Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

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Cooking in 2012 – July: Brazilian pork and rice.

July 28, 2012

I must confess that I nearly gave up on my cooking project this month. As July ticked by, I thought “oh, I really can’t be bothered to do this cooking thing anymore. I genuinely hate it, I can’t think of what to cook, so why put myself through it for another 6 months?” Even typing that sentence, the words resonate with me to the extent that I will probably have the same inner monologue for the remaining 5 months.  Luckily, I am fairly stubborn so I’ll probably make it through the rest of the year just to avoid the guilt of not fulfilling a goal I set for myself. Plus it does make me feel more self-sufficient and provider-y. Nevertheless… roll on 2013!

Anyway, the conundrum of what to make this month was finally solved last week when I was in Peterborough with Toby’s parents, who had the Times weekend edition. One of the supplements had a couple of interesting articles – one was about a diet (I don’t believe in diets unless they are sensible enough that they could become a lasting fixture of everyday life – in which case, they probably don’t count as a “diet”. But I digress.) that claimed to boost one’s energy at the same time as helping to shed the pounds. The other was about Brazilian food being “the food of the summer”. There were 6 recipes (plus a couple of cocktails) that all seemed to be pretty appetising – I ended up taking the whole supplement back to London with me, and this weekend I finally decided to bite the bullet for July’s meal and make some marinaded BBQ pork and rice.  Or, as the Times called them, “Brazilian fried biro biro rice” and “Pork tenderloin on a churrasco”. I presume that a “churrasco” is a barbecue; I’ve not the foggiest what “biro biro” refers to (perhaps the crispy shallots?). But anyways, here are the recipes:

I did a few things differently – we altered the measurements, nearly halving everything because I was only cooking for Toby and myself. I didn’t use parsley because I’m not a big fan; I didn’t make the crispy shallots because it sounded like too much effort and I was using the rice as a side rather than a main in its own right; instead of pork tenderloin, I used pork medallions, which meant that I didn’t have to butterfly them (conveniently enough, as I don’t know what that involves). I used white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, and paprika instead of dried red pepper flakes. We didn’t have a barbecue available, so we fried the pork medallions on a gas hob instead.

I suppose it is proof of my slow but acknowledgeable growth in cooking that I was able to take a fair amount of both recipes in my stride. Things that I didn’t know and have now learned include:

  • Pork is cooked when the meat is the same colour all the way through. You don’t want any pink in the meat; unlike a steak, ‘rare pork’ isn’t a thing.
  • The reason why one is supposed to wash rice before cooking it is apparently it makes it less starchy, and thus clings together in the pan a bit less.
  • Washing spring onions is quite an involved job, because mud and earth can hide quite deep down in the stalks.  If, like me, you are impatient, wash the onions quite roughly and thoroughly, and then if there is still residual mud, just cut the damn stalks off too. You’re still left with plenty of decent onion.
  • When frying, the definition of “enough oil” is so that the bottom of the pan is coated in oil.

In the picture above, the last tiny bit of the recipe has been missed off by my camera, so it basically says: melt some parmesan on top of the marinaded pork just as it’s finishing cooking. Then, when you serve it, spritz some lime on it – the lime actually adds a really summery feel to the whole dish. Here is the rice and pork as it was cooking, followed by the finished product:

I was quite pleased with the exotic, yet rough-and-ready aspect of the dish. I also liked that the burnished taste of the marinaded pork added something to the rice as we ate. It was pretty yummy!  I guess that I admit that I am getting better at cooking, and in that sense I am fulfilling the goal of this whole project. My confidence is growing in the kitchen – although Toby still offers me help, support and a sense of urgency as and when required! Next month is Jack and Katie’s engagement party, and we are expected to “bring a plate” (sadly, this means bringing a plate which has food on it for guests to share – I found it odd that one might randomly bring a plate to a party, until Toby explained the concept to me.  I have only hitherto been familiar with bringing a bottle. Perhaps this says more about the kinds of parties I have previously frequented!) – so if I’m smart, I will help out during the preparation of this dish and that will be August done. Let’s see what happens!

