Tuesday, 24 January 2012

We're (Uke) Jammin'

I'm sure you've noticed by now that my profile mentions I play the Ukulele.

Betty Page was partial to a bit of Uke, it would seem...

Interestingly, the Uke seems to have something of a following amoung us vintage loving types.  Perhaps it has something to do with wearing tiki dresses & pretend one's in Hawaii....whatever, I feel it's time I tell you how the Ukulele has taken over my life in the last 12 months.

Performing last Friday at The Boileroom music venue in Guildford - 24 Ukuleles on stage with singing!  Far left, @Timato_, 4th from left @claz0r, 3rd from right me, over my right shoulder @PirateMagpie, 2nd from right @missukulady (Penny Fazackerley), and far right @skifflefella (Adam Wolters). Pic courtesy of Philip J Mitchell

Picture the scene - In February 2011 I was happily minding my own business, wittering away on Twitter, when some crazy lady named @claz0r (now one of my best friends) started following me.  She lived in my home town, she said, and would I like to meet up at some event called 'UkeJam', which was being held in a local pub?  It also turned out she was a fan of a skiffle band which a friend of mine is in (The Charley Farley Sunday Four). After some discussion with Mr G, it was decided we would go along to this 'UkeJam'.  I walked in the door of the pub to be faced by an assortment of 15 or so locals from young to old, all clutching teeny tiny guitar-like instruments.  One was thrust into my hand, along with a songbook & chord sheet, showing me where to put my fingers, and away we went.  By the end of the evening, I was hooked.  It was so easy to play.  And lets face it, who doesn't want to meet new people, drink beer, sing & play a Ukulele?!

Within a week I'd purchased my own Uke.  On ebay. For £12.  Yes, a decent Mahalo uke will sent you back LESS THAN £15.

The Uke and the Jam thereof has become a huge part of my life.  We meet every 2 weeks in a local pub to Jam together.  UkeJam is organised by Adam (@skifflefella), a music teacher, and Penny (@missukulady), a wonderful vocalist.  It is FREE.  We currently meet every other Monday at the Royal Oak Pub in Guildford, and our numbers are swelling with each meet.  At last count there were 35 of us strumming & singing away.  Penny & Adam are constantly adding new songs to our Hymnbook, and organise gigs for us to play.  Just last year we have played Guilfest, supported Hayseed Dixie, and the Charley Farley Sunday Four multiple times.  We have regular 'dressing up themes', which always serves to get the party going.  Last Friday we supported the CFS4 & Josh Kumra (fresh from his number 1 with Wretch 32), at The Boileroom in Guildford.  Here's a little vid of us on You Tube at our latest gig (there's more on our YouTube channel too).

Would you like to see some more photos?  Well, of course you would!

UkeJammers dressed as Pirates, for National Talk Like a Pirate Day, of course!

Dressed as people whose songs we sing - Paloma Faith, Slash & Lady Gaga. Pic by Rachael Lowndes

At our 1st Birthday last week.  Look how many people love the Uke (there were many more behind the photographer)! Pic by Rachael Lowndes

Al Murray (of pub landlord fame), played Drums for us at our latest gig, Pic by Mr G

@claz0r & I...blasting out a bit of Johnny Cash, (in all probability!) Pic by Philip J Mitchell
We've been asked to provide, by forming several smaller groups, short sets at a Vintage Fair being held at the Boileroom in Guildford on 11th February.  If you drop by on the day around 1pm be prepared for a little bit of 3 part harmony & a whole lot of ukes while you browse the stalls.

Or, just meet us in the Royal Oak, Guildford & play/sing/drink along!  Next meeting is Monday 30th.  See our website for details,or like our Facebook page!

And what do you know? It turns out the Ukulele is an excellent accessory to a Vintage Frock! (or just the undies, if you're Betty!).

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Nails Inc 3 Week Manicure/Biosculpture Gel Review

I really love a nicely manicured set of nails.  However, I am properly rubbish at maintaining my own.  I have a little ceramics company that I run on the side of my husbands business, and this means a lot of wear & tear on my old fingernails.  They get dried out by dipping glaze, chipped on pottery, and covered in clay.  Additionally I play the Ukulele, so I'm constantly chipping manicures on the strings.  Add to that housework & gardening, and well, you get the picture I'm sure.

In the run up to Christmas my nails were pretty woeful.  I tried to keep them nice, but ended up having to cut them all right down just to make them look passable.
In the knowledge that I would be visiting my mother in law & grandmother in law over the festive season, both of whom have beautiful, long, manicured, natural nails, I decided to treat myself.

I popped into the Nails Inc bar at my local House of Fraser, and plumped for a 3 week manicure.  This entails having layers of Biosculpture Gel built up on the nails, which are then set under UV light.  The claim is that this manicure should last 3 weeks.  Now, I am not normally able to splash out on manicures, and at £55 this was extremely expensive.  I viewed it as a Christmas present to myself.

I had the manicure done on 9th December, the hope being that it would see me through Christmas.

Here are my nails on Day 1:

You can't really tell from the photo, but the gel does build up into quite a thick layer.   I could see clearly that there was a thick layer on top of my own nails.  However, this doesn't really detract from the overall appearance - other people don't inspect your nails closely enough to notice this sort of thing.

Over the next 3 weeks I lived life as normal - working, peeling potatoes, grating cheese, playing my Uke, and generally treating my nails as if there were no manicure there.

It was brilliant!  No chipping, and only marginal loss of gloss with a few scratches.  I could probably have popped a layer of topcoat on to combat this should have I been minded to.

