Me and my Hoarder

Me: This set of cutlery is missing two knives and one spoons. I`d like to get rid of it and get out the nice set – the one which is in the box, in the cupboard…

My hoarder (alarmed!): Tthat`s the GOOD one!!

Me: Yes, I know.

My hoarder (looks at me in disbelief): So…

Me (saw it coming and was ready for it): Before you say no, can I ask you something?

My hoarder: Sure…

Me: When did you get the good set?

My hoarder: My wedding. The first one.

Me: How long ago was that?

My hoarder (eventually): 46 years ago.

Me: And who gave you the good cutlery set?

My hoarder: Cannae remember.

Me: But what do you think they wanted you to do with it?

My hoarder (laughs)

Me: Keep it in a cupboard for 46 years because it`s too good to use? Like – till you drop?

My hoarder (laughs harder)

Me: Or did they want you to use and enjoy it?

My hoarder (howling, unable to answer)

So I take it that`s a yes. He can come round, which is why we are compatible, after all…

 

 

Raw, vegan Chia Walnut Pudding

declarations of an eater

The other day, I was cleaning out my cupboards and found half a packet of chia seeds, next to half a pack of walnuts. Both expired last month, and I decided to quickly make them into something now.

I wasn`t quite keen on the chia seeds when I first tried them (hence, they were still there), but just recently, I half read a receipe for something called “turkish delight chia pudding”, and without referring to the book again, created what turned out to be an absolute winner.

ingredients

2 1/2 cups of walnuts

a few drops of vanilla essence

1 heaped tbsp of icing sugar (or other sweetener)

2/3 cup of chia seeds

1 tsb of rose water

nut milk

You can use any nuts, but I had walnuts to use up, and I found them very suitable for the Turkish theme, too.

Soaking the nuts overnight first starts the digestion process and makes…

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Gratitude

Gratitude opens your heart and carries the urge to give back. It however has an evil twin: indebtedness. Indebtedness pays back bregrudgingly, as part of the economy of favours. In contrast, gratitude gives back freely and creatively.

And gratitude doesn`t play by the rules. It`s not the etiquette we teach our kids. Too often, I find myself prodding my kids with “What do you say?” when they`re silent upon receiving a gift or a kindness. When they push out a monotone “Thanks”, they`re only being polite, not grateful.

Barbara Frederikson, Positivity

Photo Editing

I am a massive fan of photo editing. Although it`s sometimes put to me that my photos no longer look natural, I think even the best photograph only ever becomes a real piece of art once the photographer has put his own touch to it: enhanced, changed or created a mood, colour or perspective.

I am, of course, only talking about street photography here, which is the category that I see myself fitting into. Although I`m forever planning to give it a go, I do not deliberately style a scene in order to capture a particular look or mood – I`m far away from the stage where my vision and inspiration comes before the photo. I just snap while going on about my daily life, and then I let the photo inspire me to do something with it.

Its easy, and it`s so fun! I don`t even use professional filters, but would like to, probably rather daringly in some cases, show you some of the original snaps which, with very little work, became the photos I publish, primarily here and on Instagram:

  • Late afternoon jogging session. The edited version looks almost haunted with enhanced light and shadow, but the orignal wasn`t, really.
  • This finished selfie with my cat looks like we were lying in bed, but I`m afraid the truth was rather less cute. This is the only original in this post which isn`t really the original – I cut off the bottom, as I don`t want to show quite so much nudity.
  • Some photos can be changed from average to good just by cropping and removing the colour.
  • Others come to life only if colours are enhanced – the photo that made me money,  plus another two, which were similarly snapped on a smartphone in less than average indoor light conditions (can`t find the original cat photo, so posted a similar one from the same session):
  • Some filters (I think this one was EyeEm) can enhance the effect of light sources which are in the photo, which greatly enhanced the athmosphere in this picture of an old pub in the Old Town of Edinburgh here (apart from cropping out the yellow lines at the front and white van at the back, which were, of course, an absolute NO):
  • More selfies: I`m afraid my hair wasn`t really that red, and nor are my eyes that green, leave alone my skin that flawless:
  • This sunset was rather beautiful, but became breathtaking when a simple Instagram filter made it look as if the sun was still hovering over it:
  • Okay – this one was styed, but the application of colour nonetheless made a difference:

I hope I was able to inspire you, and in any case, I think I`ll be collecting some “before and after” pics like that for a sequel.

