A photo a day, of all lovely things

Roughly a year ago, after completing the 100 happy days challenge, I decided to take it a little further by embarking on a lifelong photo-a-day project. I don’t claim to be any sort of photography expert—and am an apprentice amateur at best—but I loved the challenge of finding something special everyday, something about which to be grateful. We all live in such a cluttered, fast-paced, and “busy” world—and I know I certainly take on way more than I should—that it was such a comfort for me to pause for a few minutes everyday, and see the beautiful things in my life. It’s now become quite the habit, and many of my friends know exactly what I mean when I pull out my phone and say, “Excuse me, I have to take this for my photo-a-day project.” And on some days, there are so many wonderful things going on that I have to decide on just the one photo (which is when I sometimes “cheat” and use multiple frames to feature them all).

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Elizabethan, Jacobean, Renaissance, early modern—what huh when who?

I hope you all had a chance to indulge in some celebratory birthday cake for dear Shakespeare last Thursday—I certainly went for it, and had three servings of cake (I figured it was my duty as a professional Shakespeare fangirl to om nom nom on his behalf). While we’re at it, here’s one of the cakes I had, with some theme-appropriate roses:

Happy birthday, Shakespeare--I'll eat all the cake on your behalf!

Happy birthday, Shakespeare–I’ll eat all the cake on your behalf!

Okay, so those of you non-Shakespeareans who haven’t seen Shakespeare in Love might be thinking, “What’s so special about roses?” Well, first and foremost, I highly recommend you go see the film—the music is sublime, as is Joseph Fiennes in a perpetually half-open shirt.

Will and his quill.

Will and his quill.

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Flour Hour: Vegan Almond Cookies

I have a bit of a confession to make: I’ve been restaurant-hopping, conference-crashing, and living out of the freezer since Easter. Most of this is due to the insane workload I’ve taken on (but hey, I have ten fingers, so I can totally put them into ten pies!), but short of cutting down on sleep (which I may or may not have done), I’ve not been playing in the kitchen as much as I would like—a real shame, since I’ve been sitting on a brilliant idea for what would come after my pound cake project. All I would need is an hour to whip up some baked goods… Fortunately, amidst all the craziness today, I decided to take five (times twelve) to make some super delicious cookies. And so, I’m proud to present the first recipe of Flour Hour: almond cookies (which happen to be vegan)!

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Almond cookies in all their delicious glory.

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Belfast Fivers: Kurrito

I’ve always been a huge fan of Boojum in Belfast, but a while ago, a friend and colleague suggested trying out Kurrito’s curry burritos. I’m a little sceptical of fusion flavours because they can be anywhere between amazeballs (Wild Ginger in Vanuatu comes to mind) and horrendous (clearly, I’ve erased those from my memory), but I decided to try out Kurrito with an open mind.

The lovely staff at work with my tortilla.

The lovely staff at work with my tortilla.

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Introducing: A Spot of Shakespeare

451 years ago, in the sleepy English town of Stratford-upon-Avon, one William Shakespeare was born…supposedly. Although no one actually knows his date of birth, records indicate he was baptised on 26 April, and there is general consensus that one was baptised back then three days after birth. So, although today is not officially Shakespeare’s birthday, it’s certainly the most widely accepted account—which, by the way, is just one of the many common myths and beliefs attached to Shakespeare.

happy-birthday-willOn this (unofficially) auspicious day, I’m pleased to announce my new series of blog posts, entitled A Spot of Shakespeare. Every week, I’ll be making at least one post about an aspect of Shakespeare or Shakespeare-ness, such as his England, his language, his works, his contemporaries, and any recent productions I might have attended. Some of these will be brief overviews, while others will contain a detailed explanation of a Shakespearean snippet, but all in all, I’ll be keeping the posts relatively short so you can nibble on them along with tea and biscuits during an afternoon break.

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Belfast Fivers: Build a Burger

I’ve been amassing a collection of photos and notes about restaurants in Belfast, but only just had a chance to sit down and put together a proper post. When I started teaching on a university course in February, I ended up spending quite a bit of time in the university area, and decided to try out a bunch of eateries. I was open to try out anything and everything, but seeing as the student area always had a whole bunch of meal deals and such, I toyed with the idea of doing a series of blog posts about relatively cheap eats. The aim was to find lunch (or perhaps even dinner) for under £5, and to that end, I present to you the first of the Belfast Fivers: Build a Burger!

Burgers at the ready! I had a BBQ Double, while my friend had a vegan burger (much to her delight).

Burgers at the ready! I had a BBQ Double, while my friend had a vegan burger (much to her delight).

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2015 Authors A to Z Reading Challenge – Quarterly Check-in

Hi everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying the Authors A to Z reading challenge so far! We’re a quarter of the way through the year (!!), and I thought I’d ask about your progress. How many books have you read? Are you on track? Have you discovered any new authors? Do tell all, and link your progress page/s–I’d absolutely love to know!

On my part, I’ve been a little swamped by many work commitments, and have only managed to read 7 books that qualify for the challenge. Of these, I’ve not yet pushed myself to go out of my comfort zone, but I suspect that as I progress further in the challenge, I’ll be picking up books I wouldn’t usually read. And that’s an exciting thought indeed! You can find my progress list here.

March books: Rebecca and Cranford

March was a pretty crazy month for me, with teaching classes, some hard-core PhD writing, and quite a bit of work for Regency Love, so I only managed two books. Two wonderful books, though, so I’m not complaining!

8. Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca (7 March)

08-rebeccaBlurb: Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers…

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

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The Pound Cake Project: Part 3 – Finale (Days and Ways #9-12)

It’s time for the finale of the pound cake project! (For the previous posts, check out part 1 and part 2.) I had great fun playing with these four variations, and was very pleased with all the results. Unfortunately, my camera SD card decided to give out after I’d taken photos for the final variation, and I didn’t realise until much later… Fortunately, I’d snapped a photo with my phone because I couldn’t resist sharing it with a few friends—I hope you won’t mind the sub-par quality of the shot!

And without further ado, here are the last four pound cake variations:

Day/Way #9: French “toast”

If you can dunk a slice of bread in an eggy, milky mixture and fry it, why not do the same with pound cake?

Why not, indeed!

Mmm-hmm.

Mmm-hmm.

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The Pound Cake Project: Part 2 (Days and Ways #5-8)

It’s been way too long since my initial 12 Days and Ways with Pound Cake post (more from the lack of time to post than to gobble up the goodness), but I’ve finally put together the next four variations. Hope you get a chance to enjoy these!

Day/Way #5: Simply fried

I heated a rough tablespoon glob of butter on medium-high until it was happily bubbling away, then added my fifth slice of pound cake. Mine was a little charred because I was indecisive about which ice-cream I wanted, and subsequently got distracted rummaging through my freezer. Eventually, I opted for a few scoops of gooey Häagen-Dazs salted caramel, which was just delightful with the butter-fried and slightly caramelised cake.

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Lots of wonderful contrasts here: sweet and salty, hot and cold, crunchy and creamy.

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