Sunday, 1 July 2018

Leaving France (again)

Capestang, France
Hi everyone! Happy July. 

So, today, my family is leaving France and moving into their new house in Scotland.

This past year has literally been such a bizarre year where my parents are involved. First, they wanted to move to France permanently. Then, they wanted only wanted a holiday home in France. Then, they thought again to live there permanently. And then, they randomly bought a house in Scotland. 

So that is where we are going today. 

I'm excited to go back to Scotland. I get to see my extended family and  I can fulfil my year-long craving for Sainsbury's jam doughnuts. 

But, I do feel a little sentimental about leaving France. I really like it here. I like going out in the morning to buy a baguette and get a café au lait. And I know I can do these things in Scotland (and Canada) but it's just not the same, you know? 

I hope I come to France again one day. Part of me thinks I definitely will, but then at the same time, I don't really have a reason to. I suppose travelling is a good enough reason, yeah, but if I'm going to travel a country in Europe, I should go to one I've never been to, right? 

But then again, I have no idea what the future holds. Heck, maybe I'll buy an apartment in France. Like a really cute one with high ceilings and a porcelain sink in the kitchen. Oh oh, and one with a little bakery downstairs where I'll go for my daily baguette!

Maybe that will happen, maybe not, who knows?

Anyway, I'm going to end this post here because I don't have much more to say. 

Last night, there was one of those purpley-pinky sunsets which I love. It's so nice to just sit out, relax, and take in the colours, you know? At the same time, though, it was 9pm and it was still 30 degrees when I took these pictures so the night wasn't perfect... but it was pretty good!

 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Flapjacks Recipe


Do you guys use grams or cups to measure baking ingredients?

I've always used cups. It's just so much easier to gage -- especially when you don't have an actual measuring cup. Then again, if I just remember that 1 cup = 150 grams, I suppose 150g would be easy to gage too.

I ask because I think I have a lot of readers from the U.K.

So should I use British measurements in my blog posts??

Or does it not really matter???

I mean, let's be honest, who really makes the recipes they read on blogs? Wait I take it back, I just realised that question could ruin my whole blog potential.

Okay so with that said, I have a recipe post today!

My family is moving to their new house this weekend so for the past 2 weeks we've been trying to use all the food in the cupboards. I think anyone who has ever moved house will know the struggle of trying to make a meal out of oats, jam and dried pasta.

We had 3 full boxes of oats (don't know why) and so I made flapjacks -- which is probably the easiest thing to do with oats, apart from make porridge. 



Easy Flapjack Recipe
Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut oil (instead of butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 cups oats

Method
1. Melt together the coconut oil, maple syrup and sugar over a low heat. I think this is pretty much caramel -- or at least it could be?
2. Stir in the oats and then put the whole mixture in a pan and bake for 15-20 minutes at 190C.
3. That's it, really. 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Victoria Sponge & Birthdays

Capestang, France

Is it weird that I'm posing with the cake? Probably, but I don't have many other pictures of it. My blogger game was off today.

Today is my sister's 8th birthday and she asked me to make her party cake. Turns out this cake wasn't even used as the party cake because my mum bought an apple pie (???) from the shop and most of the kids ate that instead. French kids are kinda weird, and I know that's mean but sorry -- what kid likes apple pie??

I'm not upset, though (well, not that much).

Still, today was fun. Luckily the 24th fell on a weekend, so we had a party with everyone from her class on her actual birth day. When do kids stop inviting everyone? I remember having parties with the whole class when I was younger, but at one point it just stopped. Is it when you hit high school, or earlier, like in grade 6 when the girls start getting kinda mean?

By the way my sister acts, you'd think she just turned 18. She can be so... Coco sometimes. For example, at aged 4, she asked me, "Why is your face all spotty?" As the years went on, she still doesn't have much chill and now needs to be the centre of attention.

So, of course, today was bit of a drama. Everything had to be about her all day and if it wasn't, she cried. She cried 3 times just during the games! But thankfully she quickly lightened up when we suggested she start opening her presents.

Talking about games, my sister and I had a great time trying to explain the rules of 'pass the parcel' and 'musical statues' to the French kids. Between us we can definitely order a meal, but we can't really have a full conversation -- do you get what I mean? Our essential French is good, but past that we're sorta clueless. So trying to translate "only take off one layer of paper at a time" was difficult.

