Friday, 30 March 2012

Is Matalan student friendly?

I ask this question because Chris had to go and buy new jeans again. He is losing weight so quick that we have to keep going shopping for a new pair of jeans in a smaller size for him. Matalan's sizes seem to fit him the best and the jeans from there are usually £10-20 so we have got into the habit of going there. While he was trying on his new pair of jeans I decided to have a look at the women's section and oh my goodness I could have bought so much from there! A few of my friends seem to be under the impression that Matalan is a shop for "old women" but I totally disagree. While they do clothes that perhaps is more suited to the older lady there are definitely clothes in there for the younger ages. I personally love it, especially because of the prices. I plan on buying a few new outfits once I have lost a bit more weight, and it definitely won't break the bank! To prove my point I have spent some time putting together some outfits in the "Matalan Fitting Room". I have tried to make some more casual than others to try and show what kind of looks are available for the younger women this spring/summer. There is a lot more on the website though so if you like the look (or prices) of these outfits then have a look on the website and see what you find! The prices I have listed are for the whole outfit.







Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Good days & thoughts...

Well, I actually managed to get myself an interview for the job working in the boarding kennels, looking after peoples dogs while they're on holiday and it actually seemed to go pretty well. I ended up spending over an hour there playing with the dogs and it was lovely - the woman even said if I don't hear from her soon to send her a text. I hope this means I get the job but I'm still applying for others until I get a solid offer.

Today Chris and I went to a safari park and had a great time. He told me he had never been to one in his whole life (!!!???) and I knew he was missing out! He absolutely loved it, especially as we were able to buy animal feed and drive through sticking our arms out the windows, feeding the giraffes and zebras. One giraffe stuck its massive long tongue out and licked all up his hand and arm and left him absolutely drenched in dribble! Rather him than me! After we went through the safari we parked up and had a walk through the rest of the park, went on a couple of water rides and sat and watched a sea lion show. We spent most of the day outside and I have a very slight tan from it! Usually I just burn but I've actually gone ever so slightly brown. Yay! The weather has been gorgeous this week - good for my skin and bad for my work. I not only have lots of uni work to do but I also want to do some creative writing of my own this Easter break too. Good thing the weather is supposed to be getting worse again from tomorrow.

The "thoughts" part of my post is this - my blog is basically my life; I write about what I do, giving opinions through the eyes of a student, my uni work and creative writing and lately my crafting. I'm thinking of setting up a different blog dedicated to my crafting so as I can focus on student life and writing more over here. My cousin Lorna and I have set up a facebook page and twitter account for our crafting and I'm thinking perhaps if I had a blog as well I could write up about my favourite crafting ideas, products and share what we have been making without bogging this blog down too much. What worries me is having two blogs to write - surely it will be hard to keep up - although really, blogging has very much become a way of life for me and after the initial set up of the separate blog it shouldn't take too much of my time away from everything else I do. I also like the idea of having this blog as more of an English/Creative Writing students life, as it was first intended. The trouble is I have so many different hobbies and interests it's hard to know where to put it all!! I'd love feedback on this - do you bloggers think it would be a good idea?

Monday, 26 March 2012

On the up (hopefully)

Wow, what a day it's been! First, I stayed in bed until 12 o clock which was incredibly lazy of me but oh well I needed it and I had nothing much to get up for. I found out that I have lost 1 more lb this week which I'm really pleased with, I was expecting to have gained. Chris took me out for a lovely 3 course meal in the week which finished with the most gorgeous chocolate dessert I've ever had. As well as that it has been a mad week for getting my uni work finished and I didn't manage to get to the gym as much as I would have liked so I'm really pleased with myself. I have worked out that if I lose 2lbs a week for the next 3 weeks I will have lost 2 stone in total so now that I'm off for Easter I'm really going to spend the time in the gym and get this done! It started off well, I got in the gym today and started off by doing 10k on the bike on the next difficulty up and then finished off with 25 minutes of really pushing myself on the cross trainer.

The next thing on my list is that I have won another competition in blog land! I can't believe it, that's 2 I've entered now and won them both! Have a look here to see the necklace I've won and of course check out Sarah's blog if you're into fashion - she's very helpful when it comes to looking good on the cheap!

