Summertime Reveries

I cannot believe it is autumn already especially cause it felt like we only had a wisp of a summer this year around in Britain. None the less, I made the most of it by springing to the park with my toddler and picnic mat, every time Mr Sun out for a few hours, to do a spot of  quick sunbathing before the ominous clouds loomed back in. Fast forward to Mid October, and even with the crisp cold autumn air and the crunchy yellow-brown leaves lying everywhere, I find that my mind is still stuck in summer-mode wanting to spend a few more weeks doing summertime things! However I just managed to push myself into wrapping up a few projects that I started 4 months ago! I’ve still got a few more to go before I can finish it all and post about it on the blog. So bear with me while my mind and soul catchup with the season and read on to know aaalll the things I dabbled in this past summer!

Hurray for language learning
As I mentioned already, I had a really good and productive few summer months this year immersing myself in all the things I love and it did wonders to my mind and body, while reviving all the sparks of creativity lying dormant in me. Something I particularly enjoyed doing this year was learning new languages. I wrote in my earlier post Dispelling Myths Around Home Education about Timothy Doner, a popular teen polyglot (A fancy term for a person who is proficient in multiple languages) who shot to fame a few years ago on YouTube. Well after getting inspired by him, I decided to brush up on my own language skills and took up not one, not two, but three languages to study just for the fun of it; and although you wouldn’t believe it, I quite enjoyed learning three languages simultaneously! I initially started with Advanced French as I studied it back at University; and then got really pumped by how fast I was learning it and decided to learn foundational German and Spanish as well. Contrary to what I thought, I didn’t get it all mixed up in my brain; in fact I could actually get a clearer picture of the etymology of it all and how they all have Greek, Latin and Anglo-Saxon influences.
Since starting this adventure
  • I’ve learnt to speak all three languages with better accents, especially French;
  • have nearly nailed the ‘guttural R’ sound in French; and the ‘trilled R’ in Spanish!
  • have realised how easy German is. Not to mention how similar to English (Anglo-Saxon is the earliest form of English that existed)
  • have realised that I have an amazing memory for vocabulary;
  • have learnt quite a lot about the 3 unique cultures, the good and quirky stuff and more importantly for me, about their different regional cusines!

I employed a number of methods in helping me achieve results, and even took a leaf out of Tim Doner’s own experience by using popular French/Spanish/German TV programmes and music to help me get a better understanding of the languages.

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Here’s all the stuff I used
  • Michel Thomas CDs – Borrowed from my local library and then downloaded on to my ipod for easy listening. I really liked Michel’s clear and clever style of teaching and am hoping to learn Arabic and Chinese someday through his branded CDs.
  • Books – Mostly bought after rummaging through charity shops. Stuff like dictionaries, phrase books etc
  • Youtube/TV – Watching cartoons such as Cailou in Spanish, Petit ours Brun in French, Heidi in German and listening to a tonne of french rap and pop music. My current favourites being ‘Elle me dit’ by Mika and Danse by Indila)
  • Duolingo – A free app that helps with building vocab, grammer and sentence formation in manageable chunks. (I’d highly recommend this app if you have any interest in languages)
For a time, I couldn’t get enough of studying new languages cause it felt like a heady drug every time I got something right or understood a foreign word I had come across somewhere before. I also got to practice some Spanish with my good Argentinian friend and even brushed up on my Hindi with my new Indian neighbour who moved in recently. I was on a roll! I can’t explain how alive I feel when I am learning and enjoying something at the same time; this is unlike any school lessons or tuition I have ever received. When my own enthusiasm and curiosity gets the better of me, learning seems to happen quite naturally and easily. This is what I want for my son and I hope I can spark that in him when he is ready. I also hope that this fire for learning I have in my heart will stand in good stead for the rest of my life; cause I just can’t imagine spending my life without learning newer things.
I’m learning to draw!
image1Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now is draw pictures of my toddler’s favourite animals and things just so he can look and play with it; so I decided give that a try this as well. And guess what, I hit the jackpot and found a brand new and complete set of Lee J Ames‘ ‘learn to draw’ books on Gumtree for just a fiver! How lucky am I! I’m currently drawing flowers and cats and as you can tell from the photograph above, there is a lot of room for improvement, but my son seems to like it none the less!
In other news I’ve lived under a rock all my life! I’ve only just discovered Mika’s music and have played it on repeat for hours on end to make up for lost time! For a period of 4 – 5 years I went through a phase of shutting out music and TV from my life while focusing on work and other things. Its only now I’m catching up with all the good stuff I’ve missed so far; but hey, better late than never, right! Also I found that I really like movies starring Matt Damon in it. I watched a few Bourne movies and Goodwill Hunting and loved them both.
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I’m learning to sew!

