramps. So I haven't left for university yet, it hurts too much at the moment. I shall probably go in for lunch time. Cue the guilt! Damn you, lactose intolerance, damn yooooou!

My blog design is coming along ('What? But, Gingerella, it looks no different here?' - Yup, that's because I'm testing it on a secret test blog.) but I am really not sure I like it. I think I will post a screen grab for you - if there's anyone out there - to tell me what you think.

OK I think that's all for now. Toodle-oo!

23 October 2008

Gingerella vs Velociraptor



After seeing this on another blog, I answered a series of questions and it has transpired that a velociraptor would kill me in...


Which isn't too long. Nevermind. Not a bad way to go really. Have a go yourself. Hopefully it's longer than mine.

20 October 2008

All Hallows Even!

Halloween is just around the corner and I really want to dress up as 1. I have never done it before (at least not as an adult!), 2. two of my female friends and I planned to do so (although both of them are now beginning to let me down) and 3. because I have an excellent idea for an outfit ...dun dun duuuuun...


08 October 2008

Arghhhh! Wednesday!


I need a panic button! It's Wednesday! Aghhhh! Middle of the week. Even later than middle of the week in terms of my Friday morning meeting and I'm not much nearer to accomplishing this weeks goal. Pull your finger out m'lady!

Checked up on the deadlines for the relevant conferences I want to present at this morning;

  1. SPIE Europe Optics & Optoelectronics, Prague, Czech Republic, April 20 - 24, 2009
    Abstract deadline: October 20, 2008
  2. CLEO/QELS 2009, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, June 2 - 4, 2009
    Abstract deadline: December 4, 2008
  3. SPIE Optics & Photonics, San Diego, California, USA, August 2 - 6, 2009
    Abstract deadline: TBC

I am 100% certain I will miss the deadline for the SPIE in Prague but am aiming full steam ahead for both CLEO/QELS and SPIE in San Diego. It would be excellent (but scary!) to present anything, anywhere, but in those places? Amazing!

So I'm gonna get back to work...

p.s. I got a duff KitKat today; more Kit than Kat, or would it be more Kat than Kit? No idea.

Toodles!

07 October 2008

University Personal Pages

I recently (re)discovered that each student and member of staff at my University has space on the server to create and edit their own 'Personal Pages' so I have been editing mine and here is the result;


Not half bad I don't think. It's heavily based on the colour scheme and style of this blog (minus the orange) and I think it looks nice although the content is leaving a lot to be desired at the moment. *Eeek!* It helped me learn a lot of html but it has also taught me that I am procrastinating far too much!! Do some bloody work.

Am off to Choir at 5pm. It will be 3 hours tonight along with the musical sight reading workshop.

I shall update again soon.

03 October 2008

Regeneration Project

My blog is currently undergoing a regeneration project i.e. I am trying to jazz it up and increase it's readability for the zero people that currently read it. Genius eh? *nods* I thought so too. Bound to pull the crowds in right?

Anyway, so far I have created seperate pages (Home, About and Contact) accessed using a tab navigation at the top. I've also added widgets for a search bar, automatic date display, twitter update status, custom RSS subscription logo and task management box from RememberTheMilk.com. Oh and I have an Admin Control widget but you can't see that, intentionally of course. *wink* Infact, most of it you can't see as it's still in the testing phase. I really want a completely new design. I may put together some design ideas and see what people like.

My biggest source of coding and tutorials has been BloggerBuster and if you're looking to do any of this kind of stuff, head over there. It's fab! I am still looking to create a tabbed navigation widget to go into the right sidebar so that I can save space and have Archives, Blogroll and Links all in one area. I tried the tutorial on BloggerBuster for that but it doesn't work yet. I shall perservere.

I tested all sorts of other widgets, visitor count and location, digital clock, tag cloud and many more but they didn't stick around long.

Once I've got it looking how I want it (and hopefully don't become fickle and want to change it to some other design) I shall post a 'proper' blog post.

