The Holidays Approacheth

I can always tell when the holidays are getting close – my free time evaporates.

This year we hosted Alasdair’s parents for Thanksgiving, which was lovely. They don’t like cornbread, and do like pumpkin pie, which I consider a victory.

And then of course, there’s Dragon Age Inquisition. Which I’m trying very hard NOT to take up my every waking weekend hour. So far, so good, but I’ve still logged close to 30 hours since launch. More posts on that later. My current interaction with the game is … complicated.

While I struggle to balance household chores with saving Theda, enjoy this lovely Pat Cadigan story, “Cody”, which I narrated for Clarkesworld.

Two Out Of Seven

Weekends haven’t been a thing I’ve been able to enjoy the last two years. Between studying and podcasting and the training contract application process, they were just an extension of the working week.

And boy am I glad that’s over with.

I missed sleeping in, and to do lists that shrink instead of growing ever longer. I missed having time to let my brain wander while I walk home, and whittling away at my To Be Read shelf. Second pots of coffee over comic books on Sunday morning. Not constantly pushing. Planning, instead of reacting.

I’ve watched three movies in the last four days, two of them in the theater. For the curious, Mazerunner was excellent and Dracula Untold was boring / ridiculous. I’ve been planning out a possible November spa weekend while Alasdair’s at Thought Bubble. And I’ve resolutely refused to make plans for my two weeks off at Christmas beyond experimental baking and Dragon Age: Inquisition.

This year, as the world slows down and prepares to rest through the dark months, I’m going with it.

Published in: on October 19, 2014 at 17:21  Comments (1)  
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Ahhhh, Christmas break. So far I’ve done tons of things around the house and very, very little schoolwork. It’s been glorious.

One of the things I’ve FINALLY had time to do is use the lovely Soapasaurus products Alasdair is reviewing. He’s writing his own review of these products as part of a bigger “bath and beauty geek products” piece, but this one is mine, ’cause you know… they were open… *grin*

Friendship CubesFriendship Cube

These lovely little gamer’s friends pack a heck of a scent punch for their meager two inches. The pink one especially reminds me exactly of pink Starburst – somewhere between intense strawberry and a unnameable tropical fruit. They lather extremely well, but I recommend a sisal bag or something similar because once wet they’re inclined to slip out of your hand. There was zero residue after rinsing, and my skin felt comfortably not-dry, and not-moisturized.

What I particularly enjoyed about the scent was both its strength and the complete lack of residue. It’s great having a product where you can take an intensely scented bath or shower, but not have to worry about your soap scent clashing with deodorant, lotion or cosmetics when you’re finished.

Sugar WhipFestive Fall Handmade Sugar Scrub

Oh my god. Imagine the best coconut cream pie you’ve ever smelled, thick with graham cracker crust. Add pumpkin pie spice and a healthy dollop of maple syrup. Now whip it until it’s frothy and creamy with just a few hints of brown sugar chunks and rub it all over your face and don’t eat it because it’s soap but you’ll want to it smells so good!

Lovely creamy texture without a hint of residue. I was expecting something a bit more exfoliating I think, because of the name “sugar scrub”, so this won’t replace my normal face wash, but it’s a fantastic supplement. It has a bit of a lingering scent as I write this about an hour post-shower, so I think I’ll put this in the weekly treat category as opposed to daily wear. Plus I had to ask Alasdair to smell my face and that made him laugh and then lick my forehead.

The little green tub it comes in has a fantastic texture that lets you get a good grip on it with wet hands, and the screw-top lid is water proof – I stuck it under the running water with no leaking. Once I’ve used up all the product I’ll keep it and store other soaps.

Blue Sky CrystalBlue Sky Crystal

This was the first of the products we tried, and I could smell the intense blueberry scent hours after it was used. You’ve GOT to have some way of containing these little shards, though, or you’ll drop half of them and they’ll slip down the drain and you’ll be sad. For these little pieces we use a shower glove, which lets the thick lather through but isn’t as hard on skin as sisal. Scent-wise this is the most intense of the lot and the one I’d recommend the most for children because it’s an immediately identifiable smell. If Soapysaurus wants to branch out into bubblebath, they could do worse than start here.

Flying Update

Two more weeks of classed until Christmas break and the pressure has ramped up significantly. Apologies for the bullet points, but I need to get back to Wills revision.

