Take Two

Well, well, well.

Here I am again, after an abominably long absence from the world of blogging, writing, and well, everything really. Its been a long time, and it’s been a busy six months. It’s been a very interesting six months. Many, many things have changed, and I’d dare to say that even I have too.

But, I’ve realised that finally, I’m excited again, about writing more, and better. I’m excited about being able to review books again, that’s something I’ve missed very much. I’m incredibly excited to be enjoying my research again, and I think there’s been an alteration in mindset, and it’s meant that I want to come back to the blogging world!

So, today I finally launched my freelancer blog, so pop over and see what you think! If you like it, please tell your friends and feel free to comment or tweet/email me with any ideas or suggestions!

The blog can be found at sarahaliceenterprises.wordpress.com!

Thank you very much!

(:

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The Ramblings of the Excited 2nd Year

 

So, in light of my rather terrible installation troubles, i.e. no internet for the foreseeable future, posts will be even more limited than they are at the moment. Of course, I will do my best to abuse the uni WiFi, and will squeeze as many insightful and interesting thoughts out of my head as I feel I can. A new term of new books and new lecturers will surely provide me with ample material for posts. I started this blog as an outlet for this material, and so it will be nice to return to the original stuff, even though I’m sure you find my culinary updates just terribly exciting.

Now, I can’t sit still. That’s the main problem. Because I’m just so very excited. Sitting in the car tomorrow for the six-hour drive will just about push my patience to the limit I think, because I’m already itching to unpack everything, clean cupboards, and get really, really organised. I’ve even roped my little sister into staying with me for the first night; she’s really good at cleaning things and so I guessed she’d be a useful pair of hands for the evening. I will have to concern myself with trying to cram tonnes of clothes into my wardrobe, and negotiating homes for my ever-expanding shoe collection.

It’s the waiting that I hate the most about moving from place to place. I love the excitement of finding somewhere new to live, and I like having a clean slate; you can make it look as lovely as you’d want to, and I have a fantastic collection of fairy lights that somehow make any given room far more inviting than a simple ceiling light. I have shelves, and I couldn’t have asked for a better house. I even have a garden with a greenhouse; not that I’ve ever gardened, but I like to entertain a fantasy that I could.

I’ve also managed to create a collection of comfortable and yet attractive clothing this summer, thus dispelling the need for baggy track suit bottoms around the house. Instead, I’m going to head down the ‘jegging’ route, and whilst I hate the word, and used to despise the idea, I’ve come to realise that they are in fact quite comfortable, but look marginally more presentable than tracksuits. I also spent a vast amount of money on an original Rolling Stones tour sweater, but I’ve decided it was just completely, and utterly worth it.

Anyway, I have to try to sleep tonight, because tomorrow is going to be long and exhausting. So for now, I’ll leave you to stare at the screen in a nonplussed sort of way, trying to work out what I spent the last four hundred words talking about. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to come back, but I’ll do my best to make it soon!

(:

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Frustrations of the Technological Variety

 

A short note today, really. Mainly focussed on how frustrated I am by all internet service providers, and phone packages. We’ve been searching, high and low, for a reasonably priced phone and broadband package, one that doesn’t come with a lifetime of ‘one-off’ costs, and frankly I’m astounded by the lack of availability for such a simple idea.

And then of course, is the installation problem. It can’t possibly take that long to install a phone line. It is not much to ask that somebody comes to put a little wire in, y’know, before my fiftieth birthday. And saying there’s only four engineers in the entire country? Well, this simply doesn’t fly with me. There are far more, and people are looking for jobs. Therefore I have a solution: start training the unemployed to install internet and phone connections. People pay good money for this invaluable service, and I think the economy would receive a much-needed boost, especially if people were connected to the internet, and therefore able to browse online shops, and so on.