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dreams / something for the weekend.

January 3, 2010

Alright, so every night more or less when I go to sleep, I have one of my epic, insane dreams.  It’s almost fun going to bed and wondering what I’m going to dream about; it’s unpredictable, except for the fact that usually Mike will figure in there somewhere (and my parents often play the antagonists).  My dreams are lively and exciting, and I almost feel sorry for people who always say “I dreamed I was flying / falling / being chased…” – my inner response is “Yeah, and so did everyone else. Did you go to Brazil with your supermodel boyfriend? Did you elope with a guy from HMV during your friend’s wedding? Did you eat pastries with Charlotte from SaTC before rafting along a bayou towards Oxford and the end of the world?  No you didn’t, did you.”  But sometimes, my dreams are quite disturbing, so I guess it’s all a fair trade… still, I get some good stories!  So I’m going to blog my dreams from the last two nights now (in theory this should cut down the amount that I write so the entry is not epically long!), and then I’m gonna attempt briefly to psychoanalyse what I think some of the salient points are… feel free to throw in your two pence!

Friday night

I don’t remember how it all started, but I was somehow dating this teenager (I am not sure if I was the same age I am now, but I know that I was older and that he was a bit young…) and we ended up going to his house and hanging out before meeting his family (parents, brother, dog).  Everything was cool, and there was some sort of swimming pool / water soaker element to the visit, but nothing sexual happened.  Then I was suddenly going to college (not with my new boyfriend) and lots of people from my old school were there too.  I was attending class when all of a sudden, my old boss from when I worked at the school bookstore asked me if I could carry this heavy box of books to Oxfam on Colston Avenue (for the record, in real life there is no Oxfam on Colston Avenue, and Colston Avenue was nowhere near wherever this college was meant to be).  So I recruited this fat ginger girl called Siobhan to help me carry the box.

We were about to leave college when a teacher accosted us and demanded that we attend his lesson.  Siobhan and I tried to explain that we had to carry this box to Oxfam but he wasn’t having any of it and marched us to his lesson, which appeared to take place in the college cafe / dining hall, and consisted of us watching a video on a projector screen set up in the middle.  For the life of me I can’t remember what the video was about, but ultimately I forgot about Siobhan and the box, and I ended up chatting to a couple of girls with whom I was sat watching the video.  Once the video finished, everyone was chatting and joking and being generally sixth-form-esque.  One of my massive crushes from school, Richard Hooper (who, according to Facebook, is still a hottie but needs to do some urgent manscaping), was there and looked ridiculously hot in a vest / shirtless, but much more muscled and tattooed than in real life.  I was gazing at him, when another guy from our year (on whom I didn’t have a crush, although there was a nasty rumour at one point) wandered by to talk to Rich, and he was buff but kinda fat (this is going to sound really horrid but according to Facebook, that is how he now looks in real life!).  Odder than that however was the fact that he had actual bird wings sprouting from his shoulders (and not impressive sweeping wings, but wings like that of an owl or falcon) which looked a bit weedy and a bit weird.  That’s all that I remember, I don’t remember what happened to the box, my teenage boyfriend or if I ever got close to Rich, but it was interesting if bizarrely anti-climactic!

Saturday night

Ok, so I think that I am coming in midway through the dream here, but somehow I ended up (along with various friends from university on my course, and Rihanna!) at Mike’s house.  Except it wasn’t Mike’s actual house, but some house that resembled my nan’s house slightly, except it was halfway through being built.  A couple of the upstairs rooms had massive gaps in the ceiling, and there was a staircase that ended halfway before hitting the floor.  So we were all at Mike’s house, except Mike and V had gone off somewhere because Mike had to drive her somewhere.  I remember getting really antsy and moody, and despite my friends and Rihanna’s efforts to calm me down and make me enjoy their fun, I was storming off around Mike’s house, which at times involved me jumping down off the end of the unfinished staircase, and watching some of the builders (of which there were oddly few) working on the upstairs attic.

