The Hype of Hygge

Since visiting Copenhagen last July, I have found myself completely captivated by the Danes’ lust for chic design, cool composure and aspiration to live well.

Sent with love and well wishes, Meik Wiking graced Britain last year with the release of his best seller The Little Book of Hygge. The Little Book of ha-wha, you ask? The Little Book of “hue-gah”: The Danish Way To Live Well.

Hygge is a Norwegian turned Danish term used to describe and encourage “a feeling of home” and creation of “atmosphere and experience” in our everyday lives. Essentially, we should take more time to appreciate and indulge in the comfort of the simple things life has to offer, as opposed to limiting our enjoyment of pleasurable activities.

But why care what the Danes do? Well, the Danes’ reputation for happiness has become an established identity within itself as they are rated as the happiest country in the world. The Danes also boast a very high quality of life that is not just fixated on income or another fad diet, and this has lead many Britain’s to now jump on the train, destination: happy.

So, how does one hygge? Well, now the smug owner of Wiking’s well-being guide myself, I’ll share with you some of the simple secrets:

No matter what the occasion, have candles everywhere: Candles are the first lesson in hygge, so it’s important to note that “Scented candles are considered artificial, and Danes prefer natural and organic products”, and to put it bluntly “no candles, no hygge”. Furthermore dim lighting is key, and the Danes equally love their lamps.

Make quality time for loved ones: To know if you’ve got relationship status hygge, time spent with loved ones should feel “like a good hug – but without the physical contact”. Wiking’s research into happiness has concluded that “The more satisfied people are with their social relationships, the happier they are in general”. Moreover, at the centre of a Danish home you’re highly likely to find a dining table, designed to accommodate family and friends for frequent social meals.

Home is the “hygge headquarters”: The Danish are known for their design (oh that enviable Scandic-chic) and “tend to put a lot of effort and money into making their homes hyggelige” (aka homey and intimate). Danes therefore create a cosy yet fresh living environment, because “Home is central to social life in Denmark”. Unlike us Brits who love to go out, the Danes make their homes the place to be.

Less is more: Minimalism is also key, which you can instantly recognise from Danes’ wardrobe attire and everyday appearance, to their interior design. To get the hygge look pull your focus towards scarfs, layers, casual hair, and most importantly black, so “aim for a look that would be fitting for Karl Lagerfeld’s funeral: stylish but monochrome”.

Eat well to live well: The Danes are treat eaters and don’t fret about indulging (they’re crazy for cake) because “hygge is about being kind to yourself – and giving yourself, and each other, a break from the demands of healthy living”, while still remaining balanced. As opposed to Maccy Ds and KFCs Danes prefer to indulge in more homely comfort foods – they love their meat and potatoes, pastries, and crafted open sandwiches.

Get on your bike: It’s a very easy argument to suggest that Denmark was built for bikes, given what seems to be an on-going flat landscaped county. When visiting Copenhagen cycling was a huge highlight for me, and it’s not hard to understand why it’s so popular – it’s “an easy way to weave a bit of exercise into our daily routine and is environmentally (and wallet-) friendly”.

All sound quite straightforward? That’s because hygge really is. It’s an underestimated concept, the idea of being happy, and for me the Danes have nailed it by extracting their primary happiness from life’s simple occurrences that can be incorporated into everyday life – it is that easy.

Over the last few months we Brits have predominately been occupied with a Brexit backlash and NHS crisis, so frankly I think we could all benefit from a bit of positive well-being. Anyone curious about hygge, why not test the waters with a few home essentials: a hyggekrog (nook), a fireplace, candles (this cannot be stressed enough), wooden furniture, books (no, not kindles), ceramics, shop vintage, and fill your home with cushions and blankets.

If you’re still not sold on hygge, my only next logical step is to implore you to visit Denmark and see for yourself. Check out some of my top recommendations for Copenhagen HERE. It really is a beautiful and vibrant city that I cannot wait to visit again.

