Saturday, 31 May 2014

Kawaii as F**k / Universal Expansion

If you follow me or Katie on instagram, you might have seen that we went shrinky-dink mad on our last Tuesday craft session (which we have decided to name "Craft and Crumble" because we had apple crumble one week while doing crafts and realised the fantastic alliteration opportunities this held for us - we also realised that the name gave us an excuse to eat apple crumble every week). We totally even started a hashtag #craftncrumble to document our Tuesday craft sessions, haha. #waytoocool

Anyway, after about 10 failed shrinky-dinks, shrunken chip packets and a lot of plastic fume inhalation (still not sure if putting plastic in the oven is the best idea in the world), I ended up making this necklace and I think it's one of my favourite things to come out of our crafting sessions so far.
Dress is from Lalamagic (a few years old now) | necklace is DIY | shoes are Naot

It's hard to see in the photo above, but one of my favourite things about it is the holes that connect the plastic to the chain - they're actually love-heart shaped! This was done using a heart-shaped hole punch.

So, something you might know from physics is that 1) nothing moves faster than the speed of light, and that 2) the universe once fit into an infinitesimally small point (then the Big Bang happened and it all expanded).
Well, actually, apparently not according to Veritasium.
Mind so, so blown. (Thought I do direct you to the comment below by my astrophysics friend Lamb).

I hope that you're all having a wonderful weekend!

Bloglovin' | Youtube | Facebook | Twitter |  Instagram | Chictopia | Lookbook | Tumblr

Friday, 30 May 2014

Lady Vintage & Animal Language

Bodysuit is thrifted | skirt is thrifted | brooch c/o Ladybird Likes | shoes are Naot | blazer and bag are thrifted

Lately I've found a number of wonderful woolen vintage skirts at the op shop, and it's made me realise that sizes were a lot smaller in the past - although I'm usually a size 8 or 10, when it comes to vintage skirts I'm always a size 12-14! To match my vintage outfit, I also wore this handmade brooch based on a vintage sewing pattern sent to me by Ladybird Likes - isn't it gorgeous?

This name-calling has evolved as a way of protecting the fairy wren against the cuckoo, whose mothers drop their eggs into fairy wren nests, to the fairy wren into raising their offspring. Read about it here!

I hope that you're all having a gorgeous day,

Bloglovin' | Youtube | Facebook | Twitter |  Instagram | Chictopia | Lookbook | Tumblr

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

My Surprise Birthday Treasure Hunt

It was my birthday on the weekend, and Luci had been hinting all week that something *surprising* was going happen (he kinda had to tell me this out of necessity to stop me organizing anything myself! He knows me and my control-freak ways well.) However, he did hide the surprise well enough that I had no idea that I was going to spend the morning trekking around Sydney on a treasure hunt!

Because I was so excited (and anxious) about my surprise, I managed to only get 6 hours of sleep. At around 10:30am on the morning of my birthday, after staring at the clock and buzzing with nervous energy for about 4 hours straight, Luci handed me a cryptic envelope: Clue #1!
I tore it open - and found a letter inside.
Can you solve the riddle? After staring at it for a moment, I realised that I had to go to my favourite pay-by-the-kilo thrift shop! After a momentary bit of disappointment that the "surprise" wasn't that I got to eat all the food that Luci had gotten up early to make (delicious food Luci told me me I wasn't allowed to look at/nibble at), I grabbed a banana to keep me going and headed off to catch the bus.

The excitement kicked in after about 5 minutes and by the time I got to the thrift shop I was running purely on adrenalin. I totally felt like a contestant in the Amazing Race (a TV show I watched religiously when I was little).

Katie was waiting for me at the thrift store, keeping up the pretense that we had accidentally bumped into each other, and that she had forgotten that it was my birthday... for about 1 minute. Katie told me that I should probably go and talk to the owner of the op-shop, but didn't tell me why! The owner ended up coming over to me, and asked, "Are you Anni?", then she handed me my next clue! (We're up to clue number #2 for those of you playing at home!)
Me at the op shop, pulling my "are you serious right now?" face.
(I had also been told to dress in gingham, and it was at this point that I realised why!)

