Kuragehime // Tsukimi

Christmas and New Year

And it's the last day of the year already. Yikes.

Just waiting about on Barry getting up so we can head into town to do a bit of shopping with our Christmas money.

Christmas went well. Think we tried to do too much with the Christmas dinner. Need to cut back on food ideas next year, and probably forget about a dessert completely as, with all the junk food we end up with at this time of year, we don't need it.

I got a good few books this year. Fancy hardback editions of the complete Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collin's The Woman in White, a collection of Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales and the novel of The Princess Bride. As for anime, I got the Blu-Ray of the second Eden of the East movie, and the complete sets of House of Five Leaves and The Tatami Galaxy. Also got a lovely necklace, a cute wolf cuddly and a bottle of Disaronno.

December has been a pretty stressful month with Barry in a new job, him trying to clear off his remaining freelance work, and therefore me trying to take up the slack with Christmas planning and keeping the house together as well as normal work, as he hasn't had much free time. But at least it's time to relax now, at least until I start work again on Wednesday. Then it will be tax returns, work as well as figuring out where my career is going.

I'm very much thinking about moving away from web design and into more graphic design. Web design is becoming more about interaction, apps and UI, so while the user design is still very important (something less of an interest for me. I'd rather be given wireframes than design them), less focus is going on visual design. So I'd really need to start learning more in terms of UI, which I'm just not interested in. Plus there is more of a need to know the tech side of things. I'm an expert in HTML and CSS, but don't really enjoy doing them. I only do as it brings in cash, but because of that, I end up spending more time doing that than actual design. And end up cutting and building other people's designs for easy cash, which ends up not being easy cash as the people designing them are so bad that they haven't even thought of half the things they should have! Plus they send me designs that l would be embarrassed to submit as wireframes!

Other than that, I'd need to get better at jQuery and the likes. So, I've though what is the point in learning and keeping up to date with all this when I don't enjoy doing it, and it actually keeps me away from doing design. So I may still design websites, but I'm getting away from the coding side and branching out into other forms of design. I'm too old to keep doing the thing I left my las job to get away from.
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Mawaru Penguindrum // Himari-chan


So what's been up with me lately? It seems as if there has been loads, but at the same time it seems a little boring or whatever. Whenever someone asks what's happening in my life, I always answer with "Same ol'". It means I end up not really talking to mates unless we arrange to go out. When we are together, we have loads to talk about, but I end up not texting/emailing/phoning them for ages as without being together physically, or without maybe hitting off a conversation on Facebook or something, I feel like there's nothing to tell them. Texting someone to say "How's you?", I just feel like I'd be annoying them ><

So I guess that's what it is with LiveJournal. That sometimes I have something interesting to note down, but if it gets past the point where I'm excited about it, then I don't feel it's interesting enough to post about. Guess it comes down to mostly being an introvert and feeling like I'm very poor at small talk, while at the same time feeling reasonably extroverted when a topic comes up that I'm passionate about. Then, even if I'm talking to a stranger, I'm hard to shut up.

I do need to work on it, though. I'm sure friends, even you guys on here, think I disappear and am not paying attention to them, but it's more that I never think of calling someone "just to talk", not wanting to bore them as I have nothing in mind to talk about or worrying that I'm bothering them.


The birthday/going away party I mentioned a while back was brilliant, and we had another one at the weekend for another birthday within the little group. So more Japanese pub food and chat with both Japanese people, those in relationships with Japanese people, or those like me who are interested in their culture. I'm starting to get to really know a few people really well (to the point that a few have begun to call me Karen-chan rather that -san). Sadly a number of them are students who are heading back to Japan in January/Feburary. In fact, a few others have already returned home. But it does mean I'll have a bunch of people to visit when I eventually get over there!

But, yeah, life does swing a bit up and down a bit at the moment. The whole late twenties thing can be a bit of a bitch as you're trying to get your life to a point where things can be a little more stable for your 30s and things that come along then. Really need to get things moving. At least my drawing is getting a bit better, my redesigned portfolio is coming together, and I'm back to the gym.
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Kuragehime // Tsukimi &amp; Kuranosuke

Quicky Post Before I Finish my Lunch

Yum. A bunch of veggies (courgettes, onions, peppers), a can of chickpeas, a little cumin and ground pepper mixed with guacamole and a sprinkling of cheese makes for a rather yummy lunch. And I have a butternut squash and some sweet potatoes, so tonight/tomorrow that, with more cumin (I love the stuff) will be turned into some gorgeous  soup for lunches over the next while. And there will be Irish stew for dinner tonight. Healthy food can be so yummy. Of course, these will all be followed by some form of chocolate! Want to make up some orange, carrot and ginger juice as well.

