Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Slowly becoming a food blog...

It's pretty well known that I am a food addict. My tumblr regularly deteriorates into a food porn heaven/hell when I'm hungry, and I've been known to declare myself as "toast-sexual" when drunk.

Mmm, toast.

Anyway, I'm also a student, a definite carnivore and a devoted bargain hunter; an inconsistent triangle if I ever did see one! For that reason, the reduced section of the meat aisle at my local Morrisons turns me into a crazy lady, rifling through reduced lamb chops (too expensive) and nearly-off potato salad to find that holy grail of bargains, cheap meat.

70 of your finest British pence for these buggers, ladies and gentlemen. Admittedly pork cheeks don't sound like the most mouth-watering of delicacies, but my student mind figured hey! what the hell! out-of-date, weird cuts of meat are basically my speciality!

So I bought them, and holy hell. Slow-cooked and with the right seasoning, these things taste a really good cut of lamb, or something. I don't even understand. For the ridiculous price of 35p per head (...well, unless you're greedy like me and ate all four) I felt like I was eating real meat for the first time in weeks!

I've also spent my day eating stilton with a spoon. White stilton with cranberries, golden raisins and amaretto. I'm drooling just thinking about it. Also found in the reduced section, btdubs.

TO CONCLUDE, everyone should shop reduced! Because it's the best. Okay good.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

It's December and I feel glorious.

Anybody else feeling gloriously, disgustingly festive now that December has finally unveiled its head? I've spent my day drinking hot chocolate, listening to christmas songs and now I'm watching Love Actually...only the best Christmas film of all time, am I right?

This particular song is relevant because I'm going home for Christmas in a mere 21 days and I'm excited! I'm blessed to love both my York life and my UK life but I'm so excited to be home for a while, especially with all the festivities that will undoubtedly line up in the time I'm at home. 

Fittingly, this week's blanks are Christmas themed! As usual I'm not filling them in on a Friday, but I'm sure you'll all be able to cope with this maverick side of me.

1. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is...": lots and lots and lots of Christmas music. There's nothing more guaranteed to put a smile on my face.
2. The holiday season is: historically it's been a stressful anxious awkward time for me but I'm feeling more positive about that aspect of things than I ever have been before. So I'm ludicrously optimistic and so down for some cosy festive activities.
3. When it comes to holiday number 22 we still have a lot of pirate decs up from my housemate's in that sense, we're failing. Hoping to get some tinsel up soon. As far as I'm concerned, though, the tackier the better!
4. The thing I look forward to most about the holidays is: eating my weight in food, having the fire on, and the way town centres look when they're all lit up and lovely.
5. My favorite holiday tradition is: Boxing Day dog walks with family friends. Just lovely.
6. This year my Christmas plans include: York Christmas on the 8th, family get-together (groan) 23rd, Christmas 25th, home friends Christmas meal some time around then, and a boring-as-hell New Years at work. Huzzah!
7. My favorite holiday food is: has to be a classic roast dinner with all the trimmings. You really can't go far wrong with that.

Let's all go to Hogwarts for Christmas. Y/N?
Hope you're all having a wonderful Christmas thus far!

Emma xx

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Winter warmer


The seasons are most definitely a-changing. I keep hearing the first strains of Christmas music floating through shops and adverts, and I braved my first attempt at Christmas shopping today.
Of course it was an utter failure - I'm notoriously bad at buying people presents, and in the end I came out with a bag of McDonalds' mozzarella sticks, a dress for my work experience this Easter, and absolutely no Christmas presents at all. 
However, I did go to the supermarket on the way home and invested in some Savers hot chocolate (a bargainous 62p) and a bottle of Carolans Irish Baileys, but for poor students. And now I'm spending my evening curled up on the sofa with an Irish Hot Chocolate and some toast.

Winter? Can't complain really.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Fill In the Blank Not Really Friday At All

I was going to do these on Friday...but I was in the kind of foul mood where the question "what is your best quality?" was enough to make me want to throw my laptop out of the window. Now, however, I'm in a gap between lectures, catching up on a lecture I missed last week (thank God for digital recordings!) and whilst it's an interesting lecture, I need to multi-task in order to properly focus! Don't ask me why. So here we go!

1. My best quality is that: I like to think I'm quite a generous person: stupid things like offering to get 6 pints of milk from the supermarket for a friend even though they're heavy; not insisting that small amounts of money get paid back; stupid little things like that. It's not that big a deal and everyone does it but I like that aspect of myself.
Also I'm bloody punctual.
2. One of my less flattering qualities is that: I am most definitely not a morning person! Also I get a kind of sadistic pleasure in bitching about people behind their backs, which makes me sound like an awful human being's only harmless gossip, really. I would do it if it was genuinely harmful. 
3. I'd rather be under my duvet with a takeaway, a bottle of wine and good company.
4. Something I have been challenged with lately is: social interactions. I'm kind of shit at making friends! Partly because I'm satisfied with the friends I have and I don't feel that need to have lots and loots of friends, but also because I'm far too lazy to make conversation. And when I do try I get a bit nervous and blustery and stuttery and embarrassing SO.
6. A super random factoid about me is: Today is the first day I've not worn my black jeans in 6 days. It's also the first day I haven't worn jeans all term.
7. I want to spend an entire weekend doing social things. We're all so busy at the moment with degree work and jobs and other miscellaneous things that my housemates have been like ships passing in the night this week, boooo :(

Happy not-Friday everyone! 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

I made a cake.

I make a cake on a fairly regular basis! But I made this one totally without a recipe, completely on the fly. I actually woke up this morning (afternoon, ahem) as my housemate looked in my room and just went "I'm making a cake."

Divine inspiration or what?

So I went to Freshways in my pyjamas, had bants with the gentleman in the queue behind me, bought some bananas and made this bizarre oaty banana cake with a cinnamon grossness on top. Recipe follows. I have taken a picture but it's on my phone and phone-laptop transfer is something I have yet to here, have a webcam pic instead!

Mmm. Cake. Here's the recipe, more for me to remember than anything else!

(Also I'm old fashioned and I do my cooking in ounces. Sorry.)