And now the next on my list is that someone finally responded to one of my job applications! Yay! I had a little phone interview this evening and the lady seemed really keen. Basically the job is doing shifts working in a kennel where people leave their dogs while they go on holiday. I'd be feeding them, grooming them, walking them and basically doing everything that I would do if I had a dog of my own - which I desperately want but won't be able to have for probably another 10 years or so! I have always had dogs and when I moved out from my Mums house I left this gorgeous collie behind and I miss her terribly.

So yes, that job would be lovely. Especially as it would only be for a few hours a day. Wish me luck! I'm already planning things out in my mind that I want to buy which I know I shouldn't do but can't help it!

When I told Chris I had won another blog competition he suggested that I give away one of my handmade goods on my blog, so I will be thinking about what to make and will let you guys know what I decide soon!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Weekend wishes

Wow! My first weekend for a while where I don't have to worry about getting uni work done. It also coincided with the first show of The Voice UK which was amazing! I usually hate talent shows but I really did love this one. The fact that the judges say yes or no totally dependent on their singing ability is just brilliant. It really makes me think perhaps the music industry isn't doomed to die because of Simon Cowell. So I sat down to have my dinner and realised I had missed 5 minutes then ran to turn the TV on and I'm so glad I did. I really like all the judges but I am looking forward to seeing what pulls out of the bag. He isn't really much of a singer but of course he has been making music that I love for years and years. He always seems to do something that little bit different and I think he's brilliant at making music that stands out. I look forward to watching this again next week! Here's a little clip of what I think was the best audition of the night.

Chris decided he was watching 2 games of football this afternoon so I decided to get all my housework done including my laundry and get myself to the gym. I haven't got so much done on a Saturday before in ages it feels great! Now tomorrow we can do whatever we want!

For those of you feeling a little bored this weekend I have a really great website/blog to show you. If you're a book lover as well like me then even better. A blog dedicated to things that have been found in old books that the previous owner was using as a bookmark. It sounds odd but have a look - it's so interesting finding out so much about someones life just by looking at the item and the book in which they were reading. Click here to have a look. I officially love this blog. Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Been away for a few days

I haven't actually been away - what actually happened was I spilled water on my new computer that Chris built me in January and it went pop! Oops! Especially as it was worth over £1000!! That's the last time I put a water bottle on my desk! Luckily I only blew the power supply which has now been replaced for £60 - definitely very lucky there.

Anyway, I finally worked out why I wasn't feeling any different after losing almost 1 and a half stone - I was still wearing the same clothes! And they were actually baggy! Perhaps I was too busy with uni to really pay attention and notice?? Anyway, I went shopping today with my cousin Lorna, we actually went into charity shops looking for bits of fabric we could use to sew some interesting bits with - we didn't find anything very exciting. Lorna however bought some massive curtains for just under £5, they were blue and floral which is apparently the style she wants to go with when she gets her own place - she's slowly picking up cheap bits when she sees them, and I bought a pink oven glove with kittens on it for £2. It looks like it hasn't been used ever. Anyway, back to my actual point - I thought I would try some clothes a size down seeing as I had just noticed that my tops were all hanging away from my body now and I bought 3 tops the next size down. Yay! They're a bit more summery but will all look nice with my woolly cardigan so definitely will do me for a couple of months until I hopefully lose a little bit more weight. That's the first time I've been shopping in what felt like ages and it was amazing! I even bought a pair of tortoise shell style (not real obviously!) over sized sunglasses for only £1! I do love my bargains! So today I'm happy. I'm one dress size smaller, I have my computer back and I have some nice new things that didn't cost the earth! And now I'm about to start catching up on all my favourite blogs! Have a great weekend everyone. I intend to nerd out and use my beloved computer to play a few games! Oh and get my ass to the gym!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Battle of the Bottles part 2

I have specifically left the follow up to this post for ages. Usually when I buy cheaper shampoo and conditioner, it starts off alright but after a few days my head seems to get really itchy? I don't know why but basically I have been sitting around pretty much waiting for this to happen. It hasn't!

