30 April 2012

Broken Lego Bench Monday

What with all this bad weather we've been having, this Lego bench looks like it's taken a beating from the strong winds. Luckily we have a handyman onto it already. It should be fixed in no time.

29 April 2012

Z is for...Zooey Deschanel

My utter girl crush of this year so far is Zooey Deschanel. She's gorgeous, cute, funky, stylish, funny, and talented - sigh. From acting in the hilarious Christmas film, Elf, to the quirky New Girl; and even some singing too. She just seems like someone who'd be fun to hang out with. You can follow Zooey on Twitter here. And here is the New Girl theme tune for you to enjoy:

Well that is the end of the A-Z blog challenge! It has been challenging at times, especially thinking of something for these last few letters, but I hope I've managed to entertain a few new readers who will hopefully stick around. I know I've found some new blogs to read.............

28 April 2012

Y is for...Yellow

I am really loving anything yellow at the moment. Maybe that's because it reminds me of that hot ball in the sky that used to come out in the summertime, or maybe it's just because it is such a happy, warm colour to look at! Either way, I've scoured the net and made a Pinterest board entirely dedicated to happy, sunny yellow. I hope it makes you smile too! 

27 April 2012

X is for....well, X

That's how imaginative I'm feeling today. I was searching for something that begins with X to write about, when I found a few interesting facts about the letter itself that I thought were worth sharing.

  • X-rays were given that name because their discoverer, Wilheim Conrad Rontgen, didn't known what they were.
  • Xs are drawn instead of eyes in cartoons, to indicate the death of a character.
  • The letter X is the most known symbol of the 'straight edge' lifestyle, a subculture of hardcore punk whose followers refrain from using alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs

26 April 2012

W is for...Weird News

I get really wound up watching the news on TV, as it always feels like they are either catastrophising issues or trying to sway us to one opinion or another by a biased use of the facts. I prefer to read the news on the internet (usually the BBC or Telegraph websites), although I do watch local news which tends to be less irritating. And I have to just mention a particular pet hate of mine, which is the outside broadcast - frequently this will be from outside a victim or suspect's house, a court after hours or somewhere equally unnecessary. Do we really need to hear the news being read from the spot that it happened or from outside a house? No. Does it add anything to the broadcast? No. 

So I read the news online mostly, so I can choose which stories interest me, look up other opinions and compare what different reporters have to say. After skimming through the main headlines and reading any interesting stories, I'll usually have a quick look at the 'weird news' section. If you just need something lighthearted after reading about all the death and despair in the world, then this is the place to head to! For instance, today I read about the Brazilian girl selling most of her 1.6m long hair to get herself out of poverty, about the woman who saved her dog from the claws of an eagle that swooped down to grab it, and that tourism in Kazakhstan has increased tenfold all thanks to Borat! You don't generally get that information on News at 10!

25 April 2012

V is for...Vampire Films

I admit I love a good vampire film or TV show. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favourite show of all time, closely followed by Angel. I don't watch all vampire related shows, and have yet to see The Vampire Diaries, or get into True Blood. When it comes to vampire films, here are some of my favourites:
  • Blade (1998) - very cool vampire superhero action film
  • Let the Right One In (2008) - moving Swedish child vampire story 
  • Daybreakers (2009) - surviving the vampire plague
  • Dracula (1992) - no explanation required here!
  • And......I am Legend (2007) which isn't strictly a vampire film, but as Wikipedia says, the virus sweeping the world creates vampiristic beings.

U is for...Unicorns

Enjoy a fab collection of unicorn-based craft from Etsy here as a treasury! Finally worked out how to get an image on here!!!

23 April 2012

T is for...Turin Brakes

It's rare to find an artist whose music you are always in the mood to listen to. I have music for all of my different moods, but there is one band who just seems to tick every box for me, and that is Turin Brakes. I first heard them back in 2001 with the song 'The Door':

I then bought their first album 'The Optimist LP' and there began my love affair. Described on Wikipedia as a modern folk duo, I've never really been sure what musical category they belong to. 'Folk' always conjures up very different images, but I guess it is indie acoustic modern folk (!). Their songs are beautifully written and the lead singer has an amazing quality to his voice that I could literally listen to forever. I've had the privilege to see them live quite a few times now and every time they were just brilliant; with little gem covers like these thrown in:

I've laughed, cried, read, relaxed, danced and fallen asleep/woken up to their music for the last 11 years, and I hope they continue to make such amazing, beautiful and sincere music for the next 11 and beyond.  Thank you Turin Brakes.

Hungry Lego Bench Monday!

A typical spring afternoon in the park - a mother watches over her son as he feeds the ducks on the pond - ahh.

21 April 2012

S is for ...Supernatural

When my TV decided to give up on life last month I was thrown into the rather confusing world of the electrical retail store. Faced with an abundance of shiny sexy gadgets, I eventually emerged with a Smart TV. That's right, even the TVs are getting education these days. For those of you who are obviously still living in last week, a Smart TV is one that can connect to the internet. It sounds like a useless gimmick, until you realise it means you can watch YouTube, BBC iplayer and other internet-based film/music channels through your TV - yay.

Netflix had not long launched in the UK, but after buying said Smart TV, I discovered that it isn't actually that smart after all. Sony TVs don't support Netflix! You what?! Yes, that was my reaction, but after some digging and poking on the net, I found that there is a way to watch the US version of Netflix here in the UK. You have to tiptoe quietly in the backdoor of US Netflix, via a site called Unblock Us, which sets you up as if you were located in the US. Then after entering some funny numbers in your TV and some unknown jiggery pokery.....dah dah....you have access to a veritable smorgasboard of entertainment! 

Onto the supposed subject of my post - I finally plucked up the courage to watch Supernatural (I scare super easily!), and I am officially addicted. I have a rule though - I don't watch it on my own if it is dark; just in case. It isn't actually scary at the time, but alone late at night, my mind has a tendency to replay and imagine stuff I'd rather not see. The best bit of the show isn't the rather attractive young men who play Sam and Dean (although older brother Dean especially is very, very easy on the eye), and it's not the similarity to my favourite show of all time (Buffy), it's the fact that I have a whole SEVEN seasons to catch up on, and they are still making more. Happy days.

20 April 2012

R is for ...Refreshers

Just a little moan today about my childhood, and probably all time, favourite sweets; Refreshers. I could, and have many times, munched my way through a whole packet in about 5 minutes. I've tried endless variations on ways to devour them too - sucking, licking, crunching, I've tried them all (ahem). I've even managed to suck right through the middle to turn them into whole Refreshers 'polos'. 

However, there seems to be an issue of late with my favourite sugar snack, and that involves the word 'natural' which now appears on the beautiful multicolour packet of dreams. Natural flavourings only is great for things like yoghurt or fruit drinks, but is it really necessary to change the amazing taste of these incredibly unique and special sweets in order to make them natural? They are pink, green, yellow and orange fizzy discs - that is not remotely natural. It is not as if anyone consumes these as a part of their daily diet is it? I just don't see why sugary, yes-they-rot-your-teeth-but occasionally-as-a-treat-is-OK sweets need to be made from natural colours and flavourings. If it could be done with no compromise on taste I would support it fully, but they are just not the same.

I'm going to see if I can get my hands on any black market unnatural Refreshers. I'll be the one hanging round street corners asking if you've got any sweets.

19 April 2012

Q is for ...Quixotic

Q always causes problems. In scrabble it's the annoyance of needing a U to make a word. Unless you're one of those irritating people that scour the official Scrabble dictionary to come up with stupid words that noone has ever heard of (if you are one of those people, you might like to look here!). 

The only thing I've bought lately that starts with a Q is the album Quixotic by Martina Topley-Bird. By choosing this as my daily post, I am giving those aforementioned Scrabble enthusiasts a new killer word - Q and X means a pretty big score - imagine that on a triple word-er!  The album itself, incidentally is really good, but hard to describe. I suggest you have a listen to some tracks on her myspace page and make up your own mind. 

