read ’em and eat

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I can’t believe it is nearly August! Even though we are still on ‘holiday’ we are back home and I am trying to get back into routines, starting to plan for the coming months, getting back to some semi-regular blogging and start preparing for the course I will be teaching next year (which involves amongst other things the book hiding under my kindle there).

So in honour of the getting back to blogging here is a ‘read ’em and eat’.

read ’em

Off the internet I have just finished reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I had only read Murakami’s short stories After the Quake before and his writing and story telling is a bit different from what I usually read. This book is looonnnnggg (it took me two weeks to read including full days of reading sitting on the beach) but I did enjoy it in the end. It has a touch of the magical realism which I am a big fan of. The Guardian has an in-depth review if you want to find out more before committing to it.

On the internet:

I have been having gazpacho almost every day this week because there is no way I am cooking in the heat. If I can find some yellow tomatoes this version might start making rounds.

Honour your limits has me thinking.

On Instagram I just started following: the cutest bunny you will ever see and the dictionary of obscure sorrows which is words instead of pictures but beautifully written and although I am not one to lean towards sorrow it is necessary to appreciate joy.

eat

After a month away from our blender I am loving having smoothies back. I am trying to up the veggie quotient in them and a smoothie we had in a town in Japan inspired me. Yellow peppers.

Ingredients: one cubes frozen spinach | one banana (frozen if you have) | one yellow pepper | one nectarine (or other stone fruit) | handful sunflower seeds | scoop hemp protein | water and ice

Blend and serves two generous portions.

Do you have any secret veggie suggestions?

japan in short

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Japan. A mythical land far away that came to life for us over the two weeks we were there.

Before I go into any detail posts I thought I would just share some summary thoughts and layout our itinerary that we followed.

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We spent 14 nights in Japan which went a little like this:

  • We arrived in Tokyo at 6 am on a Monday morning. We spent four nights in the big city in the Ikebukuro neighbourhood. Ikebukuro is the second busiest station in Tokyo but we stayed about 15 minutes walk from the station in what seemed like a quiet suburban area.
  • We then took the train to Takayama which is much calmer and has an old town which is has been preserved and was really beautiful. We spent two nights in a traditional hotel for our anniversary. As a bonus, the train ride to Takayama is absolutely beautiful through the mountains.
  • Next up was Hiroshima for 1 night. This was a very interesting place to visit and I quite liked the town. In retrospect I would have spent 2 nights to do a daytrip to another nearby town which we missed. Also I would have gone to Kyoto first as the travel times would have made more sense.
  • Then we were in Kyoto for 5 nights. I LOVED Kyoto. It is a much more ‘human sized’ city than Tokyo and we stayed in a convenient neighbourhood for sight-seeing and exploring and just living.
  • Finally we spent two nights in Osaka (as we were flying out of Osaka). In my opinion Osaka felt more like a town that you live in than you go to on holiday.

The Japanese Rail Pass is really worth it and easy to use. We got a 7 days pass that we used from leaving Tokyo. We then only had to buy a single ticket from Kyoto to Osaka at the end of our trip. You have to order the Pass in advance but it was couriered to us and when we were ready to start using it we just went to the station and it took about 25 minutes to exchange.

Some other short thoughts:

  • Japanese people are really the most polite, helpful and friendly people.
  • June/July (also known as the rainy season) is probably not the best time to visit. It is HUMID!
  • As you can see from the pictures above the landscape is pretty varied from urban jungles to mountains and a lot of rice paddies in between.
  • Getting up a little early means you miss the crowds. We rarely felt like we were shuffling along with the tourist crowds which was quite refreshing.
  • I could have spent a fortune. Be warned! Japan is full of beautiful, well made and lovely things.
  • Matcha might be a trendy item at the moment but you can keep your matcha lattes and matcha cakes for yourself.
  • Maybe it was because we hadn’t done enough research but it was quite hard eating out (or even shopping) as a vegetarian. It was just difficult to tell what was totally vegetarian and we did have a couple incidents of meat in our salad or fish sauce in our noodles. We eventually just stuck to eating the same things from a very prolific supermarket. Happy Cow is useful but if you are staying in Tokyo for instance which is massive (I mean MAAASive) the restaurants are really spread out and without them all being mapped it is hard to tell where convenient places are. Food, particularly fruit, is also surprisingly expensive.

