Saturday, 30 June 2012

100 Things About Me - Day 6

10 Random Things You Probably Do Not Know About Me
(Unless we're besties IRL)
  1. My perfect Saturday revolves around wine tasting adventures.
  2. I have the most awesome friends ever.
  3. I recycle.
  4. My smartphone is an extension of myself.
  5. I was blonde as a child.
  6. I don’t (yet) have a driver’s license. Which is a good thing, because currently the only exercise I get is from having to walk everywhere!
  7. I’m only 5 foot 1.
  8. Given the choice between being skinny, and being able to eat all my favourite (read: fattening) foods, I will choose food. Every time.
  9. I started school a year early, which is why I’m younger than everyone else equal to me academically.
  10. I’m a complete and utter Christmas geek!
Haven't seen the previous installments? Check them out here: 1234 & 5

Friday, 29 June 2012

100 Things About Me - Day 5

10 Random Things You Probably Do Not Know About Me
(Unless we're besties IRL)
  1. I jump at everything. Odd noises, people jumping out at me, my phone suddenly vibrating on a hard surface… Plus, I zone out easily, so it’s very easy to surprise me.
  2. I severely dislike Monopoly. It’s boring.
  3. If you send me constant game invites on Facebook, I will block you.
  4. Worst date idea ever: taking me to an art gallery. My dad is an art nut and dragged us around to galleries, exhibitions and auctions most weekends for years and years. I have mental scars and issues that will never fade.
  5. I go to sleep with music playing softly.
  6. I keep a diary/journal/written train-of-consciousness.
  7. I have a fairly steady hand when it comes to painting my nails – my right hand usually looks as good as my left!
  8. I am an excellent procrastinator. I was even born a week late.
  9. I love amethysts.
  10. I host a kick-ass cheese and wine evening.

Haven't seen the previous installments? Check them out here: 123 & 4

Thursday, 28 June 2012

100 Things About Me - Day 4

10 Random Things You Probably Do Not Know About Me
(Unless we're besties IRL)

  1. This was the first year that I actually made New Year’s Resolutions. I’m holding up quite well…
  2. The best Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast. I live in the hope that the Broadway show will return to South Africa. It was amazing.
  3. I love birthdays. I may or may not have worn a tiara at work for my last birthday, just because. My birthday, other people’s birthdays, doesn’t matter. It’s a big deal.
  4. I eat an exceptional volume of strawberries. Even in winter. As is, with icing sugar, with whipped cream, dunked in chocolate or even with black pepper and balsamic vinegar. At least one punnet a week in winter, maybe up to one a day in season! (I will accept bribes in strawberries.)
  5. I only drank tea for the first time this June.
  6. I cannot cut in a straight line. Or along a straight line. No matter how hard I try.
  7. I haven’t let my natural hair colour grow out since I started playing around with colour (I think when I was 16.) (Let’s face it: mousy brown doesn’t look good on anyone.)
  8. I will kick your butt in a pub quiz. Mostly because I spend far too much time on the internet and therefore know a lot of really random shizz.
  9. If I had superpowers, I would go back in time and stop Firefly from being cancelled.
  10. I can waste HOURS playing Minecraft.

Haven't seen the previous installments? Check them out here: 12 & 3

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Words of Wisdom

100 Things About Me - Day 3

10 Random Things You Probably Do Not Know About Me
(Unless we're besties IRL)

  1. I can lick my elbow.
  2. I love chocolate insanely much, but I’m not a fan of chocolate cake.
  3. I have a bizarre fear of seaweed. It freaks me out.
  4. Nerd moment: My favourite amino acid is phenylalanine. My favourite element name is Molybdenum.
  5. My favourite scent is vanilla.
  6. I'm a very restless sleeper normally.
  7. The first thing I do when I get home is wiggle out of my skinny jeans and pull on pajama pants. I freaking love winter pajama pants.
  8. I mirror-write (from right to left, pure mirror image) more often than I write normally, and usually will mirror-write by default if I’m not concentrating.
  9. I love fountain pens.
  10. I’ve never been in love.

