What I’m Into: October 2014 Edition

What I'm Into Oct14 header

October has been a month of new routines, desperately hoping nobody would get ill and longing for a holiday breather. The girls’ sleep got all messed up and I got tired and frustrated with things and I’ve been distracting as a coping mechanism without realising it. I don’t feel like I have the words for this weird malaise quite yet but I am trying. It didn’t help that the clock change a week ago means that the sun now goes down around 5 pm and it’s making me feel quite depressed. Ugh, I hate this time of year.

What I’m Watching

Regular shows: Once Upon a Time, Dr Who, Arrow. And Castle is back so we’ve started season 4.

Films: Sightseers – it’s a tale of murder in the Lake District. I guess it counts as a black comedy but I tell you, it totally freaked me out, as much for how gory it was as for how casually evil yet disturbingly banal the characters were even in their mental disturbance. I’m never going on a caravan holiday, ever.

What I’m Reading

I finished Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander) and A Dance With Dragons: Part 2 After the Feast and loved both so much! You can read my reviews on Goodreads.

What I’m NOT Reading

It’s not that I don’t want to, honest. I’m that overwhelmed with it.

unread pile 011114

What I’m Listening To

In the charts: I fell in love with Say Something by A Great Big World. It’s a bit of a predictable choice for me, what with all the nice piano, clear harmonisation, pretty tune and the heavy dose of melancholy. I had no idea Christina Aguilera was singing until I saw the video, and omg is she over-acting.

The bigger surprise has been how much I have liked All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor. I like the strong lyrics and it’s ever so catchy.

 

Badgerman has been playing a lot of Royal Blood lately and I generally think he has interesting and eclectic taste (when he’s not listening to Mastodon – that’s not really my thing). Rock seems to be enjoying a revival of sorts and I like it. Little Monster is wonderful.

Unfortunately, for all the hype, I couldn’t get past the first track from shameless ad-whore U2‘s new album. They either need to reinvent themselves musically or come to terms with not being big news anymore, either way, it sounded like U2 and yeah, meh.

I listened to the new Coldplay album and although I like a couple of tracks, I’m not bowled away either.

Favourite Photo

MOBY and wine

What I’ve Been Doing

– The nearly-new sale I attended was a complete wash-out. For some reason, the unused bottles of talcum powder went in a flash, and I sold maybe three other items and that’s it. Considering how much time and effort went into preparing for the event, it was not good value for money. I made back what I’d put out for the table and then maybe another £15, and promptly spent half of that on a Cinderella Barbie for Little Girl. I came home knackered but still determined to get rid of all my baby clothes somehow. Ebay here I come!

– I have never celebrated Hallowe’en; it didn’t exist in its current form in France when I was growing up and it’s only recently that the practice of trick or treating has become popular in the UK but for the last three years, we have tried to develop some basic pumpkin-carving skills. This year, to please Little Girl, I went for Hello Kitty, which came out great, although Badgerman later admitted to being surprised at my success because he initially thought I had shot well over my capabilities and was never going to manage anything decent. Thanks for the vote of confidence then…

hello kitty pumpkin 2014

– For a true Hallowe’en fright, I give you my attempt at a Roast Pumpkin Cheese Fondue as I threatened to do last month. I overbaked the pumpkin; it burnt, leaked and caved in a bit on the side and looked quite shocking, as the photo below can attest, but it tasted like heaven. It’s honestly the easiest thing to make. A 1.5 kg emptied pumpkin will take about 1 hr to cook in the oven first at 180C, then layer all your ingredients in the cavity (300 g grated cheese, 2 tbsp white wine, 2 tbsp creme fraiche and a chopped shallot) and roast for another 30 mins. You can’t go wrong. Unless you’re me.

I also made a Lancashire Hotpot, which looked and tasted amazing but yeah, again, I forgot to take a pic of the inside. I’ll share this recipe another time for sure because lamb stew is The Daddy.

Things we ate in Oct14

 

At Home On The Blog

– This month’s been very slight on posts. I battled with S.A.D. and general tiredness and couldn’t get the resolve to be productive and write anything. Somehow it ended up being a food month!

– I did share a typically French recipe for a tasty cheese-free alternative to pizza that ought to please big and small people of all ages. And you can always put cheese on top if you really must.

– The Indian food experiment finally took off. We were late getting it started so both the September Tandoori Night and the October Butter Chicken Night happened in October. No one complained.

So that’s what I’ve been doing this month. Be sure to check out all the other entries over on Leigh Kramer’s website.

