March: eat, see, do.

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Inspired by this amazing Etsy poster and my holiday, this year I’ve vowed to collect moments not things. Yes, it only took a ridiculously expensive holiday for me to start living in the moment. There’s something about changing the scenery which helps me be mindful and aware in a way I don’t when they are familiar.

Sadly, it turns out my plan to spend the rest of my life travelling is fiscally unsustainable, booo. So I’ve been looking at ways to recreate that feeling of being tuned in at home. Life is really busy at the moment. So unless I ‘schedule’ time to have fun and see the people I love I find weeks have slipped by like sand through my fingers. I want to be somebody who is mindful, who does stuff, who lives.

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So here’s a catalogue of all the stuff I’ve been eating, seeing, reading, making and doing this month post holidays.

Eat

La Choza

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The day after we flew back from Australia in a frantic attempt to beat the jetlag, we were tourists in our own city*.

*We wondered aimlessly marvelling at how a) freezing, and b) dirty everything was in comparison to Japan and c) taking lots of photos.

In Brighton there’s been a sudden influx of Mexican restaurants and I’d heard La Choza a bright pink restaurant in the North Laines was one of the best. The decor is amazing, bright and vibrant with día de los muertos skulls everywhere. It really helped stave off those post holiday blues for a couple of hours at least.

I ordered a burrito tortilla filled with *takes deep breath* roasted spicy squash and sweet potato, green salsa, guacamole, refried beans, green rice, cheese and sour cream. It was huge and so filling I couldn’t completely finish it or even have room for the churros I’d been eyeing up for desert.

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One of the things that seem to vary quite a lot is the portion size. HSWNBN ordered two sets of three soft corn tacos (gluten free options FTW): one stuffed with prawns the other with hand pulled pork. But despite having two meals, which I mocked him roundly for because thats how I roll, when they arrived they seemed minuscule in comparison to my mega burrito.

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I’d heard beforehand that the service could be patchy and it despite getting in before the lunchtime rush it it took a long time to get our food and service was a little chaotic.

Verdict: Nommy, but I might avoid during busy periods.

Passionfruit Bubble tea

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Do you ever get into a bit of a taste obsession? In Japan I couldn’t get enough of matcha (green tree). I am on a bit of a passionfruit kick this month. I’ve eating it mixed into yoghurt and granola for breakfast, as a quick snack before I see clients and in my newest obsession: Passionfruit Bubble tea. They’ve been selling at work for ages but it looks so odd I’d never quite plucked up the courage. Think sugary fruit tea filled with gelatinous jelly balls that burst in your mouth. I’m not making this sound that appealing. But I genuinely can’t get enough of this drink.

See

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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One lazy Sunday I and a bunch of lovely people watched the Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson’s latest masterpiece.

As with every Wes Anderson movie the set design and colours are just stunning. I wanted to freeze each frame and study it like a painting.

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Has anybody else noticed how much Wes Anderson loves centering shots?

Wes Anderson // Centered from kogonada on Vimeo.

A friend told me, and now I can’t unseen it.

It was very evocative and made me long to go to Eastern Europe again and stay in the faded glamour of an old world hotel.

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But what made this movie for me was the humour. I love Ralph Fiennes and I’ve always seen him as a dramatist but his comic timing was out of this world. The room perfectly played into his luvvie wheelhouse. He was absolutely pitch perfect.

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Plus Tilda is my homegirl.

Verdict: funnier than Moonrise Kingdom but I was less emotionally invested. Still scoring in my top 3 Wes Anderson movies, is no mean feat. I’m sure Wes will be so happy he’ll put it on his posters!

Veronica Mars: the Movie

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I’ve raved on this blog many times about my obsession with teen detective Veronica Mars. Snarky, vulnerable, committed to justice – Veronica is my kind of girl.

So when a Kickstarter was launched to raise money for a movie I was beyond excited. And all the antics on social media only fanned the flames.