By 1st January, a little over 3 weeks later, my nails looked like this:
You can see clearly how much my nails have grown in this time - there is a large 'moon' between my nail bed & the edge of the manicure.  Noone noticed this until I pointed it out to them.  The colour had held up brilliantly - and still looked glossy.

Should I  have plumped for another 3 week manicure (at another £55), removal of the gel would have been free of charge.  Without another manicure, removal costs £30 at Nails Inc.  After spending so much on the original manicure, and being broke after Christmas, there was no way I could afford this.

I had asked the manicurist about home removal, and she told me to soak cotton wool in acetone nail varnish remover, and wrap this around the nail with baking foil, and let it soak in.  I did this...for ages...it took me almost the whole of 'Treasure Island' part 1 with (with Eddie Izzard) to get the gels off.  The edges peeled up pretty easily, but the centre was more difficult.

After removal, this is what my nails looked like:

I'm uncertain whether that is little bits of gel left on my nails, or damage to my nail from removal of the gel.  I'm pleased with the shape & length of the nails,which felt very strong, with no tendency for breaking, so I think it's probably mainly bits of gel I haven't been able to get off.  It's now a few days after this and I've painted my nails myself.  They remain strong with no splitting, so no complains from me:

  • nice colour choices
  • great glossy finish
  • chip-free Manicure for 3 weeks even with 'heavy use' of hands
  • my nails grew nicely under the manicure without breaking
  • Price - £55 is too much for me to shell out on anything but a special occasion.
  • home removal is a bit of a palaver and again price prevents salon removal for me.
  • after 3 weeks your nail regrowth is obvious.
  • you are committing to one particular colour for 3 weeks. Not so great if you like to change it up!

Overall, I would have this done again, particularly were I going on holiday and wanted a manicure that would last.  I personally can't afford to spend £55 even on a monthly basis (or 3 monthly for that matter!), but you can find biosculpture gel manicures from people other than Nails Inc for considerably less - I've since discovered a friend of mine uses a local lass who charges £30.  I'll be hunting her down come holiday season!

UPDATE: 3 weeks on, I can definately see that there has been some damage to my nails.  They are weak in places & prone to breaking, But, keeping them manicured has helped considerably & it wouldnt put me off having this done again for a holiday or special occasion.  I do wonder whether, had I had 'professional' removal of the gels, the damage would have been less.  However, I still wouldn't be willing to pay the extra £30 for removal!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Welcome to 2012!

Welcome to the first of (I hope) many posts of 2012! 

I hope you had wonderful Christmas and New Year celebrations.  I spent the festive period with my beloved and our respective families.  Both Mr G & I were under the weather, as is our annual custom, but we managed to have a wonderful time.  Although cooking Christmas lunch did send me over the edge a little....

Mr G & I also celebrated our 8th Wedding Anniversary, so congratulations to us!

I must confess, I'm not much of a one for New Years resolutions.  I get very 'bah-humbug' when people tell me they are categorically never again going to *drink wine/eat chocolate/go out with that bloke again/go up another clothes size.  *delete as appropriate

However, it has occurred to me that my adverse reaction to resolutions may just possibly have to do with my tendency towards procrastination.  Don't make any resolutions, don't have to actually do anything about keeping them.  You see my logic, I'm sure...

So, here are a few things I would like to achieve.  There's 10 of them, coz it seems like a nice number. Some of them are purely selfish, some hopefully not so much.  2012 seems as good a time as any to start doing them:

  • I will be continuing to persue dressing in a way that pleases me, makes me feel like a woman (which I am, gosh darn it!) & expresses my personality.
  • In the spirit of the above, I shall also be looking to add a repertoir of 'things to do with my hair' to my everyday look.  I have long hair that, to be honest, I don't do much with.  Practise makes perfect.

  • I will do more exercise.  You will note that I haven't said I will lose weight.  Frankly, I don't like the latter as a goal.  When a teenager I was obsessed with my weight to the point of danger.  Therefore I refuse to obsess about it again in the interests of my health.  Regular exercise however, is something we should all be doing.  It's good for our hearts, our minds, and our appearance.  My regime over the last year has been erratic at best.

  • I will get more sewing done & learn to knit.  I've made a couple of lovely items over the last year since I started sewing properly.  My aim is to set aside one evening a week as a 'crafts' evening.  I get enormous pleasure from creating new garments and learning new skills.  For Christmas Mr G bought me some books on knitting including some lovely vintage knitting patterns for modern knitters.  I'm really looking forward to sharing my creations with you.
  • I will sort out my vegetable patch & grow some decent veg this year!  'Nuff said.
  • I will not take my old friends for granted.  Some of the people who know me best see me the least.  This is really a great shame and is something it's so easy to change!
  • I will set aside 'special' time to spend with my old Ma & Pa.  Who live really locally yet whose house I seem to hardly ever visit as they always come to me.

  • I will pay my VAT & NI on time.  It's so easy to set aside a little bit of money each month, and yet I'm properly rubbish at doing it.  My poor accountant barely has any hair left.
  • I will finish reading through the Bible.  A lot of people have told me a lot of different things about what the Bible says & means. Quite frankly it all got quite confusing. I decided it was probably better to read it for myself so 3 years ago I bought a 'read through the Bible in one year' reading plan.  I got stuck somewhere around Jeremiah....
  • I will strive to be a better Wife & continue to fall in love with the wonderfulness that is my husband as we embark on our 9th year together.  I can't wait to grow with Mr G and continue to find out more about the man who asked me to be his wife 10 years ago.