3.5oz self-raising flour
0.5oz of porridge oats (optional - substitute for more flour if you like, the texture is kind of gritty otherwise.)
Pinch of salt
5g baking powder
3.7oz butter + some for greasing (let's go nuts and call it 4oz)
3 very small, ripe bananas. No green ones. A little bit of brown is okay but don't go ott.
2.5oz light brown soft sugar
1.5oz caster sugar
2 eggs
I'm really not sure if icing is the right word for this, but...
Approx. 1oz butter
Splash of milk
2oz sugar (I used light brown soft again but in hindsight I think a mix of icing sugar and lbs might have been nicer...the icing's kind of weird because I didn't melt it down properly...)

Step zero: get the butter out of the fridge to soften a bit. Preheat the oven to about Gas Mark 6. My oven is astronomically old and gas operated: if yours has taken that monumental leap into the 21st century, it's probably going to be about 180 degrees although don't quote me on that. Pre-grease a cake tin whilst you're doing preparative stuff - mine is probably about 14cm wide so that's probably a safe bet.
Step one: Throw all the dry stuff into a bowl - that's flour, salt, baking powder, oats and sugar. Stir it up.
Step two: Mash bananas. You can be an adult and use some form of mashing implement. Personally I like to squidge it through my fingers and pretend I'm mashing brains.
Step three: Throw bananas in bowl. Stir them in.
Step 4: Crack in your eggs, throw in your butter.
Step 5: Crack out your electric mixer (or a big ol' wooden spoon if you don't have electricity yet) and mix it all up.
Step 6: Put it in the oven until it's cooked - I usually test it by sticking the wrong end of a spoon in and if it comes out clean, it's not going to give you salmonella. This cake took about 25-30 minutes although my oven is by no means conventional.
Step 7: Allow to cool. Whilst allowing to cool, locate a saucepan.
Step 8: Put saucepan on hob. Turn heat on. Put butter in saucepan. Melt butter.
Step 9: Put sugar and cinnamon in saucepan. Cook until it starts looking scary (THIS WILL NOT TAKE LONG) then add a splash of milk and stir it all up.
Step 10: Keep cooking and stirring until everything combines and (hopefully) mixture thicens.
Step 11: Drizzle over cake. Allow to cool.

Then you may eat the cake.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

(Elly if you still read this blog (unlikely) this is nothing to worry about x)

Bad news always takes you by surprise.
Like, there are always going to be bad things in life. And even if you've dealt with a very similar situation in the past it doesn't mean your hands are going to shake any less, or the silence is going to become any less oppressive, or you'll stop wanting to literally shrink into a tiny little ball of nothing so that the situation washes right over you.

Bad news traps you. It traps you right where you were when you heard it, and there's no way to escape from it.
It traps you so closely that eating the bowl of noodles on your lap feels like a violation. I can feel them there right now; they've stopped burning through my pyjamas because time has passed and they're cooling down.
Time passes.
You all pretend to be watching Daredevil.
Your hands shake less.

You still don't know what to do.
So you revert to what you used to do when you hated your work experience and you wanted time to pass. You switch off.

I should do something.

I've been here before.
I should do something.
It was different before.
I should still do something.
I shouldn't do something (much like last time it wasn't really my place) but someone should.

I guess we'll just watch Daredevil or something.

The waning of the year.

From here

It's not winter, yet. I know that. We are, however, solidly into the main days of Autumn and I feel kind of glorious. I love the second half of the year more than is normal: I love the smell of bonfires that lingers in the air, wrapping up warm against the absurdly cold northern weather, comfort food, fluffy socks, hot drinks.

I absolutely cannot be dealing with the clocks going back though - has anybody else had serious issues adjusting, or is it just me? I'm like a parrot - if it's dark, it's night-time. If it's light, it's day-time. Clearly my brain can't deal with any concept more complicated than that.

On the plus side, Christmas is coming! I'm already excited thinking about going Christmas shopping and eating Christmas food and listening to Christmas music and enduring awkward Christmas family occasions and yay! Call me premature, but I am SO ready for this time of year!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Winning the family.

You all are familiar with the concept of winning a break-up, right? Doing better out of the end of a relationship than your ex-other-half?
Today I'm going to try and Win the Family.

Whole family get-togethers in my family are relatively rare: usually there's some form of excruciatingly boring Christmas affair once a year and then we can move on. On my mom's side we're a relatively large family - there are four siblings, 3 spouses and 7 grandchildren; but my granddad is also one of 4 who also all have loads of kids and grandkids so it all gets a bit nuts sometimes. In approximately 7 hours time (gah) all of these people will converge on my grandparents' house and whilst on the surface it will be a veritable punchbowl of polite conversation and witty anecdotes, underneath it will be a nail-biting, chaotic whirlpool-esque FAMILY WAR.

Because you can't just catch up with the family, oh no.
You have to win the family.

So how's university, cousin A?
Great thanks, I'm averaging a 2:1 and really enjoying my course!
That's great, cousin A! Did I tell you about cousin B? They're averaging a super-first! That's right, they invented an entire new degree classifcation for them. And they have 3 years work experience prepared for the summer! The laws of time decided to make an exception for them. And they love their course so much that Aphrodite herself swooped down from the heavens, saw how much they loved their course and just went damn it, cousin B! I quit! I can never make anyone love like you do! 
Ah. Well. That's good, Auntie B. That's great.

Tomorrow, though, I'm ready to win the family. I have my two jobs, my supreme levels of organisation, my first in the end of year exam, my killer heels, and my Easter work experience lined up with which to wow the judges. And in the meantime, my cousins and I can sit back on our heels, collectively cringe when asked if we're "courting" at all, and lie through our teeth when quizzed about our alcohol habits.

Winning the family? I think so.

You guys all get this, right? As much as you love your family, there's always a war going on underneath? It cannot just be me...

Hey Friday Friends!

So I appreciate it's not Friday any more (actually I was going into this assuming it was the early hours of Sunday morning and it's actually Saturday morning, whoops!)
Either way, I figure you'd like some blanks! I'm currently pulling an all-nighter because a) I have an essay that I'd like to finish and b) I have to be up at 5 to get my train home to Birmingham for the day! I figure it's probably easier for me to just stay awake at this in the spirit of killing time, here are some blankity-blanks...