This blog is to be taken in lieu of my usual 12 photos of the 12th of every month. If  I would have partaken in this today, you would be looking at 12 photos of me working, studying and doing other boring stuff. Plus, this topic had been planned since a while 🙂

The Grand National

I`ve been living in Britain for almost 16 years now and am generally having a really good time over here. However, there are still things about this culture, which are alien to me – horse racing being one of them.

I now accept it as a given, but still find it impossible how much of an event they make about what takes about 15 minutes – everybody has to inform themselves weeks (or at least days) in advance about who is hot and who is not. Placing a bet is almost non-optional (unless you`re a hater!), even if, like us, you never bet on horses all year and know nothing about them. (We just pick what names we like.)

I`ve seen men watching the race inside the betting shop (who provide free nibbles!) and been invited to barbecues with race-themed dress codes – never mind the red carpets, Royals, celebrities and paparazzi seen in Liverpool.

There`s a racecourse in my home town, and I have been once – it was fun and we won some money, but it failed to get me excited. My sister, who was with me, and is very much into horses, was watching out for mistreatment all the time. And of course, horses fall, get injured and sometimes die, all for our entertainment and making money.

As said, we always placed a couple of bets for the Grand National, but not any longer. A few months ago, my husband has been to the races with a few colleagues and came back upset and downbeat. He had watched a horse going on with what was very obviously an already broken leg, then it fell, and although a screen was put on, everybody heard the gunshot that put it out of its misery. People were leaving, there were children… It was awful, and my husband vowed never again to bet on horses.

I never even watched it this year but couldn`t resist Twitter. Although they were boasting (!) about there being no fatalities for 5 years running (I remember this poor creature well – my colleague had placed a bet on it and felt so guilty for shouting at it in front of her telly!) about half of all horses fell, and did so quickly. Twitter was exploding with hate posts, concern and excitement alike – a rather interesting mixture. The Grand National excites and divides, but ignoring it is not an option.

Almost concluding the matter, I must say that can name at least two guys who appear to be making quite a handsome amount of money on the side just by betting on horses (and football), which is not a thing to be underrated. Everybody likes earning money for themselves, and it probably helps to accept or ignore the downsides of this sport. Brits love betting, and winning alongside your horse or team, of course, will attach them to the sport.

P.S.:

The names are interesting. Eric Berne and others have already written about how names can determine the fate of humans (particularly if named after other people), and what on Earth were they thinking calling a racehorse “Dropout Joe” and “Wounded Warrior”? They both fell – of course. Pardon the pun.

Please Praise the Chef! and: A Restaurant Review

Last night, we`ve been to Dal Patino again, a new and wonderful Italian Restaurant, which recently opened here in Musselburgh.

Up until that day, we had two Italians (a quite down to earth one which specialises in pizza and pasta, and a very swanky one which we can`t afford to eat at regularly). Dal Patino is a small family run restaurant, which finally managed to close the gap and offer something to people like us, who like nice food in a nice ambience, but don`t want to have to keep this for special occasions.

We were walking past by pure chance a couple of weeks ago, peckish and talking about what to have for dinner, when my other half spontanesously suggested to go in and give it a try.

I had grilled sea bass (two fillets!!) with so much on the side that I would have foregone my obligatory side salad, if only I had known. Apart from more salad, potatoes and a whole twig of grilled tomatoes with herbs, there was a large vegetable cake that was so delicious I pointed this out to the waiter and asked what was in it.

