on-the-kindle-defence-of-food-mycreative

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

I’m not one to give critical book reviews, I just don’t think I am that discerning. So I think I might stick to sharing what I learn from some of the non-fiction books that I read. I am kind of hoping to read at least two books a month. One fiction and one non-fiction. Increasing my literary intake is also necessary as the quality of my English seems to be deteriorating, although my Italian is only improving at an incredibly slow rate. Anyway!


This month I read a book-book, In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan. Mr Pollan and his book and ideas have been doing the circuit for a while but I spotted it on the library shelf at work so thought I would loan a book from a library!

Without giving the book away the principle behind the book is “Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants.” It is the first line of the book so really not giving it away.

It is very American focussed, but considering the American diet is pretty much going everywhere and I don’t think the British diet is that much better it is still relevant to other nations. Pollan basically scrutinises what he calls ‘nutritionism’. Food just isn’t food anymore because scientists tried, and still try, to reduce food down to its component parts and gave advise without really knowing what they were talking about leading to ‘component’ advice like the low-fat 80s and 90s and diets we get now which are low carb, high fat, high protein etc. Food exists within a context. You don’t just eat protein, carbs or fat. You eat a carrot (within the object of the carrot), within a meal, within a lifestyle and a culture.

One point I found particularly interesting and hadn’t really thought about is that as humans we can survive and be healthy on very varied diets. But not the ‘Western Diet’. Think for example the differences between the Masai who basically eat blood and meat, some cultures which are vegetarian, some like the Inuit who eat incredibly fatty diets. And they are healthy. But when we get to the Western diet which is full of food which is no longer really food we are becoming really really unhealthy.

His advice is to get back to a starting point of eating actual real food. Ones that don’t have hundreds of ingredients. Ones that your great grandmother would recognise.

Well worth the read if you are getting tired of all the fad diets.


On the fiction front I read Gone Girl. The first half of the book I was a bit bored and wondering what all the fuss was about but then it got interesting. Still not the most amazing book ever but worth the read. I’ll be interested to see how the movie worked out now.

I also picked up The Miniaturist because I had seen the cover and decided I wanted to read it and when Laura mentioned it was her book for this past month I thought I would check it out again and the price was reduced. I really enjoyed this book, just a story with a bit of magic running through it as well as intrigue and a bit of girl power in a sort of medieval laid back kind of way. I also now want to go back to Amsterdam for a visit.


Next on my non-Fiction list is This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. Not a light hearted read for sure. For the fiction side I might see if I can find something that is set in Japan.

read ‘em and eat

pear and pineapple green smoothie

Kind of what my week has looked like but at least by having some vegetables for breakfast everyday I don’t feel so bad.

READ ‘EM

I find this hypnotising.

If you missed my post earlier this week I just wanted to highlight this 30 day yoga challenge I started and re-started. It really has a beautiful knock on effect for my whole day.

Some additional tips for travelling after another of my posts earlier this week.

Not the sort of thing I normally share but this wedding is breathtaking.

EAT

WARNING: I am on the green smoothie bandwagon and future food posts might steer dangerously close to annoying if you never ever want to eat a green smoothie!

So I was going to share this post with you a while back but never got around to taking a picture but I finally got around to getting on this week and now my weeks favourite green smoothie recipe is a little different and even better. Lucky you! This green wonder is mostly seasonal with a drop of tropical.

  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 – 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • as much spinach as you can handle
  • 1 banana
  • 2 pears
  • a couple chunks of frozen pineapple
  • 2 cups water

Blend and dah dah! Makes 2 very generous portions. I take mine to work in a travel cup and sip it for a while.

I am amazed that the spinach flavour doesn’t even impact on the taste of smoothie but it does make things green which kind of makes me feel like Pop-eye. Also if you make a smoothie with kale you don’t put as much kale in as you would spinach. It has flavour!

intentions-giving-yourself-space-mycreative

Note to self: never put on your blog “I think that was the quietest month ever”!

So February came, a week away was planned and then we arrived back (10.30pm on a Saturday night, Valentine’s Night) inadvertently locked out of our flat by the plumber who had been redoing our bathroom after we started leaking into our downstairs neighbour (sometimes renting is the best). So we found a hotel (eventually). Then, it turns out, we couldn’t actually stay in our flat for a few days anyway because you know there wasn’t a toilet in it! And then it was a dusty dusty mess that took days to clean (and I think I will still be finding cementy dust for months to come).

All alright in the end as we have a new bathroom fitted (although the style is bordering on 1995 aesthetics), the cord for the washing machine no longer has to be trailed with a series of extension cords out the door, we have more storage in the bathroom and we have one of those massive ‘rainfall’ shower-heads.

So how do the intentions fair when life isn’t like it is everyday?

I think the lesson I learned is just stick to one thing.

Week one of February was great and I started really well. I started a daily yoga challenge, I had a smoothie for breakfast everyday (not yet green), I had a hot lemon tonic to wake my body up in the morning and I sat down and journaled in my notebook about gratitude and my wonderful life. I was winning!