At one point, I found a ticket to see a random music act (whom I don’t think exists in real life) and they were playing in Mike’s attic.  I watched them, but nobody came to join me or even seemed to register that there was music going on.  Eventually, the group (indie/pop girl group playing guitars) finished their set and I wandered off, dismayed that Mike and V had not yet returned, and I couldn’t stop my mind from spazzing out.  I rejoined my friends downstairs, except suddenly I realised that we were all going to exchange presents, and more people were coming and I hadn’t brought their Christmas presents with me.  My parents and grandmother were flying back from Australia and were due to have just landed, so I called them to ask if they could swing by our house and bring the other extra Christmas presents, but I got no answer on the phone so my mood didn’t lift.  Night fell, and I remember playing some kind of graphically-improved Mortal Kombat (the original game) to distract myself and funnel my annoyance into a harmless violent pursuit, but even that didn’t help.

Suddenly my friends started to bustle and move towards the door.  I remember I had been hiding upstairs in this alcove, laying on the floor staring at the ceiling when suddenly this girl (one of the builders, although she now was dressed in normal clothes) walked past and I startled her.  She told me to cheer up and go downstairs, as everyone was back.  Mike and V were downstairs but I walked past them, now more concerned with whether my parents had brought my presents.  They were outside with my nan, waiting for me, and their hands were empty.  I remember being upset, explaining I had tried to call them, explaining how embarrassed I was (and fearing that now I had no chance of competing with V for Mike’s affections, despite the fact I already felt that I had lost the battle) and how they had failed me.  In short, I was acting like a spoiled brat and alienating everyone, but I couldn’t stop myself – my mother yawned (obviously flying back from Australia had been somewhat tiring) and I remember saying that “Well now I’m going to stay here ALL NIGHT and you’re going to have to WAIT FOR ME, see how you like THAT.”  My nan and dad just stood there semi-shocked, semi-appalled, and my mother held out a drink to me – she was apparently drunk.  I took the glass and tossed the cloudy white-yellow liquid (limoncello? although normally it’s not that creamy) into the plants in my tantrum.  My friends had turned to see Mike and chat and drink, ignoring / oblivious to my mood, my anger at my family and my failure to bring all the gifts, and I tried to join in the crowd and put on a happy / brave face, but I felt like I had disappointed everyone, I realised that I had acted like a fool, and I felt that Mike had no reason ever to pay me any attention again.  Mike and V smiled at me, but I couldn’t return their smile as I felt inferior, unwanted by them, and I think then I must have woken up.

Analysis

I seem to be looking to latch onto anyone to date / distract me from my infatuation with Mike, but it never seems to do any good.  The relationships disappear, or the real hot guys are never interested in (or even notice) me.  When I get around Mike, he always seems to drop me for someone else and I always feel guilty or take the blame.  I can’t control my moods and I end up alienating everyone – even though Mike and I are supposed to be the couple, I’m never quite good enough to hold onto him and he always goes away or finds someone else.

I often dream about people from school, or being back in a school environment – I guess that’s because it’s such a formative experience, but going back there would scare me and also return me to my feelings of inferiority and confusion that I experienced during my adolescence.  My moodiness and loneliness in my dreams I guess reflects on my fear of losing my maturity, or my insecurities being exposed and everyone turning against me.