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The show’s ending, well before it’s time, was ambivalent to say the least. And ten years on I wanted answers. Did Veronica ever get into the FBI? Was her dad voted out as sheriff? And most importantly was her and Logan’s love story still epic?

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*Wipes away drool*

So HWSNBN and I sat down to watch it. He’d never seen the show so was slightly lost in a mass of in jokes and spot on cameos from notorious characters from Veronica’s past.

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The central mystery was a little weak in comparison to the character work surrounding it. (SPOILER a character we’ve never seen before is the murderer, even HSWNBN could see that one coming.)

But it delivered the bittersweet, noir ending I wanted. Veronica might be a marshmallow but she hasn’t gone soft. Not one bit.

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Verdict: for a LoVE fan like me this was an absolute bliss. I only hope that the success of the movie leads to more show. Please TV gods?

Do

Green dreams

This month Daddy Janvier and I become the proud co-owners of an allotment.

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We’ve been on the list for years now but finally I got the call and as we were top of the list we could come and choose from four vacant allotments. Eeek! Just a five minute walk from our house, was a hive of weeding, planting and watering. There was only one problem, Dad was away and I was going to have to pick the plot myself. Uh-oh. This was a hell of a responsibility for somebody with a notorious green thumb. It’s an affliction!

HWSNBN and I were in agreement and plumped for a sunny yet secluded plot with our very own shed! I’ve since learnt this is allotment gold. We’re currently twiddling our thumbs until we could get the keys. But after inspecting Daddy Janvier couldn’t help do a bit of digging. I think he’s pleased.

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Verdict: there go my evening and weekends. But I’m so excited to learn more about gardening, bond with my Dad, and spend some time making things grow.

Decluttering

After packing and unpacking (read throwing unironed clothes back into cupboard) my wardrobe looked like a hurricaine had been through. The items I wear regularly were in my clothes basket. And all of the unflattering, weird fitting, odd coloured clothes were still hanging up.

So I had a wardrobe cull and donated three bags of clothes to charity. And now look there’s actually space in my wardrobe. I feel like I can see what I own and actually want to wear. The only challenge is keeping it this way.

Read

Bill Bryson’s Australia

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From the back copy:

‘It was as if I had privately discovered life on another planet, or a parallel universe where life was at once recognizably similar but entirely different. I can’t tell you how exciting it was. Insofar as I had accumulated my expectations of Australia at all in the intervening years, I had thought of it as a kind of alternative southern California, a place of constant sunshine and the cheerful vapidity of a beach lifestyle, but with a slightly British bent – a sort of Baywatch with cricket…’

Of course, what greeted Bill Bryson was something rather different. Australia is a country that exists on a vast scale. It is the world’s sixth largest country and its largest island. It is the only island that is also a continent and the only continent that is also a country. It is the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents and still it teems with life – a large proportion of it quite deadly.

In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you. If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistable currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback.

Ignoring such dangers – yet curiously obsessed by them – Bill Bryson journeyed to Australia and promptly fell in love with the country. And who can blame him? The people are cheerful, extrovert, quick-witted and unfailingly obliging; their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water; the food is excellent; the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

When I’m abroad I like to read thematically. There’s something about immersing myself in fictional representations of where I am visiting that adds another layer to this experience. So while in Japan I read Murasaki, a lot of Murasaki. And when in Australia it was time for some Bill Bryson.

He is such a roundly brilliant writer and I adore his enthusiasm which spills through for his subject. Whether he’s musing on how many things in Australia can kill you.

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Or roundly mocking the explorers who took off to find a way across the centre hauling an oak writing desk. You need to read this book.

Verdict: I loved it so much I read half of it aloud to HWSNBN.

