Project House

Project house is finally nearing completion. After a long 10 days I can finally sit down and relax. Unfortunately, I haven’t got any tips about not getting stressed out when doing up the house. In my case it was inevitable. Everybody reacts to stress in a different way. Generally a negative connotation is attributed to stress, however in my case it resulted in a positive experience.

In all fairness I found that it was the actual thought of renovating  was more stressful than the actual work.

Here are some tips that I have put together after this experience.
Day 1: Preparation:  masking everywhere is a must. I found some useful masking tape and plastic sheets from Lidl supermarket. The plastic sheets came in different sizes, thus allowing me cover everywhere as much as I needed to. I asked relatives and friends for any canvas sheets or old bedding that they may have so that i can cover large surface areas, such as the floors. I was fortunate that a relative had a long piece of material that I was able to cover the material with. I stuck the material with masking tape so that the sheet will keep firmly in place. Having masking tape that have different thickness was very useful I found that I was able to cover the doors, walls or any small items that I could find. Though my favourite of all, was the plastic that already has masking tape on it (pic), thus making it so much easier to cover walls, or anything that you do not wish to splash with paint.

Day 2: By the time the painters arrived I had almost all the rooms that I wanted to be covered masked and all the furniture was shifted to one room. Some painters do this themselves, though I prepared to cover everything myself.

Day3: Nowadays a lot of the paint sold on the market has less of an odour. In spite of this, I would still recommend not to sleep in a freshly painted room. In my case I woke up completely congested. I was happy to use in an attempt to reduce the amount of congestion that I had.

Day 4: Most of the rooms have the first coat painted so somethings can be put back in their place. In my case since there was little that I could do whilst the painters were there, I decided to start dusting and sorting out things, as well as throwing away some items that I did not need.

Day 5: Seeing that most of the house is ready. If you opt to start throwing old or broken furniture away, it may help to see if there are any ‘ bring-in’ sites close by.  Locally, I referred to and stacked my car with old bits that I did not need and threw them away there.
Day 6: If the painters are gone then it may be helpful to start putting things back in their place. I made use of my wooden help to carry things back in their place. This had several benefits as I did not break my back or scratch the floor

Day 7: By this point it is completely understandable that the external and internal stress of renovation is getting to. I opted not to do much work and meet some relatives in the fresh air. This helped me get my mind off things for a while.

Day 8: with most things back in their place, I decide to fix all the curtains that need to go back into their place, I sewed any loose hems and used Dylon on a set of curtains that needed to get its colour restored.

Day 9:  With everything back in its place, there are just a few items here and there that need to be put back in their place. These can be done slowly and gradually. By this time the enthusiasm has faded.

Day 10: The internal stress factors may get the better of you and not resting can result in lower immune system thus making you more susceptible to illnesses.

Some recommendations from the hiccups that we came across:

  1. When doing up the house for the first time, do not throw away any extra tiles.
  2. If you have coloured walls, it is advisable to keep the code or any paint that is left. The original colour that you bought may no longer be in production.
  3. Take regular breaks. Overdoing it will only make you weaker and slow you down in the long run.

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and I’m back

I have had quite an interesting month, to say the least. In a nutshell these are some of the things that occupied my time.

1. I was nominated for an award
2. I needed to meet a panel of judges before the award
3. Presented my undergraduate dissertation
4. I attended the award ceremony (and won the award, still totally chuffed and excited about it)
5. I was interviewed twice on local TV
6. Had an assignment deadline
7. Attended two weddings
8. And still need to prepare for some upcoming workshops.

All this in just a couple of weeks…Until item no. 4 I was feeling under the weather and totally besides myself. Stress was getting the better of me and I felt very close to total burnout.

Once I had reached no. 6. All, the stress seemed to vanish and I was seeing everything positively.
As our eight-year anniversary, we decided to buy ourselves a Blue Ray Player-This was over four months ago though this blue ray player has gone through quite a lot to get to us:

1. We ordered the blue ray from Amazon
2. A week later the DVD player still hadn’t arrived.
3. We track the DVD player for another week and the supplier informs us that the player had ended up in France.
4. We decide to cancel the order and buy it locally instead.
5. The suppliers call to say that the DVD player had arrived.
6. The following day I call to pick it up and the supplier informs us that there was an issue and the DVD player hadn’t actually arrived
5. The following day the supplier calls us again to inform us that the box was stolen somewhere.
6. He kindly offers to lend us another DVD player in the meantime we ask to order another one. 7. Supplier calls to inform us that the DVD player we wanted is no longer in stock and has been discontinued.
8. Very frustrated by all of this we decide to take the offer of borrowing another player until the new model is launched.
9. 4 months later I get a phone call from the supplier informing us that our DVD player was finally in his hands… What a relief our anniversary present to each other has finally arrived.