I bought an old clunker of a sewing machine off Gumtree for £20 and have been putting it to good use ever since. I recently finished work on a pair of bags for my son and I and posted about it on the blog a few weeks ago. Click here to see how I made a pair of cute bags from an old pair of jeans!

 My Go to Chicken Marinade
All through this past summer I made and used this marinade on numerous occasions because it is totally lip smacking! If like me, you ever get hit with a hankering for a Nandos Style Peri Peri chicken, then this is a recipe you need to try out for yourself. It tastes amazingly like the restaurant version only with sharper flavours hitting yours taste buds like bam bam BAM!!! I have used this while stir frying, grilling and baking chicken and it tastes equally good in all methods. Here’s the recipe for it. I took inspiration from here and made a few changes to it.
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Peri Peri Marinade
For about a Kilo of chicken (on the bone or without)

  • Three tablespoons of oregano
  • Paprika or red chilli to taste (I’d add about a teaspoon)
  • 1 whole red pepper (You could use shop bought roasted red pepper as well)
  • Lemon juice, 2 tablespoon
  • Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon
  • Brown sugar or Honey, 1 Tablespoon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste (I’d add about a teaspoon)
  • Oil, half a cup
  • Garlic cloves, 6 to 8
  • green or red chillies, a few (Optional)
  • A splash of vinegar

Just blitz it all in the mixer and marinate the chicken in it for a few hours or overnight before baking, grilling or stir frying. Easy, inexpensive, restaurant-style Peri Peri chicken made right at home! Now how about that?

Microwave Idli cooker

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I get a tonne of searches redirected from Google for this – MIcrowave Idli Cooker! About a few years ago I received a Tupperware Idli Cooker as a present and duly posted on the blog about my first experience of using it. You can read the older post here. Sadly that was also the last time I used it ’cause I like my idlis steamed rather than microwaved. Idli, for those who are not Indian, is a famous South Indian breakfast food that is made of a ground rice and lentil batter and then steamed in special moulds to get a soft, springy type dumpling. I have since bought myself a good old-fashioned steel idli stand from India have been using it to this day. However I still receive a number of emails and queries about microwaving idlis and so I decided to post again properly on the topic.

First things first, you must understand that microwaving does not produce the same result as steaming. But if it’s the only option you have (ie you’re a student in a dorm or a lodger with little kitchen space etc) it produces results that are almost the same as steamed idlis. However it takes a bit of time to experiment and find the best batter consistency and microwave timing to yield the soft spongy texture. Here are few things that I have personally observed.

  • The batter has to be relatively thick or it will start dripping through the holes in the idli plate.
  • Depending on your microwave, cooking times will vary. However food cooked in a microwave needs to be left alone for a few minutes before you open the lid as it will still be cooking in the residual heat. So factor ‘standing time’ into your cooking time. Roughly it should take about 4 to 5 minutes depending on the voltage.
  • The topside of the idli will be flat; there’s nothing you can do about it sadly! Just turn it over for a neater presentation. You can see in the photographs how different a steamed idli looks from a microwaved one. As time goes by the microwaved idli will harden and you’ll have to reheat it get it soft. So try to make it as and when you are about to eat.

That is it for now I guess. I’ll save the rest for another post. I hope your summer was just as lovely and pleasant as mine. If you have a minute, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you did through the summer and it will make me keep at this whole blogging thing for as long as I can! xx

 

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