Sunday, 27 January 2013

Snaily's Clog-Popping List

I've been inspired by Alice Pyne to write a bucket list. She passed away recently but her charity Alice's Escapes will go on raising money for sick kids to have a holiday (donate to her sister Milly here) and her family is still raising awareness of the bone marrow register (see the Anthony Nolan website). Alice's motto was "You only have one life... live it!"

I personally prefer the phrase "popping one's clogs" to "kicking the bucket" so here is my Clog-Popping List:

1 - Visit Japan

2 - Do a random act of kindness, e.g. paying for a stranger's shopping

3 - Take singing lessons

4 - Make a blanket

5 - Learn how to jive

6 - Keep a diary

7 - Get into a routine of properly exercising for at least an hour a week

8 - Learn Japanese to a passable level

9 - Get dressed up and eat at at a fancy restaurant, e.g. World Service - *done* 30/1/12

10 - Survive grad school, one way or another - *sort of done* July 2013

11 - Fit into a size 14 again

12 - Get over my needle-phobia and give blood

13 - See an opera

14 - See a ballet

15 - Join a choir

16 - Volunteer for a charity

17 - See the aurora borealis

18 - Own a decent camera, preferably with a macro lens and flash

19 - Learn to drive *done* Nov 2014

20 - Own a car

21 - Join the Bone Marrow Register - *done* Jun 2013

Friday, 7 September 2012

Homeware!

The other day I was in Primark and found a cute canvas which I bought for my kitchen (but ended up hanging it outside the bathroom..) for a mere £4. I’m not the biggest fan of the “Keep Calm and…” movement but I like the pastel colour and the suggestion that tea will fix any problem. Which is true. Unless your problem is scalding. You should seek medical attention. Stat.

Mine is a cornflower blue with a nice teapot picture but you get the gist.
Image from here.

Anyway, this purchase got me to thinking about how I would design my own house if I ever got one and if I was filthy rich. I think I’d like an old fashioned kitchen with oak and slate and a giant American style four-door fridge, but I would accessorise it with colourful things like this tray from Darling Clementine

Image from here.

It would probably be a designer’s nightmare and it may look like a collection of woodland creatures had thrown up on my surfaces but that’s what I like and I would be happy baking in there.

My bathroom would be a tranquil spa paradise, all fluffy white towels and bamboo greens with one of those wicked rainfall showers. Somewhere there would be glitter. And a bath with feet on a pedestal by a window facing something secluded and awesome (my own zillion acres of private grounds perhaps). Hmm… Do they make glittery baths with feet..? 

 …A quick Google later… 

Image from here.

Yes, I found a tub made of actual amethyst. It wasn't quite what I had in mind, I'm not convinced by the “bathing-in-an-oversized-FabergĂ©-egg” thing it has going on there. Maybe I’d just settle for glitter tiles.

My lounge would not have a real log burning fire because a recent experience with a fire-pit made me very aware that the smoke from burning wood permeates all clothing and makes me feel nauseous and headachey. Instead I would have under-floor heating everywhere with snuggly chairs and fleecy blankets left, right and centre. There would also be a cunningly disguised door which would lead to my amazing library of dreams  (I blame Frances Hodgson Burnett and Enid Blyton for my love of secret passages). It would have those brass stepladders on rails and the overall feel of a Victorian gentleman’s club but without the cigar smoke. Preferably high up in a turret and round like this one:

Image from here.

All the other rooms in my castle/mansion I'm not too fussed about. I guess I'd like a bedroom with fancy fitted wardrobes and a walk-in closet but that's about it.

The last important part of Barbie's Abbie's Dream House would be the epic garden. I would have a traditional walled kitchen garden with an English country feel and plenty of herbs, and I would have a spiffing fountain arrangement, and a heated swimming pool, but also, and most importantly, I would have one of these immense tree houses!





As it would be a fully-functioning wooden house, I'd probably let it out as a holiday home or use it mainly for throwing awesome parties. I blame Enid Blyton for this one too. I would probably go a bit mad and try to convince everyone I was Silky the Fairy from The Faraway Tree series. It's OK though because as mentioned earlier in this homeware fantasy blog I am incredibly wealthy and thus allowed to be eccentric, somewhat like the Marquess of Bath.