1. Something I swore I'd never do, but have ended up doing anyway: I'm not sure there's anything! I'm very much a never-say-never type person...
2. Something I've always wanted to do is: go on holiday on my own. I love holidaying with friends or family but the idea of going somewhere completely brand new, completely alone and having time to explore and think and relax...gah it would just be a really lovely time :)
3. Something I have absolutely no desire to ever do is space tourism. The idea of going out into space where there's no way out if things go drastically wrong is absolutely terrifying to me...and the idea of paying for it makes it even worse! Hopefully there'll be no apocalypse any time soon, so I won't have to evacuate the planet in a gigantic life-sustaining space shuttle. I would not be cool with that.
 4. The best thing I ever did was: mess up my Cambridge interview. I can't imagine ever having not come to York. Time of my life.
5. When it comes to trying new things: I'm a total wreck. If I'm going to do something new I need lots of time to mentally prepare, and I'll still be super twitchy when the day actually comes. Getting better at coping with change is definitely one of my life targets! I do think I'm improving though. Like, I came to uni (big big change!) and managed to not have an emotional breakdown, shut myself away and never speak to anyone ever. Which I think is a fair shout.
6. One thing I've never done: just one thing? There are so many things! Been in a committed relationship, had a full-time job, had children, owned a house, bought a sofa...all these juicy juicy things to look forward to...
7. My favorite thing to do: I like getting impromptu takeaways and watching a film with my buddies, spontaneous pub trips ("Pint?" "Pint."), getting paid, snuggling up under a duvet with a warm ribena and some toast, long train journeys, having long many things. Loving life 2k12 and all that...


Tuesday, 16 October 2012


What's up, bloggers? I hope everything's going well for you all at the moment. As usual, I still have no internet (and won't have for another three weeks or so, CRY) but I'm in the library between lectures at the moment, procrastinating doing my reading as usual, so I thought a quick update might be in order.

As longtime readers of my blog might know, I used to work here:

Then, after I moved to uni, I started stressing out about how little money I had, and eventually (after a lot of searching,) I got a job here:

Being on a university campus, YourShop is mostly restricted to term time, so naturally I filed in a few hours over the summer here, just to keep me busy:

So far, so logical...I figured I'd do YourShop in term time, then the races over the summer, and everything would be dandy.

And then I went a little bit nuts this term and decided I wanted a bar job, just so I could get some experience with different types of work for when I'm an unemployed graduate living in a cardboard box. So I got a job here:

Disclaimer: there are usually no flags. I do not work in an EDL bar, if such a thing even exists. That will be all.
Except then I discovered that my "summer" job at the racecourse in fact extends over term time too, albeit on a much less regular basis, and that I can get semi-regular 4 hour silver-service waitressing shifts there (if I want) as well as working at Society as WELL as working at YourShop.

Also I'm working something absurd like 29 hours this week. Ladies and gentlemen, my new, work-filled life has begun. I'm pretty sure it'll still fit in around my studies (hopefully) but holy god, who knows. My course has a relatively low commitment of hours, though, and the Society job isn't in hours where I'd normally be reading, it's in hours I'd normally be wasting watching TV or on the internet, so hopefully it'll be okay. I may be making a big, big mistake. But to quote How I Met Your Mother, "sometimes you know it's a mistake, but there are certain things in life where you know it's a mistake, but you don't really know it's a mistake because the only way to really know it's a mistake is to make the mistake and look back and say 'yep, that was a mistake.' So really, the bigger mistake would be to not make the mistake, because then you'd go your whole life not knowing if something is a mistake or not."*

In conclusion, even if this is a bad, bad idea, I'm still gonna do it. And actually I don't think it's going to be a mistake at all. Fingers crossed!!

*and if you made it through all that without getting confused at least once, I applaud you, good sir. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Hey there beautiful *waves*

Having just deleted acres of spam posts from both my twitter and tumblr accounts, I have to say it's refreshing to log in to Blogger and find it pristine and untouched from the last time I checked in.


Well I've deleted all the posts and changed all my passwords...looks like we're back to normal.

As I type this, I'm sat in the cafe of my University library, eating a panini and swigging down a limited edition Mango and Passionfruit flavour fanta (Delicious, by the way. Like fizzy J20. Officially recommended.)

All is very calm on the York front. There's just me and one of my flatmates in our house - everyone arrives staggered from Thursday to Friday this week. There are a few people scattered around York, but not many. It's peaceful as hell and I really, really like it. I do love living at home but it was starting to get a bit constricting! I was itching to get back in the kitchen and cook for myself, to not have to walk the dog every day, to do my own grocery shopping...ah, it's delicious.

Moving in had a few hiccups: everything broke, the TV wouldn't work, blah blah blah...but it all got worked out in the end. And now I'm luxuriating in having next to nothing to do and living in my own exciting house.

Next stop: working out how the terrifying gas oven works so I can bake some cakes in preparation for my house's arrival later this week. The one flatmate I'm living with at the moment DOESN'T LIKE CAKE. Can you believe that? Who doesn't like cake?!

Wow, I've lost my thread completely. Coolio. See you later branflakes.

Friday, 7 September 2012


I'm having one of those "the TV is too loud and there are too many people in the house and everyone keeps talking" days...which is never a good thing! On the plus side, it's 20 past midnight and the house is good and silent now. Which is handy.

SO I'M GOING TO DO A SERIES. It will probably take a while to complete - I'm internet-less between September 13th-26th due to a mix-up at Sky and moving into my new house - but I thought I'd start it off now because why the blazes not. 

And the title of this exciting new series?



Essentially, I'm a pop culture whore. I watch, read and listen to it. And then I dissect it to death. I read other peoples' dissections. I'm fascinated by meta discussions based on GIFs of one tiny blink of an eye which apparently reveal the innermost thoughts and feelings of a fictional character. I ship obscure ships just because I think they might work together. And occasionally, in the middle of an otherwise mundane task, I will remember just how fuming I am that the main character of an otherwise excellent Nickelodeon cartoon somehow is allowed to steal someone else's boyfriend, and it's morally totally okay. 

