Monday 31 January 2011

Twistout Bangs and a Handmade Hat

Under my hat, under my satin scarf, I have my hair in big medium twists, having *finally* taken down and det-tangled my previous sets of twists.

Yes, my hair is shorter. I'll talk about that later this week.

Seriously. I know I say this all the time, but I'm  not going to do another set of smallish twists for a looooooong time!

Anyhoo, as usual, my bangs are present for the world to see, so I simply undid the twists in front, separated them a little and then pinned them to the side.

The flower is from Claire's Accessories - 2 for £3.50 (well, it was before VAT went up).
The hat, I love. Because it is pretty and it is bright and I made it myself.

Yes that's right! With my own hands (and a crochet hook and a ball of yarn).

View from the top
The pattern can be found here.
It uses American terms, so if you've learnt the British terms, you might want to take a look here to see the translation.
I had some problems with the FPdc instruction, so I checked out this video.
The yarn I used wasn't the recommended one, but it was 100g of double knit and I got it from my local shop for about £2.49. 
I still have quite a bit left, so I might use it to make a Valentine's gift for Lady V or the Faerie :)
It took me about 4 days, in between other things I was doing. I think I modified it, and added about 2 more rounds after rnd20 to make it a little tighter.

You need 2 crochet hooks, sizes 4.50mm and 5.00mm (or US sizes 7 and 8[H]). You can get away with just using the smaller sized hook if you're pressed with money.
They usually cost about £1.50 each, so this hat cost me £3.99 (seeing as I've used the hooks more than once).

If you're a beginner, and the Phannie hat looks way too complicated, you can try the Threadbangers hat tutorial, which requires a size 6mm (J) crochet hook. That one only took me a day to do, but that was of constantly crocheting. If you're completely new to crocheting, but want to get started, you can take a look at their How-to video here.

Happy crafting! 

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Glee Recap: Season 2, Episode 3

After the froth and fun of last weeks episode, Glee swings the pendulum to the other end of the spectrum, with a deep look at the way the Glee kids see spirituality. Someone's suffering from a crisis, which provokes everyone to have a look at their beliefs as they try and deal with what's happening in their on way.
(Larks, sounds a bit like an angsty teen novel). Some people say they cried. But I think they're a bit lame. Read on to find out more!

Monday 24 January 2011

A Tale of Woe (and quite a bit of Self-Pity)

I've been AWOL a little bit, trying to recover from the truly disastrous JET interview I had last Monday.

It's a tale of Squirrels, Sweet Potatoes and Subconscious Self-Sabotage
Here's the run down:

It started off well enough. I got the letter informing me I had an interview on Wednesday and celebrated by bootie popping in The Faerie's kitchen.
But then I realised that the day of the interview was the 17th - in four days.

And I still had a 4000 word assignment to complete.
Cue a big slump of melancholy into my Chicken Quesadilla.
Quesdaillas are not sad food, nor have I ever been known to be sad when food is present, so this was indeed an odd image for the Faerie to see. She scraped me off her table and sent me home to sleep.

I'd reached my target and now I had to go back and edit all 4,213 words to prevent being penalised for going over the word limit. And reference everything (which is going back over everything I'd written and giving credit to the people whose information I had used in the longest, most arduous and specific manner possible).
The outside world became a fairy tale I'd heard of when I was young. I immersed myself in my topic and began to curse out the forebearers of the  people I was talking about in my essay. The amazing Bobbi Jane Gardener has advised me to do my research and given me an amazing amount of info regarding what to do if I get an interview, so at intermittent intervals, I would open a new tab and do some Japanese research, on sites like NHK - ah, the government has had a reshuffle! Interesting...and something about a whaling ship - am I allowed to discuss such sensitive topics in my interview?! Okinawa, Okinawa...I read alllll about Okinawa (because I'd mentioned it in my application form).  Looked back on the JET website, about what kind of person they were looking for to take up the mantle of ALT.
I made notes. NOTES!
I started to feel more confident. I started thinking, hey, maybe I could do this.
They say optimism comes before a disastrous Friday evening.