Context-wise, my nan is currently in Australia (although my parents are not) and I’ve been missing her terribly, feeling that I have nowhere to turn when living with my parents gets too much.  On NYE, I was flirting with someone younger than me, although he wasn’t a teenager it reminded me of last year when I did date a teenager and it didn’t really work – somehow, NYE felt similarly inappropriate and that I was lowering myself. The fact that “Rich” was super buff and tattooed also relates to NYE, as there were some hotties at the club who looked exactly that way (they were in fact a bit overdone, but still not bad).  I also found out that Mike and V went to the cinema last night (with their spouses) which probably explains their presence in the dream – although me and Mike already met up once this holiday and I’m staying at his on Monday night (and seeing him a lot next week for uni), I can’t shake off my feelings of inferiority.  Which I really, really need to get over!  But in dreams, I guess that we see ourselves without being able to control how we act.  Throw in your two pence!

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so sexy.

September 3, 2009

Tonight I have had sort of 10 cocktails & far too much food, so I’m not feeling at my intellectual peak.  However, I’m going to blog anyway!  As much as I’m feeling buzzed off the alcohol and also off having had a lovely evening with my friends, I do have something to say.  We were at Giraffe in Cabot Circus from 4:30 until 6:15ish drinking drinking drinking, and Karina has a friend who works there.  I will save his embarrassment because I don’t actually know how to spell his name, but he was foreign and incredibly cute (and talkative too!).  And perhaps it is part of the whole façade mentality that I have, where you have to project the best possible image and attitude of yourself at all times, but I found myself trying my hardest to be cool and aloof and funny all at once.  He probably didn’t even notice, but it seems to be a “flirt autopilot” with me.

And then, at Frankie & Benny’s (where we consumed all of the aforementioned food), a group of guys came in while we were eating dessert (cinnamon waffle crunch mmm-mmm), and my head nearly span off its axis.  Again, I blame the drink, but I can’t help but notice when someone is attractive to me.  Normally, I try to act as nonchalant as possible, because I don’t expect any comeback off it, and it’s just the same as when you know somebody is checking you out, you act as if they don’t exist because you don’t want to call attention to them nor give them the slightest impression that they have a chance or that you think they could possibly be on your level.  I don’t know if it’s a strategy of playing hard to get, or just being as ice-king as possible (I prefer to believe it is the latter), but I would never expect someone to return my stares, and I would never acknowledge anyone’s interest or flirtations with me.  Perhaps it’s just another one of my counterproductive “I want a boyfriend but I refuse to settle for just anyone, but why am I single?” stratagems.

Which gets me to thinking, I have many, many celebrity crushes.  Singers, actors, models, Brazilians, footballers… I have been addicted to them all for many years now.  And perhaps that is why my standards (and the standards of those people who are like me) are so high, perhaps too high… We expect visual perfection.  We expect floss and ice.  We expect the finest things. We expect a heart of gold within a body of sin.  And when we go on dates and take people out, that is what we try and provide to the best of our ability.  But all too often, somewhere along the line our expectations are just too high, and people fall short.  I think it takes two, and perhaps I should be more realistic as much as my date should step up to the plate and put in a bit more effort… but then in real life, after a phase of disappointment, I start to relax my standards and appreciate the “everyman”. Be they scruffy, unshaven, slightly damaged… we become more accepting of flaws before we really stop and think what we are letting ourselves in for.  All too many times while I was working at the Perfume Shop, dates of mine would stop by to meet me after work / during lunch / to say hi, and my friend Henna would always tell me after they left “What are you doing? Did you see how he looked? You could do so much better.”  And ultimately, between immature boyfriends and disinterested players, she’s been proved right every time.  Despite my attraction to guys whom I might more feasibly find in Bristol, and feeling that this attraction is a bit more realistic and accepting of real people’s flaws and quirks… I’m disappointed every time, so I go back to the high celebrity standards and looking out for those model-ready rich boys.  And the cycle begins again.

I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say in this post, beyond a dual acknowledgement of the hotness of so many guys in the Bristol area (the genuinely hot and the somewhat hot), and the fact that so few are truly eligible for me, be it because of the flirting games and unspoken protocols that exist or because I put up with too much shit before realising it can’t go on.  If Karina’s friend wants to call me, he definitely can 😉  But you know, I’m sure that it wouldn’t work.  And that’s more than just the alcohol talking.

