Writing it out

Emma Gannon is my favourite millenial (let me just say that I’m not entirely sure I am using this term correctly, I think I am but if you disagree leave a comment and let’s discuss!).  Mostly because she has done what I’ve always wanted to do.  She has taken a passion for writing and communicating on all possible media (print and social media and now she has this killer podcast and amazing book!) and has turned that passion into a career.

emmagannon-ctrlaltdeleteShe is one of a handful of superwomen that I follow on social media, mostly because they inspire me.  I mean hello, they’ve accomplished what I wanted to do ages ago (when I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and less disappointed with the world) and they are so much younger than me!  I know people always say 40 is the new 30, and I am right there, just over the threshold (I turned 40 this year) but there are days when I think about what I need to learn, what I have to do and I wonder if I’ll ever get this particular ship out of this harbour.  I know the inertia that I’m feeling is something that only I can overcome.  I’ve got to light that firecracker under my backside and I’ve got to start moving (literally and figuratively!) if I want to get to where I want to get to.  I have a plan in my head but a plan isn’t really worth anything if I don’t attach any things to do and action points to it.

First thing to do is to create an environment where I am doing things that will get me to where I want to be.  I have to create a positive go-getter frame of mind.  I know that the day job is important at the moment because the day job will help me fund the activities that I need to participate in to get to where I want to get to.  I am reminded of Emma Gannon’s podcast episode with Paulette Perhach who talked about the importance of the side-hustle and how important it is to keep hustling.  I have allowed myself to wallow in the wishing stage of this whole endeavor so really, I haven’t been hustling as yet.  But hustle I will and hustle I should!

I have been wondering about my blog, why it hasn’t really taken off in the way my previous blog did.  I had people reading my blog, commenting on my blog, actually following my blog.  I lost that when I moved into a different blog hosting platform (Blogdrive did have a community and people actually read other people in Blogdrive) – this is not to throw shade on all the people following my blog; to you lovely lot, I am forever grateful.  I’m not assigning blame.  I just think my blog was stuck in a particular kind of blog theme where people shared their feelings to try and find validation.  We all want that all important thing: validation.  But it’s also important to know that people also want to read inspirational stuff, aspirational stuff.  Because if you boohoo and rant all the time, you bring your readers down with you.  It’s okay to vent, but I think it’s also important not to overshare your emotional and psychological baggage.  I think the audience isn’t as receptive to that anymore.  There has to be a balance between saying it like it is and depressing the heck out of your readers!

The quote below is a screen grab from Emma’s blog entry about Sharing Less.  It resonated so much.  And yes, I am going to write because I have something to say and I have a great story to share, not because I need validation.

emma-gannon-quoteOh and I know that I’ve started to view my writing differently because every time Alan asks me “are you sure you want to blog about that?” these days, I no longer feel like I am being attacked.  I stop and think about what I really want to say.  I don’t say this enough but thanks Alan♥

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Something? Nothing?

I started writing…then deleted the draft.

I would love to write something witty or something smart or useful or write up a recipe for something yummy today.  But I’m coming up with a blank.  I am driven to type because I feel the need to write…something.  But I know that none of the words I actually type can be threaded together into something life-changingly brilliant.  So this post is all about the nothingness that I feel compelled to share with you.

It’s a Thursday and…well, it’s nearly the weekend.  I am on my couch watching Pointless and wishing I had bought myself a lottery ticket for tomorrow’s roll over.  Maybe I will.

Tomorrow is Friday and tomorrow is market day.  Maybe I’ll find something to write about tomorrow!

Oh, did you know that today is National Coffee Day…somewhere in the world?

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This cake happened today!

I bought a bowl of plums from the Friday Market for £1 last week with the intention of consuming them purely for my 5-a-day.  Usually the fruit that I get from that particular market stall is sweet and perfect (yes, really!) but surprisingly, these plums were very tart.  I tried eating the fruit but it was REALLY tart (bordering on acidic sourness).

Upside down plum cakeI have written a draft of the recipe for the plum cake.  But I need to work on it because the plums were still so tart even after laying them on a carpet of brown sugar.  I’ll have to tweak the recipe first and make it a few times to make sure it’s a recipe that works.  I promise to share it as soon as I’m satisfied.

Watch this space!

Chocolate crinkles

Over a week ago, I gave in to the urge to finally make chocolate crinkles.  It’s a popular cookie in the Philippines.  It’s rich, indulgent and fudgy.  It’s something that might just make you go mmmmm.  I approached the idea of making crinkles with a little trepidation.  I always worry that my memories of what things taste like in Manila is different from reality.  But I did manage to work up the courage to finally make crinkles!

Chocolate crinkleI’ve written a recipe that I’ve tweaked below and I know that it works.  I would love for y’all to make chocolate crinkles and let me know if the recipe works for you.