24 September 2008

*Boing Boing*

Revelation: I am going to join my university's Trampolining Club (UMTC)!

And that's probably what's gonna happen! >>

I planned to do it last year and the year before but the fear that I may no longer be any good at trampolining put me off. It didn't help either that informing others of my evenings on a stretched out elastic canvas may make me look ever more un-cool in addition to the Physics PhD But that's it, I'm sucking it up and I'm joining. *Yay me*

23 September 2008

Updatus!

This week -- ignore the fact that it's only Tuesday morning -- I have triumphed and although the triumphs may seem miniscule and insignificant, Tesco had it right;


So, I now have Matlab working on my laptop and my office computer, internet in my lab (which is where I am currently updating from. It rocks!) and my Novell login now works again so that I can access my University hard drive. Much better.

18 September 2008

Derailed

I am losing my motivation again today. I have Matlab working on my laptop now though, as long as I am signed into the University's VPN software. It's brilliant that the uni now provide Matlab for free with a site license. I have installed it both on my laptop (which was glitchy at first) and my uni computer, which is still glitchy but I have discovered the solution;
setenv('MATLAB_RESERVE_LO','0');
That should stop the program from refusing to open. I shall find out tomorrow. By the way, does anyone know how I can display code on my blog, i.e. the html tags for doing so?

17 September 2008

Your local library

I forgot to mention, I finished reading 'The Forgotten Garden' last week - excellent book. So, straight away I was on the hunt for new books to read. I spent a lot of time researching which books I should purchase and what deals were available; buy one get one free/half price, 3 for 2, student discounts, charity shops and shops in small Cumbrian villages. Then, it dawned on me, *lightbulb* I am a member of the Manchester libraries.

So, I set about searching the local library catalogue to see if they stocked the recent and popular titles. They did, albeit all copies were out on loan, but they had them. I discovered I had a few 'local' libraries to choose from; Longsight, Fallowfield, Didsbury but the Central library is the largest and best looking one, no? It looks almost Roman!

 

15 September 2008

Camping

R and I came back from our camping weekend in the Lake District today. Setting out at 9am on Saturday, we didn't reach the campsite until after 6pm due to traffic in Windermere. It required us getting a bus halfway, to Ambleside (>£6), and then a taxi (£8) to the Low Wray campsite.

Once we got to our allocated pitch, we pitched our tent quickly and went in search of some food. The two closest pubs were 25 and 45 minutes walk away. The one 45mins away, The Outgate Inn in Outgate, looked like a relatively straight walk along a public footpath on the map and was the cheaper of the two. This 'footpath' consisted of bog, marsh, flatted grass tracks, streams, hidden waterflows and rocky ravines to hike up. I had good shoes but R wasn't so lucky with his fashion trainers and suffered from very sodden feet. Our torch came in very handy. Finally arriving at the pub, we were looking forward to some good pub grub. We insisted we'd get a taxi back to the campsite as we couldn't walk that route in the dark.

13 September 2008

One Year Anniversary

Today* is R and I's one year anniversary. That's pretty cool! Who would've thought? Not that I doubted but doubt R would've thought it.

We actually celebrated it during our camping trip (see above) but I thought it deserved it's own entry.

I was offered flowers and chocolates but my gift were a box of After Eight's. Yum! I didn't get him a gift :(, maybe I should have? We did go out for a meal as well which was yum!

*Entry backdated to September 13th.

09 September 2008

09.09.08, Tuesday

This is probably going to be long...

Despite me thinking I am in such a bad -- not even bad, maybe unhappy, sad, fed up? -- mood that I didn't think I had anything to say, I shall no doubt babble on for an age.

I'm beginning to wish I hadn't made this blog so public (i.e. posting it on my facebook profile as well as on my old Xanga blog that I don't use anymore) as I feel restricted about what I can say, and how honest I can be. Anything I may deem remotely acceptable for others to read, I have to fathom a way to encode it so that only very few will understand. Or maybe, I should just let it all hang loose...?

