Archive for January, 2014

2014, January 27

Five Moments

Back in December, I haven’t done the Reverb prompts. I wanted to get back to blogging, yet give myself enough room to breathe, so I went with DIY. However, some of the prompts posted to the Project Reverb website stood out, and I jotted them down for later pondering.

Like today maybe. Below are five moments that I don’t want to forget from 2013.

Meeting my friend Trisha in real life – and spending a whole week with her, traveling together. We’ve seen some beautiful places, met interesting and weird people, and could talk about anything. (Thank you, honey!)

Reconnecting with old friends and finding a new pen-pal – Life has a way of making us lose track of keeping in touch friends sometimes, but then, in certain moments we find each other again so-to-speak and reconnect as if the time in between talks didn’t even exist.

The first time walking the Bun-Puppy – I haven’t had a dog since I was a little kid living in a house with a proper yard and garden. That first time walking the Bun-Puppy is one of my best memories, as he explored the world beyond the gates, sniffed at everything around him and then flat out sat down refusing to move when he got tired. The cutest!

Learning delicious new recipes – From friends, found online, you name it. I love cooking and baking, and was glad I managed to squeeze in time to learn new recipes and experiment instead of just making the same old.

Visiting the butterfly exhibition during a mother-daughter outing – Usually I find my city lacking interesting events and exhibitions. In November though, the Zoological Museum held an exhibition of live tropical butterflies which caught my attention; and was one of the nicest mother-daughter outings I treated my mom to in 2013.

 

Want to play? I’d love to read what your five favorite moments of 2013 were! :)

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2014, January 22

The knowledge of “sonder”…

The knowledge of “sonder” is something we all (secretly) already understand.

 

sonder abandoned typewriter 

 

Word’s definition from the The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows;
Photo taken by urban explorer jST., found on Flickr, here.

 

PS: making this collage also made me realize just how many abandoned typewriters exist out there. I wonder why.

2014, January 20

When in a writing funk… I apply the following :)

With all this talk of and looking at NaNoWriMo from different perspectives these past few months in blog posts of friends, and in the articles from several guest writers on FFDO, I have been thinking a lot about writing. Okay, truth be told, I think about writing every single day, a lot, so let’s go with: I thought even more about writing.

Let me know how it is for you, but when in a writing funk, I personally seem to shut down. That means little to no social media, e-mails, and basically no creative writing. I am not going to lie or sugar-coat it either, it can last for quite a while when it happens. I’m really lucky to have myself my blog on a strict enough blogging schedule, or I would probably fully shut down and not write a single word when in that state.

I have written only a handful of flash fiction and poems, and not a single travel article in 2013. I intend to change that back to at least my productivity of 2011-2012, while aiming for even more regarding flash fiction and poems as well! And it won’t get done just by thinking about it, I know.

committing out loud

Thus far, I have used different methods for getting back to writing after a dry spell, and you know what the most effective way thus far has been? I’ll detail below:

  • Writing. Just sitting down to my desk, taking the laptop to a cozy corner, getting out my notepad in the middle of the park and just starting to write. It takes discipline. Starting is the hardest. But, I simply sat down, and wrote.
  • It definitely helps to have a large enough chunk of time on one’s hands, but in case I don’t? I try to make the most of “idle moments” like standing in line while running errands, waiting for lunch to heat up, or a cake to bake and so on.
  • Committing “out loud”. Not that it wouldn’t be fun shouting it off rooftops or taking up skywriting, but something as simple as sharing my plan to write as a Facebook status, tweeting right before starting, posting an Instagram picture of where I’m sitting, of the messy desk with all my slips of papers and notepads in haphazard piles goes a long way. As impersonal as it tends to get at times, social media is still the greatest way of connecting people right away; I’m constantly surprised/amazed to see how many people out there are struggling with the same thing.
  • Looking at, or editing photographs. They are supposedly worth a thousand words, right? Try getting those words on paper – imagined or other wise! (Like I did, here.)
  • Writing curious lists. To give a fresh example, few days before December ending I opened the book at random, to page 111 and then chose the bottom title, from the chapter “Lists for Holidays”. For it is the holiday season, I decided to give this list a festive/humorous spin and thought of items accordingly. Here’s what I came up with.

What do You do to get yourself back on track, when in a writing funk?

2014, January 15

Dear Wednesday, 15.January.2014

Sometimes, words fail to express what our heart so desperately wants to say. We seem unable to contain what we’re feeling within punctuation marks.