Image from here.

I will leave you with this Keep Calm poster generator which is entertaining for a while:

The Keep Calm-o-Matic

And also with some links for sites where you can find nice doodads and whatsits for the home:

Fab

Pussy Home Boutique

Sass and Belle

To Dry For

Atomic

BALTIC Shop

Monday, 25 June 2012

Games of the Week - Song Pop and Pocket Planes

Song Pop


If you have been awake the last couple of weeks you've probably heard of SongPop. I started playing a couple of weeks ago thanks to the recommendation of my friend Bex. Since then it's gained about 70,000 likes on Facebook. I will take all the credit for the trend!

It's an highly addictive name-that-tune game available on Facebook, iOS and Android. The idea is pretty simple. You get to listen to up to ten seconds of a song whilst being shown four possible answers of either song title or artist. You answer five per round and try to get a higher score than a friend (or a random opponent) by guessing quickly and by getting chains of correct answers. 


I have a feeling it will be around longer than Draw Something because of the ease of play and the option to buy more playlists.


Some things which would improve the game for me:

1 - A choice of rewards at the end of the weekly tournament (I never use those power-up things. I'd prefer some coins. Thanks.)

2 - A lifetime high score table. I got +22k and this was lost at the end of the week. This made me sad.

3 - A little preview of some songs on each playlist, it's rubbish if you buy a playlist and realise it wasn't what you thought. Especially the ambiguously named "I love NY". Apparently it's just songs about New York. How odd!

4 - A limited time refund option in case you accidentally choose the wrong playlist. Easier than having to email customer services.


Here's me getting thoroughly beaten by Toby:






Pocket Planes

Another recommendation from a friend, thanks go to Angela this time. Pocket Planes is a lovely little time-wasting game for the iPhone (no Wi-Fi required) where you purchase airports all over the world and fly people and cargo around. I'm currently dominating Europe with plans to expand business into the US and Asia ^_^


It's quite easy to make money in the game by completing journeys and so gameplay does not rely on those in-game real-money purchases I loathe so much. Have a go, but be warned it's rather addictive!







In other news, I think asshat may be my favourite ever insult. "He's such a total asshat!"

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Things I like - 7- Kawaii Stuff and Japan

Those who know me will know I have a minor obsession with anything Japanese or generally kawaii. Kawaii means cute in Japanese and the word tends to be used to describe things such as cartoons of food with faces, miniature items or plush toys.

Here's my new kawaii desk tidy from Paperchase!

Hello Kitty is kawaii. Especially when she's wearing a kimono and is accompanied by a big pink bow! My housemate Kate got me this wicked-cool necklace for my birthday from Tragic Stitches:

Image from here.

I also love Japanese animated movies and TV shows (anime). I'm currently awaiting the next new episode of Naruto Shippuden on Crunchyroll (it's all getting very exciting in the Hidden Leaf right now with another Great Ninja War kicking off) and I own a number of Studio Ghibli movies. The Hayao Miyazaki range includes some pretty beautiful and random typical-Japanese stuff, like Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Howl's Moving Castle, but also includes an anime version of The Borrowers, entitled The Secret World of Arrietty (Karigurashi no Arrietty). This story is a bit Americanised but with the lovely animation and charm of Miyazaki I'd give it a watch if I were you!

Image from here.

I first got introduced to Japanese music by listening to the theme tunes from the Naruto series. If you like Japanese music or think you'd like to give it a try, listen to G3 radio online on Tuesday evenings. My friends in Area 11 have a radio show where they play lots of sweet tunes and there's a chat room type thing so you can request songs and answer the question of the week if you are so inclined!