Leah Cypress’s Death Sworn

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From the back cover copy

Ileni is losing her magic. And that means she’s losing everything: her position as the rising star of her people, her purpose in life, and even the young man she loves. Sent to the assassins’ cave, hidden deep within the mountains, she expects no one will ever hear from her again. The last two sorcerers sent died within weeks of each other. Accidents? Or something more sinister? As Ileni navigates the dangers—both natural and human—of the caves, she’ll discover secrets that have been kept for decades. And she’ll find an ally in Sorin, the deadly young man who could be the assassins’ next leader. With Sorin determined to protect her, sparks—magical and romantic—will fly. But will even he understand the choice she must make in the end?

I love fantasy and I love my heroines with a piquant touch of cynicism. Cypress writes so well perfectly capturing Ileni’s fatalistic streak and determination to investigate the death’s of her predecessors no matter the cost. I enjoyed the tension of knowing her magic was fading when she was surrounded by assassins poised to strike at any moment. However, just as the book was getting started it ended. Plus the ‘twist’ ending was ridiculous.

Verdict: Will read the sequel for the atmosphere alone but the plot better tighten up and soon.

Wear

After having technicolour nails for technicolour countries. I’ve been feeling a little grey this month.

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I love this shade, it’s almost lilac but not quite. Plus this George nail varnish from Asda is cheaper and more durable than some expensive brands.

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My newest charity shop find is this olive green patterned Pearl Lowe at Peacocks dress. HWSNBN thinks I look frumpy, but I think I look foxy. You decide.

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Right, any ideas for what I should be doing in April. Besides watching the first episodes of Game of Thrones on repeat and spoiler baiting HSWNSBN who hasn’t read the books by looking sad when random characters appear on the screen.

Tell me anything I should be reading or watching in April in the comments.

Rowan rates/hates: TV and movies

Apologies for the radio silence. But this month I’ve mostly been working, reading, sleeping, working, reading, sleeping and working, writing essay and sleeping. Yep, my life is the epitome of glamour. Luckily the end is in sight as I only have to be chained to my desk for one more month til hand-in day. And then I can live again. Bliss.

Because of my limited brain power in my free time I’ve been watching a lot of TV and movies. Some I rate, some I hate. So here’s what I’ve mostly been watching this month:

WARNING SPOILERS BELOW.

Melancholia
What I thought this would be: in the run-up to a wedding a asterioid is spotted but everybody is more concerned with petty family drama then their impending doom.
What this actually is: a total snorefest. Hours of screentime are devoted to the wedding full of characters we never see again and then an asteroid arrives and everybody dies. We had so many questions. Why devote so much time to the wedding when its all about the asteroid? Why is every character so unrealistic and unlikeable? Why make Kristen Dunst strip but not the god that is Alex Skargaard? Unfair, much. Yes, it’s beautifully shot and well acted but the script and the slow ass editing meant this dragged for me. AVOID.

Yes, I’m unashamedly low brow but this looks much more interesting.

Mad Men
Don Draper’s back and he’s happy? And we’re finally getting into the swinging sixties and the civil unrest? And the clothes I am so there. The only sour note for is how Betty Draper is being written without any nuances to her character. What did January Jones do to the writers? Although I had a brief flirtation with Megan after a seminal (hur, hur, hur) performance of Zou Bisou Biso, girl is hawt, see:

Joan will always be my homegirl. Especially after she finally throws out her rapey husband.Team Joan 4eva. Especially if she might lend me her wardrobe…

Eat, Pray, Love
I’d listened to the audio book before I watched the movie, which probably didn’t help because the movie ripped out Gilbert’s voice and her insights into the cultures and countries she visits and left all the first world problems and Julia Roberts doing her best smug/sad face. Even Richard Jenkins selling the hell of out of the ashram confession scene and a very late showing from hot, rumpled Javier Bardem couldn’t save this movie for me. Read the book instead if only to mock the pretentiousness with friends.

