looking-towards-the-sun-mycreative

I’ve seen it around a bit and maybe the idea that February is the worst month of the year moved to March (at least for this year). I kind of feel like everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere has had a lingering sense of winter rather than the hopefulness of Spring and after reading Decor 8’s post questioning whether the weather doesn’t impact on happy people I have to say I feel it does because yes I am still mostly happy but dai (Italian for ‘come on’) I could do with some full-on spring already! It definitely takes the spring out your step sometimes when the sky is grey and you thought you could stop wearing your winter coat and then you can’t.

This month hasn’t been helped by a lingering cold/flu thing (the last week of which included waking up in coughing spasms about every two hours – though yay for first full night’s sleep last night). Plus a full schedule at work and ignoring working on my dissertation, which inevitably leads to guilt and anxiety that I’m not going to finish it. Plus not working out because I just don’t have the energy after a bad nights sleep. And not even reading because it requires a functioning brain and scrolling through pinterest is easier.

Another feeling that struck me this month is a sort of jealousy. Not a feeling that I am used to really. And not a sort of outright “I want that” or “I want their lives”. I am increasingly seeing my ‘blog buddies’ (mostly people I have actually met and truly like) working towards their dreams. And it is that that I am jealous of. Yes they have real lives and normal people problems but they have an idea of what it is they want and they are making it happen! Perhaps it is my looming birthday (and related thoughts of passing time and the reflection on how I am doing so far)? I kind of wonder what I am really doing and the question that I am having problems answering is ‘What is my big dream? What do I want to do with my life (in terms of how I make money and find creative fulfilment)?’. I mean I love like 80% of my life (and some days even 100%) but I know I am not doing the sort of work that I imagined myself doing a few years ago. But is that imagined life still what I want and perhaps more importantly realistic? Because a bit of realism is needed when you need to pay bills and you want to travel. Anyway a lot of questions.

So that is where I am at the moment, but always hopeful and optimistic.

That said I have been procrastinating on something at least semi-productive. It involves photography but not in a way I would have thought but we will see where it goes. It also involves learning a bunch of new skills not related to photography (ooh cryptic). It is always exciting to learn something new (at least for me) so that will be interesting. I just need to finish my rather unloved dissertation.

So what does April hold? Hopefully more productivity than procrastination. Getting a bulk of my dissertation out of the way. Turning 31 in less than a week! Hopefully more woohoo than meh (Siobhan and I decided they were the opposites of each other).

How are you doing?

read ‘em and eat

read-em-and-eat-med-inspired-toppings

Just a short one today as my  lurgy seems to have caught up with me.

READ ‘EM

I fell into the TEDx bucket. This one on how to stop screwing yourself over was interesting. I’ve mentioned before my interest with words and the power they have. Stop saying fine is something that I am adding to my list (along with I’m busy as a response to how I am).

Beth Kirby’s Instagram photos from Japan are getting me excited about our trip later this year. Just need to book some places!

I need to give up eating rubbish snack (chocolate addicts raise their hands). After reading In Defence of Food I thought a more lifestyle friendly solution is to just eat ‘sweet snacks’ I make myself (and eating good quality gelato because honestly that isn’t going to stop happening). This healthy chocolate fudge is definitely going to the top of my list.

EAT

This is the first non-liquid breakfast I have had in about a month. I am loving those smoothies man! Anyway, some days pancakes are required (especially when your lingering cold has you up from three in the morning). The toppings on this one are kind of Greek/med inspired (a combo of Crete holiday dreaming and  paging through the Toast catalogue that I had my mom send me (priorities right!?)). Banana (because always), dried fig, almonds (not chopped because I was too lazy) and a sprinkling of halva. I also added a drizzle of tahini after the pic because I just can’t . Also great on a porridge or muesli and I am pondering a smoothie combination with this too.

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I think it is best for me to travel to places of which I have no expectations. Although I enjoyed Budapest, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. Everyone I know who has been raves about it and I think that built up some unfairly high expectations.

That said I did enjoy the city. I feel the car is given a bit too much priority (for example while walking along the Danube you are sandwiched between the river and busy traffic). However, I did enjoy the contrasts of the city and found it has a vibrancy, creativity and energy that I have found and enjoyed in other prominent cities that I have travelled to in former communist area (admittedly not a very large list but I feel three is enough to make a comparison).

Budapest has gorgeous old buildings, mixed with some hideous retro establishments as well as some interesting modern architecture. You can find local cuisine as well as a variety of international foods (which I was pretty stoked about as my part of Italy does not particularly embrace foreign food). I didn’t really try any local dishes (sadly been vegetarian local cuisines can often be on the meaty side) but we didn’t lack for a variety of food options although we did end up having hummus and falafel every day (there are also a great selection of soup stores and more for the vegetarian visitor). We also made an out of the way trip to a smoothie bar which was really good, although I found a visit to a well regarded ‘modern’ cake shop disappointing.

Also coffee is definitely on the rise here. And there are coffee shops on every corner, from the well established coffee houses (which reminded me of those in Trieste) full of glamour and old world charm to the more hipster hang outs with speciality coffees and cool interiors.

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I really enjoyed the interior of Kiosk which seems to be in an old theatre on the river. And really any place which has The Gentlewoman on the table as reading material is my kind of place.

Unfortunately, Tim and I aren’t … something … enough and we didn’t visit any of the famous ruin bars. Oops.

However, for breakfast for three days in a row we had the most amazing pastry from a French (style?) bakery. A pistachio pain au chocolat. Out of this world!