But overall it was a good day. It was a party, parties are always fun, right?

And my cake was a success with the family, and the one kid who ate it, she said it was "bueno" which  was kinda weird but I guess she mixed up her English and Spanish?? But either way, it is a compliment.



Victoria Sponge Recipe
Ingredients
200g (around 1 1/2 cup) self rising flour
200g (around 1 cup) caster sugar
200g (also around 1 cup) butter
4 medium eggs
1tsp vanilla extract


Method
1. Cream together sugar and butter. Once they are combined, add in the vanilla. Once that's all mixed together, add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition so that it... mixes in and stuff.
2.  Sift in the flour. I do a bit at a time, but I suppose you could do it all at once. There's not really a difference.
3. At this point you could add stuff like nuts, chocolate chips, or something else but that isn't really Victoria sponge anymore but whatever, man, Queen Victoria is dead and I don't think she'd be annoyed anyway.
4. You can split the mixture into two round tins, or bake it all together and cut it the layers in afterwards. I chose to bake it all at the same time at 160C for 40 minutes.
5. Once the cake is done, let it completely cool and slice it in half horizontally. The easiest way to get it even is to put it on a piece of parchment paper and then you can pull the paper in a circular motion and it slides the cake around and helps with a straight(-er) cut. Does that make sense? Basically it's like a DIY cake turning table.
5. On the insides of the layers, spread on your cream frosting and strawberry jam, on opposite sides. Then put the two back together again.
6. Then you can eat. I mean you could eat before, but I would recommend eating it when it's done.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

A Weekend in Spain

Catalonia, Spain
Hi everyone!

This past weekend, my family and I visited Catalonia which is about a 2 hour drive away from where we are in France. I know, who am I? I went to Spain for the weekend -- who does that?? 

Anyway, we stayed in Girona first (for one night) and then visited the city of Figueres on the way back, which is where Salvador Dalí was from and made all his stuff. What a weird guy. We went to his museum and tbh I was kinda scared.

GIRONA
Girona actually looks a lot like Florence or Pisa (if you've ever been to either of them). They all have a main river running through them with bridges going over. And yes, I do realise that description can fit literally every city that has a river in it... but these bridges have a specific look.






FIGUERES
We didn't do much here, we went to the Dalí museum for a couple hours and then went to McDonalds (it was Enzo's 4th birthday, and this is what he picked for his birthday lunch). We also visited the beach for a couple hours where I had an amazing nap! (And therefore, there are no pictures of the beach -- but trust me, it was very nice and sandy).






Monday, 18 June 2018

On Feeling Depressed (Even in the Summer)

Capestang, France


i've had depression for 3 years.

i still cringe a bit whenever i say that (or type it) because it's weird -- it doesn't feel like depression. i still believe that it's just me. i believe that this is just a personality trait.

"oh iona? she's the good listener with a poor outlook on life"

... but apparently it's not a trait.

because apparently it's not normal to sob for half and hour every time you misplace your phone charger. or to sleep for 12 hours a day (and that's only on a day without a nap).

oh, and, apparently it's not normal to think that you will never make it past this point in life because you're just not one of those people who is supposed to succeed or be happy.

no, it isn't a personality trait. i have an "illness."

it wasn't always like this.

sure, i didn't have energy and i didn't eat a lot but i was adjusting to university! i had hope that with the right meds and with enough time i would mellow out and get happier.

but it's now been 3 years and i've adjusted to university. i know the drill. heck, i'm graduating in april. so why haven't i mellowed out? why aren't i happier? i thought it was supposed to get better overtime, not worse.

but this whole depression thing it's like... i don't know... a banana? it just gets blacker and blacker and harder to ignore it because you can hear the noise of the flies even from the living room.

(bad analogy but you get what i mean.)

but, hey, at least it's summer, right? summers are fun! it's hot, you go on holiday, you go to the beach.

except the heat makes me feel even more tired and -- oh yeah -- i hate my body and now dread going to the beach.

my doctor said i should "give myself a chance to feel happy this summer"

as if i consciously choose to be sad.

hell, maybe i do. maybe i keep forcing myself to be depressed and that's why nothing is fixing it.

or maybe my doctor sucks.

who knows?

