29 January 2010

Friday feeling

I really should not go out galavanting and partying on school nights; it results in either a hangover or being too tired to get up early, or both! And mid-week hangovers are baaaad, m'kay?

But last night, I made an exception as it was my housemates last night in Manchester before she's off to cold Canada for 2 months to do her elective for her medicine degree. Luckily, I knew when to stop with the drinks and after a Raspberry beer (they didn't have Mango!) and an exotic fruit cocktail (it actually had a wedge of watermelon sticking out!) in a beer jug, I called it a night drink-wise. It was one of those very last minute events and I was already yawning before we left the house but I managed to stay on my feet until nearly 3am, finally tucking myself in at a late (or early) 3.30am!
I love my sleep. I find it so hard to get out of bed without 8 hours of the stuff. So, today, I thought I'd let myself sleep in. Bad. Bad. Bad. I didn't sit at my desk until after 11am! Tut. I managed a little bit of work before lunch rolled round, during which time, I stuffed my face; I was famished. Now I'm finding it reeeeeally difficult not to fall asleep. And it's Friday. This is not helping me keep those Friday feelings at bay. Tired and sleepy after a big lunch is prime time for those bad boys.

A nap would actually be so nice right now.

This weekend, there are a couple of birthdays; Friday and Saturday nights out are on the cards. I can't handle this stuff anymore! I say that, but once I have a little lie down (yes, yes, I'm an old woman!), I might be ready for anything. OK, not anything but you get the idea.

Well, Happy Friday everyone! What do you have planned this weekend?

If you remember that advert, you'll get the picture reference. Mmm! I wouldn't mind a crunchie right about now! 

26 January 2010

Twenty-Five

The lovely Sonshu has tagged me to complete a list of 25 things, facts, habits or goals about little, old me.
  1. Physics is the love of my life!
  2. I used to be a girl guide when I was a teenager and now volunteer as a leader at a local girl guide unit
  3. Cross-stitching and sewing is one of my hobbies. Even though it's uncool
  4. I still don't know how to drive *blush*
  5. My party trick as a youngster was fitting my big toe in my mouth without assistance
  6. Despite my 7 years at university, my ultimate goals in life don't concern my career but revolve around having children and becoming a wonderful housewife to a husband I cannot live without
  7. In the last 3 years, my normal day consists of playing with "lasers" (no, not humping them)
  8. Whilst some might say I'm cursed, I love what makes me, me; red hair, freckles, glasses, a Brummie accent, Physics (to PhD level!), hayfever, lactose intolerance and circulation problems ;)
  9. I hadn't travelled to my country's capital (London) until I was 22 years old!
  10. My 3 pet hates are drivers who don't indicate, the sound of people dragging their feet when they walk and unneccesary untidiness
  11. I never had a single detention during my school years
  12. I hate bullies with a passion! And vow to stick up for a child if I ever see them getting bullied
  13. I love laughing, singing and dancing!
  14. I failed my GCSE I.T. - does that mean I don't know how to use a computer?  :P
  15. I once dated a guy I met on the internet, but it really didn't go well
  16. I consider my parents, sister and 2 brothers my 5 all-time best friends
  17. If I had to choose to have one cosmetic procedure, it would be a nose job
  18. [I had to remove this point due to it not being appropriate for some of the people now reading this blog]
  19. My favourite number is 2
  20. At every available opportunity, I avoid talking on the telephone. But I worked in a call centre for a year
  21. I have a personality disorder; Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. This is not the same as OCD
  22. [I had to remove this point due to it not being appropriate for some of the people now reading this blog]
  23. My birthday is on the 23rd, and my year of birth, (1985) adds up to 23; 1+9+8+5 = 23, my office room number is 2.323 and I sit at desk number 23. Has anyone seen the film "The Number 23"?!
  24. When I walk up stairs, I have to count them
  25. I turn 25 in less than a month!
It actually wasn't that easy to choose 25 things!

Now it's your turn, so I tag anyone who fancies doing this and hasn't already. So, if you're reading this right now, consider yourself tagged.

I'd love to learn 25 things about you so feel free to let me know where I can read your post!

22 January 2010

Gingerella sans diary

After 3 weeks of living without a diary, I realised it's actually pretty darn difficult to do - or at least remember to do - anything.

