Things I have been cooking lately #85: Spiced carrot, chickpea and feta salad

I am a really big fan of salads so I couldn’t resist making this unusual carrot salad. I absolutely loved the spicy North African flavours but I have to admit that Mr O didn’t like it – apparently too many carrots. So if you’re not a carrot lover this one might not be for you but I ate almost the entire salad over a few days as it keeps really well. I can imagine it would be great as a side at a braai.

Spiced carrot, chickpea and feta salad

Adapted from Scrumptious South Africa

600g carrots
200g tinned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
75g feta cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
Salt
Pepper

For the dressing

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Juice of half an orange
Juice of a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Make the dressing by whisking together all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

Place the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast. Keep tossing so that they don’t burn. Set aside.

Trim and peel the carrots. Slice the carrots into 3mm slices. I used the mandolin side of my box grater. You could also use a food processor or slice them by hand (although that might take a while).

Bring a pot of salted water to a rapid rolling boil. Add the carrots and immediately set a timer for five minutes. When the five minutes are up test a carrot slice to check if it is tender. It should be just about al dente. If it’s not give it a couple more minutes. Drain the carrots in a colander and then add them to the bowl with the dressing. Mix in the chickpeas, cover and set aside at room temperature for a couple of hours or in the fridge if you’re planning on serving it the next day.

Just before you serve the salad mix in the parsley and mint. Pile the salad onto a pretty platter, crumble the feta over the top and sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 2 – 3 as a main or 6 as a starter or side.

Carrotsalad

Outfit of the week #56: Tropical Punch

It’s been really hot and humid in London the last couple of weeks so I wanted to find an outfit that reflected the kind of sub tropical vibe that’s going on. Although the closest I’m getting to the jungle is the tube!

Today I am wearing a pair of tropical print lounge pants from Primark with a fitted black tank top from Marks and Spencer, an oversize faux leather belt from Evans, black leather gladiator sandals from Topshop and a bronze necklace from Dorothy Perkins.

image

image

image

image

image

Six Degrees of Separation Blogathon

Last week the brilliant Fernando over at Committed to Celluloid challenged me to join in on the Six Degrees of Separation Blogathon, which was started by Nostra at My Filmviews, in association with Dutch blog De Protagonisten.

unnamed

The idea
There is a theory that in only six steps you can link anyone to any other person in the world. This blogathon is based on this theory.

So how does this blogathon work?
In Nostra’s words:

“As you know I have done several relay races in the past and have heard from several bloggers that they wished they would get a chance to participate as well, but since there was only one baton the chances would be small to get it assigned. So to go with the theme of this blogathon I decided to increase those chances sixfold and assign this blogathon to six bloggers who can then each hand over the baton to another blogger… at the end of your post you’ll have to assign it to that blogger and set the endgoal for him/her, who will start with the movie/actor/director the previous blogger ended with and make the connection to the assigned end goal in six or less steps.”

Fernando asked me to connect Marion Cotillard with Top Gun (blimey), so here goes…

1. Top Gun was directed by Tony Scott

top-gun-sailor-singing

2. Tony Scott is the brother of Ridley Scott

1345555094081.cached

3. Ridley Scott Directed Kingdom of Heaven

kingdom-of-heaven-2005-001-ridley-scott-on-the-set-with-orlando-bloom

4. Which briefly starred Michael Sheen (so briefly I can’t actually find a picture of him in it)

Kingdom_of_Heaven

5. Michael Sheen appeared in Midnight in Paris

Midnight

6. Which was absolutely stolen by Marion Cotillard

Screen-Shot-2014-01-05-at-1.37.53-pm-640x358

Whoop! So with that, I would like to pass the torch to the beautiful and talented Zoë over at The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger and I’d like her to connect Marion Cotillard with Sherlock Holmes (The Robert Downey Junior One). 

 

My top 10 Character Actresses

If it’s hard being a Hollywood actor if you’re not conventionally attractive, it’s even harder for actresses who aren’t traditional beauties to make their mark, however some of my favourite performances come from character actresses. So following up from last week’s top 1o character actors, these are my most loved character actresses.

Catherine+Keener+_9OnZI7Xy3jmCatherine Keener
Niche role: Mom trying to have a life of her own
Most memorable role: Nelle Harper Lee in Capote (2005)
Show stealing ability: 4/10
“Well, for one thing, I like being a supporting actress. I like to come and go in the film. The interesting characters are very few if you want to be the lead, and they depend on you being beautiful. Since I’m not interested in those parts, the pressure’s off, in a way. I’m not cast for my physicality. I find that playing so many characters in so many films is a way to be in the moment.”