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Just a few weeks prior, I had a rather interesting discussion with the chef at my work, and we concluded that people like me are more likely to speak up if they want to complain about food rather than praise it, and therefore, by default, people like him are more likely to hear comlaints rather than praise about their work, which they usually do with a lot of love and passion (This particular conversation was about a lady who had particular dietary wishes, had something special made for her twice a day and liked neither.). After this chat, I promised to myself to really make waves the next time I ate out and found something oustanding. And this vegetable cake sure was.

 The place is small and the waiter waved to the chef (open kitchen), whose face almost split with a grin that went from one ear to the other. He told me a wee bit of what was in it and seemed happy when I said I could eat those cold as well, and they should sell them at lunch time to take away.

Anyhow, with the bill came a brown bag, and guess what was in it:

For me. Just like that. 🙂

I looked over the waiter`s shoulder nd saw the chef waving. Really made my day, and then again the next morning when I had those cold, for breakfast.

When we came back yesterday, we were greeted like old friends, and once again, served a dinner which was both delicious and incredibly photogenic:

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Anyway, bottom line is: Please could you praise the chef. You`ll make for a nice change. 🙂

Lisbon Part V

We always pay a visit to Mercado Da Ribeira, one of the most amazing food markets I`ve ever been to. There`s flouwers and fresh fruit, veg and fish at the back, but most people come here to select some of the delicious bites and dishes from the exquisite international stalls or bars to eat them here and there, with free WiFi with no password being a wonderful intentive to stay on for an espresso and maybe a tiny little piece of cake, each being a piece of art.

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This was a special day and the first time we actually sat at the bar and had a cocktail. I had an Aperol Spritz which included about half a bottle of Prosecco just to myself, and my other half asked for “something with rum” and received something called “Winter Warmer” which was off the menu and raaather stroooong…

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Here we sat for quite a while, took our time, speaking about our life together and posting pictures on social media while slowly getting dizzy…

From here, we first went home to offload some of our stuff, as we`ve been for some shopping…

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And here, I managed to take my personal best pictures of the Ascensor da Bica, mainly due to lack of other people.

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Dinner was in one of our favourite restaurants in Alfama – no pictures. It was busy, and we didn`t want to hang about occupying a table, but Lisbon is not short of places to just go for a drink, so we finally got to try this beautiful wine bar, which was always looking rather nice to us, and where we stayed for quite a while… 🙂

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It was amazing how quiet and civilised this place was, given that almost everyone, who was there, was drinking. This would definitely not have been the case in Scotland!! Scots and alcohol are sooo loooud!!

On our way home we got approached by a man offering us stuff to smoke – a very common sight in Lisbon. They usually stand at Praça do Comércio guising as sunglasses salesmen, but once you`re looking, they open their jackets or hands and show you what else they`ve got… This guy here was rather annoying – he followed us into a side street even though we had already said “no”, and I actually had to become quite cheeky to get rid of them.

And when we walked up the Ascencor da Bica, a fab thing happened. It was 11p Monday night, and it was quiet, but one pub was still open, with a Pope, a witch and a minion standing in front of it laughing. One said Hi, we said Hi back, and the next moment, we were inside and some guy was swirling me around the dance floor. I hadn`t danced salsa in ages and surely gave it a go, and when I finally got a break, my husband was holding a glass of beer and wearing a yellow feather boa!

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At midnight, an international tune was heard and a whole carneval party of what was all locals (apart from us) was singing me Happy Birthday in Portuguese! The door closed, but we stayed till 1am when the beverages were definitely overwhelming me. As for the rest, I don`t think the party was quite over yet 🙂

The lady who is facing us here is important – she was the only one who spoke English, and she has an Air B&B flat in the area. She speaks English and invited us to Santo Antonio day on – 10 June!! That`s so soon!! And she`s gonna take us!!

In bed by half past one.

