Tuesday, 27 November 2012

This week I shall mostly be....

Studying: I have a project proposal due in next Monday so I'm working hard on that. I shall also be attending my German classes.

Meeting friends for coffee/brunch: socialising is nice!

Waiting for payday: roll on Friday!

Going to see Papa Roach/Stone Sour: again, roll on Friday!! Can't wait, especially for the latter :)

Drinking lemsip and lots of water: I've got a bit of a cold, nothing major, and I have drunk far too much beer and wine over the last 2 weeks. Time for a detox week I think!

Debating whether or not to grow my fringe out: I've only had it 2 months, not sure it should stay. Any thoughts?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Comfy cat is comfy

I wish I could adequately describe how soft and lovely my precious cat Suki is. Of is like she is made of silk! And she likes to lie like Superman on our laps, it is her favourite spot!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Lacuna Coil, Flex, Vienna

So Wednesday night was the second of the four gigs I'm going to. Flex is a small nightclub situated on the Danube Canal in the middle of Vienna. It is a nice intimate setting for a gig. I couldn't tell how many people were there, it was pretty sparse when we arrived so my friend and I got a good spot near the front, then the crowds gathered for the band.

I love seeing Lacuna Coil live, they bring so much energy to the stage and really get the crowd going. They didn't disappoint on Wednesday! My friend has become a new convert I think!! I can tell I had a good time because the following day my neck was sore. I think I'm getting too hold for this level of enjoyment!!

The band played a really good mix of songs from all their albums, including classics such as Swamped and Heaven's a Lie, to more recent songs such as Trip the Darkness and Kill the Light. The acoustic set in the middle was a really good addition, I love listening to bands do acoustic versions of their stuff. Cristina Scabbia did have problems getting on the stool though!!

I had a little moment at the end when they played My Spirit, dedicating it to everyone that anyone has lost. Memories can be kind of vivid really, and catch you by surprise!

Lacuna Coil are one of my favourite bands to see live and I could go again and again ad infinitum!!

Set list for the evening:

Electric Set 1
1. I Don't Believe in Tomorrow
2. I Won't Tell You
3. Kill the Light
4. Senzafine
5. Heaven's a Lie
6. Self Deception
7. Entwined
8. To the Edge
9. Give Me Something More

Acoustic Set
10. Falling
11. Closer
12. Within Me
13. End of Time
14. Shallow Life

Electric Set 2
15. Our Truth
16. Upside Down
17.  To Live is to Hide
18. Fragile
19. Swamped
20. No Need to Explain
21. Survive
22. Trip The Darkness
23. Spellbound
24. My Spirit

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Troy and Abed in the morning!!!

The Beard and I have always been completely in sync on one thing - quoting stuff at each other. I have a massive memory for song lyrics and he has a massive memory for just about everything - especially quotes from films.

One of our favourite things to quote at each other is Community. If you haven't seen it yet, you really should.

Cool cool, cool cool cool. 

Community is about a bunch of people studying at community college and the wacky things they get up to. There is Jeff, the handsome and charming lawyer who needs a real BA to continue to practice; Annie, the ex pill addict who is ever so slightly neurotic; Abed, the slightly strange film addict who observes everything; Britta, the right on wannabe activist; Troy, the ex high school football player; Shirley, the single mother, and Pierce, the old codger who is pretty much every 'ist' in the book. Together they form The Study Group, who grow to love each other and hate each other all at the same time.

Over the seasons (3 have currently been aired, with a 4th due to be aired in 2013) the group have grown to become a weird dysfunctional family who regularly have episode long arguments about who is more popular than the others. These often use classic films and well known tv shows as narrative devices, referencing pretty much everything.

Incidentally this show made me realise that I'm getting older - when I realised that I found Jeff pretty hot and he didn't appear old to me. Middle age is the new sexy right?

There is too much of this show to tell you about, so you should just watch it. I will leave you with a couple of my favourite moments (the ones I could find on Youtube at any rate...):

Monday, 19 November 2012

REVIEW: Within Temptation Elements

In the words of Janice (but perhaps without the nasally NY accent): Oh. My. God.