I would love to go on and on about this shampoo but I don't think I can - for the one reason that it seems to do just as good a job as Herbal Essences. Nothing has really changed with my hair, it's still really soft and super shiny and I would definitely say that these shampoos are definitely on par. There is one thing that actually makes me lean towards the Tesco version though - and no I don't mean the price, something else! The smell of it is absolutely divine. And I mean that. It smells absolutely gorgeous. I was sat in the bath literally sniffing the bottle for ages... I can't really describe the smell (because I'm crap at it) but it's a lovely fresh and fruity smell. Chris hates the smell of what he calls "generic cosmetics" what he means is the really fake smelling ones that just smell like cosmetics. Anyway, rather than complaining about that, after I had washed my hair he actually said "what's that nice smell?" IT'S MY HAIR!!! WOOO! I am really excited because it's a really lovely product and in the long run it's going to save me a fair few pennies! I would definitely recommend and I absolutely insist that if you shop in Tesco, next time you're in there go and sniff the bottle!

I handed my last assignment of the term in today and as expected my mood has rocketed. I was struggling to get it written so I went to do the last half in the library and ended up having it done and edited within 3 hours! Wow! I am definitely going to the library to work more often! I was really excited about being able to have a bit of a rest from assignments but I had a really great lecture yesterday on the text that my next assignment (due after the Easter break) is on and I think I'm actually going to get a head start on it while it's still fresh in my mind. I think I can do really, really well for that assignment if I put the effort in so that's exactly what I'm going to do! But for tonight at least, I'm going to chill out, have some nice food, do some knitting and just totally relax!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Today Chris weighed me as usual on a Monday morning and confirmed that I had lost another 2lbs. I'm really happy with this as it means I only need 1 more lb to come off before I can declare myself as having lost one and a half stone since around Christmas. I am on one hand really pleased with this but on the other I feel slightly down as I can't really feel much difference in myself, or at least not as much as I would like to for having lost that amount of weight. Of course I will continue with my weight loss, I am hoping that when I hit a 2 stone loss I will be feeling a bit different. I suppose I do feel ever so slightly different. My collar bones seem to jut out a little more and my legs feel a bit different. Perhaps it's because nowadays I wear pretty much nothing but leggings - which basically cling to you no matter how big or small you are. When I lost weight before I used to struggle to hold my jeans up and had to invest in several belts and then several new jeans as I lost a couple of dress sizes. Perhaps It's just because of the mountain of work.... I do feel a tad drained because of it. I have this last essay to hand in on Wednesday and then that's pretty much it before Easter. On Thursday I have a meeting about my dissertation. I can't believe it's already so close to me considering what my dissertation will be on. I can't even begin to imagine how hard writing 10,000 words is going to be when I struggle to write essays up to 2500 words. I suppose I'll have to pick a topic I can babble on about for hours... Shakespeare it is then.

I'm also feeling a bit down as I have been applying for loads of part time or summer jobs for weeks now and I have not only not been successful yet but I hardly ever get any kind of response at all. I find myself sitting around hoping for replies just to get nothing. I have however just applied for 9-12 hours a week working at my local craft store which would be amazing. I do love crafting and getting a decent discount on some supplies and also working around crafts would be great. I would be able to keep those hours as I go into my last year of uni as well. Still, I am not expecting to get it. There must be hundreds of other students all applying for the same jobs.

I also feel like I should really get myself into the gym but this work is more important at the moment. I feel lazy and like I want to go and sweat it out. I'm really looking forward to handing this essay in on Wednesday when I intend to head straight for the gym after and spend an hour every day for the rest of the week there.

Sorry for this slightly depressing post, I am sure it's because of the amount of work I have piling up.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Crazy week

It really has been such a crazy week. Well, a crazy few days to be honest. On Thursday I got up and took Chris to work as normal for 9 am, but our journey was slightly different. I was in my usual early morning state which is quiet and trying to focus on where I am driving and not much else, I turned the corner heading into town and right by the side of the road there sat a rooster. "What the fuck is a rooster doing sitting on the side of the road?" I asked Chris, but before I could even finish my sentence, a chicken literally came running out of nowhere and jumped in front of my car. It is officially the biggest and most random animal I have ever ran over and I was distraught, mainly because of how unexpected it was. We live in Cheltenham which is a really busy town and it has been race week this week as well which means it would have been even busier than normal. Why was there a chicken and a rooster there?? Anyway, I slammed my break on, let go of the steering wheel to throw my hands up in the air and scream in a dramatic "Wallace and Gromit" fashion which obviously didn't help anyone.

 The feathers flew everywhere and I sat there shouting at Chris "Is it dead?? Have I killed it??" He had a look around and confirmed that the chicken was still alive, and as I checked my mirror, I saw her hobbling off the side of the road and back onto the path. So, my day started off with me running over a chicken. All I could think was "wow, I really shouldn't have got out of bed this morning, what's going to happen next??"