I re-read acceptance letter from JET in order to plan my journey.

Right, so I need 4 passport pictures, my acceptance letter and my passport for the interview.



My passport?

As in, the passport that I had left at home?

The home that is 150 miles away?

I phoned the JET desk and asked if any other form of identification was possible, but it's the Japanese embassy, so that's a massive no.

To say I had a bit of a panic attack was a minor understatement.
It got worse when I saw the price of the tickets - £46 to get home from uni, a tenner (£10) to get from home to the interview in London and then £52 to get from London back to uni.
I started pacing around my room and then promptly fell over because my body was so used to being hunched in front of the computer screen the muscles had cramped.
I kid you not.
And I needed to dress professionally, but I didn't think any of my clothes were appropriate, so this meant I had to go clothes shopping.
I love food shopping because, depending what you're eating, it almost always tastes good.
This cannot be said for clothes.
Shirts that ride over bosoms when arms are lifted, exposing tender, poke-able tummies.
Collars that show far too much, but throttle you when buttoned up.
Trousers that are far too snug around the bottom area, but gap obscenely at the waist, while a bitter draft blows about my ankles.
Having no quesadillas to slump into (having eaten them all), I had to make do with my bowl of rice.

The effect was not the same.

To make sure I actually went through with clothes shopping, I enlisted the help of the Faerie. Most of the shirts in the high street shops were too short, so we had to go to another, slightly 'higher end', one.
I found a shirt we were both happy with.

However, as soon as I bought it, I attempted to take it back.
The Faerie: What are you doing?
Me: I'm going to take it back!
The Faerie: Why?!
Me: *panicking* It's £25! I just paid £25 for a shirt! I must be mad! I can't afford this! I'm a student, not the Queen!
The Faerie: Stop complaining and don't return the shirt.
The Faerie: Stop complaining. We are leaving. With the shirt.

I'm brilliant under pressure.

I also managed to find a pair of tights that might actually reach my hips.Thus, the shopping trip was declared successful (despite my misgivings).

The Wonder Thing: You know this essay you're writing?
Me: Yeah?
The Wonder Thing: Don't you have to give in a paper copy? In person?
Me: Yeah?
The Wonder Thing: Isn't it due in on Monday? Same day as your interview?
Me: Yea - aw, crap!

Because I would be in London for the interview, I would have no opportunity to hand in the hard copies of the essay. And since it was now Saturday, the office was closed, so there was no way I could drop it off early either or send it through the post.

The word 'Alack!' came to mind. As well as 'Alas!' and 'Oh, bugger'.

It is decided that The Wonder Thing will hand in my essay for me.

He has no idea where the office is.

Ye Gods.

I wake up, and go down to my college printing room.

It is locked.

Because it is a Sunday.

I kick the door.

I walk hobble the 15 minutes to the library to print off all 32 pages that need to be handed in.

I also type out an instruction sheet for where The Wonder Thing needs to go, what needs to go on the cover sheet and how much I seriously appreciate his help because if the essay was not handed in on time, I would lose 10% and go down a grade, so please can he go in extra early and get help from the office lady and avoid the 4pm rush?

I put it in a special folder and just miss the bus.

I wait 30 minutes for the next one.

I post the work through The Wonder Thing's house and go to the train station. Because I missed the bus, because I was in the library, I missed the train and have to wait half an hour for the next one.

When I finally get my backside onto the train, I sigh in comfort as I sink into a seat and scrabble in my bag to take a look at my JET interview notes.
Whoa. Dude. Where are my notes?
I know I had them, I remember having them in my hand as I got ready to leave my room - but then I remembered my phone and put the notes down on my...on my bed.
Oh, frick on a stick!