Want to see the previous things on this list? Check out Part 1 & Part 2.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

100 Things About Me - Day 2

10 Random Things You Probably Do Not Know About Me
(Unless we're besties IRL)

  1. My shoe size is a UK 3. (Now that you know, I’m accepting donations!)
  2. My average typing speed is around 70 WPM. 
  3. For someone who loves shoes, I spend a remarkable amount of time barefoot (or just in socks).
  4. When I started high school, I wanted to be an astronomer. Then a geologist. I only settled on chemistry when I had to apply for varsity.
  5. When I’m bored, I work on one of the novels I’m attempting to write.
  6. I love Sudoku puzzles. I have a book next to my bed, and when I wake up during the night and can’t go back to sleep, I usually solve a few. Because that’s completely normal behaviour for 3am, okay?
  7. I’ve worn glasses since I was 9. (I switched to contact lenses a few years ago.) I'm near sighted - without them, I can barely see clearly for half a meter in front of my face.
  8. I hate movies  that are “based on a true story”.
  9. I have a moderate skinny jean addiction. (They're the easiest type to shorten!)
  10. My favourite pizza topping is bacon, brie and figs.

Want to see the previous things on this list? Check out Part 1.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

100 Things About Me - Day 1

10 Random Things You Probably Do Not Know About Me
(Unless we're besties IRL)

  1. My favourite thing to read is high fantasy/ epic fantasy. Things like the Wheel of Time series, or the Sword of Truth novels. Plus I have a small addiction to Arthurian fiction.
  2. I wore orthodontics for 4 years. Including sleeping with that god-awful headgear thing to fix my overbite. Worth every moment of pain. (See smile above!)
  3. In the 10 years I've been buying/wearing makeup, I've never owned non-waterproof mascara.
  4. I started ballet when I was 8 and only stopped when I moved to Stellenbosch for varsity. I was mediocre, but it was fun. Especially pointe shoes!
  5. When I'm sick, pretty much all I eat is toast with butter and Bovril.
  6. After several years of heavy usage/addiction, I quit drinking coffee this month! (Well, down 1 cup every week or two when I'm at my parents...)
  7. My one eye/ear is higher than on the other side. This makes finding a good-fitting pair of glasses a nightmare.
  8. I've never spent more than R700 on a single item of clothing, or more than R450 on a pair of shoes. 
  9. I do not leave the house without eyeliner. Ever. Not even to go jogging or to quickly pop down to the store to get milk. No.
  10. Listening to the rain falling makes me happy.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Keeping warm in winter

As the winter solstice came, and the mercury dropped, it seemed fitting that The Three Musketeers went on another of their famous culinary adventures! Last night, we adventured out to Zevenwacht, where we met up with a few more awesome people to enjoy their "Winter Warmer" soup buffet. We were greeted with complimentary sherry to help warm us up as we stepped in from the cold, and were seated at our table right in front of the fireplace. The restaurant is located in a Cape Dutch Manor House, circa 1800: all beautiful wood floors and traditional Cape wood furniture. After we'd all warmed up, we went to an adjoining room to get our food.
The soups change every week. We were treated with a selection of butternut, mushroom and pea & ham soup, as well as plentiful fresh farm bread. I think everyone at our table had at least a bowl of every soup (and some went back for seconds!) - all three were delicious. Of course, with everyone having different tastes, everyone had their own favourite.
All in all, it was a highly enjoyable evening and a fantastic meal for a cold winter night! I had never been to Zevenwacht before, but I will most definitely be returning!

Zevenwacht Winter Warmer soup and fresh bread buffet is R45 per person. Booking is recommended. More details for the restaurant can be found on their website or Facebook page.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Nails of the Day

essence colour & go in 35 "movie star"
(R14.95 on sale at Clicks!)

Friday, 15 June 2012

5 Things: Faking It

I can hand-on-heart say that I can't remember the last time I had a good night's sleep/ woke up feeling refreshed. As thesis deadlines zoom ever closer, I can see that that's not going to change soon. The big problem is, I hate the way I look when I wake up. Well, I suppose, who doesn't? Tired isn't a good look... So today I'm sharing the 5 things that I need to fake that "awake" look. (Because looking good is the first step towards feeling good!)