I acutally seem to be down a few pounds. I normally go from anywhere from about 11 and a half stone to almost 12st, but I'm not far over 11st at the moment. Not sure why though. Been trying to be a little active, so hopefully that's working. As normal, I don't have weight to lose exactly (I'm at the upper BMI range for someone who's 5' 8", but when you have sholders and such like mine...), I just want a little more firmness, so I really need to keep toning exercises up.

Other than that, work is work. Need to take a few weeks off to develop my portfolio, as well as some new things to go on it, especially as we have some possible "secret" plans that may happen around February, which will call for personal promotion. But I did do a design for a big conference in San Franciso, so that was great. Need to get that on my current/temporary portfolio site.

Righto, back to do some work before I head to knitting later :)
Mawaru Penguindrum // #3

JSNI Events

Another month with no posting >_< I visit here everyday, read everyone's entries, but never get around to posting. If I'm like this here, I don't know how I'm going to keep up with a blog when I get my new professional site up and running! I'll need to schedule time for it!

Main fun things this past month have been to do with the Japan Society of Northern Ireland. Not only finally got the site I've designed/built for them live, but we had two events this month.

The first was the normal end of year get-together. Because of the fundraising we've been doing recently for the earthquake/Tsunami appeal (we raised £11k in total!), some friends of members of the community sent over famous foods from the region for the meal. So good! Unfortunately, as we always do at the end of year event, we're losing a few people from the society, all but one of the students who have come over for university. The one who is staying, Hana, is my age, and is over here until January studying English to help out with her job (they've given her a year break), so it's great to know she's over here for another couple of months. When I was first speaking with here, I was mentioning all the things I wanted to do when I finally got over to Japan. I began going on about how I want to eat takoyaki, probably my favourite Japanese food, from a proper street vendor in Osaka, and ended up going on about how much I love takoyaki only for her to laugh and tell me she's actually from Osaka! #^^#

The second event was for the Belfast Lord Mayor's Parade. It's basically an international parade to welcome the new Mayor of the city to office. So we had a contingent for that. Funniest part of the day: we (a group that was maybe 70% Japanese, the rest locals) were all getting kitted out in yukata outside St. Anne's Cathedral (a massive cathedral near the city centre, and one of the city's main landmarks), a Japanese flag behind us, and suddenly a tourist bus stops right in front of us, obviously there for the cathedral ... and a large group of Japanese tourists get out. We all had a moment of starting at each other, confused, before they came over, started chatting, and taking loads of photos. It's was just hilarious. I can't imagine what they thought. Over here, in a country that has a very small Japanese population, on holiday and you get off a bus to be confronted by a bunch of people wearing Japanese clothing, with the Japanese flag waving? They were all so nice.

So, then we had the walk, with a little choreographed dance, in the blazing sun (which turned to wet and cold within an hour of the parade's end). Afterwards, a group of us headed back to pick up some stuff kept in Sumi's car, and afterwards, I had a walk about town and a good chat with Hana, before heading home for a bit, and then meeting up with her again to catch a bus to Julie and Matthew's (two members of the JSNI) house to meet up with them, Sumi and a woman named Satoe for some Japanese food and to learn how to make pavlova from Julie. So it was a great night of yummy food and lots of chatting, Sumi telling us about her teens spent in games arcade and being in a band.

That day I also found two people who had read the novel the movie Memories of Matsuko (one of my all time favourite movies. In fact, I just bought it on Blu-ray despite having the DVD...) was based upon. What I would do to be able to read that book!

Photos of the events can be found over on my Facebook (feel free to friend me).

Okay, need to get to work here. This week there isn't much in terms of client work thankfully, so I need to work on designs for three of our own sites (my portfolio, Barry's portfolio and a company site for us). We're getting lots of work in, but in order to up our game and get better work, we need these sites as great showcases. And with the amount of work ahead, and the number of potential projects in the ether, I need to make some progress.
FMA; Sweet Jesus

Holy Hell!

Is Doctor Who really still a family show? The past few episodes were getting up there, but the last scene of yesterday's? The average adult is going to freak out to hell from that.

