Month: January 2012

Home Again

It is so good to be home again after a weekend at my grandparents.

I love them to bits but things aren’t exactly comfortable in their house, it’s incredibly stuffy which always gives me a permanent headache.  But I am always glad to see them and I really enjoyed spending the weekend with my mum. I also do like going back to France, the culture is such a strong part of me. And of course, it’s so important to make the time to be with family, I owe my grandparents so much for everything they used to do with me when I was little, the least I can do is pay them a visit!

Aren’t my grandparents stylish? Although I’m pretty sure they have no idea that their coats are fashionable or that knitwear is very ‘in’ .

This is my last week at home for a while. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. Just being away for the weekend has left me feeling drained and zapped of my energy. Plus I’m going to have to spend most of it working so it won’t be particularly enjoyable.

But anyway, enough of the down talk!

I’m going to work really hard this week so that I go back feeling good and ready to start the new term. I want to get ahead on my reading too, otherwise when I’m hit with the exhaustion of that first week back I’ll get behind. Plus the first week I’m there is ‘Refreshers’ Week’ which, for all of you who have no idea, basically means that we get another Freshers’ Week to start off the new semester.

So in other words: lots of club nights which I’m not that bothered about and another Freshers’ Fair which I’m really looking forward to because I want to sign up for a ton of new things!

This term I’m also hoping to finally get some volunteering work sorted out which would consist of a morning/afternoon a week spent in a nearby primary school helping individual children with their reading. I’m really looking forward to it, I’ve missed working with children lately and I think it’s a fantastic opportunity! I’ve never worked in a primary school before (I’ve helped in a nursery, used to assist teaching ballet and work for a summer holiday art scheme) plus this sort of work can give me an idea of what teaching at primary school is like. You never know, maybe a possible future career…

This afternoon when we got back I did some research for my modern lit essay on Middlemarch. If it wasn’t for the stress of the looming deadline I think I’d quite enjoy it, I love the topic and the critical works are fascinating (lit-nerd alert).

To motivate myself I’ve been listening to Defying Gravity quite a bit lately – It’s such an uplifting song.

This evening we had one of my favourite dinners:

This is another of Mr Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals. It’s basically salmon cooked with peppers and spring onions, rice, a courgette salad and guacamole. I promise there is actually salmon on that plate, it’s just hidden under some guacamole. What can I say, I like my guacamole! This meal was cooked pretty much entirely by my dad, although my mum does a lot of the cooking at home, both of my parents are in fact brilliant cooks.

I know, I’m lucky. I have to make the most of it this week because then it’s back to cooking for myself for nine weeks…

I have some meals planned out already though so that when I get back then I can just buy the ingredients and not have to worry about coming up with meals when I’m exhausted. In a way, I’m quite looking forward to being independent again, I do rather enjoy cooking when I find the energy. Plus being able to eat when I’m actually hungry, and not worry about when other people want to eat, is great.

Anyway I’m off for a phone date with Tom, we haven’t actually spoken in days! It’s been a week and two days since we last saw each other (who’s counting?) and I miss him so much already. I don’t know how I’ll manage the next few weeks!

Do you still see your grandparents (if you’re lucky enough to still have them)?
Any fun or interesting projects on the go? Any volunteering?
Do you plan your meals in advance?

By the way, I was so pleased that I inspired a bunch of you to read with my last post! It really is an excellent book, I recommend it 100% :-)

The Happiness Project – The Book that Changed My Attitude to Life

Lovely readers, here is the book I have been raving about for the past couple of weeks.

If you read one book this year make it this one:

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The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

by Gretchen Rubin

Seriously, if you want to improve your life in any way, shape, or form then this book will change your attitude. And definitely for better.

The Happiness Project is written by the wonderful Gretchen Rubin and recounts the year she spent searching for new ways to improve her quality of life and find more happiness.

It’s at the same time a beautifully written book and an incredibly useful instruction manual for how to improve your happiness.

When reading it is clear that she is writing from the heart and it is full of anecdotes from her experiences and her life. She is completely honest about her failings and is modest about success. There is no preaching and no admonishing.

Each month Gretchen focused on a different set of resolutions around a different theme, things like: sing in the mornings, stop complaining, start a blog, stop nagging, go to sleep earlier, exercise better, keep a one-sentence journal…

She writes herself Twelve Commandments and a set of Secrets of Adulthood alongside her resolutions. The commandments remind her to “be Gretchen”, to “act the way I want to feel” etc. The Secrets of Adulthood particularly hit me, they’re just great, I really think that everyone can relate to at least some of them.