08 September 2008

Unadulterated rant




Gingerella
peeved PG Student

Student Serviced Centre (SSC)
The University of Wankchester

Dear Student Services Centre (SSC),

how difficult can it be to understand that my swipe card doesn't work because some of the magnetic strip is missing?

When I say 'I want a replacement swipe card', that is exactly what I want, a replacement. I understand that you cannot give me a swipe card valid until 2010 without me (my School) paying my fees so I am not asking for that. Nor am I asking for access to nuclear weapons, Tony Blair's secrets on the WMD's or China's state secrets. I am just asking for a piece of plastic that will grant me access to what is rightfully mine; my labs!
If it were not for the missing portions of the magnetic strip, my card would be validated until September 21st anyway so you should be able to issue me one until then, at least. There is no way I can wait until September 22nd, or later (October!), to continue my research. I refuse to.

And yes I have been granted access to those labs, for over a year now. I do not need to check that. It is the swipe card. I can see the white speck in the middle of the massive magnetic strip a mile away! You won't even let me buy a new one!

Oh and thank you for making me look like a complete imbecile by me e-mailing the PG secretary to be finally told 'We can't issue you with a new card here in the School.' That I am aware of but you, my School, pay my fees and they, the SSC, haven't received my fees. So excuse me for putting two and two together and getting FOUR! Argh!

I am coming back in to see you, SSC and am not leaving until you give me a working card.

No love at all,

Me

[\rant]


02 September 2008

Books, Baking & Breaking

I thought I'd hit you with a little alliteration this morning.

I've just started reading a new book; The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I cannot put it down and I would definately recommend it, if you like that sort of thing. I have to say it is a little of a challenge to keep up with which character is narrating and which year you are in but that's what's so fun about it. I realise this book reminds me of The Time Traveler's Wife* by Audrey Niffenegger which I read a couple of years ago now. I would also recommend it despite me personally being a little disappointed at the ending.

I had noticed The Forgotten Garden in the top 10 in both Waterstones and WHSmiths and was going to purchase it but my sister had beaten me to it, including having read it already so I took her copy. I'm probably not even a third of the way through yet and it's great, I cannot get enough. I just want to sit at home and read it all day.

This doesn't bode too well for my PhD studies especially as Super has just taken 2 weeks off to go and study frogs in the Costa Rican rainforest. There is actually an article about it on the BBC Science and Nature website; Experts poised for rare frog hunt, incase you're interested.

Some more baking would really be wonderful, I want to make some cup cakes, chocolate fudge brownies and real cheesecake from scratch. I may make that tonight but - and I come to my third 'b' word, Breaking - Prison Break season 4 starts again tonight! I cannot wait! It is even a double bill so I shall be curled up on the sofa, no doubt with my flatmate I, to watch the new season on my miniscule television for 2 hours.

I think that's all for now. I shall retreat and try very hard to motivate myself to do work. Might I suggest then, in that case, that I remove my new beloved book from my desk and actually open Matlab.

________________________________

*Well, I have just discovered, The Time Traveler's Wife is being turned into a film, starring Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls, Wedding Crashers) and Eric Bana (Troy, Hulk, The Other Boleyn Girl to name but a few). According to its IMDb article, its release date in the US is Christmas Day. Well that is one to look out for and if you get a chance, read the book first.

01 September 2008

I'm a loser!

Literally.

