Friday, 12 August 2016

A Small Grocery Shop


Grocery hauls are amongst my favourite things to watch. I absolutely love being nosy and seeing what people buy and cook every day. I find a lot of inspiration from watching home cooks. While I don't pretend to do anything more than feed myself with things I enjoy, I thought it'd be nice to show a little bit of my food purchases and list the meals I intend on using them for. 

Nectarines - for snacking, breakfast or as a dessert at the end of a meal. I cut one up into quarters and eat that with a fork. Those happen to be seasonal, but I like all sorts of fruit and always have at least two types of fruit in the house (right now it's that and oranges).
Baby carrots - for snacking, sprinkled with sea salt.
Frozen sliced courgettes - with a piece of meat for dinner (I bought sausages this week) 
Baby greens - for salads along with shredded red cabbage (pictured) and deli pork slices (pictures) and I'll generally eat that with a piece of bread (pictured) or throw in some cooked rice (I always cook a big batch to eat throughout the week).
Compotes - for dessert, snacking or breakfast. I use them as fruit as those are just pure mixed fruit with no sugar added (I pick a different flavour each time, these are apple/pear, apple/banana and apple/raspberry).
Coriander to put in rice with beans, homemade salsa and homemade guacamole (hence the avocados)
Tomatoes for a Caprese salad with mozzarella (pictured) and basil (pictured)
Eggs for eggs on toast or egg and avocado toast and as a protein in salad. I'm also often seen eating over-hard or over-easy eggs with ratatouille (pictured, I buy it frozen, in which case I'll dip bread into the runny yolks).
Apples for snacking, breakfast, or dessert, and I'm making a simple apple crumble this week.
Milk mostly for tea.
Greek yoghurt for Chipotle
100% pure fruit juice (I like clementine and sweet apple the best) for breakfast.
Butter - a staple, and I only buy salted, in this case I really needed it for crumpets
Brie cheese - Always in the fridge to add to salads, eat with bread for breakfast. I buy different cheeses every time.

Lunches and dinners:

Homemade Chipotle
Salads with deli pork and bread/rice
Eggs and ratatouille with bread
Caprese salad
Sausages and courgettes

Breakfasts 
usually I have fruit - either a piece of whole fruit, a compote, a glass of juice or homemade freshly squeezed orange juice - and bread with something to accompany it

Crumpets with butter
Avocado and egg toast
Bread and butter
Bread and cheese



Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Joy of Revisiting Comforting Favourites

Sarah in South Riding

Since I’m a secondary school teacher I’m on holiday until September (or rather, mid-August as I need to prepare the first term, but let’s look at the glass as being half full). Growing up, I’ve always felt the pressure of experiencing active holidays. Everyone would be sent into raptures over the prospect of spending time outside in the sunshine - swimming, running, throwing themselves onto grass, jumping off cliffs. I, on the other hand, have always loathed summer weather. My favourite season is autumn, when one can wear layers of clothing, potter about the house without being made to feel like one’s missing out on life, read by a fire, enjoy the gorgeous copper shades but occasionally without society’s judgement. Now that I’m old enough to be able to distinguish between what I adore doing and what I feel like I should do, I’m choosing to spend those two months in the way I like best – mostly at home, sipping homemade milkshakes, nibbling at fruit, cheese and bread, reading and making the most of my cherished DVD collection and home library.
This is how, lulled by the comforting smell of hot tea – weatherproof ambrosia if ever there was one – I’ve been contemplating the utter bliss that is re-experiencing old favourites. I haven’t always been a rewatcher but making the decision of owning a DVD collection and adding to it regularly a few years ago is when I realized just how much I enjoyed basking in the glow of familiarity, far more than I do falling prey to the shiny temptations of new discoveries.

Recently, I’ve rewatched the entire Jane Austen season – Northanger Abbey 2007, Persuasion 2007, Mansfield Park 2007, Sense and Sensibility 2007 as well as Emma 2009 and Pride and Prejudice 2005. Jane Austen has always been my favourite writer – I wrote not one but two Master’s dissertations on her, the second about the Jane Austen season, and it’s always been an immense joy to go back to these adaptations. I’ve decided to follow up with my entire costume drama collection – so far, I’ve rewatched South Riding, North and South, A Room With a View 2007, Bleak House 2005, Sense and Sensibility 1995 as well as Cambridge Spies and I’m watching Death Comes to Pemberley tonight.

They feel so much like home. I especially look forward to my favourite moments – Anne smiling at the end of Persuasion, breaking the fourth wall, Sarah’s speech to her girls at the very end of South Riding, urging them to take over the world and never be afraid, Emma Thompson’s everything in Sense and Sensibility (isn’t her DVD commentary the absolute best? I love that scene when she spots how Elinor gives Edward back his now very blown into handkerchief) and especially her comedic timing, Alan Rickman’s velvety voice as he reads poetry to Marianne, Fanny stargazing with Edmund, Emma dancing with Mr Knightley, Guy’s line about choosing friendship over country, Margaret’s feminist comments to her mother, Margaret and Thornton kissing at the station, Colonel Brandon looking back at the cottage after Willoughby’s visit, Jane and Elizabeth giggling under the sheets, the very first ball when Darcy appears and the marvelous unchecked dancing (it really does look like everyone’s having such a fabulous time and the music is fantastic), Alan Woodcourt and Esther everything, Ada throwing herself on Esther right after she’s recovered from the smallpox, Catherine and Eleanor catching the apples thrown by Henry.

I cannot have enough of those moments – going back to favourites is the very best, and I’ve been experiencing that in the very best of contexts – with lots of time and reckless leisurely abandon. It feels so indulgent to stop the clock and refrain from touching anything that resembles catching up. I’m reading my first book by Rosamunde Pilcher at the moment and I already can tell that it’s going to be a reread a few years from now. I’m savouring it, reading  but a few pages a day, throwing all thoughts of yearly reading statistics to the wind and taking it all in. Perhaps that should be one’s only criteria when allowing novelties to come into our lives – will this work be part of my personal Pantheon? Will this be something that becomes a part of me, that I can quote endlessly, be shaped by, recommend to friends like I would another friend, allow to define me? I feel like I need this selection now more than ever. A more curated life, with nothing but the best, with nothing but what I feel is worthy of experiencing slowly in a cocoon. My home library and DVD collection only contain those books, films and shows that have had a lasting impact on me and which are old friends, and I’m thinking about extending this principle to other aspects of my life as well. Every moment is precious and should be treated like the sacred allowance it is. Let’s fill each with pure bliss.

Monday, 27 June 2016

A Few June Jewels in Times of Hardship

In many ways, June has been the most emotional month of the year for me. I went through a huge ordeal that'll hopefully end up in some more professional stability and I had a few health concerns which, thankfully, seem to be resolved. I have The Two Towers playing in the background as I type this - this is my second movie marathon this month after Harry Potter which always leaves me in a puddle of tears (I won't talk about The Cursed Child here, I'm still recovering from all the new information). Various political events have led me to come to a new realisation about how much we need kindness, friendship and comfort. Hug your friends tighter, call your family more, shower your loved ones with kisses. Take care of each other and of yourself. The world needs this now more than ever.



I was able to find some comfort in different things this month, for which I'm hugely grateful. Black Sails was one of them. What started as a pirate story ended up being one of the most LGBTQ-friendly shows I've watched in a while, with gorgeously layered characters, a beautiful depiction of interpersonal relationships and a well-rounded forum for discussion on the nature of society and rebellion, as well as the true meaning of justice. I highly recommend this show. The female characters in particular are amazingly written and complex. It piqued my interest for The Golden Age of Piracy - which started when, as I understand it, Christopher Columbus - with money gifted by the Spanish crown - discovered the Americas which were then given to Spain and whose Inca gold other Empires started to fight for while mistreating their Navy crews. When wars ended and most of these crews ended up without a job, Piracy was born. Black Sails also boasts one of the most haunting scores I've ever heard, composed by none other than Bear McCreary whose Outlander score is also wonderful. It stars superlative actors, first of whom is Toby Stephens whom I've been following forever and who's finally enjoying some international recognition (about time! By the way, if you haven't already, do watch Cambridge Spies, a little-known period drama jewel).

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a nice surprise. I hadn't read the book so I didn't know what to expect but I think the film managed to find the perfect balance between romance and horror without ever falling into sentimentality. It puts to the fore one of the great things about Pride and Prejudice - the variety of female characters and their relationships with each other, characters who are here seen mastering the art of the sword as much as that of the tongue. I absolutely loved the film. It's a great time for Austen fans since Love and Friendship also hit cinemas recently. I have yet to see the movie but what little I've glimpsed seems very promising indeed!




Isn't that the smartest retort? Source


Last, but not least, I absolutely adored The Durrells. This family tale was as charming and bucolic as it was funny and I completely fell in love with each of its eccentric characters. I miss them very much, the way one misses slightly off-centre family members once they're gone. It touches on issues of feminism, family bonds, the meaning of happiness and it's very lovely. I thoroughly recommend this ensemble cast comedy and I'm so happy it's coming back for a second season. 



