Life getting in the way a bit

So i’m aware i haven’t blogged for a while but as the title says – Life’s been getting in the way a bit. In a good way though. Since moving house and in the last few weeks, i’ve read more, seen some great movies, discovered some great vintage shops/jumble sales/car boot sales in my new locale and have even picked up a crochet hook again (though less said about that, the better…). My daughter has also started School nursery a couple of afternoons which has given me time to write this.

So – recent media consumed includes:

Films –

The Descendants (Clooney, cried buckets)
Harry Potter and the last whatsit (you know, the last one – was pretty good)
A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg – Jung v Freud – Keira Knightley a revelation; Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen wonderful as always)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (recent prequel with James Franco, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow as well as rent-a-creature Andy Serkis. Was so much better than i thought it would be. Those Apes were ANGRY)
Disney’s Brave at the cinema with TheYoungLady (twice! – as i said to someone – possibly the first Disney heroine who didn’t make me want to puke. Lots of stuff about changing your fate and i cried at the mom/daughter bit. It was good)
Volcano – (not new i know but have never seen it. Great disaster movie and Tommy Lee Jones – whaddaguy!)

Books

We were the Mulvaneys – Joyce Carol Oates. I found this a struggle as the pace is slow but it was a rewarding read.
The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins. Couldn’t quite believe these were kids books – glad i read them before seeing the film. Wonderful.
The Fifty Shades Trilogy – EL James. Amazingly badly written tripe. (nb – not me being prudish – there were definately some sexy bits but it was so badly written and Grey and Anastasia so unlikeable)
The Ice Princess – Camilla Lackberg. Now, i do normally love Scandi-crime but got a bit bored with this and didn’t finish it.
11.22.63 – Stephen King. Read even less of this. Time portal at the back of a diner where the protagonist can maybe chnge history and stop the assassination of JFK? Nah. Gave up.
Going to attempt some Leo Tolstoy next (War and Peace or Anna Karenina?)
I also quite like this new magazine http://www.thesimplethings.com/ and Mollie Makes Both of which are just too darned cute.

Recent thrift/bargains loot

Am heading to St Ives, Cornwall, UK for a week’s holiday soon where i’ll hopefully return from laden with all manner of artsy, hippy, surfy stuff. Looking forward to visiting Tate St Ives gallery and maybe the Barbara Hepworth museum – loads of small galleries and artists studios to visit too.

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Scandi-style for your living room

If you’ve been glued to BBC4 on a Saturday night for several weeks at a time or your Sky+ box is near capacity with the likes of The Killing, Borgen and Sebastien Bergman, then its likely that you’re not just a fan of the twisty plots, well-rounded characters and strong (but crazy) women but you probably also wish that you could live in a house like Martin’s (The Bridge).

I’m a big fan of all things Scandinavian and yes, like most of us love a trip round Ikea but in Grazia magazine this week, there was a great article with plent of useful links on how to get some Scandi-Cool (their byline) and an interview with Danish ceramics designer Tine Freiesleben from Copenhagen (complete with pictures of her chic home with lots of white, wood, rugs and bits of vintage design). I’m just going to list some of the websites here but i particularly liked some of the wallpapers and soft furnishings at 95percentshop.co.uk including these:

Also check out:

Conran Shop: conranshop.co.uk if you have a few thousand for an Arne Jacobsen
Eva Solo: evasolo.com for gorgeous kitchen accessories
Ferm Living: ferm-living.com for gorgeous kids stuff and soft furnishings (like the cushion above)
Gubi: gubi.dk for ridiculously cool design (lighting and seating particularly)
Manostiles: manostiles.com for a gorgeous blog and great storage ideas
Normann Copenhagen: normann-copenhagen.com for stunning lighting, kitchen accessories and furniture
Skandium: skandium.com for more beautiful furniture, lighting and textiles
Strikaholic: strikaholic.dk for gorgeous knitted textiles, bedlinen, blankets and cushions

*yes, i know i’ve used the descriptor ‘gorgeous’ a lot above, but they are – other than scouring a thesaurus for alternatives, i might as well just tell you that they are…

Life. Yoga. Walking. Reading. Buddhism. Baking. Thats all.

It’s been a funny few weeks – not funny ha ha but funny in the way that the universe reminds you of the wider world and how it still continues to kick you up the arse whether you need it or not. The last couple of weeks have included: having the winning bid for a house so we are in the throes of preparing to move after two years of wanting to; attending a funeral; the death of one of my most-loved musicians (RIP MCA) who helped shaped not only my musical education but my knowledge of wider world events and philosophies; all manner of frustrating and exhausting shite at work; doing a second freelance job in the evenings; PMT through the roof with water-weight shifting up and down by up to half a stone daily and my daughter coming down with Chicken Pox.

All this is just LIFE of course and the above will seem trivial to many facing much harder times than me, but nonetheless, it all left me feeling a bit knackered and not quite myself and i felt i had to readjust things a little to try and avoid getting some horrible lurgy which would make me feel more overwhelmed and stressed and as a functioning mother, partner, employee etc it’s  total pain in the arse when i get ill and i am not a good patient!

I had been registered for the Glasgow Womens 10k but had simply not been getting out to run and when i had been out, had really not been enjoying it. This lead me to beat myself up a bit and harking back to my previous attempts at trying to consistently run (and largely failing). So, i decided to just not bother and write it off. I wasn’t running for charity so really the only person i’d be letting down was myself but as the running/not running was making me feel bad about myself i figured stopping worrying about it would make me feel better all round. And it did. (And as it happened, the day before the 10k, my daughter’s chicken pox started coming through so i wouldn’t have gone anyway).