So, what the hell does quixotic mean anyway? Well,  According to dictionary.com it has 3 meanings, so we can take our pick;

  1. resembling or befitting Don Quixote
  2. extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical or impracticable
  3. impulsive and often rashly unpredictable
I like number 3 best. I wonder if I can get quixotic into a sentence today...........

18 April 2012

P is for...Picmonkey

A quick post on the eve of the closure of Picnik to spread the brilliant news about Picmonkey. Created by some of the engineers behind Picnik, Picmonkey has most of the same features already (with more to come), and some new ones too. The best bit though is that it is even faster! (And has a cool monkey logo!!)

17 April 2012

O is for...Origami

I bought myself an Origami 365 desk calendar this year, and I found my childhood origami book, so I have been keeping busy making cute little paper models. There are some free origami instructions available on the net too, so you can have a go right now!

My favourite model so far is the goldfish!!

16 April 2012

N is for...Nails

On 31st Dec 2011 I gave up a habit of a lifetime (literally), when I stopped biting my nails. I was so ashamed of having ugly, chewed and sore nails, that I somehow managed to give up. I have had a few struggles and currently 2 nails are lower than the others, but I'm pretty sure they will catch up without me chewing them again.  It might not last forever, but while it does I am enjoying using nail varnish. I've been searching the net for some easy, but fancy, nail designs I could try out myself. There are a fair few tutorials out there, which is great for me because I've never had nails to do anything with before, so am a bit clueless. Follow the links on these photos to see the tutorials on the various sites - they are so creative and well worth a look!

Happy Lego Bench Monday!

Looks like Woody is still a little bit worried about Buzz being the better toy.

15 April 2012

M is for...Music

I can't really play any instruments, and I definitely can't sing, but I do love music. I have to make do with listening to other people play and sing, but I guess that's not too bad considering. I can always (and do) warble along to their songs anyway. I've made a conscious effort to discover even more music lately, and have been rewarded with some corkers! Here are some of the songs and artists I thought were worth sharing with you all. Hope you find something you like.......and I'd love to hear from you if you do!

13 April 2012

L is for... Lalaloopsy

Yes I know how old I am, but Lalaloopsy dolls are just so adorable. They were once rag dolls who came to life when their very last stitch was sewn! They each have personalities that come from the fabrics used to create them. In another life, I think I could have been the creator of Lalaloopsy - button eyes, vintage fabrics, tea, baking, sewing - all very 'me' - but alas, I just have to make do with collecting them instead. 

My latest 2 mini dolls are Sir Battlescarred and Lady Stillwaiting, who come with such cute little accessories and pets too (a dragon and a unicorn). You can use their packaging as a little scene/house too.

My large doll is Prairie Dusty Trails. I bought her because she has brown hair, and as a child I was always annoyed by the amount of blonde dolls compared to brunettes. Seems this has carried on into adulthood.

12 April 2012

K is for... Karl Pilkington

As soon as I discovered the Ricky Gervais podcasts I was hooked. Not on him, but on his 'sidekick' and producer, Karl Pilkington. There is no better man to introduce him than Ricky himself, so take a look at this if you fancy a laugh!! There are plenty more where this came from. I have cried with laughter at his little ideas and phrases, and I hope you will too.

Oh, just one more...........go on............

11 April 2012

J is for... Jewellery

One of my goals on my '30 before 30' project list this year was to make myself a pair of earrings. They are now complete!

I had so much fun choosing the supplies and finding others in charity shops, that I'm going to be making some more jewellery, and maybe even some to sell in my shop too! We'd all love to be able to buy lots of expensive classic jewellery, but even if I could I'd still be tempted by all the cheap and funky jewellery in the shops. These are some of my favourite little finds:

10 April 2012

I is for ... Iwako Erasers

They aren't just any ordinary erasers - these ones come in very cute, intricate designs; including animals, food and even transport! They are Japanese, but a great shop to buy them from in the UK is Fun Art Online. They aren't the cheapest erasers I've ever bought, but I think I'll get my moneys worth by using them as photo props. I already used my little cows for the Project 52 theme of 'variety', and I know they will feature a lot more in the next few months. 

