A health story and a weight loss milestone.

The last few years have been difficult for me, to say the least. At 16 my health and mood started going downhill, and I was eventually diagnosed with mild depression, which was re-evaluated as severe depression only a few months later (yes, it got a lot worse very quickly and it was a very dark period of my life), and on top of all of that I was diagnosed with CFS/ME (chronic, debilitating, pretty much life-ruining fatigue). Needless to say, I was stuck in my room for a lot of the last two years of school. Thankfully I pulled through at least somewhat and ended up getting into Cambridge; my first year was pretty awful health- and mood-wise, but my second year started getting better. Last summer, I found out I was gluten intolerant, and discovered myself through trial and error that sugary and starchy foods made me feel like crap in general AND often aggravated my chronic fatigue, setting me up for a day or two of feeling so mentally and physically tired that I couldn’t do anything. So I cut most of these out (bye-bye, favourite foods: pizza, bread, lasagne, chips/fries, chocolate (well, I cut down a lot, but won’t cut that one out completely :p…funny that the foods that taste the best were giving me so much havoc!), swapping cereal for omelettes, sandwiches for salad with lean meat, and swapping out potatoes at dinner for another serving of different vegetables. A nice side effect of not feeling so damn fatigued all the time was the ability to actually exercise sometimes (bear in mind two years ago I often could not walk a few hundred metres to go to the library at uni), which I am so happy about 🙂 it’s still a constant struggle, but I’ve been doing pretty well and have managed to lose 40 lbs (actually 43 :p)…it’s amazing how much ME can make you put on, and coupled with trying to eat my depression away and eating things that I was actually intolerant of, I had gained a lot since starting uni. Now? Almost the same weight I was at 16, and I was only 5’9″ then (5’10.5″ now)!

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NOTW (feet): OPI Holland I Have A Herring Problem + Pedal Faster Suzi!

I really don’t like feet. Especially not mine. Ew, my spindly toes. Anyway, look past my leg-appendages and enjoy the polish, if you can 😀

I tried out two of the other minis that I got at Sally’s on my feet, with the shimmery blue (almost a light denim colour, which I’ve been coveting for a while) ‘I Have A Herring Problem’ and the light but pretty ‘Pedal Faster Suzi!’. It’s far too wet to be wearing flip-flops right now (I can’t wait until it’s warmer and dryer; nearly all regular shoes give me blisters), so my perdy toes were mostly for my own benefit, although I did make the boyfriend tell me which he preferred :p (Pedal Faster).

Ewww…
You can’t even see the colours very well, sorry! I only took the one photo and now I have something different on my nails…

NOTW (hands): OPI Care to Danse? + Pirouette My Whistle

Following on my last post about my ill-advised but fun Sally’s trip, I decided to try out some of the OPI New York City Ballet soft shades from the mini pack I had bought there. I wanted something that wasn’t so bright as uni work was starting up again and I wanted to have pretty but slightly more professional nails. Granted, when I went and applied a glittery topcoat, any professional image was somewhat shattered, but eh :p

I applied two coats of Care to Danse? so that my nails looked natural but healthy and bright and then applied the glittery topcoat, Pirouette My Whistle (oh, OPI and their names :p). I’m not usually big on glitter (mainly because it GETS EVERYWHERE), but this stuff stayed put without a top coat and didn’t flake off, plus it looked pretty 🙂 I especially liked the big round flakes. What do you think?

Sally’s Polish Haul

Soon after finding out that we do in fact have Sally’s here in the UK and that there was one half a mile away from where I live when at university, I was kind of excited for term time to start up again :p (that excitement faded away quickly though; it’s exam term and aaaargghhh, basically!).

I registered for email updates and got a 20% off voucher a few days later, which just excited me even more. I ended up visiting a Sally’s in London when I went to hang out with my sisters for the day and see Rock of Ages (which was alright but had a pretty terrible first act; the second was pretty funny though)…I was a little shocked that OPI polishes were *£11* each (ouch!) when I get them online for about £4+shipping…I bought OPI White Shatter and a China Glaze polish (a more reasonable but still pricey £6.59) from the Electropop collection, a perdy pink creme called ‘Dance Baby’. I’m pretty sure Sally’s is the only physical store in the UK where you can buy OPI and China Glaze polishes though (I think some manicurists sell OPI, but I imagine that might be even more expensive, especially if you get a manicure as well…I’ve never actually had one!).

