Archive for March, 2016

2016, March 25

Six Reasons to Smile in March

First off, Happy Easter to everyone celebrating it this weekend! Hope you’ll have a lovely time with loved ones :)

This month is nearly over, and something that I’ve noticed is that I smile more since I started doing Yoga. I feel lighter. And I actually wake up early on some days to do yoga before starting to get ready for work. (I’ll write another blog post just about this experience.)
Pixel also cracks me up when, after I lay flat on my back for a few seconds, he comes over and curls up on my leg or chest. I certainly like it better than when he wants to tear up my yoga mat.

Some of the reasons I smiled in March are different than in the previous months. I noticed this little photo challenge on Instagram by Jenny Bravo (@blotsandplots), and decided to take part. I love the idea of photo challenges, and I really like this one’s suggestions as they add a little bit more creativity in our lives.
Here are six pictures that made me smile wider as I came up with creative ways to interpret some of the suggestions:

page six reasons to smile in march

Did you smile a lot this month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2016, March 18

From Scene to Screen – Edward Ormondroyd’s “Time at the top”

1881Three years ago over at Friday Flash Dot Org, in one of the From Scene to Screen features on the website, I talked about Edward Ormondroyd’s “Time at the top” and the movie adaptation by the same name easily being two of my favorites.

In it, I also shared a picture of my copy of the book below my Ramsing of my favorite number, won in a giveaway from Rukmini’s place. Just perfect together! (See photo to your left here.)

Since the Friday Flash Dot Org website closed last year and I didn’t talk about this book on my blog before, I decided to post today in case you’re up for a little review type reading.

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Edward Ormondroyd’s “Time at the top” and the movie adaptation by the same name are easily two of my favorites from what writing I was introduced to during my young adult years.

From the moment the movie started I was drawn in, even more so when the single line “based on the novel…” came up on my TV screen. Normally, I read the book, then watch the movie, but given that the first time I saw this movie was still in my high school years, back then the sequence did not matter as much as it does now. As soon as the movie ended however, I had “Time at the top” on my wish list of books to purchase.

A book about time travel was definitely something I wanted to read, and the main character, Susan was someone I wanted to read about in her own “setting” in the novel. Susan is someone I could relate to, having lost someone dear to me. She is adventuresome, curious, invested, and filled with a desire to help out her new friends while trying to better her own life – these are traits I wish everyone possessed.

Of course, some things are inevitably lost or changed in “translation” from scene to screen so differences appear throughout the two works when compared. Not many did I find distracting from the book’s original feel, however.

The book’s action and story line take place in the early 1960s and goes back to 1881. The movie’s story line changes slightly, the present being 1998 instead of the 60s. While it is one of the biggest differences, this did not strike me as too distracting from the plot itself. The writers managed to make the change believable. It might be because viewers relate better to movies shot in the present of what their current present is.

That said, I find it particularly interesting that in the book (which was first published in 1963), the author and Susan are talking about how the pace of life is too fast and there seemed to be a longing to more peaceful times where cities were smaller, a longing for fresh air, green open spaces, of seeing the country sky full of stars in a way one has never thought about them before in the city. This longing of a time long gone is something I see my present filled with. Because of this, I’m positive this plays a huge role in the novel’s timelessness, the plot is still compelling and enjoyable whether it was read in 1980, in 1998, in 2011 when I reread it, is being read at the moment in 2016, or will be read in 2088.

At the beginning of the novel, Susan has an odd encounter with an older woman and from helping the stranger she is given “three” as a reward. Three turns out to be how many times she can travel in her apartment building’s elevator to the top, and travel further than the last floor, back to the past. In the movie, she discovers this by accident when a neighbor asks her to take some things to the basement for them.

The main plot line stays the same in both the novel and the movie, as gradually discovering the power of the elevator time machine, Susan and her new friends from 1881 travel back and forth in time and succeed in changing both the past and the future, changing a little piece of history. I really liked how the elevator took Susan back in time into Victoria and Robert’s house, which stands in the same spot as her apartment building stands in 1998; this turns into a constant mark for distance during her travels.

Susan ends up play acting to get what she wants, like Portia from “The Merchant of Venice”. She wants a big house in the country, where it’s quiet and pretty, where birds are singing and there is room for everybody. She believes that with a little luck and a little bit of faith one can change the life they’ve made. She believes that when one feels that hope is awry, things can still turn out right.

“Time at the top” is a book where the author self-inserts himself into the narrative in an adorable way. In the movie adaptation he is portrayed as a quirky writer with pen and notepad in hand, and a little bit prone to ridicule on screen. He sums it up well himself when asked if he doesn’t have someplace he needs to be “Oh no, I’m a writer and keep any hours I want.” (Wish I could say that myself, but I digress.) While on paper the change between first person narrative and third person narrative can be a little bit confusing, I liked his presence overall.

If you haven’t yet, I’ll let you all discover the unusual, very unlike-most-time-travel-books, ending by reading the book or watching the movie. Come back here and let me know what you think!

Or have you already read this book, or seen the movie adaptation? Tell me if you liked each one, what do you think of the two in comparison?

PS: I also credit Edward Ormondroyd for providing my young adult self with my favorite number, 1881. Ever since first watching the movie, I’m truly aware of the numbers 1 and 8, and of their presence in my life.

