An art-filled end of the month

This week is quite busy one. Not only is it my last week of classes, with every day taking me one step closer to my dissertation, and eventual graduation and job search, but iso also absolutely packed with different art events which makes everything better– or at least keeps me too busy and distracted to start feeling stressed!

On Tuesday I spent the middle of the afternoon at the British Museum to celebrate the last week of classes. As much as I love going to museums with friends and/or Cameron, there’s something really nice about going alone sometimes. I don’t feel bad about lingering too long in front of one piece, and can go back to have another look at things without the group waiting for me. Recently every time I’ve gone to an art museum I feel like I’ve seen someone touching a piece of art they shouldn’t be– I don’t know if it’s a new thing, or if I just hadn’t noticed before. Either way, seeing someone reach out and touch one of the painted doorways from an Egyptian pyramid is always a bit of a shock.

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In the evening Cameron and I went to the Barbican to see a contemporary adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest, by Gerald Barry. Commissioned in 2011 by the Barbican and LA Philharmonic, this is the first staging since (it got until April 3). At first I found it hard to follow, I soon grew to like the sort of absurdity in parts, which has been one of my favourite parts of Wilde’s original play. The idea that one ‘acquire relations’ as soon as possible  is just one example, and the jig danced by Jack/Earnest and Lady Bracknell during the scene only confirms this. My favourite part, though, was the conversation between Gwendolyn and Cecily when they think they are engaged to the same man, which in the original is full of good manners and yet dripping with dislike. In Barry’s version the two women speak evenly through megaphones while just to the side plates are smashed between each word, followed shortly after by flying cake when the two sit for tea. While decidedly different from Wilde’s original, I think the spirit remains- it’s humorous, a bit dangerous, and feels like a bit of a whirlwind.

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Tonight we do a complete turnaround and head to the Royal Opera House to see Giselle. I was already excited a few months ago when we booked the tickets, but now am looking forward to it even more. Two weeks ago my Arts and Management seminar went to the Royal Opera House for class and were given a tour at the end of our session, in which we got to see a bit of rehearsals for the ballet  and some of the set pieces being moved on stage, which has made me even more excited for tonight!

With so many fun and exciting things happening, it’s hard to be too sad about classes ending. But it’s still unbelievable to think that I’m already 2/3 finished with my master’s programme. In many ways it feels like I’ve just started (insert cheesy ‘time flies’ quote here). At at rate, I’m strangely excited to get to work on my dissertation, and to see what happens next.

 

 

Friday Cocktail: Rum Shandy

While it may be springtime (finally!) there is definitely still a bit of a chill in the air, which is fine by me as it means I get to keep wearing my comfy sweaters. That being said, I wanted this week’s cocktail to have the same sort of personality– a little bit cosy, but with a hint of warmer weather to come. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I nailed it.

Truth be told I had some help in the ‘research’ phase. I’m not sure if I would have arrived at this one without Cameron’s suggestion, actually. Rum and lime? Definitely! It’s one of my favourites (see here). Rum and and lime, plus ginger? A natural progression if you ask me– in fact, that gives me an idea for a fun twist on a daiquiri. But add apple into the mix and I was skeptical. You may also be feeling skeptical, and that’s okay, but from one skeptic to another– give it a try!

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There’s something about a shandy that automatically transports me to warmer months, with long days creeping into nights, and time spent lingering outdoors with friends. I love when a smell or a taste can transport you, and this one definitely does for me, which means it will definitely be added into the regular rotation for the next few months.

Another fun piece of this cocktail is figuring out what sort of cider or beer to top it off with. The base (ginger syrup, lime juice, aged rum) makes a pretty nice cocktail on it’s own, but topping off with a beer or cider of your choice totally changes the flavours and makes for a nicely fizzy, endlessly adaptive cocktail. I topped mine with cider, and garnished with an apple slice, but your favourite beer would be just as nice garnished with a ginger slice. I actually plan to try this out with one of my favourite IPAs, but I think something like Hoegaarden would also be lovely.

Ingredients:

• 1 tbs ginger syrup (if you want to make your own check out this previous post)

• .5 oz lime juice (about 1/2 lime per cocktail)

• 1.5 oz aged rum

• cider or beer of your choice

Directions:

  1. Add ice to a cocktail glass and set aside
  2. Combine ginger syrup, lime juice, and rum in a mixing glass and stir to combine
  3. Add ice to the mixing glass and stir again to chill everything
  4. Strain into your cocktail glass, top with cider or beer of your choice, garnish with an apple or ginger slice.

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Cheers and have a lovely Easter weekend!

 

Friday Cocktail: The Breakfast Martini

Breakfast and martinis? I know, this sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but stay with me because I promise it’s worth it.

I’d heard of this recipe a while ago, and had completely forgotten about it until recently when Cameron and I were at one of our favourite cocktail bars (The Portobello Star) when I saw it at the back of their drink menu and decided to finally give it a try.