And no, not the "dear diary, today was so depressing..." kind of diary. The up-to-date-planning, appointment-making, event-monitoring kind.

I actually get a pretty good free one as a member of the Institute of Physics but this year's was sent to my old address and well, frankly, it's just too out of my way to go and get it. Plus, it means making small talk with my ex-flatmate. That's bad, I know. Did I mention I'm busy, too?!
So, I caved, and per-chased a diary. And not just any kind of diary. I thought I'd treat myself and splash out (should read: it was all they had in the closest bookshop. Shush, I'm not lazy!) and I got one of those moleskine ones. Not know what they are? I didn't know what the fuss was either. Well, they are supposedly; "the legendary notebook" and enclosed in the diary was a quaint little pullout about the history of a legendary notebook. Sweet. Turns out they're more expensive than you would think (or maybe you already know?) but boy, are they nice. So much choice, too; notebooks, diaries, planners, journals. Eurghh! I'm in stationery heaven looking at that website!
Image: .::Nin::

This might be an apt time to mention my love of stationery. In fact, I might be a little bit nuts about stationery, if I was rich, I really would spend a lot of money on it. And look, I'm making whole blog posts about the stuff! But I'm not going to mention that I am actually subscribed to some blogs about paper and stationery. If I had my own shop and could choose one thing for it to sell, it would be stationery, or maybe my other love, cupcakes.

But, you know what, I don't think I'm alone in this. I think a lot of people (OK, girls.) have a secret stationery fetish as well.

Aha! I knew it; stationeryfestish.com!

Yup, I have just self-diagnosed. I am a stationery addict. Please tell me some of you love stationery lots, too?!

PROOOOOBE ME!

I am going to be shameless and make another plea for more of your questions to answer. They can be about absolutely anything! Head over to my Formspring page here to submit your questions. You can also ask me in the comments, on my twitter, in an e-mail, (links in the sidebar) or even scroll to the bottom of this page and submit your question in the footer!

I have already answered some of you, in the comments and at formspring. If I get enough questions, I will put a post together with the answers but right now, there's not much probiong going on and I want more!!

Right, back to work aaaand I just got a nose bleed. Nice. The work is clearly turning my brain to mush.

19 January 2010

Cold sooooore!

I've always been a worrier.

If it's one thing in life I can, and will, do, it's worry. If I were to convince you to put your money on something that will occur, me worrying about something (or several) at least 3 times a day, would be it.

The way my worry externally presents itself is not very pleasant. Some of you might get big bags underneath your eyes from no sleep or bad skin from stressing out, or bitten nails. Well, my body decides it wants to give me a blistered lip. Similar to a fat lip, without the punching involved. That's right ladies and gentlemen, a nice little bit of herpes.

Once you get herpes, that's it, you have it for life. It lays dormant in your system and you can never hope to get rid of it.

Come on, don't be silly. There's no need to close the window; you cannot catch it from reading this blog.

I am fairly lucky with the one I have at the moment as it is sort of inside my lip so is managing to do a fairly decent job of concealing itself. It does mean, however, that my two lips were stuck together when I woke up this morning. Nice.
You're really not going to like this but I'm going to do it, anyway. Let's just remind ourselves what a lovely coldsore looks like...

And you better consider yourself lucky as that was the least ugly picture of a cold sore that Google images could uncover. And I made it small.


Haha! Are you feeling grossed out? Good! I have included an image of some pretty lips (well lipstick stain) to make you feel better! Which it probably won't. Anywhoo...

Also, never make the mistake of putting Vaseline (petroleum jelly) on a cold sore thinking it will keep it moist. Yes, maybe once you've gotten rid of the infection and you're left with just a scab, but not before and especially not right at the beginning. Like I did, once. The Vaseline just keeps the puss that normally oozes out, inside and if the swelling can't get out, it will just stay in. My lip was huuuuuge! It began to swell my nostrils. Luckily for you, neither me nor Google images has a photo of that.

I've had cold sores since probably pre-teens but my earliest memory of cold sores (the plural has an extra special meaning here, you'll see) was when I was about 11 years old and just about to sit a grammar school exam. For those who don't know, a grammar (public) school is a high school for which you have to sit (and pass) an exam to earn a place. Oh, and give lots of nice and juicy monetary contributions once you're there. ;) Whereas, a normal high (state) school is funded by the government and there is no entrance exam. Although, perference is given to students who live closer. I think the definitions may be the reverse in America, for example.