Ingredients:

  • 150g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ salt
  • 150g icing sugar

Directions:

In a bowl, using a balloon whisk, mix the flour, salt and baking powder together and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar and oil.  To mix, I’ll use a free-standing mixer.

Chocolate mixtureWith a paddle attachment, on the lowest setting (just so that the cocoa powder doesn’t fly all over the place), start mixing the cocoa powder, sugar and oil for about 2 minutes.  Once the mixture forms a thick paste, increase the speed and mix for a further 2 minutes.  The mixture should turn shiny and smooth.  Add each egg individually and mix until the mixture is again shiny.  Once all the eggs are added, add the vanilla.

Chocolate and egg mixAdd the flour mixture and mix until well-incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Chocolate and flour mixCover the mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 2½ hours (I initially only chilled it for 1½ hours and it seemed to be okay), the longer you chill it, the better.

Chocolate mixPreheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  I like to use a small ice cream scoop or a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon.

Chocolate crinkle mixScoop a generous 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball.  Coat each ball with icing sugar and place on the lined sheet.

Crinkles in icing sugarBake for 10-12 minutes.  Once the cookies are baked, take them out of the oven and allow to cool on the sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Crinkles for bakingThe cookies have a recognisable cracked surface and that’s how you know it’s a chocolate crinkle!

Choccie crinkleThis recipe makes about 40 crinkles.

Missing the sestras!

If you think a show about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning will mostly be a documentary, think again!

Double helix image copyright Dabarti
Double helix image copyright Dabarti

At this year’s Emmys, Tatiana Maslany won the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (FINALLY!).  You might know her from The Woman in Gold, or The Vow.  I thought it was well deserved, and I thought it was a gross injustice when she wasn’t nominated in 2014 and when she was finally nominated in 2015, I couldn’t believe she didn’t win!  This woman plays all the clones (to date: Sarah, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Rachel, Krystal, MK, Beth, Katja, Jennifer and Tony…apparently there are 22 known clones but not all of them are actually in the storyline).  They have different looks, different characters, different accents because of the different nationalities and different storylines!  If you have trouble remembering the items on your grocery shopping list, have a think about Tatiana Maslany’s script work!

tatianamaslanyI was drawn to this show because, being the child of a geneticist, who spent most of free time in her father’s cytogenetics laboratory, the premise of the series was interesting.  What would you do if you found out that you were a clone and there are several of you and and there was something sinister involved in your creation?  Every time I watch episodes, I wonder what my father would think.  I still think I should get him copies of the series.  I think he’d enjoy it!  But it might be a good idea for me to wait until the fifth series has been released as he might want to watch the entire series in one go!

I’ve now finished the final episode of the 4th series.  Yep, I started watching it when it first came out in 2013!  After the first 2 episodes, I was hooked.  Really bad.  Am so thankful for Apple TV because it means I could binge watch and find out what was happening to Sarah and her sestras (the clones call themselves sisters, and one of the clones is Helena who escaped from a Czech cult calls her sisters sestras so that caught on so now the clones – the main ones, Sarah, Cosima, Alison and Helena – call each other sestra).  But it is addictive.  Once you get hooked on OB, you’ll never not want to watch the next episode.  It’s because each clone has a story and you start having a favourite clone, or you start wondering what Felix, or Mrs S or Art or the devious Castors are up to!

orphan-blackNow that I’ve finished Season 4, there is the interminable wait for Season 5.  I have it on very good authority that Season 5 will be the last season for OB (silent scream: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!).  I might need to get a box set just for me because I will miss OB, and like a junkie, I will need a fix.  Because I will want to watch it over and over again, from the very beginning (which is always a very good place to start, even Fraulein Maria says so!).

Hmmmm.  I wonder if Alan will want to watch OB from the very beginning with me.

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Awww these quirky Brits!

A few days ago, Hayley Bloomingdale wrote an article on the American Vogue website (am not entirely sure this was actually on the print version!) and it was equally panned and praised.  The article listed 42 things a Manhattanite needed to know before moving across the pond.  It was her take on British idiosyncracies that might confuse the non-Brits. The list made me giggle because I could understand where she was coming from (sort of!) but what made me giggle more was a reply to her list by Vittoria Gallagher!  I absolutely loved her ripostes!

2012-06-02-22-36-16So I thought I’d do a Vittoria Gallagher and respond to Hayley Bloomingdale’s list based on my experience as well (mind you, I’ve been here for 8 years so I might be less doe-eyed about the Brits…I am also an unapologetic Anglophile and absolutely love these British quirks!).  My thoughts are in green below:

British people do not use umbrellas, even though it rains every day.
I remember using an umbrella when the sun was high and I got strange looks from people!  That might be a Filipino thing though!  Also, we all have coats that have hoods these days and are waterproof!