I arrive at my home station and patiently wait for my lovely Pappi come and pick me up. There is a teenage couple making out so voraciously that I start composing a PDA PSA (Pubic Displays of Affection Public Service Announcement) in my head.
My family arrive. I celebrate by throwing my entire mass on them to show that I appreciate their presence.
I'm sure that, somewhere, deep down, possibly in the tender area being forcibly nudged by my elbow, they feel the same.
When we get home, I disassemble my room, searching for the passport.
It's not in my drawer.
It's not in my bed.
Or under it.
It's not in my book box.

Where is it?!

Eventually, I find my passport in a bag full of random paper that could be mistaken for trash.
I'm an idiot.

Monday - Interview Day
I wake up nervous. As well as my formal clothes for the interview, I'm also carrying various other carrier bags full of other stuff I have forgotten, and some pasta for the train back to uni. After dropping The Bro and The Littlest Sis at school, Pappi and I head to the shopping centre, where we sit outside the photograph shop, waiting for them to open so I can take my picture, because all 2 photo machines in town are broken.

In the pictures, a stray strand of hair has escaped, making me look slightly manic, thus proving that pictures can truly see into the depths of your soul.

We drive to London and I change into my formal short and skirt and my Converses and get on the train to Green Park, the station nearest the embassy. I am an hour and 25 minutes early. I wander around according to my instructions and arrive back at the place I started.
I realise I have read the wrong line and had been walking in the wrong direction.
After walking in the right direction, I finally see the Japanese flag hanging off the embassy. I'm highly relieved.
But I'm still an hour early.
I go to the park across the road and change from my Converses into my heels. And wait.
While I am waiting, I am investigated by a squirrel.
That's right. A squirrel.
The squirrel dodges and then peeks at me from under the bench.

This was the boldest squirrel I ever did see in my life - it walked up to the bin next to the bench I was sitting on and stared at me, telepathically demanding food. And it fluffed it's tail specially when it saw me taking a picture.

I'm not even lying! LOOK AT IT!!
I stared back at it, refusing to be blackmailed - the pasta is the only fuel I will have for the next 5 hours.

Then it scurries onto the bench and - I swear this is true - it starts posing on the bench handle, lying on it like it was in a gosh darn car advert or something. It was literally lounging on this bench handle. I'm like 'ARE YOU FURREAL?!'

A few runners look at me funny. I stare back at them. They run on, perhaps a little faster than before
There are all sorts in the park. I even see some sort of military training exercise. At ten to three, I finally get up and stagger to the embassy. There are two other girls already there (WITH NOTES!!) but one is taken to an interview shortly after I arrive. I look around at the presentation they had in the area we were waiting in. It was really interesting, about the bicentenntial celebration of British and Japanese relations, based around a hundred year old Japanese Gateway in Kew Gardens. The other girl is surprised when she realises I was still at uni.

Before the interview, we watch a video and chat to two previous JET alumni, who were the women escorting us through the embassy. We then do a brief English test and go to separate areas to wait for our individual interviews.
Which is when I start doubting.
Whoa. What was I doing here?
Was I stupid enough to think I was going to get this? The other people were actually organised! They didn't forget their notes! They are not currently holding their swimming costume in a plastic bag because they were ORGANISED!
This is unfortunate, since interviews are usually my forte because I am organised and above all, confident in myself.
When I am allowed into the room, I am already hyperventilating.
There are three people - from what I understand, one of them is a woman who teaches Japanese in English , one is a former JET alumni and one was someone who works for the embassy.
It starts off badly.

Former Jet alumi: So you're applying for the ALT position. Can you tell me what it stands for?
Me: *overconfidently* Assistant Learning -
Former Jet Alumi: Language, not learning.
Me: Oh God!

And then I deteriorate oh so very quickly.

Woman who teaches Japanese: It says on your form that you are learning Japanese?
Me: Yes, I am.
Woman who teaches Japanese: Can you introduce yourself in Japanese?
Me: *takes a deep breathe* Konnichiwa! Watashi wa A Simple Thing desu. Dozo yoroshikou. Hajimemashite. *covers face* I'm sorry! I've never said that to an actual Japanese person who's not my teacher before!