After decoding clue #2, we jumped on another bus to find clue number #3!
Blurry selfie because I was shaking so much from excitement, haha

The second clue got us to visit a mysterious milkbar in the inner-west, the centre of many an urban-legend. This milkbar is run by an extremely old dude who people affectionately call "Dr Death". Olympia milkbar is notorious for not having changed since the 1960s (all the old chocolate boxes - now empty - and posters still remain), including the prices (apparently you can get a milkshake for $2.20) and for never having the lights on inside, not even at night. 
My friend Leila was waiting here with clue #3! We were all feeling brave, so we went inside the milkbar (not technically part of the treasure hunt) and had some milkshakes in the dark. 
Funnily enough, we were charged $4.50 for milkshakes - I think the owner wanted to see if he could get away with it, or maybe we looked rich - anyway, we just paid him the $4.50 because we felt bad for him - "Dr Death" is a pretty apt description of this guy's appearance (he looks about 100 years old and like he hasn't seen the sunlight in 50 years).

After this slight detour, I opened up clue number #3. It told me to visit "the prettiest building at Hogwarts" - pretty obvious to me, we headed off to Sydney University!
Here we found the person with clue #4 - Luci! I gave him the biggest hug - I think he was fairly relieved that his treasure hunt had worked out thus far. We all had a little break (I'd been running around the place for about 2 hours at this point). Unfortunately all that Katie had in her picnic basket was a ukelele and a bunch of raw eggs (??) so we couldn't really stop to have a picnic, but we did at least get to take some cute pictures!
Me, Leila and Luci!

Clue #4, handed to me by Luci, was the sweetest little riddle, opening with: "return to the place we share together". So, we all headed back home.

Awaiting me there were all my best friends, who jumped out and yelled *surprise!* at me while blasting Pharell William's Happy and - probably most importantly - FOOD!
Hey, this is pretty okay for a poor student budget!
Traditional Australian dessert, the pavlova, brought over by my friend Bonnie.
Some of my gorgeous friends... this photo cracks me up so much - I feel like we should have our own Degrassi-style sitcom.
Loads of lovely hugs - I love my friends so much ;__;

Another surprise was having my parents visit me and give me a dress maker's mannequin!! Such an awesomely cool gift; it's going to help me so much with my sewing!
Me and my mumma - somehow we both managed to wear all red and be matching!

This was the first birthday since turning 18 that I haven't been desperately afraid of getting a year older. I had such a nice day that I was just like "bring on 22!" by the end of it. And as a final, amazing surprise, Luci played me two songs that he recorded just for me, with him singing and playing guitar - they're very so special and beautiful, I cried tears of joy for about half an hour straight, listening to them on repeat.

Have any of you guys ever planned/been the recipient an awesome surprise? I'd love to hear your stories!

I hope that you're all having the BEST day!

Bloglovin' | Youtube | Facebook | Twitter |  Instagram | Chictopia | Lookbook | Tumblr

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sweet as (artificial) Sugar

Today's post is a little bit unusual because it's also being assessed as a university assignment. I am currently doing this great biochemistry course which encourages you to get creative with communicating science (which you know I am all about) and for this particular assignment I chose to make a blog post! Anyway, it won't really be any different from my usual posts, but I felt sneaky writing it without letting you all know!
Dress is DIY | cape is DIY | shoes and socks are from Japan | bag from Twinkie Chan | brooch is DIY

Is diet coke bad for you? Are artificial sweeteners a magic fix to our sugar-rich diets or are they something to watch out for?
At Uni I have been studying metabolism, and something which has been of particular interest to me is artificial sweeteners - think diet coke and Sweet'n Low -  and what effects they might have on weightloss and eating behaviour. So today I'm going to explain what we currently know about artificial sweeteners - are they safe and should you consume them?
"Non-nutritive" sweeteners - also known as artificial sugars, non-caloric sugar and sugar substitutes - are hundreds of times sweeter (or 13,000x sweeter in the case of neotame) than table sugar, and because of this when you use them in foods you can use a smaller amount to achieve the same level of sweetness. Because you're using a smaller amount, you add less calories to your meal. This is why diet coke and "coke zero" are virtually sugar-free.
Some sweeteners are made of things like amino acids instead of sugar (so they are slightly calorific, but still much less so than sugar), whereas others like Sucralose are modified sugars that aren't recognized as food by the body (i.e. they don't enter into glycolysis, the body's mechanism of turning sugar into something that can be used by the body for energy) so these add zero calories to a meal.

