An all round update

Ok, so where is everything at the moment?

First off, I’ve decided not to do the food blog idea (for the moment). I mean I’m hardly keeping this one up to date, so if I started another one that’d just be two blogs I’m not doing. But I am still cooking and I am still posting recipes, so it’s not like I’ve moved away from the cooking idea completely. I’m just putting it on hold until I can give it my full attention.

ohmmm...

What I have been doing though, which is a bit unexpected, is meditating every day for over a week now. Ok, so ‘every day’ is a bit of an exaggeration (as is ‘meditating’ probably ;)), but I have managed to sit for eight out of the last nine days, which is still a win as far as I’m concerned. If I can keep this up I’ll be enlightened by the end of the year, lol.

The day I missed was all down to work. I’ve been meditating in the morning you see, after doing my yoga (I am still doing the yoga every day since I started, which is a good few months now!), but that day I had to get up at 5:30 to go to work, so there wasn’t time, and I just plain forgot to do it in the evening when I got home. Of course this only goes to underline the fact that I need a new job. Plus I’ve been reading Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, which quite simply states that if you believe your job is interfering with your spiritual development then you probably need a change in career. So that’s my main priority for the moment, finding something else to do for cash. I know what I’d like to do, which is write, but I’m also looking at other possibilities too.

That being said the writing is going well. I’m on the second round of rewrites on the script I finished before Christmas. Once that’s done I’ll give it to a friend to proof read, then I can go back to the book I started working on recently. I’ve also got a few other script ideas I’m playing with, so hopefully come the summer I’ll be ready to start chasing down agents and production deals. And no holding back this time. I’m not going to get bogged down with the ‘reality’ of what’s possible. I’m aiming for Hollywood, and ain’t nobody gonna stop me!

Bye Bye, Twenty Ten

It’s been a wacky old year, with a lot of the really interesting stuff happening in the past few months. But I don’t want to bang on about all that like it’s the end of something and the beginning of something else.

The whole new year thing is somewhat arbitrary, and generally based on religion. If you want to get technical there’s an argument for the ‘new’ year to start after the winter solstice, once we’ve had our darkest day and the nights start getting shorter again, but that’s not what I want to talk about either.

Let’s talk food, time wasting, and accomplishments.

First up, check out me Christmas dinner!

christmas dinner 2010

Similar to the dinner I made for Thanksgiving, but a damn site cheaper let me tell you; and just as tasty. It’s Redwood Co’s Cheatin’ Meat Free Roast Turkey for me from now on.

Also, food wise, plans are on the drawing board for my food blog idea. Just needs a wee bit of formatting and we should be good to go.

Want to see something fascinating? Follow the link and go check out the level crossing outside Abbey Road Studios. Now no guarantees, as time of day in the UK is a factor, but I could spend hours watching all the tourists annoying the drivers as they try to recreate The Beatles’ famous album cover photo for themselves. NB: For those of you who aren’t British, when someone is waiting to cross at a level crossing and you’re in your car, you have to stop and let them cross. And you can’t go until the crossing is clear, it’s the law! ..hehehe..

And finally a wee celebration. Last night I finished the script I’ve been working on. A solid 92 pages of movie gold! 😉 Of course now the re-writing process begins, but I’m well chuffed to have something to re-write finally. It’s been a long time since I finished anything substantial (if you don’t count Christmas dinner that is, haha). Next year I hope to knock out a couple more in fairly quick succession, now that I’m in the groove, then I can see about finding an agent. Wish me luck.

Ok, have fun in 2011 y’awl. See you after New Years.

Week 41 : Working For A Living Sucks!

Working for a living sucks!

I know this won’t come as much of a revelation to most of you (hello my generally mute and fairly non-existent audience) but after having a week off I can unequivocally say that not having to go to work is markedly better than having to go to work.