Having felt some relief at giving up on a form of exercise which i just wasn’t enjoying, i thought more about what i did enjoy and came back, yet again, to Yoga. So i’ve made an effort to do some yoga for between 20 minutes and an hour 3 or 4 times a week (every day would be ideal but am not quite there yet!). I’m already feeling much better about exercising and in accepting that whilst yoga won’t change my body as quickly as running, the mental benefits are so much greater. I’ve also added some walking into the mix – so much more civilised than running:-) and i’m hoping to get into hill walking at some point too.

As for the crappy second freelance job, i ditched that (did i really want to write about bodybuilding supplements??) and picked up my kindle again; read some chick-lit (as a break from the Scandi-crime) and got a couple of free ebooks on Buddhism (re: MCA) to reignite something i’ve been interested in for years but never properly explored.

My favourite form of yoga is Vinyasa Flow (strengthening, aerobic, quick and importantly not the same postures every time unlike Ashtanga) which i also complement with some more gentle routines. I’ve been doing DVDs at home and once we’ve moved, i’ll look into classes again too. My current favourite dvds include:

Tara Lee: Beginners Yoga and Beyond: Elements of Yoga (grounding Hatha – for gentler days but you still feel your body working)

Eionn Finn: Power Yoga for Happiness (a number of routines here from just over half an hour to full class length – challenging routines excellent for building strength and he is a great surfer dude, so the routines are easy to follow and fun to do – you will sweat)

Claire Missingham: Yoga (excellent Vinyasa Flow for intermediate/advanced. Few bits i just can’t do on this DVD but i love that its challenging and her style is really encouraging)

Seane Corne: Vinyasa Flow Yoga 2 (lovely Vinyasa Flow simply done)

Body Shaping Intensive Yoga (does what it says in the tin – couple of shorter Vinyasa based routines 30-40 mins plus 60 mins – you will sweat)

Rodney Yee: My first Yoga dvd’s some years ago were by Rodney Yee and i still use them (including Intermediate Yoga and Power Yoga Total Body Workout) but when time is short i like AM Yoga for your day (5 20 minute routines) and his Ultimate Power Yoga (not quite ‘Power Yoga’ but 5 2-30 min routines)

I also did some baking again with TheYoungLady, which we hadn’t done for some time. The cakes were dreadful (that’ll teach me to follow a recipe off the side of the packet…) but helped me feel like i was a bit more Me again.

What do you do to help you feel a bit more like You again?

Scandi-fixated much?

Last September, i wrote an article on how i was ‘Having a bit of a Nordic Phase…’ which covered the current Scandinavian/Nordic (including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland) influences in Music, Fashion, literature, film and tv (you can read it here: http://www.missmarples.co.uk/article/articleid/159/having-a-bit-of-a-nordic-phase%E2%80%A6.aspx ) . Having since now seen the second series of The Killing and Series 1 of the excellent Borgen on National Treasure tv station BBC4 and thoroughly enjoying the more mainstream Those Who Kill (Thanks ITV 3!) and the contents of my bedside reading table being this:

not to mention the Nordic novels on my Kindle including Jar City (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 1) by Arnaldur Indridason and Roseanna, book 1 of the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö; its clear i am still to drawn to the cultural output from the region. Given this interest, earlier works by the likes of Henning Mankell and Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö are being translated and published often many years later. Norwegian Jo Nesbo is something of a publishing phenomenon right now, with millions of his pretty gruesome crime novels featuring world-weary cop Harry Hole having sold. A film of his novel Headhunters is due for release on 6 April 2012.

I’m not the only one. There can barely be anyone left who hasn’t read the Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson or seen the films. Every British newspaper, broadsheet or otherwise, aswell as magazines such as Heat and Grazia, was fawning over The Killing and Borgen, with The Radio Times even printing a knitting pattern for one of Sarah Lund’s famous jumpers (yes, really!). The slight digs at these tv series featuring the same Danish actors was i think the only thing the journalists could aim to find ‘fault’ with – i mean, seriously, how many working UK actors haven’t been in Casualty/The Bill or a soap?

I have no answers here but the tv series’ i think have really benefitted by largely being national tv-station produced by Denmark’s BBC equivalent, who demanded modern series’ relevant to life today be created for their Sunday evening timeslots. I do wish the beeb would look at this rather than the yawnsome remake of Upstairs Downstairs and whatever sleepy sub-CSI thriller they tend to show on a Sunday night. I think they also appeal because the characters are real and utterly believable and importantly female characters are essential, rather than just being some wife/girlfriend/plain-jane colleague role. With Borgen, yes, you can absolutely see why the female PM’s marriage would potentially crumble and that her relationship with her kids would suffer. With The Killing, there is no disguising the fact that Sarah Lund is a pretty damaged character and her unorthodox methods and singular personality have resulted in estrangement from her son and family aswell as having directly resulted in the death of close colleagues.

The literature too details the lengthy processes the police and prosecutors have to go through to catch and convict criminals. There are no quick-CSI/Law and Order type arrests here (and these are largely BIG hefty 500+ page novels). The characterisation again is compelling and the flaws of Wallander and Hole keep the reader rooting for them.

The old stereotypical image of Scandinavian countries offering little more than Abba, Sauna’s and Ulrika Jonnson has been completely replaced with the rest of the world waking up to it’s cool clothes, music, art, books, tv and cinema and on a completely frivolous note, Stockholm’s men were recently voted Sexiest in the World largely aided, i personally feel by Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood).