A riddle.

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If I tell people I am still 21, and there is no one there that knows my real age, would I be able to relive my life and do things differently?

Silly post, I know. I’ll just go and update the ‘About Us’ section.

Back in Business.

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So I’m not going to skip over the fact that this blog has been a bit neglected. It’s been a long time, I know, but I think the demands on both me and my good friend Jas have caused us to focus on other things which meant this blog got pushed to the sidelines. But no worries, here I am, back in business!

It’s been a whirlwind of a year and all the updates of that year will be given in subsequent posts (I’ve had quite a few ideas jotted down that I actually need to formulate and write up). For now, I just wanted to reignite the fire that is this blog! So hello. I have welcomed myself back.

Emily

Can music be used as a tool for productivity and motivation through association?

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Again, I really need to stop with these fancy titles, but I just can’t help myself.

So recently, I have been a little stressed (which explains the lack of blog posting – although I have no idea what excuse my co-blogger will have!). Having started the journey down postgraduate study, my life now consists of literature reading, trying to understand many difficult concepts all in on go and shadowing the resident PhD-ers to get some answers to the ever-growing list of questions.

Today was a particularly stressful day, albeit, the stress is completely self-inflicted. I like to work by deadlines. Deadlines are what push me to get stuff done and force me to manage my time better. Today happened to be the day before my self-imposed deadline where I had to have all of my chemistry reading and methodology done so that I have something to show in my supervisory meeting tomorrow. I came home from shadowing in the labs and was feeling downright unmotivated. I watched TV, cooked dinner and lounged about on the internet knowing full well that I had not done any of the chemistry reading I was supposed to. So what did I do? I turned on my Spotify web player and I started playing Alt-J’s new album ‘This is All Yours’. This album has recently become my go to album when I am doing work or trying to be productive. And would you believe it, a couple of hours later I am finished with all my reading and not once was there a lack of motivation, or a thought of procrastination crossed my mind. I was astounded. Just a few hours earlier, I was determined to be the most unproductive person ever, and now I have checked off all the things on my to-do list.

This brings me back to the title. I can’t quite explain why it is that when I am listening to the mellow tones of Alt-J that I suddenly focus on my work. Maybe it’s a Pavlovian response that when I hear those particular songs, I am more focused on work. Again, I am sure there is literature out there investigating this kind of effect, but I’m done reading papers for now.

Emily

Gaming: Analysis of personal risk assessment and decision making.

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First of all, excuse the fancy title, I’m practising my scientific writing and it seems to have seeped it’s way through.

So here I am, on a slightly chilly Sunday evening playing Borderlands on my laptop. As you may have gathered from my little ‘About Us’ section, that I am a newbie at gaming. The games I have managed to play in the past have been games which involve time management (Sally’s Salon) and games which involve exploration of the environment with no real objective or mission (Terraria). Where as these games may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I enjoyed these very much. The time management element of a game showed me that I am good at prioritising and keep on track with all the tasks undertaken. The exploration element appeals to me because having learnt the basics of moving, I was immediately able to wander aimlessly and discover without any real threat (apart from some pesky slimes etc).

When choosing games, I am a sucker for fun and lively and I am definitely not the one for immersive games with horror elements. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a good horror film every now and then, I sometimes even enjoy it (depending on if there is actually a plot), but there’s something about immersive games or even first person games that scare me. Something about experiencing the environment first hand and the fact that any second now, something could jump out at you scares me more than just watching a horror film.

So this brings us back to the beginning. I am in my living room playing Borderlands. It just so happens that today was one of those days that I felt like playing a video game, so naturally, having just started playing Borderlands in the summer, I decided to put it on and have another stab at it. Upon getting into the game, I decided to spend some time recalling on how to get around and how to use my gun. Instead of going on a mission, I decided to wander the little safety zone I was in until it became night time, and of course, my brain then tells me, it’s too dangerous to go out of the safety zone at night and it was best to stay until the light comes back. I wandered around some more, looting as I went and happened to end up on the boundary between my safe zone and the dangerous zone beyond. Hovering on the edge, I could see two dots of red pop up on my map indicating the enemy. Whilst pondering whether or not I should actually just go and kill them, an enemy happened to appear, frantically running towards me. My finger rapidly clicked my mouse button and fired him down, and all that was left was me with a slightly faster heart rate. It was then that I decided to quit the game. That was enough for tonight. But then that got me thinking. By doing what I did, does that describe the kind of person I am? A person who sees difficulty in a situation and decides to not go for it? A person who uses any excuse in order to justify not completing or even starting a mission? A person who is so scared of the unknown that they decide it’d be better to leave then to deal with it? I don’t know, but it was definitely a thought-provoking moment and I’d thought I’d share it.