Anyway, I'm sure you don't care about all that. The point I'm trying to make is that it was a big deal to be sitting an exam for a grammar school; they are held in higher academic asteem than state schools and generally do have better teaching to boot. I think anyone could apply to sit the exam, but obviously not everyone would pass.

So, you could say I was a little worried. So, what happened? Well, you'd be slightly correct in thinking I got a cold sore. Yup, I had just one... until that one spread all over my face; they were on my cheeks, my nose, luckily they didn't reach my eyes!

It turned out that I had to miss the exam because of my hideous face and then attend a second sitting which, sadly, I failed.

Now, I say sadly but it was the all-girls grammar school in my town and everyone who went there was considered a snob and I will admit now, I didn't want to go! That's not why I failed, I don't particularly remember doing it on purpose.  :P I guess I was just too dumb. But at the time, I was glad to be going to the same school as my friends rather than, god forbid, have to make new ones at a 'snobby' school. Silly child.

Incidentally, I later sat an exam for another all-girls grammar school in a different town and passed! I really wanted to go there, mainly because it wasn't in my town so all my old friends wouldn't be anywhere near me to call me a snob. I repeat; silly child.

But I never made it to the top of their waiting list. :(

And so ensued the end of my parents' dream for me to attend an all-girls grammar school. I attended the state high school associated with my junior (primary? middle?) school.

After all that, it definitely hadn't been worth a face full of cold sores, that's for sure!

15 January 2010

Ask me anything!

Hello lovelies!

Do you have a burning question for me that you simply must know the answer to?! Something you want to know about me? Well, head over here to ask me anything you like!

You can always ask me in the comments section, on my twitter or send me an email if you perfer.

I shall answer them wherever I get them but if I am inundated with questions (unlikely) you might get a blog post out of all the questions, and answers, of course..

I look forward to reading - and answering - your burning questions!

Toodles!

Image: S├ęgozyme

12 January 2010

Early riser

I have decided on a new 2010 resolution; get up and get into work earlier, at least before 9am.

I'd been toying with the idea for a while but, knowing that I would have to sleep a lot earlier than normal (I love my sleep and really like to have 8 hours a night) and fight my comfy bed in the mornings; it all sounded so hard! But last night, I set the resolution wheels in motion by attempting to go to bed before 11pm. It was helped by the fact that R, yet again told me "yeh yeh, you won't do it" (the hair-cutting incident springs to mind). I thought right, that's it. I'm doing it!

Unfortunately, it was hindered by the fact that I suffered a bad lactose-intolerance episode; those cheap packets of tortellini from Lidl clearly contain waaay too much cheese for me, despite what the ingredients say! It resulted in me nodding off later than the planned 10:30 pm.

I still managed to wake up before my 6:30 am alarm, though - probably because of my still present tummy-ache :( - and got up (almost) straight away. Maybe R was still ringing in my ears.
I managed to shower, dry my hair (sadly, since the haircut, it's not just drying; some styling is required), put on my minimal warpaint (ginger eyelashes, and maybe even eyebrows, are not in abundance; I do not wish to look like an 8 year old boy; I'm 24!), dress, tidy the mess I left in my wake, have breakfast whilst watching morning news and even conjur up a snack for work! I left the house at 8am. That's good for me.

Cut a (potentially) long story short, I plopped into my nicely radiator-warmed desk chair at 8.25am. Woo! OK, so it's not exactly a record; I've been in earlier, but it's certainly the earliest in a while.

Oh, it takes me back to my college days (just to clarify, that's 16-18 years old here); walking to the bus stop with not many people around, up when it's still dark and wintery outside. Once I'm up, I actually love it! I like being in a quiet office before most other people have got here.

That's all great, until you're sat at your desk at 9.30 am, yawning your head off and trying to stop your mascara running whilst realising you didn't actually use the extra hour productively. You got up that early for nothing? Well, no, because you got all that procrastination (that normally begins at 9:30 am) out of the way earlier. And although it all works out the same - you get up earlier, you go to bed earlier - coming in earlier is all about your productive time starting sooner and more of it falling in the realm of office hours.

I might have changed my sleeping habits; albeit one day so far, but I really think I can keep it up! However, I still need to step it up and get into the swing of things.