  • The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary “Day of the Doctor” was fantastic. Going to see it with hundreds of other fans in costume in the theaters was amazing. Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows owned the Internet last night.
  • Thanks again to The Cheesecakes for hosting me while Alasdair was in Leeds for Thought Bubble.
  • One flavor of Jelly Babies is icky. Now that I’ve got the rest of the bag home in lighted conditions, I will investigate further to discover the guilty party.
  • The house is mostly unpacked and I’ve just set up a couple of reusable ceramic dehumidifiers in the two less-well insulated windows. There’s several small projects left, but first I need to learn how to properly install hanging things in these types of walls. This may involve the purchase of power tools. Heaven forfend.
  • Our housewarming / late Thanksgiving / early Christmas / Great Swap party is scheduled and the menu being planned. Alasdair wants to make tamales. YUM.
  • The mediation competition has advanced to the semi-finals this week. It’s fascinating being on the other side of the table this time, and I’m developing whole new sets of skills.
  • I’m hoping I might get to do my first community mediation over the Christmas break, but I haven’t heard back yet.
  • Speaking of the Christmas break, we are officially going to take 10 days off towards the end of the month. I’ll post about it so people can help keep me honest.
  • My latest narration is up at Cast of Wonders – “The View From Stickney Crater” by Rick Kennett, our latest Cy de Gurch story.
  • I think I’ve located an international foods market that carries fresh Ancho peppers. I need to get some and roast them to confirm. Because that would mean green chili and cheese tamales. YUM.

Right. Back to work!

Back To It

Today is the last day of Christmas break. It’s also the first half of January, and if there’s a time of the year more likely to cause ennui and the urge to curl up under blankets with books, it’s not on my calendar. These two facts, combined with being in the pre-end-game run-up on Mass Effect 2, makes tomorrow feel like the Monday to End All Mondays.

To quote one of my favorite starship captains, “I am therefore going anyway.” I’ve got some fantastic looking boxed-lunch treats (mini naan! mini cheeses! tons of veggies!), got my notes VERY organized, and tonight I’ll knock off early to get a good night’s sleep.

This break has been incredibly productive. And that takes some work on my part to say, since there are several items on the To Do list that didn’t get finished. I’m too used to the sole criterion of my success being ticked boxes on lists, and I’m challenging that by realizing that while many things aren’t finished, ALL of them are in much better shape than they were. Especially given that many of these tasks were new, like writing vacation scheme / trainee contract applications, or preparing for the mediation competition in Paris.

I’ve also rested, which can be like pulling teeth for me. And not just recovering from the post-semester cold and a few days off for Christmas. I replayed Mass Effect 1 and am nearly done with 2. I did a ton of cooking, took walks, did yoga, and slept in late. That’ll be the part I miss the most, especially since the week in Paris is my reading week; no breaks for me between now and Easter.

Lots done, lots more to do. Time to get to it!

First of Four

Reading Weeks are a smart idea, I wish we’d had them when I was in college. My course is broken into four chunks, each divided by at least a week off from lectures. They’re designed to allow you to consolidate, the British term for “catch your breath and stop freaking out it’s okay you really can do this.” Schooling is approached differently here, and is based heavily on independent study. I can only imagine what the other students with none of my legal background are going through.

Have I studied enough? The answer to that question is going to be “No” right up through my last exam. But I definitely feel I have a stronger grasp on the sheer volume of memorization required on certain subjects. The flowcharts I’ve been working on aren’t finished by any stretch of the imagination, but putting them together is helping. Next up: case law flashcards.

We took some time to have fun this week as well. Last weekend we went to Dublin to watch Alasdair’s sister’s boyfriend run in the marathon, and attend a Dead Can Dance concert. Tonight is a late Halloween – early Bonfire Night party at Nadine and Paul’s house, and the tomorrow night we’re going to WWE Raw, my first live wrestling show since I was what, 11? I can’t WAIT, even if it is going to be a late “school” night.

Next week is a DOOZY, too. I have my first round of mediation on Monday, a mentoring meet-and-greet event at Freeth Cartwright on Tuesday, the Student Fora meeting Wednesday as well as an amicus presentation on the US death penalty, and then an inquest Friday morning followed by some student rep training. I get tired just writing it all out! Good thing we stocked up on soup, pasta, and sandwich supplies – there’ll be a lot of grab-and-go/work dinners this week.

I’m still dealing with a few last issues back in California, but my crate should FINALLY be delivered next week! All the boxes are probably going to live in the lounge, but that’s fine – I’m setting aside a FULL DAY next weekend to put everything away. Shoes! My kitchen knives! Lap blankets and couch pillows! My PS3! Yay!

The other thing I did this week was catch up on writing messages to people back home, and even a couple of phone calls. And I’m putting together a Christmas wishlist which is mostly filled with American foods – ranch dressing, Clif bars, taco seasoning, peanut butter, graham crackers, and canned pumpkin. I found a SINGLE can at Waitrose this week, and I’m hoarding it for Thanksgiving weekend.