Catherine+O+Hara+2mBiygrcPAHmCatherine O’Hara
Niche role: Completely over the top nouveau riche show-off
Most memorable role: Delia Deetz in Beetlejuice (1988)
Show stealing ability: 6/10
“I never went to the prom or anything. I got asked by a couple of weird guys, but no one I wanted to show up at a formal with. Mostly I thought about being an actress. I wasn’t conscious of wanting to be a comic actress. I wasn’t really funny or anything, and I didn’t think about it. It wasn’t supposed to be ladylike for a girl to joke. To this day, I’ve found that it doesn’t matter what a guy looks like if he’s really funny. His sense of humor makes him attractive. On the other hand, you don’t hear men saying, “No she’s not pretty, but is she ever funny!””

EmilyWatson_2142111bEmily Watson
Niche role: Tough and emotionally repressed
Most memorable role: Rosa Huberman in The Book Thief (2013)
Scene stealing ability: 5/10
“I’m lucky I don’t do the kind of work where the main thing is that you’re the girl and you look gorgeous. I don’t look like that. I’m a funny-looking bugger. I don’t feel that I can compete, and I wouldn’t want to. Life’s too short to spend seven hours a day in the gym and starving yourself.”

frances mcdormandFrances McDormand
Niche role: Tough and underestimated despite her wisdom
Most memorable role: Marge Gunderson in Fargo (1996)
Scene stealing ability: 10/10
On playing ‘mothers’: “Those roles weren’t just mothers in a story about a male protagonist. First they were specific, three-dimensional people.”

kathy bates 660 APKathy Bates
Niche role: Sweet on the top, psychotic underneath
Most memorable role: Annie Wilkes in Misery (1990)
Scene stealing ability: 5/10
“I was never an ingénue. I’ve always just been a character actor. When I was younger, it was a real problem, because I was never pretty enough. It was hard, not just for the lack of work, but because you have to face up to how people are looking at you.”

olivia colmanOlivia Colman
Niche role: Worryingly overeager
Most memorable role: Hannah in Tyrannosaur (2011)
Scene stealing ability: 3/10
“I feel fortunate that I’m not a beauty. I’m not a classic beauty. I feel it is harder for girls who are like that. There are fewer parts.”

21st Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party - Red CarpetJane Lynch
Niche role: Hardcore B with a heart underneath
Most memorable role: Sue Sylvester in Glee (2009 – )
Scene stealing ability: 7/10
“When I was younger, I actually wanted to be in the spotlight. To have people want me, want to have a piece of me.”

The 40th Annual People's Choice Awards - ArrivalsAllison Janney
Niche role: Oversexed mom who might like a drink just a little too much
Most memorable role: Betty in The Way Way Back (2013)
Scene stealing ability: 9/10
“Someone said I wasn’t attractive enough. People say those things, but they make you stronger. Then you can win an Emmy and think, ha, ha, ha.”

vd-Miriam-408x264Miriam Margolyes
Niche role: Absolutely batty
Most memorable role: The Nurse in Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Scene stealing ability: 8/10
“I’m an actress and I am a scholar of English literature. And I never know which part of that is more important to me. I think it obviously must be the acting part because otherwise I would have become an academic, which I didn’t do. But I’ve always had a love of English literature and particularly of Charles Dickens.”

Viola-Davis-comes-full-circle-Viola Davis
Niche role: Wise best friend
Most memorable role: Aibileen Clark in The Help (2011)
Scene stealing ability: 5/10
“The thing about the African-American community compared with the white community is, we are more concerned with image and message than execution. I don’t play roles that are necessarily attractive or portray a positive image. They are well-rounded characters. When you squelch excellence to put out a message it’s like passing the baton and seeing it drop.”

Books About Town – City Trail

I hit the final and biggest trail on the National Literacy Trust Books About Town tour on my own today to pick up the last fifteen benches (minus the 1984 one, which isn’t back from repair yet) and the upcoming 51st book which is still being voted on by book lovers. The City is one of the most interesting parts of London, being technically made up of only a square mile. The rest of London is actually the City of Westminster… but I digress. The City is the heart of London’s financial district as well as some of its most iconic sights including St Paul’s Cathedral and The Tower of London, which means the super modern stands shoulder to shoulder with the truly historic. If you are going to do any of the trails and want to be awed by London, this is definitely the one for you… plus it’s the easiest to navigate. Here are the benches I snapped.