Everyone says sorry for everything; it’s often best to start any request or inquiry with “sorry . . .”
I thought this was charming, and quintessentially British because everyone’s so PC and polite!

If you’re walking and you have something you maybe want to throw away at any point in the near future (coffee cup, tissue), you should toss it the second you see a bin (garbage can) because there won’t be another one, ever.
This made me laugh because I find this to be true.  If you see a bin, bin what you need to bin because if you don’t, the next bin will be a good several thousand steps away.  But then again, that’s Murphy’s Law, isn’t it?

Crossing the street is often very scary (even some British people are confused when to cross). The only safe place is the “zebra.”
Erm…I often joke that zebra crossings (or pedestrian crossings) are decorations on Philippine streets and you cross a street at your own risk.  I love that when you cross on a zebra crossing, you can cross with confidence because drivers MUST stop for you.  The pedestrian has a right of way on a zebra crossing!

If you look confused and/or scared when crossing the street, drivers will often speed up instead of the opposite.
Hmmm.  Have never actually experienced this.  I actually get waved at to cross!

English people wear winter coats starting on October 1 . . .
Christmas also starts on October 1 . . .
Also, they wouldn’t say October 1; they’d say, 1 October.
The rest of Europe also date with the dd/mm/yyyy system as well, don’t they?  This isn’t a strictly British quirk, is it?

There are no plugs in the bathrooms—unclear how British women blow-dry their hair (this is a possible explanation for why some have bad hair).
I did find this strange.  Then again, the Philippines does follow a lot of American norms so we do have plug sockets in the bathrooms.  I get the whole health and safety thing about plug sockets in bathrooms though.  Electricity and water is NOT a good combination!

Dryers somehow exist inside washing machines.
Erm…yes!  If you think about it all washing machines have a spin setting.  American households will have a separate dryer but that does guzzle a lot of electricity!

Crisps means potato chips and they have bizarre flavors like Bolognese and roast chicken (yes, roast chicken is an actual potato chip flavor here).
LOL I still say potato chips and mean crisps…I think most Brits are cosmopolitan enough to understand that you mean crisps (especially if you sound American!).  Although I did once look for eggplants in a supermarket and I had to struggle to remember that they are aubergines here, also, zucchinis are courgettes, gherkins are pickles, etc.

Military time is very popular. If someone says to meet at 18:30, you will have to get out your calculator to deduce that they’d like to meet at 6:30 p.m.
Um okay.  I like it when people say, quarter past, 20 past, half past, quarter to, 10 to the hour.  Also I find that this is done mostly in written correspondence.  But that’s just me.

GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time, but nobody knows what that means.
I haven’t encountered anyone who didn’t know what GMT stood for, as well as BST, DLR, HMRC, DOB, CoE, W&C, G&T…the acronym list is endless!

British people do not say “cheers” and tap glasses when drinking with friends. It’s apparently embarrassing and “American” to do so. They do, however, say “cheers” many times a day, but it means “thank you and goodbye.”
Yes they do.  Let’s forgive her as Hayley obviously hasn’t watched Sunday Brunch where they have a drinkypooes session and they all say “cheers” before drinking!  Although, having said this, this probably makes me sad because I’ve just revealed that I sit on the couch on a Sunday, watching Sunday Brunch.

If you have a “cider black” (aka a snakebite) at a pub you might think you got roofied, but you didn’t.
I had to google cider black as I don’t necessarily order alcohol when I go to the pub.  Apparently, the chemical reaction when you mix a fruit alcohol and grain alcohol is bad, so don’t order this as you will feel ill.  But yes, getting your drink spiked is a real danger, so be careful and don’t accept drinks from strangers!

Don’t try to order any fancy drinks at a pub, just play it cool, order “a pint” and drink whatever is in there.
Not sure if you mean cocktails.  Most of the pubs I’ve visited do do cocktails but will probably specialise in ales, lagers and will serve spirits straight up instead.  You go to a cocktail bar for fancy drinks, I think!

Hugh Grant is old because Notting Hill came out, like, 134 years ago.
Oi!  Not that long ago.  I loved that movie…still do.  Besides, don’t people still swoon at Cary Grant?  

If Hugh Grant hits on you at a party you should find another boy to talk to because he has four children and also see above.
Erm…okay.

Eggs are inexplicably not refrigerated and are often hidden in a regular food aisle.
In the Philippines, eggs aren’t refrigerated either!

Do not speak ill of the tube system. The British people love their public transportation—“transport,” if you will—even those who don’t actually use it.
Oh don’t get people started on trains, tubes and service disruptions…especially the Southern trains!  Not a discussion you want to have.  Trains can be a right nightmare!