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Seal it with a Man

// “Republican introduces bill that would force women seeking abortion to get written consent from the foetus’ father” //

Abortion was legalised in the UK in 1967, followed by the USA in 1973, and although upsetting many pro-life preachers there are many, like myself, who are pro-choice. It was only until recently that I started really questioning the position of that choice.

A liberal, I myself always appreciate and yearn for equality – I understand the woman’s body, woman’s choice argument and am personally a fan, but I’m also willing to deliberate a male’s perspective and input.

Now despite a sea of pink hats flowing across America and the UK, it would appear that some Republicans are hell bent on evoking that womens scorn they fear so much, and this time the fire has been lit by Justin Humphrey with the introduction of his new proposed bill in the state of Oklahoma.

Degrading the functions and beauty of a woman’s body and identity, Humphrey has issued a statement labelling women as “hosts”. The Oklahoma state legislator then goes on to explain:  “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, ‘hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.’”.

“No abortion shall be performed in this state without the written informed consent of the father of the foetus”.

To simplify the latter, the Republican member is endorsing a bill based on his beliefs that if a woman is irresponsible enough to have sex she should have to suffer the consequences, unless she has signed permission from the would-be the father. Sound fair to you? I thought not.

Humphrey has since apologised for any offence caused while standing by his host theory, but has legitimised his thought process by conceding that under circumstances of sexual abuse, danger to a woman’s health, or the death of the father before birth, this policy could be overlooked.

So we come back full circle, and pre-1967/73, where some men believe they are entitled to trump their views over women’s choices and rights. Granted, I can level with a certain amount of disregard to responsibility, it exists, but we also have child birth prevention which many women actively use (and have to pay for). Unfortunately no contraception is 100% effective and choices consequently have to be made, but as equals. It is not right to require a seal of approval from a man over a woman’s body.

 

 

Our Funny Valentine

// I’m free and I love to be free //

It’s that time of year when filtered photos of roses, chocolates, baes, and hallmark cards are plastered all over social media: singletons are shown how truly validating it is to be in a relationship and have that special someone, while those in relationships battle it our for the crown of materialistic mundanity.

Now I am no angry feministic out on a rant, but I am confused as to why in 2017 Valentine’s still primarily accommodates for 2 types of people 1) the lonely sad singleton, or 2) the loved up, has it all bae. See, I myself find the choices limiting as I fit into neither.

Currently I am single, happy but simultaneously battling mental health, aspiring to travel, and am also still seeking a job that fulfils me. On today of all days I’ve concluded that there should be a dating app equivalent for employers and employees to find compatibility for those perfect matches who are yet to find each other. I myself am looking for someone to take a chance on me and give me experience in writing content. Do you know my valentine?

I think there is something very empowering about being single which people forget: you are free to do whatever you want on your own time schedule. Furthermore we have adventurous personas like Samantha Jones and Jessa Johansson paving the way for independent women to provide alternatives to settling in relationships (albeit these are fictional characters, but the embodiment of their personalities is a portrayal of reality). I for one am very much of the same mentality as Jessa:

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I also resent implications that single women are a threat to women in relationships because they present conflicting values to their own. In my eyes single women are the personification of independence and free to make their own choices while not succumbing to mainstream ideals of what women should do, and on today of all days they should remember to celebrate that freedom:

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It’s the 21st century and you don’t have to be in a relationship by a certain age, and you can still be a fulfilled woman without marriage and children. There also isn’t a particular way you should act in order to find love, unless you’re basic looking for basic. Moreover as cliché as it may sound, there are no rules in matters of love.

I am not opposed to being in relationship, because it can be a wonderful experience having a prodigious connection with someone, but I haven’t found that in a partner yet and it’s not on my priority list – I’m only 24 and not ready to settle. If you are single today, don’t be disheartened and turn to junk food and rom coms, just crack on with Tuesday. If the latter’s not your style the other 364 days of the year, then today is no exception.

As opposed to being pitched against one another as singleton or bae, roses or no roses, I think there is a cause we can all unify for on February 14th and that is V-Day which is “a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls”. So, whatever your plans are today please take a moment to visit the website below because there are many women across the world who would give anything to be in single’s shoes, or a partner’s security.