Perhaps that is actually the key to why I love this book so much, you really can relate to most of the topics and issues Gretchen covers, it touches you personally.

5/5

Reason why you should: It will change your outlook on life. It might even help you become a little happier.

Reason why you shouldn’t: If you’re a grump. (Sorry if anyone didn’t enjoy it!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend!

A Bit of a Hash

Sorry for the rather cheesy title but it is appropriate for our dinner tonight :-P

But first, so that things are in the right order, here is breakfast:

Not particularly a ‘breakfast of champions’ but it’ll do me fine. I may have over egged the milk about but meh, I’m not one to waste things.

Today was a bit ‘meh’ though.

I won’t dwell on it, because that would be boring. Lets just say it involved a lack of productivity and two naps. And a great deal of fatigue and frustration in equal measures. I guess the journey to and from uni really took it out of me. Damn you fibromyalgia!!

But that’s enough of that, I refuse to let it get me down any further today. Especially as I have to draw on my mental resolve because I’m travelling again tomorrow!

Tomorrow morning my mum and I are on the road to visit my grandparents in northern France for the weekend. That means a drive, then a ferry and then another drive. But it’s worth it for two main reasons: getting to spend the time with my mum, and getting to see my grandparents, whom I miss a lot and don’t get to see very often.

So, onto that ‘hash’ I was talking about…

This is a dish taken from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals. It’s a beef hash with carrots, celery, onions and rosemary along with butter beans, bacon and tomato. It’s a really tasty dish and definitely a real comfort food.

So I’m afraid I won’t be posting tomorrow, I’m taking the evening off (sort of). But I have the review of the book I’ve been promising to tell you all about on Saturday so be sure to check it out :-)

Do you enjoy travelling? (And I don’t mean the fun kind of holiday travelling!)
What foods do you turn to for comforting dinners in the winter?

What (I Wish) I Ate Wednesday

It’s Wednesday (for those of you who didn’t realise) and therefore it’s WIAW! The day we all get to indulge in some guilt-free food nosiness all thanks to the lovely Jenn, who I’ve heard has been partying it up with Ryan Gosling ;-)

Now unfortunately I spent the day at uni giving a presentation and working so my food was pretty boring and I didn’t get a chance to photograph it. But, because I do love WIAW, I thought I’d share with you all what I wish I’d eaten today, going on my food cravings at the moment!

My very favourite weetabix mush: simply topped with raspberries. Don’t those berries look gorgeous and juicy? I adore raspberries, I don’t think I could ever get bored of eating them. In my opinion their only downside is that they can’t really be cooked in desserts the way other fruits can. Otherwise I’m pretty sure I’d declare them to be perfect.

For lunch on my ideal day I know just what I would have:

Again, very simple but it combines to of my favourite eats at the moment: pasta and roast veg. I’d eat this everyday if it wasn’t for the fact that I do love a bit of variety. I’ll probably be eating this sort of meal weekly when I’m back at uni, only with wholewheat pasta! I just get a big roasting tin and pile up chopped peppers, courgette, aubergine, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, any vegetable I can get my hand on really, then add chopped onions, garlic and olive oil and roast for about 40 minutes – an hour. Easy as pie, tasty and healthy!

Now I’ve always eaten an afternoon snack, even as a young child, so being one of tradition (slightly contradicting the whole variety thing right now)…

I’m on a bit of a grapes kick at the moment and one of my childhood favourites is French brioche with blackberry jam. It just reminds me of being in my grandmother’s kitchen in northern France having this for ‘goûter’ :-)

Dinner would have to be a family favourite: tarragon and mustard chicken, served with home-cooked chips and salad. As a lovely meal to share with the family, it just doesn’t get much better! Don’t get me wrong, I love my healthy food, I love my veg, but not everyone at home is such a massive fan so this is special to me because everybody loves it. I’ll have to get the tarragon chicken recipe up on the blog because it really is a delicious sauce.

And to finish off? Well I’d quite like a repeat of this dessert from the restaurant the other day please. Pure heaven on a plate really.

If you could choose anything to eat today, what would it be?
Do you have an absolute favourite food that you could eat everyday?
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?

I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post to wish me luck or to cheer me up, you all made my day :-) And the presentation went without a hitch so thank you for all of the support!

 

Back.