Here's a video with lyrics for Bluebird by Ikimono Gakari:



I have never been to Japan, a fact which makes me sad, and I will go one day I'm sure. Until then I will keep watching anime, eating sushi and katsu curry, listening to J-rock and buying stuff I think is cute. In short, continuing being an embarrassing Westerner who doesn't really know anything about Japan. I tried to learn more about Japan by taking a module of Japanese language in my second year of my undergraduate Biology degree. I spent months learning hiragana and katakana and trying to remember the Japanese for post office, business card and newspaper but instead remembering aisu-kurimu (ice cream), hanbaga (hamburger) and terebi (television) because they're pretty much just English words put into Japanese syllables. They're fun to say, give it a try!

Here are some sites I enjoy:

Ji Ji Kiki: A jewellery shop named after the characters in Kiki's Delivery Service. They sell lots of cute necklaces and earrings, a large proportion of which have cute faces on them. Say it with me now: Ka-wa-iiii!


Flutterscape: This is a marketplace which sells many things from Japan. Lots of collectibles and accessories to be found here.

Tofu Cute: A UK based store which sells accessories, stationary and Japanese snacks. I love the great selection of Puccho and Pocky, and the endless edamame popping keyrings!

Tokyo Kawaii Etc.: A website/blog written by a Japanese lady called Kirin. She writes about things going on in her life, makes videos and explains how things in Japan are different from other countries. 


Japanese lunches are the coolest!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Exercise

I haven't put "Things I Like" before "Exercise" because I'm not really sure if I like it yet. I was one of those kids at school who would fake a parent's letter or forget my gym clothes accidentally-on-purpose to get out of PE lessons. On the rare occasions I was forced to play team sports I'd loiter in a corner in my knickershorts (not to be confused with knickerbockers) hoping an errant kick wouldn't send the ball into my face and break my glasses. My teachers would despair on sports day trying to find something for me to do because I was crap at everything but eventually they dropped the "it's the taking part that counts" spiel and let me get away with being a spectator.

Unfortunately our school-issue knickershorts were not girly and flowery.
They were maroon. Nobody should be made to wear maroon.
Image from here.

Approximately 10 years later I was feeling optimistic and thought it might be fun to join my friend Katy in a spot of jogging. I downloaded an app for my iPhone called 5K Runner (there is a free download from the NHS which does the same job) which assumes you are a couch potato and starts you off slowly doing a minute of running and a minute of walking and builds you up over 8 weeks to be able to run a solid 5km. A nice male voice (we named him Lionel) tells you when to walk and when to run. Despite it being an easy introduction into the world of running I very nearly threw up after the first one and probably lost half my body weight in perspiration. It was a total of six minutes of running. Yes that is how unfit I am!

My body was pretty shocked by this sudden attempt at faster-than-a-stroll movement and promptly punished me for trying to get fit by giving me a nasty bout of shin splints. For those who don't know, it feels pretty much like your shin bones are about to snap in half and just pop on out of your skin. It is highly unpleasant and may make you cry a bit.

That meant I had to stop the running for at least two weeks and so I thought I'd try a bit of swimming instead. Unfortunately the day I chose to start my new regime was the day the under-15 Nottingham swimming team practises. It's not great for the ego when little wiry 13-year-olds with six packs are tumble turning all over your best effort at a breaststroke. Plus one of them chucked up in the loos. I was a little sympathetic knowing how nauseated I felt after my first run, but it was still gross and has put me off going for another swim in the near future.

The shin splints also stopped me playing badminton (now there's one sport I really do enjoy playing), because the stop-start nature of the game means there's a lot of pressure put on the ol' shins. Now I'm better I will start playing again and I will also return to Zumba classes (it's a mix between aerobics and latin dance) so one day I will look like this: 

Image from here.
Since I went on holiday I've put back on the few pounds I'd managed to shed with the running. All-inclusive buffet meals will do that to ya. I am determined to start eating better (as soon as I finish this last bag of Cadbury's Caramel Nibbles), to start exercising properly again and to catch up to my mum who also started the 5k running challenge when I did and is almost at the 30 minute continuous run stage. It's nice to have a goal to aim for!

In the spirit of sports, here's a dog called Maddie who's really good at standing on stuff. Check out the blog maddieonthings for more!


Image from here.




Image from here.