One of my favourite things to use in cocktails in jam because it’s such a fantastic shortcut. I’ve posted several cocktail using it as a shortcut (including the clover club and the cherry old fashioned), but when I was doing a bit of research around the Breakfast Martini I found out one of the creator’s (Salvatore Calabrese) was similarly inspired– there’s an earlier version of this drink that appears in the Savoy cocktail book.

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Here is the recipe for Calabrese’s version, which I’ve amended slightly:

Ingredients

• 1 tsp orange marmalade (thinly sliced is best)

• 2oz gin

• 1 tbs leon juice

• 1/2 oz cointreau

Directions

  1. Add marmalade and gin in the base of a cocktail shaker
  2. Add lemon, cointreau, and ice, then shake thoroughly to combine
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange wheel (or with a small piece of toast for effect)

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I love the combination of citrus and gin, and this is an especially lovely one. While the original recipe calls for triple sec, you could also use cointreau like I did,  as either will produce a similar result. The lemon is nice because it cuts through the sweetness and makes for a well-balanced drink.

While I certainly don’t recommend these for actual breakfast,  brunch with friends may be another story. But even at a more normal cocktail hour these are just as good.

Cheers!

 

 

 

My Week in Review

Exactly one week ago was my twenty-fourth birthday! It’s unbelievable how time flies, especially this past week– full of work, celebration, and a fantastic visit from a college friend. If you follow the blog regularly you may have noticed the lull, but this week things are all set to be back on track. Including a new Friday Cocktail at the end of the week.

On my birthday last week I managed to squeeze in a few hours at the British Museum, plus lunch with Cameron in the middle of an otherwise busy day. I picked the British Museum both because it’s just a short walk to campus, and because I love the many historical objects found there, from the Egyptian mummies and hieroglyphs to the famous (or infamous) Parthenon marbles, which happened to be the focus of my trip there last week.

For dinner we booked a table at Andrew Edmunds in Soho (reservations are key if you decide to go), which was wonderfully cosy and one of the best meals I’ve had, birthday dinner or otherwise. From the handwritten menu, to the close proximity to other tables, it very much feels like your at a friend’s house, or at least a lovely distant relative. There’s a great wine list and our server made some excellent recommendations on the menu that really made the whole night a wonderful start to a new year.

Later in the week a close friend of mine from college came for a long-weekend visit, and we spend the few days catching up, wandering around London, and having (probably too many) glasses of wine/cocktails. We went to Borough Market, walked through Kensington and Hyde Park, explored a few of my favourite spots, and relaxed in some of our favourite pubs. There were a few places we’d been wanting to try, and having a guest gave us the extra push to finally stop by. Trailer Happiness, which is a wonderfully kitschy tiki-style cocktail bar just down the road from us, has some fantastic cocktails and is definitely going to make it onto our regular ‘rotation’. Pix, a Spanish-style tapas restaurant had some amazing food, a fun, relaxed atmosphere, and was the perfect spot for dinner on the last night of my friend’s visit.

While this week is decidedly less busy than the last, it will be full of lots of reading and writing for my dissertation proposal due at the start of next week. What’s the topic? I’m still refining it, but something involving ways of display, the curiosity cabinet, and a modern collection.

Super-Simple Kiwi Face Mask

I’ll cut to the chase and begin by saying that I’ve had ‘problem skin’ for the last few years. Developing breakouts as your entering and well-into your twenties is no fun. That being said, I when I do get a breakout its usually pretty mild (thankfully).

Over the years I’ve tried all sorts of cleansers, toners, and masks. For a while I tried what I now refer to as the ‘blowtorch approach’ of using as many shine-reducing and impurity-removing things on my face as I could, which just left my skin dry and prone to irritation. A few years ago I realised that maybe being nice to my skin would get the results I wanted. I started using coconut oil to remove any makeup, and as a gentle face wash and noticed a significant improvement. While this may not be the best thing for everyone, it definitely made me reevaluate my skincare routine, and put more focus on simple, natural ingredients, which leads me into the subject of this post..

Finding gentle ways to exfoliate my skin is always a bit difficult. I have sensitive skin, and too much scrubbing causes some serious redness, and usually to a breakout as well. Rather than going the abrasive route, I prefer to use the gentler exfoliation of AHAs, which are used in skincare products to gently exfoliate, and are found naturally in fruits like strawberries, pineapple and, you guessed it– kiwi. It also has a high level of Vitamin-C, which helps to neutralise free-radicals and reduce signs of ageing, improving skin quality.

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To make one mask mash 1/2 of a kiwi with about 1/2tsp coconut or olive oil. You may need to use a blender, or a mortar and pestle if you have one, but some time and a fork should also get you the results you need. When you’re ready to apply, gently cleanse your face, and apply a thin layer of the mask. Relax for 10-15 minutes and then gently wash off with lukewarm water.