Well all I can really say is I am so glad that I did get out and stay out of bed because we actually managed to secure that massive 2 bedroom flat that we fell in love with! Yay! We officially move in on the 16th of April and I so cannot wait.

As I said, it is race week here in Cheltenham which involves lots of betting on horses and I do love a good betting session every now and then. Chris had been placing small bets online while at work all day and had lost between £5-£10 and when he got home there was time for one more race of the day. "I want you to pick this horse" he says, apparently he didn't know which horse to pick as none of them really stood out to him. So, I got excited and had a quick look at the list, I saw the one I wanted and said "That one". Of course I picked the horse named "Champagne Fever" whose jockey was dressed from head to toe in baby pink and he said "are you sure, dear?" Of course I'm sure, look at it! It's the most girly horse ever! "Alright then, if you insist. How much shall I put on? If I put it on this you will get money back if it comes in the top 5..." NOPE I want £2 on it to win. "Are you sure dear...?" Yes!..... So he put it on and about 20 minutes later we watched the race - Champagne Fever was ahead the whole time and won with no effort at all! Hello £30!

Then, on Friday, my cousin Lorna and I put our little mini business plan into action. As we are both very crafty and enjoy making things we decided to see if we should sell a few things. We made a facebook page which you can see here although there is hardly anything on there yet. We have a tonne of ideas of what to make but unfortunately we also have a tonne of work to be getting through. So, we decided that within the next month we will put it into action properly.

I am now working hard on my next essay which is 2500 words and that is going to keep me busy over the next week. I do plan on meeting up with Lorna again next Friday where we plan on going to look at some charity shops to see if there's anything exciting in there that we can recycle and make something cool out of. There's also a new 2nd hand furniture shop in town which I want to have a look in. Our new flat really is massive so I would like some more furniture that doesn't cost a bomb. I think I will have to keep looking in there every week to see if I find any bargains.

This evening we have unfortunately witnessed something truly awful in the world of football. Chris is a massive football fan and so we end up watching most matches. On Saturday's Bolton - Tottenham match, Fabrice Muamba collapsed after 41 minutes, with no other player anywhere near him. Medical staff from both teams rushed to the 23 year old and had to give him CPR in front of over 35,000 fans and both the teams, where a lot of the players broke down into tears. After 10 minutes of trying to get him back, they were forced to take him away on a stretcher, although he still was not breathing at this time. The CPR continued all the way in the ambulance to the hospital and now it has been confirmed that while he is now breathing, he is in a critical condition in intensive care within the heart attack unit. The match was abandoned and football fans left the stadium, shocked and in silence. I really hope that he pulls through and is alright, it's really scary to consider that he is my age and is about 1000 times fitter than me, and he basically dropped dead from heart issues. My thoughts go out to his family and I really hope that I wake up in the morning to good news. 

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Guest Post - Slimming World Weight Loss

Today I have a treat for you - the lovely Luna from over at From Miss to Mrs is going to tell you about her weight loss story via Slimming World so far. I have also written a guest post for her about my weight story where I have come clean about things that have happened in my life that have helped make me who I am today (something that I usually try not to do!) so have a look at that as well if you would like to know a little more about me.

Here is her story!

"Throughout primary school years I was a slim child, moving up to secondary school weighing around 4.5 stone. This is where my weight troubles began.

Me at my biggest

At secondary school there were suddenly all these temptations like the school tuck shop, the ice cream van on the grounds at lunch time and the occasional school dinner of sausage roll, chips & gravy. My first 2 years at the school my weight was fine, but when we moved house closer to my school, I no longer needed to get the bus home and would walk, and this walk would be via various shops selling far too tempting goodies! I spent the rest of my school and college years overweight. I was never massive (although I felt it at the time), but I was much bigger than I should have been at that age.

At about age 18 I joined Slimming World for the first time and lost around 1.5 stone, which by no means made me skinny, but brought me to clothes size 14, with 1 size 12 item too, which I was ecstatic about! However it was around this time that I got back into a relationship, and 6 months later I was off to uni, so Slimming World was forgotten about. At uni I was aware of my size, but it didn’t bother me too much. I was too busy having fun! My weight went up and down but I was around a size 16-18 throughout those years.
A couple of years after uni and along came Slimming World attempt number 2. This time I lost just over a stone, making me a size 14, and I was happy with this. I was having fun with my friends, going out lots, and just generally enjoying life! Again, Slimming World fell on the back burner.