What a show! A visual and aural banquet, encompassing several costume changes, inflatables, guest musicians, dancers of varying ages, stilt walkers, fans, a full orchestra, a choir...

We began the evening (once I was all dressed up and made up in my dress) with a dinner in a brasserie, with a couple of beers. Then we headed to the Sportpaleis in plenty of time for the start. It's a huge venue, not unlike the NEC in Birmingham, which I've been to a few times. However, there was a champagne bar, so we decided that it was only fitting to indulge in a glass! I picked up a set of The Unforgiving comics from the merch stand which I look forward to reading at my leisure.

When we found our seats (equipped with yet more beer), I was pleased to discover that my waiting and refreshing of the page had served us well and we had an excellent view over the whole stage area.

The orchestra were first on, then the majority of the band made their entrance. Then it was time for Sharon's entrance, in the giant screen prism that was hanging from the ceiling.... it lowered to the ground, then went up again revealing Sharon in her first outfit of the night!! 

This giant prism was used to great effect to bring in Robert a couple of songs in. Fans will know that he has stopped touring with the band in order to look after his and Sharon's children, but it had been announced some time ago that he would be performing at Elements. He obviously had to make a dramatic entrance as well, coming in not in the prism, but on top of it!

The outfits for the show were designed and made by Jan Boelo, a Dutch designer whose clothes are edgy and gorgeous! Sharon had several costume changes, a couple of which I wasn't that keen on, but in the context of the show they worked. I loved Robert's outfit too, metallic trousers for the win! I tried to get photos of all of Sharon's outfits, not sure if I managed it or not!! They were, needless to say, all very Within Temptation, all very fitting and of course Sharon is very beautiful and would probably look so in a potato sack!

The set list was as follows (info gleaned from setlist.fm because I was enjoying myself too much to remember it all!):

Intro to Silent Force
1. Iron
2. In The Middle of the Night
3. Faster
4. Fire and Ice
5. Our Solemn Hour
6. Stand My Ground
7. Angels
Cello Intro
8. The Last Dance
9. Never-ending Story
10. Say My Name
11. Candles (ft. Ivar de Graaf on accoustic guitar)
Sinéad Film
12. Sinéad
13. Titanium (David Guetta cover)
14. Summertime Sadness (Lana del Ray cover ft. Ivar de Graaf on 2nd drums)
15. Grenade (Bruno Mars cover)
16. The Promise
17. Memories
18. Mother Earth
19. What Have You Done
20. Our Farewell (ft. Isabella Scholten)
21. Ice Queen
22. Stairway To The Skies

A full and packed set list that covered a great selection of songs from the band's last 15 years, and I liked that they threw in a few of the covers they have been doing for Belgian radio station Q Music (although the only one I knew was Grenade, because I don't listen to popular music at all these days!).

I am pretty sure my travelling companions enjoyed the show, and I am grateful that the attitude on the continent is a little different - we were in seats with an excellent view, but it isn't quite the same. There was no way on earth I was going to stay seated for Ice Queen, so I took the decision to stand. Thankfully so did everyone else behind me!

I leave you with the best photos that I took - I was a bit too excited and I don't have a fantastic camera for these things to get a large set, but I am all about the experience! Hopefully there will be a live DVD at some point.

Sharon enters in outfit 1

Robert enters...
Sharon and Stefan rocking out

Inflatable wings!!

Outfit 3

Fan dancing stiltwalkers!!

Outfit 4 (I think this was Sinéad)

Outfit 5

Inflatable trees!!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Being one of the cool kids

I was never one of the 'cool' kids. I reckon I could stretch to saying I was the de facto leader of the 'middling' group - we were the ones who had some power but not all of the power, and we had enough presence to be noticed (and unwittingly threaten) others.

Still, I've never really stopped wanting to be in 'the cool gang'. You know, how Sandy is desperate to get Danny's attention in Grease so she becomes one of the Pink Ladies in a bid to achieve her goal. And then at the end becomes a sex bomb... C'mon... look at this and tell me you don't want to be her?

The only bit of this outfit I can't do is the curls....

That feeling never really leaves you I don't think, and I've certainly felt it recently with all the problems I've been having with my skin. Thing is, in reality, I know its just a part of my mind that loves playing tricks with me. 