Do also have a look at this wonderfully inspiring Disney commercial 'Dream Big, Princess'. I cried watching it.



I'm on holiday right now and I fully plan on reading as many books as possible all day every day. I have loads of comfort authors on my Kindle all lined up to go so I'm sure I'll be posting about beautiful books very very soon. In the meantime, keep each other safe, keep faith, and I'll see you soon with another bucket of marshmallow goodness. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Open the Dumbledore

Queen Elizabeth's portrait with her grand and great grandchildren.


These past couple of months have been filled with royalty. I've always been a casual royal watcher but I've become quite obsessed with the British royal family as of late. I absolutely loved both documentaries that aired on TV about Queen Elizabeth - Our Queen at 90 and Elizabeth at 90, with a preference for the former. They were very personal and showcased rare footage of family members speaking about and with the Queen. I also watched Harry at 30, which is a very endearing portrait of a young man I had brushed off as being irresponsible and devil-may-care before I learned of all the work he's doing particularly related to the military. I'm so excited about the Invictus Games! It offered beautiful insight into a very complex life. I've subsequently decided to write at least a letter to my favourite royals - Kate, William, Harry, the Queen as well as collect some memorabilia - magazines and stamps being among the items I'm most attracted to. To feed my obsession, I've been following The Crown Chronicles religiously - it's such a great ressource. 

Lena in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. This movie makes me want to visit Greece so much.


I've also realised how much rereading books means to me - reading for me is about hanging out with friends and finding wisdom I can apply to my own life and the best books are those that stand the test of a reread. Along with building a physical library of the books that mean the most to me (and only those), I've been revisiting favourites, such as Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy which is a collection of essays about finding your authentic self. I love good self-help books and this is the best I've found (along with the Happiness Project). I've also been rereading The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series, which is about female friendship and life as a whole. It's a very profound and beautiful series and I also adore the movies. 

These past few weeks I marathoned videos of someone who has become one of my favourite YouTubers and holistic living inspirations, Mercedes from L'Amour et la Musique. She talks about natural beauty, alternative medicine and spiritual work (crystals, acupunture and Eastern medicine, shakra work with candles, detoxing, meditation, astrology, journaling) in a way that's very approachable and very knowledgeable. She's supremely eloquent and intelligent and that's the only way I'll personally become interested in spirituality - if it's presented from a logical, intentionally good place. And Mercedes does that. She graduated with a PhD in Sociology from Brown and she reads The Atlantic. It's just refreshing to find someone who doesn't set aside their education the minute the camera rolls. She's self-confident, precise and unapologetic. I love her and I'm watching everything she's putting out there. 




Last, but not least, I can't believe I haven't talked about it before but I've been listening to Alohomora, a podcast that delves deep into Harry Potter and truly analyses each chapter one paragraph at a time and it's been wonderful. Wonderful to go back to that world, wonderful to listen to theories I thought existed only in my head, and wonderful to hear new ideas about a world I know better than any other. I absolutely adore this. Both the format and the content are top-notch. Harry Potter always have been and always will be a huge part of my life.

 

Friday, 26 February 2016

Standing here, it's all so clear, I'm where I'm meant to be.

Oh isn't that so much like Rivendell?


I'm really happy to have reached the end of February, unlike almost any other month, and the reasons for that are simple - after almost a year of blissful dating, my boyfriend and I set off to find ourselves a home, our little corner of Heaven, and we are finally moving in together at the very beginning of April. The place is beautiful - it's a cosy apartment in a gorgeous residential neighbourhood with a view of a gigantic park. The area itself is brand new and very quiet, albeit with a huge shopping centre and a mere 20-minute walk away from Disneyland Paris. My boyfriend was hired to start his dream job there soon and we've decided to live closer to the place of our dreams. I simply cannot wait! We're visiting Disney next week with a few of my friends my sweetheart hasn't met yet and we're going to show them where we're going to live. I have never been happier. I cannot wait to spend my entire life with this man. He's truly amazing.

TV




I didn't have a whole lot of variety in my life in February fiction-wise but that doesn't mean I didn't consume a lot of fiction. It's just that most of it was binge watching Switched at Birth, that profoundly human and wonderful, wonderful gem of a show. I'd been looking for something akin to Parenthood or Friday Night Lights, a family drama with a lot of heart, and I definitely found it. I'm addicted to Switched at Birth. The topics tackled - deaf culture chief amongst them, but also relationships in general - and the issues raised - racism, ableist privilege, class privilege, what family is, consent - make this show very all-encompassing. Not only is it lovely and melty and just the right kind of glorious in its writing and characters (I LOVE them), it's also just amazing in its scope and the sheer realness of its storylines. I can't say enough good things about it. I've reached Season 4 and hopefully I'll finish it before Season 5 starts.

