Sunday, September 25, 2016

Artistic Afternoons | Dutch Flowers

When I visited the National Gallery in London, there was one exhibit that particularly stood out, and that was 'Dutch Flowers'. It was displayed in a tiny room, but it was bursting with life and colour. The paintings were some of the most vivid and realistic, but also somewhat surreal, that I have ever seen. It certainly had a lasting impression as last week, I had the compelling desire to take out some paints and attempt a still life of the bunch of flowers I received for my graduation ceremony.

It had been forever since I last picked up a paintbrush, so my efforts were far from perfect and quite infantile in comparison to the real deal! But I have been slowly realising that I'm not so bothered with how the end product looks anymore or how perfect a depiction it is of the object. I find so much enjoyment in just letting my creativity and my mind run free. There's something so distinctly liberating about it.

Do you paint? Which artists or styles inspire you?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Inspiring Artists: WRDSMTH

 
If you ever find yourself walking the streets of LA, London, Paris, Melbourne or anywhere for that matter, be sure to always maintain a keen eye, as you may just chance upon life affirming or heartbreaking fragments by street artist WDSMTH. 

I was lucky enough to find some words of wisdom by WRDSMTH when in London, and it made my heart swell with hope. Sometimes, all it takes is a couple of simple yet well chosen words to change your whole day around for the better. WRDSMTH is indicative of how we can stay inspired and aspire to seek creativity and meaning in the everyday.

Monday, September 12, 2016

To be Read: Cookbook Edition


Hi, my name's Carina and I have a serious obsession. The objects of this obsession? Cookbooks. Ever since I was about twelve years old, my birthday and Christmas wish lists have largely consisted of cookbook titles. It's not just the recipes I love; it's the composition of the books themselves, the photography, the promise they bring of friends and family around one table and their wider cultural impact. Heck, I even wrote one of my final reports for my Media and Communications degree on cookbook publishing and the role they play in society (which, might I add, was the most enjoyable report I have ever written).

When I watched Nigella Lawson's cooking shows, her personal office with walls overflowing with cookbooks, I was filled with awe. I knew from that point that I would strive to replicate a similarly abundant personal library of cookbooks. I have to say, I'm not doing all too badly, especially after acquiring a healthy number of new cookbooks over the past month. A good majority of these I picked up while doing my work experience placement at Penguin Random House Vintage and while I hate to use such a predictable idiom to describe my experience there (ie. like a kid in a candy store), it really is most fitting. I have technically already started reading these and trying out recipes from one or two cookbooks but still thought a TBR post would be most appropriate as I cannot wait to sink my teeth ever deeper into them!