  1. Eyelash curler: The 30-second secret to wide-open eyes! Yes, it looks like some odd torture device, but you don't feel a thing and a quick squeeze yields dramatic results. I'm currently using (and in love with) this one. It's super affordable, and means I can get away with only one coat of mascara (or even none!).
  2. Eyeliner: If I'm in a rush, I'll forgo the rest of my eye makeup, but I haven't skipped a day of eyeliner in about 8 years. My eyes, although quite big, tend to "hide away" in my face, but if I line the waterlines (the inside of the eyelid), they are perfectly defined and stand out much more. Tip: If you use eyeliner on your waterline, make sure you use a crayon-type, not a pencil. Sharp wooden splinters are not fun in your eye... (I use this one).
  3. Dry shampoo: This stuff has literally changed my life. I have oily/combination skin, which translates to my hair, which I have to wash everyday. But now, if I have a rushed morning where I honestly don't have the time, I can get away with a spray of this, a quick brush through and I'm good to go! There are a bunch of different products on the market, but I'm using the affordable Batiste (stocked at Clicks). (Bonus, you can also get handbag-sized products, which is great for when you're going out straight from work and need a bit of freshening up.) (Just FIY, use "Blush" with caution - I've had guys offer to take me home just after smelling my hair, it's that good...)
  4. Blusher: A small injection of colour into your face can do marvels. If you have fair skin like mine, a rose blush is perfect. At the moment I'm using two from a palette: Estee Lauder Tender Blush in Pink Kiss and Fresh Plum (they're right next to each other, so I take a big blusher blush (this one) and swipe over both simultaneously).
  5. Eye cream: The skin around your eyes is very thin, and dehydration shows up here first, so an eye cream is definitely something to incorporate into your skincare routine. I (thankfully) don't suffer from bad dark circles, or need anti-aging ingredients just yet (I think I'll start when I'm 25), but I've found that an energizing moisturizing cream has made a radical difference. At the moment, I'm using this cream from Nivea.
Do you have a can't-live-without-it product? What's your secret to looking energized and refreshed?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Fire and Mayhem in the Pursuit of Science

This is why I love what I do!

We're busy planning a presentation for high school students about why they should study chemistry. Of course, no such presentation is complete without a few whizz-bang experiments!

For example, this reaction we tried out yesterday, with potassium chlorate and a green gummy bear!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Labcoats are Sexy

Outfit of the Day

With the end of my MSc approaching fast and furiously, I'm definitely going to be turning into a lab rat for the next few weeks. So, unfortunately, I won't be posting as regularly for a while (but I'll still post on occasion, for my own sanity!). Therefore, for a tongue-in-cheek twist on today's "outfit of the day", I thought I'd post what I look like for most of the day - not just the walk to work or lunch hour!

All in blue today!

The joy of unisex labcoats... found a size that covers my boobs and hips, hopelessly too large everywhere else. (It's been shortened by almost two feet, plus the arms had to be significantly shorted and I had it taken in at the waist...) (Sleeves rolled up because I'd just been washing glassware).

This gorgeous necklace was a gift from my most awesome friend, C. (She made it herself! Super talented chick!) (Also only noticed now that my "International Year of Chemistry" lapel pin has swung upside down, whoops...)

DIY'ed lock-and-key earrings! As easy as opening a small jump ring and slipping on a charm and an earring post.

And, of course, the sexy safety specs! Gotta keep the big blues protected...

Taking advantage of mirrored cabinets.

Anyone else end up having to cover up their carefully-planned outfits with a uniform or personal protective equipment?

Monday, 11 June 2012

Nails of the Day

After much deliberation, I finally took the plunge and cut my nails short again. While I miss the length, short nails are the perfect platform for playing around with bright colours, so I tried out a combination of baby blue and purple.

