Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Home-made Strawberry Jam

It's not really a jam, because jam is something you preserve, right? This strawberry deliciousness barely lived to see the next morning, so I actually had to make a new batch to go with breakfast.

I like strawberries, but I never really associated them with late May. That's why I was a bit surprised, when my mom brought some from the market the other day. What month is it? Isn't it too early? I grew up believing that fruit and berries in particular only come in season. I still have to remind myself that fruit and vegetables from the greenhouse were not grown on pure poison (a common stereotype here in my part of the world, when it comes to greens out of season or bigger than average and not covered in dirt or bugs), and that it's okay to eat them.

This time the reason for this early treat was the warmer than usual weather.

'Tis the rainy season

May showers suddenly kicked in yesterday and have been going strong ever since. The soothing sound of wind and rain behind my window blends with the noise of traffic, reducing the latter. I love how calm and focused it makes me feel. It's somewhat strange, that rainy weather gives me this semi-sleepy productiveness, when I feel like there's no extra energy to get distracted and all I care about is what's on the to-do list from the top down.

I just got a phone call from a man trying to buy a fridge. We're not selling a fridge.

I don't know what else to say. Not really...

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Book Review [☆☆] If I stay. Gayle Forman

I've started reading the novel If I Stay by Gayle Forman, expecting it to be something completely different. Maybe because of all the great reviews I've seen, or the high Goodreads ratings, but my expectations for this book were higher than average. What can I say, now that I've finished it?

First of all let me say, that I'm happy to finally have finished a book after my long reading slump. And I can understand, why so many people like it. The story was nicely written and emotionally satisfying, but not for me.

You see, I like stories that make sense. I mean logically. Someone once asked me, what my superpower would be, if I had one. I replied - logic. I like books, that like puzzles gradually fall into one picture. No matter the genre. It can be a fantasy novel or a romance. Even when the story ends with a cliffhanger, if the author gives me enough hints and strings to tie together, so that I could still finish the course of events in my mind, I will like it.

If I stay sort of finished with a cliffhanger ending, but I'm guessing that's because it has a sequel. But the story itself had a lot of moments, that to me didn't make much sense.

This story is about a girl Mia, who's very different from other girls. She's a passionate musician and all her life revolves around music. Funny thing is that Mia is surrounded by musicians, but even there she stands out from the crowd. Her father, family friends and even her boyfriend Adam are all hardcore rock musicians and punks, whereas Mia has devoted her life to classical music and the cello.

When we first see Mia, great changes are about to happen in her life. She's expecting a letter from Juilliard, a conservatory in New York. Her parents try to get her mind off that letter, so they all decide to go visit some friends, since it's a snow day and they don't have anything else to do. On their way to their friend's house the family gets into a car accident. Suddenly Mia finds herself standing out in the road. She notices the wrecked car and injured bodies lying on the cold asphalt - her parents' and... her own.

We follow Mia to the hospital, where she spends the next night,  reminiscing everything that has happened in her life so far, trying to figure out how to "stay", wondering if she even wants to stay.

So that is the general idea of this story. What I liked about it is that there were no "follow the white light" or conversations with spirits. Something that I almost expected, when I realised where the story was going. But there were so many little moments, that I found really annoying. I wouldn't really mind them if they weren't repeatedly dumped into the plotline.

The next two paragraphs might be filled with spoilers! Why? Why were all the family members, friends and first of all the boyfriend so obsessed with the idea of marching into the ICU and saying their own version of the 'message' that supposedly was to bring Mia back? Convince her to stay? Because obviously the only reason she couldn't decide whether to stay or not, was because someone didn't say the "magic word". No-no-no. That was just silly.

There were some other little episodes that bugged me, but this particular obsession with having a parade or a concert in the middle of the ICU was just not right. I got the feeling that they weren't doing it for Mia, but for themselves. There was one particular moment, which made me furious. It was when Adam the boyfriend said "Don't make me write a song". It might sound romantic and metaphorical (no, not really), but I felt that it was cruel. There is an episode, which explains this part, but the reasoning still was not good enough. It was as if they were trying to pull the blanket to their side. But it's not about them. She's not dead yet.

In counclusion If I Stay by Gayle Forman was an okay read, but not something I would care about enough to re-read. And I still haven't decided if I want to read the sequel. Maybe. I don't know. I'll let you know, if I do. <3

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Summer To-Do List 2015

In a week or two I'll enjoy a lot more free time, but that doesn't mean, that I can get lazy. Quite the opposite, as I've got some plans for this summer. And some of them I'll be sharing on this blog. So here's my Summer To-Do List in no specific order.

Read more! And get that reading organized!
First of all I'll need to get myself out of this reading slump. I'm not good at making TBR lists and sticking to them. But I want that to change. Right now I have a bad habit of picking up too many books at the same time. I let myself get disinterested too quickly. That's the reason I have such a hard time joining a reading club, which is kind of sad. So this summer it will change! I'll make a TBR list and actually stick to it. I'll choose something from different genres, but try to stick to titles with more good reviews and recommendations, as I don't want to risk falling back into the reading slump again. So here goes nothing. This summer I'll be reading:
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf, Yevgeni Petrov (I've read the first book 12 Chairs ages ago and have been meaning to read this one ever since)
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Paper Towns by John Green (need to read this before July 24th!!!)
  • smth by Stephen King (book title coming soon)
  • Saturnin by Zdeněk Jirotka
  • smth by Jane Austen (need to check, what I haven't read yet)

Sit down and write!
I need to write more! As I've mentioned before, this blog is where I practise my English. Or at least that's what I should have been doing all this time, instead of ditching it for six whole months. So here's one thing I need to be serious about, but wait there's more.

