This week I am into...

Sometimes I do things which are not science or programming. I like to pretend otherwise, but it really happens. These things include:

No-heat headband curls.

Usually curling your hair requires using a hot thing, or putting curlers in when nobody can see you. This headband curls method doesn't fry your hair and looks so cute while it's drying that I use a pretty lace hairband and quite happily wear it into the office - it's very 1920s. You put a headband over your hair, take small sections and wrap them around the band, then let your hair dry and take it off.

My hair after doing headband curls


I bought John a new blender for his birthday last year after his bit the dust after about 20 years of constant use. It came with a smoothie maker, and my freezer had loads of fruit ready to be used! My favourite frozen things so far have been: bananas, grapes, strawberries, melon, and pears (raspberries make things a bit grainy for my liking). I've been using pressed apple juice thus far (pasteurised cartons of which are surprisingly cheap in Tesco) but I think orange might be fun, too.

Little Birds by Ysolda

Little Birds

Ysolda Teague is one of my favourite knitting pattern designers ever. I've always liked this pattern, because a) I quite like birds, and b) this style of cardigan really suits my figure. So I've started knitting it! I have about two inches finished thus far. It's nice and repetitive without being boring. I've never knitted anything this big before, but I'm tentatively hoping to have it finished by the time I finish my PhD.


I know, you guys, I've gone full Pinterest. Seriously, though, kale is yummy, and cheap, and if you get distracted while you're making breakfast and fry it for slightly too long, it goes really crunchy. In the last week I've added it to risotto, egg fried rice, stir fry, and garlic mushrooms, and they were all delicious, and an incredibly pleasing shade of green.

Rubber ducks

Cleaning the bathroom was boring, so I let my rubber ducks have a bubble bath in the sink while I scrubbed the tub.

Rubber ducks having a bubble bath
And finally, some musics


A Very Knitted Christmas

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I've spent a lot of time on trains. Apart from reading, naturally I have also been knitting. These little Christmas stockings are from my own pattern. I've been knitting them for a couple of years, and I seem to change the pattern each time I make them. The pattern below requires stocking stitch and short rows, using two straight needles. I have been working on one version in the round, but it still needs a bit of tweaking.

The knitted "paper" chain is a nice, easy thing to knit in front of the TV. My amazing friend Astrid showed me how to make them when I last visited her (in between feeding me lots and lots of food, introducing me to lovely people and beating me at Lego Rock Band). Essentially you cast on 30 stitches, knit four (or six, if you fancy) rows in garter stitch, bind off, and sew the ends together.

Apart from knitting, I've been reading In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, which I have reviewed briefly here, writing some cool programs, making aubergine involtini (thanks, Nigella!), getting into Oxford for a PhD in Systems Biology next year, and doodling polar bears. I know, right? Polar bears are awesome. Now I will leave you only with my extremely classy electronic Christmas card.

Continue reading A Very Knitted Christmas


Lately I've been...

Front cover of The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet...reading The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. I thought it might be a pretty interesting read - what better way to learn about a religion than through irreverent Winnie the Pooh quotes? Well, I've been enjoying the quotes immensely, but so far the book itself hasn't impressed me in the slightest. It's full of snide remarks about "dessicated scientists" and basically makes the point that you can't understand the natural world unless you completely avoid studying it in depth. The idea that further knowledge about a thing makes it less beautiful is truly abhorrent to me as a scientist... and as a human being.

...not so much reading as flipping through Cooking For Geeks by Jeff Potter - which, in contrast, is a wonderful book that completely demystifies all of the processes that we use in the kitchen.

...listening to podcasts of Marcus du Sautoy's Radio 4 series, A Brief History of Mathematics. He very approachably describes the key ideas in the history of maths, and the people who came up with them (or discovered them, I suppose, depending on your viewpoint). They've come in handy while I've been...

...running the Couch to 5k Program for the last three months or so. I'm only at the end of Week 7 of the schedule (I've had to repeat a lot of days!) but I've ran further and longer than I ever have before, and I feel great!

...programming some bioinformatics applications in Python. One which converts an amino acid's pKa to the fraction which will be protonated at a range of pHs (source code), one which uses a whole protein sequence to find the pH at which it will have zero charge (source code) and, most recently, taking biological data from several databases and collating them into linked HTML pages (source code and essential module). The programming lessons section of my degree has been fantastic, I'm quite sad that it's nearly over.

...knitting Christmas decorations for my house and making some homemade Christmas presents. But let's not spoil the surprise :)