Well I’m back at uni. It’s just for one night though, I have my presentation tomorrow afternoon so I had to get the train up today and then I’m going home again tomorrow evening for another week and a half.

I don’t really know how I feel being back.

I can’t say it makes me particularly happy, I already feel isolated because I haven’t really got any close friends here and I miss my friends from back home so much! And I’m still missing Tom of course, that hurts the most but I’m more used to it I guess.

Anyway, I’m not going to dwell on the negative!

This morning I had a lie in (not extreme don’t worry – only till 9am) and a leisurely breakfast:

Weetabix mush as always, with a sprinkling of fresh blueberries. I know that will be one thing I really miss when I’m at uni again properly: fresh fruit. I just can’t really afford to buy anything other than apples and bananas and I don’t even like eating raw apples that much.

I spent the morning working on my English language assignment (nearly nearly finished!) and packing. I’m sort of enjoying being very busy with work, sort of not. I used to love being busy, if I had a really productive day then usually I have a happy day. But now when I work for most of the day it means I have very little energy to do anything else. So in a way it’s good that I have little social life for the next couple of weeks as Tom and all of my friends have gone back to uni! It’s just a bit draining too.

My mum brought me back a lovely pasta salad from town to have for lunch. It was a pesto, spinach, and tomato pasta salad. Sometimes I find pesto can be overpowering which ruins the dish but this was really light, they hadn’t smothered the pasta in it. It was actually pretty healthy for a pesto dressing too! It’s nice to have a treat for lunch, especially seeing how I have pretty much no food at uni so dinner isn’t going to be very exciting.

I used to really enjoy train journeys but now I just find them exhausting. But at least I was occupied along the way:

My Kindle is proving to have been a really excellent idea for a Christmas present! I really love using it, in fact I use it everyday. It will never replace real books, the way for me, typing on the computer hasn’t replaced writing by hand. Books are still special to me, in a way having the Kindle makes them more special. I don’t really like the way books have become so consumerist, paperbacks are often just seen as disposable and I really hate waste. With the Kindle you can buy the cheap books you’d usually by as paperbacks, the trashy novels etc for less and they don’t waste paper, and chose to just buy books that you really love. I hope they start printing more books like these:

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Isn’t it beautiful? I’ve noticed that increasingly books are being reprinted with lovely clothbound covers. I think they’d be wonderful to collect, to keep for years and treasure.

Anyway I’m pretty tired and I want to run over my presentation again before I go to bed so I’m going to say goodnight.

What do you think of electronic books? Will they replace traditional books?
Do you still buy books from bookshops?

P.s. I hope my foodie followers don’t mind all of these posts about books! I love literature, what can I say, I’m an English Literature student :-)

Finding the Time to Read

My 2012 resolution no.8 is to “Read more. Write more. Blog more. Devote my time to words.”

I really want to find the time to read, I want to devote more time to words, and in this spirit I bought myself this:

Isn’t it pretty?

The aim is for it to a) motivate me to read extra books, books which aren’t part of my course and b) to hold me accountable – what is the point of having such a lovely journal if I don’t read any books to fill it with?

I love notebooks and I’m aware that I’m perfectly capable of using an ordinary notebook and writing in all of the books I read.

But, would a normal notebook have this inside it:

I don’t think so!

I know it might seem silly, but I love having things neat and ‘just so’. It’s the ridiculously fussy perfectionist part of me.

And the first few books I have in mind?

The Tiger’s Wife – Téa Obreht

  I’ve heard some really fantastic things about this book and I’m really intrigued. It’s not necessarily what I would usually choose but I decided that, with so many people singing its praises, I should give it a chance to impress me too.

In Between the Sheets – Ian McEwan

I love Ian McEwan’s writing so fancied trying another of his books and this one seemed quite different to the ones I’ve already read. I hope he succeeds in captivating me with his words again.

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Would you believe that I’ve never read any of his work before? But I’ve heard so much about the beauty of his writing that I just had to get one of his novels. Possibly looking forward to trying this one the most!

So there you have the next three books that I’m planning to read next. I’ve got a list longer than arm of books I want to read and I desperately want to find the time to read for pleasure more often.

Hopefully now that I have my pretty little book journal I’ll have more motivation to make the time :-)

Do you have a list of books that you want to read?
Any recommendations for me?

I really want to try reading a few non-fiction books too, especially on food, fitness or health, so if anyone could recommend any that were particularly striking I’d be very grateful!