I’ll be back soon with more photos and details of places we visited.

not yet back

Well it has been a little quiet over on this little space. Not a totally unplanned absence since with the end of a school year my day job gets busy. And I am taking on an additional role next year (actually teaching a class! On photography!). I am also working on my dissertation. And if you follow me on Instagram you know I am galavanting at present.

I will be back soonish with some posts about Japan (which was absolutely amazing) and maybe one or two about Crete (currently sitting at a rustic wooden table in an old fisherman’s cottage enjoying daily sun and sea quotas).

I have to say the time away has been great. Not constantly checking what my stats are, not comparing, not feeling inadequate when I just don’t get around to doing all the posts I have imagined.

In the meantime if I could ask a little favour. As mentioned I am working on my dissertation and I would be super grateful if you could fill out this survey. Also if you could get your parents and/or partner to do it would be great! I am aiming to get at least 500 respondents and it is a ways to go.

venice | black and white

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Just a few black and white pictures of Venice from last weekend. Having looked at the weather forecast and knowing it was going to rain I thought I might right a post about all the things you can do in Venice when it rains. But we still walked around an awful lot, stopped for a coffee and stopped for lunch.

Maybe next time.

Though see the picture in the middle there with the guys at the table playing guitars. That is totally why I love Italy.

read ’em and eat

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Not a normal Monday post but I had issues connecting to wordpress on Sunday and then I was out for the night. So here you go a few read ’ems that have been hanging around for a while.

Read ’em

Loving this new blog find with a very powerful message Women Against Negative Talk. She has a way with words.

I am building up my summer reading list and these are looking good.

With our trip to Japan imminent this Japanese photographer is inspiring me. Their use of light and limited space is beautiful.

I am liking this idea of a power hour.

A reminder about this book that you should read (or at least watch the video links)

Eat

Due to my breakfasts becoming a bit more of the same but different fair with the smoothies, I thought I would open this up a bit. Still not really a recipe but more a suggestion.

I made a version of this sandwich for lunch a few weeks back and it is so good I have made it at least 6 times since. Here is my combo:

  • cannellini beans crushed with olive oil and salt (the lazy person’s hummus you could say).
  • provolone cheese (because we don’t get cheddar here)
  • rocket
  • gherkin
  • artichokes
  • pesto

It’s good. You should make it. I now think I might become a sandwich convert again. In fact this one might be next on my list to try.

on the kindle | daring greatly

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Inspired by Circle of Pine’s #theyearinbooks and my new kindle …

This might be my year of reading life changing books!

So I came across this Ted talk through the rabbit hole that is the internet and then realised that I just had to read this speaker’s book.

Brene Brown is an academic story-teller who has been researching shame and vulnerability for over a decade. Sounds like a fun book – right? Anyway, after years of study she realised that all the “Wholehearted” people she had interviewed, those who lived full happy lives, had one thing in common. They were open to vulnerability, they were willing to open themselves up to uncertainty and be all in.

Daring Greatly, explores our fear of vulnerability, how we protect ourselves from it, the price we pay for not being vulnerable and how to own our vulnerability. It also looks at the opposite of vulnerability, shame, and how it differs from guilt.

For me the underlying message is not what would you do if you couldn’t fail, it is what would you do even if you might fail. A much more vulnerable idea but one that is certainly mind opening.

A second idea that struck me was that we live in a ‘culture of scarcity’. We are always worried if there is enough. At the societal level we ask if there are enough jobs, money, etc but on the individual level we (definitely myself included) have a constant voice saying I am not good / thin / talented enough. And I certainly say I don’t have enough time on a daily basis. For Dr Brown the opposite of scarcity is not abundance but enough, what she calls ‘wholeheartedness’ which at its core is vulnerability and worthiness.

I have to say I think I am open to trying things out and taking risks but only in some areas of my life (hey, you don’t just wake up one day and find yourself in Italy). But I know that it is not something I do with my dreams of making photography a bigger part of my life. There were some big aha moments all through this book and I definitely recommend it to everyone. This is one for the boys too as I think if we all worked some of this into our lives the world would honestly be a better place.

If you don’t have time for another book check out the ‘original’ Ted Talk and this is a great longer form talk especially for creatives on Chase Jarvis Live.

I might move onto reading some of her other books or perhaps some of the other authors she mentions. Oh so many options.

Have you read any life-changing books this year?