2013-05-30-20-44-09British people love talking about the weather. This is not a stereotype; it’s a fact.
Well, if your weather systems were unpredictable too, it would be sensible to discuss it!

British people do not, however, want to talk about Hogwarts as much as I do.
Erm…not true.  The Brits seem to be very proud of the Harry Potter series of films.

One is the maximum amount of times it’s acceptable to reference Harry Potter in a conversation. (I’m aware that makes two times already for this list, sorry.)
Erm…not really.

Harry PotterIf on a date, it’s best not to reference Harry Potter at all. (Three.)
See above.

A shopping bag is not automatically included in your purchase at a store; if you miss the question “would you like a bag?” you will have to awkwardly carry your items out in your hands and act like you planned that.
It depends on what you buy…there are rules to the 5p charge and you can actually get a free bag.  But if you can’t answer the “would you like a bag” question, then explaining the rules to the 5p charge would be a CWOT (complete waste of time).

Robbie Williams is very famous here. Just act impressed whenever his name comes up and do not say, “what song does he sing again?” (It’s basically the Queen, David Beckham, Robbie Williams, in terms of famousness.)
Just a note:  Robbie Williams is also famous elsewhere…it’s just that the American music scene may not necessarily know of him but rest assured, whole countries know who Robbie Williams is.  We also know Boyzone, Take That, Westlife…

Everyone watches The X-Factor and something called Cheryl Cole is very famous and important. (Do not confuse her with Sheryl Crow; they are different people.) Also The Great British Bake Off is a “must-see” and it’s a show about cakes.
Did you just refer to Cheryl Cole as “something?”  Awww she’s got a name and well, she does say she’s worth it (using her given name, that is).  The names are spelt differently and Cole is different from Crow (easy enough to detect, I would think).  GBBO being a must-see is now debatable seeing that it’s moving to Channel 4, but let’s not go there!

Gogglebox is another very popular TV show where you watch people watching TV.
You have shows like Honey Booboo and Baggage Battles where people bid on abandoned luggage and storage containers.

James Corden and Jeremy Corbyn are two different people.
Yes.  And so is Gordon Brown and Gordon Ramsay.  

If you are meeting someone on the “first floor,” you will need to go up a level because first floor means second floor in this country.
Yep.  These things are easily confused and is a good thing to mention.

If a bicyclist puts out their hand, they are indicating which way they’d like to turn; they do not want a high five. (My bad. This is probably true in America, too.)
My bad.  I thought that was a universally accepted sign for when a cyclist wants to turn?

Do not get on the bus without your Oyster card. There is no backup option. The only backup option is: Get off ASAP. (Note: Bus drivers are not as nice as cabbies.)
Buses now also take contactless card payments.

Once you swipe your tube (subway) card, do not put it away because you also need it to exit the tube and if you lose it you have to live down there.
Well, if you lose your card, I would think the kind tube station staff will let you out, but there might be the small matter of a fine?  Also, I would put the card away somewhere safe so you CAN take it out again to swipe out!

The coins are not sized by worth; the twopence is inexplicably huge while 20 pence is very small. Best to hold out your change in your hand when paying and pretend you don’t speak English.
And knowing is half the battle!

A 2-pound coin is not as rare as the $2 bill (no need to hang on to those like Charlie’s Golden Ticket).
But there are nice, shiny ones though and they’re ever so pretty!

If you live near Fulham Road it does not necessarily mean you live near Fulham.
Erm yes…one is a street name and the other is a town?

If you order a “lemonade,” you’ll get a Sprite and there’s literally nothing you can do about it. I still don’t know how to get an actual “lemonade” in this country.
Yes.  This is definitely worth a mention as you might be better off asking for a Sprite, or a 7Up  There are also other brands of lemonades available.  Also you might want to ask for a still lemonade?

Don’t even bother talking about herbs with anyone because every single one is pronounced differently. Basil is one thing, but wait until you hear a Brit pronounce oregano.
And potato, tomato…?

The Queen’s birthday is celebrated several times a year and there is very bad traffic and lots of drinking.
I thought it was only twice a year?  

2012-08-18-16-07-26If it’s bad weather on her birthday, the Queen gets to have a do-over birthday, which is 100 percent the best use of that crown.
Erm…I think it was more so that people could get a chance to celebrate and watch the royal birthday parade in relative sunshine, because British weather is unpredictable.  This tradition started in 1748.

Bank Holidays happen several times a year, but no one actually knows what the holiday is in celebration of. Incidentally, if you say “Happy Bank Holiday” to an English person, they will not know how to respond; it is not the equivalent of “Happy Fourth of July!”
Okaaaaayyyyy!

If it’s sunny in London and someone is visiting from literally anywhere else, it’s actually illegal if you don’t say, “Thanks for bringing us the sunshine!”
Sunshine is a precious commodity so people here are thankful for the sun!

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