Artificial sugars are very useful for diabetics because it allows them to consume sweet things without worrying about their blood-sugar levels shooting through the roof. More recently they've also been promoted by dieticians as a way to lower calorie intake to prevent and counteract obesity.
This is because dietary guidelines have been getting stricter on the amount of sugar that you should consume, with more evidence now pointing towards sugars, not fat, as the greatest contributor to diabetes and heart disease. So if you can replace much of the sugar in your diet with a substitute, you can still enjoy all your sugary foods with no ill effects - right?
Well, one potential problem with artificial sweeteners is something called "compensatory behaviours". This means that if you choose a diet coke over a regular, sugary coke, you then might also think "well, I guess I'm allowed to eat that whole pizza now because my coke was calorie-free!" Or, it could also be the case that your body simply doesn't get enough energy from your diet coke, so you search out more sugary foods. Obviously, this would negate any weight-loss effects of the artificial sweeteners. While this effect has been studied, no one has been able to come up with concrete, conclusive evidence either supporting or dismissing this potential problem.
Another possible problem is toxicity - could artificial sweeteners actually be bad for you? There have been a number of headline-grabbing articles that would suggest they're really bad - deadly, even - but these studies have suffered from poor methodology and have often leapt to unsupported conclusions. There's a pervasive myth (and internet hoax) that an artificial sugar called aspartame causes a whole range of diseases including MS, neurological disorders and epilepsy - which has been thoroughly debunked. Hundreds of high-quality studies have been done to demonstrate the safety of aspartame, and it is approved by regulatory bodies such as the FDA (food and drug administration). However, there are also studies that suggest that high-doses of artificial sugars can cause cancer. 

In rats. 

Which brings me to my next point: always be very weary about news stories reporting on studies using rats and mice when they say that those findings are absolutely applicable to humans, especially in the case of cancer. Turns out that particular strains of lab rats get cancer really, really easily. The artificial sweeteners that are widely used have been so thoroughly studied that we know they're not carcinogenic - and as long as you don't go crazy and consume about 100 diet sodas per day, you're going to be fine.
So what can be concluded about artificial sweeteners? Well, as all reputable studies regarding diets and fat/sugar substitutes seem to conclude - these may help you if you have a specific requirement (such as trying to lose weight). Just don't go crazy - anything in excess is bad for you. And as always, do a decent amount of exercise and eat a balanced diet.

Here's a link to a review paper for further reading!

(And if you found that interesting, you can also read part 1 and part 2 of my introduction to biochemistry).

Bloglovin' | Youtube | Facebook | Twitter |  Instagram | Chictopia | Lookbook | Tumblr

Monday, 19 May 2014

Oranges & Polka Dots

Crop top - DIY | pinafore - thrifted | socks - Dangerfield | shoes - Naot | brooch - DIY

I have found the ultimate pair of shoes, and I am never going to buy another pair.

Alright, so that's a little dramatic and I'm sure that I will cave eventually, but this pair of shoes is so freakin' comfortable that I never want to take them off. After giving myself tendonitis from merely walking around, I had to finally admit that I needed supportive shoes, and this ultimately led to this comfortable-shoe revelation. But it wasn't easy because most comfy shoes are, for some reason, completely hideous.

Why must it be the case that all cute shoes also happen to be horribly uncomfortable?? ;__;

There was also no way that I was going to resort to sneakers, or worse - crocs (I don't care how comfortable my dad says they are, they're not happening).
Frustrated, I tried adding padded-insoles to all my shoes, but this didn't seem to help me much on the tendonitis front, and it was getting so bad that I wasn't even able to leave the house because it was too painful to walk. So I went back to my search, and after hours of looking for "non-ugly orthopedic-style shoes" on google, I finally came across Naot. Considering that I wasn't able to leave the house because of my sore feet, I convinced myself to see the $200 that they cost as an investment in my wellbeing, and crossed my fingers that they would be as comfortable as all the reviews said they were.

And - oh my goodness. Wearing them is like walking on clouds. They're also very durable - considering I've worn them basically every single day for the last 3 months, they don't even look that worn or scuffed. And although it was difficult to find out much about the production, they appear to be made in Israel (who seem to have decent working conditions/wages etc), with raw materials from Italy - so they were probably not made in a sweatshop, which is always a bonus.

Anyway, I just wanted to write a little review on them because I struggled for so long with sore feet but didn't realise there was any kind of solution (without giving up on fashion entirely). BUT THERE IS, and it's not ugly! Woo hoo! You can find them here (or if you live in Australia, here).

I hope you're all having a beautiful day!

Bloglovin' | Youtube | Facebook | Twitter |  Instagram | Chictopia | Lookbook | Tumblr