Blue polish: Tip Top Nail Polish in 916 "Beach Babe"
Purple polish: Camilla Nail Polish in unknown shade

I picked up another two polishes when I popped into Clicks this afternoon, and decided to add some subtle art to today's paint (inspired by this post on Glitter She Wrote). I used a pointed cotton bud to do the polka dots, picking up a little bit of paint from the brush every few dots. 

Lilac polish: Tip Top Nail Polish in 915 "Surfer Girl"
Mint polish: Tip Top Nail Polish in 980 "Cha Cha Cha"

Friday, 8 June 2012

5 Things That Made My Friday Better

Today has just been one of those days. I had to get up early for group meeting at 8am (I always wake up early, I just don't like it being compulsory). It's cold in the lab. It's the third day that I've been sick (and the second time I've been sick in less than a month). Thesis deadlines are starting to loom. And... you get the point. So I thought for today's post, I'd share 5 things that made my day just a teeny bit better.

1. My extra large, very colourful periodic table, which makes working out molar masses and reaction variables slightly less boring. And makes my corner of the office more colourful.

2. This 1L bottle of whisky, which my team won when we got 1st prize at a pub quiz. We haven't had any of it yet, but it's sitting on my desk reminding me that more celebrations lie ahead...

3. This box of rusks, which I've been snacking on all week. Sitting at my computer, typing up thesis outlines, with a mug of tea and a rusk = not so bad. Plus, they satisfy my "sweet tooth" cravings. (There's also a bonus item hidden in this image - the box of tissues behind the rusks!)

4. These volumetric flasks, which I've got above my lab bench. We found these old flasks during a recent lab clean-up, gathering dust. I think they look much better in a rainbow of colours, catching the small amount of natural light that my bench gets. (Plus, now our lab looks more like one of TV - where labs are full of glassware filled with coloured water.)

And finally 5: This image, which I've got set as my wallpaper at the moment. Because every girl needs to remember this advice from Cinderella! (image source)

So, what made your day/week better?

PS: Does anyone know how to "fix" blogger so it stops insisting that I spell "colour" and so on in the American way? I haven't been able to find a way to switch it over to Actual English...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Introverts Vs Extroverts

Yip, most definitely an introvert at heart! (Although in the past year, I've made a real effort to actually go out and meet people and be social and all! I'm slightly proud of myself.)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Small Things In Life

Some of the small things in life that make me smile, even on days (or weeks) where all I want to do is cry:

  • Letting down your hair at the end of a long day – and smelling your shampoo again.
  • The clean, fresh smell of the air after the rain.
  • A hot cup of earl grey tea to warm up your afternoon.
  • That butterflies-in-your-tummy feeling.
  • The unconditional love of a puppy – and its pure joy at seeing you.
  • A hug from a friend.
  • Warm, fuzzy socks.
  • When someone spells/pronounces my name correctly!
  • Drawing on steamed-up glass shower walls.
  • Waking up and realizing you can still lie in bed for 10 minutes before your alarm goes off.
  • Accidentally saying something really smart/funny.
  • Hugs from behind.
  • Songs that remind you of a special person or moment.
  • Wearing a new fragrance.
  • The feel of your skin after you've rubbed in body butter.
  • Seeing a butterfly.
  • Finding the last item in your size.
  • Spending half an hour just daydreaming and imagining.
  • Listening to an upbeat song on the walk to work.
  • New underwear.
  • Sitting outside on a cold but clear evening, with a blanket and some red wine, just watching the stars.
  • Writing. Even if its complete nonsense.
  • Putting on warm clothes straight from the drier.
  • Cheese. With preserved figs. Heaven.
  • Humming Disney songs in the lab.
  • Getting out of uncomfortable skinny jeans and into pajama pants.
  • My plant on my desk.
  • Colourful nails.
  • Receiving packages in the mail.
  • Candlelight
Do you make an effort to appreciate the small things in life? What makes you smile?

I Heart Nautical

Nautical stripes are usually reserved for summer days, but who says they can't be rocked in winter? This Saturday (for the great wine-drinking adventure!) I wore this striped knit for the first time - I particularly love the addition of the small golden hearts!