Going away always makes life a little difficult in terms of maintaining healthy habits (please tell me I am not the only one!). But I continued daily yoga (except for those mornings with really early flights) and ate pretty healthy while we were away.

Return to ‘Bathroom-Gate’ threw me though. So instead of trying to maintain all these habits in a foreign space, where I had to have a different morning routine I settled on one thing. I brought our blender (which I am loving more with each passing blend) and made a super healthy green smoothie every single day. Just that. That is all I needed to do. No pressure.

So we’ve moved into week four. Home is feeling more home again. I am getting up earlier than I have done in a while. I have my green smoothies every morning. I restarted my yoga challenge (back to day 1 because why not), I have my morning tonic. I got a post on my blog! And I have worked on my dissertation. The preliminary report is due on Monday so no choice really (and perhaps some further explanation why blogging on here has been a bit sparse), I haven’t got 100% back into the swing of journalling but I will.

Another thing that I have maintained in good weeks, bad weeks, home or away is getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Tim and I aren’t the types to go to clubs or even sit in a pub for hours with just the two of us. So even on holiday we were often in bed before 11pm. At home it is more like 10.30pm and I have no shame in getting into bed at 9pm if the day has been a particularly tiring one. That means that on holiday you can get to places before the crowds do. And at home you can get through a morning routine and leave the house at a normal pace, no running for a bus and arriving at work an uncomfortable mess.

Okay so that is two things I have learnt. Sleep and just one other thing!

It kind of relates to the yoga that I am doing. Adriene keeps talking about creating the space to become more flexible. I think that applies to my intentions this month. I am working towards things but sometimes you need to give yourself space.

So what does being intentional in March look like? Continuing to work on being fit and healthy, continuing to work on my dissertation and hopefully spending more time on my blog and photography.Two things I really miss working on. No plans travelled so it should be a more home-focussed month which means getting into my discarding phase of tidying up and minimising clutter in my life (more space!).

Do you manage to keep a routine going when you are away? Or how do you keep sane when life throws you a whole bunch of lemons?

practising | packing light

packing light

Before heading off for our week holiday, Tim and I purchased some new ‘cabin size’ friendly bags. We have a few Ryanair flights this year but also thought it would also be easier for our trip to Japan to pack as light as possible as we aren’t keen to travel across the country with 23kgs of bulk.

Having bought the bag I got a bit nervous (it is so small!) but thought I would share a few tips of what I have already learnt from my first packing. Luckily for Japan it will be summer but we are away for two weeks. Obviously, last week we were still in winter so it was bulkier and I packed my laptop (which I don’t plan to take to Japan) so I think I might be alright.

Clothes

  • I mostly packed along the principles of the Konmari folding method that I have used in my cupboard after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. All my clothes were folded in this method and I was able to layout items so I could see everything that I was taking in one look. Tim said it looked like a bento box. This made it really easy to pack and, more importantly, while we were away I was able to put items neatly back in my bag so the airbnb didn’t look like something had exploded.
  • Puffer jacket. I finally succumbed to an Italian sartorial classic and bought a puffer jacket. I bought one that fits under my other jacket so I could layer up well. Mostly I had great fears that I would be cold in Budapest (although it wasn’t). But it is so light, like it won’t even show anything if I put it on a scale. And you can ball it up really small when not wearing it and it doesn’t come out looking like it has been crushed. Not only is it great for layering in winter but I figure it will also be good for travelling and while in Japan if there is a cooler evening in the summer.
  • If you can manage and feel comfortable wearing them go for bras without underwire (you get some cute tshirt bras). They can fold up much smaller and are actually super comfortable for long flights, and actually just generally more comfortable (why have I subjected myself to underwire for all these years?).

Toiletries and such

  • I have been streamlining my skincare routine so all I brought with me was a mini tub of coconut oil, a muslin face cloth and a small bottle of tonic.
  • In the makeup department I like multi-use items and none of them require brushes. Next time around I might even take fewer items.
  • Pack a small bottle of washing liquid. This is useful if you are spending more then 2 nights somewhere so you can wash socks and underwear and don’t have to try and squeeze in 14 pairs of everything.

Gadgets

  • Chargers and masses of plugs are always an issue. First decide do you really really need something? Like I won’t be taking my laptop to Japan. Then I’ve discovered that one charger can do it all and you normally just need two cords (one for my mobile and one for my tablet/kindle/re-chargable battery). For my camera I know that the battery life is rather long so I just fully charge two batteries and don’t need to bring the charger, It obviously depends how long your trip is on whether this is an option.
  • Kindles. You can have all the books and none of the weight.

Next, I would really like to buy a lighter weight ‘personal’ camera for when I am not doing ‘work’ related things and am only using photos for my own enjoyment and for sharing on the blog (in which case they don’t have to be that high a quality. Any tips on good mirrorless cameras? I’ve been eyeing out the Fujifilm X100T but it is rather steep on the budget and I don’t like that you can’t change the lens. I am looking for a camera that I can still use a viewfinder, is fully manual, has a good quality lens option which means I don’t need to buy a kit lens, is light and compact. I wish I could try them all out.

