Saturday, 31 March 2012

Love is All You Need

I spent the day down at Bodhisattva Buddhist Centre in Brighton for the empowerment of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion.  It was a clear but slightly chilly day as Janet bundled us into the car at the altogether reasonable time of 9am (Have I ever mentioned I'm not good in the mornings?) and we made it to the Centre with about 20 minutes to spare.

Avalokiteshvara, Buddha of Compassion
The Centre is in what used to be an old monastery a long, long time ago (there are still some stain glass windows in) and then it fell into disrepair for a long time.  For a while it was the biggest squat in Europe before the Buddhists bought the building and started a long process of making it habitable (installing heating and fixing the roof, removing all the asbestos etc.). It's been looking amazing for a few years now, but they have been working on the furnishings and the shrine for a while. It was the first time I'd seen the shrine room since they completed some work there, and I must say, the shrine is huge! It comfortably houses an 8 foot statue of Buddha, yep, 8 foot! The photos don't do it justice, but here you go:

8 foot Buddha.  Yeah.
The teachings given by Gen Chodor were on the theme of love and compassion.  He talked about what we can do on a practical level to become more and more similar to this enlightened being who is the compassion of all the Buddhas manifested into form.  What do I need to do to be more like him? Practice loving kindness, not just on my meditation cushion on my own, but when I am rushing around in this busy world.  (Admittedly, I never really do rush about, so maybe sauntering through life looking at all the busy people would be more accurate.)  Why should I practice loving kindness? Because it makes me happy!  How? Start by looking at the kindness I've received from others.  All the things I have are as a result of others kindness: the food I eat, the clothes I wear, even my body.  As Chodor said it is our choice in our daily life whether we look for kindness or whether we look for faults in people.  If we look for kindness, then we see it all around us, all the people around us become our hero! We see heroes and heroines all around us.  When we see this it's easy to want to cherish people, to love them.  So when we realise that they are suffering intensely with sickness, ageing and all the rest of life's trials and tribulations, we naturally develop compassion and want to help out.  We extend our capacity bit by bit so we can do more and more as the years go on.  It was a very inspiring teaching, it reminded me of all the positive ways we can make an impact to ourselves and others.

After the commentary, we had a little celebration for Bodhisattva Centre's 20th birthday - with cake and everything!  I managed to get a shot before it was completely cut up:

Yes, that is a cartoon monk with a seagull perched on him, indeed
I think it was sponge with raspberry filling, now that you ask.  I'm sure that there will be other celebrations, but I am glad that we got to share a little part of happiness in cake form.

All in all, it was a very beautiful day and I'm really glad I managed to make it down there.  I left feeling more connected and very blessed.  The only thing left to top it off was seeing this amazing car on the way home:

Fantastic.  Absolutely fantastic.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Soup, Glorious Soup!

Yesterday, I had a long day rushing about from one thing to another, including a short visit with my Mum which included lunch at Wagamama, and then ran up the hill for a few hours work. I was delighted when, half an hour before work finished, I got an enthusiastic invite from Miss Middle B to come over and make soup.  She owns the soup book by the Covent Garden Soup Co. which has a soup for every day of the year.  We're both vegetarian so we couldn't make the one for the 29th March, so we settled for the 10th March instead: Pear, Roquefort and Spinach soup.

Pear, Roquefort & Spinach soup

It really is a fantastic colour, while it was cooking I felt as though it might turn out a bit radioactive, but it settled down as soon as it was off the hob.  I was wondering if the pear would be swallowed up somewhat, but it did manage to come through, with the bite of the cheese as the lingering aftertaste. We managed to pilfer some granary bread from her housemate, and it really did the trick.  This is a good soup to mop up.

Action shot!

This is a pretty filling concoction as well - after quite a lot of chatting and a bit of chocolate cake, both of us were pretty stuffed.  It looks like an amazing book, I suspect we will be making more soup together soon.