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i, love

August 25, 2009

I love… Trey Songz’ new album.  You already know that I am feeling LeToya’s Lady Love (read the review here), and you can add Trey Songz’ Ready to that list.  A step up from his previous Trey Day (which in turn was a step up from his debut), there are plenty of standout tracks such as the single “I Need A Girl”, the urgent “Black Roses”, the epic closer “Yo Side Of The Bed” (which really reminds me of Prince’s “Purple Rain” at the beginning and in certain places where the guitar kicks in) and the ridiculously silly and yet chirpily addictive “LOL 🙂 “.  I guess I am a slave to Soulja Boy – it is my ringtone already.  Listen to it and enchant yourself… (maybe that is the wrong word but you’ll see what I mean!)  But it’s a really impressive, solid album, with great vocals from Trey, nice production throughout.  Dude is the new R. Kelly, for sure.

I don’t love… being fooled.  By now I should know better, I really really should.  Basically, I was on the dating site and I noticed that R was online.  So I clicked on him out of curiosity, and his profile basically said “In Birmingham on the 25th, at such and such hotel, looking for a horny 18-25 yo guy for fun times.”  I was like “OKAAAAY… so do you have a boyfriend or not?  And if so, where the fuck is he?” (Certainly not in Birmingham.)  Either R is a liar or he is a cheat, and yet for a week I was spinning out thinking how wonderful he was.  Maybe I’m more naïve than I thought.  Maybe his profile got hacked… but that’s really unlikely, and I’m not that naïve.  So I was inspired to write a song called “Delete U”, which I finished the rough edit of today.  Needs a little polishing, but I took that feeling of disappointment and was spurred into creativity, so it can’t be all bad.  And I certainly don’t pine for him anymore, though in honesty I haven’t pined for him for a couple of weeks now.  It’s just surprising when you think you connect with somebody and then you find out that they are a whole other person.  Not good for my judgment of character. :S

I love… the new Prada L’eau Ambrée.  I came across it in Debenhams today (during a reasonably successful shopping trip, which involved worshipping at the altars of Britney Spears and Zara), smelled it and felt love.  Love for the utterly sophisticated black and gold bottle.  Love for the sexy blonde model in the ad copy.  And most of all, love for the soft amber-floral-cream fragrance.  I am going to return to Debenhams tomorrow for another smell.  All the while repeating to myself “I must not buy it, I must not buy it, I must not buy it…”

I don’t love… wishing I were constantly somewhere else.  I said in my previous post that I had travelled to various exotic locations in my dreams, but I really wish that I could just run away to Milan, to Marbella, to Brazil, to Hawaii, to New York… and start a new life.  I have goals that I want to achieve while I’m here in Bristol, such as: getting my Careers Guidance qualification, getting my driving licence, moving out, getting a sixpack, getting a hot boyfriend, dressing head-to-toe in Gucci.  But some of these are more likely than others, and I hope that by the age of 30 I will be set up in one of these countries.  I don’t know why, but I have never felt at home in England.  I don’t feel the slightest twinge of patriotism (though I do love my city, Bristol), and my brain tells me that land is land, and a home is what you make it, so I should be able to live anywhere because it’s all the same.  But my emotions and heart cry out for the various places I have listed (most of which I haven’t even visited!) because I can imagine being happy there, or finding certain elements which would fit me a lot more than the awkwardness that Bristol sometimes forces upon me.  Here, I have lots of friends and I know where and how to enjoy myself, but I don’t really fit into or click into a niche, and I would like to find a place where I can do that.  Just maybe.