Better Off Ted

I’m a massive Arrested Development fan and I’m so excited that they’re filming a TV show and a movie. I can’t wait for the return of the nevernude, the Frozen Banana Stand, Steve Holt, Ayun Yung, Loretta 2, ‘I’ve made a huge mistake’ and Motherboy. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go watch now!) Until it returns I’ll be watching Better Off Ted an amusing sitcom about an evil research and development corporation and the group of misfits that work for it, including my . My favourite episode so far, when the new high tech door sensors fail to recognise black employees the company hires white employees to follow them around. Ridiculously funny.

The Voice
I blame my best friend Debs for hooking me on this show. I am a sucker for reality tv so I try and avoid altogether because once I start watching I can’t stop (see: Cheaters, damn you Really!). But the Voice is the antidote to the Circus of Freaks on other talent shows by only featuring a) people who can actually sing and b) with a central conceit of blind auditions putting the voice at the centre  c) the fake look of delight as the judges turn and are satisfied and disappointed because they choose poorly. At end of this weeks show the hair on my arms stood up as Jaz Ellington sang and will.i.am looked like the cat that had got the cream. What a name, what a voice.

Game of Thrones
Second series of this fantasy show + adapted from an amazing series of books + by HBO + plus dragons = eeeeeeeeeeee!  The first series exceeded my expectations summarising mutiple complicated storylines. And the acting is impeccable Peter Dinklage as Tyrion steals ever scene he’s in and Sean Bean perfectly portrayed the noble stupidity of Ned Stark. Even unsympathic characters (Cersei, I’m looking at you) were painted in shades of grey. Although I will always hate Joffrey with the passion on a dying sun, grr.

Aah that’s better an endless gif of Joffrey being slapped.

I haven’t been this excited about a show in well, ever. Especially as I know what’s coming. Poor Tyrion! Three words: Battle of Blackwater. Oh yes, this is going to be freakin awesome.

Via Hipster Game of Thrones also check out Arrested Westeros I am a little in love with Tumblr can you tell?

Right so there’s the tv shows and movies I rate/hate, get the comments and tell me what else I should be watching and why?

Hello world

Check out this amazing video mash-up of Hello.

Yep a little video to distract people from noticing I haven’t blogged since the 1 January. Excuses, I have them. First I had to finish the essay from hell. The early part of this month I worked on the essay before work, after work and I started dreaming about this essay. Despite completing a first draft of the essay in December I couldn’t escape my procrastinating past and ended up finishing the essay at 11pm the night before submission.

After I submitted the essay I promptly got the flu. I haven’t had the flu in the years and I’d forgotten how completely it knocks you out. My body pounded, my throat closed to a pinhole, my nose was dripped like a faucet, and I felt so light headed getting out of bed was a struggle. I slept, I spluttered into tisssues, I stared aimlessly at the ceiling, in short I did nothing. HWSNBN was the best carer a girl could have, until I infected him. Sorry HWSNBN. But I’m finally feeling better, if better= still snotty, weak and knackered.

But I’m trying to focus on the positive. I was mentally and physically exhausted and flu forced me to take a break. Also I could have contracted the flu during essay week, so I’m thankful my body waited until hand in. After a week sequestered away from the world, I have lots of things in the pipeline to look forward to.

What’s making me happy this month…

♥ finally feeling a bit better ♥ celebrating my best friends 30th birthday. A potential highlight of 2012 and it’s only January!  ♥ when people ask me when I’m getting married, I can finally say this year!  ♥ wedding invites ♥ Australian Four Weddings: the perfect blend of bitchy and funny ♥ new silky soft pyjama bottoms, thanks mum ♥ Sherlock, TV at it’s finest ♥ a month off from uni= time with friends + family

Head to the comments to let me know what’s making you happy this month. Finally I leave you with this video of Shit Brides say. It’s achingly familiar…