Over the next 5 or 6 years I met my soon-to-be-hubby, changed jobs a few times, and then went back to uni again for a 1 year course. Over this time the weight crept on, and during my course it went on FAST! By the end of the course I was a massive size 20/22. I was fully aware of my size and how I looked, but at the time I wasn’t in a frame of mind to change it.

Change came about a year later – October 2011. My Mum had been losing weight slowly on her own, but felt she had reached a point where she needed extra support and asked if I fancied joining Slimming World with her (for the 3rd time!). I’m getting married this August (2012), and had already had the hard time of finding a plus sized wedding dress. I had chosen one in September, however it hadn’t yet been ordered (luckily).  By January I had lost 1st 3lb, I had dropped a dress size to a size 18! So I went to be measured and my dress was ordered, but wanting to push myself, I’ve ordered my dress to fit me as a size 16! This may not seem like much, but for someone who was a size 20/22 to hopefully get married in a size 16 dress will feel fantastic! My current weight loss is 1st 10lbs. I’ve estimated that I need a total weight loss of around 3st to fit into my dress, and I WILL do it!

An old picture (I have no recent ones!), but in this picture I am the same weight as I am currently. I can see the difference in my stomach and my face!"

Please leave a comment to wish her luck for not only her weight loss but to send her your warm wishes for her wedding! Do let me know if you check out my post over at her blog too!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Battle of the Bottles part 1

I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed this yet but Tesco have just started selling a new shampoo. I only noticed this as I finished up my shampoo/conditioner and face wash so needed to go and stock up. As a student I am always looking for cheaper products, particularly ones that do just as good a job as the more expensive ones. As I do all my shopping in Tesco anyway I always get my toiletries from there and that was when I actually picked up the bottle thinking that it was Herbal Essences, then as I went to put it into my basket I noticed that it had Tesco written on it. So how similar do the bottles look? Well they are not only the same shape but they also have each of the different colours matching the ones that Herbal Essences use. For example both the blue bottles provides a shampoo that targets dry hair. Lets have a look.

Obviously they're not exactly the same but they are incredibly similar. Close enough for me to buy the Tesco version thinking it was actually Herbal Essences if I was half asleep while shopping. I had a look at the price differences and I decided that the Tesco version was definitely worth a try. As I said, while I'm a student saving money on essentials like this makes me feel a lot better about buying extra little things that I don't need but would like. So what are the price differences? The Tesco My Senses version is being sold for £1.65 for 400ml while Herbal Essences is being sold for £3.32 for 400ml (prices are based on the blue bottle shampoo from Tesco) so there is a big difference in price. I have noticed that Herbal Essences have a special offer on at the moment and are selling theirs for £1.66 but this is just an offer and will only last a week or so. Perhaps the die hard Herbal Essences fans will stock up? 

So, over the next few days I will be washing and conditioning my hair with Tesco My Senses to see if it would be worth buying again as my go to product. I really hope it does well because I hate spending the best part of a tenner on essential hair products! I will post my findings towards the end of the week to make sure I use it enough times to give it a fair trial.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

My parcel is here!

I'm sure Jane is very happy to hear that my parcel from Canada finally arrived this morning! She had a giveaway on her blog where I won a copy of "The Catkins Diet" which is a cute little book that I'll be sitting down to read later on today. I also had a surprise that the lovely, sneaky lady also slipped some panda merchandise into the package! Along with a little note card thanking me for my interest and comments on her blog - which if you haven't had a look at yet you really should. It's full of interesting and often cute things that I had no idea about. I'm forever learning something new and keeping myself entertained when I check her blog.

The photo is a little blurry - I literally couldn't wait to take a picture of it and put it up here. Thanks Jane this really made my day! And also thank you for always checking out my blog too, it means a lot!

