National Food Flags

I saw this on Facebook and had to share. For any foodies, this post is absolutely gorgeous…and mouth watering. Advertising agency WHYBIN/TBWA created flags from 18 different countries formed out of the country’s most recognized foods. The flags were created as a promotion for the Sydney International Food Festival, but I think these prints would hang beautifully in any kitchen.

Italy, with it’s beautiful piles of fresh basil, pasta, and tomatoes, quickly won my heart. I’m also particularly fond of Great Britain’s scones, cream and jam. Not only because I’m an anglophile, but come on: that looks delicious.

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Italy…pasta marinara, anyone?

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Great Britain…of course it’s tea and crumpets. 

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And Brazil! Give me fresh fruit any day.

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16 Books for a Creatively Healthy New Year

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I’m heading back to school this week, after a lovely month of relaxing, hanging out with friends, and enjoying quiet time spent with my family. It’s difficult to believe that in a week I will be back in the swing of a new semester, running from theatre classes to my editor position at the newspaper to rehearsal and back again! I’m looking forward to an extremely challenging semester, creatively; but I also know that I have a tendency to go a little bit crazy when things get overwhelming.

This year, I want to focus on living the creative life I love without all of the stress that tends to come with it. Refinery29, one of my favorite websites, seems to be thinking along my lines: they published an article featuring 16 books that will change your life in a creative way. I’ve added these titles to my (somewhat staggering) reading list, and hope they launch me off into the new year in an artistically positive way!

 

Ode to the Honeycrisp Apple

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I am not sure that I can express my delight upon seeing that honeycrisp apples are now in season. I almost keeled over in Walmart when I saw them nestled, gleaming in their sunset-pink glory, amongst the granny smiths and red delicious.

And then I almost keeled over again when I saw the price tag. At $2.00 a pound, these guys are a little outside of my price range, considering I go through about 9 apples a week. (I feel a bit like an addict: “I can do that, I can make that work! I just won’t buy bread this week; yea, that’s a solid trade off, just give me the apples!!!”)

I forewent them for a few days, rationalizing that it’s early in the season and I can always buy more. But upon visiting our local natural grocery the other day (in search of fresh basil. Which no one has. Sigh.), I saw my favorite natural wonder again, sitting in prominent end cap display. And I caved.

The amount that I savor these guys cannot be compared. It’s almost like dessert: I try and enjoy every single bite, relishing the sweetness and crispness that reminds me, yes, autumn is actually here. And I am in love with it.

Here are a I’m excited to try. The common wisdom is to go with cheaper apples when you’re cooking, but I’m interested in trying some desserts with my favorite variety and seeing if I can taste the difference. Now please excuse me while I go delight in my lunch, in which a Honeycrisp features prominently. Happy fall, everyone!

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Salted Caramel Apple Handpies from Just a Taste

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Crockpot Baked Apples by Skinny Chef

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Upside Down Apple Cinnamon Cake by Behind the Curtain (this looks hard, but is made with Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Life hacks are beautiful.)

Perfect is Boring

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So! When we last talked, I was fast and furiously preparing for sophomore juries, which are sort of the capstone of your first two years in the BFA acting program.  You go in, perform three monologues in four minutes, and leave.  And the next night, you sit in a room with four members of the acting faculty for ten minutes, and they tell you all of the things that you need to work on/are doing well. A little nerve wracking.

Or, if you’re me, a lot nerve wracking.

I am a perfectionist.  I like things that are “in my control” to go perfectly.  Which is odd, because in so many other things in life, I’m a go with the flow, happy-go-lucky kind of person.  This year I’ve developed pretty severe anxiety about things “not going right.” Which is unfortunate, because acting is a live art form.  Meaning that things usually do not go how you expect them to.  I know all this, and it’s finally starting to seep into my brain, and yet anxiety issues are not something you can simply switch on and off.