I have managed to lose my debit card, again! Along with my active student card, i.e. the one that permits access to my building and my lab, and £10 after a night out in 42's. I supposedly cried in the taxi on the way home (I know I was 'happy crying' in 42s whilst talking to R's best mate S, as he was saying such sweet things about R and I), but in the taxi it could have only been about losing my debit card, again. I shall have to buy a new library card which I think costs £10. Last time I didn't have to as it was stolen (I'm 99% sure it was) but this time I cannot pretend it was stolen, 1. because of my own conscience - it's a lie - and 2. because they probably have the previous theft on the system, it would just look too sus'. Anyway, I cancelled my debit card yesterday and went into the bank today to withdraw money with my passport and change my address to my Manchester address; I'm too ashamed to tell my mom I lost my debit card again. I am not normally this much of a loser, R's absent-mindedness must be rubbing off on me.

Minus that, the weekend was really good as most of R's friends came to visit (majority male), we had a barbecue and played lots of Mario Kart and other games on the Wii. Some very funny moments including R and E's shoe fight competition which we entitled "A Good Shoein'" and generated rules for. I think R won!

28 August 2008

Face Your Manga!

A little while ago, I stumbled upon a rather interesting website, FaceYourManga.com, and decided to make my own Manga avatar based on, as the name implies, my face.

<< I started off with a casual look, and decided to keep it as my Blogger avatar.

<< I then went on to jazz it up a little to resemble what I might look like on a night out.

I am confident that they are both good likeness although I have cut my hair a little now and the hair isn't quite the right shade. But what do you think?

However, the site appears to no longer work. It's a shame because, not only can I not change my outfit or hair, but I cannot see all your Manga avatars either.

26 August 2008

Carrot Cake

It's been a while since I blogged, with not much to blog about, but this seemed like the perfect reason.

Yesterday, I wanted to make Carrot Cake and a couple of years ago my sister gave me an excellent recipe that I would use everytime. When she'd dictated the recipe, the only thing I had handy was my bright orange 3rd year lab book and a black whiteboard marker. So, with the colour penetrating the squared paper, I scribbled down the ingredients and the recipe. Yet when I came to make the carrot cake yesterday I couldn't find my orange 3rd year lab book let alone a copy of the recipe. I know I'd written it out again on a piece of paper to make the cake at R's place but couldn't find that either. I'd probably left it there. So, no problem, I'll call my sister and get the recipe from her again (making it the 3rd or 4th time I'd had to do so) but she was not at home and obviously couldn't remember the entire recipe.

Again, not the end of the world. I would just have to resort to some other simple recipe which I could pull up on the internet; there were hordes of them. Unfortunately, the recipe I used was actually for small cupcake versions of carrot cake and the fact that I found myself without a grater for the carrots meant I had to completely peel 4 carrots. Peeled pieces of carrot are too big; grated carrot really is best.

So just now, sorting out my desk drawers I came across two orange lab books. Hooray! One of them is the 3rd year lab book and there, in the back of the book, the writing still visible through either side of the squared paper, is the scribbled down recipe, complete with greasy marks from when it sat on the kitchen counter during previous cooking sessions.

It is time I kept this recipe in a place I can always come and find it and, right now, this blog, is a perfect place. Plus, you guys can use the recipe below to try baking it yourself and let me know what you think!

Ingredients

  • 4.5 oz self-raising flour (125 g)
  • 4.5 oz soft (brown) sugar
  • 4.5 oz carrots; peeled and finely grated
  • 100 ml sunflower oil
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 oz desiccated coconut*
  • 1 oz walnuts chopped*
* optional

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
2. Sieve the flour, salt and cinnamon into a mixing bowl
3. Stir in the sugar
4. Add the eggs and oil to the dry ingredients and mix well
5. Stir in the carrot, coconut* andand walnuts*
6. Pour the mixture into a prepared tin (greased)
7. Cook for 20-25 minutes

I think that's a pretty simple recipe. After the cake has cooled you can add the traditional icing, which I am sure you can find a recipe for on the internet, but I personally prefer it without the icing.

So have a go and let me know how it turns out!

05 August 2008

Mediterranean Europe!

So I'm home and wow I have so much to tell you I don't know where to start! The European mini-tour was excellent, awesome in fact and the pictures just do not do it justice at all. I will very briefly summarise each country, city or section of the trip.

