Weekly Round Up #20

Weekly Round Up #20 (08/12 – 14/12)

This week has been a week of social engagements and once again being very busy.

As Carole Heidi’s other half was also away this week, we had a pizza get together on Tuesday, during which we mostly pretended to do some work while having a really good catch up. Then on Thursday, I caught up with an old work friend, who I hadn’t seen since changing my job. It was great to see her, and lovely to know that there are people in my life who I can not see for months and catch up with like it’s only been a few days.

Then at the weekend, some friends of Mum’s were up for a christmas visit, which meant consuming christmas dinner number one (it was delicious) and generally hanging out and catching up again.

I feel like my entire quota of socialising for the whole month has been taken up this week (I’m not overly social, in case you hadn’t guessed) and it definitely left me feeling more exhausted than usual. I think I’m getting to the point where I need a good break as well, which is good, because with Christmas just around the corner, I have nearly two whole weeks off coming up. I’m looking forwards to some rejuvenation and relaxation, as well as a couple of crazy projects I have coming up.

On Sunday, we topped off a lovely week with a christmas fun run around out home town. I put in a pretty good time for me, especially considering I wasn’t setting out to break any personal records, which made me feel really good (about five minutes after I finished) and the hot mince pie I was given afterwards was a delicious reward!

It’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas round here, and I’m really looking forwards to lots more festive fun!

Auna Air 300 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

IMG_1555Auna Air 300 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

Amazon link

I’ve never invested in a pair of headphones beyond my running ones, always sticking with the multitude of free iPod/iPhone headphones I’ve acquired over the years.

I don’t normally use those because they’re so annoying – I hate the feeling of them in my ears, find them very uncomfortable, and dislike how they fall out all the time and how the wires get tangled with your limbs when you try to do anything. My running ones are even worse, regularly strangling me as the wire gets tangled, stretching my ears uncomfortably with the hooks they use to stay on.

Then Beats came out, and I thought they were a really good idea, but so ugly and expensive. I really didn’t want to put them on my head, and would never have felt comfortable wearing them outside.

Which is where these Auna Air headphones are just perfect, because they do the job of Beats for half the price tag, and in my personal opinion, with twice the style. I know not everyone will agree with me on that one, but I vastly prefer the design of these.

The headphones are comfortable to wear, with a little bit of size adjustment to help get the best fit. The cushioned speakers also adjust a small amount for added comfort. They’re made of that plastic material that isn’t shiny, so they don’t slide quite so readily from your head – though admittedly they don’t stand up to a lot of bending over. I wouldn’t recommend these for exercise outside of the gym, as I don’t think they stay on your head quite well enough for anything likely to jog you around a bit.

The sound quality is perfectly serviceable – better than my laptop and phone speakers that I usually use to listen to audio. You’re certainly getting decent sound quality for the price you’re paying.

The 2.5 hour charge time is about accurate too, and I’ve not worn them out of charge yet after several hours of listening. The ’10m range’ is a little optimistic – I find the sound tends to break up and go crackly if I go more than 5m away, though my phone is much better than my laptop, so it does depend a lot on what device you are connecting to. But then, for what I use them for, I can’t imagine ever needing to be more than a metre or so away from whatever device I’m connected to, so it’s not exactly a huge problem. The headphones remember your devices, and connect to them automatically as long as the bluetooth is on.

Overall, I really, really like these – they’re great for listening to my podcasts and audiobooks. And if orange isn’t your colour (it’s my running club colour, I’m abnormally adjusted to wearing bright orange) they come in a range of different colours.

(I was sent this product free in exchange for an honest review.)

Cover Lust #40 – I’ll Give You The Sun

Cover Lust #40 – I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll give you the sun

SO SUMMERY. This was almost a literal ray of sunshine coming through my door on a cold, dark and wintery day. The bright, bright yellow is very cheerful, as is the sun design and that painted on font.

I’m really looking forwards to reading this one. I know very little about Jandy Nelson, as I haven’t read her previous novel, but from the blurb, this doesn’t sound like the sort of book that’s going to be all light hearted. But I do hope it’s going to be soaked in a bit of sunshine and romance, which the cover definitely suggests, as it’s just what I need after all the ice outside.

