Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stratford-Upon-Avon: Hidden Shakespearean Facts in the Bard's Hometown

So, in lieu of inspiration for my reflective "essay", I've found inspiration in a slideshow I created from Monday's trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace (childhood home). It's quiz time! 

Before you jump ahead to my slideshow, read these 10 questions and then take your best guess while watching the show; don't worry it's not literature-heavy! (answers are at the bottom!)

  • a) What are the red flowers next to the white tulips called?
  • b) Why is there a picture of a t-shirt? 
  • c) How well off was Shakespeare's family?
  • d) What did Shakespeare's dad do for a living?
  • e) Why does the glove have a slit in it?
  • f)What is the cross-shaped item in Shakespeare's trundle bed?
  • g) Why did people in Shakespeare's time sleep sitting up rather than lying down?
  • h) Who is the funny character with a #To be or not to be sign?
  • i)  Who did visitors list as their favourite Shakespeare character?
  •  j) What did Shakespeare turn his childhood home into after he inherited it?
  • Bonus: Where does the saying "good night, sleep tight" come from?
  • Bonus: Which play is the quote on Sapna's tattoo from?

Anna, Dima, Ani, Glenn and I had a fun day out. I have to say that despite the 15 quid entry fee, this entrance pass is definitely worth it; there are tour guides on every floor of the house that tell you fun facts you didn't learn in high school English class, and the pass is valid for a year. Part of the house still has original floors--still standing after having 26 MILLION people walk through it.

Here are the quiz answers!

a.  botanias  
b. modern Hamlet interpretation costume!  
c. upper middle class! In fact, families with beds and not mats on the ground were doing quite well in the 15th century. 
d. glover (glove-maker)
e. to better grip a weapon
f. rope-tightener for the bed
g. Two reasons -  1) they believed the devil came to take you away if you lay down because you looked dead and 2) they had breathing problems from all the smoke/candles of the day
h. Hamlet - cartoon-ized.
i. Juliet
j. A pub called The Swan & Maidenhead (with rooms for overnight guests)! We definitely visited our share of those while in town.

Bonus #1:  The ropes on trundle beds needed to be tightened every couple days to ensure you didn't fall through your mattress to the ground...where the rats were!

Bonus #2: - Hamlet!  Remember this

I remembered something important walking through Shakespeare's town. I love literature. I need to read like I used to read. I want to be a linguist. Not a marketeer, nor a teacher. A linguist. PhD funding hunt, here I come. 

I realized something else. ALSLAs, we have not spent enough time together and we're halfway done. Here's to a summer of linguistic fun!

Friday, April 26, 2013

After The Cast: Skinny Pumpkin Cake, Healthy Oreos & Walking Free

So, it's 10 weeks today since I smashed my leg in a killer kickboxing match and broke my tibia...and I can walk again! For real. No excruciating pain. No full cast. No half cast. No boot. No being stuck indoors for days on end. I can be crazy and active and workout and run (well, soon) and rush everywhere and do a million things in a day again. Freedom.

Something good came from this - well, from the last six weeks of it. I learned to cook amazing healthy meals that are mostly low carb and high protein (thanks, internet!) Also, coconut is my new favourite food (coconut oil, butter, coconut water, coconut milk...it  just makes smoothies and desserts so much better).

 My last blog post has most of the recipes, but here are this week's:

Easy & Skinny Pumpkin Cake

Recipe credit: iFoodReal (click for recipe)
Remarks:  Probably tastes like pumpkin cake should taste. Didn't realize I'm not that into pumpkin cake. Sitting in my freezer...
Random:  Couldn't find "Truwhip" so I used Skinny Taste's recipe for cream cheese frosting instead

Protein Chocolate Cake

Recipe credit: iFoodReal (click for recipe)
Remarks:  Ok, WOW. Fills you up, tastes amazing and not as many cals as real chocolate cake.
Random: Seriously, make this!

Healthy Oreos

Recipe credit: Chocolate Covered Katie (click for recipe)
Remarks:  64 cals, gluten free, dairy free (if you sub with almond milk)
Random: The best healthy dessert yet! Why do real Oreos have 21 ingredients?

Pecan Salad & Homemade Garlic Bread

Recipe credit: BBC Good Food for the garlic bread from pizza dough (click for recipe); salad is made-up
Remarks:  Not eating bread all week and then trying to finish a piece of garlic bread made from pizza dough = too full!