We have another flat viewing today (in an hour or so) where we will see a flat with its own private garden which would be lovely for Max (and for my sunbathing this summer...) - lets hope it's as nice as it looks in the pictures.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Crazy weight loss and Saturdays flat viewing

Well, the flat that we saw on Saturday... there's nothing much more to say except "wow". It's a 2 bedroom first floor apartment, just down the road from here and is literally twice the size of our current flat and probably even more. It would be amazing for us to have all that space and bills included means that although we'd be paying £200 more a month for the rent, we would have no bills to worry about and it would work out as being cheaper. It's come up at a really unfortunate time though as we are 5 weeks away from getting our student loans which we would be using to put towards the deposit etc. We are trying to work out our finances to see if we can stretch our money for a week or 2 as we really don't want to lose out. The good thing about this place is the fact that it allows us plenty of space to grow and would enable us to live there for a long time. After uni we will be wanting to buy our own house but it will take us time to be able to find decent jobs and save up for a good deposit, and as someone who used to work in a solicitors office I know how much conveyancing fees can amount to! Dare I say it but the 2nd bedroom is a really good size and the flat would even suit us up until we have our first child (a thought that really unsettles me!! haha!) So if we could get it, it would really be an amazing investment for us and our future but we think we will probably miss out on it unfortunately!

Anyway as for the "crazy weight loss" part of the post - unfortunately it is not mine! I have lost 3lbs this week which is brilliant and now puts me at 1 stone and 4lbs loss. I have to go to the doctor in 6-7 weeks and always get weighed when I go so I would like to lose the other 10lbs by then which if I keep up the good habits I should be able to do. It's crazy but there comes a time when you have lost enough weight that you really don't fancy rubbish food anymore as you realise that it'll undo all the good work you've been doing. For me it has been getting over the 1 stone hurdle and I am very content that after I have lost the rest of my weight and I'm happy with my figure, I can start treating myself to a cake here and there. Pinterest is also really helpful for keeping me working hard. There are so many motivational pictures up there in the fitness section that makes me think "no, I am happy with my salad and will have some treats very occasionally".

So, I bet you can all guess what the crazy weight loss is! Chris told me at the start of the week that he would also join the gym with me but that if he was going to be exercising he would want to sort his eating habits out as well. So for the most part of the week I have been cooking lean bits of meat like chicken and making my own honey mustard sauce for it so it's not boring, with new potatoes for him and a few for me accompanied by salad. We went to the gym 4 times and had a good laugh together - his mate Spence also goes to that gym and we saw him in there one night. It turns out all he goes there for is to lift weights and he spent 99% of his time just stood in the mirror!! That was a good laugh! Anyway, I have also corrected his dodgy habit of eating a bacon roll at work and instead given him 80p a day - enough money for him to buy 2 slices of brown toast in the morning as his breakfast and have been sending him with a packed lunch which includes wraps with ham and salad and bits of fruit as snacks. Before I tell you how much weight he has lost this week I would just like to state that I have not been starving him! I have simply stopped him snacking on rubbish and made each of his meals healthier. It shocks me that he's lost so much because he isn't a massive man! He is naturally solid and wide and has big shoulders and arms and his legs are very muscular but I wouldn't have said he had lots of weight to lose - perhaps he is just hiding it in all those wider places so it's less obvious?! So this week he has lost..... 9lbs!!!! I am so surprised and so proud of him! He also doesn't want to ruin his good habits and is really keen on making healthier lifestyle choices, although for his meal tonight I did give him a steak pie because I think he deserves it! Back onto the lean chicken tomorrow!

For those of you also working hard on your weight (I know there's a few of you!) here's a few bits of motivation that have been helping me this week.

Friday, 9 March 2012

I'm not ignoring you!

I've not been regular with my posts at all this week! It has been a bit manic and Chris and I have been talking about things that have happened this week and we have some big decisions to make.

Basically, what happened was Chris brought his bike home for 2 nights - he usually keeps it at work as he only uses it when I can't give him a lift to work, and on the second night... it disappeared. Our neighbours (there's only 3 of them) in this building all keep their bikes in the communal hallway so we assumed Chris' would be OK there for a couple of nights. Nope, wrong. One of them must've stolen it over night. One of our neighbours has been burgled several times in the past few years with no sign of force of entry into the main front door of the building. It's starting to make us really nervous and we don't want to live in a building with thieves anymore. Especially as Chris' bike was pretty much brand new and worth £600.