So excited about this one, really hope it doesn’t disappoint!

What covers are you lusting after this week?

Review: Oz Naturals Vitamin C Serum

oz naturals

Oz Naturals Vitamin C Serum
20% Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid

Much like its partner product (reviewed here), Oz Natural’s Vitamin C Serum is a delight to use.

The serum isn’t greasy or heavy, drying quickly and cleanly on the skin, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated just for using it. The natural ingredients have a slight but pleasant smell – enough to make the serum pleasant to use, without drowning you in strong smells like so many moisturisers do.

The serum can be combined with a moisturiser of your choice if you wish; however, I’ve found it works pretty well on its own. I’ve found my skin smoother for using it, and as I said before, just the nice feeling you get for putting it on gives you a boost. Beauty is a state of mind, and this serum certainly helps me to feel confident about my skin.

It’s a little thing, and not really the point of the product, but I do like the packaging as well. It’s simple and economical – no bulky plastic to make the product look bigger and better value than it is. It speaks of a company ethos that values conservation and the natural world, echoed by their organic, natural ingredient choices. As someone who shares in this ethos, it makes me all the more inclined to buy Oz Naturals products again.

(I was sent this product free in exchange for an honest review)

5 Things I Want For Christmas

It’s that time of year again. Though I’m far too old now to be writing lists to Santa, there are a few things I’ll be wishing for this Christmas (and most likely saving up for in the new year!!)

the walking dead1. The Walking Dead Seasons 2-4

I was given Season 1 as a leaving present when I quit my job. My friend told my colleagues it’s what I would want. She was right. They were… bemused, I think. I don’t think any of them knew I was a zombie enthusiast.

After watching the first half of Season 5, I’m keen to watch the whole lot again, so Seasons 2-4 are on the wish list. Especially as Season 2 is when Daryl Dixon started getting really hot. Chain watching Walking Dead does make me start imagining zombies are everywhere (nothing like chain watching a series for total immersion in the world) but I look forwards to the days when I’m jumping at shadows and seeing zombies in the darkness again.

2. An iPadipad5_2

This is one of those things where I don’t really know what I would use it for – I only know that they have great potential with creative projects. I’d have to buy one to find out, but I can’t justify the price, in case it’s not worth it, in case I don’t really use it for anything that I can’t do on my computer.

But I do really want one. If I won the lottery tomorrow… Well, it probably wouldn’t be top of my list, but it would definitely be up there after the champagne and the new car and trip round the world etc.

auto_duplex_print3. A Duplex Printer

My printer currently spits out smoke when I print anything, which makes me a tad wary. It’s also very old and only prints on one side. Which, when printing out manuscripts, is a bad thing. They are lots of unwieldy pages. It would save the environment, and save me from pulling my hair out.

4. A Decent Free Christmas Soft Porn Booka white hot christmas

This one I will actually get, but the decency (in the quality sense, not the dirty sense) of the story could vary (although, I suppose the other kind of decency could vary too). I hope we get one that’s both good and bad in the proper cheesy free soft porn way. Charlie and I do love a bit of shared christmas reading and giggle.

Last year’s offering was perfect – short, cheesy and pretty ridiculous. It took about half an hour to read and it was incredibly entertaining. This year’s offering has quite a high bar to reach.

The_Elder_Scrolls_V_Skyrim_cover5. Skyrim

My actual christmas present this year is a new Playstation. After our seven year old one finally died a death this year, we saved up for three months to buy a new one. So, we got it before Christmas, but it’s our christmas present to each other. I’m already 65% through Lego Batman, and looking forwards to playing a few other games over the Christmas period. When we get enough stuff to sell off as part of our Bargain Games Club (Come on, Taylor, you are so far behind now! Need to catch up :P) I really want to get Skyrim. I got Oblivion with the first Playstation as part of the package deal, and it would be nicely timed to get Skyrim at long last to go with the new one! Just need to finish a couple of Assassin’s Creeds and some more Lego games to save up the funds to buy it now!!