Striped knit from Mr Price // Flower cocktail ring from Mr Price // Pocket watch on chain from Sass Diva

In addition to this knitted top, I wore my dark jeans, a pair of black heeled boots (I call them my "pirate" boots, because of the turned-over tops), my black coat and a pewter cross-body handbag.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Monday Memories

This Saturday was an example of a perfect autumn day in the winelands. Things started off with a few friends meeting at Durbanville Hills Winery.

I have a love for canons (they're all over the Cape):

No visit to a winery is complete without a peak into the cellar...

We kicked the day off with their Wine and Chocolate tasting. (I need more of the fourth chocolate - a cape malay spiced milk chocolate, with cardamon, nutmeg and cloves! So good!)

Once the rest of our party joined us, we headed upstairs to their restaurant. The whole of the Durbanville Wine Route had a "Soup, Sip and Bread" festival for the weekend, with each farm having a different offering. We opted for DH's soup buffet. There were four amazing soups, that were enjoyed with endless freshly baked bread and wines paired to each soup. (My favourite was the tomato and basil, which was served with their pinotage! Amazing!)

After at least three bowls of soup and countless pieces of bread and glasses of wine, we adventured onto the bastion to brave the wind and admire the view:

Inspired by the view, a few of us decided to visit the opposite side of the hill for some afternoon wine tasting at De Grendel.

Is there anything that says "perfect day" better than sitting outside, after a fabulous meal with fantastic friends, with a glass of bubbly?

So, who's joining me for next year's festival?

Mini Review: Tip Top Nail Polish

I must admit, I've seen Tip Top nail polishes on a lower shelf in Clicks for ages, and never thought to pick one up. Lately, however, I've been seeing them pop up on blogs all over, so I thought I'd give them a try.

The first major advantage was that this polish was only R39 for a bottle! Compare that to Revlon polishes, which retail for around R90, or even Rimmel polishes at around R50. Another advantage is that all Tip Top polishes are free of formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate, so they're good for your nails and the environment.

I applied the polish in the standard three-stroke pattern and was pleased to discover that it went on smoothly and evenly, with no streaks or bubbles. It dried quickly as well: it's no "quick dry" marvel, but I didn't have to wait around with wet nails for much longer than two minutes. The shade I chose was quite light, so my white tips still showed through after one coat, but a second coat yielded proper opaqueness. The final result was an even, glossy colour that looked like a really expensive, salon-quality manicure. I didn't have access to top coat, so this photo is just of the polish itself:

Nails painted with shade 916 "Beach Babe"

I only painted my nails last night, so I can't yet comment on the chip-resistance properly. However, my nails did survive washing my hair - something which usually leaves me with at least a chip or two if I haven't used top coat.

Overall, I'm a new fan of Tip Top polishes, and will definitely be buying more from their range in the future!

Update: With my long nails, I can get three days chip-free wear without top coat. With short nails, that extends to a week! Now I think I must try find a top coat by Tip Top...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Colour blocking

I fell in love when I saw these purple skinny jeans. I was shopping with a friend when we walked past them, and I stopped to squeal "Oooh! Purple jeans!" with a small bounce. They're quite bold for me, so I slept on the idea and went back a few days later to buy them (on sale!). They made their debut that evening for a braai with friends. (For the overseas readers, a braai is a South African bbq of sorts. Only we use real fire and real smoke instead of those useless gas griller things.) I thought I'd try my hand at the colour blocking trend by pairing it with a turquoise top instead of the black or grey I'd usually wear.

Purple jeggings from Woolworths // Turquoise t-shirt from Woolworths // Grey and purple butterfly print scarf from Poetry //  Diamante stud earrings from Woolworths // Flower cocktail ring from Mr Price // Purple beaded necklace from Mr Price // Silver chain (with cross) from Simply Silver // Amethyst bracelets gift // Amethyst ring gift // Grey blazer from Mr Price // Black ankle boots by Bronx from Footgear

I kept my makeup in a similar theme, by using bright lipstick ("Amethyst Shimmer") and purple/ pink eyeshadow. I wanted to paint my nails, but ran out of time so I left them au naturale.

I finished off the look by putting my hair into a high, braided bun.