Before the Flood

This is free. Watch it. No excuse.

What a profound movie! I was genuinely brought to tears towards the end during the part where the astronaut, Dr Piers Sellers showed us the model simulation of temperatures, carbon dioxide, and humidity movement around Earth. He simply said that based on scientific predictions, climate change can be stopped or reversed if we stop burning fossil fuel. To do that, us humans as citizens of Earth have to shift our mindset and change our habits gearing towards renewables. And the most heartwarming part of his narrative was about his hope in humanity.

I liked how in the beginning Leonardo DiCaprio did admit that he didn’t know much about climate change. And so the movie was his journey learning about it and in a way, I felt like going on that journey with him as well. I’ve been reading about the impacts of climate change but I’ve never actually looked at it. Some things are truly beyond our imagination. So this movie gave me the chance to see it for myself even though I couldn’t physically be at those places. 

I T    I S    U P    T O    A L L    O F    U S

1. consume differently and more consciously — think about what you buy, what you eat and how you get your power.

2. vote for leaders who will fight climate change — end fossil fuel subsidies, invest in renewables, leave fossil fuels in the ground, support carbon tax.


links:

http://beforetheflood.com/

http://carbotax.org/

Advertisements

Northanger Abbey — gothic naiveté

Catherine Morland, an unremarkable tomboy as a child, is thrown amongst all the ‘difficulties and dangers’ of Bath at the ripe age of seventeen. Armed with an unworldly charm and a vivid imagination, she must overcome the caprices of elegant society, encountering along the way such characters as the vacuous Mrs Allen, coquettish Isabella and the brash bully John Thorpe.

Such are the challenges of a young woman in the late 18th-early 19th century. First world problem much?

Gothic novels I don’t know about

Gothic (adj.) in literary context means a state of gloom, mystery and the grotesque. Think Frankenstein. So apparently, Northanger Abbey was written as a kind of gothic romance satire. Because I have not immersed myself so much in gothic novels, I felt like I was at loss. Like, what was the joke?

Upon much reflection and getting some opinions on Goodreads, I began to understand. Catherine Morland, our heroine of this story, imagines life in a gothic way because she reads a lot of novels of that genre. As one Goodreads user said, “She jumps to the worst conclusions, creates grandeur images in her mind, and expands trifle situations into troublesome occurrences”.

Austen’s narrations

I loved that Austen gave her opinions through narration. At certain points, she used first person pronoun to indicate her thoughts, as though she was speaking directly to the reader. She did it so well that it fitted so well in the story. She went on a sort of rant about novel writers not permitting their work to be read by their own heroine… or something like that. I’ve bookmarked page 24 and have read it a dozen times yet I don’t quite understand its full meaning. Does anyone care to enlighten me?

About women

I found this line very intriguing:

A woman, especially if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can. 

This line is not a dialogue but part of the narrative. I think this tells a lot about the attitude towards women in the Regency era. Women could not be too knowledgeable, it seems lest they wound others’ pride, particularly their male counterparts. At least, that is what I understood from this. 

Besides that, there was also a remark on how women of that time would fuss over their appearance when actually men didn’t even care much about the value of a new dress and shoes. And according to Austen, men preferred neatness in women, and women liked scruffy men.

Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter.

 

Of muslins and Mr Tilney

Of course, it was only Mr Tilney who could tell how expensive a dress was. He understood muslins. And indeed, he knew a great deal more than that such as the arts and life itself. It seemed that Mr Tilney was a well-educated man with a good deal of morality. He’s just too perfect. And I think Austen purposely made him like that as a contrast to Catherine’s immaturity. 

IMG_0554.jpeg

Final Thoughts

This post might seem like a ramble and not a proper review — apologies for that. But reading a classic novel requires so much of the mind that I thought it necessary to share my thoughts, no matter how jumbled they are. 

As a whole, the storyline was only mediocre. I got a bit irritated by Isabella and her brother during the first half of the novel. But I enjoyed Austen’s personal opinions within the narrative. It truly felt like she was talking to me directly. 


Title: Northanger Abbey

Author: Jane Austen

Publisher: Penguin Group

Language: English

Pages: 236

Rating: 3.5 violas

viola.pngviola.pngviola.pngviola half.png

Chocolate Chip Cookies [VEGAN]

I took this recipe from this blog, which the author got it from this blog! I made only minor alterations—I doubled the quantity and added cocoa powder 🙂

Below is what I did, yielding about 40 yummy cookies.

1

ingredients:

  1.     4 cups all-purpose flour
  2.     2 tsp baking soda
  3.     2 tsp baking powder
  4.     1 tsp salt
  5.     1/2 cup cocoa powder
  6.     1 cup coconut oil
  7.     2 cups brown sugar
  8.     1/2 cup plant milk (I used soy)
  9.     2 tbsp vanilla extract
  10.     1 cup chocolate chips

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)

method:

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celcius.

Combine the dry ingredients (numbers 1 – 4).