You can also get these fab little tins to store them in!

Fancy a biccie with your tea?!

09 April 2012

H is for ...the Happiness Project

A short mention today of the great book by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project, where she devoted a year of her life to trying to make herself happier. I can see how it could split readers because the author took a very systematic, rational approach to happiness, whereas many people think happiness is not something that can be worked on in this way. I like organisation and structure so I really enjoyed it. I tried to create a Happiness Project plan of my own, but due to things being a bit all over the place this last 6 months, it hasn't really panned out yet. Hopefully when I've got things a bit more settled in my everyday life then I will be able to work out a plan to stick to. So, it's not for everyone, but if you like this sort of approach then give it a read!!

Happy Lego Bench Monday

Happy Easter!

07 April 2012

G is for... Goodreads.com

I can't remember how I discovered goodreads.com, but I will definitely be using it from now on. Goodreads is a site where users can record the books they've read, and give them ratings and reviews. This information is catalogued in a social networking kind of way, so that you can add friends and see what others are reading. Once you have added and rated 20 books, goodreads uses an algorithm to recommend further books you might enjoy - genius!

Even if you simply use it to keep a private record of your reading, I think goodreads is brilliant for everyone. And it is totally free. You can also add a 'currently reading' badge to your blog (like I have in my sidebar), and one showing a list of your favourite books, so your followers can join in too. I'm currently reading Catch 22, and it is a very different book to anything else I've read, but enjoyable so far. Add me on goodreads and you can find out what I thought of it once I've finished!!!

06 April 2012

F is for...Fashion (on the cheap!)

Like a lot of people, I don't have endless amounts of money to spend on clothes, but I love fashion and shopping. Thankfully for me, there has been a real trend for cheap 'throwaway' fashion on the high street, and online, in the past few years. Of course this isn't all good news - many cheap stores have been accused in the past of using sweatshops and exploiting workers in the developing world, and items can be of a much lower quality. I might be naive but I hope that this is improving and that stores are much more ethical than they used to be. Surely they have to be now awareness of these problems is so high. There are certainly more ethical trading claims in stores now.

With the negative side over, lets celebrate the fun side! The most obvious store to mention is Primark. I remember when it arrived in my town. I had never heard of it before, but I soon discovered the magic prices and its nickname 'Primani' (as in Armani). It often seems that everyone out shopping in town is clutching a brown paper Primark bag. I'm sure most of them just went in for a pair of socks and came out with 3 tops, a bag and 2 necklaces, or is that just me? 

A couple of my more recent discoveries are Apricot and Select. I found Apricot as a small concession in New Look, but they do have some stores of their own and a great website. I especially love their tunics and dresses.

A chance visit to a new Select store in town led me to find some much needed knitwear this winter, and their website has some fab spring/summer clothes now too.

05 April 2012

E is for... Easter and Eggs

Not very original I know, but I have some nice little Easter and egg themed photos for you today. I admit I was scratching around for items to photograph because I didn't have time to do any Easter baking yet, but enjoy what I did manage to find:

And even Blythe wanted to get in the Easter bunny spirit:

Last week ... in one sentence

Mon 26th: We've got a scorcher of a week coming up - should help my paint dry and put a smile on my face.

Tuesday 27th: I'm really surprised at how my nails are fixing themselves after so many years of abuse.

Wed 28th: It can be so hard to gauge a person's tone from an email or a letter - sometimes things can seem much harsher in written words.

Thurs 29th:  I managed to get a download of the New Girl theme tune and it been playing in my head all day! 

Fri 30th: I hate falling asleep on the sofa, especially when it happens at the end of a film or tv show you really wanted to watch.

Sat 31st:  Feeling pretty irritable today so I think some meditation is in order next week.

