Thursday, 28 February 2013

Tiny hand-made things

When I was busy with Uni work last week I needed a new notebook and popped into Wilkinsons, I found a pencil case on sale (I've been looking for a new one for ages) and pens with clock print on them and a matching document wallet. I have a weakness for pretty stationary! It really cheers me up when I'm working. I even decorated the notebook to match everything else at the start of my week off. I used some ribbon I had lying around and the cameo from a necklace I got in a charity shop a while ago for 99p.

I've also done a few bits of sewing this week.

I made a brooch to match my pink jumper because I wanted a moon to go with my vintage star brooch =] I designed it free hand onto some denim I had left from shortening these trousers, back-stitching the outlines (and unpicking it many times when it wasn't right) because I couldn't find my tailor's chalk. Then I filled it in with long stitch. I ironed interfacing onto the back, then covered that with a layer of PVA (paranoid about fraying much?) then I glued it to some cardboard, covered that with felt and added a brooch back, so it's cute but not waterproof =P.

I made the mouse today, it's for my mum as a mother's day gift. It was going to be a bear, but my affinity for mice clearly came through and it's nose looked so mouse-like that I added the big ears, tail and whiskers! I made it up as I went along so it's not surprising it didn't turn out quite right, in fact I'm amazed that all the pieces fitted together at all, even allowing for the fact that when I stuffed it all the seams went crooked =P Not bad for a first attempt at a non-sock toy and the smallest I've ever made though, it's only 3 inches tall. Next time I won't use felt (even through it's great for small seam allowances; no fraying) because it's stiff and that makes the small pieces hard to turn the right way round!

I've also been making jewellery so watch this space for updates on that soon I promise!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Password? Mimbulus Mimbletonia!

Sorry for my long absence, I've been busy busy with Uni work and also...

I've been at Hogwarts!

The Warner Brothers Studio Tour London; The Making of Harry Potter was wonderful. It's the perfect museum for a Harry Potter fan which me and Ash both are! I got there and realized I'd forgotten my camera, but luckily my friend Kelly took looks of photos! I won't post many here in case any one is looking to go; I don't want to ruin the surprises!

I will however show you how big the Hogwarts gates are, how small I really am, or a combination of the two:

I know I promised photos of me and Ash playing quiddich in my homework, but there was a line of school children an hour long so we didn't go flying, in fact as per usual getting a photograph of Ash at all is difficult! He has a talent for avoiding cameras! Kelly took this one without him noticing =P

We were going to go on to London for a few days, but unfortunately we couldn't afford to, hotel prices in London are extortionate and we decided that we'd rather stay home, relax with some new video games and have Chinese take-away for tea =] We might go away somewhere more locally later in the week instead.

I'll leave you with a photo of all of us (except Ash who took the picture) on the bridge, one assumes from before Neville Longbottom and Seamus Finnigan got their hands on it =P

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Status Report and Homework.

Love What You Do

Thank you to Trystan for this topic! Visit her blog and take part here

(warning this post is a lengthy ramble, because I found it very hard to write. Feel free to skip down to the tl;dr section at the end!)

Paid work; I'm a web-monkey, a very chilly one!

The paid job I have now was obtained simply to provide the necessary funds to allow me to complete my PhD, I think I was unbelievably lucky to find it too. I love working for a small company, I love that I work in IT and Photography despite having no qualifications at all in either, I love that very little of my work involves dealing with the public, I love that my bosses are understanding about my PhD and thus my hours are very flexible, they don't care how I dress either.

 If the office wasn't so cold in winter I would happily stay working there for the next 3 or 4 years while I finish my PhD. I know that the temperature of an office is a silly thing to change jobs over but the days of not feeling my feet and typing in my mittens have really taken their toll on me this winter. I think my health is suffering and I worry about the long term impact. So unless they heat the office better; which I doubt (the big boss doesn't feel the cold, but does see the electricity bill). I will be looking for a new job before next winter.

Volunteering; history nerds paradise

 My unpaid job, volunteering for the Moseley Society Local History Group is fantastic, I'm getting involved in local history, finding out about fascinating people, discovering the transferable nature of the skills from my paid job to the field I really love. It's really helping me be inspired again too. Also I'm making connections with people who could offer me a job one day in the future if my ultimate academia dream doesn't come to fruition.

PhD of doom; you don't have to be mad or morbid to do this but it helps!

I've been really struggling with my PhD the past few months, I'm working on a very theory dense chapter which means fighting my way through other people's confusingly and often pretentiously written textbooks in order to decipher their theories about landscape, ritual, monuments or power, try to get my brain around them and apply them to my vastly different case studies. It's hard and it makes me feel stupid. Feeling stupid is not good for a researcher; it makes me feel as though I'm not worthy of my PhD. I'm still slogging away though, slowly, oh so slowly and I'm sure I'll get there in the end. In fact I wrote 2,000 words yesterday so hopefully I can keep that up, If I do that another 3 days in the next week, I'll have the chapter done in time to meet my supervisor!