The End.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Blogs that I appreciate

Some of the blogs that have been beguiling my senses recently:

Maddie on Things
Some amazing photos of one man's dog balanced on various objects.  I'm amazed at the patience that Maddie apparently displays; and the quality of the photography is beautiful.

Rides a Bike
This is a truly charming collection of photos of various famous people riding bikes.  I love this mix of old school Hollywood sophistication with the independence and quirk of bicycles.

Rooms of Others
This is, essentially, a love letter to interiors.  If you love to look around other people's houses (as I do), this is a feast.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Sunny, sunny days

I hope this weather lasts, it's been beautiful recently! and also I'm getting over my cold and no longer waking up in the middle of the night choking on my own phlegm so that's a bonus.

I spent this afternoon with the lovely M, who is also full of cold, and we shared a pot of tea in the sun and then went for a stroll around the city.  We went to the top of the mound in the Dane John Gardens where you can see the whole of the city, fairly much... I don't think there is anywhere higher up, save the top of the Cathedral maybe.  Everything was drenched in sunlight, with a hit of mist over the hills, and both of us had just had a strong cough sweet so for a while we could actually smell the smell of cut grass and apple blossom that is all pervasive at this time of year.  After more strolling we tried out a new cafe, Brown's, by the river in the Punting Co. building, just off Stour St, past the bike shop.  It has big squishy leather sofas and huge windows with lots of light coming in and they do a mean latte, not to mention the cupcakes. We shared an orange and lemon cupcake... both of us went completely silent as we ate it, it was that good.  If you know me in person you will know this doesn't happen often.  Incidentally, whenever we used to cut through that way, across the bridge, I always used to walk past and see the big red sofas of the Punting Co. through the dusty windows and wished that I could go in... and now I can.  Be careful what you wish for, kids.  Anyway, we had a delightful cup of coffee and we both agreed that we would be coming back.  Probably together. Yay.

Then to top off a lovely day, I came back and made Green Pea Soup from my lovely new recipe book: Roald Dahl's Completely Revolting Recipes Yeah, really! I was so excited when I saw it, I had to buy it! Which is probably why I shouldn't go into bookshops when I have no money.  But hey, whatever. And if the soup is anything to go by, then it was worth it.  And really, who wouldn't want to make recipes called A Plate of Soil with Engine Oil or Hair Toffee to Make Hair Grow on Bald Men?!  I'm going to try and make Plushnuggets soon, I think this is the beginning of some fun cooking. Seriously.

We have a bring and share tomorrow, so while I was making the soup, I also threw together a cooked vegetable salad, loosely based on a recipe my friend Jules used to make.  I diced and boiled some potato, and put some romanesco to steam over the pan in a steamer (although you could leave it raw if you desire, and feel free to substitute cauliflower and/ or broccoli).  Then I dry fried some courgettes (again, you could have those raw, but I prefer them slightly cooked). Then I left all of those things to cool down and chopped up some tomatoes on the vine and some spring onions.  Once everything was cool, I mixed all the above together in a salad bowl.  Tomorrow just before serving I'll dress it in a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and mix in some dry fried sunflower seeds. There we go, some semblance of a cooked vegetable salad.  This is dairy free and gluten free which made my flatmate very happy - so she gets so eat something just like the rest of us.  Hooray.

Anyway, enough rambling for now...
Enjoy the sunshine, y'all!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Known Universe

I've always been fascinated by our world and it's position in the universe.  Watching this video made by the American Museum of Natural History certainly puts a lot in perspective....  as M commented, 'this just blew my mind'.