I love… feeling loved.  My grandmother is off to Italy on Thursday, and even though she really upset me last week with some insensitive comments, this week it’s water under the bridge.  I’m really going to miss her for the 3 weeks that she is away!  My mother and I have been getting on really well lately, and I don’t feel closer to anyone than her, even though there are a lot of things that I don’t wish to tell her at times.  My closest friends are either living in other cities, travelling about the country / continent, or preparing for new faraway opportunities, but yet I am glad for each of them and hold them dear to me.  And even if it’s just in my dreams, the sweet kisses and loving embraces of Thore Schölermann / Rafael Verga / random indie DVD cashiers keep me warm and make me feel like maybe that could one day happen in reality, just like a fairytale. A really, really sexy fairytale. Who knows… we live in reality, but it doesn’t mean that dreams don’t come true.  If it’s rare, it means that it happens, and hopefully it’ll happen to me.  As always, when it does, you’re gonna be some of the first to know!  Thankyou for reading once again, take it easy 🙂

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dream (f/ Thore Schölermann & Brazil)

August 25, 2009

This is sort of becoming a dream blog!  This last week I have had so many vivid dreams, I feel almost privileged.  I have been all around Europe (France, Russia, Spain, Italy) and now I have visited a country I was praising only last week – Brazil!  These dream holidays are a lot cheaper than the real thing too 😉 It’s been a while since anyone plotted to kidnap or kill me (a usual fixture of my dreams), and in this one I have another hot boyfriend.

I was in a tropical forest atmosphere.  Me and my parents were on holiday in Brazil (I presume it was Brazil) and I was walking through the forest by myself.  There was beautiful scenery and a warm breeze was caressing my skin.  I found my boyfriend Thore Schölermann (HOT German soap actor from Verbotene Liebe, he plays Christian *sigh*… if I ever had a bf as hot in real life as I do in my dreams, I will be very lucky!) and we walked through the forest talking and being intimate occasionally kissing etc.  We sat on a grassy slope and ended up talking and lying together for ‘hours’.

Here are some pictures of what he looks like:

Then I went back to this hut which was a restaurant, and my parents were sat there with some random teenagers, and we were all preparing to have dinner.  I remember there being a little bit of an atmosphere between me and my parents, and I sat at the table and there was this small black bowl with a spoon.  Inside the bowl, there were slices of miniature kiwi with this white scoop of ice cream, but I don’t think it was ice cream.  I began to eat it, when my mother told me that I was eating it wrong – instead of eating with the bowl on the table, you had to put your knees up on the sofa and scrunch up, rest the bowl on your knees (apparently the bowl was “specially designed” for this) and eat it there.  I don’t know why, but this was the last straw for me and I slammed the bowl down on the table and stalked off.  I went back into the forest to try and find Thore, but I don’t think I did (it’s all a bit hazy now), and I realised I had left my phone on the dining table so I went back to the hut and walked around the outside watching my parents interacting with the teenagers.  My mum was complaining about how dramatic and sulky I was, and the teenagers were laughing.  I was upset at what my parents thought of me, but I knew I had to get my phone back, so I sucked it up, walked in the other end of the restaurant, circled the table and plucked the phone out from between the empty bowls.  My mother and the teenagers ignored me as if I weren’t there.

The next thing I remember was that we were at home, and me and my father were having another argument – I don’t even remember about what.  We ended up not speaking to one another and then I logged onto my laptop, and started reading his work emails.  We ended up communicating to each other via email, and we sorted it out.   I realised via his work emails that him and his colleagues would discuss their families, and although again I was described as “temperamental and moody”, I was also “the clever one”, so it wasn’t all bad.  I also found out that the reason why my dad sometimes got stressed was because he had to work until gone 8pm every night, except for on a Friday when he could finish at 6:45.  He had no chance of becoming a manager, whilst his colleagues didn’t have to work so many hours and a couple of them were being promoted.  I remember feeling bad for him as he must have been frustrated, so I resolved to try and be a little more patient before having arguments.  There was other stuff, but I don’t remember it (and I don’t think there was any more Thore 😦 ).