Today we decided to open a lovely bottle of Barolo to celebrate the arrival of the new DVD player.

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Grammarian ProX proofreading software

I am currently preparing for an assignment that is due on the 18th of April. This assignment is related to the development of syntax and semantics in children with communication needs, quite vast if I may add.

Initially I was completely unproductive. I have the attention span of a goldfish, approximately 3 seconds, so focusing was part of the challenge.

I am the queen of typographical errors. I blame my limited English skills (I write as I speak Maltese-English) and my lack of attention. Apart from my assignment, there was another reason for the delay in updating this blog.

This blog initially started as a joke, just for my friends and colleagues who noticed my love for gadgets. Forming part of the Maltese blogging community suddenly added value to all the blogs that I read. My blog feels so amateurish. I acknowledge that my writing skills are poor so I decided that I will look into getting my hands on a proofreading software.

As I started my research, I was limited in my search for software that was compatible with Mac. Most reviews rated Whitesnake as the best style-checker. However, I couldn’t find a trial version for this so I was not going to buy it without a trial. I then came across software called Grammarian ProX. There’s the option of selecting your preferred writing style, for instance if you’re writing an academic paper, if you are writing informally and so on. It also gives you all the options to select which grammar rules you want to ignore or include. There’s a handy thesaurus and dictionary and points out cliches and so on.

Overall, I am pleased with the software. It will not magically turn you into a proficient writer, though at least it will bring any major embarrassing error to your attention.

One other daunting task of writing an assignment is ensuring the accuracy of the referencing style that you need to use. I am currently using an extremely useful website that automatically checks your list according to the required reference style. I find it extremely useful when referencing books, though somewhat limited when checking journals or articles.

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Claiming my blog

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The passionator

Life can be rather stressful. At the end of a busy day it is not unusual to end up with a headache. Irrespective of the cause the mention of a headache is generally quite irritating, both for the listener and for the person with the headache. People then start to classify their headaches into migraines, cluster headaches, or hangovers. Unfortunately I tend to get occasional migraines, which to me feel severe. I notice its onset when I become hypersensitive to loud noises the day before. The type of Migraine I get is generally accompanied with associated symptoms such as facial oedema, numbness and a tingly feeling throughout my fingers. It generally lasts three days, including a hangover from the concoction of medicine that I need to take. My better half also suffers from regular headaches and head tightness. Messaging his head generally helps to alleviate the tightness that he feels. I am his assigned masseuse.

This year I decided to buy all my Christmas gifts online. As I was browsing on amazon I came across the passionator, a head massager.

I thought this would have been a perfect gift for my beloved so I just clicked ‘Add to Basket’ and sent the stocking fillers to my parent’s house so that I will keep the element of surprise. Since I’ll be at work my mother would  call me to tell me that I’ve received a parcel. Curious to see whose gift was delivered, I gave her the go ahead to open the parcel. I could almost see her jaw drop when she reacts to the parcel and says:

Mum: ‘What’s this?’ ‘Aren’t you embarrassed to get your mother to open it?’.  

Those who know my mother know that she loves to joke around; I was slightly rushed so just said ‘I’ll see you at home’, still not having understood what the parcel that I received was.