I spent the first few days just tidying up. Y’know, washing, dusting, hoovering, all those things you can’t be arsed doing after a day at work (and don’t want to do on your days off). Then I watched some really rubbish movies. Why are films so God damned boring these days? Seriously, it’s really starting to get on my tits now. Dull, badly paced, crap characters, woefully functional dialogue, it’s getting impossible to find something with a bit of interest and originality in it. And I weep for the future. With people like Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight, Inception) and Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) getting all the big franchises to muck about with (Superman, Wolverine) even the films that are meant to be no brainer entertainment are set to go the boring, over-worked, who-gives-a-damn route.

But there is an upside. All this crap I’ve injected into my head has inspired me to get on with writing my own stuff again. I was working on a new book, which I still am, but the freedom of that has released some kind of block in my head. I sat down the other night, started on this script I haven’t done anything on in months, and suddenly it just started pouring out. I couldn’t stop almost. Next thing I know it’s 2 in the morning and I’d knocked out 5 or 6 scenes. Same the next night, not as much but still a good chunk of work. And again the night after. And it’s good stuff too. Plus the most exciting bit is there’s more waiting to get out. I know how the rest of the film is going to go now, I just need to get it down on paper. It’s just a matter of time. Unfortunately I go back to work tomorrow for a couple of night shifts. They always wipe me out, so by Friday who knows if I’ll have the energy to keep writing or if I’ll just sit there watching The Big Bang Theory on DVD. Let’s hope not eh?

I’ve bought my Christmas cards already, can you believe it? I feel a little embarrassed. I was just going to buy one to send to my brother in Australia, but then Waterstones had a 3-for-2 on so it was only £8 for 24 cards, and it was for charity, and, and, and… and it’s not right is it? Shops shouldn’t be allowed to advertise Christmas until after Halloween at the earliest. One pagan holiday at a time fellas. There’s no rush.

I sat down to meditate the other day and sat for 35 minutes, which is the longest I’ve ever done. Not that I intended to that is. I set my alarm for 20 minutes, but I couldn’t do that (or so I thought). I opened my eyes, a little confused, to find that I’d actually set it for 20 hours (damn you digital displays). What a numpty. Still, nice to see I can go for a lot longer than I thought I could. Not that I actually ‘meditated’ for all that time, but at least I tried.

Saw a mouse in the flat last night. Been hearing them for a while now but this was the first time I’ve spotted a dark figure scuttling across the floor. Now I have to buy some utterly ineffective humane traps to get rid of them. Have to say, this is where being a vegan Buddhist sucks. Poison may be nasty stuff, but it gets the job done.

And coz long posts are boring without a pic or two check out my latest bit of baking.

chocolate chocolate chip cookies

They look nasty but they taste pretty good. Lots of winging it and substitutions going on, hence their splatty nature, but they can’t all be winners eh?

Report 9 – Many new things, some failures, and a new haircut (Roast Vegetable and Quinoa Salad & Spicy Tomato Pasta Sauce)

Ok, I’m playing catch-up (again) with this damn blogging stuff, so let’s get to it!

First the recipes:

Roast Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

This came about as a result of my going gluten free (see below for more of that). It’s nice and simple to make, and really tasty too.

100g quinoa

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 courgette, chopped

1 onion, chopped

5 mushrooms, quartered

1 tbsp cashews, chopped

1 tbsp sun-blush tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp sultanas

1 bunch of water cress, roughly chopped

juic of 1 lemon

olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the pepper, courgette, onion and mushrooms in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil (toss if needed to coat the veggies), then put in oven for 25 minutes. 5 minutes from end sprinkle cashews over vegetables and return to oven to brown.

Meanwhile, wash quinoa quickly in cold water, cover with plenty of boiling water, and simmer for 10 minutes until cooked through. Drain excess water. Toss in sultanas, stir in, and put to one side.

Chop watercress and tomatoes whilst vegetables and quinoa cool a little, then in a large bowl combine everything, including lemon juice, and stir thoroughly. Can be served warm, but is also excellent as a cold salad the next day.

I’m considering a way to incorporate some harissa paste somewhere, to give it a little extra zing, but that’s something I’m going to have to work on. Maybe with a little olive oil or in with the lemon juice. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Spicy Tomato Pasta Sauce

This is a reprint of an old recipe of mine, because I didn’t manage to try the stew I’ve invented (that’s for tomorrow instead). It’s actually the first ever recipe I did where I didn’t reference anything; just went in the kitchen and made it up… and it worked. It’s simple, tasty, and quick to make.