>>> Click here for V-Day website <<<

// Happy Tuesday ladies //

The Trumps Turn Back Time

// “2017 will be better” they said //

Do you remember when you first heard that Donald Trump would run for president? I remember throwing my head back with a laugh of disbelief thinking “Ha! Good one”, and yet little did I know the joke of the century would become a morbid reality.

After  recently dosing myself with feel-good Youtube interview clips of  Barack and Michelle Obama, I hit a brick wall following a video concerning Ivanka and Donald Trump. The video is a conversation between Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian who present The Young Turks and they discuss when Ivanka Trump walked out of an interview with Cosmo last September.

>> Watch full video here <<<

On the subject of Trump’s proposal for maternity pay, the topic became a little too close for comfort when Cosmo journalist Prachi Gupta addressed Ivanka Trump on how the policy wouldn’t cover those in same-sex relationships as the policy only applies to mothers who have physically given birth to a child. As a typical Trump reflex, Ivanka dodges the question insisting Gupta is being too negative and doesn’t understand how she can answer the question. How about explaining the implications of this biological-mothers-only club?

What distresses me most about Ivanka’s attitude is that it could suggest that she is homophobic, and honestly I’m getting that vibe. Ivanka’s decision to leave the interview demonstrates how the Trump pattern of relationships with the media is definitely favouring a certain type of journalism by trying to only promote a pro-Trump image, but this is also called propaganda, is it not? I would like to think that a family of the Trump’s political status should be able to handle and accept tough questions that oppose and challenge their views (Obama could do it, and we respected him for it).

Furthermore what about adoption? What about the thousands of barren couples who want to start a family and choose to adopt? There are women across the globe who suffer with mental health and financial instability who may not feel suited or ready for motherhood, and it is a noble act to admit this in a society where women are still shamed for not wanting children. This then raises implications for couples who are able to provide a child with a higher quality of life but are unable to seek the same maternity work benefits when starting a family.

I can’t help but tie the latter discourse to Trump’s abortion policy which should address relatively taboo subjects such as unwanted children, navigating us back into the pros for adoption. These two policies to me just don’t go hand in hand as surely the abortion policy restrictions should be presented with some sort of solution by the maternity pay policy, like promoting adoption which welcomes/involves barren and same-sex couples across America.

In an article by Mark Molloy for The Telegraph, Molloy shares a tweet by Ivanka which boasts “A great discussion with two world leaders about the importance of women having a seat at the table”. Well, to an extent I agree with this – women should be able to advance and progress in high positions within the workplace just like men – but given her stance on the maternity pay policy I’m not sure she is the best representative at all (even more so given that she can’t handle an interview with a women’s magazine). Also, where were the women at the signing of the abortion policy?

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Personally I don’t think  Gupta’s questions were necessarily negative, I think they were just raising concerns over equality and LGBT rights which apparently Ivanka isn’t in favour of. All the policies put in place thus far by the Trumps have certainly been controversial and they also seem to only encourage outdated values such as disregarding LGBT rights; discriminating against races that aren’t white or traditionally American; and resurrecting the cereal packet family.

>>> Read Gupta’s Cosmo interview with Ivanka here <<<

It’s 2017 and with all the rights we’ve obtained from the heroes before us, it would be disrespectful and a shame to turn back the clocks and undo all they’ve given to achieve equality. The world is where it is because of the hard work of generations before us, but it is still infected with sexism, racism, and fascism. In order to evoke forward progression we need to keep writing, keep filming, keep talking, and keep marching.

// “People have the power to redeem the work of fools” – Patti Smith //

Courgette Crisis

I had heard a few rumours and seen a few hashtags, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I fully appreciated that the UK is currently losing their vegetables. The leading front runner of this campaign is the courgette, which has quickly established a #courgettecrisis and for good reason.

Now while we can appreciate it’s easy to forget the small things, because credit where it’s due it has been one eventful week – Trump’s in the most powerful seat in office presenting us with “alternative facts”, and Marine Le Pen is leading an uprising of the far right – the courgette situation has not gone unnoticed.

