I Got A Mouse Pregnant

Ok so I haven’t really got a mouse pregnant….yet. But maybe in a few more weeks I will do…ok, let me start at the beginning…

So I’m back at university and I’m already bogged down with work which is why my number of posts (or lack of) has been appalling recently! But I’m hoping things will die down a little bit soon so I can get back to writing again. So what have I been up to? Well I went on holiday which was great but I got stung in the leg by a giant Turkish Bee and then I got severe food poisoning from eating raw/bad turkey meat…whilst in Turkey – oh the irony. Then I came home only to unpack my clothes, wash them and then repack them before heading back down to uni.

My uni house is damp already and it’s only October, our kitchen tap is just violent, our back gate doesn’t lock, the ignition on the hob doesn’t work and this morning I managed to lock myself in my bedroom meaning my housemate had to catch my room keys that I threw out my window so she could unlock the door for me from the outside….awkward. So as you can tell, things are going brilliantly already. On the plus side my old iPhone broke so I upgraded to the new iPhone 6 – exciting times – but now I’m addicted to playing The Sims Freeplay because it just looks so good on my new bigger screen! Plus I really want to get to the new Pirate quest…

So yes things are just spiffing, but how am I defying biological laws and knocking a mouse up I hear you ask? Well it’s my final year of university (cue petrified screaming) and that means it’s dissertation time. Last week I found out that I’m going to be doing my lab research on IVF techniques, mainly using liquid nitrogen (now cue horrified screaming at the thought of freezing my arm off) to freeze embryos. But of course I can’t do all of this on human eggs so I’m going to be using mice – controversial to some yes but I’m not actually harming any mice I’m studying the differences between freezing older mothers’ eggs and young mothers’ eggs and seeing if the technique is more successful for one age group over another. My lab are hoping to use this research to create better IVF techniques that will produce more successful pregnancies in mature women – definitely a worthwhile cause if you ask me! So I’m pretty excited, yet terrified, to get started – who knows in a few weeks I could be responsible for knocking up a lot of mice! Not something a lot of people can claim, huh?!

But that’s about it for the moment, no drastic life updates to report. Although, I have read some pretty awesome books recently – stay tuned for my updates on those! As always let me know what you think in the comments, have you done or are you doing anything interesting for your dissertation? Tell me your stories below!

Quick Sausage Cassoulet

So you’re off to uni, but there’s just one problem…You have no idea how to cook or what too cook on a budget! I thought for my first recipe I’d start with a classic student combination – sausages, beans and stuffing!

Quick Sausage Cassoulet

How long does it take?: 30mins     Serves: 4 people     How much does it cost?: ~ £1.34 per person

452kcals, 14.3g fat, 4.4g saturates, 13.7g sugars, 3.21g salt

Quick Sausage Cassoulet 7Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. sunflower oil
  • 454g reduced fat pork sausages
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 390g carton chopped tomatoes (preferably with basil, chilli and oregano)
  • 150ml chicken stock (made with 1/2 a chicken stock cube and 150ml boiling water)
  • 410g tin butter beans in water, drained and rinsed
  • 410g tin cannellini beans in water, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 x 130g pack roasted garlic and herb stuffing mix
  • 1/3 x 28g pack fresh flat-leaf parsley, washed and roughly chopped

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas mark 6. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the sausages for 5 minutes until they turn a golden brown then add all the diced vegetables and the smoked paprika – fry for another 2 minutes.
  2. Pour the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and all the beans in and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the stuffing mix, half the parsley and 150ml of water , then set aside.
  3. Stir the remaining parsley into the sausage mix and season with ground black pepper. Pour this into a large, shallow baking dish (such as a pyrex dish) and spread the stuffing over the top.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until the stuffing is crispy on top then serve. You can serve this with salad, vegetables or even with some crusty bread.

This is actually really easy to make and who doesn’t like sausages and stuffing!!! Have a go and let me know how you get on!

Confessions of the Hosipital Work Experience

For any of those still in the academic system and are desperately attempting to get into to uni or acquire a job you’ll be well acquainted with CV building and the joys of work experience. For the lucky few you’ll land some brilliant experience where you’re welcomed in as part of the team and get to do some really amazing stuff. For the less fortunate you end up the office slave for the week and gain intimate knowledge of stuffing and sealing envelopes. Having taken part in a lot of work experience through the years, I’ve done both kinds of placements – some where infinitely better than others.

I worked in a elderly care home for while, pushing the tea trolley around the rooms. Pros? Some residents are very sweet, telling you stories of the ‘good old days’ and give you sweeties. Cons? You have no clue where said sweets come from and therefore can’t eat them and some of the residents are, well, sort of creepy – the ladies get confused either thinking you’re their daughter or ‘some lady of the night here to steal her husband with her whoring ways’ and the gents ask you to sit on their knee or call you an English rose (normally I’d think this sweet but when a 93 year old man leers it at you whilst staring at your arse, its sweetness is somewhat diminished…)

I also worked in a children’s charity admin office once – I loved the kids and their families, even my boss but after folding and stuffing paperwork into over 300 envelopes only to be told they’d given me the wrong pamphlet and I had to re-stuff them all, the week did drag on a bit.