Character Development Case Study #4 – Merry and Pippin

Character Development Case Study #4 – Merry and Pippin (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien)

(There will be spoilers!)

merry and pippin

Character Background

Lumping these two in together, because they don’t really have a separate identity at first – and even by the end of the books, it’s difficult to imagine one without the other.

Merry and Pippin in many ways exemplify what it is to be a Hobbit. They like to eat, drink and be merry. They are simple folk with simple needs, though both possessed of a streak of mischief much larger than the average Hobbit.

Motivations

It’s been a very long time since I read the book, so forgive me for any movie-based inaccuracies. But I did once know the entire script of the first Lord of the Rings film by heart, and could quote it back and forth with my cousin. My memory of this is much better than that of the books. (And, sacrilege coming right up here: I thought the films were better.)

Merry and Pippin aren’t really motivated by anything at the start – thrown into a situation by accident, they end up going along for the ride out of some sense of loyalty and friendship to Frodo and Sam.

As they come more into their own, however, they become motivated by the war that’s going on around them. Merry and Pippin almost follow a ‘coming of age’ style plot arc. They start out ignorant and happy, come to realise the problems they face and grow up in order to do their part to face them. Both find loyalty to their own causes – Merry to Rohan, Pippin to Gondor – and both find their own glory in battle, despite their smaller stature.

But it’s the Shire that is at the heart of all they do – a desire to return someday, a desire to protect it, to keep it the paradise world that it was when they left it. And in the book, they have to fight off Saruman to achieve this, utilising everything they’ve learned on their adventures before.

Development

An interesting thing that happened in the book that was missed out of the unextended versions of the films (the extended versions were not better…) was that Merry and Pippin, while in the care of Treebeard the Ent, drink some magical water that actually makes them grow bigger. When they return to the Shire, they’ve physically grown in size – mirroring their growth in personality.

I said at the beginning that these two come pretty much as a pair, but the bulk of their character growth actually happens once they’ve been separated, Pippin taken away to Gondor by Gandalf, and Merry left behind. Pippin’s impulsive decision to repay the life debt he owes Boromir by swearing into the service of Gondor’s Steward Denethor demonstrates his growth as a character – he understands that there is risk and loss and that war is dangerous, and he wants to play his part for his friends and for those who he’s already lost. Merry’s desire to ride into battle reflects much the same thing, and he finds his own way with the help of Eowyn. They follow similar paths, but by their own means, and both prove their worth as members of the Fellowship, and as fighters for the freedom of Middle Earth.

Weekly Round Up #19

Weekly Round Up #18 (01/12 – 07/12)

This week was the first week the Boyfriend was spending away training for his new job. I was worried that I’d find it really hard to adjust, but I made sure I was keeping busy every day, and that made the week fly by.

After running club on Monday, I went round Mum’s to watch the Walking Dead mid-season finale and eat haloumi mushroom burgers, which was a lovely way to finish the half season and to start my week on my own.

For the rest of the week, I’ve been trying to get on with projects – both writing and DIY. I’ve spent time catching up on blogging, doing the DIY jobs, trying to keep on top of the cleaning and putting up the Christmas Tree. A little early, I know, but I was getting fed up of the bags of presents everywhere. So now they are all wrapped and put under the tree and it looks lovely and Christmassy, giving me a bit of cheer on the lonely nights.

On Wednesday I went christmas shopping with Carole Heidi, sampling the food at an Italian restaurant we hadn’t eaten at before. It was a lovely and much welcomed girly date, followed by a brainstorming session for our Augurdale project so I can start to get it into shape following the NaNoWriMo chaos of writing as much as I could with no particular attention to order and cohesion.

I’ve also been reading up a lot on self publishing, and getting excited about what lies ahead for the project. Between that and trying to complete Lego Batman 2, I’ve been kept plenty busy!

The Boyfriend arrived home with plenty of homework to do. I bought a load of bananas for 9p and did some cooking with Mum, then spent the day with Taylor, who’s briefly home from Uni. Then Sunday was spent painting while the Boyfriend completed online modules for his course. Between all this, we have managed to watch a film or two together and actually have half a conversation. I’ll be glad in two weeks time when we both break for Christmas though!