Needed: A Catch Up.

Hello, internet acquaintances!

As I type it has been a number of months since I last made a post. I did have posts lined up that never got past the posting line, and I say this a lot and you all know what’s up, but soz. Today I’m gonna ramble about:

  • exams and post-exams
  • makeup
  • The EU Referendum (sigh)
  • writing and that writing blog

This unannounced-but-we-all-saw-it-coming hiatus was, of course, due to the doomsdays of A-Level Exams. I might have warned you all earlier in the year – that entire month or two of stress has just blurred together in my head. I think I managed to keep it together long enough to go into my exams prepared, and coffee has been my indispensable new bestie. I was so out of energy by the time I finished my last exam that I had none left to wander the shops that afternoon with my friends… and I really like wandering and I really like my friends. But I was just so exhausted! I did get my sleep back, though.

Although I have a list of things to do in the holidays, I have been waking up and living my days mostly spontaneously. That said, I have made it onto my fourth anime series of the last three weeks, painting, knitting, cross stitching… and I am really loving it. I think I’ve finally let go of the urge to be revising all the time.

So here we are in that inevitable bit-in-the-middle time of the summer between Doomdays and The Doomsday, although this being my third year of Results Days I am both really apprehensive about it as my uni place relies on this, and also fairly chill. I am trying not to dwell on where my life might go if I completely flunk everything.

As I type, my Y13 prom is in two days and I am doing my own makeup for it. I like my makeup these days (my past selves would be very very shocked) but I’m still very much an amateur and not to be trusted, therefore it has been a steep learning curve to get my face to look decent. Surely all this new makeup is an investment rather than a one-off, and I’m having a lot of fun experimenting with eyes and learning how to work with concealers. This coming from a girl with thirty (ish) lipsticks – the rest of my makeup stash is non existent, evidently.

I now have my first eye palette and a bunch of concealers, and I previously did get my hands on more lipsticks during exam period, so if the sun ever comes back here I’ll get some photos together for reviews. We had flooding a while back as well – that was interesting! I mean whole roads getting submerged and I still had to go into school for exams as a river formed in the middle of the school grounds.

In the last few months I have voted twice – one in the local elections and one for the EU Referendum. If you haven’t been aware, Britain has voted to leave the EU and its implications are far reaching for the future of my generation – many of them not good, as we are losing opportunities and freedoms previously available to other generations. What shocked me was the idea of people ‘protest’ voting. This means people voting to say ‘screw you’ to the government by voting against what the government are supporting. Like… why? That’s surely not how voting works. Petitioning, letters to your MP, that’s the regular route, no?

I think the entire referendum campaign was badly timed (Euros, anyone?) and executed. It was mostly scaremongering and there was a heavy emphasis on immigration which I think was not appropriate. It also seems that the consequences of Brexit are only being properly discussed now that the vote has gone through – a discussion that should have happened during the campaign.

My mom was expressing her shock at the result to me in an attempt to make herself seem informed of the topic but I am ashamed to admit that not only did she not vote, she was in the US spending dollars whilst the value of the pound plummeted against the dollar to reach a 31-year low. But anyway, here we are with a new prime minister about to take her place in No 10 and I am not feeling optimistic about what’s next. Here’s to the future – good luck to all of us, I guess.

This blog post is one of the first steps I’m taking now to get into the swing of writing regularly again. I realised after trying to write creatively after months of exam answers and essay writing that, whilst this blog is not going to be a novel, it just helped to get words out there regularly. So… I will keep doing that.

I really need to update the writing blog before its first-year anniversary! I maybe posted twice last September, and never got back to it… I’ll dig out the prompts and get something up there eventually. In the meantime, my NaNoWriMo writing group and I have written up prompts here that are all pretty awesome so do check us out!

Until next time, then!

X

 

 

A Year of Twenty Swans!

Bloglogo2

Hello everyone!

First of all, since I missed the chance, I would first like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, which I hope is much better than 2015 was for me. I am very happy to see the back of it, personally.

Today’s an extra special day for 20S, which is officially a year old. I didn’t think I would stick at blogging this long. At first, I was worried that no one was listening to my rambling, but somewhere along the line I let go of the numbers and just carried on talking to myself. It’s what I do.

I finally rustled up a new header for the blog during a break from Psychology revision. It’s nice! I mean, I promised it half a year ago and only got it done a few days ago, but I like it. It’s my birthday present to the Blog, in a way.

I’m currently using the WordPress.com theme, Plane. I know it can be a struggle to find something unique if everyone is using free themes, but you just gotta work with it. Plane’s customisable options are pretty varied and the layout is standard but accessible. Besides the dark blue default colour scheme, there’s only the brown that is free, and I worked with that to add blue to my header so it matches.

The header itself is made with my graphics tablet and the program Paint Tool SAI. I figured I would be more comfortable making it on PTS than the new, free(!!!) software called Krita that I recently downloaded and have yet to experiment with.

It strikes me that around this time last year, I was supposed to be doing mock exams. How on earth did I manage to start up and run a blog in that time whilst studying?

Ah, hold on. I didn’t.

This year I have learnt a lot, from blogging, and every single one of my downfalls in different shapes and forms, so many of my aims and ‘resolutions’ for this year seemed self-explanatory to me. They’re less like resolutions and more like things I just want to do or keep in mind as the year goes on.

  1. Nice natural lighting during the British Winter is non-existent.
    Sorry, friends, but all of my beauty and skincare reviews are either going to have terrible photos or are all going to be posted in the summer. If it’s any consolation, I will have tonnes of free time after my exams are finished, which will hopefully translate into even better posts this summer.
  2. Speaking of beauty reviews, they need to improve as well.
    After a year of scrolling through blogs I have identified the things that I love about my favourites and the things that can be a real turn-off (bad spelling is an instant no-no, personally). Sadly, I see some of those things in my own reviews and this needs to change. For skincare, I’d like to incorporate ingredients lists and COSDNA analyses and so forth, and learn more about skincare in general. For makeup, I want to take my time to get great swatches in natural lighting and with flash, along with proper wear-testing. Again, definitely a summer thing.
  3. I am my own person, and not THAT kind of person. 
    This one resonates throughout my entire existence. I am not the one that can revise the night before and get an A* (curses). I am not the one that has enough stamina to run well, or can write three sides of an essay in the fifteen minutes that my Psychology exam will allow. I am surrounded by people who can do those things, but I have to accept that I am not part of that clique. Realising it last year and hammering it into my head has taken some effort, but now I can focus on what might give me a different edge.
  4. I want my total personal spending to be less than £200 by the end of the year. 
    Oh, this will be a hard one. I spent a crazy amount of money on beauty and stuff towards the end of 2016 and have already clocked up close to a quarter of my aim this year (two weeks, I know). Hence I am on a no-buy until the end of my main exams this year, and the summer when I can earn more… I just don’t need any more at this point to justify buying more. Unless I run out of an essential which I don’t think will be happening any time soon.

I think by this point you can all tell exactly how much I am looking forward to the summer. I am doing my A2 exams this year and afterwards I will have a two month holiday! If I get into my first choice of university, then my course starts in October giving me yet another month of holiday. Isn’t that great??

Of course, that means I have to make it to the end of the rough exam period in one piece. It will be a long and arduous journey. I will do my best to keep the blog updated with thoughts and playlist updates, but posts are going to be scarce for now.

Thanks for sticking with me, and here’s to another year.

Lots of love,

X

P.S. I have been treating Instagram like a micro-blog recently so for all the updates before I update the blog itself (!) feel free to check it out! My username is @swanzig_x.

 

Life and TV Knitting Update

  • Recently I have been reflecting on the blog and the writing style I use for it. It does sound like me, yes… a formal, too many thoughts me. I’m wondering whether I should attempt to adapt it or not. Big question.
  • Another thing. I still need to finish the blog logo. Just assume it will never happen and I may perhaps surprise you all one day!

Every now and again I am reminded that this blog started off fairly knit-heavy which it now isn’t, having been buried under things like skincare and too many thoughts. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I just don’t knit as much as I used to, but the important thing is that I still do. Compared to my A-Level studies and UCAS applications and stuff, my hobbies are really low priority. Blogging has, by far, been the easiest one to keep up with which is why I still post fairly frequently.

Progress is slow and steady on the  #GBBO2015 cowl, which is, as of now, still lacking a proper inspired name (ideas include naming it after contestant Nadiya who is my favourite to win, or something chocolatey)  The rounds are long and the pattern is interesting, but slow to knit. We are past the halfway mark of the series but I haven’t finished the first skein yet!

You can see both the right side and wrong side in the photo.

Luckily, Doctor Who has returned to our screens which means more TV knitting (Maisie Williams is guest starring this season!! Squeal!) Hopefully this means I can catch up a bit. Despite constantly suffering from Tenth Doctor withdrawal symptoms I still watch the show loyally. I think Peter Capaldi as Twelve is great, but at the same time I feel he hasn’t really found his feet with the character and is just as spontaneous and ‘everywhere’ as Eleven. Maybe it’s just Steven Moffat’s writing (which was better than usual for this season’s opening episode – I hope this is kept up all season!!).