13 July 2008

Bon Voyage!

So it's the night before and we're pretty much packed and ready to go. The bags feel quite heavy! Especially R's as his has the tent inside whilst I have my clothes and some of his. We've not long come back from a meal with my parents (they love R! I can tell.) as they drove up to bring me my brand spanking new debit card. Woo! I had to call Barclays and tell them I was going on holiday to Europe for 3 weeks otherwise I am 100% confident they would've stopped my card. They stopped R's card after he bought a few flights, train tickets and a set of backpacks. Barclays are rubbish! Anyway, I digress.

10 July 2008

08.07.08: T & Y's wedding - a Chinese wedding

So T (groom) and Y (bride)'s wedding was my first Chinese wedding and I was actually involved which was lovely. Let me first explain a few things (as I understand them) that may help;

1. Chinese weddings consist of the Chinese traditions in the morning and then the official wedding occurs, usually in a registry office.
2. The groom is allowed to see the Bride before the lawful ceremony and this can even been in her 'white' dress
3. The Groom has several 'brothers' or hing dai's but also a best man/men like English weddings
4. The Bride has severeal 'sisters' or gee mui's but also bridesmaids like English weddings

So Y asked me to be a gee mui, as I'd been friends with T for nearly 4 years and met Y that way and we'd hit it off straight away.

Often in Chinese weddings, the bride and groom choose the colour(s) that the hing dai's and gee muis have to wear. For T and Y's wedding, the hing dais wore purple ties and the gee muis had to wear pink dresses.

The day was very long and consisted of me getting up at 6 am, getting ready, getting a cab to Y's house where the two bridesmaid and another gee mui already were. I just sat around whilst they got ready and finally the rest of the gee muis arrived although I wasn't that well acquintated with a couple of them. The first of the Chinese traditions began;

07 July 2008

05.07.08 : S & V's wedding

So Saturday was S & V's wedding and my sister is now Mrs W. Weird. It was a jam packed weekend full of cake, music, family and stress!

Day & night before
So R and I arrived into Bangor around 12.30 pm ish and S & V met us at the train station. We then went straight to the Victoria Hotel to check in and see our room. In the car park we saw L, K and their new baby boy RJ so there were introductions. V had left some little gifts in our room including candles, shower gel, flannel and hairspray with a letter that said "just incase you forgot anything." Sweet! Especially as I had actually forgotten shower gel. The room was lovely; we had a balcony with a gorgeous view! So they left and let R and I chill for a bit. We looked around the room, went up to my brother and his girlfriends; J and N's, room. They also had a lovely view and a set of extra bunk beds in their room! lol! We chatted for a while and then R and I went to get fish and chips and what gorgeous fish and chips they were. Sadly, I couldn't finish mine as I had to go with S, V and N to go pick up the 3 tier wedding cake and our friends (L) chocolate birthday cake that V had ordered. The car journey back to the hotel was a little stressful incase the cake got ruined but all arrived safe and sound!

02 July 2008

America, Austrailia, Canada or UK?

So on the news today was the news (har har) that Canada are looking for people, highly skilled workers in a range of different areas, to emmigrate to their country. More specifically it was to Alberta, Canada and for people who already have relatives there which I don't but it got me thinking about which country I'd like to emmigrate to as I have always wanted to move out of the UK, at least for a few years. I decided to look into the process a little when I got to my desk this morning and the emmigration requirements. I won't bore you with the details but my top 4 destinations for emmigration to would be;
  1. America
  2. Austrailia
  3. Canada
  4. UK

27 June 2008

It's all change

So I have quite a few things to update you on;

First year viva
I passed! This doesn't mean it was a severly uncomfortable experience which I actually thought had gone awfully bad. I was considering quitting my PhD, preparing a "I am quitting" speech for my parents and Super. I was thinking about how I could still live in Manchester with a run-of-the-mill job as my rent touches £400 and I'd have to pay council tax, or whether I should just go home and help with the slightly struggling family business. I simply thought anything had to be better than this, no I had to better at anything than this.