But more about that later, I promise.

When I say flawless, I don't just mean attractive, or funny, or successful, or badass. It's kind of hard to pinpoint, actually...maybe it'll flesh itself out as we go along. But mostly, I'm just saying I love this character for a variety of reasons. They make me want to simultaneously hug, high-five and bake a cake for them. I want to live with them. They are good people.

Hopefully that's enough to be going on with!

Anyway, our first entrance to the Flawless Pop Culture Characters comes (naturally) from the Whedonverse - Kaylee Frye of Firefly fame.

For the uninitiated, Firefly is a space-western mostly set aboard Serenity, a firefly-class spaceship. Kaylee is one of the team of smugglers/all round good guys that live on Serenity. If you're weirded out by the concept, good. Watch it anyway. It's a stunning show.

But Kaylee Frye? She is perfection. As you can see from the picture, she's feminine - she likes frilly dresses and parasols and speaks in a kind of girly voice. She's also a mechanic. This kind of masculine/feminine juxtaposition isn't really uncommon in television, particularly with Joss Whedon - think Buffy, who's also pretty, feminine and kills demons on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing - upsetting the norms, challenging gender dynamics, blah blah blah. I always felt that Buffy ran the risk of feeling just a tiny bit tokenistic - look at me, I'm a strong independent woman, how new and important to make a big deal out of! Whedon himself makes no secret of the fact that that's exactly what Buffy is - a reversal of the "blonde girl in a dark alleyway trope." I feel that less with Kaylee - her masculine/feminine dichotomy is very subtly introduced and not really commented on, which is a good thing. I always felt like Buffy was slightly punished for her 'masculine' side - the fighting and the sex, particularly with Spike - but with Kaylee, it's a whole new world of totally fine, as if it ever wouldn't be. 

Which sort of brings me on to Part 2 of Kaylee is The Best - the sex. Again, to bring it back to Buffy, sex was almost always coded as a bad thing - particularly with Spike ("Last night was the most perverse, degrading experience of my life.") but also with Faith, bad girl extraordinaire and big fan of casual sex; Angel, the good vampire who turns bad when the sex thing happens; even good-guy Riley - remember the crazy haunted-house-fuelled-by-sex episode? And don't get me started on the whole penetration/blood drinking/sex parallels* Meanwhile, Kaylee enjoys sex. It's as simple as that, and there are no repercussions. And again you have that unexpected dichotomy, the pretty princess who's open and upfront about just how much she likes sex. Unexpected. And fabulous. Two of my favourite Kaylee lines: 

"Kaylee Frye: Goin' on a year now I ain't had nothin' twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries! 
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Oh, God! I can't *know* that! 
Jayne Cobb: I could stand to hear a little more."

Girl has needs and she's not ashamed of it. Kaylee has none of the (traditionally female) pretensions about talking about sex and I love her for that. 

Dr. Simon Tam: In all that time on the ship... I've always regretted... not being with you. 
Kaylee Frye: With me? You mean to say... as in sex? 
Dr. Simon Tam: I mean to say. 
Kaylee Frye: To Hell with this. I'm gonna live! 

This whole exchange is hilarious, mostly because Simon is being so ridiculous about it all. And instead of going for the heartfelt declarations of love as Simon does, Kaylee's like...damn, I'm going to shoot some reevers now. 

All of the women in Firefly are excellent...just excellent. To the extent that I feel bad splitting the cast down the middle, into women and men, because they all embody different aspects of humanity rather than gender, which is a beautiful thing to see. But Kaylee is by far and away my favourite. Not just because of her gender and its representation, but also her relationship with River, with Wash, with Mal...she's just a fabulous person. Which is why she's included on the list. So there.

*I think it's fairly obvious, but I could actually write a dissertation on sex and sexuality in Buffy. In fact, I really, really want to do it at some point. Watch this space.

Gotta get down on...

Is it Friday? I'm finally getting that annual summer problem of  having absolutely no clue what day it is...and I only broke up for the summer 13 weeks ago! I think it might be something to do with the fact that the sun has finally come out to play. Hooray! Without further ado, though, the blanks. Always important.

Or something.

1. My favorite grade in school was: easily, by a mile, my final year of sixth form. The work was hard, but I'd done enough the year before to know I didn't have to panic too much...I was super comfortable there, I had loads of frees, the teachers were wicked, the work was almost fun, and leaving was a seriously bittersweet occasion - so much fun even though there were lots of tears!

 2. My favorite teacher was probably my English teachers...nearly all of them, with a few notable exceptions because the problem with English is that it's fascinating and wonderful and excellent and perfect and marvellous but if the teacher makes it boring, then it's boring. So it takes a really good teacher to make it feel like a good student.

 3. The highest level of education I have completed the first year of my degree. You may have already guessed, but I study English. Surprise!

4. School lunches for me were a sandwich, a cheesestring and a frube for the vast majority of my life! Chips on a Friday. Sixth form was the best: trips to the Sainsburys down the road were a regular thing and we had a little kitchen for the common room, so we had stuff like cous-cous, rice, noodles, and even beans on toast a couple of times. Nom.

 5. The amount of money you'd have to pay me to go back to high school would be ooh, as much as I loved it I was ready to move on by the end! I don't know what you'd have to pay Lots and lots of lovely money.

6. A few things that will always remind me of going back to school are last minute plans for buses and schoolbags and that weird feeling you get knowing you're back to the old grind the next morning. Weird.

7. The first day of school was always part 'oh God not again,' part 'my God summer's been boring, get me out of the house!' Bit of a mixed bag, really :)

Nostalgia fest aside, have a lovely weekend everybody :)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Domestic goddess.


Lime marscarpone ice cream, banana muffins with cinnamon frosting, and a truly delicious chilli, all in the space of about 3 hours. Tell me I'm not a domestic goddess. I dare you.*

*none of these pictures are mine, but they do look ROUGHLY the same so it's all gravy :)

Friday, 31 August 2012

Friday again?

It's the afternoon and I spent a significant amount of time last night sat in a carpark. Happy Friday, everybody!