It would also make me much, much happier to know that I wasn’t going to be without internet for what appears to be seven million years. In modern-day society, it kind of starts to feel as though you are reaching an apex of the social pariah; what did we do before Twitter and Facebook, and what did we do before instantaneous information was available? We had to go to the library and look through the catalogue. And now, thanks to the wonderful department that deals with such installations, it seems that we will be able to experience an era of research and paper. I’m so very grateful for the experience.

(:

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Three Days Left!

It’s finally happened. I’ve packed up, ready to return to college for the start of another semester. I’ve been taking preliminary notes, and packing boxes of fairy lights and duvet covers up. It took nearly seven hours to sort all my clothes and bedding into vacuum bags. It took even longer to establish how many pairs of shoes I ought to take with me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that by the time comes to pack the car, there will be a conversation related to “How many bl***** pairs of shoes do you need? You’ve only got two s******* feet!”. But that is all a part of the joy of moving down.

It’s really weird, because I’ve just got used to living at home again. I got used to being told what to do again, and so now I’m going to go back and be a little bit confused, because I won’t have anyone who can tell me what to do. Freedom hits a person like a brick in the face. You know it’s there because it’s just kind of, well, scary. But I’m sure it’ll only take about ten hours to establish myself independently again. Probably even less. I managed to nearly amputate my foot earlier, by standing on a pair of nail scissors. I’m amazed people actually let me venture into the world, alone and unsupervised.

I’m actually going to have a few days completely alone in my new house. I have to be back, to help out with some student-y type things, and I have errands to run, and jobs to interview for. But this means I’m back a little early, so I’m going to end up having a few days to collect myself, and join gyms, and run, and volunteer for things. I’m doing that thing, where I plan to be a whole, rounded individual, and I really do want to stick to it this time. Because of my dalliances in the kitchen, I’m half convinced I’m kind of like an Italian mother, who’ll cook vast amounts of food for whoever feels brave enough to eat it. Our own perceptions of ourselves are quite interesting, I always think.

So, I have three days left here. There are hair appointments to attend, and last-minute washing to do. I’m going to spend some time with my family, and generally being at home. And then before I even realise it’s happened, I’m gonna be at a Pirate Party, wearing a ridiculous stripe t-shirt, and an eye-patch, with a cardboard parrot on my shoulder.

(:

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Why Nobody Wants To Be Called Middle-Aged

 

Has anyone ever sat down and wondered at their old photos? It’s my lovely little sister’s sixteenth birthday today, and so we’re sat around, looking at photos from when we were both just tiny tots. And it’s hilarious. I was a victim of the perpetual bad hair day, and my sister just looked like a thug, with the biggest baby head I have ever seen. She also had an adorable little top-knot. It made her look a little bit like a teletubby. Does anyone remember tellytubbies? I used to quite like them.

I also quite enjoy looking at what your parents used to look like, twenty years ago before your teenager strops and tantrums turned them grey, or bald, or thin, or fat. It’s even more strange to look at them in long-forgotten holiday photos, before you were born, when your Mum was still blonde, and your Dad carried a slightly more svelte figure than you’ve ever seen. It’s really, really weird when you realise your mother was the dead spit of you, and therefore you catch something of a glimpse at what you will look like in middle-age.

I always think the phrase ‘middle age’ has slightly negative connotations. The Middle Ages, in Britain at least, were dark, and smelly, on the whole. Technology hadn’t begun to advance, and people had come to something of an intellectual standstill. Illness was rife, death was more common than a bucket of sewage on the head, and to add to this predicament, religious order was still a serious issue. As in, well, there wasn’t one. I think I’ve found the reason why nobody likes to be referred to as middle-aged.

And then there’s the problem of after middle-age. Old. Elderly. An older person. Nobody would ever want to be referred to as old, and I can imagine being unbelievably irritated if somebody had referred to me as old, even if I was about ninety-six years old. Anyway, I have to go, and carry on my excursion down memory lane. I apologise for my collection of thoughts on age; I’ve never known what it’s like to be old, but I suppose one day, it’ll creep right up on me.