Last year I participated in the NaNoWriMo 2014 and got down on paper (or computer screen) about 35 000 words, raw and disoriented. I wanted to do Camp NaNoWriMo in April to fill in the gaps in the plot and start editing the whole mess, but never got to that. Good thing there is summer! Right?

This part of my to-do list is a bit intimidating, but I know, that that's for my own good. Do I want this book finished or not?

What? That's it?
Well... Yes and no. I'm not specific about the other plans, as they are very 'general'. And maybe there's too many of them? I don't know. I haven't tried counting. So these are plans, that I set for myself every once in a while, like eat healthier, work-out, sleep more etc etc.

Can't wait for this summer to start!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Rice baked with apples (almost step-by-step recipe)

Here's the promised recipe of Rice baked with apples from that old Polish book, I've mentioned in the previous post. I actually combined two different recipes, because I wanted it to be a subtly sweet and milky rice dessert with apples. I've found two recipes of baked rice in that cookbook. One was with apples, but no milk or eggs, and the other was rice baked with eggs and raisins (I didn't have any) but no apples.

So here is the recipe, I've come up with.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

On reading books in foreign languages

I was sitting in my sister's room yesterday, working on her computer, because that's what I do, when I don't feel like cleaning up my working desk. While I was waiting for something to download (or upload... I really don't remember), I started browsing through her bookshelves. My sister has a whole shelf dedicated exclusively to books in foreign languages. These are mostly either old Polish books, owned by my father and grandmother, or everything, that we've managed to get our hands on in every second-hand store in our district, that had any books to offer.

And I saw this old Polish cookbook, that belonged to my grandmother. Over the years I've looked through this book more times than I care to remember. Looking at old bleak pictures, trying to figure out how to read familiar words. I know Polish good enough to watch TV shows and news, but reading is on completely another level. So right there and then I've decided, that I need to start reading in Polish. Right now!

I went to the bookshelves in the hallway and picked up a bunch of old Polish detectives. I've been meaning to read these for ages! Maybe I never did, because I felt too intimidated with the language to even start.

I also noticed, that I've never tried cooking anything from this Polish cookbook. I'm sure, I've meant to at some point, but never got to doing anything. So yesterday I chose a few recipes I liked, and combined them into something sweet and delicious!

Funny thing I've noticed about this cookbook, especially the desserts section. There are mostly recipes of puddings, custards and sweet porridges. I had to skip a lot of pages, till I finally got to the baking part. I've found this hilarious recipe of cheesecake with potatoes, which I'll try to make next time. But yesterday I made something more simple - Rice baked with apples. Recipe coming soon!

I'm also trying to figure out, how to edit pictures for my blog. I'm kind of torn between colorful and pastel. So tell me what you think? Do you like the bright or the pastel version of this picture?

As for the fiction books, I'll be reading a detective novel Pieczen Sarnia by Zygmunt Zeydler Zborowski. I'll tell, what this story is about, once I've read more into it. But the first few pages were not as scary as I anticipated (as in reading and understanding). This book is not on Goodreads yet, so I'll make sure to add it and rate it once I finish reading.

Let's read!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

It's not that I don't read

I've been in a reading slump for so long now, that I don't even bother to worry about that. I'm pretty sure, it's been weeks, maybe even months. And the reason for that slump is my bad habit. I'm a hoarding reader. I start reading one book, but the moment I feel the slightest bit bored, I put it down and pick up something else.

But it's okay to drop books, right? You don't have to finish every single book. Well, my problem is, that I don't drop books - I stack them. A single look at my "currently reading" shelf on Goodreads makes me feel panicky. I'm not finishing anything. Does that even count for reading at all?

So this year's spring cleaning has been my "reading" cleaning as well. I've moved all the books except two (Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark) to the "on hold" shelf. And I'm not putting anything on the "currently reading" shelf, until I finish another book, even if what I'm reading right now is "unshelved".

I sometimes think about all this too much. Maybe I should just enjoy reading instead.

Sorry for this babbling. <3

Friday, 8 May 2015

Now I'm really back... or am I?

I know, I know... I've promised to keep this blog updated on a regular basis. I need this myself for several reasons. First of all, this is the place, where I can practice my writing in English. And I've promised myself to stop abandoning blogs and projects. And yet I haven't posted anything in more than six month. What?

But then again I've got another excuse, and this time it's good. I was busy teaching and writing for my other blog... blogs... whatever. And I've managed to figure out how to actually plan ahead and write a post not on the day, when it's due (I specifically mean here the BEDA thing, that I've successfully completed on my Ukrainian blog).

And now I've got another post-every-day-for-a-month thing going on... And I've just thought of another ten projects, I'd like to start... It's complicated.

But I really need to have an English blog! This blog in particular!

I love it. I want to write for it.

So my goal for this summer (alongside with all the other gazillion goals, that I've set for myself) will be to update this blog once a week. Maybe this will bring me out of my reading slump as well (yet another reason, why I haven't managed to keep up with this blog, cause it's supposed to be a bookish thing.. duh).

 Here's a random drawing  from my sketchbook, that I haven't posted anywhere yet. It really makes no sense. :3