Saturday, 26 March 2011

Novelists Share Their Tips on Writing...

Here is a great article from The Guardian with snippets of interviews from different writers about their personal process of writing.

How to Have the Perfect Picnic (or Parklife Part Deux)

I am a big fan of picnics. When the sun is shining what could be better than lazing in beautiful surroundings with wonderful food?
Probably the best picnics are had out in the countryside, undisturbed by others. When I lived in Yorkshire I used to go on walks recommended on nature trails and often used to picnic in meadows of wildflowers or by soothing waterfalls. Now that I live in London I don't miss out though, as this magnificent city has lots of gorgeous parks to choose from. My favourite has to be Hampstead Heath - it really is an escape from the bustling metropolis.

Here are my tips for a perfect picnic:

  • You need a big blanket, preferably a specific picnic one so the underside is waterproof. These can be bought quite cheaply at supermarkets
  • I love baskets and those gorgeous hampers with the plates and cutlery and even a little chopping board inside but any bag will do really. I often use those reusable supermarket bags. Cool bags are handy too if you want to keep things fresh and cool.
  • Plastic plates, cups and cutlery are handy to have but disposable ones are good too
  • Suncream and sunglasses
  • Napkins and baby wipes
  • Layers of clothing, in case it gets chilly when the sun goes behind the clouds
  • An mp3 player or guitar and a good book.
  • Sandwiches. You can pre-prepare, but I love nothing more than buying a crusty french baguette, pulling of hunks and smearing with butter and topping off with roughly chopped cheese, avocado and tomato. To take butter with you, use those little cubes you get in restaurants or put a blob into a small tupperware tub
  • Salad. I prepare a salad and put in a secure tub. My favourite salads include rocket, avocado, feta, toasted pine nuts, tomatoes, red peppers, cannelloni beans and tuna. Couscous is filling too as is sushi
  • Fruit; especially strawberries and melon - yum. Or peaches and cream.
  • Cupcakes or tarts
  • A bottle of water
  • Elderflower cordial is delicious
  • White wine or Prosecco
  • A plastic bag for all your rubbish

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Darren Hanlon - All These Things

Smiley happy video

Spring Fever (or Parklife)

Spring has sprung. Throw the windows open, fill your space with the heady scent of flowers. Feel the sun on your face, the air on your skin. Stop and smell the roses. Let the cherry blossom rain on to you.
De-clutter your wardrobe, your home, your life.
Breathe deeply.

Stunning Photography by Philip Schumacher

Check out his Facebook site!/pages/Phillip-Schumacher-Photography/161729117206432?sk=info
or this site

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A Cure for Writer's Block?

A cure for writer's block

Very interesting article about Hollywood's take on writer's block.

Lavender Shortbread

I have a few confessions to make. Firstly, I adore shortbread. I grew up in Scotland and to this day absolutely adore Scottish food. Secondly, I love lavender. I love the smell of it (I used to live in a house with a garden full of it) and ever since trying lavender cheese at a cheese-tasting evening I really like lavender used in food. Lastly, and this may not be healthy, but I am attracted to food that is unnaturally coloured; if something is blue, I'll eat it!

I stumbled across this recipe for lavender shortbread and it is perfect (and purple - one of my favourite colours). I found the recipe here but as it's in Spanish, I've put it below.

250g butter (I use a soya spread)

75g sugar

1tbs water

300g flour

100g rice flour

2tbs edible lavender, chopped finely

2tbs brown sugar

purple colouring

Preheat oven to 160

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add the water, sifted flour and lavender. Add the colouring - you'll only need a tiny bit.

Mix well. Knead on a floured surface and then roll out using a rolling pin. Cut into desired shapes and place on a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with the remainder of the lavender and the brown sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes and then transfer onto a rack to cool.

Another recipe can be found here. This one doesn't use colouring and adds lemon and mint flavours. Yum!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Things I Love...

Cat-eye glasses

This dreamy room

This breakfast


Peach roses

It's almost picnic weather!