  Neighbourhood - Hetty Mckinnon
  Plum
Hot off the press from PanMacmillan Australia's food and lifestyle imprint Plum is the long awaited second cookbook by salad queen Hetty McKinnon. I fell in love with Community, which sparked a new-found appreciation of salad. Far from being a mere side dish or second thought, Hetty's salads are out of this world and really inspire you to think creatively with your meals. The best part is that her recipes don't require hours in the kitchen and they all keep well as leftovers for lunches  throughout the week. Just as Community has become one of my staple cookbooks, I have no doubt that Neighbourhood will too!
   3 Recipes I Really Want to Try: Beer-Marinated Mushrooms with Green Lentils and Freekah | Eggplant with Haloumi, Beetroot Tzatziki and Yoghurt Flatbreads | Chimichurri Salad Bowl with Eggplant, Tofu, Fennel and Shiitake Mushrooms
The Marshmallowist - Oonagh Simms  
Square Peg 
A marshmallow is a marshmallow is a marshmallow right?   Not exactly. Oonagh Simms, aka the marshmallowist, shows
us that marshamllows can be so much more inspiring (and   delicious) than the tasteless and uninspiring kinds you find in the supermarket. Having tasted an artisan marshmallow by Oonagh at Druid St Market (in the flavour toasted coconut), I can attest to how incredible they are. This cookbook is not short of intriguing flavour combinations and marshmallow centered desserts that would be perfect for a special celebration or event. If that's not enough reason to have a copy of this cookbook on your shelf, then the design (by Carol Montpart) will surely seal the deal - it did for me!
3 Recipes I Really Want to TryLemon & Basil Tart with Elderflower Fluffed Marshmallow | Milk Chocolate Almond Tart | Persian Raspberry, Rose & Pistachio Cake
   26 Grains - Alex Hely-Hutchinson
   Square Peg
If you're a foodie like me, you've probably heard about the cafe 26 Grains, which is set to reopen in the ever so gorgeous Neal's Yard, Covent Garden. While I was in London, I was determined to make a visit, despite not being a huge porridge lover. Well, let's just say that the warming and nourishing bowl of Hazelnut and Butter Porridge that I had changed that! It also ensured that I picked up Alex's newly released cookbook without a second thought. I have already tested out a number of recipes (including the aforementioned life-changing porridge about 5 times...). All have turned out spectacularly that I cannot wait to write a proper review!
3 Recipes I Really Want to Try (that I haven't tried already): Quinoa, Plum and Cardamon Frangipane Pudding | Sweet Potato Hash Browns with Chunky Avocado and Beetroot | Coconut and Butternut Squash Curry with Black Sticky Rice 
Simpy Nigella - Nigella Lawson  
Chatto and Windsor 
I don't think there's any real need to justify owning a cookbook by the kitchen Goddess herself. This one is simply chock-a-block full of mouth watering recipes. The best part is, they are all quintessentially fuss free, just how Nigella has always approached cooking and what drew me to getting into the kitchen as a young girl. There's a good amount of vegetarian recipes in here, which suits me, and a plethora of meat based meals that will keep my mum and the rest of my family happy as well.
3 Recipes I Really Want to Try: Butternut and Halloumi Burgers | Cauliflower and Cashew Nut Curry | Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pots
  Stirring Slowly - Georgina Hayden
  Square Peg
Another fabulour title by Square Peg, Stirring Slowly is the epitome of comfort food for all seasons. I found Georgina's backstory - her culinary journey, the reasons for and means through which she discovered contentment in the kitchen - incredibly touching. It stands as a reminder that cooking and food don't just serve one purpose but can be instrumental in the processes of healing, happiness and memory making. As a result, I felt that the cookbook evokes a sense of warmth; it's unpretentious, approachable and the kind of cookbook you could see yourself treasuring for years to come.
I have tried one recipe already, being gyozas (just with a few variations to make them vegetarian) and they were absolutely delicious. I can't wait to spend more quiet afternoons in the kitchen with Stirring Slowly as my companion.
3 Recipes I Really Want to Try: Pudla (Indian Pancake) | My Favourite Quick Noodle Bowl | Spinach and Basil Gnudi

Friday, September 9, 2016

Tiny Tales from: Berlin


We woke up and had pastries for breakfast accompanied by freshly squeezed juice and walnuts. It was the only properly hot and sunny day of the three day trip and we weren't about to waste a minute of it inside.

We wandered alongside the Berlin wall and pounded hot pavement of the graffiti streets in East Berlin, a Radler in hand to both keep us cool and keep spirits even higher than they already were.

We spent an hour paddle boating along the River Spree, the sunlight kissing our bare arms, followed by walks in the forest and a meze lunch with the best baklava I've ever had. I was overcome by the specific feeling of europia and sleepiness. I never wanted the day to end.

I fell under the spell of the city with so much character, grime and an ever-present, unshakable haunting of a history that can't be forgotten or left behind amidst such a truly captivating cultural landscape.

It was a day that now feels like a dream.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Life Post-Graduation: Unemployment and Job Hunting