But I think the worst bit was definitely when the man who works for the embassy asks:

Man who works for the embassy: So it says you are interested in Okinawa. Do you know what Okinawa's most famous export is?

The first thing that comes to mind was 'Karate'. And then I think, No, it can't be karate. It has to be something like rice, or ceramics? Brain, keep up! Stop not thinking!

Me: I don't know.

Which is a good thing to say if you genuinely are not sure. But then I add

Me: Sweet Potatoes?

One of the main rules of interviewing, is never guess. If you are wrong, you'll look ridiculous.
After I realised what a stupid thing I'd said, I start hyperventilating again, and they think my asthma was playing up.
No. I was just a very big idiot.

Safe to say, I don't think I will be in Japan this summer, but the interview was a good experience. The interview panel were incredibly kind, and they asked questions about stuff I'd written on my form (I'd written I don't eat pork, and they asked what I would do if I were offered a dish such as tonkatsu. I replied I'd throw my preferences out the window and eat it. Hey, I do it with [melted] cheese all the time!)

I met the other girl on my way out and we chatted a bit. Her interview had gone very differently from mine - she had been asked questions mainly about herself and her experience. They'd asked her next to nothing about Japan, which she'd been surprised about.
I went to the train station, and stared at a girl I'm sure was Sienna Miller for about an hour. And then after eating my non squirrelled pasta, I fell asleep.

Oh and I checked my notes. Karate is the most famous export of Okinawa.

Ah well. On the bright side, it was an experience and I did learn a lot from it. I know my personality and enthusiasm came across well in other parts of the interview, but I was easily intimidated by the circumstances and my organisation and preparation needed some massive work. If I want to work abroad by myself, then I can't be as easily cowed as I was in the interview.
Hopefully, remembering these things will keep me in good stead for the future!

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Glee Recap: Season 2, Episode 2

Much like the 'Power of Madonna' episode last season, this episode is a homage to a famous singer. It's a Britney Spears bonanza! There's a sex riot, a naked sweat patch on a chair and narcotically-stimulated personal empowerments!

Thursday 13 January 2011

Let them eat French rolls!

I managed to put my twists into a French Roll. 
I used a straight hair tutorial for inspiration - obviously, I didn't fold my hair around like she does at the start, since my hair isn't that long, but I used the same principle of rolling and pinning.
So I grabbed my hair as if to put it in a ponytail, but then folded the ends under the hair, like I was going to bun it.
But I wasn't - not in the mood for buns, you see. I wanted a roll.
So I rolled the bottom part of my hair, since the top part sprang out of my hand, and then pinned it in place.
I continued rolling whilst moving my way up my hair - so I went from my nape to my crown, where I ran out of hair. I used 3 bobby pins in total.
If you'd prefer to use a video tutorial where the woman has texture hair, there's a pretty good one here (skip to 2:00 for the start of the tutorial).

And then I pulled my (loose) bangs/fringe back into a pompadour/hump/backwards quiff.

I was obviously moving faster the speed of light...well, except for my forehead. 

I then realised that one of my Christmas presents....would allow me to be Queen.


Wave to the front...

Wave to the left...

I was feeling very deluxe - with a Marie Antoinette kind of splendour. So she inspired the title.*

Where was I going, that I got all dressed up like that?

Nowhere. I was procrastinating on an essay.

I even managed to get my Queenie wave sorted.

*Yes, I know that Marie Antoinette didn't actually coin the phrase, since it was in use since before she was born. But she's the person who it's most attributed to. 

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Egg Hair Glaze Treatment

I did this treatment with my twists still in.

That's how I roll (figgy style).

If you're not a fan of egg, of your hair doesn't need that much protein, replace it with 50g of coconut cream (that doesn't have bits in it...something I made a mistake with a while back O_O). 
If you're using Blue Dragon brand, I think the UHT is the one without bits, but the Creamed Coconut definitely has bits. You can find it cheaper in 'ethnic' or Asian food based shops.