Things I Learnt This Weekend

1. Afternoon naps are lovely

2. Hangovers are evil (I already knew this)

3. Eating healthily during the week and treating yourself to a pig-out at the weekend is the way to go

4. Quantum Physics is mind-boggling

5. I miss having a dishwasher. A lot.

6. I really want to do an MA

7. I am really looking forward to going on holiday

8. My mint plant has been resurrected!

9. My local supermarket is depressing

10. A sandwich is a good hangover cure

Monday, 14 March 2011

Easy A

Every so often, a clever, witty teen film comes along that manages to rise above the drivel and make a star of it's leading lady. In the 80s there were the John Hughes movies like Breakfast Club that put Molly Ringwald on the map, in 1988 Winona Ryder made it big in the black comedy Heathers, and in 1995 Alicia Silverstone went from starring in Aerosmith videos to being Clueless. In the late 90s the teen films were dominated by the Jennifer Love Hewitts and Sarah Michelle Gellars. They were either teenage slasher films or sex comedies like American Pie, and then in the 00s...well perhaps I grew up, and those teen films no longer interested me. Sure, there was Mean Girls, but I classify a good teen flick as having a female protaganist you like, and well, even though this was before her tanorexic, skinny, bleached, lip plumped, general downward spiral phase, Lindsay Lohan still irritated the hell out of me.

Fast forward to 2010, and Emma Stone, who had supporting roles in Superbad and Zombieland, finally gets a meaty role playing Olive in Easy A. Essentially this film has a tried and tested formula; loosely base it on a classic novel, modernise and run with it. Clueless was based on Jane Austen's Emma, 10 Things I Hate About You was Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare, and Cruel Intentions was an update of Choderlos de Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons. Easy A takes The Scarlett Letter as it's inspiration, or rather as Olive's inspiration as her status in school suddenly sky rockets. Essentially, she pretends to sleep with people to make their social status in school improve, to the eventual cost of her own.

I liked the film. It will never surpass Heathers or Clueless in my favourites lists, but then they have the edge of being watched repeatedly in my childhood (to the point where I practically know the scripts by heart). Olive makes a likeable heroine; she's smart, fiesty and funny - producing the kind of wit (especially during interactions with her parents) that is reminiscent of Juno. Of course her likability factor is considerably boosted by the fact that her friends and frenemies are utterly annoying, stereotypical high school brats (I couldn't look at Amanda Bynes' chipmunked, lip-glossed face without imagining it floating off like a helium balloon).
Three and a half stars out of five

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Love and Other Drugs

I wanted to like this film, I really did. To me, it looked to be a sexy rom-com with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. That should have made the alarm bells ring; rom-com - I usually hate them. Ok, so there might be the odd few I consider guilty pleasures, but generally they're not my cup of tea. This film appealed though, because it had Jake Gyllenhaal and sex. I'm not going to lie.

The thing is, I'm not sure this film is what it says on the tin. Sexy? Er...actually not. The sex scenes seemed awkward and seriously lacking in chemistry. The whole time I just thinking; 'Oh look, they're at it again, Jake and Anne pretending to have sexy time!'

Their characters were not likeable, and at times came across as over-acted. No, I'm not an expert in the fields of acting or cinema, but this is the internet, so I can say what I want and try and make it sound like I know what I'm talking about. Maybe.

Hathaway is all nicey nicey and eyes and teeth. A bit like Julia Roberts - only Hathaway is happy to get naked. Her hair is all wavy and curly, which, true to the rules of cinema, particularly rom-coms, means her character is kooky and independent. Gyllenhaal is playing the stereotypical jerk who is actually quite nice (slutty men have hearts too!).

I spent most of this film wondering when it was going to end, or what I could eat to satisfy the rumbling in my tummy. I didn't care about the characters, and I didn't care if they stayed together and that it all ended happily ever after - the main reason being that whenever a 'tender' moment happened between Maggie and Jamie (oh, yes, they are the characters' names. I couldn't be bothered to give a synopsis in case I fell asleep) a woman would start humming in the background. It's as if the film maker's got this woman to sing, or hum, so that every time she did, the audience were reminded to care.

I'm not sure what this film was. It wasn't sexy, it wasn't a comedy, and it definitely wasn't romantic. It was just kind of...meh. Underwhelming. Maybe my expectations in movies are heightened after watching a spate of award-winning films; Black Swan, The King's Speech, Winter's Bone, Blue Valentine, and er...Superman 2. Or maybe this film just wasn't for me.

Two Stars out of 5. One for Gyllenhaal and one for his bum.


Friday, 11 March 2011

Jem VS Le Tigre - Deceptacon

This is bloody brilliant.

The ghost of a saber tooth tiger - Jardin du luxembourg

This is an acoustic version of Jardin du Luxembourg for French television. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger are Sean Lennon and his model girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl.

Oh Land - Lean (Live with String Quartet)

Let's Start Over

It's been well over a year since I last blogged here. In this time I started another blog but now I've decided I prefer this one (fickle, moi?). So my blog updates here are going to be more frequent from now on, and this is going to be my only blog.
I'll adding writing tips, poetry, film/book/music reviews, as well as posted beautiful/funny pics and links to websites and videos I like.