Cool kids don't exist. Every single person is as fragile as the next, as afraid of their status in society as the next one. Generally I'm a pretty assertive, confident person. Get me on my pet topics (which to be fair is quite a long list), and I can talk for a while about them, now available in two languages (hell, being able to argue successfully with someone in your second language is somewhat rewarding don't you think?), but put me in certain situations and I start to feel utterly like a fish out of water. 

I'm not sure I can even define what I mean by cool. There is a bit of an image circulating in my head that has the strength to occasionally make me feel totally inadequate. Is it the way I dress? The fact that I have less than perfect skin? What? I think everyone has an idea of what cool is to them. To me it is the seemingly easy cool of people who casually rock up to a bar looking fabulous and like they just rolled out of bed like that. The ones for whom eyeliner seems like it was something they were born wearing. Not like me. I love wearing make up but can't pull off that devil may care sexy look. I try. I just look like I cried a lot. 

The only way out of this situation is to stop thinking about it. To make your own brand of cool, that is yours and nobody else's. How do you do this? Believe in yourself. Make your brand and believe in it. And fuck everyone else. Make your own cool. Find your style, your life, your thing. So in my good moments, I convince myself I am the coolest person on this planet. Because I'm me, and being me is cool. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Acne and me

Acne is the bane of my life. And by acne I don't mean 4-5 whiteheads around the time my period would be if I didn't have a Mirena. I mean massive, deep spots that take weeks to come to the surface. Swollen, painful deep spots. Beyond cystic acne. This is as well as the whiteheads.

I have honestly spent the last 10 years trying to a) work out the cause and b) work out how to deal with it.

Things I do know at this point:

1. My skin hates toner. Of any description.
2. My skin is sensitive, and not in the slightest bit oily. In fact, when I was a perfectly clear skinned teen my main problem was eczema and allergies. Nothing much has changed there.
3. Make up makes no difference to the condition of my skin as long as it is mineral oil free.
4. Luckily the majority of my face doesn't scar horribly.
5. My liver sometimes can be a little sluggish, particularly after I've had a lot of sugar.
6. I am lucky enough to not have a single wrinkle, and above my cheekbones my skin is amazing. 

So currently my routine consists of the following products:

Naturderm botanics Eye Make Up Remover (in German)
Rhassoul clay (in German)
Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Lotion
Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Oil Capsules
Lush Enchanted Eye Cream
Simple Spot Zapper Gel 
Boots Botanics Ionic Clay Mask

and goes a little something like this....


I mix 1/2 a tsp of clay with 1 tsp warm water and leave to sit for 5 mins while I shower. Just before I step out of the shower I wet my face gently and apply the clay, massaging in thoroughly. I leave it on for 1 minute before rinsing off.

I then splash my face with cold water (it's very cold at the moment!), pat dry and apply my moisturiser. Then eye cream, and I dab Spot Zapper gel on any spots I do have.


First I mix up the same clay mix as the morning. Then I remove my make up with the eye make up remover. This is an oil product and removes everything easily and quickly. I remove the oil with cotton wool pads dampened with hot water. My skin prefers this to a face cloth as it isn't as harsh on my sensitive skin. I do have to keep going until the cotton pads are clear, but to be sure I usually go over with a hot damp flannel quickly (and gently) at the end.
Then I use the clay mix in the same way I do in the morning. Once that is rinsed off, I splash my face with cold water and pat slightly dry. I then apply 1 facial oil capsule. I finish off with eye cream and spot gel if required.

Once or twice a week I'll add a mask into the routine, either the Boots one listed above, or a mix of rhassoul clay, olive oil (or sometimes my make up remover oil) and a drop of lavender oil. Leave for 30 minutes then rinse off. 

This seems to be working pretty well for me right now, with a noticeable calming of my skin within 3 days. My nose is the main indicator of how comfortable my skin is - when it is irritated it goes red. I have never been able to work out why my nose is red but just stopping the toner (natural, alcohol free, whatever) has stopped that completely.

I'm also taking a bunch of supplements, including quite a high strength daily dose of agnus castus to try and regulate my hormones. That will take a while to work, a month at least, and I'll be keeping a careful eye on my skin to see how it reacts. 


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