Monday, 30 May 2011

I Heart Art...

...Especially these Jack Vettriano prints:




The Black Swan

I re-watched The Black Swan again last night. I think this film seriously has one of the best ever wardrobes. It makes me wish I could dance like that! Natalie Portman looks stunning in this film:

The costumes, designed by Amy Westcott, and a collaboration with Rodarte designers, Laura and Kate Mulleavy, are the perfect aesthetic accompaniment to the visual richness of the film.

I seem to love outfits in monochrome. The contrast between the white and black in the psychological thriller was used for symbolism, but other movies employ a similar colour palette, like Angelina Jolie's classic elegance in The Tourist:

But you need to be in an equally elegant city to be able to wear these outfits daily!

Creativity in the Kitchen

When it looks like this outside:

It tends to make me want to do something like this...

...Make a big plate of something warm and comforting!

I love being creative in all manner of ways, and one of those is cooking and baking, and generally experimenting in the kitchen. Since Michael and I are both vegetarian, and Puente Genil is not very vegetarian friendly, living in Spain requires more experimentation for us.

Luckily, I find it a great challenge, and although I had to give away my recipe books (very very heavy!), the last few days I have been cutting out little recipes from my mom's box files of recipe ideas, and stashing them in between the pages of the one, little recipe book I kept. And, yes, it is a chocolate recipe book. It contains my old, trusted recipe for making home made chocolate truffles. I make little batches of these as thank you gifts, xmas gifts, or for a nice gesture. They always go down very well! I tend to make my own little boxes for them out of black card as well. 

So now, I am looking forward to trying out new things. Especially pies. I love how Americans have so many different sweet pies. 

Like sweet potato pie:

Or pecan pie:

And let's not forget, the Mississippi mud pie:


I have been baking a pumpkin pie every year for the last few years on Halloween, and am looking forward to making this again, this year:

But of course, I am still on a diet (most days), and I still need to fit into my wedding dress! So I am going to be making different main dishes that are lighter and healthier. 

Like a traditional Spanish tortilla:

Other favourite meals, I shall be finding new ways to cook, to replace the quorn, like my invented lasagne. It looks something like this:

And instead of having the two classic layers of minced meat in a tomato sauce, and bechamel sauce, I used red peppers and garlic in a tomato sauce, and red onion and spinach cooked in a mixture of fat free natural yoghurt and cream cheese. It's very yummy! You build the layers up as normal, then top with a light spread of cream cheese and grated cheese. 

Although I have taken these pictures from Google images, I shall be taking my own photos of my creations soon and posting them here! 

Friday, 27 May 2011

Dreaming of Seville

I've just been to the cinema to watch the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, and I have to say, despite what the critics said, I loved it more than I thought I would! Some of that undoubtedly comes from seeing the film set when we lived in London, (I saw Johnny Depp's trailer!), and knowing the buildings in Greenwich well. You know the scene when Captain Jack Sparrow was here:

Yep, been there!

The slight Latin twist to it, with the portrayal of Cadiz, the Spanish Caribbean, the music, and obviously the starring of Penelope Cruz; immediately drew my mind to Spain. In particular, the Spanish culture.

Although obviously I am extremely excited to live in Puente Genil again, and absorb the cultura española, part of me really really wants to experience living here:

I feel like when we travel, certain places just captivate me entirely. These places retain such a hold upon me, that I leave a little piece of my heart in each one, and wish to return to them, perhaps to live in.

Seville is one such place.... perdí mi corazón en sevilla.

The Scarlet Letter

So, I recently discovered this clever little literary reference when scanning Inspired by his documentaries and books, particularly The God Delusion, I was browsing the online shop, when I stumbled upon this cool t shirt:

Does it remind you of anything?

I immediately called this to mind:

The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Where the protagonist, Hester Prynne, has conceived a daughter through an adulturous affair, and is forced to wear a scarlet "A" for "Adulterer" on her clothes at all times. Of course, Puritan society is not very forgiving. Incidentally, neither are the current religious. (Irony impaired, much?). So Dawkin's scarlet letter for "Athiest" is a genius idea, in my opinion, and a badge I am proud to wear.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Future

I am intrigued by new technical and scientific advancements in civilisation. The United Arab Emirates are currently building a new city just outside of Abu Dhabi, called Masdar City, and it's so futuristic, 100% carbon neutral, and cars are not allowed inside. Building is underway, and a large part of the city is under a huge dome to protect from the intense heat. It looks so cool, check it out:

Then there are the electric cars that have recently taken the US by storm. Although the Nissan Leaf is a more popular model, electric cars are becoming more prevalent each year, with the designs more futuristic:

Also moving forward, New York City has just become the first major city to ban smoking outside. This is a great idea, as I am sick of walking along, stuck behind someone smoking, with their smoke blowing directly into my face. And the smell of the recently smoking on public transport? Mints do not help your breath. I am fervently hoping that London will step up and follow New York's example. We did with banning smoking inside pubs and restaurants, although it is deplorable how far behind we are in comparison to the likes of the US.

This country is stuck in a rut, and seems intent on digging itself further in.

Education is one interest of mine, especially since I am in the EFL industry, and aim one day to open my own school with Michael. I have become more and more disillusioned with how backwards our education system is becoming, particularly since the Conservatives came into power, and Michael Gove started having his own insidious way. The Baccalaureate weaning out creativeness and the funding cuts to new technology in schools are prime examples.

Michael and I are intrigued by schools of the future, and how using new scientific and psychological data can improve ways of teaching, as we understand more and more how children learn. Using technology and being more innovative in schools can optimise children's learning, and create more intelligent, healthy children who love to learn.

Isn't this a more inspiring atmosphere....

than this?

I think the video that Michael posted up on the evolution (or lack thereof) of education here: sums the differences up perfectly!

My Week

Things I have been up to this week;

1) Missing Michael. Although I have finished my degree, Michael is still completing his PGCE course and is back and forth from London and Chelmsford. He was recently away for three days, so I have been mooching around until he came home again. (Yay!).

2) Visited my Babcia and Dziadzia. (Grandparents). I learnt how to make pierogi, which are a kind of pasta dumpling with a cheese and potato filling. Sounds weird, but yummy.

3) Looked at lots of bunnies and wanted one very badly. I filled up my phone memory with photos of them, and managed to name quite a few before I was cruelly dragged away.

4) Arranged some work experience at my old Junior school. I have a meeting with the head the week after half term to confirm details, but then hopefully I can check this item off my summer list!

5) Reading. It is so so nice to read for pleasure once again. I've read the latest in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Reckoning, (great, but finished on a cliffhanger, which yet again will leave me hanging for another year!) Then I read Angelology, which was amazing, and will also have a sequel, and a movie. I also read God is a Rabbit, drawn in by the title.

Now I am about to start David Mitchell's latest title, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which looks intriguing, and I loved Cloud Atlas, so I have high hopes for this one. I have not yet finished The Hare with Amber Eyes either, preferring to read it in small increments. The reason for this being here:

And that has been my week!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Five New Words

Edgar Allen Poe was in the Guinness Book of Records for largest vocabulary. Take inspiration from him and have a perusal at these five words I've learnt this week:

1) Flaneurial. (To move at a slow pace).

2) Scintilla. (A minute particle, spark or trace).

3) Splenetic. (Irritable, peevish, spiteful).

4) Aesthete. (A person with refined sensibility towards the artistic).

5) Bibelots. (A small object of curiosity, beauty or rarity).

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A Beautiful Book

Books are like food. They have different flavours. Some are reminiscent of a packet of your favourite crisps: Not very refined, but they just taste so good, you keep going back for more. To me, Russian literature is like roasted potatoes. More effort, but definitely rewarding.

Then there are the Beautiful books. A rarer find, these books fill you with inspiration and the language itself resembles a carefully crafted piece of art. These books are the chocolate truffles of the literary world. I have seldom come across a Beautiful book in my years of reading. They are bewitching yet elusive, and tend to be stumbled upon by chance, they cannot be sought out.

The book I am currently reading is Beautiful: The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance.

The only other Beautiful book I can think of (that I have read), is The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

Although, of course, many books have eloquent language, these books are really something special. Rather than wanting to gobble the pages up like a standard bar of chocolate, you attempt to savour them.

 Letting the words melt on your tongue. 

Nibbling the thick chocolate casing as you slowly polish off the preface. 

Each chapter is a bite further into the creamy, praline center. 

Until, finally all that remains is a few flakes of sugar, as you linger over the final sentence, bitter sweet that you have finished the novel. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


I have always been a very ambitious person, and since Michael is too, being together makes us think seriously about all the things we can achieve together. And, since I love making to-do lists, it is only natural that I have made one of things I want to achieve this summer!