Soba (Buckwheat) Noodle, Kale & Veggie Chicken Stirfry

Recipe credit: iFoodReal (click for recipe)
Remarks:   Yum!! Healthy deliciousness!
Random: Takes longer than it looks...

Oh, in case you're thinking that everything I make actually works out, these Coconut Protein Balls did not. What kind of "food processer" do people have? My little Gordon Ramsay must be a mini one, because even for the cake recipes, I've had to use my blender and do everything in halves because there is no more room. The protein balls involved food processing dates and almonds, and mine just won't do it. Any tips? Please leave a comment.

Chocolate strawberries just for fun!
Also, I have to link to Heather Eats Almond Butter, as this girl has a lot of  healthy recipes I'd like to try out!  Three more days of being stuck inside writing essays...but I promise you, this healthy cooking/baking kick won't stop. Not after I bought a bunch of weird, healthy ingredients that makes these recipes work. I really can't wait until a few weeks when I have the doc's go ahead to get these legs running and burning cals again. Go kale, coconut oil, coconut flour, unsweetened applesauce, agave nectar, low sodium soya sauce, quinoa and buckwheat!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Irish Soda Bread, Home-made Pizza, Healthy Desserts & Essay 3

It's half 11 pm., but as promised, I made myself a home-made pizza for completing Essay 3, draft 1. My food motivation plan is partially working --  a  1000 word (of 2500), half decent draft and sickeningly detailed outline about second language phonemic contrasts sits on my hard drive (backed up on Carbonite, of course). Sickening because that's the part that takes the gruelling, time pressured work; writing is fine. It's right beside a completely blank assignment on intervention studies in  oral fluency. Luckily, the latter is closely related to my dissertation topic, so hopefully I can whip that up in a few days and have a week to polish all four. Yup, I received a one week extension for having a broken leg (I'm milking anything good that comes out of this!). Really aiming to finish by next Friday, rather than Monday, though, so I can write my last paper for the optional module before I leave for France.

So, in my seemingly infinite broken leg adventure of boredom, here is what I've made this week, thanks to being confined to my house. I was looking back at previous blog posts, thanks to my new, awesome "View Random Post" button at the bottom of this site, and I  apologize for the complete downgrading of picture quality over the last six months. I promise when I'm not writing essays, I'll whip out my DSLR with macro and portrait lenses,  remember my photography lessons and take some quality pics.

Irish Soda Bread

Egg white omelette was better than the bread
Recipe credit: BBC Good Food (click for recipe)
Remarks:  Quite good when it comes out of the oven. Ridiculously stale the day after.

Random: Speaking of Ireland, Janice is coming all the way from home (Edmonton) to visit me the day I hand in my dissertation, so we can celebrate our Masters degrees with a fabulous ten day trip to Edinburgh & Dublin! T minus 137 days!

Home-made Margherita Pizza

 Recipe credit: BBC Good Food (click for recipe)
Remarks: not bad!
Random:  it's better than it looks.

Banana Protein Muffins

 Recipe credit: Protein Pow (click for recipe)
Remarks:  a little dry, but they're okay with Greek yoghurt & Stevia and fill you up for hours
Random:  maybe I should have waited to buy pecans, instead of using almonds.

Banana Chocolate "Truffles"

Recipe credit:  iFood Real (click for recipe) 
Remarks: Ok, wow. 37 cals and it tastes like dessert!

Greena Colada Shake


Recipe credit:  iFood Real (click for recipe)
Remarks:Looks funny, I admit. Never thought spinach & kale were this delicious before!

Blueberry Slimming Shake

Recipe credit:  iFood Real (click for recipe)
Remarks: Best 200 cal breakfast ever. Tastes like ice cream, not protein.

American Blueberry Pancakes

Recipe credit:  BBC Good Food (click for recipe)
Remarks: Adding whey protein makes them dry, but fills you up
Random: not sure why they're "American". I'm going to call them Canadian.

Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe credit:  iFoodReal (click for recipe)
Remarks: I have been trying to find a good recipe forever, and these are the best protein cookies yet!
Random: I added 1 tsp Waitrose  Baking Powder for Fluffy Muffins and the second batch came out fluffier!

