Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Turning 22

Today I turn 22.

I was trying to think why that feels like such a big thing and I think it's because it's the first of the really grown up ages. You haven't got any more completely officially carefree ages after 21, from then on you're sort of expected to start producing answers about the direction your life is going in. But despite thinking this I would like to report that I am completely delighted to be turning 22.
I was trying to work out why this was. I've had a couple of my friends grimace at their recent birthdays and lament the fact that they were getting older and so it seemed weird to me when I realised I had never had that feeling. On the contrary I really enjoy getting older each year, so it got me wondering why that was.

It was only when I was re-watching True Dectective (series one of course, no one is watching series two, never mind re-watching) that a quote totally put my feelings into words. At one point Marty is telling Rust to shut up and Rust replies "Given how long its taken for me to reconcile my nature, I can't figure I'd forego it on your account." And I just wanted to shout out. Yes! Exactly!

This is why I love getting older. Because every year that goes by I get to become more and more comfortable with my nature; I learn what I need, what works for me, what is truly important and what really doesn't matter. When you're a teenager you spend so much time learning about the world and about human relationships and hair straighteners that you hardly have any time to learn what you actually need. I'm sure a lot of people managed to get to know themselves a lot quicker but I know that it took around eighteen years to know who I was and then a further four to actually be happy with and accept that person. That is why I love getting older. Because I love who I am, I love the life I get to live and I love the person I'm becoming.

By the way, this photo is from my birthday party which was 'Glitter Unicorn' themed. I will be sharing pictures.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

My Sewing Area

 For some reason for the last year I've done basically no sewing. I'm not really sure why, I moved house and then as I wasn't sewing much all of my fabric and paraphernalia went into really hard to reach underbed storage which I was really reluctant to access even if I did feel the call of the needle (...wow that sounds a lot less innocent than I thought). I dunno, for whatever reason I didn't really sew anything for a year.

And then! A couple of months ago BAM! I hit sewing hard again. At my peak I was sewing everyday and even after that initial buzz wore off I was still finding multiple times a week to make something. Because my awkward sewing boxes were way too hard to access easily I then got lazy and started leaving projects around the place; whoops. Cue a new storage solution.
 When we moved to our new place we suddenly had a bright shiny room to fill. For the first time I have a space which I can dedicate solely to sewing and it has made such a difference. I just find it so inviting to look at; and having everything all laid out and easy to access makes it so much easier to begin a project.
 I keep all my fabric in some stacked vegetable crates. Originally I was going to buy some wooden apple crates but was pretty gutted to find that they are mega expensive. Seriously, to get three of this sort of size I was looking at paying upwards of £40 which seemed like a lot to me. I was just starting to look for other storage solutions when I saw a greengrocer dumping a load of these in the bin outside his shop. I went to ask if I could have them and he gave me that "I don't understand you, why do you want my rubbish?" look that you often get when picking things out of people's bins. Any way I took them and they're great. A tiny bit flimsy for really heavy stuff but they suit me just fine and allow me to leaf through my stash fairly easily.
 Above my stash I have a little row of hooks where I keep my most used patterns. This has been another move which has made sewing incredibly easy for me; I only really sew one of three patterns regularly and so it made perfect sense to transfer these onto card so I always had quick access to them. If you're doing this make sure to copy how many to cut and what the seam allowance of each piece is. It's all very good to try and make your patterns accessible but that doesn't quite work if you have to go back to the pattern to check a seam allowance every time you want to sew something.
And this baby is my pride and joy; my homemade spool holder. To be honest it makes me smile just looking at it in the day. The colours, the order, the potential; bliss. Under my spools I have some baskets where I keep my needles, extra machine feet and various closures I use.

I somehow managed to contain my excitement while making the holder and so I should hopefully be uploading a tutorial on how to make your own very soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

DIY Cactus Bowl Garden

 Over the Summer our landscape-architect friend Alex trusted us to look after his plants. For three glorious weeks our bedroom was full of greenery and I realised how much of a difference plants make to a room. Ever since we've been buying plants and putting them everywhere; our kitchen even has a little makeshift garden area (made out of an old ironing board, we're nothing if not resourceful). When I was thinking about what plants I wanted I decided against anything too green and frondy; my room is pretty light but the temperature fluctuates quite a bit. I needed something hardy. Luckily for me, pinterest went cactus mad this year and so inspiration was just a click away.
 You will need:
A fruit bowl
A selection of cacti
Gold sticky back plastic
Sharp scissors
A pen
1. Clean your bowl thoroughly on the inside and the outside. The inside needs to be clean from nasties that might harm your plants and the outside needs to be grease free to add your design.
2. Draw and cut out shapes from your sticky-backed plastic. I chose bears because they are great.
3. Peel off the backing and smooth your design down.
4. Take your cactus selection. You want to have a good balance between 'thrillers' and 'fillers' to make your garden look even and not too cluttered.
5. Fill your bowl two thirds of the way up with soil.
6. Now place your first cactus in to check the level of the soil.
7. Add soil around your cactus and tamp down to secure it.
8. Keep adding your cacti until you are happy with the overall look.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

