Organising Christmas

I love a good list. Who doesn’t? At this time of year, it feels like you need a list for everything. A list of cards to send, one of presents to buy, one for all the yummy food to cook, and of course, one to Santa because I have been a good girl this year, honest!

I’ve blogged previously about how my iPad has been super useful in terms of blogging, but if you’re like me, and spend a lot of time out of the house, the iPad is brilliant for trying to get everything done without anyone at home being able to see what you’ve been buying. Sneaky, yes, but when you want to keep something a surprise, the iPad is perfect for that.

I have the normal sized iPad, but after Alex came home with one earlier in the week, I can’t help but eye up the iPad mini at Carphone Warehouse – it’s a perfect size for slipping into your handbag (which I have tested by trying to sneak off with the new addition to the house, of course!)

My favourite apps for list making would be ones I have talked about before – either the built in Reminders app (which can sync from your iPhone to your iPad, meaning your to do/to buy/to eat list is always up to date) or Office HD (which is great for working on things saved in Google Drive), but the best part about the iPad would be the apps that are available to shop at various sites – and even if the site you want to use doesn’t have an iPad app, at least you can shop as normal on their site.

Now I know how to organise myself about Christmas, perhaps I actually should start thinking about it!

Written in collaboration, but that doesn’t stop me writing more lists of things that need doing

Whats In My Bag: March 11

I don’t know about you, but I’m nosy. I love the “whats in my make up bag” posts that have been going around, but I’m not really a make up bag sort of girl. (I do have a giant make up box that cost a painful £45 from Sallys a few years ago (but it keeps everything neat, organised and together) but I never take anything out with me besides a lipgloss) Instead, I thought I’d do a good old “what sort of shite do I carry around on a daily basis” post.

This is my current handbag, one of the Mulberry for Target bags that Alex gave me for Christmas. Have I told you about that? Probably not. I know that originally I said I wasn’t fussed by the Mulberry for Target collaboration. And I wasn’t! This was a good thing, as there wasn’t much hope of me getting one – it was easier for me to get a full price Mulberry bag! Except then the boy disappeared to Las Vegas and Houston for a week. As a joke, I forwarded him an article about the Mulberry for Target collection and asked if he’d pop in.

I didn’t expect him to come home with one handbag. Before he boarded his plane, he emailed 4 photos to me – two pictures of a blue Bayswater style, a small black purse and a large black tote (slightly Roxanne in style). I nearly died of excitement. His logic in this was “Well, I didn’t know what you’d like, so I just picked up all the ones they had” I am a lucky and spoilt girl. (I ended up giving the smaller Bayswater style bag to the Wife, I knew she’d get a lot more use out of it than me)

However, my initial reaction is still the same. The bags didn’t look like much on the promo images. Before Christmas, I was using the larger Bayswater style denim bag which I wouldn’t have chosen myself. There is also the fact that despite Mulberry being a very British brand (based in the glorious West Country), they have chosen to partner with an American brand to produce handbags made in China. Unfortunately quality has suffered as a result. After using the bag for about 2 weeks, I could already see signs of use – scuffing from the handles on the patent flap, part of the handle peeling, stitching not quite right, clasp feeling like it’s going to fall off – these are not things I would want to link to Mulberry!

Anyway. Rant over. If anyone would like to get me a Mulberry bag, I’m still in love with this one.

So this is what the bag currently holds (well, at the time of taking the photo, which was last Wednesday. I know, I’m lazy.) Sometimes, I wonder why my bag is so heavy, when its barely got anything in it. This is why at I usually carry around with me. Wonder no more.

Obviously, theres my trusty iPad and iPhone. My SLR (a Canon 400D if you were wondering) is usually in there, along with a USB cable to connect it and (inside the triangle case) the camera connection bit for the iPad, a spare iPhone/iPad cable and my Lady Gaga headphones* (I bought mine from eBay and originally suspected that they were fakes, but when we went to San Francisco, I saw a pair in Dixons in Heathrow T5 and they looked the same!). The green triangle is a microfibre cloth – it sounds really geeky to carry it about, but it’s so useful

Next to the iPhone are my pretty blog mini Moo cards in their case, and below is the usual hand cream and Carmex tubes collection (Why do I need two?!) The lipgloss is from Bare Essentuals and takes like cake. Yum. Bus tickets, mirrors, mints, gift cards, change and my new Costco card were all lurking at the bottom of my bag. The brown thing under the iPad is my purse that I actually won via Twitter. Woo! Finally, my graduation black heels and my umbrella, which don’t need any explanation really.