Ask me how I know.

My scalp was on fire from trying out a shampoo that wasn't so great for my hair, so first I did a scalp scrub, then a medium-strength protein treatment. It consisted of:

Egg - contains protein to strengthen the hair
Coconut Oil - To nourish the hair
Olive Oil - For kicks - and nourishment/sealing in of moisture into the hair shaft
You can also add any essential oils, if you like, though that will negate the emergency Omelette measure.

- 1 egg
- Half a tablespoon of coconut oil
- Half a teaspoon of olive oil.

  • Beat the ingredients together in a bowl (for those in colder climates, you may want to gently melt the coconut oil on a radiator or something - if you heat it at too high a heat, you may end up cooking the egg and denaturing the protein you need. If you do end up doing that: Emergency Omelette time!)
  • Apply to hair, especially focusing on the ends and the length of the hair, where they'll be more porous due to natural wear and tear over time.
  • The time you leave it on depends on your hair's tolerance to protein.
    If it's just for maintenance and you have high porosity, five minutes should be more than enough.
    If you have low porosity hair, you may want to leave it on for a bit long (about 10 - 15 minutes).
    Since my hair has been neglected *guilty look*, is low porosity and seems to adore protein, I left it on for half an hour.
  • Rinse out with cool/tepid/lukewarm water - anything hotter may cook the egg in your hair. When all you have is a non removable shower head, this bit is definitely the hardest but it's bearable.
  • Moisturise your hair, seal and then go ^_^

Obviously, this is not one to touch if your hair isn't a fan of protein, because a lot of people can find that the protein in the egg is too much for their hair.

It was my first time putting egg on my hair, and it seemed to me that every time someone on a forum mentioned putting egg on their hair, the words 'crunchy' 'crispy' and 'stiff' came shortly after.

Like they're talking about Chinese food or something. Egg rolls anyone?

Anyhoo, I was preparing myself for crunchy hair.

But my hair's a lot happier now. I think it was over moisturised, because it felt really lank and yuk.

This is a very drippy conditioner though, so be warned:

It run down my neck, and then dried into this shiny glazing, hence the name.

If your hair is trying to recover from quite a bit of damage, or you're preparing to affect it somehow (colouring, flat ironing etc) this might be a good one to try out.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Glee Recap: Season 2, Episode 1

So, the season starts after the summer of the drama of Season 1 - Thus, Quinn is no longer pregnant, having given birth, Finn and Rachel's love is stinking up the place fragrances the air and the Glee club (New Directions) came third in the regional competitions, losing to their main competitors Vocal Adrenaline....
In these episode, there's fighting, distractions of the bosomy kind,  and a flagrant abuse of dog poop.
Enter at your own peril - for here be spoilers..

Monday 10 January 2011

Small(ish) twists

I put these in a week ago, and they took me just under four hours to do.
Then again, this time also included me trying to do the 'Single Ladies' dance numerous times.
So yes. I think I'll leave these in for a couple of weeks because, you know, I have work to do and don't have time to do my hair and stuff.

Also, I really want to whip my hair a la Willow Smith.

I say this. But watch me take it out in a couple of weeks and then lament I have no time to do anything to my hair.

Plus, I want to try new stuff with my twists and prove to myself that it is a versatile hairstyle, as well as keeping my hands out of my hair.

Yesterday, I wore them in a small fold under bun at the back (completely pulled my hair  through the first time but only half way through the second time).

Say a prayer for my edges, y'all.
I put my (untwisted - I get so bored very easily!) fringe/bangs into three fat twists and then bantu knotted them overnight.
Then I took them out in the morning and pinned them to the side, leaving a little crazy curlage loose at the bottom. They look a lot less ropey in person.

For some reason, I don't like the look all over my head, but bantus and my bangs/fringe really make me happy ^.^
I took the pin out after church.

Ignore the scarf. I was feeling like I was in a Cote d'Azur film or something. The wind very nearly made it so.