 

But in the midst of my worrying, I realized something: it’s cliche, but I AM ENOUGH.  So I’m not perfect all the time.  I wouldn’t be in college if I was.  I’m here to learn, not to be the perfect student.  I get so worried about my teachers thinking I’m doing a good job that I sometimes forget how much I love what I do–and really, why act if you don’t love it?  There are so many easier things.  So no matter what they said, I would come out of there and still be Lauren. I’d still have an incredible group of friends and family, the most amazing boyfriend, great writing skills, a solid sense of humour, and a talent with making fatty delicious desserts. 

This might shock you: but my talkback was great.  Mostly positive things were said, all of which made my heart glow.  The biggest critiques were my unwillingness to forgive myself and my fear of losing control and letting it all go–both of which are necessary to good acting.  I cried through the whole thing (poor teachers!), but I felt so much release.  I know the faculty loves me and cares about me as a performer and as a person.  They believe in me and my work, which is an incredible feeling.

So.  Woof.  What a weekend.  My project this summer is going to be work on lessening my anxiety, learning to let go and have fun in the work, and gaining some self-confidence.  All difficult for me, but I am so pumped to take the next step in this amazing journey.

Finals

Finals

Is insane.  Not because I have a lot to do–I had two major projects last week that were the most stressful things of the semester.  So yay I got them out of the way! Positive thoughts.

Finals week at college is crazy because of the vibe around campus.  Everyone is just radiating little subatomic particles of stress and frustration.  Sleep deprivation makes people look and feel crazy, as does the moment that you realize what’s going to be on the final was never covered in class.  Students fall asleep on the floor of the library, in their sociology book, in the middle of eating a sandwich.  It is insanity.

I know it’s easier for me to say, since I’m not cramming for a micro-econ exam or piano theory or whatever…but please take care of yourself during these crazy weeks! I’ve learned the hard way over the years that I do my best when I am happy, relaxed, well fed and well rested.

Here are my hard-won tips for a happy finals week:

1) Get Rest: This is really, really difficult.  The studying, coupled with the exam anxiety, makes it hard for anyone to get rest! But all nighters are really not your best friend. I promise.  Your brain pretty much stops working after you pass your natural bedtime (for me, that’s around 11:30 or midnight).  I’m not saying you shouldn’t get anything done.  I am saying that if you need to start a week earlier so you can go to bed at 1:00 instead of 6:00 am, try to make it happen.

2) Eat Smart: Last night, I caved and ate french fries for a late night study break.  How did I feel? Happy! For about five seconds.  Then I felt groggy, gross, and greasy.  Not really how I want to feel when I’m trying to work at maximum capacity.  Load up on fruit and veggies and complex carbs this week (like popcorn, whole wheat pasta or bread, etc.).  DRINK WATER! This is vital, especially for us performance majors.  Don’t use studying as an excuse to skip meals–your mind will not work at it’s full capacity if you are starving it for nutrients.

3) Do Something You Like: Yesterday, I melted a candle on my awesome candle warmed and took a bubble bath.  Yes, it took away from studying time.  But take thirty minutes you would have spent on Facebook and devote it to something calming and wonderful!  Do yoga, take a little walk, journal, read a book…it will take you out of the stress and get you focused again.

4) Indulge a Little: I’m not going to say that the calories don’t count during finals.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel gross after you over indulge.  But want a cup of hot cocoa?  Need that bar of dark chocolate peppermint bark?  I say go for it.  Sweet treats boost your dopamine and make you happier.  Do not go out and get a greasy fast food meal, though.  Save your indulgences for homemade sweet treats or delicious high-calorie health foods.  Full bag of pretzel chips and hummus, anyone?

5) Get Outside: Excercise helps your brain work faster and more efficiently.  If you can fit it in somewhere, go out and take a walk or a jog.  Even just enjoying the walk to your finals could make a difference in your day.  Take a deep breath of the fresh air and remember that there is a world outside of the classrooms.

6) Remember There Is Life After Finals: even thought they suck.  It is not, I repeat, is not the end of the world.  Take a deep breath.  Breath into focus.  Forget the stress, and just DO IT.  Life goes on.  I am getting through by remembering: I will be home in TWO DAYS. Two. Days.

 

Good luck guys!  And keep on trucking.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.