No photos of the Tuesday, when our plane home went at a very convenient 3pm. My birthday was spent tired, hungover, having discussions with 4 airport security about canned sardines, and definitely not fresh enough for another selfie.

Home at 7pm. Once again, three days away in this wonderful city felt so jam packed with good vibes!! I just love it so much! 🙂

On Past Injuries II

Quite a while ago, I wrote about reacting to past injuries, and even though I know them so well, I was failing to name examples.

Ever since I wrote this blog, however, I started to pay attention, and I can now not only add examples but, much more importantly, discovered that I could heal from some.

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The first situation where I realised that I was reacting to past injuries was my fierce hatred of Country music. It was the kind of music my dad liked (apart from a few other, for me equally unacceptable, genres), and he plaid it particularly often and particularly loud because he knew it grated on me. Long car journeys in particular – anything I could not get away from. And when I complained, he laughed and turned the volume up. It was a power trip, and maybe a punishment to his teenager slagging his music, and it got me to hate it to this day (where it probably would have remained a simple dislike otherwise).

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Another example where I`m reacting to past injuries is my own birthday. I had 8 until I overheard my mum saying that she hated my birthdays with all the gifts, cakes, parties, children, grannies and merrymaking. I had 4 more (which I had ceased to enjoy) until my parents decided that I was too old, and that was fine with me.

Even when I was an adult and able to throw my own parties, I never did – there were half hearted gift exchanges with family, because it was the only way to for them to retain their own righ to receive, and that was it.

A couple of years ago, I turned 40, and I decided to celebrate it. At that point, I felt blessed with very many great people in my life, but only few of them had actually met. It was mainly meant to be an opportunity to bring the mall together – and I had such a ball!! And I celebrated the next, which was much smaller but an equally beautiful day, and when it came round again just recently, I got properly excited about it because people actually made a”deal” about it – mainly new ones, who didn`t know I disliked my birthday, and some others thought I had changed my mind. And I discovered that I probably did – after skipping 28 of them because of what my parents said and did when I was a child…

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Another really important thing is perfume, and how it can remind me of the particular good or sad times when I was wearing it. I`ve been known to give perfumes away just because I couldn`t stand the memories I kept associating with the smell. (But this works vice versa, too – I know which one to wear if I want to wear confident or sexy or fresh or happy.)

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And then there are two… really silly things – the ones which actually inspired me to pick up this blog again.

I`m still too embarrassed to mention either in a public blog, but someone had hurt me very much, twice, with things which for others are probably absolute trivia.

One instance involved a particular brand of cosmetics. I was not using the brand myself at the time, but I was given them as a gift later and had to pass this on, as I was unable to use it without flashbacks (yeah, that`s probably the right word – I`m not just thinking of the injury, I`m having proper flashbacks which bring me so down that others actually comment on my low mood). The fact that I recently bought myself not one, but two, lipsticks from this make, shows me that I`m really and truely over the person who injured me. It`s one of those products which tingle on my lips and remind me that I have it on, and it`s nothing but a great feeling.

The other one involves a food. It was used to neglect, be stubborn towards and commit an act of absolute cruelty against me, or at least so I saw it at the time. I could no longer enjoy this kind of food. It had no taste whatsoever, just injury, fat and calories. Adn a whole 2 1/2 years later, there comes someone else and turns the whole thing round. Whatever happened back then, that person did the polar opposite. I feel healed, and I will never ever eat this kind of food again without this particular happy memory, which totally erased the other one (although the memory is still there, it no longer hurts).

And maybe that`s the secret. Rather than avoiding the triggers, re-expose myself in a pleasant situation and simply replace those memories with something upbeat.

I`ve got a candidate for that on my shoe shelf. Horrible memory, which I cannot summarise adequately in a three liner (I just tried). I never wore them again after that night. They are of cream suede, and they still bear the black marks of a drunk man`s shoes where he kicked them about in a night club.