Although the outcry is somewhat dramatic, it is not unprecedented. According to online sources the scarce show of courgettes is due to heavy snowfall in Spain, who sources the majority of the UK’s supply. Unfortunately this doesn’t stop here as it has been noted that other vegetables like aubergines, cucumbers, and broccoli are at risk of becoming less frequent dinner guests too.

Trying to adopt a positive attitude this new year, it would be wonderful to to think that such a catastrophe could encourage more British consumers into “home growing”, or at least look at sourcing one’s vegetables organically by supporting local farms and their other produce. Now, this doesn’t solve the crisis, I know, but it does logically seek an alternative as opposed to declaring a code red situation, like one Guardian reader:

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>> Link for full article by The Guardian <<

God speed Charlotte, I’m so happy you got through that ordeal… Luckily there are some more appropriate, and blunt responses:

twitter-quote>> @Parveen_Comms <<

I too addressed the situation on Twitter, albeit less outranged more “well this is happening”, to which Sainsbury’s swiftly restored my faith in humanity:

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I myself am a lover of courgettes, but it goes without saying that the crisis is not like swearing off something on par with the end of a species. The courgettes will return, but as demanding as we are, consumers can’t always have everything.

The reality of “reality TV”

// “Reality TV to me is the museum of social decay” – Gary Oldman //

[If you watch reality TV, I can’t promise you won’t be insulted]

First and foremost I feel I must confess that despite my distain for reality TV, I actually don’t watch it, so you’ll find little direct reference to programmes here. Now I’ve seen a few episodes for intrigue, like Gogglebox, but I haven’t dared dive into the depths of moral decent with something like Keeping up with the Kardashians (heaven forbid) – I’m more of a Planet Earth and Louis Theroux kinda gal.

To make my point valid I do want to share some of my reasons for being so anti “reality”.

// Keeping ratbags rich //

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Granted the likes of the Kardashians and Chelsea squad would be financially sound without their shows, however by watching these programmes we as viewers only endorse and fuel their finances. Think about it, the funding comes in for “reality TV” because of the soaring TV ratings which means another season of nonsense from what has been interpreted as consumer demands. Are you a demanding consumer?

Is it because we are fascinated by the lifestyles of the rich and famous? I have genuinely heard people say they like watching Made in Chelsea because they like seeing how people in London live. Well we can solve that argument for you! I used to live in London, and what you are watching is actually the 1% of Londoners aka the spoilt rich kids of the upper class. Thank you for keeping them that way viewers, great work!

// Encouraging shitty gossip and basic bitch behaviour //

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Are you aware there’s a Refugee crisis? Or that a racist/sexist businessman has taken the highest seat in office? No? Well, fair – there are “real” issues to attend to…

I work in an office, and while Love Island was being aired the previous night’s events were always discussed in the morning like the world news – I honestly felt like my ears were bleeding. Essentially what I got from the “news” is that he said, she said, now someone’s with someone else, and therefore they have left the island.

My fear is that the whole he said, she said attributes will become adopted into society as social norm, and the way one intervenes in business that is private and has absolutely nothing to do with them will also become acceptable. My fear has been realised… I constantly overhear (and try to keep out of) gossip infested conversations which revolve around hanging out someone else’s laundry for them – I do not find this discourse entertaining, I find it really alarming and incredibly boring.

My theory is that some people just can’t stand that they are not invited to the party.

// Lets become couch potatoes together – that makes it okay //

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The moment I watched Gogglebox I was terrified of it. Okay, I’ll admit that some comments made are entertaining, and I appreciate the concept of the programme is to convey and understand “real” people’s point of view, but no, just no.

Any time I see an advertisement for Gogglebox I have a little existential crisis in my head: people are sat on their sofas watching TV of people being sat on their sofas watching TV. *BRAIN CANNOT HANDLE*

Furthermore from a wider perspective, “reality TV” is just watching other people live their script-prompted lives (with no educational value). Does it make you feel like you’re living? I cannot help but feel that viewers watch these programmes because they are deemed as “reality” and this has ultimately normalised sitting in front of the TV watching/listen to mind dumbing (yes, I meant dumbing) material.