1.  Over this labor day weekend I will be: it's labor day weekend? Okay, cool. This weekend I will be mostly doing nothing. Tidying my room. Bacon.

2.  With the political debates going on right now, my thoughts are: obviously media bias means I only see the cray cray stuff, but my thoughts right now? How can people tell blatant lies in speeches and be dangerously uninformed about medical matters...and still be in a position to run a country? It's baffling and bad.

3.  Today: I spent the morning feeling rather fragile...then I went and had lunch/chat at a friend's house. And now I'm here!

4. The best thing I've cooked recently was: last night I made a delicious chicken, bacon and cannelini bean thing with a load of veg and herbs and nom nom nom, it was so good. 

5. The last thing I bought was: two bottles of fanta, a bottle of squash and some vodka for my sister. Exciting, I know.

6. The best movie I saw this summer was:  2012 is such a vintage year as far as films are concerned! The Dark Knight Rises has to edge it for sheer awesomeness though.

7.  The best book I read this summer was: it's a thousand-way tie between everything on my reading list. None of it is really my cup of tea so I wouldn't say I've enjoyed it per se. Sadly.

Done, done and done.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

A Freshers' Guide: Extra Bits

SO I know I probably don't have many readers who are going away to university this summer, but seeing as this time last year I was in that position (and now that I'm a seasoned second year...) I figured I'd point out a few extra things that you might want to take with you. Naturally saucepans, underwear and pens will all already be on the list, but there are extra bits and pieces that come in handy which you might not specifically need...but you definitely won't regret bringing them.

1. A tin of sweets and a door stop.

On my first day of university, I had a cheap ready-made lasagna for my dinner. I finished half and, jokingly, offered the other half to my new flatmates.
No less than 4 hands shot up to take advantage of a free half lasagna.
Conclusion: uni students like free stuff. And they like food.

So there really is one easy way to make people like you: wait till everyone's a little bit tipsy, whack out some free chocolate, and boom. Instant friends for life. I can still remember the apple cake a friend offered me in the first week of university. Considering I'd lived on Crunchy Nut and peas up until that point, it tasted like heaven in a bowl.

Step two to making BFFLs - doorstop. Leave your door wide open. Makes it easier to get into conversations at the beginning of the week; by the end of the week you can compare how trashed your rooms have got, and use it as a convenient stop-off point if you're too drunk/hungover to make it to the end of your corridor. Plus, bonus: if your room starts to smell a bit funky, you can air out all those nasty smells for the whole corridor to share!

Conclusion: who needs a personality?! If you want friends, the dual-fire cannon ball of a tin of chocolate and a door stop is quite clearly your surefire method of success.

2. Anything even vaguely fancy dress you own.

Trust me. You'll need it. And when I say vaguely fancy dress, I mean vaguely: if there's a jungle theme, take something orange. A stick of eyeliner later and you'll pass for a tiger. Take a binbag and a white bedsheet, too: there will be a toga night at some point in your life. There will also be a 'anything but clothes night.' Failing that, you can use it to throw away your rubbish. Handy! Don't forget Hallowe'en is within your first term - if you're not planning on going home, plan ahead! Your first day is probably one of the two times a year you'll actually be driven to uni, and thus probably the only time you won't have to carry everything you own.

Alternatively, adopt the motto of the Eric A ground floor scrooges: "nunquam concinnatis."

Never dress up.

3. Duct tape, scissors, hair grips, tweezers and the hallowed bottle opener.

You don't think you'll need it? You will. Our fridge looked much like this by the end of the year:

But more importantly things like duct tape and scissors come in handy all the time. You honestly don't realise how much you need them until they're not constantly lying around the house.'re really gonna need a bottle opener. And even if you don't, someone else will. Trust me. 

4. And a personal choice...

Not taking a wine glass to uni was the worst choice I ever made. Not because I was a massive wine drinker back then but because you can be drinking Frosty Jacks or White Lightening or something similarly lacking in class...and you still look classy as fuck. I drink ribena from a wine glass, cider from a wine glass, and occasionally (when the budget allows) even wine from a wine glass.

Either that, or a mug. There's nothing better than a bunch of students drinking spirits from a mug, okay?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Oh god the budget.

This year has been kind of a washout. Not just in a weather way (although it's raining pretty hard right now) but in terms of DOING EXCITING THINGS. Admittedly I've had V (aces) and work to break the monotony a little but I am YOUNG FREE AND AWESOME and I feel like I should make the most of that!

We've all been kind of keen to plan ahead for next summer: part of the reason we've done less than normal is because of a lack of foresight, planning and money. So thus far, the plans...

1. The Party Week
Apparently there's a limited shelf-life for crazy drinking holidays. So apparently we're doing one next year.
The plan: go somewhere cheap and skanky. Spend a week drinking, dancing and sunbathing to our hearts' content. Stay trashy, San Diego.
The budget: Last night's initial discussion came away with "if we can all put aside £500 including spending money, that would be good."
I definitely have £500 to spare.

2. The Festival
After V this year, we fancy something a little more low-key and unusual, but it'd still be nice to get a festival experience in.
The plan: Shambala Festival in Northamptonshire, with a self-proclaimed "over 200 diverse musical acts across 12 live stages, world-class cabaret, an amazing array of workshops, stand-up comedy, inspirational talks and debates, jaw dropping circus and acrobatics, interactive theatre and nationally acclaimed poetry all housed in beautifully decorated venues." Highlights of the 2012 show (aka anyone I'd actually heard of) were Billy Bragg, Molotov Jukebox, and a host of intriguingly named obscure bands, such as "DJ Yoda & The Trans Siberian Marching Band" and "The Story-Telling Yurt." Who wouldn't want to hear bands like that??
The budget: Tickets this year were £119 for a four day festival. Add to that an extra £30 or so for food and drink and the total price is about £150. Not bad.