Katie in London by James Mayhew

image
image

Noughts and Crosses by Oliver Dean

image

image

Usborne’s that’s not my bench by Rachel Wells (original illustrations) Jenny Hillborne (design) Painted by Sarah Jane Richards

image

image

Jacqueline Wilson by Nick Sharratt (original illustrations) created by Jane Headford

image
image

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Paula Bressel

image

Mary Poppins by Darel Seow

image

image

Peter Pan by Laura Elizabeth Bolton

image

image
image
image

Dickens in Liverpool by Hillside School

image
image
image

Fever Pitch by Sophie Green
image

image

Brick Lane by Charlotte Brown

image

Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack by Trevor Skempton

image

The Laura Marlin Mysteries by David Dean (original illustrations) created by Jane Headford

image
image

Alex Rider by Kanako and Yuzuru (original illustrations) created by Mike Snowdon

image

image

The Wind in the Willows by Mik Richardson

image

image

A Brief History of Time by Paraig O’Driscoll

image

image

100 Days of Happiness: Day 81 – 90

My 100 Days of Happiness project is coming into the home stretch now and I’ve got mixed feelings. On one hand I’m going to miss looking out for a happy moment each day but on the other hand I won’t have the 10pm panic when I realise I haven’t remembered to document my day. Anyway with no more ado, here’s what happened over the last 10 days.

Day 81

image

Mr O and I discovered this fabulous flavoured coffee and I’m a bit obsessed with it. Looking forward to trying the other varieties.

Day 82

image

My brogues were falling apart so I was super excited to find these fringed buckle up ones in the Office sale. This was their first outing.

Day 83

image

Mr O and I have a massive herb and spice collection that I tend to just chuck onto the rack in a disorderly fashion but Mr O beautifully rearranged them. Very nice.

Day 84

image

Mr O had a day off from his hard life of tour guiding so he came and met me for lunch near my office. We went to our favourite Thai restaurant, which is also the scene of our second date.

Day 85

image

Last week I did another rifle through my wardrobe and sorted out this pile of clothes that are too big. It was exciting to realise that my journey to changing my body is continuing but a little sad because I had to part with some things I loved.

Day 86

image

Book club time again! This time the girls and I went to the Table Café for brunch. I had this amazing buttermilk pancake with bacon, maple syrup and caramelised bananas. Yum!

Day 87

image

Yes, this a picture of two tubs of butter. My mom taught me never to say no to a free sample and on this particular day they were handing these out on Oxford Street. I had to go up and down the road so I got one each way. Going to eat so much TOAST!

Day 88

image

I finally bought myself some new trainers. When I bought my first pair I never thought I was actually going to go to the gym so I cheaped out a bit. This time I went for something a bit more stylish… on sale of course. This was the new Nike Rosherun’s first trip to Zumba.

Day 89

image

On Thursday night I went to a party at the Haymarket Hotel to celebrate the 10th birthday of RetailChoice, which is one of my company’s websites. This is me and our fabulous events manager, Kathy.

Day 90

image

To help cheer myself up after parting with such a big pile of clothes I decided to have a little stroll around the sales. I came out with a pair of fierce mom jeans that I’m still not 100% sure I can pull off, a burgundy embroidered crop top and a pair of floral vans. All for only £50!

Film Friday #189

Boyhood (2014)

Attempting to describe Richard Linklater’s epic coming of age “project” Boyhood in terms of plot will never be satisfactory as essentially, like with most Linklater films, it doesn’t really have one. By now I think most are familiar with the background of this film but I’ll elaborate just in case. Boyhood follows the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family over twelve years as he transitions from boy to man. Doesn’t sound particularly special? Well rather than using a series of actors to portray Mason over the years Linklater spent twelve years filming the same  actors, to tell his story. Although Mason’s trials and tribulations are sometimes intense – dealing with his parents divorce and his mother’s (Patricia Arquette) subsequent and occasionally abusive marriages and his own search for meaning – there isn’t anything particularly special about his life. This doesn’t matter though as his experiences are so relateable and the use of the same actors creates a connection that I don’t believe would be possible if the characters were played by several different actors. I also loved the realism within the film and the way the characters changed and grew or devolved the way real people do. I thought Ethan Hawke as Mason’s initially absent and irresponsible father was excellent in his portrayal of someone learning to take responsibility for not only himself but also his family. The relationship between him and his children was one of the best things about the film. I suppose the ultimate message of Boyhood and the lesson that Mason learns is that no one has the answers or knows what the purpose of life is. We’re all just doing the best we can, making a series of decisions that are sometimes good and sometimes bad and that’s 0kay.  Pair this up with stunning cinematography, Linklater’s hallmark excellent dialogue and a heartfelt performance from Coltrane throughout and it’s hard to fault. 4.5/5