Tuesday, 24 April 2012

On Ho-li-day!

From today all will be quiet on the blogging front for two weeks. I'm off on holiday! Yay! I'll bring you back a gift ok?

Friday, 20 April 2012

Things I Like - 6 - Games

I started gaming at a fairly early age. Having an older brother probably had something do with this because there were consoles around the house. I guess I must have been about 5 or 6 when I started playing. I'm just gonna name some games here that I was pretty obsessed with at some time or another in my life.

The first game I properly got into, along with the rest of my family, was Alex Kidd in Miracle World. I was pretty good at it until the stupid motorbike level where there are spikes on the ground and monkeys which throw killer leaves at you. I used to get my dad to do it for me. The video below shows someone doing it in ~30 seconds which upsets me because I still repeatedly fail at this level now I'm grown up!

Whilst Googling for things relating to this game I found this in the Wiki article: 
"The game did have an undocumented "continue" feature, where the player could continue the game with three lives from the beginning of the level where Alex had died, by holding the up button and pressing the 2 button eight times during the GAME OVER screen." 

WHAT?! I did not know this! In the dark days without saves this would have been good to know! A lack of save ability also meant if you got tired and wanted to play another day you had to leave the console on pause overnight. I wonder if any house fires were started this way.

Other games of note for the Master System include: Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap and Taz-mania.

Scene from Discworld II. Image Here.
When we got our first home PC (a Gateway 2000) I couldn't find anything more exciting to play with than MS Paint (which has come a long way on Windows 7), Encarta 96 (which is amazing) and MS Bob (which I had lots of fun with but didn't comprehend the actual purpose of) until someone in the house bought Dragon Lore: The Legend BeginsSimon the Sorceror and Discworld II: Missing Presumed...!? I hadn't read any Discworld books by this point so I was mostly amused by the characters of the Luggage, the wizards and the beggars (favourite being the Duck Man, least favourite being Coffin Henry), but I've since realised the game is based on three really good books from the series, namely Lords and Ladies (the elvish stuff), Moving Pictures (the movie set stuff) and Reaper Man (Fourecks and missing DEATH stuff). I no longer own this game but would really love to play it through again. I think it should be re-released for download on Xbox or PS3. I'd also like to have a go at Dragon Lore again. It was much too hard for an 8 year old me, but I think I could figure it out now. Same goes for Myst.

Weird dog thing from Dragon Lore
One Christmas I got an N64. This was probably the best Christmas ever. I think I got a bike too. Spoiled much? For weeks and weeks on Friday film night I would go to Global Video and rent out Banjo-Kazooie and hope my save game from last weekend was still there. Recently I downloaded it for Xbox 360 and got as far as the final battle with Gruntilda but she kept on kicking my ass and I got grumpy and gave up. Even the Jinjos couldn't save me. I think it goes without saying that Zelda: Ocarina of Time was also an obsession and so, too, was Diddy Kong Racing. I still believe that Nintendo make the best games for pure fun purposes.

Image Here
Next, the advent of the PlayStation. I had a PS1 and PS2 and was introduced to the Final Fantasy series by my cousin Rob. I wasn't too into FFVII. Sacrilege to some I know, but I couldn't get past the stupid snake at the start and I got sad when Aeris died. I was instead firmly addicted to FFIX. I liked collecting the cards for Tetra Master and I love the towns and scenery and the airships. After that I played a lot of FFX, and once when I had some teeth extracted and had a general anaesthetic, I had an incredibly vivid dream that I was a character in it. It was the best dentist trip I ever had.
Most recently I got my hands on an Xbox 360 and entered into the absorbing Bethesda world of Oblivion. And then Skyrim. Both of these games have eaten a huge chunk of my waking hours. I think they're so addictive because they feel impossible to complete and fully explore and this keeps me turning on my console and trying to get my Archery skill to 100. [Insert arrow in knee meme here]. Although I will say that I wish some of the quest lines like the Thieves Guild and Companions could have been a little longer. I still enjoyed playing them through though!

Image Here
Feel free to educate me if I missed out on some awesome games so far!