Can we talk about the Gilmore Girls revival? Oh my god I'm SO excited. Everyone but Melissa's coming back and it looks like Amy wants to do things right. I just want to see those characters again and hear this beautiful dialog. Bless you, Netflix.

Books

On top of trying more romance, I've been intentionally trying to diversify my reading. This month, I only read two books but they were both really good. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is the first in a series of multiple fantasy novels set in a dystopian world and is really about an entire unfair system being brought down from the inside, with some very interesting magic going on. It's also about religion and hope, and it's got a great sense of camaraderie. You know, those works that introduce you to an entire group of characters at once that you can't help but fall in love with and wish they were your friends. I can't wait to read the rest of the books. Now, I've read fantasy before, but the wonderful girl I got this recommendation from, Kalanadi on YouTube, is a huge science fiction fan and I've been craving science fiction lately. I've started Ancillary Justice and I fully intend to make it my priority in March.


Games



I'm not a gamer in the traditional sense of the word - I don't play a lot of video games (I do LOVE playing board games, though!) but I absolutely adore watching walkthroughs of people playing. I just love discovering worlds when someone else is playing, it's like watching a long movie and it's just so fascinating. I take a lot of my recommendations from InkBonesBooks on YouTube, she has very similar tastes to mine. I like fantasy, medieval, adventure. This is how I started watching Assassin's Creed Syndicate, which takes place in Victorian London (score!) and stars both a woman and a man as the title characters (woohoo!) I'm absolutely loving it so far. The storyline is interesting (once again, it's a story of rebellion against an unfair system, can you see a trend here?) and the things you have to do are varied in both scope and theme. I'm a visual person and this game is so incredibly pretty. I can't wait to watch more in this series.

Last, but not least, I'm incredibly, incredibly excited about all the Potter things happening right now. I'm eagerly waiting the release of Fantastic Beasts and this gorgeous playlist was just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

There’s a million things I haven’t done - but just you wait, just you wait



I've had a pretty interesting month of January. I'm working from home at the moment and will probably do so until September, which means that I can organize my days the way I want - an incredibly treat. Being at home means I've prioritized fiction a lot more, with excellent results:


Books




I've been continuing with series started last year. Along with Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (which has its issues but is unputdownable), I've started the second book in the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan. Courtney writes very witty historical romance and I find her writing and characters irresistible. I also read the last installment in the Charles Lennox series (historical mystery) which was as consistent as the rest and read the first book of the Pink Carnation - hysterical fluff. I'm very glad I've found such gems in the romance category straight away. From experience, it's hard to find books to enjoy in new-to-you genres. It took me years of going through very tedious books when I decided I'd like to give fantasy a chance. I was also able to squeeze in a new novel by Patricia McKillip, a favourite author. I'm very happy with my January! I'm currently reading a biography of Walt Disney but since it's 900 pages long, I'd rather cut it into chunks and fit in a few books every 100 pages or so. It works better for me!

TV & Movies




I greatly enjoyed Brooklyn this month, which was a very moving and beautifully understated film about Irish immigration. There is a romance, but at the end of the day, it's about finding yourself by finding things which are uniquely yours. Saoirse Ronan is stunning in this and it's been a joy following her career since Atonement. Star Wars VII was outstanding. I came to this with no expectations as I hadn't seen any other Star Wars movie and I thought it was perfect. It was a strange evening - I was feeling very down after leaving my job for the last time and I felt quite alone and not ready for a change at all so I decided to go to the cinema on a whim and lose myself in a story for a couple of hours. Just what the doctor ordered - I left the theatre refreshed, confident and smiling.

I've also consumed a lot of TV. I'm up-to-date with Endeavour and Poldark. I've also watched The White Queen, which was very haunting. I loved Janet McTeer in this in particular but it was so well done overall, with a real focus on women's experiences. Great stuff. I'm currently following Call the Midwife (as good as usual), Dickensian (very very intriguing, loving it, and I'm not a fan of Dickens) and the beautiful War and Peace with the marvellous Lily James. I read the book a while ago and all I remember was being utterly crushed at Natasha's ultimate fate in the epilogue. I don't know what they'll make of it but I'll be tuning in to see! Last, but not least, I'm catching up on Mr Selfridge, which I'd given up on many many times before realising the best was actually a few episodes in so if you're like me, do give it another go and watch the first season at least, it does get better!

