I Hate the Marvel Comics App

Living within my body is every kind of geek you can imagine. Each day I struggle to hold them all inside. Often they escape when I come across a fellow Doctor Who fan, or when I find an interesting gadget in the kitchen section of John Lewis. My comic book geek had been kept dormant for a few years now. I hadn’t bought anything but the occasional Fables trade paperback since I was a teenager. However when I got my iPad and downloaded the Marvel Comics app. My bank account was not happy.

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The App is extremely easy to use, you create an account with Marvel if you’d like but otherwise you are free to buy ay comic via your iTunes account – which is where the problems lie for me. It is far too easy to download great comics at the touch of a button. There are so many great stories, past and present available to read. The Avengers Vs X-Men event was happening which I jumped aboard and now that the dust has settled I’m reading several titles that have been spawned from the huge event. As well as this I’ve been able to go back and read some stories that have piqued my interest for some time. For example I am now a major fan of both Runaways and Young Avengers – which I do recommend. I have also read X-Men: Days of Future Past in preparation for the upcoming movie in 2014 so I can sound smug when I’m leaving the theatre.

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You can read your comics page by page as normal or you can view it panel by panel, which highlights each speech bubble and is a great way to follow the story if you like to be surprised as you read or if you struggle to find your way around a complicated spread. (It happens to us all.) If I’m honest, I don’t hate the Marvel Comics App – I adore it. It allows me to read the comics that I love but not have to make the trip to the comic book store every Wednesday, and that works for me. I just wish it wasn’t so easy to keep reading and reading!

Keeping Life #WellPacked

I have a weakness for making sure everything I carry on my person is packed appropriately. Most recently I purchased two items that have brought me great joy and I would highly recommend.

The first is an iPad Mini case from Mujjo. I bought the Smart Cover immediately when I bought the iPad Mini. For me, it is kind of a necessity. However unlike its bigger brother, there is no Smart Case for the Mini, just the cover. So what was I going to do about protecting the back of my precious tablet computer whenever it wasn’t safely in my hands?

I knew I wanted a simple, elegant but protective sleeve that I could slip around my iPad while it was in transit. It had to be big enough to fit the iPad with the Smart Cover attached and it had to be affordable for me because let’s face it if I could afford a Smythson case I would get it. So my budget was about £40, stretching to £50 if it was a case I really fell in love with that also blew my mind. I searched etsy, and while there were a few cases I liked a lot – the price for getting something that was handmade was beyond my upper budget. However on etsy I did see the trend for cases made of felt and leather. This is a combination that really appeals to me. It’s somewhat organic. When the two materials are brought together they are wonderfully complimentary.

I found my star case with Mujjo. They are more commonly known for their touchscreen gloves but have expanded with a line of electronics cases called The originals. The line uses felt and leather to great effect and I knew the iPad Mini case was the one I was after. It was wonderfully designed and was completely below my budget. When I tried to order a case I was faced with the problem that there was no iPad Mini cases to be found in stock anywhere on the internet unless I wanted to pay huge shipping fees. This was a hindrance but it informed me that these cases were popular, I was onto a good thing. So I waited, and I couldn’t be more happy with the result.

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When wrapped in the Mujjo case, I completely happy to toss my iPad Mini into my bag. I am also completely happy to carry the case alone. With a second pocket big enough to store some earbuds and a couple of pens within the case too, I’d happily be spotted on the street. It’s so chic I’m sure some style blogger would have to snap me simply because of my great iPad Mini cover.

I lug my lunch into work every day on the tube. My over the shoulder bag is attractive but does not fit a lunch box, water bottle, diary, notebook, iPad, kindle and so on. I needed a backpack that was well made and fit with my personal style. The day my Herschel bag arrived was a happy one. The print is modern, different and fun. I really feel confident with this on my back every day and it is a comfortable fit.

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The Claim style bag in the camp print I’ve got is ridiculously spacious. The pretty red fabric lined inside can be filled to the brim with plenty of stuff. The front pocket is also large and has plenty of organisational components built in to keep all your gear in check. This year I’m going to be doing a lot of travelling and I’m really pleased and comforted by the fact I will have this great bag to carry everything safely. My one little gripe comes from the fact the main pocket has a drawstring enclosure. It’s charming most of the time but sometimes when I want to pull something out of the main pocket really quickly I can’t do it. A zip compartment would be quicker but it’s not such a huge issue. Perhaps I have to take everything in my life a little slower.

Always Accessorise, Even while Brushing.

I have a new love in my life. It was love at first sight and we’ve been seeing each other for nearly a month now. Things are going great between us, every morning when I wake up and each night right before I go to sleep I am happy to see and use my Philips Sonicare DiamondClean. This tooth brush is the top of the line and rightfully so. It is beautifully designed, comes with many different cleaning settings and leaves my teeth looking and feeling better than ever. I spend more time rubbing my tongue across my smooth shiny nibblers than I do anything else these days. This should be enough of a recommendation to get you to invest in this toothbrush – but dear god the accessories are so fantastic and geeky I can barely contain my nerd jazz hands when I talk about them.