In a separate bowl, mix 6 – 9. I used a whisk but I guess you can just use a big spoon. The mixture will be liquidy.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix well. The dough will be crumbly, which is perfectly okay! Here you can add in the chocolate chips. I had a short supply of those so I added them after I’ve rolled the dough onto the baking pan. But if you have loads, just mix them in! 

I then added the cocoa powder. I didn’t add in earlier because I wanted the cookies to have a marble pattern. 

Roll the dough into a tbsp sized balls and place them on an ungreased baking sheet and flatten them out with your palm. Again, the dough may be crumbly but smoosh it together and it will be fine!

Bake for 10 minutes (and only 10 mins max or else it will burn!). Let the cookies cool and they will harden up a bit. 

4

VERDICT

The cookies were soft like Subway cookies. Nicely sweet and with a tinge of saltiness. I was not quite satisfied with the chocolate chips — they didn’t melt at all! So I might try a different brand next time.

I brought the cookies to my cousin’s brithay celebration. I did intend to bake something for that occasion and I settled upon this simple snack. And they were praised by many! One of my cousins liked them so much that he couldn’t quite believe they were vegan. Or maybe he was just teasing me… :p

Thank you Vegan Housewives for coming up with the recipe. It’s super simple and delicious as well!

So, what are you waiting for? Fill up your pantry and get baking! Good luck and enjoy x

3

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children — creepy vintage photos spun into stories

9781594748394

“As our story  opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine’s children were more than just peculiar. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.”

 

If that blurb didn’t rouse your interest, there might be something wrong with your imagination. Although there is the word “children” in the title, I think this book is suitable for all ages, especially adults whose lives are deprived of fantasy. I personally find it so refreshing a read that I am going to write at great length about this book but not the plot as I don’t wish to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it.

img_5361

First Impression

I bought the whole series as a box set and I love the dark, vintage feel to it. It comes with 12 vintage photographs from Ransom Riggs’s collection that inspired the story. The books themselves are hardcovers.The dust jackets are the same grey theme. The cover of the first book of the series, without the dust jacket, is red in colour! This is I think quite different than the usual black, brown or grey. I love the stark contrast, as though to say that it is not entirely a dark story; there is also joy. And on the cover, there is the name Alma LeFay Peregrine thinly debossed in gold.

Upon receiving a new book, I like to flip through the pages and take a peek inside. I was delighted to find that there were more vintage photographs! This is definitely going to be an enjoyable read, I thought. There is this rather graceful pattern decorated near the page numbers, and the pages dedicated to writing the chapter number have elaborate yet symmetric pattern, kind of like a wallpaper. I love the details put into this book and they certainly maintain the vintage feel throughout!

IMG_5358.jpeg

The Peculiars

Being peculiar means having a special quality that no one else has. This also means that having a peculiarity makes one different from the rest of society, which may result in estrangement. The children were taken care of in so-called orphanages as most people would not accept them into society. They don’t fit in. In Jacob’s case, he was not outwardly peculiar, but he definitely has a subtle peculiarity. And yet, he was unable to fit in at school and only befriended one person who was also a misfit, but not a peculiar.

I believe the author wanted to reflect the misfits present in our world, only exaggerating it in a fantastical way in his stories. He wanted to show that although a person might be an outcast, they surely have something within themselves to be acknowledged such as a talent in playing the guitar, dancing, singing, drawing, or a passion for mathematics and the life sciences. Anything, really, that seems at that time and place something unique compared to the norm.

IMG_5341.jpeg

The Photographs

So the photographs are creepy. If you look closely, they do look supernatural. For example, a photo of a girl at first glance looks like she is just standing stoically. But upon closer inspection, the bottom of her feet shows a shadow, meaning she must not be standing on the ground after all. In the story, I soon found out that this girl is Olive, the girl who floats.

The creepiest photo is the one of a girl standing at the edge of a pool of water and the reflection shows not one, but two persons. And I don’t think either of those two is her own reflection!

The Hollowgast and The Wights

If the photographs aren’t creepy enough, there are the awful hollowgasts and wights. Hollowgasts are complete monsters that feed on peculiars. Wights are more civilised than the hollows but equally cruel in their agenda. So basically these are the villains in the story. Their deal is that they want to become immortal and they think that preying on or manipulating peculiars is the solution. 

Overall

I like how the message of this story is to embrace one’s peculiarity, being proud of it and using it to one’s full advantage. However, the fact that they are in hiding from the rest of the world shows the level of intolerance towards their peculiarities. I guess this reflects our world in terms of bullying, racism and the like. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and the photographs made the journey all the more exciting. I am eager to start reading the sequel and see where Ransom goes with his brilliant imagination.


Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs  img_5368

Publisher: Quirk books

Language: English

Pages: 352

Rating: 4 violas

violaviolaviolaviola

mind shift

I just have to share this 30-minute discussion featuring Russell Brand who is so enlightened and so hilarious! I laughed practically the whole way through and all the while he spoke so much sense.

This is all about embracing one’s spirituality and practising kindness in our daily lives so that we can collectively break down the current flawed systems and achieve peace. It’s the only way we can actually reach our actual potential as enlightened beings. I have so much to say on this topic and this may already sound weird to some but right now, I’ll let Russell Brand do the talking.