Sunday, January 31, 2016

Can I Grow Accustomed To My Face?

That might seem like a stupid question. I'm 43 years old today and I've had my face all my life but still when I have my picture taken I often feel unhappy about how my face looks. Lots of people are the same way, I know because I've asked around. People take selfies over and over to get one they think is good enough. People untag themselves from pictures on Facebook because they don't like how they look. Plenty of people don't even use a picture of themselves on Facebook to avoid the pressure of it. People go on diets to change their face shape or even more drastically have plastic surgery. It seems really important to lots of people that they present the best picture of themselves for everyone else to see. Including me!

Any other person might decide to do something about changing how their face looks. I'm going to try change my attitude about my face and grow to love it instead.

I'm going to take a selfie every day for a month. Just one picture a day and even if I don't like how I look I'm going to post it anyway. No excuses, no getting out of it.

In fact I've already started 10 days ago in preparation for this post. The first picture was terrible. My eyes are closed, my neck looks fat and my hair isn't how I like it to be. Usually this photo would never see the light of day. Delete delete delete.

Here it is though:


I cried when I saw it because I was starting off my challenge with a terrible photo. It's exactly the point of the challenge but still I wanted to delete it and take a better one. The ridiculous thing is that many people see me like this every day but having a still photo seems to make it worse. We all want control over how we look in pictures so we can portray our best selves. The thing is that I sometimes have my eyes closed, I do have a fat neck and my hair isn't always how I'd like it to be. That's my reality and I'm quite happy to wander through life looking that way. So why does a photo like this upset me?

I carried on through the next ten days taking more photos in various places, one at work, one at the bus stop and one with Erin. I put them in this handy collage.



The first few I can see in my face that I'm annoyed to be taking a selfie but as the days went by I do actually look happier with taking the pictures. And that seems to improve how I look to myself.

This is my latest one:


So far I'm not sure if I like how my face looks more or if I've just got better at taking pictures of myself. So I'll carry on for 20 more days and see what happens.

Do you like how you look in photos?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Went Wrong With My Goodreads Reading Challenge?

I'm a person who loves reading and also challenging myself to complete goals so what could be better than the Goodreads Reading Challenge?

Goodreads is a book site for reviewing books you've read, reading reviews from other readers and joining in with virtual book clubs etc.

Every year since 2012 I've set myself a goal of reading so many books a year and reached that goal easily.


2015 was harder, I had less time to read and struggled to reach my goal. I have to admit I started doing some crazy things. I started to avoid the thicker books on my shelf. I'd search charity shop book shelves for thin books I could read to make reading a book faster to up my books read. I wasn't enjoying reading as much and it was feeling like a chore.

Some of the books I avoided.


I realised in early November that I was way off schedule in book reading and that I should logically give up my goal. But I couldn't. The lure of the 'Completed' banner across my reading challenge was too strong. I gave up my previous rule of not including comic books, recipe books and short stories and started including anything I read. I stopped reading online articles because they didn't go towards my reading challenge.

I felt like a lunatic.

I finished the year off with 52 books read, I'd reached my goal but by what means? I hardly enjoyed reading. I felt I'd cheated my way to the 100% completed banner and my 'success' felt hollow.

This year I've set myself a goal of reading the 7 big books I've avoided for the last 3-4 years. I've wanted to read those books for ages but felt I couldn't because they take too long. I've already read three of them and I'm back to enjoying reading again. 

Let this be a cautionary tale for readers everywhere! :D

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday Sandwich 90: Dripping Sandwich

I must admit, I'm not looking forward to this one. Dripping is animal fat collected from roasting a joint of meat. I remember my mum dipping bread in the pan after roasting beef for Sunday dinners when I was a kid but I've never tried it myself. Apparently in Yorkshire we call it "mucky fat". Sounds delicious...


Ingredients: dripping, bread, salt & pepper.


Spread the dripping on the bread and season with salt & pepper. At least it's an easy to make sandwich.


We weren't impressed with this one. It's too salty and horribly greasy. The flavour was ok, it reminded me of pork scratchings but not as nice. It's not unpleasant to eat but I don't think I'll have it again. JD said it tastes like the oven tray when we've cooked sausages, so someone's been testing that out!