Kiki’s Special Simple Tomato Sauce

2 small onions (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (to be crushed)
1/3 of a dried red chilli (chopped finely)
splash of olive oil
4 plum tomatoes (chopped)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1-2 tsp dried ‘italian’ herb mix (*)
salt & pepper (to taste)

a handful of dried pasta

Sauce
Heat some olive oil in a medium sized pan. Add onions, garlic and chilli and fry until onions are soft.
Add chopped plum tomatoes, and tin of tomatoes, season with herbs (1-2 tsp depending on taste) and salt & pepper, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so (ie: until it’s warm through, plus another 5 minutes).

Pasta
Cook as per instructions on pack, but add a splash of olive oil before serving. Tastes great.

(*The Italian Herb Mix contains oregano, basil, bay leaves, sage and thyme. Next time I try it with real herbs :o)

Now the report proper:

New Things Done: A veritable cornucopia of stuff this week. Firstly I went gluten-free for a week, after my friend Sabera gave it a go with some interesting results. And it wasn’t too bad, I have to say. Giving up beer and bread were the big things, but I have to say even that was ok after a while. I learnt to cook other things to take to work (like the quinoa salad above) and I’ve gotten into my wine (I’ll get round to not drinking some other time) all of which means I’ve been less bloated and lethargic this week. Honestly, I was quite surprised at the results. I slipped up a few times, once with some noodles, once with some cous cous, and once with a Nana’s cookie, but apart from that I did the best I could. It was a pain having to go back to reading labels again (they do like to slip wheat into all sorts of stuff y’know) but in the end it was perfectly doable… for a while. I mean, I don’t think I’m going to do it forever – it’s hard enough finding stuff to eat out and about when you’re vegan, never mind adding gluten-free to that list – but I will be staying off the bread and the beer as much as I can (I tried gluten free beer, and though it wasn’t bad, the fact that it smelt a bit of vinegar and had a weird after taste really didn’t sell me on the idea). I just feel lighter and a bit more energised without them, and that’s a good thing in my book.

I also went for a bike ride round Richmond Deer Park which, despite being not that far away at all, I’ve never been to before. It’s a really pleasant ride. Even getting there is nice for me (once I get to Kew) as I can go most the way along the river. And we saw some deer! though we did have to go most the way round the park before we did. All in all a great day out (check out the pics below). I’ll be doing it again come the summer. Most gratifying.

And finally I went to a new barbers and got my hair cut but by this comedy Polish dude with a thick accent, a crazy mohawk mullet, and who spent all the time I was there telling me how this wasn’t cold compared to where he was from (though he did admit he’d gone soft being in the UK for so long). Most amusing haircut I’ve had for a while anyway, so I’ll be going there again.

Recipes Done: Roast Vegetable and Quinoa Salad & Spicy Tomato Pasta Sauce

Writing Done: Not much… technically. I sat down and worked out a proper outline for the script I’m working on. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but a good outline is the bones of a script. Without that you’ve nothing to hang the meat on. And a bad one ends up looking all lumpy and mis-shapen. It really is vital to get it right, and I have this time. Kinks smoothed out, wrinkles ironed, and major flaws removed (hopefully).

I also wrote the opening lines for what could be the first bit of proper writing I’ve done in years. Check it out:

“I was glad when society collapsed. Seriously. I’d spent so long trying to live by it’s rules and failing miserably it was actually a relief to see it all go tits up.”

Trust me, it’s gonna be great! 😉

Report 8

Right, it’s a piss-poor report this week. Check out this list of non-events.

Script pages done: None. I’ll spare you the excuses. I cleared Thursday to do some work but then I got paid and went shopping instead. Didn’t buy much either, just a jacket and a t-shirt. Thoroughly disappointing all round really.

New thing done: Bought me some vegan shoes. Cowboy boots and trainers to be exact. Never bought vegan shoes before, not intentionally anyway, and not online either. The cowboy boot thing is a big departure for me. Got them from alternativestores.com. They have loads of great stuff worth checking out. And, if you enter the code VIVA at the checkout you get a whopping 20% off! I’ll be posting pictures when they arrive, so be sure to check back later in the week.