Perth WA, Australia
It’s something I started worrying about before I even graduated. The dreaded job hunt and total uncertainty that you face once University is over. It’s quite a remarkable thing after all; having finished my final semester in June, I realized that for the first time in my young adulthood, I was facing life outside of some form of educational institution. And it’s absolutely terrifying not knowing what you’ll be doing next, or where you will be this time next year.
What has to be the most difficult aspect about ‘life after university’ is without a doubt, the job hunt. It’s not the actual job hunting that I despise: it’s the anxious waiting around for a phone call, any phone call, offering you an interview or the job itself. The whole process can be soul destroying, confidence depleting and honestly, can make you feel worthless.
After interning in London pretty much full time for almost three months, nothing was more frustrating than returning home and not having a fulfilling job to occupy my time. Having got a taste of the working life, I ended up loving contributing my skills each day. I took a risk by not taking back my job back home in a bakery, not because I thought I was above that kind of work (I have been applying for hospitality and retail jobs as well as full time graduate positions), but because I simply yearned for a change in scenery having worked in the same building for 3+ years. So experiencing a complete turnaround from not only my time in London, but my busy life as a student who kept up a steady job, has not been easy in the slightest. It’s so hard to not just give up at the end of the day, and at some points I almost have. But I’ve slowly been learning how to avoid the rut and stay motivated. I have heard many, many similar stories to mine, and knowing my close friends will be facing a similar situation come graduation next year, it inspired me to create somewhat of a guide to dealing with life post-graduation and making life meaningful during the difficult period of unemployment/job hunting phase.
Create a routine
The crucial thing I’ve found to maintaining motivation is creating some sort of routine. While it’s tempting to lie in until 12pm every day, I have found it so much more fulfilling to treat each day as if it were a working day. For me, this has meant setting my alarm for 7 and getting up and ready at 7:30am. Same goes for the evening; I aim to go to bed at 10:30pm on a weeknight so I feel fully rested the next day.
Now, the next step to creating a routine is a little trickier and something I got better at with time. Obviously, a big chunk of the day is likely spent job searching and tweaking resumes/CVs to no avail. I found that I couldn’t stand doing this all day, every day and it left me feeling depleted and, essentially, devoid of life and enthusiasm. It is integral that you maintain a balance. Treat this period as an opportunity to do things you’ve always wanted to do, but have always felt too busy to commit time to. I found that once I approached an otherwise stressful situation in a positive way, my general outlook for the future was a lot brighter because my general well being improved entirely.
Make time for hobbies: Dedicate at least one hour a day to rediscovering beloved past times. Dust off your neglected instrument, get out some paints and paint brushes, get back into writing…the possibilities are limitless! Hobbies are such noble and worthy pursuits to commit your time to and will make you feeling a helluva lot happier in the long run.
Get in the kitchen: One of my favourite ways to spend my spare time is in the kitchen, trying out recipes from my ever growing collection of cookbooks. Not only is it therapeutic, but it also poses as an opportunity to improve your diet. By focusing on wholesome, home cooked meals, I have noticed an improvement in my physical health, contributing to general well-being. That’s not to say that a batch of chocolate chip cookies every now and then aren’t on the menu…
Get active: I admit to not being the biggest sports enthusiast, but I couldn’t be a more devout advocate of getting outside and getting active at least once a day. We’ve just entered Spring in Australia, so I have found so much joy taking walks through the park in the mild sunshine. The exercise doesn’t even have to be rigorous; anything that gets you moving is better than nothing and will help clear the brain fog!
Be social: And I don’t just mean online. Make time for friends and family. It may seem obvious, but after falling into the ‘woe-is-me’ mentality at one point, the last thing I wanted to do was socialize. However, it really makes a world of difference and helps to keep your mind off worrying for a little while.
Explore your city: Take some time for self-care and see your hometown or city in a new way. One of my favourite past times is seeking out new cafes and finding a cosy spot to read for a couple of hours. While money is tight, I enjoy simply having a cup of coffee or chai. Aside from this, I find comfort knowing there are always free exhibitions to see and parks and beaches to wander through. I also keep an eye out for cheap events on facebook or local web guides; anything from poetry nights to live gigs by up and coming local musicians. There’s so much out there to discover if you’re willing to make the time to unearth it all.
Take an online course: This one is a recent revelation, made possible by reading Amy’s latest post. It’s the perfect way to learn about a topic that you’ve always been interested, but perhaps not pursued. For me, history of art is case in point. I studied it as an elective one semester and have always wanted to continue studying it in my own time ever since. At the moment, I’m taking the Modern Art and Ideas course by MoMA and am excited to be taking Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender at the beginning of October (both courses are available on Coursera). Having weekly readings and therefore having something to put on my to-do list has helped significantly with establishing a routine, and I feel productive learning about something I love.

Read: This one is a no-brainer. What better time than the present to get through your reading list and make a dent in that overflowing pile of books that you have been meaning to read since, well, forever?
Listen to Podcasts: Podcasts are my new favourite things. If you’re feeling a little down, they’re the perfect way to pick yourself up again. There’s just something about listening to inspiring people talk about what they do and what they hope to achieve that’s infectious and will leave you feeling motivated to make a change in your life.
Discover new music: I’m pretty convinced that there is no greater joy than discovering a new favourite song, band or singer and getting completely lost in their music. I know without a doubt that I can’t be the only one who feels most inspired when I find some fresh new tunes!
Volunteer: This has to be one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time. Find a cause you're particularly passionate about and set aside an hour or two a week to helping out in your community.
While this period can be such a tough time, it’s important to never lose hope; I hold firm to this belief ever since I stumbled upon a touching piece of street art on Brick Lane. In the words or wrdsmth, I think the best advice I can give myself and others is:
‘Give it your very best every single day. And don’t be so hard on yourself come nightfall’
I have adopted this as my personal mantra, because nothing could be closer to the truth. To all you fellow graduates or soon to be graduates who are worried about the future that lies ahead, I wish you all the best in your job search. We’ve just got to stick it out and give it our all and strive for the very best that we can achieve.

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