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Cookies, Crumbles, and Meltdowns

I have been saying recently that I would like this blog to take a new turn, and to perhaps broaden it’s horizons; I’d like it to go on, and become a blog about food, as I learn to cook it, too. I’m not too focused on a subject for this blog, however, food would like to be something I include within it’s parameters.

So, the day before yesterday, I made cookies. I’ve never been much of a cookie baker, or indeed a baker of any kind. I make tray-bakes, but muffins are simply not my friend. I overwork the gluten, and sort of make sweet-bread. But cookies? Well, my black and white ones seem to be getting every time I make them, and I’ve made quite a few batches lately. I quite enjoy making cookies. I think it’s something to do with the fact that it’s kind of a childish pleasure; there’s something wonderfully juvenile about cookies, and their association with milk.

And who doesn’t love the cookie monster?! (1)

Anyway, the baking is going well; the muffins made me cry a bit, because of the gluten situation, and I couldn’t find a way to remedy it. I’ve made a few batches now, to absolutely no avail. I’d like to think that practice makes perfect; Saint Delia would certainly agree.

I made myself an omelette for breakfast, and I know that that sentence seemed rather, well, pointless. The trouble with my omelette was that I couldn’t quite manage to execute the folding; the folding seemed to be a skill that was just beyond my comprehension, and the problem was further compounded when I realised that my book, that was telling me how to make the omelette, was hovering dangerously close to the gas ring. So then I kind of panicked, a little bit, and turned off the hob, thinking that if I were to burn the house down whilst making brunch, my Mum would be more than a tad upset.

Anyway, I managed a kind of open-faced omelette, and I filled the middle with smoked ham and tomato, and added a small sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top, but not too much to make it a cellulite trap. (I’d already been to the gym before brunch, and so I was feeling a little bit virtuous). I also added a touch of basil to the egg mix, with lashings of salt and black pepper, and a dash of Tabasco sauce. I think that I should take out shares in the company; I go through absolutely tonnes of the stuff, because it’s almost as versatile as Worcester Sauce, in terms of flavour, and adding something of an undercurrent.

Anyway, I have to go now. I have to buy my little sister a birthday balloon, and I have to get dressed for work. I hate getting dressed for work, but there it is. I suppose I’d look strange waitressing in shorts and a vest top. Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday.

(:

(1) http://fortheloveofcookies.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/orig-14366331.jpg

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On the Action Novel

Now, Robert Ludlum is one of my favourite authors. He is not highbrow, or snooty, but he is wonderfully engaging, creates a watertight story line  and writes about it in an addictive manner. I love the way he communicates, and I like the pacing of his novel. Pacing in an action novel is very, very important; otherwise the ‘action’ is lost, and there is a stilted novel, without much progression, which quickly becomes a boring novel; you know, the kind that you use to prop open doors, hold your laptop up when the fan breaks, etc.

And no author wants to write that book. Not a book that exists purely to support other objects.

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Action novels are not just Mr Ludlum’s domain, however. Frederick Forsyth, John Grisham, and more recently Lee Child, have all broken into the action novel genre. Mr Child has done especially well for himself, and from his amazon.co.uk pages, seems to be churning out novels at an alarming rate of one every forty-two seconds. Now, I’m not convinced that a novel, or that number of novels, can be written well and so quickly, but then again the man might just be a superhuman writer. Since I haven’t experienced a novel of his yet (although my Dad has, and he seems to be devouring them), I am in no position to judge.

I like these novels because they are designed to be easy, and uncomplicated, at least not in the intellectual sense. They contain interesting plots, many of which I think are echoed throughout international history, and there are many ideas that come from real life events; things that really happened. I think because our access to MI6 records, and FBI records, etc, is so limited, we never really know what happened, and the novels open up a kind of phantom door, to a world that the common person isn’t allowed to inhabit.