My foolproof guide to a stress-less uni year.

If you just met me and saw my messy hair, room and mind then it would be easy to assume I was a very disorganised person. However! When it comes to uni work (and work in general) I am on it; I've got it all sorted out and oh my goodness it makes everything so much easier. Basically these tips have kept me stress-free during term and mean that, by the time exams roll round, I am actually doing revision rather than learning everything from scratch. I cannot say enough how much easier these things will make your semester!

Write yourself a reading list
This is going to take you a couple of hours BUT this list is going to save you hours and hours and hours of time in the next couple of weeks. So! Open up a word document, write out "Week one" and then, giving a new line to each, write out each of your courses. Now you're going to have to do some researching using your course directories and basically any resource you have about your course. The aim is to get all of the information you might have to look up later in one easy to find place. Write out all of your readings, all of your deadlines, all of your projects and important dates per week.

Now pin up your reading list and celebrate your brilliant preparation skills! Last year I was really organised and managed to read most things on my list, but it was also wonderful to be able to glance at what I had to do that week and prioritise. If you know you're really busy then it's so important to actually know what is on your to-do list in order to choose your tasks.

Super-over-achiever-tip! Once I've done my reading I score through that title with a highlighter. This is a really clear way to show what you've done at a glance. The day after I've done a reading I try and write up a few easy notes on that reading in order to consolidate it in my mind. If I'm really confident on that topic and I like it, I'll then put a star next to the reading so that when I choose essay titles or revision topics to prioritise I will know which topics will take less effort and be most enjoyable.
 Make a super-clear timetable
This is my timetable (I made it on Paint because I'm super high tech). I type out the things I know I will have that week and leave space for the rest. I then use that space as a little daily to-do list. This really complements the way I think; my time is divided between tasks with set times and days and then free-time in which I have other tasks to do which can be done at whatever time.

I try and write out a schedule every weekend with the work-related tasks I know I will have and then add to it throughout the week. Also, I've been really general on the image above because it's the first week and I haven't really found my groove yet, but I try and be as specific as possible. Instead of "Philosophy reading" write "Read 1 chapter of David Lewis". This made a huge difference in actually producing quality work rather than just getting work done  last year. Previously I would write, "Do one hour of philosophy reading" Then I'd spend a bit of time choosing which one, then I would get a bit distracted while reading and let my mind wander and then before I knew it my hour was up and I would cross it off my list and walk away from my open book immensely proud. My point is that reading, thinking, processing and learning takes a while and your aim here is to complete the task rather than to pass time.
Print out your readings ahead of schedule
The world is full of some very generous naughty people who have scanned in textbooks, as such most textbooks are available as PDFs online. While giving back to the wonderful authors you read is brilliant, most students are rarely in the position to buy eight books at £60 each and to be honest sometimes it's just preferable to have a printed copy to scribble on and highlight. As this is obviously a very grey area, try and research alternatives if you can; most unis will upload lots of resources and readings and so many articles are public domain from wonderful sites like jstor. I try and print off my readings at the weekend and file them away. For some reason (laziness, I know it's laziness) taking away that short step of having to find and print a reading makes it so much more likely that I'll actually get it done.

Keep an ongoing glossary
From week one keep a document on your desktop which you use as a glossary. As soon as you learn a new term stick it in the glossary in alphabetical order. If it's a particularly good description you might later use in an essay, then also note down the source of the description. This is great to have in lectures; if your lecturer suddenly says a term you can do a quick Ctrl+F and if it's there you have a very brief revision and if it's not there then you can confidently feel no guilt in not knowing. Yay! The best use of your glossary is when you come to revise; you basically have your flashcards all written out. Hurray for time saving!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Fresher's week advice

This week when I wandered into Tesco I happened to notice that the entire shop was filled with nervous looking young people and their parents buying frying pans, door stops and coat hangers and I realised it must be fresher's season coming up. Just seeing their frantic faces brought all those crazy-nervous emotions back of that weird weekend and so I thought I would write a post full of advice for all you younguns just about to embark on a new chapter of your life. This is all the stuff I wish I had done/done better/did.