First of all, the toothbrush comes with a very fetching glass to store it in while it is at rest in your bathroom. To charge the toothbrush, you pop the glass on a little silver pedestal and it does the business as if by magic. It must be black magic because it is by the the coolest and craziest charging method I have ever come across.

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But dear God wait there’s more! The toothbrush comes with a lovely hard case for when you’re traveling with it. It has a slot for the handle and two slots for your brush heads. Wait, what’s this USB mini port doing at the bottom of this end of the case? Shut the front door – you can charge your toothbrush via USB without even having to take the thing out of it’s travel case. I can’t handle this! Why doesn’t everything electronic have a mini USB port in it’s travel case? It makes so much sense! I can barely handle this toothbrushes genius anymore. Let’s talk about something else before I pass out from the brilliance of it all.

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This past Christmas I discovered the wonders of Etsy. I always knew the website existed and appreciated what it did for crafters but I never actually shopped on it. That is until I realised it is the best place to find gifts. I ended up getting to presents for a couple friends on Etsy, and of course I gifted myself something too. The Etsy shop is called hajimedesign and it is choc a bloc with incredibly charming ceramics that would be welcome to any home. I picked up the single bug porcelain vase. This is a tiny vase made for a single bloom or a tiny piece of flora. I have it currently sitting on my windowsill and I love plucking little bits when I’m out walking to display in it. I highly recommend this shop, they have great customer service. When I move to a bigger place I will definitely be investing in more of their designs. Visit their website for more info!

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My Milk Frother Makes My Life Better

For Christmas I received the Nespresso Aerocinno 3 and now everything is better. While I am not a huge coffee drinker, I am a fan of other milk based hot drinks. I experimented first with a tea latte which was an idea I found on the teapigs website. I used their Darjeeling Earl Grey which I brewed for a good 5 minutes in a little water and then added my freshly warmed and frothed milk from the Aerocinno. I like my tea milky anyway – and the tea latte was a different experience that I really enjoyed. Of course I have made some delicious hot chocolate, the Aerocinno can heat milk without frothing it and for me, the temperature is perfect to gulp and warm your tummy without scalding your tongue.

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The Aerocinno looks beautiful on my work top and is designed beautifully. Operation is simple and cleaning is an absolute breeze. The “flask” separates from the base and is waterproof so it takes just seconds to clean everything up. My only gripe is that there is no lip to the flask when you need to pour into a mug. A confident pour will not cause any spillages but if you want to make a Macciato a nice, slow pour is necessary which the Aerocinno flask struggles with.

Speaking of aesthetics and design, as a pairing gift to my new Milk Frother I was also given some Bodum Pavina Double-Wall Thermo Glasses. These beauties are hand blown glass that are feather light and hold your hot drinks without burning your hands. Anything you put in these things looks spectacular – maybe it’s the magic effect of floating liquids within the glass but I can’t get enough of it. Serve me everything in a Bodum Pavina glass, nothing else will do.

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However the king of drink receptacles that I have received this past Christmas is the one shpaed like the best time machine I know from a friend who knows me best.

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Instant Photography Forever

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I have been taking pictures with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 50S for nearly a year now, and while the experience has been completely brilliant – there are some things you really need to get used to when operating the camera. The first thing is that you need to do is love every photo that you take. There is beauty in every single frame – even if it only teaches you what not to do. I had never owned a film camera before – I have grown up using digital since I was a teenager. When using film, particularly instant film like this which is expensive, you have to make every shot count. However do not take this to mean the camera is all serious, it has a whimsical side to it that I adore. With every click and flash the camera noisily whirrs and spits out a credit card sized photo which slowly develops in front of your eyes. The anticipation, excitement and physical photo you’re left with is what make this camera such a joy to wield.

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This camera definitely takes some getting used to. The problem with this compared to digital cameras is that it costs you money to figure out how best to use it. You could go through an entire pack of film (which contains 10 frames) just figuring out the settings. The most important thing to note is that the flash always fires. No matter what setting you place the camera on, the bright light will always shine. This is because if there is not enough light, the film will not develop so Fujifilm probably thought it best to make sure you always got some sort of a picture – even if it is a really washed out one.

This brings me to my second point. The camera has a feature to either lighten or darken the film as it develops. My advice is to never not have it on the darken setting. Once in a while I forget to do this and I’m left with a hazy, washed out colour on my prints. But I love practically every photo I take with this thing and I can’t help it. I was gifted a pair of Mini Photo Albums for Christmas this year and every picture has a place in those albums. I haven’t even managed to fill one completely yet but I look forward to shooting hundreds of photos instantly with this camera because it’s fun, addictive and strangely satisfying.