Ratings: JD -1, Emma - 1

Next Saturday we won't be making a sandwich because we're out for my birthday :D

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday Sandwich 89: Cemita Poblana

This week it's the turn of the Cemita Poblana, a Mexican sandwich from Puebla.

Ingredients: thin-cut steak, breadcrumbs, avocado, onion, salsa, cheese and a bread roll.

Cover your steak with flour, then egg then breadcrumbs and shallow fry it in a pan.


While it cooks through, slice up some onion and avocado.


Toast your bread rolls ready for filling them. We put half of the steak in each bread bun and topped it with cheese, onion, avocado and then finally a good dollop of salsa.



It was a nice sandwich. The steak was thin and tender enough to bite into in the bread roll. The cheese melted onto the steak and the breadcrumbs gave a nice texture to the steak. I'm not keen on avocado usually but you couldn't taste it over the salsa, it just leant a smoothness to the other crunchy or solid ingredients. It wasn't un-delicious in taste but it felt lacking in something to make it a really good sandwich.

Ratings: JD - 2, Emma - 2

Next Saturday - Dripping Sandwich

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Family Game Review - Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse

JD bought me this game for Christmas, he got it from Kickstarter which is one of his favourite sites to browse. It's a site that helps people showcase new products/projects and get funding help from the public.

The novelty of this game is that it all fits in a tiny mint tin. Making it easy to take with you anywhere.



 It’s a nice day in Meepleton. You and your friends are enjoying the day without a care in the world . . .
BOOM! Transformers blow, cars crash, people fall to the ground. Phew, you’re wobbly but okay.
RAWR! Nearby, a giant monster wreaks havoc!
Hurry! Get to the school’s forgotten fallout shelter.

The idea of the game is that a giant green radioactive monster has appeared and you need to get your guys into the shelter with some provisions to be safe. You need 2 of you to collect the provisions and 4 of you to pull the fallout shelter door shut.


You start out the game like this. Which takes about 1 minute to set up. One of your five guys is standing but the others are laid down on the floor. You need to roll 7 (any combination) on the dice to do anything. Rolling 7 means you can help one guy to his feet, or move one guy into the shelter.

The green piece is the monster and he has a green dice that starts on 6. If you roll a double 6 then his dice turns to 5, then if you roll a double 5 it moves to 4 and so on. If the monster's dice reaches 1 and you roll a double 1 then you have to sacrifice a guy to be eaten by him.


Once you have 2 guys in the shelter you can use a roll of 7 to move them both to the provisions and then another roll to return them to the shelter.


Once you have 4 guys and some provisions in the shelter you can use a roll of 7 to close the door. You've won!

The game is very fast paced because there are no turns, you both roll at the same time as fast as you can to try roll 7 over and over. Besides moving your own guys around you can choose to sabotage your opponent with your roll of 7. You can lay down one of his guys or remove them from the shelter.

Each game takes anything between 3-10 minutes to play. You only need a small surface to play it on. The worst thing is trying to find a surface that makes rolling quick, the dice bounce or spin on anything too shiny. A good tactic is to cup your hand to roll into so the dice doesn't take too long to roll. It's very competitive!

There are a few variations on the game to change things up if you get bored too.Leigh came up with the idea of a third person playing as the monster and rolling dice to try get him down to 1 on his dice quicker to sabotage the game. We played it that way and it was a fun way to involve a third person, good idea Leigh!

Ratings: JD - 4, Emma - 4, Leigh - 3, Erin - 0

Me and JD really enjoy this game whereas Leigh is displeased by the fast-paced action and Erin was completely unimpressed by the whole idea of the game. You can't win 'em all.

To buy this game (next month) or other Mint Tin games go to http://subquark.com/#

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Saturday Sandwich 88: Bulgogi Sandwich

Bulgogi means "fire meat" in Korean so we're expecting a hot one this week!

Ingredients: beef, bread buns, red bell pepper, spring onions, soy sauce, sesame seeds and oil, garlic, onion, sugar and chilli flakes.

Cut the beef into thin slices and marinade it in soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, garlic, onion, sugar and chilli flakes.