I should wear them next week. I should plan a whole outfit around them and make them feel and look absolutely amazing – and then remember them for that…

I just Sold my First Photograph!!

imageimageYes – indeed: about a year or so after I started to really get into my photography (and sporadically publish them in various places online), someone has now paid money to get a license for my … smartphone photo of jellybeans…

Right now, I`m feeling really proud and accomplished, and I don`t care that I`m only getting a tiny cut, but the sheer fact that someone just paid at least £50.oo for my photo, my creativity, my… artwork, feels just amazing!!

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I remember the story of that picture well.

I took it during my first face-to-face tutorial with the Open University, which took place in a hotel near Haymarket Train Station in Edinburgh last February. On our tables were, besides pen, paper and water, jelly beans. The young latecomer who sat beside me laughed as, before even eating a single one of them, I grabbed my smartphone (a Samsung Galaxy S 6 Edge) and photographed them from all angles. That`s when she decided she needed to get to know me, because she likes wacky people. We ended up going to the bus together, and on the journey home, I applied various filters to the best pic and uploaded it to both Instagram and EyeEm.

It was in May when I got an automated email from EyeEm saying that the photo had been selected for their Premium Collection, to be put up for sale on Getty Images. At the time, me and another friend were researching opportunities for selling photos online, and I found that most of those rather “big” sites have rather strict guidelines regarding quality. I never found mine on their site, and then forgot about it, although looked again a few months later, and it was there, beside two photos of my Siamese cat. (In fact, I had 8 pictures altogether selected for Premium Collection, but only those three published).

Anyway, on Tuesday, I got an email saying I sold it!!

The same night, I went to the birthday party of my wonderful Greek friend Mary, who sat beside me when I took the photograph! And she remembers it well, as it was the day we met and the reason she wanted to get to know me.

Aw, I`m happy, and dying to know who bought it and what for…

Iphone 7 Plus vs Android (Galaxy 6 Edge)

I wrote the review I did below after only a few days with my new phone, and I think three months (and a bit more) is a good time to review what I first wrote about it – particularl with the arrival of the Galaxy S 8 next week. New comments in red 🙂

After my Blackberry (2011-2013), I always had Galaxies, and now, I finally treated myself to an Iphone.

I cannot say that it is better or worse than Android, but I can say it`s different. I got some nice new things but also lost some.

My personal verdict is as follows:

Lock Screen

Galaxy blinks with notifications, until I open it. Only text messages and WhatsApps show on my lock screen, so I always wanted to look at my notifications (and if I didn`t, the flashing drained my battery). Iphone shows all incoming messages on lock screen, but flashing lights are available for those who want them as well as.

Iphone wakes up as soon as I lift it up, and because my home screen can recognise my fingerprint, I don`t need to bother with annoying pass codes.

Iphone 1  : 0  Android (this should actually be double points as so great!!!) 

yes! It`s so easy to check (either by having my phone beside me or by just briefly waking it up by simply lifting it), the battery lasts such a great deal more than the one of my Galaxy (which would blink for ages in my handbag and then had to be completely wakened for me to see the message), too.

Home Screen

Fully customisable on Android. On Apple, you can set a background picture and reorder the apps.

Iphone 1 : 1 Android

Yes. Mind you – I still haven`t customised my home screan.

Notifications

see also “Lock screen” and “Homescreen”. I like the Iphone`s Notification Panel on the side. Although its customisation could be improved (but hey, it`s new, so maybe it will) it wins over the Galaxy Edge. The Notification Centre which you drag down from the top is similar, but slightly better on Apple. It seems a silly thing, but Apple gives me a separate notification for each person who liked my Instagram photos, while Samsung will only say “Marvin + 3 other people”.

Iphone 2 : 1 Android

yes again 🙂

Battery Life

Because of the things raised above, I don`t need to switch on my Iphone that often, and neither have I got lights flashing in my handbag if I don`t check it. Can`t say whether the Iphone battery is really better, but I can easily see why it lasts me longer (charge every second day rather than daily). Lost Fast Charge.