Recipes done: None… yet! I’m working on a recipe for Jerk Tofu, another staple from my college days, but it didn’t come out too well last night so I’m holding off publishing until I do a decent one. Gonna have another go on Tuesday, so it shouldn’t be too long. And I passed on doing a Carrot and Coriander soup tonight in favour of some dahl and subji, coz it’s been a long weekend at work and I was dead hungry. Hope to do that on Tuesday too.

Actually, there should be loads of new stuff next week. My ‘new thing’ is going to be going gluten free, so I’ll have to do loads of cooking just to get by. Maybe I’ll actually get ahead of myself for once, you never know (though I think we can make an educated guess eh, hahaha).

Report 6

Ok, a quick summation:

New Things Done: Had a go in a floatation tank. Went to see a musical.

Recipes Done: Spaghetti Bolognese and Hash Browns

Script Writing Done: 4 pages.

Yes, that’s right, I did it; I finally wrote some pages!!!!! In fact it’s even more impressive than that. I sketched out a map of the story (if I explained the story this would make sense to you), I re-wrote the first 16 pages, and I wrote a rough outline of the remaining script, all in about 5 hours. Seriously, that was one session, and in fact I’m a little embarrassed that it was so damn easy to do. Honestly, seat of the pants in the seat of the chair is what it’s all about. How much could I have got done in life if I just made myself do it! Well I’ve learnt my lesson. I’m going to do something every week now, even if it’s only a few pages or some re-writes. I’ve no reason not to.

Report B

This has not been my most impressive week.

I can’t honestly say I’ve achieved very much. Mostly I’ve just been getting up at 5am, going to work in the freezing cold, then getting back and plonking myself down in front of my computer with some beer and a DVD. I was going to figure out how to make vegan naan bread – did the research, bought the ingredients, got everything ready to go – then just didn’t. Opted for roast veg and a store bought nut cutlet instead. How poor is that. Seriously, it’s been so damn cold out there all I’ve wanted to do is stay home and hibernate all week.

But that’s just an excuse. I told you, I’m trying to break a long standing cycle of lethargy, so it’s going to take a while. I have been doing new things, talking to strangers (an unexpected side effect of starting this blog) and accepting new opportunities when they come along (like getting my posture checked for one thing. Result, a little twisty, and nothing some expensive chiropractic sessions couldn’t fix – surprise surprise – but ultimately not bad). My plan to read the first book someone recommended to me hasn’t worked, as no one has recommended anything to me all week, so I’ve opted instead to read the book mentioned on a poster in a local coffee shop that catches my eye every time I’m in there; Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy. I’m still going to read the next book someone recommends, whenever that is, but at least I’ve got something to read now (so that’s this week covered) And for next week I’ve got an excellent new thing to do. I’m going to have a go in a floatation tank! No idea what it’ll be like but I’m looking forward to it. I’m hoping for a mystical experience, though I do wonder how mystical half an hour in salty water listening to whale song can be. I guess I’ll know by next Sunday eh.

I also have other plans for next week. I’m going to meditate every day, I’m going to take black and white photographs every day, and I’m not going to drink any beer (as I’m starting to get a bit of a belly of me after a rather indulgent week): Wine maybe, but no beer. I’m also going to get a start on the script writing.

I’ve figured out if I write a minimum of just 5 pages on each day I’m not working I can do 6 scripts by the end of next year easily (5 pages x 15 days a month x 12 = 6 x 120 page scripts, at least). That’s just a guideline of course, if I’m on a roll I’ll do more, but I need at least that many to complete my quota. This is seat-of-the-pants writing; seat of the pants on the seat of the chair!

So in summation:

Exercise : Bugger all.

New Thing : Book to read.

Cooking : Nowt (though I’m going to catch up this week for sure!)

Script Writing : None.

Like I said, not a very impressive week, but there’s no point sulking about it. What’s done is done, and so this is my new starting point. How could it be anything else? 🙂