Friday, 16 March 2012

First Impressions

Ah the joys of internet dating!  I decided to join a site a while back just to meet people, I went on a couple of dates but neither of them worked out.  I did keep hold of one as a friend, and subsequently made friends with his girlfriend Queen of Hearts so in some ways that was really successful! But in the end I decided that internet dating wasn't really for me.  I like to get to know someone without the akward 'will we get together or won't we?' hanging over my head from the get-go.  And while I am picky about some things, I find it difficult to tick boxes about what I like because for me it's all about context.  Anyhow, I had some adventures, but I decided to delete my account because I just wasn't going on to the site much anymore.  Then as I was flicking though my profile I spotted this, which was one of the best first messages I had while I was there.  It's a shame that the ensuing messages weren't up to much, but as introductions go, this was fantastic:

Jun 30, 2009 – 3:32pm
Miss   ---------,

After reading your profile, I decided it is never going to work out between us. Our imaginary relationship is over. It was too much of an emotional roller coaster, filled with arguments (which I won), and exhilarating times. I'll admit I started a lot of those fights for the make up part, but still it wouldn't of lasted. Even though we have lots of things in common, I think it is best if we ughhh... well lest just be friends. 

- --------

P.S. I want the waterbed, TV & New Lamp

What do you think about it all?

Have you ever been internet dating? What's the best introduction you've had?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Adventures in Vegetables Continued

Remember these? Of course you do, how could you forget something that fantastic!

It was my friend, V's birthday last week and she only ever wears black, white and grey... so I decided to make her a carrot cake as a birthday present.... with black and white carrots! yeah!

Except... it turned out kind of purple and brown, rather than black and white.  Oh well.

At least the carrots didn't go orange! They didn't stay black either, but they were distinctly not orange. Interestingly, the cake tasted good, but not as sweet as normal. And V did appreciate the effort.  Maybe next time I'll do a salad... I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Adventures in Vegetables

I was at my little greengrocers and I came across some black and white carrots.... I didn't even know black and white carrots existed! I got so excited that naturally I had to buy some.

Me: 'I went to the greengrocers and I found black and white carrots! BLACK AND WHITE!!!'
Flatmate: (rolls eyes) 'Yeah, you get different coloured carrots.  But when you cook them they still come out orange.'
Me: 'Orange?!?' (I was very disappointed by this).  'They're black and white, why would they turn orange? I mean nothing else turns orange when you cook it.'
Flatmate: 'Well, when people cook themselves on sunbeds, they turn orange.'
Me: 'It's true.  You win.'

Yeah, really.  I don't just make this up, you know.
Anyway, I will update you when I've done something with them and let you know if they actually do turn orange.  Or any other colour.

Also, may I add that it's the same greengrocer that I got the romanesco from.  I'm quite excited to see what I find there next.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Truffles and Ninjas and Ocelots, Oh my!

Oh goodness, what a week! It's all high drama round here  - one of the ladies is moving in with her beau and someone else is going on a six month teacher training course (which means we have some rooms that need filling) and some structural things are shifting around too.  The times they are a-changin'.

In addition to this, I may have slipped down the stairs and may now be sitting around with a swollen ankle, elevated and with an ice pack.  Sigh.  Oh well, it gave me a fabulous excuse yesterday not to do any housework which I was planning to do (no, really, I was... well, planning anyway), and I got to sit around and read and hang out with my lovely housemates.  At least, the ones who are left.

Miss H and her little sister, Fluffy O'Bunny and Tim and I all ended up having dinner together and playing Ghost Castle which gets us all excitable and juvenile, and shouts of SKULL! could be heard throughout the house.  I got killed once and then lost.  But you know, all's fair with love and, erm, ghosts.  After that Miss H and her little sister made banana bread and chocolate truffles for our delectation (recipes will be posted. Yes, yes, they will):
Truffles, yeah!

Meanwhile back in the other part of the kitchen, I made Tim draw things.  I didn't force him, I made just made some subliminal comments, honest, and he obliged.  Where was I in all this? I....was sitting down with an ice pack. Rock n' roll.

I knew it! I knew Tim couldn't last long without drawing ninjas!

This last one is not to be confused with a normal ocelot.  Normal ocelots are still pretty fantastic, as shown by Immy is Thinking here:

Oh the awesomeness, I just can't cope with it.  I'm going to put my feet up and get an ice pack.