 

 

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What I’m Into – May 2014 Edition

May flowers
May flowers

After a good and busy start of the month, May turned cold and dreary, not least because the house was beset with colds and coughs. I was the last one to fall but by then I’d already lost quite a bit of sleep and in my weakened state, the cough has got hold of me and threatened not to leave me again. I have had a record number of tired and cranky days but I’m finally over it, yay!

What I’m Watching

My regular tv shows:  we finished Castle season 3 (what a cliffhanger, but of course she can’t die so let’s move on to season 4 already. Except not, because it’s Channel 5 and who knows whether we’ll get to see Castle again); Person of Interest, Parks & Rec (season 2) and Orphan Black (getting weirder by the minute – Allison is my favourite character and the most terrifying soccer mum ever).

Films:

The Artist: I loved it, even more so because I was already a fan of Jean Dujardin through his French comedy work on a sitcom called Un gars une fille in the early noughties (A Bloke A Girl – only available in French, which follows the daily tribulations of a couple); he was already a well-known figure in France prior to winning his Oscar.

I watched the 2007 BBC version of Jane Eyre. Pff, let me fan my face before I type this up! It’s taken me until now and this series to really ‘get’ Jane Eyre. The movie with Michael Fassbender failed to move me, as had the 1996 one with Charlotte Gainsbourgh. In film or book, I couldn’t warm to Jane, who seemed to have lots of thoughts and opinions and chose to keep them to herself, and Mr Rochester, who was just really rude and secretive. Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson at last enlightened me as to why Jane and Mr Rochester’s relationship is one of the best there is. Ruth’s Jane was pouty but passionate in nature and once she dared, unrestrained in expressing it. Toby Stephens’ Rochester really got under my skin, portraying a heart-broken man putting up as best a front as he can in the face of a bleak and lonely future. What puzzles me most is that Rochester is supposed to be this unattractive man whose rough appearance fits in with his frightsome demeanor but Stephens is anything but ugly (imho). Or maybe these days people think that unless a man has a pretty face then he cannot be attractive, which is a shame. Sure Stephens, and Fassbender for that matter, aren’t the ‘pretty’ men most favoured by the casting agents of today but they have strong and interesting features and well, also REALLY good acting that takes interesting to plain attractive. I am also in favour of more red-headed leading men. Just sayin’.

At last, I also watched Frozen; it was wonderful and I had stuff to say about it.

What I’m Reading

I finished Bread & Wine on May 1st and I loved it. Shauna Niequist is possibly my opposite personality-wise, which is probably why I loved her so much. I have a few friends who are extroverted feelers like her and they are so wonderful to be around; paradoxically I find their company relaxing and freeing and I can’t even begin to try and explain why.

For some reason it’s been a really slow reading month. I started a few books and I haven’t managed to focus on any of them. I blame my ill-health. So I am currently in the process of reading Organised Simplicity and Introverts In The Church. I did finish The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but I had to push through to the end with sheer determination, because good grief it was hard work. It contained all the tedious things I dislike about France, pompous intellectualism, apathetic superiority complexes, lack of plot. Just, gah. You can read my stellar review on Goodreads.

What I’m Listening To

I started this month with Sara Bareilles, who is mellow and deep and just makes me want to sing out loud, which I did a lot, in the early May days when I could still sing without choking. This song pretty much sums up where I’m at right now:


I’ve also been living with another, spiritual song

Favourite Picture

14052014 sleeping princess

What I’ve Been Doing

  • It’s been the busiest month of the year so far, not least because I’m back on musical duties at church after a long maternity leave and I’m getting stuck in behind the keyboard and the microphone again. I love it, especially singing, but it’s a major logistical adjustment nonetheless, especially as we hosted a conference mid-May and I left Luciole properly for a whole day for the first time.
  • The rest of the month was spent surviving a bad cold with two children under three when all I wanted to do was crawl into a ball and sleep.