So, we've been researching how much it would cost us to move and actually discovered that if we got a flat with bills included in the rental price, we could actually save money in the long run by spending the money now to move, so this is hopefully what we'll be doing. We have a couple of viewings lined up in the next few days to see bigger flats with better heating and facilities, the first of which is tomorrow at 1:30. And it's only down the road from here too. Wish us luck! Have a fabby weekend whatever you're doing!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Writing tips by me!

I haven't posted anything about writing for a while - that is because I have had so much work for literature I've barely had the chance to think about writing! But now is the time when I have to start putting proper effort into the writing, and I was looking through my dramatic writing folder and realised there's a lot of really good notes in there. I know this shouldn't be shocking but I never used to be able to take notes - apparently I've got a lot better! So here's a list of writing tips that I have learned so far through university - I hope you writers enjoy reading it.

In no particular order...

Consider where your idea has come from - what has inspired you to write this piece of work? Research.

How well do you know your character? Make sure you know them, particularly the protagonist, as well as you can.

Make sure you give your characters something that makes them human. E.g, what are their hobbies? Perhaps make them quirky in some way in order for them to stand out? Maybe they are vegetarian, and always have been, but adore the smell of bacon? Sometimes these small details can be the difference between a flat and a well rounded character.

Know your main characters biggest desires, and also the worst thing that could possibly ever happen to them. Your story or play should incorporate these.

Consider the level of self-characterisation. How much does your character reflect your own personality, beliefs or experiences?

Prolepsis can be discouraged but sometimes it really works. Consider it and if you think it makes your work stronger, don't be afraid to use it.

Where did you find your characters from? Are they people you know? Did you just wake up one day with them in your head? Figure this out because it can help you write them better.

Use a rubber duck. This is what our lecturer refers to as getting the audiences or readers attention. Imagine going to see a play and for the first few moments nothing happens but a rubber duck sits in a spotlight. Let the audience think "why on earth is that rubber duck there??" and then get rid of it and continue on with your play, which is in no way related to rubber ducks.

Think of the midget. This point is particularly for playwrights. Don't end your scenes if you don't have to. Try to make them flow into each other in clever ways, otherwise the midget wheeling the curtain back and forth will get tired, and trust me, you don't want a tired midget controlling your curtain.

I think that'll do for now - these are the most important for me when I write, especially the rubber duck, I just love that idea! Starting my writing off with something really random that will grab attention feels somewhat exciting! Also I am in no way trying to be harsh about midgets, this is literally the words I have written in my folder as it makes me remember what I mean a lot easier! If anyone has any questions or opinions please feel free to leave me a comment or tweet me. I'd love to hear your ideas on what's important to well written work.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Dreaming of summer...

Today has been horrible. The worst part is that it hasn't really been horrible. It's been an average day, a fine day even. Do you ever get those days where you just roll out of bed feeling crap and you never really shift it? That's what my day has been like today. I had to get up early today as Chris had a big day - he's currently on placement for a year and he had to go into uni for the day to catch up with lecturers and other students on placements. He had made me (he didn't really make me, I could have gone to bed at any time if I wanted to...) stay up until about 2:30am watching Rules of Engagement and I apparently get cranky with only 5 hours sleep.

It is also Monday which means that I had to get weighed this morning and I found out that I had only lost another 1lb which I was very disappointed with. I was angry with myself for the rest of the day which I now realise is silly. At least I lost weight - I can't even begin to imagine how bad a mood I'd have been in if I had gained! I thought I had been really good this week especially since joining the gym but when I thought about it properly I realised there had been a few treats that I had forgot about! Apparently my body also needs to get used to going to the gym. So most of the day I have been moping around, crying here and there, and generally feeling rubbish for absolutely no decent reason. 

I know this is silly now and Chris has actually been really lovely about it. He suggested that we keep no naughty food in the cupboards and instead buy loads of fruit to snack on. He's even said that he'll eat salads with me more to give my weight loss a bit of a boost - it really reminds me why I love him so much as eating salads is a big deal for him!

One good thing about today has been the weather - it was really cold this morning but as the day went on the sun came out and was really lovely and kind of warm in the afternoon. This is a glimmer of  light reminding me not to get stressed out because summer is just round the corner. I just have a couple of weeks left until I get a whole month off, then only a couple of weeks back until I am free from lectures until October. This really makes me feel better - thinking of warming my body up with lovely summer days, feeling relaxed and calm and spending time doing whatever I want. Also hopefully being my target weight and treating myself to new summer clothes! This is the thought that's spurring me on as I do the last bulk of work for the year.