Now then, what time can I have this pancake snack I made?! :D

11 January 2010

Macro Monday

Good Monday morning!

How are we all today? The snow is beginning to melt in Manchester but the mixture of ice and slush is rather slippy. So, the walk from the bus stop to my desk wasn't easy.

Anyway, it seems time for one of those few and far between Macro Mondays today. Sadly, it's not really a genuine Macro Monday (and no, not because it's Tuesday!) but because I don't have an actual macro lens but, maybe one day. *daydreams*

I also wish the photographs followed some sort of theme but they've got nothing to do with anything. Except, maybe, that they are items from my house. They are both old photographs I took back in August and, last night, realised they were slightly better than I'd initially thought.


ISO 400 | 1/20s | f/5.0 | Sony A350 DT 18-70mm @ 30mm


  ISO 125 | 1/125s | f/5.6 | Sony A350 DT 18-70mm @ 70mm

Oh, did anyone notice I took my blog's Christmas decorations down? It felt a little bare at first but I'm used to it now.  :P Can anyone tell what's different about the header? ;)

Have a lovely Monday ladies and gents!

Toodles!

10 January 2010

Brownies to die for!

I bring you a wonderful recipe for brownies, that are indeed, to die for!

Sadly, I cannot take credit for the recipe - it's from a BBC Good Food publication; Cakes and Bakes 101, nor do I have an amazing photo to share with you, but that's mainly because between now and when I made them (last week) I have eaten most of them!!



Ingredients

  • 350g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 250g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 large eggs (free range, organic please)
  • 250g dark muscovado sugar
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Butter and line the base of a nine inch cake tin and set to one side.

2. Take a heavy-based saucepan and set over a low heat - melt together the chocolate and butter, stirring once in a while to stop it sticking. Once melted, stir well and set to one side to cool somewhat.

3. Whisk the eggs until pale and then whisk in the sugar until thick, glossy and completly combined. Now fold in the cooled chocolate mixture and finally sift in the flour and baking powder and stir until all is combined and you have a smooth batter.

4. Pour and scrape into the prepared tin and bake for around 35 minutes. It should be just firm to the touch but the middle will still be soft in the centre - it will firm up on cooling.

You can store them in the fridge but I would just give them a re-heat in the microwave or oven until warm. They're nice with bananas and custard!

Enjoy!

08 January 2010

Fontage

If you ask me, this actually feels very reminiscent of a good old Freebie Friday. And do you know why? Because I am about to share with you some fresh, favourite, funky and absolutely free fonts!

I narrowed it down to 16 fonts from the thousands on dafont.com; a fabulous font directory, listing both free (for personal use) and purchasable fonts. You can see these, and my regularly updated list of, favourite fonts anytime you like by visiting my 'Font Favourites' folder @ dafont.com.

OK, let's get this show on the road! 

Wishlist 2009  
You might want to use this font to make your christmas, birthday, valentines, wedding, whatever (!)  wishlists for 2010. 

Puffy
Need a font that looks like it's been written with clouds? Try this one on for size. 
Insight
You could use this font for just about anything you fancy, but makes good advertising titles.
LL Cooper
As the author points out, this font pays tribute to the typeface "Cooper Black" -- an old style serif typeface designed by Oswald Bruce Cooper in 1921, becaming somewhat iconic in the 1970s -- in an unfocussed, doodle style. Or maybe, like me, you just think it's cool?

Schematic 
This is probably a very specific font; working well with science related advertising, perhaps?

Alice
I think this font is very contemporary and really want to use it, just can't decide what for?! 

Naya 
A font which, I think, would work well with designs and advertising relating to nature. But, don't ask me why! 

Clarisse 
A very gothic font and feels very 'Interview with a Vampire', despite the name reminding me of 'Science of the Lambs'. 

Snickles 
This actually reminds me of the font on a Snickers chocolate bar; I don't know if it's the font itself or just the name, but I do luuuurve Snickers! 
Indonesiana 
This font is based on the logo for 'Visit Indonesia 2009'.

Angelic War
This font is for those looking a very cursive, embellished font. 

DivLit
A very futuristic font. 
Katy Berry 
Do you like the font used for Katy Perry media and merchandise? Well, this font - from the author of Angelic War - comes very close!