Anyway…onto this haul 🙂 I spent waaay too much money, even after the 20% off. As in, just under £55. Did I mention we’re not allowed jobs at Cambridge during term time and that my parents give me very little money? Yeah…good thing I sell stuff on eBay. But yeah, I couldn’t afford this, but these beautiful polishes WILL last me a long time, I swear! 😀

The pretty view from my window at uni 🙂 
China Glazes: Sweet Hook (Electropop), Temptation Carnation, Tree Hugger (I fell in love with the name and had to get it, it’s very me!), Rainbow, Seduce Me.
OPI: New York City Ballet minis (I love ballet and I love soft shades), OPI Correct and Clean UP (there was no price on this and it turned out to be £9.99 before discount :/ it really doesn’t work that well, but it’s ok; I got it because I am sooo messy with polish, especially when tired!), OPI Dutch Treats minis.
A zoomed-out view!
I did really like Sally’s; it was spacious and the assistant was friendly and asked me if I needed help, but then when I said I was ok she left me alone and didn’t hound me, which is always appreciated. She let me ponder over polishes for a loooong time and even stopped unpacking OPI polishes and moved into the display when I wanted to have a look 🙂
Let’s be honest, if I still live in Cambridge when I have a full-time job (which I hope to do), I’ll probably head to Sally’s for a couple of polishes every month or two :p right now, I’m going to avoid going again for a while as it is all VERY tempting.

NOTW (hands) – China Glaze ‘Harvest Moon’

This is actually what was on my nails nearly three weeks ago now, but I wanted to share it with you 🙂 This polish is from China Glaze’s ‘Colours from the Capital’ (sometimes also called ‘Capitol Colours/Colors’) tie-in collection for the film version of ‘The Hunger Games’. I’ll spare you the fangirling about my love for all things THG as long as you promise to go and see it and/or read the book(s) :p

‘Harvest Moon’ is named after District 9’s production of grain (it was originally called ‘Cinna-Mon’ and said to have been inspired by Cinna’s signature speck of gold eyeliner; as an(other) aside, I have quite dark blue eyes and I love putting a little flick of gold eyeliner under my lower lashes (really just a little – imperceptible unless you come up way too close to me!) to accentuate the blue – it works really well as the colours are pretty much on the opposite end of the colour spectrum!). It’s a nice orangey-gold foil that applies smoothly and is very pigmented. I loved the look of it!

I did get some of the other polishes in the Capitol Colours collection, but I’m savouring them and will try them out one by one to keep my excitement going 🙂

NOTW (feet): Rimmel Funtime Fuschia and OPI Japanese Rose Garden with OPI White Shatter

Sorry for the delay in posting! On my feet for the last week (well, nearly two weeks now as a) I’m lazy b) it still looks good and c) it’s wavering between winter and spring here, so my toenails aren’t on show much!) I’ve had Rimmel London 60 Seconds (it really does dry fast) in 260 Funtime Fuschia, with OPI’s White Shatter over it on my left foot, and OPI’s Japanese Rose Garden with the White Shatter again on my right foot.

I really like the colour of the Rimmel polish, although it looks almost straight-up red on the nail, not like the fuschia in the bottle. I was pleased with the OPI Shatter; it went on smoothly and it was kind of fun (nerd :p) to watch the cracks forming as it dried! Here’s a photo I took after applying it (yeah, I have a case of the curly toes, look away if you hate feet :p):

I think the shatter effect is especially pronounced on my big toe’s nail, but I really like the pattern that emerged on my second toenail! I don’t know if you can see, but the effect on my fourth toe looks a bit like the Joker’s face with a creepy big red ‘smile’ and a white face :p
Here’s the bottle for comparison; am I alone in thinking it’s pinker in the bottle than it is on? 
I also painted my fingernails with the Rimmel fuschia polish, which looked good (this was actually a week before I put on For Audrey…see the post below this one!):
As you can see, I had originally painted all of my nails with the fuschia, but shortly afterwards I got OPI Japanese Rose Garden and decided to try it out on my right foot 🙂
I forgot to take a photo of Japanese Rose Garden with the Shatter on when I had first applied it, sorry!
This is what my biggies look like today, after almost two weeks of polish. I’m impressed with the durability, although it would likely not look like this after a fortnight on my hardworking hands!
The effect is a lot more pronounced over the fuschia, I think. It’s probably due to the contrast between the colours. Also, the Shatter didn’t crack as much when it came to my right foot; must have applied it with a different degree of thickness.
What do you think? Are you a fan of shatter/crackle top coats in general?
Sorry about my ugly-ass toes :p

NOTW (hands) – China Glaze ‘For Audrey’

A lot of the other blogs I follow post a picture of their Nails of the Day (NOTD), but since I only usually change my polish about once a week (due to finance constraints, laziness, enjoying the polish to its full extent, etc. :p), I’ve decided to go for Nails of the Week (I BET you didn’t see that one coming :p).