I also think this is the last time I'm going to be doing a 'protective style' like this. My hair is just too fine for me to be mucking about in it this often and this harshly. 

Saturday 8 January 2011

Cappin' Lazy Twists - and why I'm kind of a blonde

I was planning for this to be a week long protective style, but I got bored of it when I washed my hair.

It's basically fat twists, wrapped in my satin scarf, under a hat.

You see where boredom may have it's chance to undo my most noblest of efforts?

You can also see how much my colour has faded.

I wanted to go to the place I'd had my original colour done, so I phoned the salon today to make sure someone was in, because it's a bank holiday and a 45 minute walk.

Person on the phone: Hello?

Me: Oh thank goodness! You're open!

Person on the phone: No, we're not open.

Me: Huh? Then why - what? Are you joking?

Person on the phone: No. I'm serious *chuckles* We're definitely not open.


I wasn't going to risk walking in the freezing cold for nearly an hour just for them not to be open. So I guess I'm going back to uni with no colour in. I'm thinking a D.I.Y is imminent, and in this case, I'm not bothered about using natural products like Herbatint which wash out in 2 seconds flat.
Purple isn't the most natural hair colour anyway.

Monday 3 January 2011

My hair ^.^

I forgot that I was supposed to do quarterly updates of my hair to check length, because I keep getting irked by the ends and snipping them off.

You'd think that being both scissor happy and (mildly) length obsessed wouldn't be possible. Ah well.

Omo - I'm not quite Armpit Length, but I've had a lot of breakage *shrugs* Plus, I'm still experimenting with a lot of stuff *rubs hands gleefully*. We'll see where I am by the end of April.

Saturday 1 January 2011

Resolution Revolution!

Since it's the start of a new year, people are looking forward to things they hope to achieve this year, or in the future.
It's an exciting time!

I always make goals and set targets almost everyday, because otherwise I wouldn't get anything done.

Sometimes, I still don't get anything done. But you know. I made the effort of writing what I could've done down. Surely that counts for something?

So, this is all the aspirations I posted at the beginning of the academic year as well as some more stuff that I've added. At the very least, I am now accountable to you lovely readers.
The goals with (in progress) next to it are all things I'm working towards - For example, I can't truly say I've quit Theatre Group until the end of the year comes and I haven't been involved in anything they've done.

1. Have an awesome stall at Fresher's Fair!    DONE!

2. Get a high 2:1 (above 65%) or a 1st in my degree (in progress)

3.  Quit Theatre Group! (in progress)

4. Finish my dissertation (in progress)

5.  Get onto a PGCE (in progress)

6. Cut cake making down to once a month    DONE!

7. Get my bento making game up to scratch! (in progress)

8. Be able to have a gentle conversation in Mandarin and/or Japanese (in progress)

9. Help my college team get 3rd or 2nd place in the league (in progress)

10.  Stop getting sucked into the ridiculous drama of a certain friend group(s). (in progress)

11.  Focus on the Belly dancing society properly (in progress - it's going well!)

12.  Stop ignoring my commitments. Or, stop signing up to so many (sssh, pretend we don't see the irony!) (in progress)

13.  Hit Bra Strap length with the hair (in progress)

14.  Learn to use the family camera (because my camera phone is pants)! (in progress)

 15. Run a 5k....? Okay, maybe that's reaching a little bit (meh, still thinking about it)

16. (New!) Stop being a chicken and get someone to teach me how to swim properly 

17. (New!) And skate. Preferably roller, since I don't like the cold.

18. (New!) Do more with the blog - post at least once a week. Maybe do some give aways or something.

19. (New!) If the J.E.T programme doesn't happen, go to France for the summer.

20. (New!) Get creative with my crafting and try and finish at least one project a month

21. (New!) Master the art of flat twisting

I love deciding on things I'm going to do and then working towards it - it gets me all excited and gives me something to work towards. 

What's everyone else bringing in for this year?