Notable Feasts

  • For the first time in a few years, I missed the Eurovision Song Contest, which is a glorious display of bad taste and outrageous acts with a bit of singing thrown in (don’t let the ‘song contest’ part of the title distract you). I usually spend the night tweeting about things I find amusing with the song subtitles turned on, and I discover European countries I never knew existed (like Moldova, which is somewhere in Eastern Europe, but I couldn’t point it out on a map). Alas, I missed the ascension of the bearded lady who won the contest this year. Instead I attended our new neighbours’ house warming party and it was awesome. We had ribs; lots and lots of ribs. And also curried goat and rhubarb and ginger crumble. I found myself at half midnight dancing to TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ and some Michael Jackson in the neighbours’ lounge whilst holding a gin and tonic and a glow stick with complete strangers.
a feast of ribs
  • I made sticky chicken drumsticks and spicy wedges because I fancied barbecue and then I forgot to take a picture of that glorious dinner. Grrr. I did learn to make mayonnaise from scratch, which totally blew my mind when it actually worked. Then, inspired by a blog post from my favourite food blog FranglaiseCooking, I made a French potée (a piggy casserole, as they say), which was timely as the weather decided to turn cold again in synch with my menu planning.

May food

On the Blogosphere

I nearly wet myself watching this sketch about Christian dating online.

‘Pinterest moms: I don’t get it but I support it. I totally know where the Bloggess is coming from.

At Home on the Blog

I was so ready to apologize for doing nothing on the blog this month, and then I was possessed by a writing frenzy and went all out on a variety of subjects. I managed to share some very special parenting fails and I watched Frozen.

I also finally did what I said I would do in March when I read Daring Greatly and I wrote what is possibly my most personal blog post to date about emotional capacity and good mental health. And finally, I also talked about personality types, MBTI and being labelled ‘argumentative’ in my early twenties and how that didn’t work very well for me.

 

What I'm Into

I am linking with Leigh Kramer again, so go check out what other people are into this month!

My two pence on Frozen

Frozen_(2013_film)_poster

WARNING: contains spoilers for the 2013 Disney movie Frozen.

Much virtual ink has been spilt already over Disney’s most recent animation ‘Frozen’, how beautiful it looks, its catchy songs, its lovely depiction of sisterly affection, its message and subtext, etc.

Having heard so much about it, I was half expecting it to be good but not as special as everyone was making it to be. I was the same with Toy Story 3: after being told so many times I was going to cry at the end, I totally didn’t. I would have cried had they all died in the fiery pit but the end? Touching, but not tear-jerking for me. I know, I am a hard-hearted woman.

For once though I reckon the hype was justified. I loved Frozen; it was wonderful from start to finish. My only (finicky) complaint is that I dislike Idina Menzel’s voice so whilst I enjoyed Let It Go as a song, I found Idina’s voice too harsh, especially on the lower/nearly spoken bits, which means I can’t listen to the song unless the movie is playing. It’s just not an enjoyable experience; whereas I could listen to the Tangled music all day – and I might have to, since Little Girl loves the songs and wants to listen and sing to them a lot.

The story touches on so many interesting ideas and as a parent, I was particularly struck by one thing in particular: Elsa and Anna’s parents’ were the absolute worst. Their response to Elsa’s powers: appalling. I understand their fear; I really do. But their decision to isolate the girls from the world after the accident pretty much gave both of their daughters the worst upbringing ever, and prepared them not one bit to deal with anything the world would throw their way. It’s not to say that both sisters didn’t have any agency in their fate but they were shaped by their confinement in such a way that they did not learn the tools one needs to make healthy decisions.

Despite the fact that the trolls very clearly stated that fear would be her worst enemy, Elsa was raised in a climate of fear. She was instructed to keep herself separate in order to protect others and only learnt to fear her powers; she was hidden away ‘until she would learn to control them’. When would that be exactly? How would this happen, unless some specific proactive action was taken by her parents to help her face her powers head-on?

Anna, on the other hand also suffered terribly from being kept away from the outside world. Her parents might have had good intentions but they left her completely unprepared for life and without the means to discern people’s intentions. As can be the case with naive sheltered girls, Anna thinks herself in love with the very first man she meets, and he turns out to be a very astute manipulator and abuser.  I’m not saying it happens every time, but if you don’t know any better, you are an easy prey for this kind of person. I was impressed at how the myth of ‘love at first sight’ was dealt with in this movie, considering Disney’s own past record. I also liked that it clearly showed that manipulators and abusers rarely look like villains, often they are the nice guys of our communities.

We all want to protect our children from harm. It is a most natural instinct. We see what we consider to be the world’s ‘bad influences’, and we have good intentions. Unfortunately, often we overemphasize the perceived threat the world poses and we seek to protect our children from it instead of preparing them to live in it.

I want my children to make good choices as they grow older. But I also want them to make informed ones, and sheltering them from bad influences will not stop them from encountering them. Certainly, fear should never be the motivator behind any decision I make as a parent.