3. The trip of a lifetime
When they announced at the end of LeakyCon 2012 that there would be a Leaky in London next year, I was genuinely so excited I could barely breathe. When my long-time internet friends from all over the globe announced they might just be able to come too, I nearly died of happiness. Upshot: Leaky 13 could be a brilliant, brilliant time.
The plan: A four day Harry Potter convention in London. Another day or so exploring the sights of the capital. A trip to the Harry Potter studios in Leavesden. A wander up to Edinburgh for some more sightseeing. Possibly a trip to Durham cathedral to see where some of the scenes were filmed. Maybe a quick stop off at my house in York. Maybe Cardiff for the Whovians among us. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS AND VERY EXCITING.
The budget: :cries: Leaky tickets alone are £150, £200 if you want a LeakyCon Lit pass (which um, I most definitely definitely do.) Then there's London hotel rates. Trains up and down the country. Hotels all over the shop. I really have no idea. But I'm going to shoot at £400 if we keep prices niiiice and low...

And the sum of it all...a mere £1050 smackeroons. I think I'm going to have to do a lot of extra shifts this year.

I think I might give up wine. Every time I would have spent a fiver on a bottle of wine (around twice a week), I'll stick it into savings. That's £10 a week, which is £520 in a year. That plus the earnings from my job and not going out as much and maybe toning down the amount I spend on food...things might just about work out.

Fuck me, I spend a lot of money on wine.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

All over the shop.

We went to V Festival.
We did festival things.
We got muddy. We got neon-y. We got very, very drunk.

It was wicked.

This was home for 4 days. 

And this is me and my best friend, Vin de Pays. At 6.20 for the equivalent of four bottles, I cannot complain. At all.

Essentially I had a wicked time, and I got to see three of my favourite artists EVER EVER EVER live which was awesome: The Killers, (who covered Don't Look Back in Anger, which was INCREDIBLE) Newton Faulkner and Ben Howard. Arghh, it was just really, really good, even though clashes in taste between my friends and I meant I had to endure Tinie Tempah and David Guetta...still, I feel like we navigated the clashes quite well. I had a couple of friends from uni there as well, and it was great to catch up with them too.

After that, (and this is all by way of explaining yet another extended absence,) I headed back up to York for my sometimes-job as a drinks waitress at the racecourse. It was a four-day meeting, the longest I'd ever endured. With Wednesday being the Ebor Festival opener, Ladies Day the day after, and the Betfred Ebor day on Saturday - known for its popularity with the travelling community - I was expecting a big day but bloody hell. I don't think I've ever had a more tiring 4 days, navigating the packed out crowds on the champagne lawn and trying to serve three customers at once under either pouring rain or blistering sun...occasionally both at once. 


It didn't help that five minutes before the gates opened on Saturday, the cleaning staff were enthusiastically telling me all about last year's Ebor Day, including tales of staff being bottled and warning us "not to provoke them." So basically, I was terrified before we even started, although it was exactly like any other day at the races: champagne flowing from bottles, money flowing from pockets and mud flowing in absolute rivers after the rain of the day previous.

Basically, thanks to sleeping in a tent in a field for four days and then wandering up and down another field for four days, my entire body is broken. Also, I never want to see mud ever again. 

Not that I'm a drama queen or was totally worth it for the money! The tips were fabulous, the people I was working with were lovely and so were the vast majority of the customers, so I can't complain! I imagine I'll be heading back next year, if only to break up the long stretch of the summer months. 

And's a cheeky fill in the blank Friday, just to round things off nicely.

1.  My favorite thing to do on Friday is: Fill in the Blanks! 

No, not really. My family and I have a relatively longstanding tradition of heading down to our local pub for dinner on a friday evening - it's cheap, allows us to catch up on our respective weeks and also gives us time to create the all-important to-do list for the weekend.

And if 'side-passage door' has been on there for the last two years, well, who's really counting?!

2.  This Friday I am: who knows! Whatever way the wind blows me, I will be having wild and exciting times in my life of being a floating wildflower on the breeze of life!

This is a fancy way of saying "lol who knows" but don't tell anyone.

3.  The best thing about a weekend is: I don't know, between my sparse university timetable and my evening-and-weekends job I haven't had that Friday feeling in a very long time...weekends don't really mean anything special to me any more!

4. Now that summer is almost over, I'm feeling: Quite sad. I feel like I've wasted a very long stretch of time doing not alot. But I've got a lot healthier and had some fun times, so I guess it's not all awful.

I should really start reading at some point though.

5. The best thing I did this summer was: Go to V Festival!

6. The thing I'm looking forward to about autumn is: wearing lots of layers, the beauty of a warm shower and a warm bed, getting back to university and of course, the new season of Doctor Who. (Pond Life starts tomorrow! I am excite!)

7. If I had to be stuck in one season for the rest of my life, I would choose: Ohh this is so difficult! It's a toss-up between autumn and spring, for definite...probably autumn if I absolutely had to choose, but anything warm-ish and pleasant will do for me! 

This has been a post.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Little things.

  • The way my postcode spells YOLO
  • Buffy reruns on Syfy
  • Montages of the medal winners on the BBC (weep)
  • Sneaking a bite of my Mom's chocolate brownie cake.
  • The Spice Girls rocking it in the Olympic closing ceremony. Actually just the whole ceremony in general. Standard weird British humour. Gotta love it.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Insert classic proverb here.

You shouldn't judge a book by its cover.
No, really.

When my housemate and I first discovered that he was familiar with the town I live in, one of the first things we discussed was the crazy guy who sells The Big Issue* outside Touchwood. He's kind of a Solihull staple: he yells incoherently at shoppers as they exit through the big glass doors, they try and avoid contact and ignore him. I can't imagine he sold an awful amount of magazines in his time as a seller, although I wish I'd bought one.

Crazy Big Issue Guy died this week days ago, and it's only since his death that I been able to discover there was a lot more to him than I assumed.

"I have worked with Peter for just over 5 years now, I badged him up just after he came back from the States and from then on he was one of the vendors I always referred to when discussing The Big Issue and it’s benefits to other people. Pete simply was an enigmatic and incredible type of person, his conversation was always of interest and his beliefs on the world was of intellect and understanding. He was also, even though I shouldn’t have one, my favourite vendor and I am very saddened to know he has passed away."

You can read the full article about him here.