To remind myself of warmer climates and relaxed days here are a few pictures from our last holiday abroad in 2010 to Greece

Summer, if you're out there... please hurry up, I need you! 

Sunday, 4 March 2012

This weekend

So, this weekend has been rather productive. I have made a good start at reading Paradise Lost for my uni work. I'm actually really enjoying it so far. I know people are going to get bored of reading this but I really believe a lot of it is down to the gym! I feel so much better for going to the gym already, it's making me tired at the right times (about now!) and it's making me more alert in the day and also I'm less tired in the mornings and can get out of bed much easier. That even includes getting up at a decent time at the weekend! But there's been something really refreshing about getting good exercise, going home and having a relaxing bath, putting my PJ's on then getting into bed to read. As I mentioned in a previous post I only have a few more assignments to go until this year is over so I'm really going to put the effort in for the last few, I just keep reminding myself that it'll be summer soon and I can relax all I want then!

In between getting work and reading done I also practiced my crochet. I'm really shocked at how quickly I've got the hang of it. Here is my 2nd ever crochet attempt

I'm actually really impressed with myself! And then I stumbled across a hat pattern on Pinterest (again with this amazing website!) that claimed it was easy enough for a beginner. So I put that to the test and here is the result (or at least the start of the result)

I can confirm that it was definitely beginner friendly! I was really proud of myself, unfortunately I didn't have a hook big enough to match the pattern so it would have been a small version of what I was hoping for so I just stopped when I was happy that I could actually do it. I have however been out today and bought a bigger hook and also some gorgeous wool. I'll be starting the hat again sometime soon and trying to see if I can actually end up with a finished result to wear! I'm so happy that within literally a few days of learning how to crochet I have actually picked up a pattern and not only given it a go but I can do it! It took me years of knitting to even consider a pattern. For those who might be interested it is a pattern for a slouchy hat and you can find it here. I would really recommend that blog for anyone who fancies crocheting a hat - there's loads of different patterns to choose from depending on your skill level.

I have also put together my Mum's present for Mothers Day - I made her a roll up pouch for her knitting needles - I haven't taken a picture of it yet but I'll do that and post a picture in the next couple of days. It's a little bit messy but it does it's job and I think it's rather cute! I'm sure it'll be appreciated.

I have also been going to the gym this weekend and spending my evenings snuggled up on the sofa with my love watching our new favourite TV show - Rules of Engagement. If you haven't seen it and you enjoy lighthearted funny TV shows you will definitely get it by watching this. It's not very often that Chris and I find something to watch that we both really enjoy as much as each other so it's really lovely to find one that we can both look forward to watching together. 

I hope you've all had a good weekend. 

Friday, 2 March 2012

Feeling Inspired

I think this really good mood the past couple of days have been down to a few things - firstly getting in the gym for an hour a day really is making me feel so much more awake and leaves me buzzing. Secondly, I got my essay done that I was really struggling with. It wasn't a hard essay as such I just really didn't care about what I was reviewing and that made it really hard for me. I have never felt this way about a piece of work before so it was a bit of a shock to me and getting it done and being pretty pleased with the finished product has left me really wanting to savour my weekend and do some cool things.

First on the list, I have struggled with crochet since forever and I finally found a tutorial on youtube that I understood and could follow and I finally learned how to do it! Kind of! It was a very messy attempt but now I know what I'm doing I'm going to give it another go and see if I can get it looking neater.

I have also been thinking of what I can get my Mum for Mother's day that won't cost too much money and I came up with an idea that I'm really happy with and if it turns out good I'll be making one for myself. I bought this lovely material and I plan on getting my mini sewing machine out (I bought it in the sale for only £10 and have been dying to use it since!) and turning it into a roll up knitting needle holder with pockets for individual pairs of knitting needles. Fingers crossed it will turn out nice.

Also, I am now on Pinterest which has some amazing ideas for crafting amongst loads of other cool stuff. It takes a while to get used to but once you get the hang of it it really is amazing! I think this will be the year of the handmade gifts! Follow me if you're on there and I'll follow you back. 

This weekend for me will be spent reading Paradise Lost and probably doing some creative writing work as well as practicing my messy crochet and trying to sew what could be a really nice gift as long as my sewing skills are still half as good as they used to be. Have a great weekend everyone.