// It’s not like we don’t have good TV //

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Everyone has their own taste and ideas of what makes TV good, and I’m all for that, but unfortunately “reality TV” is the limit for me and is not a valid recommendation in my eyes.

Personally, I think if you’re going to show interest in reality, then why not raise the bar with some highly acclaimed documentaries? I mean, by one’s enthusiasm towards “reality TV”, it suggests that you are interested in real life events…? Well brilliant, try some of these: Blackfish, The Cove, Bowling for Columbine, Searching for Sugarman, anything by Louis Theroux, Frozen Planet, Planet Earth, Cowspiracy, Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, and Grizzly Man (to name a few). Hola if you need more!

Alternatively sometimes we do require some escape from reality, so by all means give yourself a break. This year we have season 3 of Twin Peaks coming our way (SO excited), and we’ve been graced with the likes of Westworld, Stranger Things, House of Cards, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad (to name a few), so we have plenty of other options that won’t make us brain dead.

// I like to think humans are better than this //

Lets face it, the content of “reality TV” is first and foremost superficial, often encouraging and resulting in conflict over money and consumer goods – y’know the whole, “mine’s better than yours”, so you’re watching big children.

Secondly it’s not exactly promoting a healthy outlook on relationships and how to resolve them should a problem arise. Based on my minimal but sufficient knowledge on these programmes, everything’s centred around a lot of drama, yet as a real entity, or person, I know quite few friends in relationships and they do not act in the manner. Effectively, my friends seem quite happy and rational.

Thirdly, the majority of these “real people” are just bloody stupid. Call me arrogant and up myself, but I’d prefer to watch something/someone with a bit of substance *turns on QI*. Thank you for reading.

// “Reality TV” made me realise that boys can be basic bitches too //

Lost in Swindon?

[Opinion]

// Best venues to visit in Swindon, according to me //

I moved back to Swindon in October 2015 and I won’t lie I’ve been a hermit for most of it, and/or retreated back to London for long weekends. Naturally a small town cannot realistically compete against the capital city, but I often find myself spending most of my time on the GWR.

Now despite my reservations, I eventually decided to try and not act like a petulant child and take a wonder to see what improvements my small town had or hadn’t made since my return.

// My Swindon go-tos //

I can’t lie, I was not exactly psyched about trying to adjust back into Swindon – the town’s market for eateries is not enticing compared to say Cirencester or Bristol, but I had heard of some new competitors up in Old Town which instilled some confidence and curiosity.

// Helen Browning’s Chop House //

Where: 19-21 Wood St

I had been excitedly anticipating my visit here – I’d heard great reviews and, for me, it’s reputation alone had already outdone the greasy Spoons and influx of restaurant chains at Regents Circus.

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The main thing that is swiftly brought to your attention is that the produce is sourced organically, and the meat itself is brought in from Helen’s farm Eastbrook which is only 6 miles away from Swindon. Unlike the Spoons and Greene Kings, the Chop House does not advertise cheap processed meals, it is instead not shy of high quality and fresh dishes, which have been put together thoughtfully. I’d seriously recommend going in for brunch!

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// Balula’s Delicatessen //

Where: 9 Wood St

Just a few doors down from the Chop House is Swindon’s very own Deli come cafe. I had always noticed Balula’s but hadn’t ventured in until now – I was full from brunch but fancied a peruse and some inspiration for dinner.

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I was pleasantly surprised as I hadn’t realised there was a large dining area, or “coffee lounge”, and so much on offer to purchase at the counter. Balula’s reminds me of the cafes in Cirencester; independent, charming, and homemade. Unlike many of the coffee chains in Swindon’s down town, the cakes don’t look processed or as though they have been sat out for too long.

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As well as sweet treats and a lunch menu, Bulula’s also offers fresh meats, cheeses, fruit, and veg. I myself purchased some chorizo for my favourite scrambled eggs and a risotto dish – they were both spectacular.