To me, reading about Peter has really, really kicked a few things into light. The first is what I said right at the beginning of this post: I'm a hideously judgmental person, and it's not fair of me to create this persona of Crazy Big Issue Guy in my head, when it's someone I don't know at all and don't really deserve to have an opinion on.

The second is that it shouldn't matter what the book is about, to abuse the metaphor a little further. Even if the content did match the outer appearance, whatever Peter was like under the (sometimes intimidating) mask, it shouldn't have changed how I felt. I'm a dick for assuming that people with a higher intellect, or who've done stuff in life are somehow more worthy of my approval, or that I can somehow judge that some people deserve my two pounds more than others.

I'm also a dick for assuming my approval is important to anyone's life, when I so vehemently insist that I need no-one's approval to live my own.

And whilst I hate to get all ~tumblr-social-justice-brigade~11!!1! on here, it has kicked a few things into check about my own privilege, both practically as someone who isn't homeless but also on a more abstract level, as someone who thinks she's lofty enough to judge others.

And that rounds up my giant 'Emma is a dick' post. If you'll excuse me, it's 4:15 in the morning, my eyes are burning, and I have a particularly interesting fic to finish reading before my laptop gives out. So I'll conclude by saying RIP Peter Dolan. I'm sorry.

*I'm not sure how international the concept is, but here The Big Issue is a magazine sold only by homeless people, basically giving them a source of income and a chance to earn some money despite having no fixed address.

Title changed.

At first this blog was going to be called "Friday?! AGAIN?!"
And then I realised that it's the early hours of Sunday morning and yet another week has whizzed by maniacally.
I've spent an enjoyable evening throwing away my A Level notes and clearing out my drawers. It feels good.
Tomorrow I'm going to alphabetizing and reorganizing my book collection. Half of it is stored in my garage after I bought it home from uni last month and it's horrible.
One good thing about doing a Lit degree - my personal library, none of which belongs to my parents, is expanding and it's nice. I tried to explain to my sister that I'm going to have a library which starts with childrens' books...both mine and any future offsprings'...and proceeds through YA to adult, all in glorious alphabetical order. I'm excited. I don't care if I have to turn my kitchen into a library to make space. Who needs food anyway?
And that's rich coming from me.

Anyway, this week's blanks are birthday themed! I'll keep them short because I'm a miserable bastard when it comes to birthdays :)

1.  The age I will be on my upcoming birthday is: 2o. This is something that is NOT COOL. NOT COOL AT ALL. My brain starts screaming when I think about it, something along the lines of what no I'm not old enough to be an adult, leave me alone! 
Luckily my birthday isn't till June, so I have a while to come to terms with such an earth-shatteringly large number.
20. Ugh.

2.   The best birthday present ever would be: plane tickets and a years' worth of hotels in North America. Then I could finally meet all my internet friends, go to ComicCon AND go to LeakyCon all in one tasty tasty bundle. That would be so awesome I'd die.

3.  My favourite birthday to date was: hm. This year was pretty good, because we skipped the concept of my birthday entirely (handy,) went to the beach (fun!), got drunk, came home, got drunker and then went to bed. Crucially, though, the fact that it was my birthday went completely unmentioned all day long. Score.
Oh, there was also that fun time the 5th Harry Potter book got released on my 10th birthday. I had a fun day then. You can probably guess what I did. 

4. Birthdays make me feel: hideous hideous hideous. I can't wait until I'm 70 and can start ignoring them entirely. 

5. The worst birthday I ever had was: I can vividly remember having a birthday in some kind of village hall place, bursting out into tears because of all the attention and having to be driven round the block until I calmed down. It was raining. I was probably 7 or 8. It was not an enjoyable day.

6. When I was born it was either 7am or 7:19 (my mom gets mixed up between the two of us) and God knows how much I weighed or measured. It was a good day for humanity, I feel. In quiet houses across the world, the ordinary people cheered at the coming of their queen. Babies broke out in those cute gurgly smiles, cats purred, prisoners suddenly broke down in tears and repented of their sins. 

7.  So far my favourite age has been  18 was a vintage year. For the first month I was obscenely happy and settled, with a load of people I loved. Then came the longest summer of my life. And then there was the first year of uni, which was a whole new exciting and fun challenge.
Basically it's been excellent.
I've only been 19 for a month and a half but it has a lot to live up to! I look forward to whatever life chooses to fling my way before I hit the big 2-0.

After that I'll be past it, of course. But up until then.

Friday, 3 August 2012

1.  I am proud of: where I've got to in life so far and my work ethic: if work needs to be done, I will do it no questions asked. Also I'm a bit of a workaholic and I feel weird if I'm not juggling jobs, extracurriculars and education. 

2.   This weekend I will be: Nothing exciting! The gym, I'll probably go out in the evening, I have to make another banoffee pie at some point...I have reading to do, I guess! I'm ignoring it at the moment.

3.  A secret dream I have is: I'll always have that secret childhood dream of being an author. Maybe it'll happen. Maybe it won't. We shall see.

4. I can't handle: being patronised or underestimated. I'm a very laidback person in general, but if you try to treat me like a child, I will get angry. 

5. The most annoying thing in the entire world is: well that's an enormous question. 

6. The most relaxing thing in the entire world is: I know it's weird but showering! When there's hundreds and millions of stressy things on your shoulders, there's nothing better than a long hot shower to reconstitute your thoughts and calm yourself down. Such an enjoyable experience.

7.  I think everyone should: on a general level, chill out a little bit. If there weren't so many hot-headed, reactionary idiots in the world it would be a much better place. I'm not saying passion is bad, because it's not, but learning how to channel that passion and emotion into something constructive...we should do that.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Demand outstrips supply. I made banoffee pie.

In one day, my sister and I painted my nails in the prettiest of ways, upcycled some old photo frames (admittedly still in progress) and made the most beautiful banoffee pie.

Are we domestic goddesses, or are we domestic goddesses?

Anyway, normally it's not that big a deal when we bake something but this pie was glorious. We've already had two or three requests to make it for other people, and my dad's friends absolutely demolished it when they came home from a long cycle ride.

Seriously, I was gunning for a second slice, wandered in to scope out the situation and it was just gone. 