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eu te amo Brasil!

August 20, 2009

I’m feeling lazy tonight, and going through my old Skunk Anansie records is like rediscovering a world I knew, then buried and forgot about.  So I thought I would do a bit of a picture blog and rhapsodise about a country I am dying to visit: Brazil.  I am an avid follower of Made In Brazil which gives me all the fashion, music, modelling and current affairs news related to the country that I might ever need.  Why do I have such affection for Brazil?  Well, I am sure part of it is the animated go-go party scene, the sensuality of the beaches (the fact the weather there appears to be so perfect and tropical highlights all the more the relative misery of the UK skies), the exciting baile funk scene which sounds like nothing else.  Its religious, musical and sporting heritage are something I am dying to sample. But let’s be real.  Brazil hosts a lot of fashion shows, by all the top designers: you name them, they’ve got a catwalk set up there.  And therefore, they’ve got a lot of models.  Hot, male models. Supermodels. Hot.  Really, I can’t stress this enough – just hot. I wanted to express my admiration for these guys, their physiques are amazing (bodies I dream of having, as my own and also beside me) and their beauty is pretty much unparalleled.  Be prepared to drool. 😉

Renato Ferreira

Renato Ferreira & Bernardo Velasco

Jesus Luz

Bernardo Velasco

Evandro Soldati

Edilson Nascimento

and last but not least… my future husband:

Rafael Verga

rafael collage sig

… *wipes self down* I will have to try to be lazy more often.  I love you Brazil!!!

and you’re welcome. 😉

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temptation.

August 9, 2009

I am watching Desperate Housewives on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and the current episode is rooted around the topic of “temptation”.  According to Mary-Alice’s narration, “the best way to get over one addiction is to replace it with another”.  I have always had an obsessive personality (I used to collect everything concerned with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then dinosaurs, then Power Rangers, then the Spice Girls…) but I seem to have it under control as I’ve grown older and learned to balance my pleasures with other commitments with responsibilities.  However, sometimes my temptations or vices play on my mind more than they perhaps should.  Being responsible all the time is impossible, and on this lazy Sunday afternoon, I have been internet window-shopping looking for new jeans, a winter coat, jewellery (in Desperate Housewives, I am without doubt the male personification of Gabrielle)… So I thought it would just be interesting to list my current vices so that I know what I am dealing with.

Designer labels.
When I was younger, I didn’t have as much money as I do now, because I was too young to have a job and I used to enjoy saving my money (oh how the times have changed).  I always wanted to look good and have nice clothes, but my motto was to buy cheap things that looked expensive / classy.  Looking through my wardrobe now, not only do most of those clothes not fit (I have lost a lot of weight since then), but some of these items are a little bit style-less.  I never wore garish colours or anything particularly unflattering, but I have grown and learned that the only real way to look classy is to dress with class.  That doesn’t always mean having designer clothes, but when it comes to making clothes, designers do know best.  So little by little, I’m acquiring a nice little
collection of designer jewellery and accessories, as well as a couple of designer tshirts.  I’m looking to expand this collection because I’m growing up now and I want a wardrobe which says that I am professional, sophisticated and classy.  That is the image I want to portray, because that is what I aspire to be.  So little by little, I’m upgrading my fashion game so that as I get my life together, I will have my look together also.

Cigarettes.
I feel a lot guiltier about this than I probably should.  I smoke on average probably 4 cigarettes a day, so it’s not a serious vice or anything like that. But being a singer, I know that it could potentially damage my voice (though it hasn’t seemed to yet).  I got into smoking during my year abroad in Spain, then I came back home and gave up over the summer, then I started again at Christmas, I stopped again, started again and then once I rejoined the Perfume Shop family of smokers, I kept it going.  Since I finished work, I have generally cut down a little bit but a lot of my friends reprimand me for my habit.  However, I do enjoy a cigarette – it passes time while I’m waiting for the bus, it gives me something to do on my breaks at work, and it is delicious when I am out drinking or clubbing with my friends.  But I think my favourite cigarette is my “midnight cigarette” where I creep out onto the patio once the house is quiet and night has fallen, put my ipod in and listen to music while I smoke.  I find myself thoughtfully thinking of all sorts of things, gazing at the moon and stars (unless it’s raining) and just grabbing a bit of piece.  So I feel that as long as my consumption doesn’t increase, I’m not looking to give up my little bit of smoking just yet.