23 June 2008

T minus 24 hours & Naughty Nurses

So my first year viva is at 11 am tomorrow and I am dreading it maybe especially because I haven't really started any work or revision for it yet, oh dear Jen. I might not go into uni until this afternoon and kick things off at home, I can at least do the summary here and practise that a little bit.

There ain't no rest for the wicked.

I have had a rather good, or at least interesting, weekend. After planning to spend Friday evening relaxing and doing viva work, I ended up painting all 20 nails bright red in preparation for the red and white nurse's hen night on Saturday. Then R texted me and I ended up going to the club 42nd Street aka 42's. It was a good night and I didn't have a lot to drink (3 drinks) but for some reason I was very sick when we got home at about 3 am. Then the next day, I was literally a nurse all day, nursing R as he was violently sick 3 times, whilst still not feeling well myself. We are thinking there was something wrong with either the vodka or the red bull, or both.

I managed to pull myself together for the hen night dressed as a nurse. Two girls got quite drunk at the brides house and had to shortly after we got into the club Opus, one at about 11 pm-ish and the other not long after at 12 am-ish each with their chaperones in tow so we were down 4 girls. Well, we stayed there for a while, till 1 am and then drove to a karaoke bar Vina but there were too many girls for the car so I had to take the seat in the boot! There was actually more room than in the car and it allowed me to have a few micro-sleeps. Genius.

It turned out to be very fun but I am not sure whether I liked all the attention and pictures taken by complete random strangers though. That was pretty much my weekend. I shall now have to get down to some work!

20 June 2008

Gimmie the z

Or 'zee' as they pronounce it in American.

So I am just about to process some data from the QPD that now contains data from the z-signal... dun dun dun *really long time passes as Matlab loads and has to process* ...

Aaaand it's complete rubbish as I probably could have predicted. Hmm I really am at a loss what to do now and my motivation is a little shot after the emotional and family stuff going on of late. Plus, it's Friday.



17 June 2008

Another wasted day...


Or at least, so it seems. The only thing I achieved today was finding a BNC cable for detecting the z-signal with the QPD. My afternoon, after spending one and a half hours in town over lunch, was filled with, if I'm honest, looking at tents. What a complete waste.

13 June 2008

Gingerella doit apprendre le français...


So it's Friday afternoon and I am learning French. I'm not sure why I'm taking it up apart from the fact that R is learning it also, which I assume is driven by the fact that people in his family, including his father, are fluent in French. He downloaded some rather good audio CDs for learning it. At the moment, Michel Thomas keeps telling his 2 students off (particularly the American female) for guessing rather than thinking. I cringe for them.

And this is the CD cover, I feel better now I know what this man looks like. There are various resources out there to learn languages and I found stuff on the bbc website too but I much prefer the audio as it feels more interactive. I have more motivation as well because it feels competitive about who can learn it first between R and myself. I have always said I am rubbish at languages but I am beginning to change my mind as I am not doing too badly here. :) So what have I learnt so far?... (Excuse any missing accents, etc.)
  • J'regrete mais.. : I regret but...
  • Pour moi... : for me
  • Com ce, com ca : like this, like that
He will focus on a particular turn of phrase and then use it to incorporate that into sentences and it just builds. For 'It is not' or 'It's not', the phrase sounds like 'c'nest pas' but I'm not 100% on the spelling. Well, I shall keep you updated on the French progress (or progrès), possibly incorporating new words I have learnt so I remember the vocabulary. I think that's an excellent idea.

I am off home this weekend, as the fitting is 12pm tomorrow. I shall go home now, pack, and just head to the train station. I wasn't originally going to take my laptop but I think it might be a good idea now and then I can learn French! Woo!