I'm going to put the recipe here, because as I say it's beautiful. The original recipe can be found here, but here's our slightly edited (and halved) version. This makes a pie that served 6 of us; I can imagine how big the full recipe must be!

Step One: The Base

  • 60g butter
  • 125g digestive biscuits
Step one is easy peasy: crush your biscuits to crumbs (good for anger management), melt the butter, mix it all up and press it all down into a medium sized cake tin. Refrigerate until it's cold. 

Note: We used 50g butter and there wasn't enough. I'm not sure how much extra you'd need to add but 60g should cover it!

Step Two: The 'Offee
  • 50g butter
  • 50g dark brown soft sugar
  • Half a 397g can of condensed milk 
Melt the butter and sugar together in a saucepan until the sugar has all dissolved and it's formed a nice thick paste, then add in the condensed milk and turn the heat right up, stirring and stirring and stirring until it goes a caramel colour and a viscous texture. Pour it over your nice cold base from earlier and then whack it back in the fridge. 

Step Three: The Ban. Also the creme.
  • Two bananas
  • 150mls double creme 
  • A chunk of chocolate (if ya like)
Slice the bananas and layer them over the top, then whip up your creme until it's nice and fluffy. Use a palate knife and a spoon to put an even layer of creme on top. Grate a bit of chocolate on top if you fancy it! 

That's pretty much it! You're ready to serve. I know it's a really simple recipe but that pie was honestly the best I've ever tasted, even if I do say so myself. Felt like I had to spread the word!!

Emma x

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

I'm in the mood for something lazy: Bloggers 411

So I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden today, and OH MY GOD CAN I GET AN AWESOME? I'm going to write it all up at some point because I feel the need to get it all out. Until then, though, have a pointless miscellaneous quiz. Hooray. I think I'm going to tag it "About Me" as a kind of introduction post, because why the heck not. 

1. How long have you been blogging? And what got you started on blogging? Has your blog changed?
Quite a loaded question! My first 'blog' was a Windows Live Space blog, created April 2005, which sadly no longer exists, but I've quoted some of the best bits in my post here.
This blog itself began on the 24th September 2008, or at least that's when I seem to have first posted!
Why did I start a blog? The simple answer is that I can't really remember, but I imagine it had something to do with a) the fact that I like to write out things in order to organise my brain and b) most of my internet platforms had at least one person I knew on them and sometimes I needed...not that. 
Has my blog changed? I hope so! At least I hope my writing style has improved and the content has potentially improved a little too. It's still essentially just me rambling nonsensically at unexpected intervals.

2. Did you go to college? If so where, and what did you study?
Currently in progress! I'm studying English Lit at the University of York at the moment. Which is cool. I enjoy it.
(I sort of resent this feels kind of elitist. But hey ho, shit happens.)

Seriously. This is my life.

3. Where have you travelled?
Ultimately I take no credit for where I've been lucky enough to travel, it's all down to my hardworking wonderful excellent parents, and occasionally sometimes me where I've funded myself. But basically I've been to France, Spain, Italy, Menorca, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Greece and America (DC, Philadelphia, NYC.)

4. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?

My parents' mortgages.
Then my student loans/rent.
Then I might actually do something fun with what's left :P

5. What are your 3 biggest pet peeves?
  • People

6. What is your favorite movie?

Seriously big question! I honestly struggle to pick a favourite but here's my top 5 in no particular order:
- The King's Speech
- Love, Actually
- Back to the Future
- Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers
- Actually I think I'm gonna put The Avengers in here. Gah, that's HARD!

7. What is your drink of choice: wine, beer, or liquor? water, soda, or tea?
Of these categories, wine (rose and sweet and cheap thank you) and soda (cheeky 7up Free anybody?)
I'm generally speaking something of a cider girl.
Because I'm classy.

8. What is something you enjoy to do when you have me time?
Plough through another series of something Whedon online, or read something exciting off my reading list. Indulge in some carbohyrates or some chocolate. Get my duvet down on to the sofa. Yes please.

9. If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree to one store, which store would it be?

Wow...uh, that's hard! I really have no clue. I don't shop much. Honestly I'd probably say something like Tesco or Amazon so I could get lots of different things!
I'd spend most of it on books.

10. Share with us an embarrassing moment of your past. 

Too, too many to count! One that still sticks out in my mind is the time I got confused over a coda in Junior Wind Band, had to ask the conductor what was going on in front of everyone (embarrassing enough) AND THEN I started crying. In Wind Band. In front of everyone.

11. What day would you love to relive again?
So many beautiful days that have happened in my life! Potentially the first time my friends and I got properly tipsy in one of my friend's back gardens. It was just an overwhelmingly happy time in my life.
No, wait! Perhaps it's one of the glorious sunny days I had with my friends when we holidayed in the South of France two years ago.
Or maybe seeing my dance class perform in a show last year. Actually, seeing the show choir club I helped out in perform, also last year.
Or maybe the day I got my A Level results and realised all my hard work had paid off.
Or this one time (I can't remember why) we sat in the park (I can't remember when) and it was perfect.
Or maybe just one of the casual laid back days I spent in the common room asleep/reading/talking/doing nothing.
Ohh, I don't know. TOO MANY. TOO HAPPY. 

12. If your life was turned into a movie... what actor would play you?
Um. I have no clue.

13. What are the jobs you had in high school/college/the early years?
College (University)
Campus shop
Local racecourse (waitressing...ish)
"High School"
I spent a bit of time in a charity shop volunteering.
Also I spent 5 years...maybe 4...volunteering at the library every summer too.


14. Show us a picture from high school or college.

You all did it once.
Also this:


I feel like these two pictures combined summarise my school experience. One minute you're happy as Larry, the next you are DYING OF STRESS.

15. If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go?
Somewhere, empty. But with wifi. And food. And paper and pens.

16. Show us the most current picture of you, or your family, or anything of meaning to you.

What?! Harry Potter means something to me!
Also it was taken like, 4 hours ago so it's certainly current.

17. Where do you see your life 5 years from now?
If all goes to plan...qualified, employed, settled. Sound good?