Monday, 26 February 2018

HELLO PIXIE CUT

Oh hi. I cut all my hair off.

I've been gradually going shorter and shorter over the last year or so, but I've never been this short. It's SHORT-short. Don't have to brush or dry my hair short. Shorter than a guy's haircut short! And it's GREAT. I'm now 100% a pixie cut aficionado, and I can't quite believe it's taken me so long to join the short hair crew.

Here's what I've learned in my month since getting the chop...

pros cons pixie hair cut

Do your research! Deciding to cut my hair was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment decision, but I did make sure I did my Pinterest research and went to the hairdresser armed with photos of what I loved, and what I didn't. I am very lucky to have an ACE hairdresser who kept me right (the brilliant Linden from Dean Jones Hair), but it definitely helped to know what my hair boundaries were.

Not having to dry your hair is the BEST. Oh my god, I cannot state how strongly I despised drying my hair before, and how glorious it is to not have to do it now. These days I just wash and towel dry my hair and that's it! It's saved easily 30 minutes off my routine every day and it's SO EASY to look after.

I don't care if I look like a boy. One of the weirdest comments I got was 'oh, you'll need to wear make up everyday'. Um, okay. I saw this online too, with loads of people worrying that you'd lose your feminine qualities if you chop your hair off. To that I say, WHATEVER. I don't need a mane to feel like a woman, and I don't actually care if I look like a tomboy. It's been really refreshing to realise this!

Everyone will ask you why. This threw me. I had known I wanted to change up my long-ish bob, figured why not?, and then a couple of days later got it cut. But almost eveeeeeryone asked why I did it, and I didn't have an answer other than - I wanted to?

pros cons pixie hair cut

Phantom ponytails are a thing. I got my hair cut weeks ago and WITHOUT FAIL every night I go to take it out of a ponytail. I also still go to put it up if I'm about to go in the shower, and one particularly stressful board games evening (ahem), I found myself trying to tighten my ponytail in concentration. It's a bit of a surreal feeling!

I'm in total denial about growing it out. Everyone's agreed that growing out a pixie cut is HORRENDOUS. But I kind of feel optimistic? It can't be that bad, right? Plus, that's in the future! It's ages away! Ask me again in a year or two...

It's just hair. At the end of the day, there's only two things you can count on - change is the only constant and hair grows! If you're swithering over a pixie cut but worry that it won't suit you, does it really matter if it doesn't? Your hair will grow and at least you've tried something new.

Did I say it's the BEST? It really is. You should definitely cut your hair.

Monday, 19 February 2018

10 THINGS TO DO AT THE EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE FESTIVAL

If you've read this blog for a while, you'll know I'm a big fan of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, who have just announced their 2018 programme - marking 30 years of EISF (and 2 years since I left the sci fest tribe!).

Themed this year around Life, the Universe and Everything (with a nice nod to Douglas Adams), the Festival will transform the city into a celebration of science and technology with talks, experiments, exhibitions, parties, activities and events to entertain and educate all ages. This year they're looking at where we've come from, where we're going, and how science is going to save the world, and as usual the programme is packed full of fun, creative experiences (as well as more of the serious talks and lectures you might expect from a science festival).

There's loads to choose from, but I've picked out my favourite events to point you in the right direction. Bring on the sci-fun!

What's on at Edinburgh International Science Festival 2018
Jason Hackenworth - Existence: Life and Beyond 

1. Science Festival Lates Sci Fest's Opening Party takes over their family venue, adds in some bars, and let's you get hands on with slime, surgery, space and psychology. It is so much fun, and this year it promises some extra 80s-themed fun to celebrate the Festival's 30 years!

2. NASA's Newest Recruit I secretly want to be an astronaut, so sign me up! The very funny Marcus Chown chats space jobs - want to be a Moon miner? A galactic architect? An alien cultural exchange officer?

3. A Panel of Ice and Fire Game of Thrones meets science and tech, in this chat about how the worlds of science and fantasy collide, hosted by comedian and author Helen Keen.

4. Dreading Friday the 13th  Taking place (of course) on Friday 13th, this event takes you on a journey through the psychology behind superstition... is it harmless? Can it help you? Science will explain!

5. Cheeseology 3.0 Back to the Festival for a third year (as everyone bloody loves cheese), this night teaches you about cheese as you eat cheese, giving you a win/win of leaving both smart AND satiated.

6. Existence: Life and Beyond Taking over the National Museum of Scotland's beautiful Grand Gallery, this free interactive exhibition will look back at the origins of life on Earth, and forward to the horizons of what life could be in the future. It'll also feature a new MASSIVE balloon sculpture by artist Jason Hackenwerth, who was last at the Festival with Pisces in 2013 (pictured above). I'm so excited to see what he'll make!

7. Frankenstein's Legacy: Who Are You Calling Monster? This year marks the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, and three writers from Scottish Book Trust's New Writers Awards programme have been commissioned to create new stories and poems inspired by this iconic book. These writers will read their own takes, and chat about the role of science and technology in creating and controlling life (which seems pretty important now they are cloning monkeys and teaching scary robots to open doors!).

8. Baking in Space Baking and engineering combine, in this event with Andrew from the Great British Bake Off (!!!!), who just happens to be an aerospace engineer as well as an adorable baker, and scientists and guests from the European Space Agency.