For my first NOTW post, I’ll show you what’s been on my fingernails for the last few days. It’s China Glaze’s celebrated ‘For Audrey’, a cute blue that is, as far as I can, the *exact* shade of the Tiffany jewellery bags and boxes (i.e. ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s) hence ‘Audrey’. I was worried at first because it didn’t look amazing with my pale skintone, but after a few hours with it on, I thought it was lovely. I’ll definitely be using this one again!

These are my natural nails…my cuticles aren’t amazing, but I’m working on them 🙂 Sorry about my PS3 and computer keyboard getting into the photo; I’ll crop next time, I’m just in a hurry right now!

Index finger

What do you think? Have you ever tried this shade?

Coming up, I’ve got a retrospective NOTW for my hands (last week’s), my feet NOTW, and some review posts about skincare and other beauty products 🙂

Song of the week!

I am so busy with uni lately, but I’ve slowed everything down a bit today as *hooray* I’m not well. Great. So anyway, my pick for this week’s song of the week (department of redundancy department) is one that never fails to make me feel pumped up and happy; ‘Oh! My Goddess’. It was a close competition this week between this song and another one that I’ve been playing virtually nonstop this week (incidentally also Korean, though not SNSD, although I’ve been blasting their new album since it arrived), but this one is just more happiness-inducing. And look, I even hunted a video down with English subtitles!

TRAX are labelmates of SNSD and the aforementioned Shoopa Joonya but have a rockier sound and are actually a band, *with instruments and everything*! They used to be *The* TRAX but dropped the definite article as they are just too cool for it. This song and similarly titled mini album were released last September, when the members were 25/26 and everyone’s favourite self-improvement book reading future diplomat Seohyun was 19 and seemed both about ten years younger than that and thirty years older (she’s so wise, and yet so childlike), which strikes me as a bit weird if she’s playing their ideal girl, but whatever, TRAX. This song is so good that you can hit on all the teenagers you like. Except not.

Arbitrary crap of the week: Dragon Age and Taylor Swift

Some spoilers for the game Dragon Age: Origins lay ahead.

Right, I just finished my first playthrough of DA:O for PS3 (it’s pretty multifaceted with lots and lots of different endings, as well as beginnings, or origins) and ended up with one of the best possible endings; my female human noble, Tuscany Cousland (they gave me the surname, I picked a fanciful first name to go with it) became a great rogue and fighter and announced at the Landsmeet that Alistair, her co-fighter, companion and boyfriend (and secret illegitimate heir to the throne and – I love this – ‘royal bastard’, literally), would be king and she would rule alongside him (cue ‘:O’ faces from everyone? No? It would’ve been an even better cutscene if they panned to everyone’s faces when Tuskers announced that). Aside from, and as a result of, the whole bummer dark ritual and everything, they both survived and got married and yay. I kind of fell in love with Alistair along the way (this is not uncommon…there are many fan clubs all over the internet for this game character, expertly voiced by the Scottish (but you wouldn’t know it) actor Steve Valentine), eventually realising that personality-wise he essentially IS my boyfriend (yay!), which was a pretty happy revelation for me.

ANYWAY. I digress, as usual. I then put my iPod on and Tay-Tay Swift is crooning ‘Long Live’ and oh the similarities between this song and the game if you take most of it literally instead of figuratively as its intended, and especially if you play as a female human noble who marries Alistair. I’m definitely reaching a little in places (I’m reaching so hard in this whole post that my shoulder is dislocating), and I doubt Ms Swift is a fan of RPGs (I’m only a fan of RPGs with great stories, to be honest, and usually only Western ones…I played Riviera: The Promised Land, and that’s the only JRPG I’ve ever kind of liked), as she’s never said so and it would help her ‘everygirl’ shtick (or, real personality? :p) to admit to loving a bit of gaming, so she wouldn’t hide it. That said, she would totally fall in love with Alistair as well. And then write a song about it. Or maybe she already has:
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Song of the week: SNSD-Hoot