When I was younger, I really wanted to be a spy. Like James Bond. But female, and I’d do it in some crazy ball gowns, and slinky slit-up-the-side dresses. I’d also be wearing red stilettos, and be really slinky. I know now that this is kind of a long dream away, but the principle is there. Action novels give you ideas, and they make you feel like anybody could defuse a bomb, or that anyone could be a part of an underground resistance movement, or go undercover in a dictatorship.

It’s all about escaping somewhere that isn’t your everyday, boring world; it’s not about shopping in supermarkets, and arguing with a boyfriend. It’s about fighting for things, and pretending that you are something incredible, life-changing, unstoppable. That’s why on the beach, holding a Martini, you feel like you can do anything. You see, it’s a heady concoction, alcohol and action novels.

(:

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A Modern Cinderella Story

It’s my first day off in a week, so I thought I’d have a nice lazy breakfast. I made scrambled eggs on a bagel, and had a little greek yoghurt, blackberries and honey. I was sat at my laptop, reading a variety of articles on the news, when I stumbled across a story about a seventeen year old boy who was talent spotted by a fashion scout, plucked from obscurity, and made the face of the infamous fashion house, Prada. I was astonished, frankly. You can read the story here

Alexander Beck (1)

A cinderella story that really, seems to have happened. I mean, the boy worked in his local fish and chip shop. And then found himself modelling haute couture. That’s really not something that happens everyday. In fact, it happens hardly anywhere. The whimsy of the whole situation is kind of amusing; he was found whilst out shopping one day, in Waterstones. That’s not just something that will happen to anyone; that’s the kind of things that makes you into kind of, a somebody. It must be an unbelievable shock; to go from dressing for school in ten minutes, to the make up and glitter, fittings and so on. The world he had known must have quite literally, exploded around him. But it must have been completely, and utterly, incredible.

I like hearing these stories, because they remind you that there is some hope; if it can happen to a guy who works in a chip shop, it could happen to the shy little girl in glasses, and it could happen to you, because well, why the hell not? I like the idea of looking like somebody, and just suddenly, being a major player in the model world. It would be any little girl’s dream. And there are thousands of models who spend years of their lives applying to agencies like FM, and are constantly told that they don’t have ‘the right look’. There’s no such thing as a ‘right look’, only a momentarily ‘right look’; but these girls and boys all live and die on what these agencies have to say about them. I suspect to have come so far, so fast, must be a dream come true, or just plain, blind, luck.

His shoots with Vogue Homme are supposed to be published in the spring, and I definitely cannot wait to see how he looks; Kate Moss was seventeen when she first broke out, too. Perhaps we’ve met our next Kate Moss. Fashion fans will know it’s kind of like a symbolic second coming of the Messiah; a sign of new blood, and a new way of looking at things.

(:

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I’m Late, Again, But I’m Not Sure What For…

So today I’ve been in a completely excellent, and wonderful mood. I’ve been a shiny happy person, bouncing about, making milkshakes for people, taking puppies for walks, going above and beyond for guests at work… All is well with the world. I like that; especially when you feel so good about yourself that you want to be nice to people. I like making people happy, if I can.

I’ve even managed to not eat rubbish, and I’ve been to the gym. I feel like a little superhero. I bought myself a preposterously extravagant new mid-year diary too. I love it, because it is just completely beautiful. The cover feels precious, and I’m one of those people who adores pretty stationary, and filling in the information in the front is quite possibly the most exciting thing, well, ever.

Everyone knows what I mean. The excitement of fresh paper can’t ever be rivaled by digital takeovers, and sometimes you must have a piece of equipment that doesn’t rely on a battery pack, or need an extra charger. Holding onto a physical object is quite comforting, and scribbling things down is satisfying. Ticking things off on a Blackberry simply isn’t as extravagant as scribbling it off with a pretty pen, in a pretty book. There’s a sense of romance surrounding the concept of the diary, and the ability to write in it. It is personal in a way that software is not.