9. Get Your Hands Off Me You Damned Dirty Alien! More space! Aliens! Ethical dilemmas! A gang of astrobiologists, theologists, philosophers and theorists debate how our world will change in the (ever-increasing) likelihood we meet alien life.

10. The Lab of the Ludicrous Part stand-up comedy, part journal club, and part science project, this night leads you through some of the strangest science studies ever conducted.

Edinburgh International Science Festival runs 31st March - 15th April, and you can browse their full programme here.

Monday, 12 February 2018

WHAT I READ ON HOLIDAY

Ages ago I used to write a monthly Book Love feature, where I chatted about what I'd been reading each month. It was a great way of keeping track of what I read and what I loved (and I am amazed at how quickly I powered through books! Past Juliet was definitely a better reader and puts current me to shame).

This year I'm pretty determined to make more time for books (particularly as I'm bad at wasting time looking at social media, when I could actually be reading something interesting...), and I'm off to a great start - thanks to going on a mega indulgent January holiday where I spent a joyful time hanging out in a hammock, 60p beer in hand (thanks Fuerteventura!) and catching up on books I've wanted to read for ages. Here's what I thought...

Book recommendations what to read on holiday

A Darker Shade of Magic - V. E. Schwab
Reminding me slightly of China MiĆ©ville's Un Lun Dun, A Darker Shade of Magic is the tale of a world of parallel cities, those that can travel between them, and what happens when power travels to the wrong places. It's got cool elemental magic! Pirates! Amazing jackets! Peril and danger and flirting and messed up heroes! Aaaaand I really liked it.

I'm a big fan of fantasy novels that create worlds that both enchant you with exciting, interesting world-building AND manage to feel gritty and dangerous and pretty real, and this book does a good job of feeling magical but not childish, and full of depth without being self-indulgently complex. It's a bit of a slow starter (the first few chapters I wondered what the fuss was about), but when I got into the story I had a really fun time.

The Snowman - Jo Nesbo
The 7th book in Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series, I read this out of sync as I was so keen to see what all the fuss was about, after hearing loads of praise for the book when the terrible film adaptation came out last year. You follow the (slightly cliched) dysfunctional detective Harry Hole - he's a bit of a drunk, he's got serious avoidant issues, and he can't play by the rules... but he's still likeable enough to root for.

It's really creepy, and the author does a wonderful job of keeping you guessing right up until the very last minute. It felt a little surreal to be stuck into a murder mystery set in freezing snow while I was basking in the sun, but it makes for a pretty perfect holiday read.

The Silent Companions - Laura Purcell 
I loved this book so much! I am such a sucker for creepy gothic horrors, and The Silent Companions was BRILLIANT. You meet Elsie, who's newly married, recently pregnant, and suddenly widowed, who moves to her late husband's creepy old country estate. The servants don't like her, the villagers actively despise her, so Elsie's trapped with a mysterious locked room, an old family diary, and a wooden figure that looks bizarrely just like her.

It's SUPER CREEPY, I would not have been able to read it at home alone, and I am very excited to discover that the author's also written a series following the lives and loves of Georgian era queens (I'm equally a big historical fiction fan).

Monday, 5 February 2018

MY 2018 CREATIVE GOALS

I'll be honest - for the last few years, most of my new year's resolutions have been pretty wispy. I've focused on positive thinking and stressing less... and that has clearly been a Good Thing, but this year I am also keen to set myself some creative goals and actually MAKE things.

One of those goals is finding a happy blog balance (since my blog comeback I've been posting roughly once a week) and I think I'm getting there. It's not too much to commit to, it's easy to schedule a few in advance if I'm going to be busy, and bit by bit my readership is increasing so I'm not just chatting to myself (hello and thank you!).

My next project is painting. If you've been following this blog for a while you may remember that I've said this before... painting is the hobby that I keep coming back to, and keep giving up when the going gets tough. But this year I've got a goal! I'm going to paint once a month in 2018. That's not that hard, right?

learning to paint

One of the things I've always been a bit scared of painting is people, but when I picked up a paintbrush again (back in 2013!) it was the main thing I wanted to learn, and it's all I've really wanted to paint since.

The problem is I'll have a little flurry of enthusiasm, and I'll paint one or two things, then I'll get distracted and run out of energy, and feel like I need to wait on my next creative spark... which in my case, seems to only strike once a year, and then the whole cycle starts again.

So, for 2018 I am going to power through the creative block. I'm going to (try to) stop worrying about being good enough, and remember that the only way I'll ever get better is by practising! One painting a month is totally achievable.


I use watercolours, mainly because they are what I painted with as a kid, but I feel like I am finally making steps towards getting a little better with them? I used to paint with seriously harsh outlines (there was almost something quite comforting in shadowing something to death), so I've tried really hard to elimate black lines from my work, to think about light and colour, and to let the paper show through.

I was given some watercolour masking fluid which I finally worked up the courage to use with this piece and it is a game changer! I used it to pick out the whites of the eyes and light across the skin and hair, and it made such a difference (it was also weirdly super-satisfying peeling it from the paper).

Next time I'm going to really focus on light! I always paint from pictures, but was given the good advice of looking at my own face in a mirror when I'm doing a portrait so I can get a more realistic depiction of light on a face. There's so much to learn! 

watercolour pastel girls
January 2018 | September 2016
It's all a bit intimidating, but I can see the difference a year has made in these pastel gals. I've just got to remember that and keep going! Wish me luck.
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