This week’s honour has to go to my alarm clock song (the intro up until the ‘Go! Go! Go!’ part (not the James Bond-esque intro in the video, the actual song intro) and probably favourite song by these ladies. Despite myself, I’ve got quite into SNSD in the last year. They’re a Korean girlband who go officially by the name Girls’ Generation globally, and are called So Nyuh Shi Dae in their native country (along with Shoujo Jidai in Japan; both of these mean ‘Girls’ Generation’, although SNSD is arguably closer to, um, ‘maiden era’. Let’s do this, fair maidens!). I should hate girl groups who seem to serve to titillate those of the heterosexual male persuasion. I should hate formulaic, manufactured pop music. I usually do. But SNSD got me interested. They’re good dancers and competent singers who come out with highly listenable music, and based on their many, many variety shows, they’re great people with interesting personalities. Some more than others, though :p

I personally love Hyoyeon, the band’s resident ‘Dancing Queen’ (although she doesn’t get a chance here, or even often nowadays, to show off just how powerful her dancing skills can be), who has a youthful, jokey personality and can dance like nobody’s business. She’s the one with straight blonde hair in the video (in the lift scenes). The dude at the beginning and end is from Super Junior, more commonly realised as ‘Shoopa Joonya’ (I’m not making fun of Korean pronunciation – my Korean pronunciation sucks – I’m just stating how they say it), a labelmate boy band. I’ve never got into them as, while they have some catchy songs, some of their songs are downright bad. One involving a subgroup of some of their members (they originally had twelve members…) hinges on the line ‘we are wearing our pyjamas’. Oh), and he doesn’t really seem to do much in the video. Missed opportunity for a stroyline, there.

The chorus basically translates as:
Because of you my heart wears armour (metaphor love)
Now I’m fighting back
Your arrows are trouble, trouble, trouble
You aimed them at me
And you shoot, shoot, shoot
And I hoot, hoot, hoot
I’m scarred by your words soaked in poison (<3)
I gave you a second chance, chance
You’re definitely trouble, trouble, trouble
You waited for the right time
You shoot, shoot, shoot
I hoot, hoot, hoot

The way I see it, she’s definitely hurt by this guy and his ways and isn’t denying that, but at the same time is trying to rise above it and laugh at his pathetic antics (‘hoot’ being onomatopoeic). It’s not the most powerful lyric in the world, but it gets its point across well and has some nice little metaphors.

Ok, so SNSD aren’t really one for intelligent, insightful lyrics*, but who cares? They’re pure fun.

* Take this generation-defining piece of pathos delivered by the very much English-speaking Korean-American Jessica Jung in the cheerleader-styled ‘Oh!’:

‘tell me boy boy love it it it it it ah’

Amazing.

/I also like the part in the Hoot individual videos where Jessica stops to sneeze, and the part where a bug flies in her face. This shooting was perhaps a little rushed, no?

Song of the week: ‘Top of the World’ by Dixie Chicks


Sorry about the delay in posting, I’ve been flitting all around the country (England, that is), going to hospital (I was merely seeing an ENT surgeon), etc.

I thought I’d discuss one of the few songs that can reduce me to tears. I’m a pretty emotional person but do not try at the drop of a hat; something has to pretty poignant if it’s going to make my eyes leak, basically.

The Dixie Chicks’ song ‘Top of the World’ from their outstanding 2003 album ‘Home’ is one such song. This isn’t on the top of the world looking down on creation. Nope, this is a Patty Griffin-penned 6+ minute epic about regret. It has simple lyrics which seem to make them all the more striking, haunting violins, vocals full of emotion, a female singer adopting the persona of a male narrator (or a lesbian who has a wife, but this was 2003 :P)…it’s fun to see which minute the song finally gets to me each time and a tear escapes my eye. The lyric that most often gets me?

I think I broke the wings off that little song bird
She’s never gonna fly to the top of the world

That bit just makes me feel so much. One time I even took it as being about the narrator (if he weren’t male, mind; although maybe he’s making the ‘little songbird’ female as it seems a feminine creature…gah, literature, you’ve ruined me); he/she has wasted his/her life and is regretful. Either way…poignant.

Here are the lyrics and some other listeners’ interpretations and thoughts: http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3458764513820557072/

And the video gets me as well. Directed by Sophie Muller, who I have come to love a little bit (she’s probably directed a few videos you’ve seen as well), it’s a great, emotive way of telling the story.