Straight after work I go to my mother’s house I read the package that says ‘sends shivers down your spine, provides orgasmic pleasure,’ and many other sexual connotations. There are something things, no matter how close you are, that you wouldn’t discuss with your mother. One such thing is the topic of vibrators. After looking at the package we obviously started laughing at the situation, I tried to explain that I bought a head massager but she wasn’t really buying it and was still shocked that I asked her to open my ‘vibrator’. Totally amused by the situation I couldn’t resist waiting until Christmas to give him the ‘passionator’. The look on his face was priceless, especially once he noticed that the top part of the ‘passionator’ is detachable and looks exactly like a dildo. After a short while we look through the website and actually notice the reviews which I am sharing as they are too funny not to read. I obviously hadn’t looked at the reviews before I bought it. The pity was that although you could use it as a proper head-massager the ends of it were plastic and so it wasn’t so effective.
A couple of months later, we went to London and walked through Covent Garden. We noticed that on one stall there was a proper stainless steel head massager and that was not designed to be used as a vibrator. When we tried the real head-massager we were very pleased with it. It relieves the tightness in your head and does give a tingly sensation when you use it. It cost €10 so it was not very expensive. Eager to try it, we were pleased that it functioned as it promised to. It was a great head massager and relieved the tightest of headaches. 

I would recommend one of these gadgets, only just look up the reviews before purchasing the item- you never know you might be ordering a vibrator instead.

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Quick Tip: Jewelry Storage (via Organizing with a Side of Fabulous)

Quick Tip: Jewelry Storage Need a quick and easy, down and dirty way to store jewelry? Egg cartons. Is it the most aesthetically pleasing way to handle your jewelry? Nope. But it’ll work in a pinch and it’s awesome for little girls that may still be a little too tough on the goods. It’s also a great way to keep things separated until you get the jewelry storage you do want. If you decide you like it and want to keep it around for a while, you can always get crafty and pain … Read More

via Organizing with a Side of Fabulous

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At school Home Economics and Needle work were obligatory for the first couple of years. Whoever attended the same school remembers the wholemeal flour stored in big black bins. The Home Economics lab had four tables, five cookers, sinks and stools all around the table. We would cook on alternate lessons and would not be allowed to cook unless we wore our aprons and had the ingredients with us. Everybody’s A5 file was covered in brown paper and needed to include a picture of someone cooking. The first thing we learnt how to bake were rock buns. After this I had spent a year baking rock buns with whole meal flour.

I can’t really say that I had learnt much from needlework in the 3 years that it was taught to us, except for tacking and making a horrible green soft toy and a cushion with the face of a monkey, and a box for our needles etc.  The nun who taught us never really made much of an effort to change the items that needed to be sewn over the years.

The things I learnt about sewing and cooking was from my mother, who in turn learnt from her mother. My grandmother albeit her 91 years, is still renowned for her fantastic cook and great desserts. Thankfully this was a skill that was passed on generation after generation. The only difficulty we have is asking her for a recipe as we always get the same reply ‘it’s easy just add a little bit of this and a little bit of that’. I guess the secret of her fantastic cooking lies in the measures that she doesn’t reveal.

I rarely fuss over ‘having to cook’ because I love it. Initially, I lacked confidence in my cooking, convinced that people are only being polite. Today I know that some dishes turn out well, and others get messed up. If the dish messes up I don’t fret about it. I like to take up challenges of new recipes especially if they require a lengthy cooking time.  My biggest challenge and my weakest area has got to be preparing desserts.

This particular week is a very busy one with at least one family member celebrating his birthday. My better half does not really have a sweet tooth, except for Crème caramel, Crème brûlée, Jellybeans and blueberry muffins. I am not fully equipped with necessary utensils for baking- including weighing scales. Therefore calculating the exact amount is always slightly dicey. I wasn’t ready to give up my challenge. I visited my mother’s house to see what ‘cupcake’ mold she had available and discovered that she had these silicon cupcake molds (never knew my mother kept up-to-date with these things). Not having the instructions I searched for the brand and I was pleasantly surprised to note that I did not need to grease them before putting it in the oven. The molds were bright orange and extremely attractive. I was extremely skeptical about using the molds initially, however, I just added the muffin mixture into the mold and placed them carefully into the preheated oven.

The muffins I was baking needed to be in the oven for only 15 minutes and then needed to cool down for another 5 minutes.

This was the test. As they cooled I pushed the muffins out of the mold without the need to use a spatula or without the need to scrape then off anything. I was really pleased. Aesthetically the muffins looked really smooth and perfect.

Once done I placed the mold into the dishwasher and it was washed really well.

I’d recommend getting silicone baking moulds to all those who enjoy baking but loathe the  scraping and cleaning of the baking dishes. In fact, I am going to replace all, actually my one cake mold, into a silicone one.


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