Life

Edwardian actress Lily Elsie


My mother is coming to live with me for a few months, which I'm actually really looking forward to. I've had very sporadic contact with her for two years, every since she retired to a remote island in the middle of nowhere, a full 12-hour plane journey from where I am, and I've missed her. We don't have a relationship that's about what I like best - we rarely talk about fiction, for example, while I could talk for hours about books, TV or cinema. We share love and every day things and enjoy going for long walks into the fresh air. 
I've missed having someone who's known me my whole life as I recently came to realize that nobody around me had known me for more than two years. I've always had trouble keeping in touch with people once life didn't drop them in my path by accident - be it through work, hobbies or studies, and my only resolution this year is to be a better friend and keep in touch with people I want to have in my life for much longer than a year.
My boyfriend and I have been enjoying a very healthy and happy relationship for the past ten months. Last Sunday, we went to see Cats at the theatre and smiled as we remembered that our first musical together was just a month into our relationship, when we were still trying to figure out what on earth was happening to us. I feel lavishly blessed. Though a wedding isn't quite the next step yet, I've been feasting my eyes on these gems:





I'll leave you with a Disney World advert I've been obsessed with and playing every day at least once, as you do:





Monday, 21 December 2015

The Week Before Christmas


I did not make this. The source is right here, please reblog from there.

I love Christmas. For as long as I can remember, I have never had a traditional Christmas though - no unwrapping of the presents on the 25th, no lovely-scented real Christmas tree and no twelve-course dinner. My mother and I would spend Christmas watching television and would often open presents a few days before, so big was our frustration. This year will be rather different as my boyfriend of eight months has invited me to spend Christmas with him and his family in Southern France, and they do enjoy traditions. To say that I'm looking forward to it is a huge understatement - I'm leaving Wednesday 23rd and my suitcase is already packed and ready to go. It's wonderfully heavy with expectations, love, and a few presents.

Presents

I picked an out-of-print coffee table book about Disneyland Paris for my sweetheart (Disneyland: From Sketch to Reality) as well as a board game he'll enjoy going back to and a bottle of champagne for my mysterious mother-in-law. I gave my best friends beautiful frames in which I put printed photos of us.

I myself received a lot of presents already, mostly because I can't see my friends on Christmas day as I'm traveling: a gorgeous emerald green bound notebook made and sold in Thailand, a set of mugs with its accompanying tray, very soft pyjamas, L'Occitane hand creams, various teas and a copy of the illustrated Philosopher's Stone, which I've already started reading.

I'm very spoiled!
Out and About

This week was so full of events I hardly know where to begin. I had lunch in a grande cuisine restaurant paid for by work. The food was good, but the service was truly exceptional. I'm becoming more and more sensitive to good service with age. It makes such a difference.

Poached egg with a cream of butternut and chestnut (our starter)
On Friday, my boyfriend and I were invited to my work's Christmas party, held at the Paris Lido where we were treated to canapés and free-flowing champagne, a three-course meal and a show called Paris Merveilles, with a live singer and beautiful dancers. It was such a treat! It was my boyfriend's last evening in Paris before joining his mother for the holidays so it was bitter-sweet to have to let him go at the end of the night. I'm grateful I'm able to go join him in a few days.

This weekend, I attended an exhibition with my best friend Jade. She's a huge 17th and 18th century enthusiast (I'm a 19th century girl myself). Elizabeth-Louise Vigée le Brun has always been one of my favourite painters and we both loved the paintings shown and had a great time. We spent quite a bit of time in the gift shop too! 




Reading, Watching, Listening

I did not make this. The source is right here, please reblog from there.

Apart from my illustrated Philosopher's Stone, which I'm enjoying immensely, I've been reading the Little Village School books by Gervase Phinn which are very reminiscent of Miss Read in tone: a small rural community fighting for and against a new, gorgeous headteacher with red heels who takes charge of the local primary school. I find these gentle tales really delightful any time but particularly at Christmas.

I've been watching the last season of Downton Abbey, which is actually a lot better than the previous 4 put together. The storylines aren't as far-fetched as recently and I like the direction it's going. I've also been enjoying marathoning the Potter movies as I usually do this time of year. They're so cosy. I've reached Prisoner of Azkaban at time of writing, which is my second favourite after Half-Blood Prince. I wish Alfonso Cuaron had stayed for at least one more film, his style is so unique.

Sarah McLachlan has always been a favourite of mine and I'm really fond of her Christmas album, Wintersong. My favourite song on the album is River. I wish I had a river so long I would teach my feet to fly...


I really can't wait for next week. I've given up on a white Christmas as the weather's so mild but magic can happen in the warmest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the A/C :)

 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye