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I’ve always been a lazy person at the weekend. I usually sleep in until noon, or if I have plans I wake up at the latest possible moment and rush to get there. It usually works well for me, but I can’t deny I sometimes yearn to be a get-up-and-go kind of person.

However, I’ve recently discovered a much more satisfying kind of weekend laziness. It still involves spending a good chunk of the morning in bed so don’t panic!

This morning I woke up at 8:30 am which is very early for me on a weekend. Why? Because I decided to attempt (for the first time) making one of the best breakfasts I have ever had: bircher muesli! This involves soaking oats in apple juice overnight, and then assembling the dish in the morning. So having put the oats and apple juice in the fridge last night, I was extremely excited this morning to make the dish and see if it would be as nice as when I’ve tried it before. That’s probably why I woke up so early – I was basically experiencing the Christmas morning effect but for yuppies who get excited about farmers markets and organic oats (don’t worry, I’m judging myself).

If you’re wondering, the rest of the recipe involves mixing the soaked oats with some grated fresh apple, yoghurt and topping with fruit of your choice (I used blueberries). If you want a slightly more coherent version of the recipe, the one I used is here on the Guardian website. One small variation is that I used freshly squeezed apple juice (thanks to my housemate’s juicer), to avoid any added sugars found in store-bought juice.

It was absolutely delicious! I would happily have this for breakfast every day. Because I’ve never been a big oat eater, I only recently discovered this dish during a weekend brunch session at a local cafe. I fell in love with it which is why I decided to try making it myself. It’s incredibly fresh and light, while at the same time moreish and satisfying. For those who have never tried it, I’m including a picture below in the hope you will be tempted (disclaimer: not a picture of my actual bowl, as I literally ate it too quickly and forgot to take one!)

Bircher muesli

So having had my muesli, I made myself a cup of coffee, and with no other plans for the morning, I returned to bed to continue my lazy Sunday morning. This involved watching an episode of a very old Jamie Oliver show I discovered (I know, food food food!) where he travels to exotic destinations to discover their local cuisine (basically a British version of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations). I watched the first episode where he travels to Morocco. Having never been myself, I was overwhelmed with a desire to pack my bags and go after seeing Jamie walking through the markets filled with mountains of spices, enjoying a home coked tagine in a local’s riad (a traditional Moroccan house with an interior courtyard – an oasis!), and sampling the delicious street food late at night. If you live in the UK and want to watch this, you can find the show on 4OD (just search for “Jamie does…”).

I think the show has also inspired my next cooking challenge! Jamie made a Moroccan “snake cake”, or M’hanncha, which is basically flavoured almond paste wrapped in filo pastry and baked to crispy perfection. I found a recipe for this here, and I will be making it the next chance I get!

To round off my lazy morning, I read a bit while listening to Australian band’s Boy & Bear two albums: Moonfire and Harlequin Dream. I’m seeing them tomorrow evening, so I wanted to get in the mood. On the one hand, they’re the kind of dreamy indie rock that has become omnipresent nowadays (I’m not selling it I know), but at the same time I find them quite different from Mumford and Sons or similar bands. Most of theirs songs are quite dreamy and comforting, while at the same time being upbeat and showing some interesting influences I think. They’re definitely worth a listen especially if you like this genre, but would like to try something slightly different.

Boy & Bear's two albums: Moonfire and Harlequin Dream

Boy & Bear’s two albums: Moonfire and Harlequin Dream

So that was my lazy, but very satisfying morning. Hope yours was equally enjoyable.

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Quote of the day

Exams are now imminent, and as the panic sets in I am trying to keep in mind this quote by Robert Frost:

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For some reason I have always been a panicky person when it comes to exams, don’t ask me why. Overcoming the fear is part of the journey. Every time.

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5 Songs This Week…

Alex Clare – Too Close

This is very popular at the moment and Radio 1 have been playing it over and over…quite commercial but I like it nevertheless. I’m not sure it will age very well however.

Hooverphonic – Vinegar and Salt

I used to listen to Hooverphonic a lot when I was young and every once in a while I rediscover one of their songs. This one is an all time favourite. It’s very emotional and beautiful.

Fun – We Are Young

Again, this one has been all over the radio but I think it’s a very sweet song and it makes me feel happy and nostalgic at the same time. And sometimes you just need to feel that way. PS: If you haven’t seen the video yet you should check it out it’s pretty…interesting…

Ellie Goulding – Jolene (Cover)

Ellie Goulding’s voice is beautiful and this cover is absolutely stunning. Enough said! PS: I usually enjoy the Radio 1 live lounges. Slow acoustic versions of songs just have a way of getting to me.

Niki & The Dove – The Drummer

The weekly dose of electropop! I actually hated this song when I first heard it but I think it’s one of those they call ‘a grower’. I don’t have anything else to say about it…just listen and see if you like.

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It’s that time of the year again! It’s bigger than Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah, Diwali, the 4th of July or even the Queen’s birthday…today is Earth Day! And the reason why it’s bigger is because Earth Day doesn’t limit itself to any one group of people. It’s literally targeted at the whole Earth. The tradition started in 1970 in the United States and it went global in the 1990s, with more than 500 million people in 175 countries observing it today.

This time last year I had only just heard about Earth Day and I wrote a blog post about it exploring a bit of the history and also discussing an article offering some environment related volunteering ideas. I’ll obviously try to do something different this year.

Some people might dismiss things like Earth Day as hippie, naive or foolish. But I think it’s naive and foolish to think that Earth Day isn’t important. Earth Day is not about holding hands and singing folk music together (as lovely as that may be). It’s about stopping and realising that certain habits of our society are self-destructive and unsustainable.

This powerful video from artist Chris Jordan shows us his unique photographic take on what Western culture looks like today and he manages to translate some meaning from shocking statistics. His pictures and words are deeply moving. I won’t say any more but I encourage everyone, believers and non-believers, to watch this video:

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Not quite sure what is going on today but I am easily distracted. This might not help but it’s funky.

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Quote of the day

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At the moment I’m in the middle of writing my dissertation (with a week to go before my first draft is due and a month before the final  deadline), as well as working on two other assignments and preparing for a job interview. Needless to say, I have been stressing out about everything and I even made myself a day to day schedule of the ‘targets’ I need to hit from now until my last deadline. Pretty crazy!

Having manned up and moved on from the “why have you left everything until the last moment” lamentation, I resolutely set out to work all day every day without interruptions and be as productive as possible! Needless to say, it didn’t work. Despite having the whole house to myself, provisions of healthy and unhealthy snacks, and determination on my side, the old enemy, PROCRASTINATION, reared it’s ugly head. If you’re a student yourself, you will be very familiar with the irresistible itch of having to check your email, facebook, or any other number of social networking websites every few minutes. Coupled with my irrational urge to google anything that goes through my mind while I’m trying to do work, clean my room or do any other household chores, by the end of the second day, I had not gotten very far with my schedule and was once again in panic mode.

Luckily, feeling like procrastination was winning over concentration, I accepted an invitation from a friend to go over for some drinks. We spent the evening talking and of course our common enemy, work, worked its way into the conversation. Complaining that I couldn’t seem to concentrate on my work for any significant period of time, my friend proposed to me the most simple, obvious and frankly genius solution: a work method where you concentrate for two hours and then take a one hour break.

Thinking about it, I realised that of course trying to work throughout the whole day without any real breaks didn’t have any chance of success because the human concentration powers are not that great. However, by imposing myself a finite and relatively short two-hour work period, with the promise of a real break at the other end, I was able to truly concentrate and get a lot of work done. Today I managed to do four two hour blocks and then another hour before taking the evening off! That’s nine hours of actual work, something that I think has never happened before in my life. And the best part is that I didn’t feel stressed during the day, because I was taking regular breaks.

Today was the second day of my experiment with the ‘two hours on – one hour off’ work method and so far I’m loving it. I would recommend it to everyone, not just students. The best part is that it’s not some kind of fantastic innovation, just a smarter way to work. I think frankly people have unfair expectations of themselves and their ability to do work. I think it’s ludicrous to expect to be able to work straight from sunrise to sunset, even when you’re feeling the crushing pressure of deadlines. So if you’re in a situation similar to mine, do yourself a favour and try this method for at least one day. You might find that concentration can sometimes conquer procrastination!

I don't usually like these pictures but in this case it illustrates my point very well!

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