Must. Try. Harder.

Has it really been a year since my last post? Technically no, as it’s only been 364 days but let’s not split hairs here – there’s no denying that when it comes to keeping Cooking with Apples updated with fresh, exciting and engaging content, I really do need to try harder. Thanks for your patience… if you’re, er, still here?!

Of course I started this blog as a bit of fun – an experiment to see whether or not I was any good at writing, and whether or not anyone would take an interest in what I had to say. The lack of any activity here reflects the fact that things haven’t really been all that much fun lately, and that I’ve been questioning whether or not I’m good at anything, let alone writing.

2013 has been an interesting, roller-coaster of a year with more highs and lows than I can remember – my ship has not sailed a particularly smooth course, and it’s been one of those years that in many ways I’d like to forget. Equally though I will learn from my experiences and take comfort in the fact that I suspect I’m not alone – life has a habit of throwing all of us the odd curve-ball from time to time, some of which connect and cause real pain, others we somehow manage to deal with better, react quicker and avoid any devastating impact.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for sympathy or for someone else to fix the specific things that need fixed in my life – I recognise what those things are, and need to do the fixing myself. I’ve suffered from stress this year and will admit that I’ve felt very low and alone at times too, but there are people who have to deal with far greater stress, tragedy or misfortune than I do. I have nothing to complain about as I have everything anyone could ask for, and with a loving wife of 18 years and two beautiful children there’s no reason why I should ever feel alone.

Whilst many people suffer from chronic ill health and others battle with obesity, I am without a shadow of doubt the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been too since making those lifestyle changes 3 years ago and starting to cycle to work. In case you’re interested, I’m still ‘winning’ and maintaining a healthy 11st12lb, plus 2013 saw me clock up an impressive 5,572 miles on my bike – that’s a significant 18% increase on last year and a lot of diesel I’ve not had to buy!

I guess everyone deals with what life throws at them in their own way, and it’s only when too many curve-balls come at you at the same time that things can get overwhelming and maybe reaching out is the right thing to do. A problem shared and all that, although I suppose the cyclical might suggest that it depends who you share with.

I’m my own worst enemy really, still looking for answers when I don’t know or fully understand the questions, worrying about things that I can do nothing about rather than focusing on things I can, and always wanting to fix problems rather than deal with them – 2013 has taught me that those are two very different things.

And so here I am on the verge of another Christmas holiday with part of me really looking forward to a well-earned break from the regular routine, and part of me dreading what 2014 will bring, other than a mid-life crisis – I may not be over the hill yet, but it’s getting very close.

Wherever you are, and whoever you are sharing your Christmas with this year, make sure you have a happy one. With the New Year just around the corner too, if you find yourself looking back on 2013 thinking that it was a roller-coaster ride that got a little out of shape at times, that maybe you could have dealt with things differently, stood up for yourself more often, been more attentive and not got so worked up about things you have little or no control over, you’re not alone.

I don’t normally do resolutions, but this once can’t hurt… Must. Try. Harder.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Review: iGrand Piano for iPad

It’s been quite some time since I’ve felt either the need or desire to purchase an iOS App, and I can count on one hand those Apps that I was willing to pay more than a few pounds for. Then I spotted IK Multimedia had released iGrand Piano for iPad – in their words “The Concert-Quality Piano App for iPad” with the promise of a Gallery of World-Class Pianos, Literally at Your Fingertips. Sounds almost too good to be true…  Continue reading Review: iGrand Piano for iPad

My Vintage Bicycle Repair Kit iPhone Cases

Over the past year, I’ve turned into somewhat of a cycling enthusiast – I now commute the 14 miles each way to my ‘day job’ and try to get out for a long run at the weekends whenever possible. It was only a matter of time before I created some quirky iPhone case designs that might appeal to fellow cyclists, and was inspired to create the artwork for these two vintage puncture repair kits. Continue reading My Vintage Bicycle Repair Kit iPhone Cases

Lumix GX1: A Few Little Things

I’m not very good when it comes to making decisions, so when I wanted to upgrade my ageing Panasonic GH1, those who know me had to put up with my usual cycle of conversation, investigation, over-analysis and justification as I wrestled with the fact that I am ridiculously picky, and my pockets are usually shallower than my aspirations. However, having sold some unloved bits and bobs via a certain auction site, I thankfully had cured shallow-pocket-syndrome for this purchase, and just had to decide which camera to buy! Easy, right? Continue reading Lumix GX1: A Few Little Things