Remember, everyone is feeling the same.
If you're feeling nervous and anxious and scared to be away from home, that is absolutely fine. Literally everyone you meet will be feeling like this, some will feel a little better about it or hide it better but everyone is unsettled. This is a good thing, it means that everyone is in a weird state of confusion and desperate to find comfort in making friends- friends like you! Take advantage of this, there will never be another time in your life when you can approach anyone and just say hi.

Buy a doorstop. Keep your door open.
Before you arrive at your halls make sure you have a doorstop packed at the top of your things. Now, as soon as you move into your room, shove that thing under your door and start making friends. There will be people passing who will say hi and come in but also be pro-active. Unpack your bedding and a few things and then go around offering to help people.

Ask people for coffee.
If you're anything like me, then before uni your friends were made mainly due to proximity; they were the best  people in your village or class or club. That meant that you didn't really have to do much to actually make them, they were just sort of there and then friendship happened. Uni is the first time that won't really happen. Sure, there will be people in your corridor and in your classes but you need to take that adult step and go beyond. Ask if people want lunch or coffee or to do something. It's the only time this won't seem like a date and also it'll make you seem mature and impressive. Sound good? Good. Go on loads of coffee dates with loads of people, get their numbers and text them. Fresher's week is a weird artificial bootcamp where you make friends really quickly so just kind of go along with it.

Make lots of DIFFERENT friends.
So, this is really important. When you find a group of friends there is going to be a lot of internal pressure to stick by them and not really seek new people. You're settled and happy now so why would you plunge yourself back into the stress of finding people, right? Try and ignore this urge and get back out there for your own sake.

The reason this is really important is just incase anything goes wrong. My boyfriend was really lucky, he met this big lovely group in fresher's week and three years later had essentially exactly the same group of gorgeous people smiling at graduation. It can happen! But it's always best to assume that won't. In first year I made my little friendship group and in second year we moved in together. Pretty soon after, cracks started to appear and I realised I really didn't get on with these people any more. Luckily, because I had made distinct groups of friends, I still had a few people to call and get back in contact with who weren't related to this group. It was a complete life saver. If you talk to people who've had issues with Uni 80% of the time it's due to falling out with people you're living with and so if you can provide yourself with different options it's going to make life a whole lot easier.

Be nice. Don't judge. 
A very quick and easy way to make friends is to bitch. I'm not being controversial here, gossiping is the human equivalent of monkey grooming; it cements the bonds of friendship between the two involved and creates a them-us divide between possible outliers to the tribe. So there you have it; it's natural, it's easy, it's incredibly tempting. But that doesn't mean you should do it. Friendships forged through negativity are shaky at best and you really don't want to gain a reputation for being a bitch in fresher's week.

Don't get me wrong, I still gossip. Of course I do, everyone does. But it completely pays to choose your partner. After half a week of knowing someone in the social pressure cooker that is fresher's week, you're going to feel incredibly close to them but, if possible, hold off on the gossip until they're firm friends and you've given it some time.

On the other hand, rather than trying to repress bitching, you could try and beat it all together. A personal mantra of mine is "You don't know the struggles of others." How great is that!? Basically if there's a girl on your corridor who's acting really weird, who are you to say that's strange behaviour when you have no idea what could be causing it? Kindness is better than judgement 100% of the time. Look at me getting all hippyish! But seriously, kindness to others is the best way to calm your soul and improve your life. Throw that stuff around like confetti!

So there you have it, freshers! Go forth and make friends.
If any of you second and third years have some golden advice, please leave it in the comments below.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Edinburgh Fringe Food Tour

 Don't get me wrong, I do love the Edinburgh Fringe festival... however after a month of not being able to walk anywhere without a flyer-er trying to make me go to a free show, join a circus troupe and buy some organic leggings made by new-age vegan monks, I am welcoming life after the Fringe.