Yeah, first few seasons I was a bit iffy on the show, feeling some episodes were pure brilliance but that others were total dross. In fact, it took me a few days to pluck up the courage to watch the first Matt Smith episode, but this past season and a half has been so consistently brilliant. I think the only one I think of as being weak was the vampires in Venice one.

That's it 'til autumn, yeah?

EDIT: Ahhh there is an ep next week. Thank god!
Kimi ni Todoke // Sawako

JSNI, Cats and Weddings

The Japan Society of NI were able to raise £11k after all the events, which was absolutely amazing.

While I was making paper cranes for the JSNI events, Merlin (iPad autocorrect is trying to change her name to 'merkin' ><) dived into the bag and tried to play with the cranes. So I had to scarifice one in order to prevent her from runining them all. A month and a half later, Merlin still goes crazy for it. And with having Easter eggs lately, Mog has had access to her favourite toy; rolled up balls of foil. They both may be 10 in June, but they are still incredibly active.

Merlin has somehow gained most of her fur back. Once again all the vets' work was in vain as she cures it herself. This once again makes us thing the last vet we saw was correct; that it's a behavioural problem caused by her living environment before we took her in. We also changed the type of litter on recommendation from the vet (her environment in her previous home wasn't clean and we think that's where her balding problem stems from) to one without any dust, and we think that has something to do with it. Expensive stuff (we're spending the same a month on litter as food, and the kitties are fed only on Vetnrinary food such as Iams), but if it stops us from having a partly bald cat, it's worth it.

I'm thinking this may be my last year of Japanese classes. We may not have enough people for Stage 5 anyway, but if it does continue, I'm not sure if it's something I can keep up. We get about 10 new kanji per week and with general vocabulary and grammar stuff, I'm just not keeping up, or getting homework done on time. At the moment I'm trying to get to the point where I can really push my business forward to a new level, and with that and the other things I want to do, although I do have the time to do Japanese, I don't have the energy. And I don't want to coast. I want to learn the stuff for myself, not just to get the qualifications.

Ah, what else? Wedding wasn't too bad. Lovely location (on the shore, surrounded by mountains, gardens and a forest), in a castle (a normal small castle, not one of the massive ones you see). And the weather was great (we've had amazing weather for several weeks now). It was quite fun until the food (which wasn't very nice, and I worry about it as Barry got sick that night and I felt a little funny after, even though neither of us drank much) and the party that nit. The band were awful, and did nothing but typical wedding songs. Half the people ended up heading out into another room to escape from it. So, yeah, got pretty bored towards the end, just waiting around until we were able to escape. Glad to get home that night.

Righto, off to get some stuff sorted on this long weekend :)
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Kimi ni Todoke // Desk


Past two weeks have been pretty hectic, but thankfully have gotten loads sorted. Have brushed up on Photoshop, learned InDesign, and am a good bit through training in Illustrator. So hopefully from there I'll be able to really push my skills forward. And, yay, census form is sorted.

Decent bit of work as well. Currently doing a cut and build for an awful looking site, but the pay is good, even if the design makes my head sore! Also have a pretty big project starting over the next day or two. Have to go through the functional spec and sort that out. Fingers crossed it won't be too complex. May have a nice mobile project to do as well, which Barry and I need to quote tonight.

Gah, head is a little fuzzy at the moment. Today has been one of those "finishing off loads of little elements" days, which, as there were so many of those little things, makes my brain a little muddled. But it's the normal "end of project" deal, which means the projects are almost sorted and I'll get some nice payments soon.

But, yeah, one of the major things this past week and a bit has been lots of organising for fundraising in regards to the Japanese Tsunami and Earthquake.

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>_< Head still feels funny

EDIT: Wooooo! Just heard back from the JSNI. We made a total of £7,000 over the two events at the weekend! Yay, so much money for Japan!
Kuragehime // Tsukimi &amp; Kuranosuke


I'm so wiped tonight. Not sure why. Got home from our wee knitting group and as soon as I took off my coat I felt like going to sleep. Was able to wake up for a little bit to sort some work out quickly, but unfortunately now after dinner, it's hitting me again -_-

But I finished my first knitting project that wasn't a scarf or headband! In other words, something that isn't a rectangle. I made a loverly yellow hat (with a cowl to match). Well, I still want to add some bits of felt to it (was thinking maybe a cloud and raindrops) but I can wear it even without that anyway. And with the fact that there may not be a massive amount of winter left... I may not get a chance to wear it much this year. But it will look pretty hung up somewhere in the flat.