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I have been obsessed with using this camera, almost as much as I have been obsessed with my new boots. They were a Christmas present to myself. From Bershka, it’s my second pair of boots from this brand and hopefully they will last as well as the pair I got last year did. This pair weren’t as difficult to break in either – which my feet were thankful for. They’re good because they can be worn with a smart outfit on a night out or with something more casual – which I appreciate. All my clothing items should be able to do double duty.

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iPad Mini

I finally managed to get myself an iPad. I thought I would feel differently. I thought I would enjoy having this little device halfway between my MacBook and my iPhone. I was not prepared to fall in love with a 7.9″ tablet.

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There are far more professional reviews of this iPad on the Internet. I’m not going to cover what has been covered already. However I want to touch on a number of issues with the iPad mini that feature strongly within the majority of reviews I have read.

The first issue is that this device does not have a retina display. The display of the iPad Mini is lovely. It is a pleasure to behold for hours and hours. (You get at least ten hours with this baby.) When it is playing a HD movie, the quality is great. I take issue with the letter boxing of widescreen films – but this is not the display’s fault. The display does a great job. At no point have I thought, “Omigod I can see all the different pixels around these letters! This is ruining my iPad experience!” Not once have I thought this. Honestly.

The iPad Mini has an A5 processor, which is a whole number less than the chip being used in the iPhone 5 and the fourth generation iPad. The Mini is a snappy little device and loads apps happily and comfortably in a very short time. There was a time when I would be able to go and make a hot chocolate in the time it took for Microsoft Word to load up on my PC when I was young. Let’s not be dramatic about the processor speed of the iPad Mini, I can handle waiting maybe five seconds for the Pages App to load.

Before I purchased my iPad Mini, I read the reviews and I immediately had all the reservations that reviewers pointed out – lack of retina, A5 chip. After nearly a month of using the Mini these reservations are all forgotten. What makes the Mini fantastic, straight out of the box – is the weight. This thing is light and it is comfortable to hold for hours. I have barely touched my laptop since the iPad Mini in my life and when I do pick up my laptop, it is with a “oof” noise. That thing is hefty.

Operating the iPad Mini is a pleasure. Every swipe and tap is registered with ease. The Design of the Mini, complete with narrow edges to the left and the right of the screen does not impede using any app and I’ve used every kind. I’ve played various games, read various magazines, flipped through comic books, drawn with my fingers, written with a stylus and I am now typing this post. The smaller size and the altered design will not affect the use of the iPad. Truly, the little beast can do everything its big brother can do.

I am completely thrilled with the iPad Mini. It is everything I wanted in a tablet and I highly recommend it. If or when my laptop gives up the ghost I am sure I will be happy to not replace it as long as I have an iPad Mini for my on the go computing .I believe it is up to nearly any task I want to accomplish in my online, digital and entertainment life. (Read: Excuse to get the new iMac.)

iPad Smart Case

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Apple’s mainstream products are great. The iPhone is fantastic, MacBooks are wonderful and the iPad is a joy to wield. However often the accessories for these products fall short of the high standards I expect. Apple Earbuds are terrible and the iPhone bumper case deteriorates after a few months of use. This has meant that my pleasant surprise after some use of the iPad Smart Case has restored my faith.

I’ll start with my two negatives. And they are small ones. The first is that it is a little finicky getting the cover open. You have to sort of pinch underneath and use your nail to flip it open. At first I thought this would drive me nuts but now I’m used to it – I barely notice.

My second issue comes with the fact that I eat my lunch and use my iPad. Because of the case creating a lip around the edges the iPad, I have found that crumbs find their way into the corners and can be difficult to clean out. I should hope that everyone else in the world is less of a slob with their expensive Apple tablet, but then again I have seen children dangling out of a prams with a chocolate smeared iPad in their hands. If you get crumbs on your screen while using the case, you might have to take the whole device out to clean it off properly.

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Positives are plentiful. The Smart Case fits snuggly and securely without adding too much bulk to the device. It feels sturdy and safe even though the material the case is made of is light. The case has spaces for the dock and earphone jack as well as raised “buttons” on top of the volume rocker and sleep button so they can all be used easily while the case is in action.

The cover of the case performs all the functions of its predecessor, the Smart Cover. It provides a perfect angle for typing as well as watching a video depending on how you flip the iPad. It also allows you to wake and sleep the iPad simply by opening or closing the cover thanks to the magic magnets in the cover.

The IPad Smart Case is the cherry on top of an already amazing product. It should come with the iPad as standard because it adds functionality that should be enjoyed by all iPad owners. Plus it has the Apple on the back so you don’t have to have a case with a circle cut out of it to show your iPad pride!