To IBIS or not to IBIS, that is the question

It’s been a while since I’ve put a photography related post here, but having been mulling over an upgrade to my ageing Lumix GH1 for the past few weeks, I thought it might be worthwhile explaining my rationale for not shifting my allegiance to Olympus, sticking with Panasonic, and deciding to pull the trigger on a GX1. Continue reading To IBIS or not to IBIS, that is the question

Turn your smartphone up to 11

*UPDATED* Back in October last year, I hit on the idea of creating an iPhone case design in the style of a guitar amplifier. Many moons ago I worked in a music shop, and Marshall’s battery-powered MS-2 and MS-4 amplifiers were always a hit with customers – I figured a case design inspired by these mini Marshalls was a great concept, and set about crafting the artwork for what has become one of my most popular case designs. Continue reading Turn your smartphone up to 11

Clockwork Invention iPhone Case

I’ve been meaning to create a case in this style for quite some time, and only got around to it recently. As with the vast majority of my case designs, I started preparing the artwork in Illustrator, experimenting with the layout of different cogs and wheels. One of my aims with this design was that I wanted to suggest the presence of an Apple logo somehow within the clockwork mechanism – including the logo would infringe copyright and I most certainly didn’t want to do that! Continue reading Clockwork Invention iPhone Case

Wacom Inkling: worth the wait?

Not long after Redbubble launched their Uncommon iPhone case products, I entered their artists competition to design a cover. Not only was I flattered to be voted into the top 10 designs by fellow Redbubble artists, but lucky enough to be picked by Redbubble as a runner up! My prize? Two cases made up of my prize-winning design, and a Wacom Inkling! I was pretty chuffed to say the least, but was in for a long wait before I actually got my hands on the prize…. Continue reading Wacom Inkling: worth the wait?

Adobe gets Creative with the Cloud

Yesterday, Adobe officially unveiled Creative Suite 6 – the latest and greatest versions of their industry-standard digital media creation applications, promising a whole new user experience with speed and productivity enhancements across the board. I’m a long time user of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver, and whilst I’ve stuck with my copy of CS4 Design Premium, I’ve always known that there will come a time when I need – or even just want – to upgrade. With Adobe also announcing their Creative Cloud, I think the time has come… Continue reading Adobe gets Creative with the Cloud

My Walkman iPhone Case

My Sony Walkman style iPhone Case

**UPDATED** I have a hard time making decisions at the best of times, so when it came to ordering one of my quirky iPhone cases for myself, it took me a while to figure out exactly which one to choose! Of course, given that I’ll be showing it off to as many people as I can, and wanted to take some promotional photographs of it, the pressure was on, but I think I made the right decision.

Continue reading My Walkman iPhone Case

iPhone Case? I’ve got it covered

Hopefully you’ve noticed by now that there’s a new static page on my blog where you can can find out all about my latest creative venture – iPhone Cases! I’m delighted that I can now offer stylish protection for your iPhone 4 or 4S, and have a large selection of quirky, creative designs to choose from with more being added all the time. If you haven’t seen the page yet, please go and check it out now…

Thank you Steve.

My life is ordinary. Every weekday morning I get up early, trying not to disturb my two sleeping children, get dressed and creep downstairs for breakfast. As I munch on my cereal, I’ll use nothing more than my right thumb to check my twitter feed for any breaking news that I might have missed overnight, see if I’ve finally received that email I’ve been waiting for, and look up the weather forecast so I know how difficult my cycle in to the studio is going to be.

Continue reading Thank you Steve.

Apple Christmas T-Shirts!

Some people might think it’s too early, but when it comes to Christmas I reckon you can never be too prepared! Not only have I just added a new Apple T-shirts page to this blog (you saw it in the menu bar above, right?), but I’ve also created some new Apple-inspired slogan T-shirts that I think would make the perfect gift. Whether you really are buying your loved one an iPhone or an iPad this year or not, you could have fun with one of these tees. Oh, and they’re not just for Christmas either… if you check them out you’ll see there’s a birthday option too 🙂

Sometimes, you just need to say what's on your mind. Here's what's on mine.