Writing My Life

Or at Least Parts of It

Keep Calm and Carry On (Writing)

In the midst of getting back to my daily routine of teaching and getting up early, my mind still needs to take a break once in a while and not really think about anything. This week I browsed the web quite a bit (not really more than I use to, it just sounds like that. Or maybe I did, getting a new blog up and running may take some more browsing time on me) and I fell over some pictures that I have always liked.

You may have seen them around too; I am pretty sure you will recognise at least one variety of them. It is the posters/pictures with the iconic ‘Keep calm’ text and the various things you should keep calm about. I’ve found this inspirational sentence iconic since the first time I saw Rupert Grint wear a T-shirt with the original sentence emblazoned on his chest. Since then I connected the phrase with London and I became even more fascinated by it. Since then I have seen the posters/pictures/phrases almost everywhere around the internet. There are so many varieties that it’s impossible to get through all of them.

Instead I have picked a few of my favourites of the bunch. Of course there is the original, here pictured on Rupert Grint.

But there are a lot more to choose from, which do you prefer?

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To Read Or……

Now I’m not much for setting oneself challenges. And I’m not really about to start yet, though I keep reading other people’s blogs about their personal reading challenges and it makes me wonder. What kind of pressure does it puts on you when you have to speed read in order finish a specific number of books within a time limit. I’ve never really set myself any limits like that, not until I get to the end of the year and I decide to finish just one or two books before the year is over. Yet for the past years I have kept track of exactly how many books I’ve managed to read on a yearly basis.

In 2009 I managed to read 22 books.

In 2010 I upped my game a bit and managed to read 37 books – part of this was because of some of the courses I had to take at University that year, which required me to read quite a bit more than usual.

In 2011 and 2012 I slacked just as bit as I ‘only’ managed to read 35 books.

And then we get to 2013 in which I managed to read a total of 42 books, which I have to admit I am pretty impressed  by if I shall say so myself.

In case you are interested here is the list of the books I managed to get through just last year:

Divergent – Veronica Roth
Death Comes to Pemberley – PD James
Morphorlogy of the Folktale – Vladimir Propp
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foe
The Fire Chronicle – John Stephens
The Architext – Gerard Genette
Fairy Tales: A New History – Ruth Bottigheimer
Bitter Greens – Kate Forsyth
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – Rowling
Beastly – Alex Flinn
Is It Just Me – Miranda Hart
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Rowling
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
The Wealding Word – AC Gogolski
Cinder – Marissa Meyer
Scarlett – Marissa Meyer
The Merchant’s Daughter – Melanie Dickerson
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Rowling
Belle – Cameron Dokey
Golden – Cameron Dokey
Midnight Pearls – Debbei Viguie
The Diamond Secret – Zusanne Weyn
Drengen I Kufferten – Kaaberbøl/Friis
Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
Nattergalens Død – Kaaberbøl/ Friis
Et Stille Umærkeligt Drab – Kaaberbøl/Friis
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Rowling
Hidden – Marianne Curley
Earth Girl – Janet Edwards
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Rowling
Spillets By – Lise Bidstrup
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
Poison – Sarah Pinborough
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Rowling
Where’d You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Billy Elliot – Melvin Burgess
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Rowling
Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
Charm – Sarah Pinborough
Beauty – Sarah Pinborough
The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

As you can kind of see from the list I have read a lot of fairy tale interpretations this year, partly due to my masters assignment at University, but also because the genre really gripped me and I don’t think I will stop reading fairy tale interpretations.

Also I read/listen to Harry Potter almost on a yearly basis. I have them on audio book and have them on almost repeat on my phone, so whenever I’m at the gym or doing dishes it’s just so nice to listen to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter to me.

So it amounted to 42 books this year, it’s going to be interesting to see how many I can get up to this year. I suppose that’s the one little challenge I will set myself – to match or top the 42 books to read this year.

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Happy New Years

A new year begins and there are most certainly about to be some changes ahead of us. I know that there is going to be some changes for me; one that takes place already is that I have decided to start a new blog. This one is going to be a bit different from this one, and it will probably take a bit more time of my blogging hours here in the beginning until I get it up and running. The difference is that my new blog is going to be in Danish – my native language. I was surfing around the web during the holidays and I came across a number of interesting blog from home and I thought it would be somewhat of a challenge for me as well to write in Danish – seeing as I practically think and dream in English all the time. On the other hand, whenever I post some of my many food posts it will be easier for native readers to cope with the measurements because let’s face it, the metric system is not as popular across the rest of the world as it is in Europe.

So if you can read and understand Danish, you should take a look at it. It will most likely be similar to things I have and will post about here, only in a bit more Danish national references. I will still continue to post to this blog; however, as said it will most likely be a bit limited. It will probably be more reviews of books and movies than actual blogging about me as a person.