Iphone 3 : 1 Android

as said – this one still valid, too 🙂

Alarm Clock

Can be put off with one tap on Iphone. Samsung requires me to get into the Clock App, which is annoying when you`re still half asleep

Iphone 4 : 1 Android

Yes, great improvement on the Samsung, for said reason – so easy to simply switch off.

Settings

Extremely easily accessible on Android from homescreen via customiseable dash board. Iphone requires me to go into Settings, where I don`t find it particularly intuitive to find certain things. Some settings are available from the lock or homescreen (drag up from bottom). I like to use flight mode during the night (where on my Galaxy, I would have switched off WiFi and Data) Still…

Iphone 4 : 2 Android

Yes. Apple settings are really annoying. It was, for example, so easy on the Samsung to switch off and on WiFi or log into new networks. This is annoying now, plus, I seem to be really having a hard time with WiFi (other than at home) in particular. 

Camera

This is really important for me, and I love the Portrait Mode of the Iphone which blurs the background. However, I lost the Beauty Setting in Selfie Mode, which blurred my skin and made me look at least 10 years younger. I know there`s apps for that, but… I prefer Apple`s inbuilt filters to Samsung`s, but there are several third party apps which I prefer to both.

Generally, with both phones, I`m happy with all photos in good light but less so in low light. Apple`s Live Photos are quite cute, but really just a toy.

Draw.

Iphone 5 : 3 Android

Still yes, plus I would give Apple an extra point now that I found their own photo editing mode and also discovered that, if you keep your thumb on a Live Photo, it plays the whole video rather than just recording one movement before (which it shows when you are flicking). It`s really cute 🙂

Gallery

You know what really bugs me about the Apple Gallery? You can share a pic to third party Apps (take Instagram), but you cannot then edit them there. To do that, you first have to go into Instagram and fetch the picture from there. With Android, you pick your photo, share it to Instagram and arrive at your usual editing screen. And that`s how it should be.

Iphone 5 : 4 Android (this one should get double points, too!!)

I found a function where you can move photos to Instagram and then edit it, but this is not there all the time??

Music

You can get GooglePlay on Apple (but you don`t get Itunes on Android), so don`t need to transfer my Google music to Itunes and can now chose where to buy from, as prices can differ. Android has its own music player, too, which I hardly used. I however downloaded two MP3s onto my Iphone via mail, and still haven`t found them. Nevertheless…

Iphone 6 : 4 Android

yes 🙂

Third Party Apps

Most third party apps are available on both Operating Systems, and with most, I prefer the ones for Apple (although not hugely).

Iphone 7 : 4 Android 

Apple apps cost, though, and they`re not cheap. What I really dislike is that I can`t always see how much I am being charged – it just asks me confirm that I want to buy the app and then asks for my password re payment. Surprised this is allowed.

Health App

I`m grieving for the Samsung Health App, which had everything (step counter, exercise, food diary and several other things including weight and sleep) in one place. The step counter was on my home screen, which I adored. Apple has a health app, but the only thing which seems automatic is the step and exercise counter. Although I was told you can put those on the side panel, I`m yet to find out how. A real loss.

Iphone 7 : 5 Android

yes. Now RunTastic as well, but Samsung had this all in one. 

Phone Design

Okay, it`s a bit too big, but I wanted the camera which the small one does not have. Galaxy 6 Edge was the perfect size, with the edge providing a larger screen and additional functions.

Iphone 7 : 6 Android

Cracked the screen about 3 weeks ago. Thankfull, it was only the protector 🙂

… and it`s almost a draw! Some may want to consider things like price, image, processor and accessories, but I focused on which one is the better phone to use. I was craving a change, but I really wouldn`t be able to recommend one phone over the other.

At the moment, I’m definitely enjoying the novelty factor, though 🙂