But in more recent years I’ve done more medically related work experience as I’m hoping to gain work in the healthcare sector. Now anyone in the field will know that there are some, *cough cough wink wink*, rather amusing stories gained from working in a hospital. From working in Radiology and having to X-ray someone who “accidently fell on a toilet brush which then got stuck up their bum”… to debating with the staff about the relationship status of a 90-year old man and his 30-something female friend after listening to them talking about her getting him naked…..

You do meet some very, interesting, people in a hospital though – some of the staff are absolutely lovely but you do meet the odd person who thinks and acts as if they’re much better than you, but then you get that in any work setting. There are a couple of things you have to get comfortable with in order to survive though –

  1. Nakedness – when you’re dealing with health and fixing peoples’ bodies you’re going to see a lot of naked people. Everyone reacts differently in these situations – some laugh out of awkwardness, some get ridiculously uncomfortable, some rather like it (ewww) and others (such as myself) don’t really mind the nakedness but panic about what their face looks like and whether people think they’re uncomfortable. To deal with this you need to work on your poker face and act professional – if you give off the air of not caring they’re naked and that you’ve seen it all before then you should be fine…just don’t stare at certain places for a great lengths of time…Also Top Tip do not, I repeat do not, do this sort of experience with a family friend – I did it with a friend of my brother’s and ended up having to watch a male genitalia check up…I have never heard the last of it!! Family friends + nakedness = mortifying experiences which should be avoided at all costs.
  2. Scrubs – if you’re over 18 and get theatres experience you’re going to wear scrubs. There are various problems with this. Firstly get ones that fit! Trust me when I say walking around with huge scrubs that you have to slyly pull up every 2 minutes is not attractive. And secondly the Crocs!! You have to wear either special trainers or the guilty pleasure we love to hate, Crocs. Top Tip #2 bring socks with you – borrowing someone’s Crocs for the day is bad enough but doing it bare foot is awful. On my first day I failed to do this, oh how I would come to regret this. One of the junior doctors asked if I’d like to go on a cardiac arrest run if his pager went off to which I of course replied yes! When it did happen though we had to run to the other side of the hospital and me with my short legs and my bare feet a size too small for the Crocs I was wearing was not a good combination and I ended up looking like a really slow idiot puffing away down the halls!
  3. Ward Rounds – ward rounds tend to go on a while, of course if its a massive ward it can go on for hours. Whatever you do make sure you eat loads and find drinks on a regular basis. On one placement they fed me chocolate and gave me coffee as we walked around and I ended up having a great time. At another place the person I was following did not give a shit and I spent over 5 hours trailing her around in a 30 odd degree ward, standing up the whole time having not eaten or drunk anything in over 8 hours…not being used to this kind of thing I had to sneak off to find water before I fainted and then re-join the group. They didn’t notice. Joy.
  4. Wear Comfy shoes – you’re going to be standing and walking around. A lot. So wear something comfortable!
  5. Get good at hiding your emotions and thoughts – you’re going to see some really gross things, some really smelly people, disgusting people, arrogant/obnoxious people, so you need to keep your disgust on the down low!!

As the work experience you need to be prepared for just about anything – from people get odd things stuck in inappropriate places to women who wander around the hospital, use the loo in reception as they think they’re desperate for a wee but end up giving birth in the toilet bowl. True story. It’s not all bad/weird though, I got to watch some amazing operations including major heart surgery and sometimes they let you do things (nothing major though, work experience doing surgery is generally frowned upon 🙂 ).

Whatever you end up doing, whether it’s in a hospital or in a marketing office I’m sure you’ll have the odd story to tell – and anyway it’s another thing for the CV!

If you have a story please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Sweet Home by Tillie Cole

This month I’m loving all things Tillie Cole! To be honest I love everything she does all year round but this month in honour of her new book release I’m dedicating the majority of my posts to her. Sweet Home is the first book in Tillie’s series entitled the same, and tells a modern day spin on the classic Romeo and Juliet story…

♥♥♥♥♥

Sweet Home by Tillie Cole

At age twenty, Molly Shakespeare knows a lot.

She knows Descartes and Kant.

She knows academia and Oxford.

She knows that the people who love you leave you.

She knows how to be alone.

But when Molly leaves England’s grey skies behind to start a new life at the University of Alabama, she finds that she has a lot to learn—she didn’t know a summer could be so hot, she didn’t know students could be so intimidating, and she certainly didn’t know just how much the folks of Alabama love their football.