(Another reason why I haven’t knit a lot is that knitting has been more a luxury for me recently due to life problems so I feel kinda guilty when I do, especially when I could be studying for my resits. Sigh.)

Until next time,

X

Time flies when most of the lighting in the museum is artificial.

Surprisingly, AT had never been to the local museum and art gallery before, so RZ and I took her out for the afternoon (although once we got there she seemed to have flashbacks of primary school trips).

As always, minus the selfies, there are surplus photos that I can safely share with you, this being a semi-anonymous blog and all… (Most of these are from AT, apart from the last one which is mine. RZ’s photos were 99.9% selfies, the not-selfie still had our faces in it… Soz, RZ. Much love <3)

First, browsing the modern museum that is… Selfridges’ ground floor. It’s a lot of fun just browsing all of the overpriced gimmicks.

IMG-20150709-WA0001
Look! Crocheted Egg Animals! Why!?

Then, the actual Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. In an old post I briefly mentioned my last visit a few months ago, but going with friends was much more fun. Plus, this time around we had considerably more time to browse.

IMG-20150709-WA0003
An Old Map.
IMG-20150709-WA0007
They did tell us to make our own faces…
IMG-20150709-WA0023
Hey look- a semi-anon photo of me, blurred and from the side. Clearly, I ‘dressed’ up for today…
IMG-20150709-WA0006
I captioned this one. Ever so slightly ashamed.
IMG-20150709-WA0029
The jewelry, pottery and porcelain display room.

IMG-20150709-WA0008 IMG-20150709-WA0014

IMG-20150709-WA0032

AT, very interested over there. She seems really at home with the historical stuff- I honestly can’t believe she’s [maybe] only visited once!
And with that, I don’t have much left to say, other than that I’m sure we only looked at one floor of the museum and the Whitehall Museum was closed… so we should do this all over again sometime!

X

Fiesta-Worthy Food

Last Saturday, some family friends came around to hang out with my parents. They left us with our Sunday evening sorted – eating out together. I’ve finally gotten the photos and things together in one place, so this post can finally go up!

The eight of us went to Fiesta Del Asado, an Argentine restaurant in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Here is their menu.
They gave us a plate of bread, vinegary olive oil and slightly spicy olives to make the wait more bearable. My brother, who hates olives, liked their olives. They were really nice olives.

My parents were mostly there for the steaks and ordered a Bife de Costilla (the largest steak) to share, but Dad cooks enough steaks at home that I knew that I wasn’t going to order it. Mom did give me a piece to try, though, and I liked it.

Bife de Costilla
Bife de Costilla

Instead, I ordered an Esternado de Ternera: cubed brisket braised for 12 hours in a malbec and salchicon sauce, served with crisp potato and corn. Reading that off the menu, I ordered on the basis of what I knew – ‘cubed brisket braised’.

DSC_0060
Esternado de Ternera

It looked like a bowl of beef stew.
It was potentially the best beef stew I’d ever had. The meat is really tender and goes really well with the sauce. If it weren’t for the fact that I was at a restaurant I would’ve licked the bowls and plates clean.

The desserts…

DSC_0070
Homemade Honey Ice Cream.

The last scoop of ice cream ended up being shared out between by siblings because it was quite rich – enough for two scoops, but having a third gave me an unsettled feeling. However, it is amazing ice cream – you know I love home-made ice creams!

Churros with a bit of Heavy Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce.
Churros with a bit of Heavy Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce.

I mostly took photos of food (using Mom’s new phone, because the camera on it is amazing!!) , but I look back and wish that I’d taken more of the decor. Their serving plates are really nice too…

The staff that served us were really helpful – they know their dishes inside out, made sure to check our allergy requirements and cleared any potentially-offending dishes with my sister before they made her food, as she has a mild nut allergy.
Also, any dropped cutlery was replaced really quickly. I thought that was nice of them. At most places I’ve been to, the staff never notice. It’s like that time when I got excited over lime in tap water.

To round off this post, a photo of the fries which get a special mention for being surprisingly, mindblowingly, amazing. The potato had a strange sweetness that was perfectly balanced with the general savoury flavour of… fries. (I’m sure I was going somewhere with that sentence.)
We ordered five bowls to share among ourselves, but we should’ve ordered more!

DSC_0063
*drool*

Chips, glorious chips…

X