Notice Std 
Ever looking for well known symbols, notices or signs? This font is here to help.

Life Lessons 
Being a stitching girl myself, this one caught my attention and I fell in love. I think it would work if you were looking for a homely, motherly-related font.

Outlaw
Last, but by no means least, comes a font from a popular style often seen on vintage themed wedding or party invitations and posters.

_________________________________

Well, that's all 16 fonts, folks. Seen one, or more, you like? Fancy going hunting for your own favourite, free fonts? Head over to dafont.com, grab some free fonts and feel free to share what you used them for; I'd love to know, or even see!

Oh, and another awesome place to find free fonts, amongst so much other fabulous stuff, is DeviantArt.com.

Toodles!

07 January 2010

Snow Days!

Do you remember winter times when you were a child and it snowed? School would be closed and you'd officially be allowed to stay home to build snowmen, have snowball fights and go sledging? Yes, I do, too. But once you leave high school, you can forget all about Snow Days.

That is, until your city has more snow than they know what to do with! That's what has happened in Manchester, and many other cities across the UK. They're calling it 'The Big Freeze'. Brrrrr!

The amount of snow overnight on Tuesday, resulted in my university kicking students out, telling them to go home and not bother coming in the next day either. Sounds good, right? Oh, it was!

I still had places to go and people to see, though but this sort of view as I left my house was well worth braving the cold for...

ISO 64 | 1/100s | f/3.1 | Casio EX-Z85 (DigiCam) @ 6.3mm

R flew back from his Christmas and New Year trip to Lebanon and I went to meet him at the train station. Having only lived in the UK for the last 7 years, he was in shock; "I've never seen this much snow in my life!"

ISO 64 | 1/125s | f/4.5 | Casio EX-Z85 (DigiCam) @ 12.5mm

I did spent all day yesterday indoors to finish my articles for the postgraduate newsletter I am now an editor for - did I tell you that? If not, I'm an editor!

We did, of course, build a snowman! Well, it was more like a snowhead! :P

ISO 200 | 1/60s | f/3.1 | Casio EX-Z85 (DigiCam) @ 6.3mm

Sadly, it is back to work today. But I will be back soon to share some lovely things with you; including some new favourite, funky and (best of all) free fonts and a scrumptious recipe for brownies!

Toodles!

p.s. maybe it's time to take down my blog's Christmas decorations - what do you think?

04 January 2010

Bonjour 2010!

Hello all,

I wish you a Happy New Year and a very warm welcome to 2010. Does anyone have any new years resloutions? Mine are the standard keep fit, spend less and work harder! ;)

Image: KKellyS

So, you may have wondered what the hell happened to me over the festive period? No?! I'm gonna tell you, anyway.
I was all set to keep you informed of my Christmas Crafting (I did do more, promise! Jam, cookies, chocolates, marinated peppers, coconut cake and mince pies.) but then, my first unborn nephew decided he wanted to arrive a little early, a month early! So, on December 14th, off I trotted to Wales, where my sister now lives with her husband. To cut a long story short, my sister had a beautiful baby boy, Lucas James, born 6lbs 5oz at 7:26pm on December 15th. And I am in love with him!! I would let you bask in his awesomeness, but my sister prefers not to have his fizog plastered over the internet. Hear, hear!

Alas, Manchester and my teaching duties beckoned and I had to return, all set to go back upto Wales and spend Christmas with the new addition.

So, why did I stop blogging? Well, 2 Thursday's before Christmas, some very mean-spirited and (presumably) Mancunian souls decided to let themselves into my house via a window, knock my bedroom door down, and pilfer my laptop, along with another 2 belonging to my housemates. Oh joy, of all joys.

I did still spend Christmas with my sister, a few days back at home-home and then back upto Manchester to get very merry (and then very sick) for New Year; and a wonderful time was had by all.

All very eventful. How was your festive period?

All that remains is to share a few of those wintery, Christmassy photographs I promised you, captured by none other than moi at the lovely Anglesey coast. More can be found on my Flickr, or even at the bottom of this page.

ISO 400 | 1/5s | f/3.5 | Sony A350 DT 18-70mm @ 18mm

ISO 100 | 1/400s | f/11 | Sony A350 DT 18-70mm @ 35mm

ISO 100 | 1/160s | f/10 | Sony A350 DT 18-70mm @ 18mm

Toodles!