There is one thing I am really going to miss though. The one thing that made venturing out worthwhile was the abundance of amazing food trucks. Oh my goodness, the smells as you walk into town! I think if they were there all year I would never make it to a lecture; I would just steadily become distracted and drift from cuisine to cuisine. Mmmmm. Anyway, last week as the Fringe drew to a close we decided to do a little tour of all the amazing trucks and we think we found our favourites. Get ready to feel jealous.
My ultimate favourite was the Jingle Bus. Oh my goodness those pakora wraps are to die for. I would never had ordered a pakora wrap as a treat but word of mouth really did it for this company and it wasn't long before I was hearing everyone rave about their wares. I'm really interested in trying to recreate these but I haven't really been able to find any recipes that have a similar texture; everything I've found seems very bhaji-ish whereas these were a lot softer. If anyone has any suggestions please pass them on!
 The favourite of the boys (for those who don't know, I live in a 'New Girl' kind of set up... it's awesome) seemed to be Dumplings and Wings. It's pretty explanatory what they sell but boy were they good. The wings with Bourbon sauce may very well be the best thing on at the Fringe this year.
 Awww look at them all waiting patiently. Love em.

The only reason why this stand wasn't my favourite was that wings are ridiculous to eat in public. We sat down with our inviting boxes filled with sticky treats and within minutes our entire faces were covered with the stuff. I was more coated than the chicken. This is a food that's just impossible to eat outside with any dignity at all. However... this might just be me, everyone else seemed to fare a little better along the clean-feral continuum while I struggled and somehow managed to get the marinade in my hair (how!?). Meh,  maybe it's just me.
Last but by no means least their dumplings were sublime. I've never had street food dumplings before but they were soooo good! Also they were pretty small so they were perfect for having a taster from one stall but still being able to try other things. 

Oh food vans, I will miss you so. My jeans however will not. Get ready for healthy food posts, you guys!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Dino snores- A sleepover at the Natural History Museum

You know that rare moment you get when, while experiencing something you suddenly realise that you are forming a precious memory? This. This Friday me and George had this almost constantly when we went to a sleepover at the Natural History Museum.

When I asked George what kind of present he wanted for his 21st he said an experience. For my 21st he had bought me tickets to the Ballet in Vienna at Christmas time (ie when Vienna is at it's Christmas-marketty best) and so I knew I had to do pretty well here. Cue frantic researching. Finally I found the coolest thing. Dinosnores for adults- a sleepover at the Natural History museum with an amazing three course meal and activities all night. I was sold. We were excited!

We arrived at 6:30 to find a spot in the hall to sleep in. This was such a fun beginning! When we arrived the museum was all shut up so there was a guard on the closed gate, as went up to him and nervously asked about Dinosnores he swung open the massive doors to let us in. It felt like such a little special secret world!
 If you get a chance to go to this event, do it! One of the most wonderful things about it was just how organised it was. As we arrived we were given a little time to settle in and get a free drink and then from that point onwards we just had a plethora of fun things to do. We had an amazing meal, a gin tasting, a stand up comedy show (which was about frogs, so naturally I was a little skeptical, but it was actually hilarious), and then a lecture about the sex lives of insects. After that we were set free in the museum to wander where ever we pleased. If this wasn't exciting enough they also gave us a treasure hunt to do if we wanted. I repeat, a treasure hunt. It was amaze-balls.
 I had so many little favourite moments of the night which just felt magical so I thought I'd make a list so I never ever forget.

  • WE WERE PRACTICALLY ALONE AT NIGHT IN THE FREAKIN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM! That's sooooo cool! There was about half an hour where me and George were the only people in the Dinosaur exhibit. You know that hellish room with kids screaming and yelling where you can't actually really see anything because of all the crowds? Yeah that one. Complete blissful silence. 
  • I've never seen anything cooler than the shadows of dinosaurs on walls in a completely eerie, silent room. 
  • It's pretty cool to walk around a museum with a beer. Alcohol in places you're not usually allowed alcohol is a strangely wonderful thrill. 
  • At 3am when everyone was getting sleepy they handed out a load of floor pillows and put Jurassic Park on a projector. It felt all kinds of wonderful.
  • Running from exhibit to exhibit trying to find answers to the treasure hunt made everyone look like a little kid on a school trip. 
  • After watching Jurassic park we found our way back to the main hall. All the lights had been turned off in the corridors and so me and George walked along hand in hand guided by our phones. At one point we looked up and the beam of light just passed over this giant turtle which was suspended from the ceiling. It was just so magical to have all these amazing artefacts just there in the dark, waiting to be seen.  

 One of my favourite things was that as we fell asleep there was a harpist playing for us. I adore harp music, it puts me in a weird meditative trance which just completely made my night the most magical it could possibly be.
In short, if  you can go to Dinosnores, go to Dinosnores.