So, how do you buy ingredients, without getting out of the house, you ask? As I mentioned in my first Oxford post, I LOVE Ocado.com, who delivers quality, organic groceries to your door the next day for free (or nearly free). You can even get aspartame-free protein powder. Fabulous. They'll even bring them into your kitchen for you, despite your excitable dog. Laithwaites, a fabulous online store that sells cases of wine, has regular discount coupons for award winning wine, like the Bordeaux now in my wine rack. Britain, you have grocery shopping down.

Ten more days until the "walking boot" comes off and I can walk again! I've started watching Weeds on Netflix...pretty good show to watch for 20 minute breaks between essay pages. One thing I hate about Netflix is their tendency to only buy half of a series...they have seasons 1 to 3, but not 4 to 8. WHY? (and then they wonder why people still pirate). Once I can walk again, I may cancel my subscription (again).  Now, pizza and wine time.  

Buon  appetito! 

Monday, April 08, 2013

Walking A-boot & Chocolate Cake

So, I went from being a half-caster, to "walking-a-boot"!  

"...it's almost healed, but the boot is just in case a Jack Russell Terrier decides to knock you over"--JR hospital doc.  
Anna: (bursts out laughing)
Me: Or, my own dog
JRdoc: What kind of dog?
Me: Black lab/German shepherd cross
JRdoc: Oh, in that case, you need a super big, steel-toe, reinforced Samson boot.
Me: lol
JRdoc: The x-rays look excellent. You have excellent genetic bone healing material.
Me: Cool. Relieved. This is week seven and they originally said I'd be in a cast for 12 weeks.
JRdoc: (laughs). Average time is 22 weeks, actually   (thank goodness they did not spring that number on me when I was in excruciating pain). You have very good bones and great genetic material. There's a lot of bone growing.
Me: Cool.
JRdoc:  So, before you die, make sure you sign one of those cards so we can use your bones,  and put them in other people. 
Anna: Lol. Who knew there was a "bone donor" card.
JRdoc:  Yes. We do bone transplants all the time.....(upon clearing me to go on my dissertation trips sans boot)....oh, and say hello to La Belle Provence for me!

John Radcliffe
John Radcliffe Hospital (nhs.co.uk)
I'm sorry to say my Oxford Hot Doctor Hypothesis from my experiences at the JR hospital has been disproved ;0.  This one was not. The previous four I met at my four hospital visits were. 4/5 = not bad!  They were all SUPER nice to me, though, and have a strange but funny sense of humour (#British humour?) The nurses and x-ray techs are a gamble; some very nice, others grumpy. The docs = super nice. They even come in, introduce themselves, shake your hand and ask how you're doing before they start. And they always give you a chance to ask questions before they go, instead of rushing off. Weird.

I still maintain that hospitals SMELL HORRIBLE. Nauseatingly horrible.
 P.S.Thanks again to Alexandra and Anna, who have patiently waited with me for two hours every time, despite the smell.

 Gorgeous Puppy: "Uhh..come on, aren't we going for a run yet?"
I'm so excited for normal stuff, like being able to carry a plate to the table without hopping, having a stand-up shower, not a bath, kinda sorta walking without crutches (most of the time), and in about another month or so, finally going back to the gym and, especially, running my gorgeous puppy.

 Perhaps I'll take up Kung-Fu or some martial arts that's more "artsy/technique oriented" and less combat driven.

Realistically, all I'm doing for the next three weeks is finishing my essays and probably more cooking. So far, thanks to BBC Good Food, I have mitigated by boredom by making: 

  • Crispy Greek Pie
  • Roast Potatoes   (takes a hell of a lot longer than you'd think)
  • Spinach Salad
  • Key Lime Pie
  • Healthy Banana & Blueberry Muffins
  • Tiramisu
  • Custard Trifle---well, the custard was from powder and I didn't have cake, so custard and fruit and light whipped cream

Since my first two essays (first drafts of them anyway) are done, I'm celebrating by baking my friend Anna's  Mocha Chocolate Cake with icing (yum!). I have been drooling over this recipe (and this goal) since I planned for it over a week ago.

Can't beat the success of meeting a goal!  (especially when your latest essay is all about goals and self-efficacy in language learning).

It it definitely past midnight now, but I did it. YUM! (sorry for the low quality phone pics!)

Now, for some Netflix with a piece of cake...and then, BED (and more essay writing early in the morning!)