You shouldn’t think I have forgotten you though; I will keep this blog alive, albeit maybe on the low-key.

It is new years and I want to wish you all a very happy new year, I hope you had a good night. Hopefully, you will have a great 2014 just as 2013 was rather a good year; at least it was for me. Here’s fingers crossed that things in 2014 will turn out just as positive and helpful as they did this year.

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Holidays Chocolate

I have always loved chocolate and with the holidays upon us why not make some homemade chocolates for us to enjoy at home, was what I thought. It’s really not that difficult to make your own homemade filled chocolates.

You just take as much really dark chocolate as you need and then melt it, if you think it’s necessary you can add a spoonful of coconut oil, although I haven’t tried that yet, so I can’t tell you if it changes the taste. Anyway, once you’ve melted it to your content you pour a tiny bit in each little tin cup, then you add your choice of filling and then top it off completely with more chocolate so it’s completely covered. Finally, you store it in the fridge till it’s cooled solid again, and voila you have your own filled chocolates.

This December I’ve made two batches, the first batch I made three kinds; the first was with goji berries and chopped pistachios, the second was with pecan nuts and sea salt (you can choose any kind of nuts you’d like), and the third was actually with white chocolate some marzipan, dried cranberries and some chopped pistachios. Personally, I prefer the one with the goji berries or the one with the white chocolate.

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This second batch I made I perfected my ‘sculpting’ a bit. I made another batch of the goji portion and the nut/salt portion but then I also had some fine chopped Oreos left from when I baked my Oreo cupcakes for my boyfriend’s birthday the other day. So I thought, hmm, why not try and put that into a chocolate, and voila, your very own homemade Oreo filled chocolates.

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You can try anything you like to put into your chocolates; do report back to me if you have any special combinations you would like to share. Otherwise, enjoy my suggestions and happy chocolate holidays.

 

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Christmas Traditions

What are your holiday traditions? I know that most people and their families probably have some of the same traditions but a lot of traditions are quite unique to the families.

In our family with all the Christmas dinners we attend during December we have a few traditions we practically do every year.

We don’t have a Christmas tree at home yet, we talked about getting one this year but decided against it because of various reasons. However, my parents always get one, more so than anything else because we always spend Christmas at their place. They usually get it a week or so before Christmas and a lot of the times it coincides with me visiting them and then I get to decorate the tree. Today was no different, we had another Christmas dinner with some friends of the family and my brother and I got there a bit earlier than planned and I got to decorate the tree, and this is the result.

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It doesn’t seem like a big deal but there’s something special to me about decorating the tree all by myself, it’s a certain responsibility for the Christmas spirit. After all it’s the tree we all gather around on Christmas to share the holidays with our friends and family.

Another tradition we have at Christmas dinners is gift game (probably not the correct translation but it’s the easiest one I could think of right now). Basically, every person brings one or two gifts. Then all the gifts are stacked in the middle of the table for the beginning of the game. Taking turn each person then tries to roll the dice for a 6, because when you roll a 6 you get to take a gift. You continue like this till all the gifts are sorted between the players and then you set a timer. From now on when you roll a 6 you get to steal a gift from one of the other players. This goes on till the timer goes off, at that point whatever gifts you have left in front of you are yours. Last weekend I won absolutely no gifts (that’s another thing, if there are very young players involved you can make the child-appropriate-rule that you can’t steal a gift from anyone with less than one gift) but this weekend I won two! Yeah me!

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This was just a small taster of some of the traditions we have in our family and circle of friends. Do you have any that are special to your family?

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Review: Charm and Beauty

Last week I finished Sarah Pinborough’s second and third fairy tale interpretations. It was only after I had read the last one that I realised I had read them in incorrect order. Meaning I actually read the first of the three last. I then figured out that the order of her three books is; Beauty (which is a fairy tale interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and also a bit of Beauty and the Beast by name), Poison (which is of course based on Snow White) and then Charm (which is based on Cinderella) to conclude this little trilogy.

       

When I first read Poison (to which you can find my review here) I was a bit surprised about the tone of the books, because it is much more grown-up than what we are used to hear about our favourite fairy tale characters. To keep it simple I will leave it by saying that they sure have a libido with an appetite, which brings a whole other level to the stories and the characters.

However, besides this somewhat disturbing element when you just started to read them, because you get used to it as you continue to read once you realise it’s part of the characters, then the re-interpretations are actually pretty good. Aside from the title characters we have the recurring characters of the prince and the Huntsman. This is another thing that ties these books so well together because of these particular two characters. I admit I had to get halfway through book number two before I realised it was the same prince, but once I did everything just made that much more sense and the story became that much better. However, the Huntsman is unmistakable throughout and for some reason you continue to root for this guy, at least I did, maybe you won’t. Perhaps you will be one of those people who will identify completely with the title characters in their strangeness – although, I have to say I do not hope you will identify with all of them because they are also rather spoiled compared to their fairy tale ancestors.