This is of course, the trouble with all this eco-friendly work. There’s no romance in electricity, and there’s no personality in a Microsoft software package. Paper gave us a sense of age, and of character, because we used handwriting, and tucked our favourite photos inside them, and made them ours. OneNote is a fantastic academic program, and there’s no doubt that it has made my filing system much, much more efficient. But a pretty diary is special; it might be materialistic, and I’m sure that the environment objects to my using of a diary. But I cannot ignore such a prominent sense of nostalgia that I associate with beautiful paper, and colourful patterns. It’s a permanent record of a period of your life, and the fact we haven’t got time to write down our trivialities anymore is quite shocking.

Everything is to-go. I am always running about, thinking where I have to be next. We don’t really sit down, and just, well, be there. At least not without thinking about something else. There are a million to do lists tucked away inside my head. And I’m always planning a new project and most of the time I haven’t quite finished the first, which is why I have half a room dedicated to ‘graveyard of projects past’. There’s so much to do, and it seems like there’s so little time.

And I realise it’s terribly trivial, and that diaries do not create time. But seeing those pages spread out before you provides you with a sense of perspective; there is a physicality to when things will be done, and when you will be able to do things. I think that perspective is worth all the money in the world.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

– Oscar Wilde

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Slutty Spaghetti, and Other Stories

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Ack. That’s the only word to use to describe the last few days. Work has been terribly, terribly busy, and even this, my half day off, is turning out to be something of a tricky one. But anyway. I’ve made some serious progress on the domestic goddess front. For instance, I have learnt that there is in fact a right and wrong way to cook pasta, and rice. There ought to be a cup of rice to two cups of water when cooking. And on Wednesday I’m planning on making muffins or cookies, and something nice from the Nigella Lawson Kitchen book. It’s turning into a necessary part of the day. I think my Mum is enjoying all the cooking.

I rather want to make white chocolate and raspberry muffins. The trouble is, I haven’t got a recipe that doesn’t make me want to cry. If anyone has any recipes that are tried and tested, I’d be most appreciative!

Something else I tried last week; Slutty Spaghetti, or Spaghetti Puttanesca. I think the Slutty Spaghetti nickname has more of a ring to it than the latter, but there we go. The sauce was perfect, and the bitterness of the capers seemed to counteract the building heat of the chilli flakes. It wasn’t that difficult to make either, although the smell of fresh garlic is rather pervasive, and lasts for days afterwards. I think that might just be a kind of homely smell; the smell of home cooking, and not using powdered garlic. In culinary terms, it seems that garlic powder is akin to devil worship.

Because I have a house now, I will be able to put little plant pots on the window sill, or on the patio (it’s really odd, knowing you have your own patio, complete with furniture), and grow little fresh herbs. I draw the line at growing vegetables (I don’t like mud, and gardening, and I like having clean fingernails), but I like the idea of growing herbs.

I think I might try cooking some kind of chicken dish this week, or fish. Rick Stein has some excellent fish recipes, and I might see if I can make a decent jambalaya. I think my family would quite enjoy that, and I think my housemates will enjoy it, too. Y’know, as long as I don’t set fire to a griddle pan, or make the microwave explode. Whilst these things sound a little far-fetched to the normal, adult person, it’s all entirely possible if I happen to set food in the kitchen. This is because my clumsiness knows no bounds; just yesterday, I was carrying hot food at work, and my napkin slipped, and as I caught the dish, I touched a pan that had just come from under a red-hot grill. I seared my thumb, and I have a little blister for my trouble.

There’s little news from the literary sphere from me, at the moment, because I’ve been caught up in the wonders of domesticity, and learning things about cooking, and lifestyle. So that’s what might be cropping up more often on here; perhaps there’s a food blogger in me yet!

(:

(1) http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_KznaiPtvdRw/TMW_KSx14gI/AAAAAAAAAMs/ZOHD_OrJeG4/s1600/Kitchen+Nigella+Lawson.jpg

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