The fact my university is closing my department and my supervisor might leave is really not helping my motivation. I couldn't even bring myself to apply for funding this year because I would have had to lie on the form. One of the sections was '100 words on why the University of Birmingham is the best place for you to study'. The truth is it’s not, I wanted to put;

 ‘I have dedicated 5 years of my life to this university already and I'll be damned if you closing the department and my supervisor threatening to leave is enough to make me uproot my whole life to another city. I've been working to pay for this PhD myself including all my fieldwork trips and a Human Osteology course because you cut that from my masters without the courtesy of telling me. Please just give me a break and hand me some money so I can live like a decent human being for a year whilst I write up my findings?' (100 words)

I didn't think that would go down too well though!

I also have things to look forward to though; fieldwork, which I am good at, which I do enjoy. I love finding a headstone that has faded through weathering, tracing the faint letters with my finger or looking at a memorial with missing lead lettering to play connect the dots and work out the inscription (lead lettering is held in with tiny pegs so when it's missing the holes from the pegs are left behind in the shapes of the letters). I love the peace and tranquility of the cemeteries and being surrounded with such beauty.

I need to spend one more day at Cathays in Cardiff, hopefully during March, then in May I finally get to go to Highgate and do my recording in the West cemetery! I'm so excited! The new CEO has been in communication with me to resolve the insurance issues and I can go ahead with my work! The photographs I take whilst I'm there will have to be for research purposes only, but I'll take some when I'm volunteering and share those with you instead =]

 I also have my Human Osteology course in April, a 3 day intensive course in Bournemouth, where I will hopefully pick up some of the knowledge I missed during my masters when the module was cancelled.

The tl;dr version:

My paid job has it's advantages but it's too damn cold there, at least I've lumped my hours into 3 days now to make time for volunteering at the Local History group which I really enjoy.

Sometimes it's hard to remember why I love my research but I do love it and I know it will be worth it in the end. I know more about the topic that anyone at my university, probably more than all but a handful of people in the world. My research, like my attire, is a way of making the fact I will never fit in work for me.

One day I hope to be the eccentric professor in the top hat, lecturing in a slightly over-excitable way about death and burial!

Homework: Date Night

Instead of turning in my Homework, this is an IOU Professor Z!

Me and Ash are celebrating Valentine's day late this year (combining it with his birthday celebrations) and going to London for a few days of wandering around museums, going to The Making of Harry Potter and generally being soppy romantics!

We don't go on 'dates' very often, especially not now we are living together, so It'll be really nice to spend 'quality time' together! Also I'm sure i'll find some excuse to get all dressed-up!

I'll certainly be taking this hat:

Let's hope I don't leave this one at Euston station!

Top Hat: From the Rag Market for £25, it's their children's size and I had to get it ordered in specially, decorated with ribbon and lace from another market stall!

I need to clean my camera lens!

I promise lot's of gooey, romantic pictures on the by the 2nd of March! Or at least pictures of us pretending to play Quiddich =P

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The new arrival

So last weekend I went to London to meet my little nephew! I didn't manage to get too many pictures, babies are hard to photograph I think. I didn't manage to get any pictures of Logan either (because 5 year olds running around with light-sabers are even harder to photograph =P)

I'm going to do the proud auntie thing and post the ones I do have here though anyway.
If you dislike babies or me being mushy look away now! Don't say I didn't warn you!

This is my dad being a proud granddad, although I still think he's too young to have 2 grand-kids! He best enjoy them though, he's not getting any more from me =P

This is my brother's mum (he's my half bro)

My sister-in-law Susy with the little one:

And finally my brother San being a totally modern dad, tablet computer in one hand so get through a hard level on Angry Birds Star Wars for Logan and baby in the other =P

Sometimes I'm sad that due to the practicalities of parenting my brother and sister-in-law never get to goth up anymore. No one could tell that Susy used to lend me her purple lipstick or that Dan has cyberdog t-shirts that are nearly as old as me from these pictures =P Mostly though I'm just glad I have 2 nephews to spoil rotten!

I don't have any pictures of me with Lucas either, partly because those are on dad's camera (if any of them came out) and partly because I only held him for a few minutes. Babies can sense your fear like horses apparently. He knew I was scared of dropping him!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

And The Winner Is...

I'm sorry that I'm a little late announcing the winner of my give-away. I was away at the weekend visiting my brother and meeting my baby nephew! I'll post some pictures of him soon. The prize was actually drawn last night but I fell asleep at 9 by accident! I'm working extra hours and my body is struggling to adjust.

I wrote down the name's of everyone that commented on my post (except those who asked not to be entered):

Then I cut all of the names into equal sized strips of paper:

I scrunched them all up and put them into an empty Quality Street tin (I knew Christmas chocolate had more than one use!). Sorry it wasn't a hat, my nice ones are at Dad's:

Then Ash, helped by his glamorous assistant Shelby, selected a name from the tin:

And the winner is:

Bixie Willow!

Bixie i'll be in touch to get your address to send the goodies to!

I was going to do another give-away at 100 followers, but if I carry on gaining followers at this rate I'll be bankrupted by doing a give-away for every 25 followers gained =P I'm at little astonished that so many of you want to read my rambling and look at my ugly mug! So the next give-away will probably be at 150 followers =]