With all this said I will still say that they are worth a look if you are a fairy tale enthusiast like me. If anything else you will be entertained because of their difference to their original ancestors and they are a fast read. I think I read these last two over a week and a half, and you have to remember that I have a full time teacher job with a lot of extra work to do outside regular work hours.

 

On a different note I just found out last week too that the next instalment in Marissa Meyer’s fairy tale Lunar Chronicles has got a set publication date and the cover has been released.

As if that wasn’t enough, the first five chapters have been released for pre-reading. Now I haven’t read these chapters and if I’m being honest I don’t think I will. From what I have read of the little reviews from those people who have read the chapters they now regret it because the wait till the rest of the book comes out feels that much longer. Therefore I will pace myself and force myself to wait the 57 days that are left before it is published for real. I you are one of those people who can’t wait, go follow this link, but you have been warned.

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Review: Night Circus

A few nights ago I finished Erin Morgernstern’s brilliant novel Night Circus. Now it is not normally I fling the word brilliant around me in such manner, but this novel I feel deserve the use of the word.

Admittedly, it was a bit difficult to get in to; At least I thought it was slightly confusing in the beginning because it shifts from different narrators in each chapter, and until you get to know each character it is hard to keep track of what exactly is going on with all of these characters. This is another thing; there are so many characters to keep track of! It is incredible how Morgernstern has thought of all of these people, because every character is unique in its own way. However, of course it is the two main characters we are rooting for the entire way through. Celia and Marco, who have been pinned against each other in a vague idea of what a contest is; neither know nor have any inkling of what this battle consists in. They don’t even know who they are up against, all of which is played out by their respective benefactors, who apparently have been playing these kinds of games for centuries.

All things considered one would think given the title (Night Circus) that you were about to read an incredibly story about a remarkable circus unlike any other – which would be true. The story centres around this marvellous circus, a circus you can only dream about seeing – or truth be told, you see it in your dreams because it is so meticulously  described both how it looks and how it smells – and you picture yourself as one of the guests in the circus grounds. Even when the circus is closed, we dream ourselves back because that is what the night circus is meant to do, it is meant to lure us all back again with its delicious smells and enticing entertainers.

Once the story began to really form itself, this was a story that was hard to put down. It has truly been a long time since I read a book I had such a hard time putting down while at the same time wanting to prolong the reading to keep the story going. In a way it still does, because after I finished I discovered some rumours around the web that there are plans to make it into a film.

So maybe we will get to see the spectacular Night Circus on the big screen. In the meantime, do yourself the favour of reading about it – it’s a story like no other.

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Faverite Book Covers

I recently joined goodreads and as I also read some similar post around the blog-osphere I felt inspired to write a bit more about books. A few of the blogs I follow have written a post about their favorite book covers and I thought that was quite interesting, because what is it really that makes us read a book? The first hand impression so to say. I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, at least according to the old saying but we still do, most of the times at least. Or is it just me? I’m not saying that’s all I judge a book from; other people’s reviews would also make me read a book, or if I have heard something else interesting about it. But on the big and whole when you go to a book store to search for something new it is most often than not the front page of the book that catches our attention and makes us pick it up. It is not until then that we read what the book is about and further decide whether or not we want to read it. So overall, it is in fact the cover that intrigues us.
So here are a few of my favourites (part 1 – as I might consider to do another post about this in the future);

Cinder my Marissa Meyer

 

This cover intrigues me because of the story it tells just by the picture. It shows the feminine touch to the story but also the science side of it, which makes it an interesting combination. The colours as well are really chosen for a very good match; the subtle blue nuances combined with the romantic red. The fact that it is a fairy tale interpretation only makes it that much better.

 

 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I hate to say it, but despite their sometimes not-the-best-writing I do like the covers of the Twilight book series. I am not ashamed to admit that I was on board the Twilight train in the beginning and I have read the books in my time. However, with time and the frenzy of the franchise it slowly died from my bookshelf. With that said I still like the covers for their simplicity of motives. The black background combined with the single items on the cover is really well thought of in my opinion.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

 

The reason why I like this cover is partly because of the colours and partly because of the weirdness of the picture. All in all it creates a humorous look and I think that is partly what made me interested in the book in the first place; again the cover attracted me, and made me think this was going to an entertaining book.