Links-a-plenty Thursdays

A list of the things I found interesting this week in no particular order

  • After the rather depressing previous week filled with (Oh Whoopi why?) there have been a slew of awesome posts including Kate Harding in the Salon reminding us that Polanski raped a child, Jim Hines defunking the Polanski apologists and this article in the Guardian about the backlash on Hollywood from their support of Polanski which managed to do the unthinkable. This quote from the awesome Harding made me laugh “Who knew being disgusted with Roman Polanski would turn out to be the ever-elusive common ground between rightwing dudes and liberal feminists?”
  • The eternal optimists and article on the probation service
  • The pilot for the new Stargate Universe series. I liked: the updated camera-work and visual look and feel. Will be interested to see how they keep the drama dynamic given they have a fixed number of actors (unless it turns into aliens of the week) and resources.
  • My colleague had a book of photos printed from Blurb of her travels throughout America. Beautiful photos. I’ve been wondering what to do with our travel photos for ages. This seems like the perfect solution.

She’s a pistol


I’ve had a good weekend. But now I’m deep into the Sunday blues that even a three day week can’t alleviate. Bleurgh.

I went back home for the weekend. The Boys mum and dad are moving to my home town and we went for a look round their new home. Its gorgeous, high ceilings, beautifully finished and with its only mini temple in the garden. Then I went up on the hill to see the folks.

Today, I just lounged in bed and indulged in my new obsession, Veronica Mars. Veronica is the daughter of a PI, an outcast and a former member of the 09ners the rich kids that rule the school. Her best friend Lily Kane was murdered and her father the former sheriff was discredited after going the father of the Kanes. The show is brilliant Veronica is approachable, feisty, interesting, but never smug. She’s like the new Nancy Drew. The shows funny and sad a little bit twin peaks, a little bit buffy. Go watch it, go watch it now!

{Does anyone know to cut and hide things? I really want to rave in detail about certain books and shows without spoilering them for friends}

Less of a recommendation more of avoid this if you don’t want to be a little bored. We’re watching the mist at the moment which is filled with people jostling for the position of ‘Too-stupid-to-live’ from the religious freak lady, unbelieving attorney, callow youth etc. Its not quite as bad as cloverfield (30 minutes of drunken party footage, 1 hour and a half of running and screaming with unlikable stupid characters) but what is? Anyway you can tell how interested I am in by the fact I’m surfing the internet instead of watching the damn thing. Although interesting ending

Example 1 of how hypothetical situations ruin relationships I was not too impressed that The Boy just remarked ‘why is he going back for his wife’. Hmmm

My friend joey has joined the blogging revolution with his friend leo. Go and check out their film review blog over here

3 things I’m loving about Lost this series

I’m really getting into Lost again. I can’t help it. I know it’s the TV equivalent of that hot guy with the perfect hair and the air of mystery – until you actually talk to him and figure out the perfect hair is hours spent in front of the mirror and the air of mystery is just somebody without anything interesting to say. Even when I’m faced with the almost certain realisation that there is no way the writers are going to be able to tie up all the loose ends in the conclusion of the show, I still love it. I need help.

Anyway the show has definitely started getting more interesting since it has confirmed that it has a end point. So in honour of the fourth season (IMHO the most compelling series yet) I thought I’d post 3 things I love about Lost:

1) The flash-forwards are utter genius. In the third series they managed to breathe new life into the flash backs by concentrating on the others. But still they are only so many times you can look at Jack’s fascinating previous life (yawn). I mean we get it your a spine surgeon, with daddy issues, a divorce, and a drinking problem do we really need to rehash old. So when the series finale of season three focussed on yet more Jack flashbacks I was bored – until the ending ‘we have to go back to the island.’ Eeek! And I was so glad this continued in the fourth season.
2) Ben, he may be weaselly googly eye machiavellian freak, but he’s unbelievably compelling. Unlike some of the less believable characters Ben’s actions always seem in keeping with his character. That Ben may turn out to be the saviour of the lostaways is well genius.
3) An actual, gulp, explanation appears to be forthcoming for the messed up physics of the island. How the polars bears are going to fit in who knows?