Sun 1st April: The new aquarium is set up and looking amazing!

04 April 2012

A couple of weeks ago....in one sentence

Aaah, I'd forgotten to publish the last 2 weeks of my one sentence journal. Better late than never.

Mon 19th: Perhaps I should just give in and join Twitter; after all, these one sentence journals are just daily tweets I suppose.

Tues 20th: The film Revolver makes no sense at all, so I had to look up the synopsis online - now I get it (kind of).

Wed 21st: I just peeled a carrot in the bathroom; and that's not some sort of euphemism, I'm having my kitchen repaired and my house is all over the place.

Thurs 22nd: It is so much nicer getting someone else to do the tricky tiling in my kitchen, and it looks great.

Friday 23rd: The kitchen is complete, but now my work in there begins.

Saturday 24th: I'd forgotten how solvent based paint can make you feel kinda woosy!

Sunday 25th: Painting doors with glass in them is not fun.

D is for...Doctors

That's the BBC TV show, not actual healthcare practitioners (although I'm sure they all deserve a mention too). It is one of my guilty pleasures that I like to watch the daytime soap opera Doctors. I record it. Everyday. There, I said it.

For those of you who have never seen an epsiode, Doctors is set in a health centre in the fictional town of Letherbridge. I don't think this town is overly representative of the UK population, as there are only ever 1 or 2 patients in the waiting room at once, and you can get an appointment just by walking in on the off chance. The doctors themselves live fascinating lives and they frequently become personally involved in their patient's lives too - they even have time to drop everything in the middle of a working day to make house calls and generally save the day. 

I'm not selling it to you yet? How about I tell you that since I have been an obsessed avid viewer (less than a year), storylines have included; murder, attempted murder, being caught smoking tarragon, squatters, running a brothel (of sorts), domestic violence by a woman, and a man who thought his ventriloquist dummy was talking to him. I have to say, the funniest episode was about a chimney sweep with a phobia of soot! You see, it is brilliant!

I struggled to find a short clip on You Tube so this is the best I could find, just to give you a taster:

This will probably only make sense to other Doctors fans out there, but I have to mention that my favourite characters are Zara (I love the way she is sarcastic, sharp and bitchy) and Imogen (she likes art and photography). The best storyline was Harrison killing Lauren then trying to get away with it, and the most annoying was Akono staying with Mrs Tembe. 

03 April 2012

C is for...Cameras

Today's topic just had to be cameras. There was no other option. Cameras are like shoes - a girl can never have too many. I can't anyway. So I thought I'd share a selection of cute or unusual cameras I've spotted whilst trawling the net.

A good place to find film cameras is lomography.com as they have loads of designs and colour options too. I particularly like the leopard print Diana mini, and the 'I love you' Fisheye no.2:

Another good place to discover new cameras and useful photography-related gear is the awesome photojojo.com. I've placed a couple of orders in the past and you get great service, fast shipping from the USA to UK and a free toy dinosaur with every package! What more could you want? The Holga twin lens with colour flash (and smiley face) is one of my faves.

If you don't mind ordering from Asia, eBay has some fab bargains on 35mm toy cameras too. I bought a purple Holga from Hong Kong and it arrived within a week! The Holga meow camera would be a fun addition to a camera collection, as it makes actual cat sounds when you press the shutter!!

Source: ebay.co.uk via Claire on Pinterest

Some other finds on eBay include another cat camera (although this one is digital), and the Pentax NB1000 Nanoblock camera - what could possibly be better than a 14MP digital camera with basically a Lego board attached to the front?! You can build anything you want on it! Lego Bench Monday would look great on there!

Source: ebay.co.uk via Claire on Pinterest

Source: ebay.co.uk via Claire on Pinterest

If factory produced cameras are not for you, how about making your own? You can actually build your own Holga from a DIY kit, or glue together your own paper pinhole camera!

Source: ebay.co.uk via Claire on Pinterest

I've saved the most amazing until last........a Polaroid camera that is both instant AND digital!!!! This blows my little mind.
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