I am sure there is definitely some scientific literature that would provide some answers but my head is swarming with more relevant papers for my literature review and I just can’t face opening more tabs on my browser right now.

Emily

Homemade gifts.

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Whether it’s birthdays or the holidays, I love making and receiving homemade gifts. They just mean so much more to me when someone you know has dedicated time to producing a gift, and it means EVEN more to me because I know how long it sometimes takes to make these things.

So when a certain someone’s anniversary (i.e. mine) came round, I decided that it would be nice to make the gifts rather than buying them (cue the sock bunny from Friends, which I actually really wanted to make but then decided that it probably wouldn’t even register on the receiver’s mind as a Friends reference).

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Although I am no good at making physical objects, I have been known to draw a little and therefore decided to use that to my advantage. After many hours of drafts and dead-end ideas, I came up with this:

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The writing on the bottom says: “I pika-choose you!”.

What I got in return was so much cuter:

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I feel pretty bad having neglected this blog a little, BUT it is only because I am working on a few projects for Christmas and a birthday that is way too close to Christmas (I’m looking at you, Jas)! I’m hoping my days get filled with much more PhD-ness so I can update the blog with my PhD happenings!

Emily

My first day as a postgrad.

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With not much information until quite recently, I was quite nervous about starting my postgrad adventure. Knowing very little about what was going on just reminded me of when I started my undergrad.But this was at a whole other level.

The actual day wasn’t so bad. We spent 6 hours going through all the forms I needed to fill in, what I needed to submit and when the deadlines would be arranged. I’m not going to lie, it was a bit overwhelming. By the end of the day, I was worried whether postgrad was the right choice for me, but nonetheless, I am up for the challenge.

I also set myself a new challenge: to get involved in a lot more extra-curricular activities seeing as during my undergrad I did an appallingly small amount of activities and only now realising I had wasted a lot of valuable time that I could have used to try something new. So yesterday, I started Beginners Belly Dancing lessons as well as Bachata Sensual lessons. I chose these to learn something new and to be able to master my body and its movements. And plus it looks good when done right! But most importantly, it looks fun and when I’m having a crappy day, it’d be good to cheer myself up a bit instead of mulling it over for the rest of the night.

So here’s to a new chapter!

Emily

Getting creative.

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The date is looming and soon I’ll be going back to University as a postgraduate. In fact, it’s just 9 days away! Just the thought of it gives me flashbacks to my undergrad days where I would spend most of my time studying, resolving problems and using logic and analytical skills to conduct research. This is why, in these few days of creative freedom that I have, I’ve decided to go all out and fit as many creative projects as I can. Of course, if any of you are following this blog, you’ll have noticed my cross stitching attempts and that will obviously have to continue throughout the year if I have any chance of finishing it within my lifetime! Apart from that, I have been trying out new baking recipes, making new hair accessories and using my shiny new sewing machine to make myself a rather nice bean bag chair. I’m not going to lie, it feels good.

Cherry Chocolate Cake  Rose clips  Sewing machine  Beanbag Chair

I tried baking a rustic looking, thrown-together black forest gateaux using the fantastic recipe from Zoe Bakes. I have to say, my attempt looks quite close to the original, which sometimes is not the case! It tasted delicious, with good balance between the richness of the chocolate cake and the tangy taste of the black forest fruits. I used brandy in mine with frozen black forest fruits instead of just frozen cherries (couldn’t find a place that sold them!).

The hair clips were a creative project that has been a long time coming. Having bought all the necessary pieces about two months ago, they have been sat on a chest of drawers, untouched. Until now. All pieces were bought in an adorable shop in Afflecks Palace, Manchester called ‘The Bead Shop’. It is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon and these clips took just a few minutes to assemble and a few more minutes for the glue to dry. Now I have these super cute rose crocodile clips to add that little bit extra to my updo. Perfect.

My new sewing adventures have begun after I received a sewing machine for my 21st from my sister’s boyfriend. I spent a lot of the time admiring it and searching up sewing projects for beginners. That’s when I came across this: a 30 minute bean bag chair. Granted, it took me much longer than 30 minutes and I experimented with the measurements in hope to create an adult size, but the finished product, although a bit strange looking, was pretty good for a first timer.

All in all, the creative projects have been awesome and hopefully I can squeeze some more in before term starts!

 

Emily