Got a new phone. Finally have a top of the line one. Went for a HTC Desire. Pretty much as good as an iPhone but a hell of a lot cheaper for he same package. I think when working it out, one phone contract and an iPad was going to cost the same as one iPhone, so we went for that combo instead. And it's a great wee phone. I've never been big into mobiles, but give me one that's more like a computer and I'm happy. We also got a stand for the iPad that is almost like a painting easel and it makes typing on it very easy, as I'm doing now. Before it wasn't overly easy when I wanted to sit comfortably on the sofa and do some writing, rather than having to sit at my computer, but now I can do so, which I'm very grateful for.

Have had loads of work to do over the next few weeks, but it's drying up at the moment. At least that means that I should be able to do a good bit of invoicing this month (one month I make nothing, the next I make more than two months worth, but then that's how thing go when it comes to freelancing) as a lot of projects are closing down, but I could do with getting a few more opened up. If I don't, I'll spend some time working on portfolio pieces. Often client work can't really go up on my portfolio as it's white label (clients, or in my case companies who work for clients but get me to do the work for them) or I'm not happy enough with what the client wanted to put it up. But making some Wordpress themes (I've become a bit of a master at them over the past few months, even some of the more programming heavy stuff) of my own designs, giving some away for free publicity, maybe selling some, will give me a chance to polish up my design skills and get my own design concepts out there, as well as something I'm proud of to show potential clients. So that will be good.

But, yeah, I ink things are going well at the moment. There have been some up and downs lately, but I'm feeling confident about getting some stuff done. I do need to find a bit of time to get caught up on Japanese though. I'm behind on a few homework sheets. But I am beginning to find myself understanding bits of kanji! Once I've got work sorted out tomorrow, I'll need to spend some time fixing up my notes, finishing a couple of sheets so Sumi-san can mark them, and preparing for the next test (writing an application letter in kanji and kana).

Okay, gonna go watch some more Stargate (bought Barry the complete set on DVD for his birthday) while having a think about Wordpress designs, and do a bit of relaxing before bed.

(Sorry for any spelling mistakes or funny words in this post. Doing it on the iPad and still getting used to its autocorrect. I've already had some weird autocorrects pop up, such as saying "Apollo" instead of "Whooooo" once on Facebook.)

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

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    Stargate SG1
DS9; Bashir &amp; O&#39;Brien; Tough Guys

Over for Another Year

Christmas has once again over far too fast. But it was great while it lasted. We had one of my brothers, Justin, and Leanne (Barry's sister) over for the holidays. The dinner was gorgeous. Whoever said too many cooks spoil the broth. It's usually just me and Barry cooking, but Justin (who has worked in restaurants for years and loves cooking) helped out and made everything even better than normal. This despite the fact that the kitchen pipes were frozen, meaning we had to take out the u-bend and let the water drain into a bucket, which constantly had to be emptied into the bathroom >_< I should just be thankfully said pipe has now thawed without bursting (like so many over the rest of the country, leading to so many leaks places are having droughts!).

The rest of the day we just spent watching our new DVDs and me putting together my new doll house!

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Shall leave this entry just as a Crimbo post rather than fill it up with other things. Will post about that stuff later :)
20th Century Boys // Kenji


The temperature hasn't gotten above -10C over the past few days, and goes down to -13/14C at night. I actually think this is the first time I remember it being this cold; normally a cold winter here means the temperature hovers around the 0C mark. 5C is average for December. In other parts of Northern Ireland it's even come close to -20C, a temperature I don't think we've had since records began. But at least we've been able to turn the balcony into a make-shift fridge ... we'll maybe not fridge as it's closer to the temperature of a freezer out there! Not pleasant!

Actually, it is kind of. Not when you're in the house having to keep the heating on, cuddling hot water bottles and drinking tea (wee, I have some Twinnings' Chai. And, yeah, like every other person in the country I have at least 5 or six boxes of tea in the cupboard :D ). But when you have to nip out for a second and you feel how powerful and refreshing the cold is. But then, working from home, I don't have to brave it much. Doubt I'd have the same opinion if I was out everyday in it. Trying to get some shopping with my mum on Sunday was trying enough. Every pavement has a thick layer of compacted ice.

I will be out in it today, though. Have to grab a few final things for Christmas dinner, and then we have a yarn swap at the knitting group I'm part of. But at least there I'll have something warm from Starbucks to drink.

This is my last day of work too. Not that there is that much around. I seem to have everything finished off that I need to. Anything that still needs to be done is in the hands of clients.

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