1) Get my degree.
2) Learn more Espanol.
3) Add another 20 books to my reading challenge list.
4) Tone up.
5) Get some more work experience.

Of course, my life list is a lot longer and tends to fluctuate, depending on what I'm currently scheming, but penultimately includes items such as; travel the world, start our own business, get a book published etc.

It is extremely fulfilling when I look back at older lists I've made several years ago, and am able to tick off things I've completed! Recent examples include get a TEFL, live abroad and write a book.

Hopefully in another five years I can tick off many more!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Health Kick

Or a.k.a. I need to fit into my wedding dress! It's very pretty, look:

And this is where we're planning on getting married:

Henceforth, this is what I'll be eating from tomorrow onwards:

And doing:

Although I happen to suck at running, so this is more likely:

Wish me luck!

Happy Birthday Daddy!

I hope you have a lovely day...

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Last Day!

I sat two three hour exams today... First literature and psychoanalysis, then Milton. And then... I finished my last day at University! It's so strange that I'll finally be finished!

So, this is my farewell post to University. It's been great, but I'm ready for the next thing now. So bye bye Westminster!

And I'm seriously so exhausted, so this post isn't going to be eloquent... In fact, I think I'll just post some pretty pictures of my University instead:

(images courtesy of google).

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Have you met the Bonobos?

No? Well, allow me to introduce you to them....

 aww, hello!

So, bonobos are a type of Ape, but they are especially remarkable because they are the closest ape, genetically speaking, to humans. In fact we share over 98% of our genetic makeup. Also, they strongly resemble Australopithecus, the earliest species of human. In the wild, they live only in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is why we know less of bonobos than other simians, e.g. chimpanzees (a close cousin of the bonobos).

Check this TED video out:

It really makes you think.... 

Oh, and in case you were wondering (I was), this is a reconstructed image of an australopithecus afarensis

So this has been one of my interests lately, and I was further intrigued, when, after reading Water For Elephants (great book), I discovered that Sara Gruen had written another book, Ape House, about bonobos! It's on my to-read list...

(images courtesy of Google and Wikipedia. Documentary from TED).

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The F Word.

It's a dirty word nowadays. One people don't want to use. One people seem not to identify with anymore. But why are we so anti feminist now? I think it has something to do with the images one associates with feminism. The clichéd, aggressive women who burnt their bras and didn't shave. And while you appreciate their point, it doesn't mean you have to forgo vanity to be feminist. Because, really, feminism is all about equality. The idea that women are equal to men. That there is no "second sex".

Of course Post-Structuralists argue that because of binary oppositions, male and female are opposites. Fair enough, opposites doesn't necessarily mean good and bad. But, in the world of binary oppositions there are usually primary and secondary values. Mankind. History, his-story. We live in a patriarchal society where women are the second sex, as exposed by Simone De Beauvoir. But feminism has to be careful in fighting back. We do not want men to become the second sex either. We should aim for true equality. And we do not yet have this.

I propose that we reclaim the values of feminism in a new word. Homosexuals outed themselves as "gay", atheists are stepping forward as "brights". Feminism needs to also reclaim it's tired outlook, and find a new term, one that men can also feel involved with. Because for equality to truly begin, we need to find a new discourse of anti-discrimination for both genders.

Take inspiration from Grace Nichols' poem, "On Beauty", in which she reclaims negative stereotyping, by celebrating individual identity.


is a fat black woman
walking the fields
pressing a breezed
to her cheek
while the sun lights up
her feet

is a fat black woman
riding the waves
drifting in happy oblivion
while the sea turns back
to hug her shape

5 things I'm loving right now... And 5 I'm not.

 5 Things I'm loving right now....

                                                     1) Michael. Goes without saying.

2) Fashion. J'adore Dior, c'est belle, non?

3) My iPad. Quite addictive.

4) That little blue box. 

5) New Pirates movie out soon! Will it be the same or not? 

...And 5 I'm not

                                                     1) Being away from these cute little things.

2) Revision. And multiple headaches. And stress. And revision.

                                  3) Thursday. My doom awaits me. Otherwise called Milton. Or Lacan.

                                         4) What is up with Starbucks' new mocha frappuccino?

                                                5)  Yoomoo deprivation. This is very serious.

(images courtesy of Google. Apart from the handsome photo of Michael. I took that).