Who knew I could say so much about the stuff in my bag?!

Thoughts on eBooks

I’ve always been known for being a massive reader – my mum used to say that I’d look at the paper when I was 1 as if I was reading it, and taught myself to read when I was 3.

I currently have two large bookshelves groaning under the weight of my book collection. In my office, I have shelves full of business related books and downstairs is my fictional book collection (oh, and there’s a small stack in the kitchen of cookbooks of course).

I got an iPad back in September, and have enjoyed reading books on it, but I still love reading my “physical” books. However this week, two different things appeared which made me think about books. The boyfriend bought himself a Kindle (which should hopefully stop him buying so many heavy books at the airport!) and a hardback book that we have both been wanting to read. The book, GCHQ, is about the history of the Governments communications agency, going back to the origins in 1919 and the work done in the Second World War at Bletchly Park.

I’ve only gotten a few chapters in, for a few reasons
1) It’s a heavy topic. I do enjoy something more than the trashy chick-lit books I like to read to switch off, but there are only certain times that I can read this book
2) It’s a heavy book! I normally will carry around my book with me about the house (and then leave it in the fridge) but I can’t hold this book comfortably one handed (while I make a cup of tea with the other, of course)
3) There are some things that I don’t quite get, so have to look them up, which usually ends up to a Wikipedia spiral and I emerge, an hour later, reading about something so far from the original subject.

Two of these problems are solved by using my iPad. It’s a little awkward, but I can carry it with one hand, and by highlighting a word, I can look it up in the dictionary. Easy! I’ve not had much of a chance to use the Kindle, and have only looked at the dictionary so far. It looks like it would be quite good to read on this, because of the small size (it’s smaller than the iPad) but it doesn’t have a back lit screen, so the iPad would win out over this again.

I would have bought this book in iBooks, but for two reasons.
1) In the e-book (at least in the sample of this book I downloaded), there were no images. That probably doesn’t seem like such a problem, but at the start of the book, there are two maps, one of the UK and one of the world, with numbered points to show where certain places are. In iBooks, this is just a list of places.
2) Pricing. The physical copy of GCHQ costs £16.44 on Amazon at the moment. (Not including any delivery costs of course). The Kindle version and the iBooks versions are both £10.99. I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong!) that VAT is charged at 20% on e-books, but at 0% on physical books. This seems a bit off really, since the quality of ebooks, even those you purchase can be… crap. (Matt covered this a lot better than I can on his blog but I agree – if I’m paying a hardback price, I expect the quality to match!)
The other thing on pricing is that with things like my trashy one-night-read chick lit books, I can pick those up at Tesco or Asda while doing the weekly shop (“Oops, these books just fell into the trolley”) on offer – 2 for £7, Buy One Get One Free. On the iPad, you’ll never see that sort of offer. (As a comparison, Tesco’s grocery website is offering Stephen Fry’s “The Fry Chronicles” for £8. iBooks is charging £12.99.)

This post has sort of gone into a bit of a ramble about all my thoughts on eBooks. Let me try and close this properly.

  • Ebook readers are great, and there is sure to be something that matches your needs and budget.
  • I wish they had been around when I was at uni, and I would like to see a lot more lending ability (how great would it have been to borrow textbooks from the library and carry them around in your handbag?)
  • Quality is generally meh for what you pay for
  • Pricing is ridiculous, especially when I can buy physical books cheaper at the supermarkets*
  • I have spindly weak arms, and get annoyed carrying books.

What do you prefer – physical or technology-based books? If you have an ebook reader, do you find you read certain types of books on those more than others?

* I know that some people might dislike the whole book selling at low low prices at the supermarkets, but how different is it to buying from Amazon?