On a side note: be aware that even if you are flying with Ryanair there is no guarantee that your bag will be allowed with you as cabin luggage as there is a guarantee that only the first 90 bags are allowed. So on our way back from Budapest our bags were checked into the hold from the runway. A combination of early morning and not being prepared meant that one of our bags didn’t have a lock and something was actually taken from our bags in transit. I now kind of liken flying Ryanair to a bad relationship which you keep going back to!

Anyway, I would love to know if you have any magical packing tips for future trips?

on-my-kindle-lifechanging0magic-of-tidying-up-mycreative

So I bought a Kindle and love it. I have finished two books this month which feels like more than I have read in ages. So using my new kindle and Circle of Pine’s #theyearinbooks as inspiration I thought I would share a little bit of what I am reading. It hasn’t been something I have done on here before so let me know if you find it interesting or not.


I literally finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo in an evening and a morning. I seriously think the author is a wee bit crazy but the principals and methodology made a whole lot of sense to me. Her advice is incredibly blunt and potentially sexist at times, such as: “if sweat pants are your everyday attire, you’ll end up looking like you belong in them” but this in fact made it quite amusing to read and I was constantly having a little giggle while reading the book. One caveat is that her fondness for tidying is just not the norm (she was cleaning her house when she was 5) and I think her cultural upbringing makes it hard (or undesirable) to wholly transplant to many “Western” homes.

Aside from the main ideas of the book, one concept that intrigued me is that as children we are not taught to tidy. We are just told to tidy our room and it is almost like we are expected to have some genetic programming on how tidying should be done. But if you think about us as individuals we probably own more things than ever before in history. As a cave person I had my hammer weapon thing and my furry shoes and I probably didn’t mind the bones piling up in the corner of the cave because I was more concerned with my survival.

Confession time here: I just never feel like I get on top of the tidying (separate to cleaning I am not gross). There are always piles of clothes that I haven’t put away after washing and craft supplies that I take out of hiding and then sit on the dining table for days/weeks because it is too much of a hassle to put them away again. But I really don’t want to spend hours a week tidying so that I can vacuum and clean the floors. There are seriously better things to do with my life and the reason this book caught my attention is because it seemed like it might have an out.

Marie Kondi’s tidying method (the KonMari Method) actually makes a huge amount of sense to me. I think more important than the actual process is the underlying philosophy:

  • You should only have things in your house which bring you joy. If it doesn’t bring you joy get rid of it.
  • Properly tidying your house will give you the space and time to properly pursue higher level goals. The author apparently now spends 5 minutes a day putting away things she has used and once a year will spend about an hour reassessing what she owns.

The process itself is pretty simple. Step 1. Discard. Step 2. Organise. The book outlines an order in which this should be done and gives some tips on how things should be organised. But in a nutshell everything has a home.

I have so far only gotten around to the Step 1 Part 1 (cleaning out my clothes). And do you know what – I actually enjoyed tidying! I was getting rid of things that haven’t fitted me in five years (why did I bring them to Italy?) and items given to me by friends that just didn’t work for me. Because I couldn’t then leave my remaining clothes in a pile until I moved onto the next section to discard I did put them away with the KoMari folding technique so that my clothes are all vertically displayed in the cupboard/drawers. Seriously if I do nothing else in this book that will have revolutionised my life!

I am actually excited to start sorting the rest and will let you know how it goes and how I keep up with it.


Also this month I finished Living to Tell the Tale Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s autobiography that I started ages ago. We bought it as part of the Ebook Pack so I have a few more GGM books to go through though no complaint as I love his writing and his biography was beautifully done too.

This month I have started reading: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. We are travelling a bit this month so I will have plenty of train, airport lounge and flight time to consume that and maybe another one even.

read ‘em and eat

read-em-and-eat-more-porridge

READ ‘EM

I could spend ages looking at this floral/fashion shoot. Well if I had hours to spare…

The delivery of our blender was delayed because we were sent a vacuum cleaner instead (I kid you not!) but when it arrives I will probably be visiting Simple Green Smoothies every day!

And some more food inspo via instagram.

Talking about healthy eating I love this tongue in cheek definitive guide on it.

This note on 9 years of marriage is perfection. Even though Tim and I have only been married 7 months we have been a couple for over 10 years and so I can really associate with some of these.

EAT

I’ve been ‘powering up’ my porridges this year. I add some milled flaxseed, tahini, nuts and fruit. Kiwis are packed with Vitamin C so I am hoping it will keep the colds away. Also hazelnut milk? It is like drinking dessert and is so good with some porridge (and hot chocolate).

Don’t you love how winter fruits are so colourful, oranges and persimmon and kiwi fruit. The ones here in Italy are so sweet.

How do you ‘power up’ your porridge?