2014, January 13

Recipe of the Month: Delicious Coffee Brownies

My mother used to make this recipe when I was still in high school, and it was the only form of coffee I could stand. Now that I occasionally drink lattes, I thought I’d give this a go at baking it myself and adding a little twist to it. What better time to try something new, than one day before the holidays, right?

The lemon juice and sea salt weren’t in the original recipe, but as I experimented, found that they bring out the flavor of the chocolate and coffee very nicely!

page coffee brownies

Delicious Coffee Brownies

Ingredients

  • 250 g butter
  • 500 g sugar
  • 200 g flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 50 g cocoa
  • 100 ml coffee
  • 100 g chocolate
  • 2 g baking powder
  • 2 g sea salt
  • half a lemon

Melt the butter and sugar, cocoa and previously brewed coffee. Set aside 20 tablespoons of it to which you’ll add the diced chocolate.

Cool down the remaining mix, after which add the egg yolks.

Pour it all onto the beaten egg whites. Add the flour a couple of tablespoonfuls at a time stirring gently. Mix the sea salt and baking powder in half a lemon’s juice, then mix into the batter.

Bake for about 40 minutes at 180-200 C.

When it’s done, spread the glaze on top and let cool.

Optionally, make markings with a knife as to where you’ll cut the slices once it’s cooled down.

Happy baking! ;)

2014, January 10

If only he had knocked first – by Estrella Azul

IMG_8910-2What is it about ruins that draws photographers in, and continues to fascinate them?

He attributed it to the role ruins play as his “brooding unconscious.” He believed ruins to embody a kind of guilt over civilization’s unchecked progress. He never believed these images to be sensationalistic and nothing more.

There doesn’t seem to be any lack of photographers today willing to tackle the subject, he knew that.
His photos provided a valuable glimpse of the other world that exists on the flip side of mega malls and suburban sprawl. He lived by the old code – “take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints” – and had a deep appreciation for the places he investigated.

For him, the best way of engaging with the past was by observing it through the prism of the present.

His present, he thought in hindsight, wouldn’t have ended as abruptly – if only he had knocked first.

2014, January 6

Do your gift wrapping skills get an A+?

Watching this video the other day made me recall how bad I am at wrapping gifts.

While I am generally great at the whole arts and crafts thing, somehow, my gift wrapping skills would never get an A+.

When I first started working at the flower shop, it was super easy. We wrapped plants’ pots in material where I basically had a square piece of material that I placed the pot in the middle of, went around its sides gathering up the material and stapling it together, then added a ribbon to conceal said staples and that was it.
No fine lines, no issues about it not being symmetrical, it looked good no matter what.

At this other shop however, where people needed merchandise gift wrapped several times every day… I avoided it as much as possible. I wasn’t even good at wrapping boxes – I know, they have all symmetrical sides and everything, yet, I was a disaster.
I did my best to work the cash register, go help someone get a box from the highest of shelves (that also involved needing a ladder, which I had to bring out from the storage room – awesome stalling technique!), do elaborate calculus for how much it’d cost to change the curtains and drapes in an entire house, try to catch a mouse (okay, just that one time, but it was fun!), replace the tape in the dispensers, search for scissors unnecessarily, etc.

For the first three months, I always underestimated how much wrapping paper I needed. My colleagues quickly picked up on the fact and first checked the drawers, and used up my mis-cut pieces of paper.
And on the odd occasions that I did cut enough paper and the two sides not even simply met, but also folded over each other, the paper either a) ripped during my next moves, or if not b) it looked sort of like what a bomb might look like when wrapped in gift-wrap. (I’m guessing the fact that it might explode in any second is why they’re not wrapped prettily with nice sharp edges. Feel free to chime in if you’ve ever wrapped one.) ;)
Other than that, I tried to redirect, so my first question toward customers was "We have all these beautiful gift bags, would you like that instead of the single-colored paper?” This worked 70% of the time. As for the remaining 30% of the time, I’m sure the customers regretted not taking me up on my offer. My colleague A. and I used to joke that after finishing wrapping the gift we would’ve been entitled to say “I tried to warn you.”

With time, I got better, even odd shaped objects started getting easier to wrap. But to this day, if I don’t have to and unless it’s a box, gifts I give go in a gift bag or decorative box one can reuse.
Seems funny now, but just to avoid wrapping something myself in the past, I’ve given gifts in jars, learned how to make my own newspaper gift bags and had my grandmother sew fabric Christmas gift bags we have used every year since.

So now I’m wondering: are you as bad a gift wrapping as I am, or are you great at it? If the latter, here’s another question – how in the world do you achieve it?

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