12 June 2008

Summer '08

So R's viva went well he said although a lot of the questions from the second examiner were difficult/impossible for him to answer, and that was when he understood what was being asked. That really helps me, I am dreading having him as my second examiner now. Questions seemed to revolve around theory, the motivation behind choosing a particular technique or theory and the other methods available to perform the same measurements. Understanding the details of the theory and methods of optical trapping shouldn't be too difficult but I feel my weakness lies in what else is being done in the field, despite having attempted a detailed literature review. His viva lasted 30-40 mins so hopefully mine will be somewhere in that region. It won't be any more than an hour I should imagine and my advisor often likes to be speedy. Fingers crossed. I think my only preparation can be re-reading my report, making sure I understand everything I've included (BFPI could be particularly important there then), what the really important literature is (as I have included 65 papers!) and maybe even pre-empting some questions. This weekend and my trip home could involve a lot of that then.

Dr Roberts hasn't replied to my e-mail about how much the equipment doesn't work -- when really I should just suck it up, stop complaining and get on with things rather than writing silly blog entries -- but then he is at a conference so I shall understand and leave him be. I think I'm at a stage where the equipment works OK, maybe I could optimise it further with a twiddle here and there, but the QPD just isn't giving me what I want. It's time to sit down and look at the real optics of back focal plane interferometry, I am not too sure how it is all set up.

----

So this year should have been the year for a holiday. That is still the plan but buying the Benicassim ticket is as far as plans have gotten so far. What happens after that -- or indeed, whether he can go to benicassim -- all depends on R's visa, for which he has an interview tomorrow. If he wants further dates, he needs proof of accommodation reservations, which up until today, he hadn't any. That's been rectified and he's booked hostels in Valencia, France and Rome. I would quite like to go to these places actually. We'll have a chat later about it maybe.

The wedding is fast approaching and the sister and I have the final fitting on Saturday which I'm getting a train home for. I must remember to call the hairdressers and try and book a trim as this is possibly the last chance.

11 June 2008

First year report

So on May 30th, my first year report was due. I rushed a little at the end to get things done on time, only to discover that the deadline was relatively flexible. I bound the three copies (one each for Super and the two examiners; one of which is my advisor) and then Friday afternoon, Super and my advisor were nowhere to be found. In the end, I didn't give in my report until the Tuesday but I was glad it was finished. 

In all honesty, apart from the literature review -- which can always use improvement -- I feel I did my best. I didn't have any results apart from a section I termed 'prelimary results' i.e. absolute jack, so I didn't have very much to say on any experimental aspects of my research so far. Now my viva is getting lined up -- provisionally booked for Monday June 23rd -- and I am dreading it, big time. The only bonus will be that the boyfriend (R) and I have the same second examiner would you believe! Crazy. But that's what comes from doing a PhD. in the same department albeit different research groups. His viva is tomorrow so he will gladly fill me in on the sort of things they ask. That could be good preparation. He really has nothing to worry about though, I do. His research so far is excellent and his report looked and read great. His name was on a paper before he'd even started his PhD. and an abstract has now been submitted with him as principal author, a Nature conference no less. Oh I am so envious. I can't even get my calibrations sorted and the blame lies at my feet really. The measure of success for PhD. students is definately publications and so far, I have been rather unsuccessful. :( I will get there, if and when I pull my finger out.

So now my report is sorted, I can get back to getting my equipment to work. There is still plenty of procrastination, largely sat at my desk doing nothing productive, so my equipment doesn't work yet but... I have faith. *sigh* Who am I kidding?

Well that's my update for now.

Hello!


And so begins the first post of my new blog. I am mega excited!

Blogging isn't exactly new for me, I've had personal blogs before; one at Xanga (which I cannot fathom how to import here!) and attempted to keep one at a silly excuse for a social networking website but have since closed that account. So, a new leaf shall be turned over and from scratch I shall begin. No, I am not yoda.