When a chance encounter with notorious star quarterback, Romeo Prince, leaves her unable to think of anything but his chocolate-brown eyes, dirty-blond hair and perfect physique, Molly soon realises that her quiet, solitary life is about to dramatically change forever…

Mature New Adult novel—contains adult content, highly sexual situations and mature topics. Suited for ages 18 and up

♥♥♥♥♥

Molly Shakespeare has spent most of her life alone, with no family left she stuck her head into books and graduated from her English secondary school a year early. Now studying for her Masters degree, she follows her teacher to the University of Alabama both to be her teaching assistant and for a fresh start. When she arrives she gets roomed with locals Lexi and Cass who instantly become her closest friends. Having spent most of her life studying, Cass and Lexi are determined to make sure Molly actually has a social life in Alabama.

On her first day as a TA Molly finds herself running across the quad (or campus for my fellow Englishmen), and manages to drop her papers everywhere. And who should be the one to help her up? None other than the Crimson Tide’s (‘Bama’s Football Team) star QB (that’s quarterback in football speak by the way) Romeo ‘Rome’ Prince. Being British Molly has no clue about American Football or the players so doesn’t know who Rome is, but he certainly leaves an impression. And as luck would have it Rome also happens to be in her teaching class…. but so does Queen Bitch Shelly, as I’ve now named her, who you just know is going to be Molly’s evil nemesis throughout the book and boy is she ever!

After her first day of classes Molly reluctantly goes to a sorority initiation with her new besties, as Lexi (a goth) has a dream of joining the cheerleading squad and apparently this is her only way in. But surprise surprise, guess whose in charge of the sorority? Yep you guessed it, Shelly. For their initiation they have to kiss a member of their brother sorority whilst blindfolded and guess what food they’ve just eaten – I don’t know about you but I certainly couldn’t do this! Molly ends up going last and Shelly pairs her with the most disgusting brother, who she can practically smell a mile off. But there’s a commotion and the stinky guy is replaced by one who smells of man and mint. After a very (VERY) passionate kiss her blindfold is removed to find Romeo Prince, and it’s from here that Molly and Romeo burgeoning romance unfolds.

Their main trouble comes in the form of Rome’s parents, who can I just say are horrific!! Their attitude and treatment towards Romeo is just awful and your heart breaks for him over and over. I love how Romeo was given his name and I also loved the ties to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet story, particularly their names – obviously Romeo Prince but also Molly Juliet Shakespeare – and how Rome climbs up to Molly’s balcony to see her. They also face the expected trouble from fellow classmates as Rome is a famous QB and Molly is just the nerdy English girl. Now I know that this is a typical young adult romance storyline but in Sweet Home it isn’t the main storyline and rather than being an annoying side I really do think it adds to the story.

It’s both sweet and light-hearted but at the same time it’s filled with so much angst, heartbreak and depth. It tackles issues that many can relate to such as parent trouble, loneliness and abuse. You will laugh, hold your breath, stay up until the early hours and cry a bucket of tears. Rome’s parents’ involvement with Molly at the end just ruined me, you will definitely need a massive box of Kleenex (that’s tissues for those outside England) and maybe some Ben & Jerry’s! Having said that there were many times where I caught myself smiling or laughing along with the characters. Molly and Romeo’s relationship just felt so real, their chemistry was incredible and I loved them as both a couple and as characters.

“I don’t remember Romeo being this pushy with Juliet!”…..He arched his eyebrows meaningfully. “And look at how that worked out for them. My way is better—less death, more orgasms.”

Knowing nothing about American Football myself, I really enjoyed the big football presence in the book and how it was used to tie storylines together – Rome’s teammates, his fame, his dreams and his parents’ for him and of course probably my favourite thing ever ‘The Lucky Kiss’! I won’t ruin it for you but at the first of Rome’s games Molly attends a lucky tradition is started which runs throughout the book creating some of most beautiful dialogue I’ve ever read at the end of the book, I cried, a lot! Another personal thing I loved about Sweet Home was just how English it was! Molly is a brilliant character who I found I could relate to a lot and the amount of English humour was amazing! Often I find when I’m reading a book, whether it’s written by someone English or not, sometimes they fail miserably to portray a true English character but Tillie Cole has done no such thing – so thank you Tillie!

As well as Molly and Romeo, the other characters in the book were equally as good, each adding something different to the story. I really loved Rome’s teammates and Molly’s best-friends and I can’t wait to read about their individual stories, particularly Sweet Fall (Austin and Lexi’s story) which we are celebrating the release of later this month! (Check out the cover reveal here)

Sweet Home is heart-wrenching, heart-felt and heart-breaking – when the characters cry, so will you. You feel their pain and their happiness, their joy and their sorrow, the characters so real you hold your breath along with them. With hidden depths, this is a story worth smiling about and you’ll definitely feel the heat in the steamier scenes! But when it comes down to it, this truly is a modern day story of Romeo and his Molly Juliet.

To read Sweet Home by Tillie Cole for yourself get it from…

Amazon.co.uk (UK) or Amazon.com (USA)

And to read more reviews check out Sweet Home on Goodreads

Or find out some more about Author Tillie Cole and her books on her website or Facebook page!

“It only took Romeo one look at Juliet and his fate was sealed. Maybe I’m just like my namesake, and maybe you’re just like yours.”