If I look really closely, I can see your good looks somewhere in the distance

If I look really closely, I can see your good looks somewhere in the distance

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Ten years after the simian flu all but wiped out humanity and hyper intelligent apes escaped to the forests outside San Francisco, they live together in a peaceful community lead by Caesar (Andy Serkis), who is now a father. The apes live and work together in homes they have built adhering to rules like “ape not kill ape” and “apes stronger together.” At the same time a small collection of humans have set up a colony in the abandoned city but are in danger of going dark as they are running out of power. While on an exploratory mission to reactivate a hydroelectric dam in the forest, former power plant worker, Carver (Kirk Acevedo) crosses paths with Caesar’s son, Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and his friend, Ash, who are fishing. Carver panics and shoots Ash. Caesar calms the apes and allows the humans to leave unharmed but his right hand man, Koba (Toby Kebell) is furious and demands that action be taken. Caesar is torn between wanting to show strength and risking everything he has created but eventually leads the apes to the human colony to tell them to stay away. But colony leader, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) is desperate to get the power going and risks life and limb to return to the apes territory and beg Caesar to allow them to continue their work. Caesar hesitantly agrees and Malcolm gets to work. At the same time, Malcolm’s fellow leader, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) is not as trusting of the apes and begins testing the humans’ remaining ammunition. This sparks of a series of bad decisions on both sides that will shatter the fragile peace and risk the survival of both species. I have been eagerly anticipating this film for a while after attending a sneak preview of some scenes a couple of months ago and I have to say I was not disappointed. Not only is the motion capture so incredibly impressive that you almost instantly forget that you are not watching real apes but the theme of two leaders just trying to do the right thing is universal. I found the decision not to push the audience to side with the humans or the apes refreshing and it makes it truly about the characters. Serkis is incredible as Caesar, who is a multifaceted character forced to breaking in an attempt to protect what he holds dear. If I have any complaints it is that Caesar’s “wife” is completely underdeveloped and it  might have helped add an extra layer to his desire to defend her if we saw a little more of who she was. It’s a minor complaint though from a film that held me rapt from beginning to end. Much better than the first one. 4/5

I'm on a horse

I’m on a horse

Alone in the Dark (2005)

As part of Shitfest Summer 2014 over at the IPC, I joined in on one of the Shitfest Socials where a group of bloggers watch the same terrible film and comment along in a blog post. This is the film we watched. I can’t really do a plot summary because throughout the film I never figured out what was going on but basically Christian Slater plays Edward Carnby, a paranormal investigator who was experimented on when he was a child in an orphanage – I think. And this was somehow related to nuns and some kind of evil demon force that was awakened by an ancient race called the Abskani. His friend pops it so Ed goes to investigate and encounters not only his ex-girlfriend, Aline (Tara Reid), a museum curator but also some kind of government paranormal organisation headed up by Commander Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff). And then there are explosions and fighting and some kind of parasite creatures living in people and demons that basically look like Pound Store aliens from Alien. None of this is relevant because the overall effect is so incredibly shit that there’s virtually no chance you’re going to manage to sit through it. The story line is incomprehensible. The acting is atrocious, especially from Tara Reid who is in no way believable as an archaeologist and just  appears to be meandering around the set waiting for someone to give her her next hit. The effects are awful, along with the fight choreography and neither is helped  by the score, which probably came straight from the video game this stinking turd was based on. If that wasn’t enough make sure you look out for a sex scene between Slater and Reid which is sound tracked by Youssou N’Dour’s Seven Seconds, a song about child poverty and racial prejudice. Hot. Avoid at all costs. -1/5 (first ever minus marks)

This curating business would be a lot easier if I could just find that giant pug statue

This curating business would be a lot easier if I could just find that giant French bulldog statue

Lovelace (2013)

In the 1970′s Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) became the first ever porn megastar after starring in a film called Deep Throat but how did she get there? This biopic follow’s Lovelace’s starting with her strict upbringing at the hands of her domineering mother, Dorothy (Sharon Stone) and father, John (Robert Patrick). Desperate to get out she marries, Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard) who turns out to be a violent, sexual sadist who has no problem with prostituting Linda whenever he needs the money. He eventually pushes her into the world of porn where her life unravels around her but will Linda have the strength to get our before it’s too late. While Lovelace is interesting and Seyfried gives a passable performance of a desperate woman, the tone is all over the place and it never feels like it delves beneath the surface. I also didn’t understand why some scenes were revisited showing the truth of what happened versus the perception at the time. It adds nothing except confusion and padding. Overall watchable but nothing particularly special. 2.5/5

What do you mean my hair looks shit? Have you seen yours?

What do you mean my hair looks shit? Have you seen yours?