Be sure to do a test patch of the mask on your wrist before using it on your face in case your skin reacts poorly. After removing the mask, apply a generous amount of your favourite moisturiser (I like Lush’s Cosmetic Lad – I know it’s for guys, but it’s a really nice night cream) and bask in the glow of brighter, smoother skin.

 

Friday Cocktail: Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice

In many ways this cocktail was a bit of an accident. Don’t those always seem to be some of the best, though? When making a version of a ‘sour’ I happened to have a few blood oranges in the fruit bowl and started to wonder what they would be like in a cocktail.

The end result is fairly simple drink to throw together, especially if you already have some ginger syrup in your fridge– it’s now my go to after the making it for the Bitter Darling last month, but the other ingredients (vodka, bitters, egg white) are ones that you probably have on hand.

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Finding blood oranges or blood orange juice may be a bit more challenging depending on where you are an what season you’re in (their main season is December-April), but it’s definitely worth trying before you sub for regular oranges. Not only is the colour really lovely, but the taste is slightly different (a bit more floral, and more tart), and they may even be better for you. What’s not to love about getting more vitamins and antioxidants while enjoying a cocktail? If you can’t find blood oranges then add a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice to your regular orange juice.

Ingredients:

• 1 organic, free range egg white

• 3/4 oz blood orange juice (or 1/2oz orange juice + 1/4oz lemon juice)

• several good shakes of Angostura bitters

• 1/2-3/4 oz ginger syrup (or regular simple syrup)

• 1.5 oz vodka (or gin)

Directions:

  1. combine the egg white, bitters, and vodka in the base of a shaker with ice. Tip:  If you think to yourself ‘I’ve used too many dashes of bitters’, add one or two more for good measure– I typically go for about 10-12 heavy dashes.
  2. Add ice, and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and shake for another 30 seconds.
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of orange

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The result is spicy, but subtly sweet, and wonderfully forth. In many ways it reminds me of an adult version of the orange sherbet I loved growing up, but with a really nice warmth from the ginger and the spices in the bitter. And the vodka- that’s definitely different as well. If you want to up the spice of the cocktail you could always infuse your vodka for a few hours (or days) with some ginger and/or orange peels. I think gin would be really interesting here as well, and I’d love to know how it turns out if you give it a try.

Cheers!

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To

It feels like yesterday I was thinking how quickly January flew by, and now it’s suddenly March- my favourite month! My birthday is in exactly one week (I turn twenty-four), which means I will be one year closer to the quarter-century mark! Luckily it also means that spring is just around the corner (hopefully), and I am definitely ready for longer days and more sunshine.

Growing up I loved my birthday, which I am lucky enough to share with International Women’s Day, but something happened when I reached 16– I started a strange ‘tradition’ of crying at some point during the day, which both my family and friends find incredibly strange. Even I think it seems silly, but every year no matter how much I try not to, I shed at least a few tears. Sometimes it’s made sense– like my last birthday at home before heading to college, but theres nothing inherently sad about turning twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, and so on. Last year I thought I’d finally broken the pattern, only to be surprised by tears rolling down my cheeks as I began to fall asleep.

Then again, maybe it’s okay to cry on your birthday, and no, not just because of the song, but because birthdays represent not just the passing of time in a very personal way, but make us think about the fact that time is finite. Maybe crying is my way of saying goodbye to the past year, of acknowledging that something is ending so that something new can begin? Or maybe I’m thinking about this way too much, and should be thinking about what sort of cake I’d like for breakfast instead?

Although most people made their resolutions two months ago (and may or may not be falling off the wagon) I am just making mine now. Rather than New Year’s Resolutions, I like the idea of ‘Birthday Resolutions’ which I have always found much easier to stick to, and which feel a bit more personal.  This year, I have three:

  1. To stop apologising. Not if I’ve really done something wrong, obviously, but to stop apologising for things that aren’t my fault, but rather using it as a filler or a way of minimising- think sorry to bother you when an excuse me would work just as well. (Full disclosure, I was inspired by The Guilty Feminist podcast on this one, which is definitely worth a listen, though beware of bursting out in laughter on the tube)
  2. To be nicer to myself. The lovely saying of “don’t say it to yourself in you wouldn’t say it to your best friend” is definitely something I can use quite a bit of work on. I am definitely my own worst critic, so hopefully being nicer to myself will help me to become more confident and proud of my achievements.
  3. To be more present. I am terribly, terribly addicted to technology, so this is by far  one of the more difficult challenges I’ve given myself, but I think also one of the most important. I don’t want my entire life to be mediated through my cell phone– when I talk to my family and friends (even via video-chat) I want to really be there and listen, rather than thinking about my list of things to do.  When I go to a new place, or see a really beautiful or amazing thing I want my first thought to be “what an amazing experience,” not “hold on, let me take a photo for Instagram/snapchat”

 

So, for my last week of twenty-three I will be practicing the above three things, but also just trying to enjoy the passing of time and the adventures each day brings. And thinking about what type of cake I’d like for breakfast on the day, of course.

Rabbit, rabbit!