 

 

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

I know a lot of people would probably put the child versions with the multiple colours on their list, but I personally prefer the adult covers. I think this has to do with their simplicity again as with the Twilight covers (and note it down, this is the only way you will ever hear me talk about resembling those two series) where the single items on the covers manage to tell a story without much to go on. On top of that the items do not give much away, which makes you wonder even more about the story behind the covers.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

 

I picked this one because of the item used on the cover, that being the girl/woman. The close-up of the girl is so intense that is makes me want to know who she is and why she looks so sad about things. I admit this cover caught my attention right away and I am so happy that I chose to read it, because it turned out to be a page turner that kept me up some long nights.

 

 

So some times the book covers can tell us more about the story than we expect and sometimes the covers actually make it more interesting reading. So I don’t think I will not judge a book by a cover, instead it is exactly what I will do!

The first impression is always what sticks with us.

Only by reading on can we attempt to change it.

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Student or Teacher?

In my new job I sometimes question whether I am the teacher or the student. As I research to prepare certain classes I of course learn new things most of the time. Of course, I also use many of the things I already know about, which makes it a lot easier. However, there are times when my students ask or say something that I have no idea about, so naturally I will have to go out and look into it. So even though I normally teach them a bunch of things they know nothing about, it also happens that they sometimes teach me something – yes, I admit it, it does happen.

There are occasions where I leave a class thinking, wow, my students were really enthusiastic today and I actually learned something about whatever text we are discussing at the time. It is the same with their assignments sometimes – some are just as they would be expected to be, but then again there are the rare bright sparkle in the bunch, which blows even my mind sometimes because the student in questions has come up with some really well thought of analytical points about what they have been assigned to write about.

So in many ways it is a two way process of teaching, of course most of it goes in their direction from me, but I benefit from it as well.

There are other situations which make me feel like the student at school again. Being the new teacher you often experience – especially at such a large work-place where I have started – that not every colleague knows your name, or who you are for that matter. I so happened to find myself in a situation like this as late as last month.

I was waiting around in the teacher’s lounge – where I am allowed to be, as I may point out – for another colleague, who I was driving home with. I was not really doing anything, checking mails on my phone, that sort of things, while two other of my fellow teachers were talking some feet away from me. As I moved towards the door, one of them came over to me and asked who I was waiting for. I told her so and so and she continued to explain that the teacher’s lounge was, of course, a place for teacher’s to confer and be in private away from the students – at the same time the other fellow teacher stood behind her and could clearly tell which direction her little speech was going, and I could see he was trying to figure out how to stop her before she directly put her foot in her mouth. Sadly, or funnily enough, he failed this and she went so far as to accuse me –thinking I was a student – to being too bold to just strut around the teacher’s lounge.  I then explained that I completely agreed with her that the teacher’s lounge is for teachers alone, as I was of course a teacher too. If you can imagine how embarrassed she was, when she then also realized that the third teacher had known who I was and what she was ‘doing to herself’.

In her defense, being one of the older teacher I do see sometimes how it can be difficult to tell the new, freshly educated, young teachers apart from the real teenage students. The difference of a person age 16/17 and one age 25-27 can sometimes be very, very difficult to tell. Even more so when you are surrounded by this group of people at your workplace every day.

All the same, I took it as a compliment and as a funny new experience at my new work place. Has any of you been put in similar situations?

On a different note, I must remember to comment very quickly a few new books I have acquired recently. I will bring more reviews some time in the future, it is just taking me longer than usual because I have less time in my free time to read in general. Currently I am reading Night Circus, so stick around for a review of this one in the future.

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Review: Dracula

God it’s been far too long since I’ve last posted something, and I know that sounds cliché to write but it’s the truth. Things (and with things, I of course mean work and all it entails) are taking most of my time from me and I have very little time to write for ‘pleasure’ or creatively because I have so much preparation and reading to do for my students – I can’t believe how grown up that sounded, my students (and now I’m giggling at myself – proof I am not completely grown up).

One thing I have gotten out of reading for the benefit of my students lately was that I ‘had’ to read Dracula, the original one by Bram Stoker. Matter of fact it has been on my shelf for some time now, and I have wanted to read it there has just been so many other novels I’ve wanted to read, but this time I had a definite reason for reading it.

It took me a bit longer than it usually does to read; almost 4 weeks, compared to what I would have guessed would take me 2 weeks under ‘normal’ circumstances. However, I got through it and I found I was positively surprised by it.

I didn’t think it was as ‘old fashioned’ as you would imagine it to be because it is from 1897, which is some years ago. The language was odd – as it was sometimes those days – and something you had to get used to, but once you got passed that you thought nothing of it.

If I am being honest, I had thought it would be more horrid, gruesome and morbid, but there were less blood than I had expected. This was not necessarily a bad thing, but when you read the story of Dracula you expect some amount of blood and gore, and it that department I felt disappointed. However, considering this was over all I think the only department I felt disappointed in, I feel safe to say that it was a good read.

I would also say that it should be on the list of any person’s list of those we call old classics, it might not be considered a classic by many people but I’d still say it is among them.

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