Attracting crazy men.
Since university, I have discovered that I possess the talent for attracting people with a multitude of insanities.  Whether they be struggling with depression or serious health issues, or they want to know my every move and can’t keep their hands off me, I seem to live in this strange dichotomy between believing that I’ll never find someone for me, and seeking out people who clearly aren’t very compatible with me.  I have my head screwed on when it comes to giving other people decent advice, but whether I’m starting up something with a man who could soon emigrate and has a boyfriend who is apparently a little jealous of me, semi-dating a man who one minute doesn’t have the energy to communicate with me let alone meet up in person, and then the next wants to make innuendos at me and know exactly where I’m going and whom I’m seeing, or deciding to block a guy who just won’t leave me alone by text or on msn, and buys me gifts after one meeting, I just seem to know how to pick ’em.  Where are the sane ones?  Do I attract drama by default?  My colleague Louise told me that I need to take a long hard look in the mirror and then go and aim higher and be more confident in myself.  Maybe that’s the key, but then I also think that the sooner I can move away to another place with another attitude, atmosphere and fresh crop of potential suitors, the sooner I will find someone more like-minded and suitable.  My desired destinations currently include Brazil, Hawaii, Italy, Spain (haven’t narrowed down any cities yet) and Romania.  Any other recommended areas?

Starbucks.
Since sixth form, when I gained the luxury of free periods, I have fallen in love with Starbucks.  I always meet friends there for coffee, and I spend entirely far too much money there in the process.  You know when you spend too much time there because the baristas recognise you, and predict what you are going to order (I always respond to this with “Actually, I want *drink I never usually order*, I fancied a change!” because I find being considered predictable a fault).  During my last term of uni, I spent practically every day in there meeting friends in a bid to escape finals revision.  It became an expensive habit, and yet I can’t resist it.  I have learned to always order skinny drinks (it nearly halves the amount of calories!) and get filter coffee refills on hot drinks, to make my money go farther.  But I love the appeal of Starbucks – it has a relaxed, intimate atmosphere where the decor is just dark enough to convey privacy, the drinks are deliciously sweet enough to keep me coming back for more, and it’s a perfect venue for reading a book by myself for a couple of hours, a date with a new man, or (most commonly) a social event with friends where we can share problems, stories and trivialities alike.

Spending money.
A lot of the above categories are an offshoot of this one.  Of course, nobody can live without spending money.  But I have a genuine talent for it.  Jewellery and fragrance with high price tags, coffee which always tastes better when someone else has made it, little packs of cigarettes, rounds of drinks and bus tickets all add up and somehow I make my way through my funds.  I am not so bad as I used to be, because I have changed my spending habits somewhat (instead of buying lots of small purchases such as CDs and DVDs often, I now save up for larger things such as clothes, jewellery and accessories) – but I still appreciate the healing powers of retail therapy.  Here is a good test: find a catalogue and open it at a random page of clothes.  I guarantee you I will automatically be drawn to the most expensive item, even without knowing the prices beforehand.  Unfortunately, I don’t really see myself being able to give up this addiction, because prices only seem to go up and my aspirations only seem to go higher and higher.  But hopefully I can raise my earning power to keep up with them, because I would rather raise my game than lower my ambitions. Currently, I feel that I have all my temptations under control, so that they give me pleasure without taking over my life – and as long as I keep myself balanced, like everyone, I can afford a little vice. 😉