After a few hours you can saute the beef (although it is traditionally barbecued on skewers if you want to be more authentic). Also saute slices of red bell pepper and spring onion for the sandwich garnishes.


The taste of the beef was delicious, spicy but not too hot. It was spicy enough to be an enjoyable zing but not as spicy as to ruin the flavours. The marinaded beef was a lovely texture, tender enough to bite into in the sandwich. The softened vegetables were a nice addition giving colour and flavour to the mix. It was a good sandwich except it was a bit dry, some sort of sauce would've been welcome here.

Ratings: JD - 3, Emma - 3

Next Saturday - Cemita Poblana

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Some Minecraft Fun

Leigh and Erin loooove Minecraft. Since we got it about a year or so ago they've both played it lots. Even together which is a surprising development in their relationship! To encourage this new-found sibling love we decided to have a Minecraft Event so we could all enjoy some cubic fun. I posted up the usual tempting poster to get the kids to join in. Mentioning food and prizes usually does it :D



I made us some Minecraft themed food to eat to keep up our strength for the games ahead. Those creeper pizzas are meant to be square but no one wanted to waste pizza by cutting off the rounded bits. Leigh and Erin had to guess what each food was in Minecraft before they could eat it. They managed it all except the bowl of silver things.


For the first event Erin had designed us a parkour course to complete.




Leigh easily won, with Erin coming second. I only got past the first part :( JD was very amused watching my character trying to jump on the blocks. I was the floating head/squid/I don't know thing you can just make out in the top right screen.


Next we had to build a house each and vote whose was the best. Leigh had set us up a plot each with a chest of tools to make it easier. Erin's was voted the best. I came joint second mainly due to a pig accidentally getting into my house and looking out of the window. :D



JD had made us a battle arena for the next event. We each had colour coded chests with armour and weapons. It was a fight to the death and I lost first. Leigh won with JD coming in second.


Probably one of the hardest events was to corral an animal into a fenced enclosure. Erin got a cow into hers first then JD got a pig. I only ever managed a pork chop and Leigh got some wheat seeds! We suck :(



We did some other events too. First to mine 2 different ores, first to reach a nether star in the sky with blocks and then we had a quiz to test our Minecraft knowledge. It was actually pretty fun, even for a Minecraft novice like me. Plus there were cookies! We all enjoyed it and each got a prize for participating.

Results:

Erin - 24
Leigh - 22
JD - 14
Emma - 10

Erin was pleased to have won and both of them were pleased to have beaten me because I've won the last two competitions we've had. I was just glad they'd both enjoyed it as I'd done it for them because they enjoy Minecraft so much. ^_^


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Saturday Sandwich 87: Refrigerator Buffet Sandwich

Another leftover type sandwich, but this time more unstructured. You can put anything you like in the sandwich as long as it's from the fridge. It's the kind of sandwich you make when you get in late from the pub and want food.

Ingredients: anything in the fridge is fair game

The problem for us is that we don't usually have much food in the fridge going spare. We plan our meals so that most food is accounted for, with everything having a meal it goes into. As it's Christmas we have got a few extra cheese types hanging around to be paired with crackers. Anyway, we did our best :D


 Our fridge contents emptied out for sandwich making.




 Lettuce, ham, cheese, mayo and blue cheese spread.


Mint jelly, ham, a sliced Babybel, lettuce and mayo.


JD was a bit more adventurous with his sandwiches, he had one with curry paste and horseradish sauce in it! I couldn't bring myself to ruin a good sandwich with anything too weird. The book said to eat the sandwich with a cold alcoholic drink so we chose this cider. This sandwich would've been better if we'd had it last week while we still had Christmas leftovers left but nothing lasts forever even cold November rain.

I think I prefer simpler sandwiches with fewer ingredients and with this I felt like I should add more things to it since they were available. The sandwiches were nice though and mint jelly might be a new favourite of mine in a cheese salad sandwich.

It was nice to forage a sandwich from the stuff in our fridge but not that challenging when we had several types of cheese and delicious ham in there. It'd be tougher the day before we do our grocery shopping!

Ratings: JD - 2, Emma - 2

Next Saturday -Bulgogi Sandwich