Also as mentioned the design is quite up my line and I did do a little bit of shopping (literally a necklace but I could have bought a whole bunch more). One of my favourite was Mono where I bought my necklace.

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We didn’t do too many museums and such this trip although we did visit Memento Park, a private open air museum out of town which houses a collection of communist statues. They were really interesting but I think the experience of catching a tram to a giant but not very busy transport terminal and then waiting in what I can only describe as a sort of abandoned and uglier Croydon (sorry Croydon lovers) for a bus that then took us through a rather bleak landscape to the museum was a rather more impactful one.

We also visited the largest synagogue in Europe and went on a mini-tour. I hadn’t realised quite how badly Budapest was impacted by the holocaust (approximately 10% of those killed in the holocaust were Hungarian) and it was a sobering reminder. The synagogue had been at the centre of Jewish life for the city for over a hundred years and was luckily preserved during the war.

And we went on a riverboat cruise which was kind of cheesy as we got a hideous glass of ‘champagne’ but still enjoyable.

So there is a random rambling of thoughts from Budapest. Have you been? What did you think?

read ‘em and eat

smoothie-in-bed-mycreative

This week I got attacked by a throat and ear lurgy. And I had some deadlines at work. So it has been pretty full on. But I realised that a ‘bad’ week in my life at the moment is really pretty darn good still. Yes, I still have a terrible relationship with chocolate (meaning I eat it everyday and still haven’t shifted any weight off this year). Yes, I have no idea what I am doing with my life in the big picture sense. But man is my day to day life awesome. And just appreciating the ‘nows’ makes you super happy. I mean I seriously feel like I am on some natural prozac all the time. I am wondering how I can bottle this feeling for future ‘down periods’. I’ll let you know if I am successful.

READ ‘EM AND EAT

I am always in love with Siobhan’s Friday link-ups. (Do you have any good ones?)

I want Tiffany’s office space, or for her to come over and magic my rental into something so beautiful.

I am starting to eye up birthday cakes and this hazelnut and mascarpone one is currently leading the race.

These scarves are beautiful.

I might be going hysterical but I found this incredibly amusing (warning it is only cats on the internet).

This project is a great way to get you off your phone and help give water to children in need.

EAT

Um, another smoothie … sorry they are all I am eating for breakfast at the moment! So many combinations. I might try a beet smoothie soon though …

Check out the recipe for this one on Instagram. The one above (had in bed this morning) is the same but looks more chocolatey because I used a different leaf with a pink stem so the colour changed. There was no chocolate in it. But it was still green in spirit.

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Italy, the land of gelato and carbs. However, because I now live in the country, I don’t necessarily feel the need to indulge in the carb fest that I might have previously ensued on when visiting Rome.  So when I was there a few weeks back I was on the hunt for some slightly more balanced meals. Not that I am saying you shouldn’t eat pasta galore when you visit the eternal city! No, by all means indulge! But if you get to day three of the carbo-loading and want some lighter suggestions here you go!

I don’t know if it was because I was just because I was looking but I feel like the city is definitely expanding on its choice of lighter and healthier eating places. I didn’t get to try them all but there is always next time.

Markets and Grocers

First and foremost visit the markets. Fresh and cheap produce and an insight into how Italians actually eat. Pick up a few bits to snack on through the day rather than getting ‘hangry’ and eating a whole pizza. Warning though: don’t touch the produce. Ask or point to what you want.

Ciao Ceccho

This is a slow food restaurant; a concept I hadn’t heard applied to a restaurant but I thought was intriguing. All of the dishes are Italian. focussed on regional dishes with quality dishes. I had ravioli with a wild greens stuffing and a gorgonzola sauce. Now that might sound less than healthy but I think the difference here was the serving size was actually just right. A smallish dish but satisfying. Tim had a traditional chickpea dish which had a broth and was very tasty and incredibly filling.

aTrestaurant

A healthy ‘fast food’ type place with a few seats and a range of smoothies, salads, soups, quiches, sandwiches etc.  We just had a light bite and it was pretty tasty if a little bit pricier than a take away pizza slice. Great to stock up before the train although the vegetarian sandwich options were a bit limited.

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Of course eating all the healthy food means I did get to have a calorific but delicious traditional Roman Jewish treat for breakfast one morning! Head to the Jewish quarter, find the place with the queue (I don’t even know the name but it is on Vicolo della Serpe, oppose the Kosher Bistro Caffe which did some lovely falafel and salads) and ask for the ricotta and cherry pastry. We headed there early in the morning and avoided the queue.

read ‘em and eat

greens-mango-smoothie

READ ‘EM

Just a light list this week. I want to go our and play with the sun!

We are never ready. If only I knew what I wasn’t ready for …

I love these paintings found via The Jealous Curator. I think it must be because they are so photographic.

These cookies look delicious and no making required.

Wisdom from Instagram.

EAT

I made another winner of a smoothie this week. Actually two but I shared the other one (apples and hazelnut) on Instagram.

This one used just a few leaves of chard (it is chard right?) that I picked up because it had a pretty colour. I learnt a lesson last week that a smoothie can have too much green in it so I added just a wee bit to my smoothie. Light green is better than no green right?

Anyway the ingredients for 2 servings are:

  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 milled flaxseed
  • 2 frozen mango slices (I assume it is about 1/3 of a fresh mango)
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 blood orange
  • 3 or more leaves of chard
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (heaped)
  • 2 cups water