2016, March 11

Recipe of the Month: Honey Ginger Shrimp with Basmati Rice

I’ve been tempted with buying sea food a few times before, but I’ve never cooked anything from the sea other than fish, so I kept putting it off. However, for my boyfriend’s birthday lunch a couple of weeks ago, I really wanted to make shrimp. So I bought some, and went on searching for recipe ideas. I got my inspiration from this recipe, but adapted it with what ever I thought would also work, as I didn’t want the dish to be too sweet.

page honey ginger shrimp

p honey ginger shrimp

Honey Ginger Shrimp

250 – 300 grams shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on

2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sweet & sour chili sauce
1/2 lemon’s freshly squeezed juice
pinch of salt
pinch of white pepper

Combine the sauce ingredients and leave it sit for about 10 minutes.

Add some sesame oil into a skillet or wok. Add in the sauce, then the shrimp and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side. Using tongs, rub the shrimp into the caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan.

Serve hot out of the pan. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the rice.

Basmati Rice

1 cup Basmati Rice of your choice
2 cups water
splash of rice oil
pinch of salt
pinch of white pepper

Add a splash of oil into a high pot, heat it up then add the cup of Basmati rice, the pinch of salt and pepper. Stir together for a few minutes so the oil is evenly distributed.

Add two cups of water (same cup as you measured the rice in), stir well, and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and resist the urge to stir again!
Let it boil for about 15-20 minutes on the lowest heat setting possible until the water is all gone and you’re left with some fluffy separate-grained rice.

Bon appétit! ;)

2016, March 4

Seven Unusual Tips to Stir Your Creative Juices

I’m so happy to share with you today a guest post by Judy Clement Wall. We published her article, Seven Unusual Tips to Stir Your Creative Juices, on FFDO when the #fridayflash community website was still up and running, but since it closed last year, I really wanted to share this article again, with as many people as possible.
Hope you enjoy these tips as much as I have!

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Seven Unusual Tips to Stir Your Creative Juices

Feeling stuck? Try these tips for moving past the occasional (inevitable) bout of writers

1. Go on an adventure (and take notes).

Last month, I went on a 4-day road trip – 1265 miles to drop my son off at college. I was an emotional wreck, as moms saying goodbye to their children often are, but I knew the trip would provide a lot of writing material, so every night, before I went to bed, I made a list of all the interesting things I could remember from the day. When I got home, I had four pages of notes, a lot of them things I wouldn’t have remembered if I’d waited until I got home to start writing. So far, from those notes, I’ve written a piece for Huffington Post, an essay for a literary collection, and a blog

Even if you can’t afford to take four days off and drive, take a Saturday morning or a Sunday afternoon and go somewhere you’ve never been before. Be observant. Talk to strangers. Watch scenes unfold and then imagine them differently.

2. Shamelessly eavesdrop.

I’ve taken to eavesdropping in coffee shops. It amazes me the stories I can invent over the span of an unsuspecting victim’s cup of coffee. And really, sometimes you don’t even have to work that hard. Once I listened to the first date of a couple who’d met on Match.com. When I got up to leave, he was telling her about his ex-wife’s cat’s urinary tract infection. I wanted to rescue her, grab her hand on my way out and make a break for it. In the story version of that date, I’d have done it.

3. Close your laptop (or whatever you write in).

Most of the time, it’s best to keep your butt in the chair and hammer something out, even if it’s ugly. You can make it pretty later, and it’s better to get something (anything!) down, than give up. That’s how the hard work gets done.

But there are times when sheer, dogged determination isn’t enough to break through the block, and trying to pound through it only leaves you feeling defeated. At those times, go live your life. Plant something, take a friend to lunch, wrestle with your dog. Sometimes when you’re truly empty, there’s nothing to do but go out and fill the well.

4. Wonder about weird stuff.

Recently I was on a hike with a friend, and we were talking about a news story he’d read a few years ago. The story was about a plane crash that killed many people. My friend said that when they listened to the cockpit recording later, it was clear that the pilot and copilot had been fighting over a flight attendant they were both involved

I asked my friend if both men were single, and he said he didn’t know. I said, “Imagine if one of them wasn’t, and his widow hears after his death that not only was he having an affair, he killed a lot of people while fighting over his mistress.”

My friend said, “no one but you would ever wonder about that,” but writers wonder about weird things.

5. Read outside your genre.

I only recently started doing this. I read and write literary fiction and nonfiction, but in 2012 I decided to read at least one book (or manuscript) each year that I wouldn’t normally choose. Reading outside my comfort zone puts me in a less analytical, more easily surprised frame of mind, which is right where I want to be when I sit down to do my own work.

6. Doodle.

The definition of “doodle” is “scribble aimlessly.” How great is that? When you’re stuck, do a little aimless scribbling. Let your mind go. Think of it as recess, then come back to your work-in-progress when you feel refreshed.

7. Use social media as a muse.

Social media is not just for platform building. There are some smart fascinating, funny, talented people on the internet. Follow them. Not the ones who talk only about their impressive word counts or latest book signing, but the ones who make you laugh aloud (or gasp, or blush) with their irreverent updates and observations.

I even have a special suggestion for flash fiction writers. Meg Pokrass writes and teaches flash fiction. Her work has been published all over the place and has been nominated many times for the Pushcart Prize anthology. I follow her on Facebook because her updates are wild, funny, piercing works of flash fiction in themselves, and she often posts several in a day. Inspiration at your Facebook-y fingertips.

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BioPic2More about the author:

Judy Clement Wall’s short stories, essays, reviews and interviews have been published in numerous literary print journals and websites, including Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Used Furniture Review, Kind Over Matter, and Smith Magazine. You can read more of her work at JudyClementWall.com

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