Sunday, 3 June 2018

22

Capestang, France
via
Happy birthday to me!

This is the 4th year I'm making one of these posts. That's kinda cool, right? I think writing a blog is the longest hobby I've had. I mean I've wrote this blog for 5 years, and I had at least 2 other blogs before this one so that's probably like... 7 years.

I started my day by going to the market here in Capestang and had a coffee.

When I came home, my mum had bought like 7 pastries from the bakery for us all to try. We always visit this bakery, but only ever buy baguettes -- so it was nice to actually try all the cakes and sweets.

Unlike every year for the past 3 years, I don't really mind being a year older. It doesn't feel like such a big deal.

I think it's because I done a lot in the past year. I don't feel like I'm in the same spot, you know?

I think that's why I feel stressed at my birthday, because I am a year older but it seems like nothing has changed. But this year a lot changed so I just feel normal, I guess.

Does that even make sense? lol I hope so.

Long story short, I am not stressed to turn 22.

It's chill.

22 isn't even old.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Where to Eat in Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain


I just got back from Barcelona yesterday, after 5 days of exploring the city. 

I have been there once before when I was younger, but can't remember anything other than the football stadium, for some weird reason. So it was really good to visit again and really see the sights!

... If truth be told, I was more excited to shop in Zara and eat paella than I was to see the popular sights. Not that surprising, though, for me shopping and eating always take priority over sight-seeing.
But it didn't take me long to realize that there are a lot of crap food places in Barcelona. 

So, I done what anyone would and googled "best places food barcelona," but most of the places that came up were really expensive. Which obviously is no bueno because I'm a poor student and can't afford €8 potatoes, you know??

So, instead of writing about what I done, I decided to do a helpful post and list out the best places I ate. 

A couple tips before I start:
1. Don't order paella if there's a picture of it in the window or menu. It isn't real authentic, it's frozen and;
2. Eating places around the Sagrada Familia are double the price of anywhere else. Even the McDonald's has different costs.


--
M O N T J U I C
Carrer Blai
This is known as the "tapas street" because it's a long row of tapas restaurants. We tried quite a few of them and the best two were:

Blai 9 - By far the BEST place we tried. The tapas/pintxos were around €1.80 and the combinations were much more unique than the other restaurants. They had this nice octopus taco thing and one that was like a mini English breakfast. Plus a jug of sangria only cost €3.

La Tiza - This one was kinda hipstery and also one of the few that served desserts.

La Tasqueta de Blai - This one was probably the most authentic we tried. The pintxos were simple (really just cheese and ham) but they were only €1 so I can't really complain.





G O T H I C  Q U A R T E R
La Boqueria
If you're going to Barcelona, you must visit this market. It's a huge food market with everything from raw fish and meat to complete tapas meals with sangria. There are also a lot of stalls that sell these fruity smoothie drinks which cost €1 and they are stupidly good.

Chök
Just around the corner from la Boqueria, you'll find this donut store. Dude. I got a pistachio and hazelnut donut and I think I died and went to heaven, no exaggeration??? 

The Benedict 
One of the mornings, I was really wanting pancakes, so I made us walk around until we found this American brunch restaurant. It was the first time I had alcohol with breakfast, in the shape of a mimosa, but I gotta say I'm a fan.

--
S A G R A D A  F A M I L I A
Timesburg
I think this is only in Spain, but it's for sure a chain. It's sorta fast food except it tastes like a real restaurant. They have like 15 types of burger to choose from, and you can get a kilo of fries for €4 extra.

Mendieta 

This is one of the many bars throughout Barcelona. If you go to Spain, you'll probably end up in one at some point. They sell food all day as well as coffees and alcohol.  This particular one was arouond the corner from our hostel and it was where I had the best café con leche in the whole week.



So that's all the places I recommend! It turned out to be a bigger list than I thought, I lowkey thought I would only remember 3 places and this post would be kinda weak. But I basically remembered 8 so way to go.
I don't know when I will write a post next, but I will try not to take too long.
I hope you all have a great week!

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