// BAILA Coffee & Vinyl //

Where: 85 Victoria Rd

My favourite coffee shop in town has always been Darkroom Espresso, but I’ve now found a fantastic surrogate. Edgy, trendy, and contemporary – this has been a much needed establishment for Swindon’s young and alternative culture.

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Although I like to be alone when I get my writing done, I also like to be in a venue with some atmosphere – whether I want a flat white in the morning, or an Aperol Spritz in the evening, this progressive cafe come bar offers me both. BAILA also hosts a modest sized record collection to browse and purchase from. Furthermore come day or night there is always great music to be heard here, and that’s not just on vinyl – it also accommodates live music and DJs.

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*Note: BAILA has been refurbished rendering my above image outdated – I prefer the white walls though*

// Los Gatos //

Where: 1-3 Devizes Rd

I would strongly advise booking in advance (excluding weekends) when planning a visit to Swindon’s Tapas hotspot – it is a gem that consistently supplies high quality Spanish cuisine. Los Gatos is also a great alternative to the popular pub dining scene, boasting an array of delicious dishes which are designed and intended to be shared. As expected from Tapas, there is an impressive range of dishes on offer which accommodate meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans – the menu has been crafted and influenced by the owners’ travels in Spain.

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So far I’ve only visited of an evening, but each time I have remained pleasantly greeted by a buzzing yet intimate atmosphere. Furthermore there’s a smooth aura generated amongst the guests and staff, and it’s probably because this popular venue delivers on excellent value for your money leaving satisfaction levels high. I’ll certainly be returning soon to also check out the Los Gatos Paella Sunday specials!

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// Old Town Thai //

Where: 23 Wood St

Swindon is full of greasy Asian “restaurants”, so shamefully I was quite reluctant to give Old Town Thai a go, but I am pleased to conclude that I’m so glad I did. The food here is delightfully fresh tasting and not shy of flavour or authenticity – we ventured in as a group of three and because we were tempted by so much of the menu we ordered a selection to share (a manoeuvre I’d recommend).

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I feel I must also comment that the staff here are so accommodating and ready to take fire from guests who don’t really know much about Thai food – this enabled us to choose accordingly, leaving us extremely pleased. If you yourself are not familiar with Thai food, I would highly recommend opting for the classic Pad Thai, because here they guarantee an exemplary first time try.

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What’s more is that the venue itself is cushy, decorated with delightful Thai treats like mini Buddhas and cultural wall art.

// Give them a go //

If you’re like me and have unfortunately encountered some shaky experiences in Swindon, I hope I have been able to comfort you with some faith and enthusiasm (as well as alternatives to barricading yourself in at home). I am confident in suggesting you try out some of my selected favourites should you find yourself in the local area.

Essentially the rule is to stay up town and avoid the restaurant chains like our infamous teenage pregnancy trend – apparently this is now under control, but unfortunately the same cannot be said for our apparent love of unimpressive cheap eats. Although I have no intention of settling in Swindon, I’m glad that for the time that I am here the town is showing signs of progression.

// If you take a chance on some of my recommendations, I’d love to hear your thoughts! //

My 2017 Reading List

I was very humble with my Christmas list last year, the contents of which revolved around practical items such as socks, make-up remover, and of course books! In tune with my new practical outlook it seemed fitting that my new year’s resolution followed suit: READ MORE!

As an aspiring blogger in pursuit of a job in content writing I wanted to introduce some variety into my material for 2017. My top author’s thus far are Patti Smith, Miranda July, and Raymond Carver (I’m a big fan of short stories), and I am keen to expand and broaden my horizons.

1. A bit of lifestyle:  The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

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I was told about this little gem by a friend, and then having seen The Times rave about it the curiosity killed me. I’d visited Copenhagen last July and fell in love with the Danish culture, food, style, and what I have now learned to be known as “hygge” aka: enjoying the simple things (in a nutshell).

Wiking explores the way in which one can encompass hygge into everyday life and the results are both therapeutic and positive – everything me and my well being need for 2017 – from cooking and clothing, to the outdoors and happiness

2. A bit of philosophy: Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

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I was first introduced to Nietzsche while studying Film at university and was very much captivated by his theories on “Will to power” and “Superman”. When applying his “Will to power” theory in film I loved analysing the concept of humans as desiring machines which then spiralled into a discourse about “becoming”.

I selected Nietzsche’s most known work Thus Spoke Zarathustra for his nihilistic and atheist approach towards humanity, which incorporates one of my favourite ideas about the “superman”, or as my lecturer labelled, the “superhuman”.

3. A bit of humour and guidance: Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

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    “I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle” – relatable, well said Lena.

    I am a huge fan of of the TV show Girls and cannot wait for the last season. I love what Dunham has created with the script by depicting the honest, hilarious and brutal troubles of what life is like in your 20s (especially when you don’t have it all figured out). With the latter in mind, as you can imagine, I have been wanting to get my hands on her book for awhile.

    4. A bit of Art & Film: Incomplete Control by Sarah Keller

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    “Avant-Garde” was one of my favourite modules at university, for which Maya Deren became a key figure in my essays and education. Known best for Meshes of the Afternoon, Deren is one of the most influential American avant-garde filmmakers who introduced me to new ways in which one can express and convey ideas through film.

    In Incomplete Control, Sarah Keller discusses and explores Deren’s successful career as a female experimental filmmaker/artist, but also examines her unfinished works as well. Although I may no longer be at university, I’m definitely still a loyal disciple of film studies.

    5. A bit of fiction: Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

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    Having expressed my interest in short stories and fast fiction, I was given this book to borrow by a friend. The title rings familiar, but to be honest I don’t know too much about the book itself or McInerney. Before committing to the idea of another book, my friend and I had a little bed time read – I was astonished and completely sold when realising Bright Lights, Big City is written in the second person! How intriguing!

    A few pages in and McInerney proves witty, thought-provoking, and brilliant, so it’s of no surprise at all that it had to be added to my list.

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    Given my inability to speed read, I am sure that my 5 top picks will keep me occupied for the majority of 2017. If anyone has a read of them, or has any other recommendations, then please do share!

    // Happy New Year //

Baby Battles

// British bullshit at it’s best, aka Piers Morgan //

One would like to believe that over the course of centuries our social values and norms are only ever evolving and broadening, however recent comments made by Piers Morgan spiralled me into a moment of disbelief and contemplation.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed an article about Janet Jackson would hardly stop me in my tracks, but one particular article with Piers Morgan’s name on it completely blind sided me. Now, the content alone did not disturb me, but Morgan’s views regarding the news flipped my stomach.

On Wednesday 5th, Good Morning Britain TV hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid discussed Janet Jackson’s news of becoming a mother at the age of 50. According to Piers there are double standards when it comes to an appropriate age of becoming a parent for men and women. The news of Jackson becoming a mother at 50 seemed preposterous to Piers, despite admitting that he became a father at 46, adding that it’s a different situation because “I’m a man”.

Accordingly to Piers, should an older woman arrive to pick her children up at school the immediate response would be “well why did granny come?”, as opposed to an older man which would be deemed completely and socially acceptable.

Yes, having a child would seem more tolerable when one is more mobile and in fighting fit health, but what if you are at 50? It seems to me that the issue being ignored in this instance is that we would condemn the older woman for having a child when it is she who has a higher chance of retiring while the child is growing up, which would effectively enable more time to be spent on the reason we surely want children – to raise them. Furthermore, an older woman by 50 would surpass most with life knowledge and experience, not to mention financial backing over the years – in fact, the older woman would probably have enjoyed and established a full career and therefore cease to feel the need to fill that void, unlike the younger woman.

It’s somewhat baffling to me that there has become an increasing fear of being perceived as an old mum to the point where time is running out and we must have children before we’re 30, and I’m calling bullshit on it. I’m 24, living at home, and trying to figure out what I want to do. In my eyes, I have plenty of time. I do however want to draw attention to the fact that I am dying to pursue and establish a healthy career, but I also still want to prat about while I can. Why? Because I’m only twenty-fucking-four, and it’s completely okay to not have it all figured out by now as I still have much more growing to do. Mortgages, diapers, organised fun… It doesn’t actually sound that appealing to me, but I might contemplate it (dare I say) when I’m an older woman.

The funny thing is I do believe that even in my position, if I were to announce some sort of misfitted pregnancy (no financial backing, no life direction, and a mountain of mental health issues) many would be overwhelmed with glee for my news (my therapist hopefully not included), yet an accomplished woman at the age of 50 is under scrutiny. By god, if I was pregnant at my age I’d probably seek a 50 year old to give my child to, because yes, the older woman would more likely be capable of the repsonsibility – now Piers Morgan, this is “just a fact”.

One thing that also rings clear, particularly amongst my small town peers, is that no matter what age you are once you’re a mother you’re immediately more mature than other women. Can I get another BULLSHIT? Despite the fact that many have concrete opinions on the cut off age for motherhood, I find it hard to believe that the majority of the underage groupies of the local pram parade are deemed on par with the older woman in any respect, but apparently more apt and able to raise a human being in comparison because physically they are in better shape and look like a better representative at the school gates.

It would appear that despite the advances made by women we still have much more of a way to go. It goes without saying that if a woman desires the urge to become a mother, then she does have the right to consider it. I believe it’s not age that is the alarm bell when setting limits to motherhood, but whether or not (any parent really) is mentally and financially stable. Why would you want to bring your new human into an unstable environment? We don’t have social services because the government is bored. Essentially, lets not forget, parenthood is a selfish act. Does anybody need a baby? No. They want one. So when actively making the decision to be a parent there are a few more things to worry about first, rather than age.

It’s now 2017 and I’m actually excited for more progressive talks. I’m intrigued to look more into why some women are not wanting to have children at all and discuss why I’m siding with them. In a dominating world full of ladies who latte, I’d rather be an Anna Kendrick or a Samantha Jones.

 

Pineapple Carving

So apparently this year people have turned from the traditional and gone for the more exotic this halloween and I couldn’t resist giving it a go myself.

A new hipster craze? Daring to be different? New and exciting? Whatever way you may look at it, I’m all for it. I’m really not a festive person – I’m a fully fledged grinch at 24 – so  personally I’m embracing the new trend. For you traditionalists, look at it as a pumpkin in fancy dress.

What really convinced me that this was the way to go this year is when I saw all the pictures of people pumpkin picking – a truly lovely sight and wonderful family day out for sure – and then I realised most of the pumpkins’ “insides” will be binned. Don’t get me wrong, I know many people that produce delicious autumnal soups and salads with the leftover pumpkin, but I also know way more people that chuck it in the waste. What did you do with your pumpkin?

I know it’s not traditional, and it most likely won’t catch on but I insist you try it out! Hell, because it’s not traditional, it doesn’t even have to be done at Halloween – this guy would be a great addition to most parties.

Pros for the pineapple:

  • eat while you carve
  • it’s sticky but unlike the pumpkin I’m alright licking it off my fingers
  • not as messy as the pumpkin – it’s really easy and quick to carve
  • it’s great if you’re like me and prefer to keep the fear factor down to a minimum
  • it’s livened up my Monday with a pineapple project
  • kind of looks like a Mexican wrestler
  • more people eat pineapple than they do pumpkins
  • …and lets not forget the obvious: FRESH PINEAPPLE JUICE!

If that hasn’t convinced you, it’s also great… if you like Piña Coladas.
For this all you need is:

  • the leftover pineapple
  • white rum
  • sugar (hardly any)
  • coconut milk/cream
  • a blender
  • ice
  • strainer (optional)

Measurements are varied, but essentially all you do is blend, shake, and pour. It’s all very simple and (trusting your mixology skills) delicious! Granted, having been a bartender I had the upper hand and was quite pleased with mine. Furthermore this can also be made virgin style – everybody benefits from this trending kind of carving!

// ¿dónde está mi calabaza? //