Friday, 3 October 2014

Life direction.. Or lack of!

I'm in a funny mood right now, where my brain feels kind of 'fuzzy' and a little bit lost and I don't know why. It is a strange feeling but not a feeling I can quite put my finger on. I feel like writing a blog post as I'm hoping it'll help me sort my thoughts out a little bit. I realise I had a bit of a 'thinking and lost' post a little while ago, but hey, it worked for a little while! No pictures today, just a rambly one.. So fingers crossed, here goes!

I have spent a lot of today thinking about the future, in particular my career path, and the more I think about it, the more muddled I get. I'm quickly approaching the end of my degree yet I'm no closer to approaching knowing exactly what I want to do... I have no answer to the question 'So what are you going to do when you finish?' Absolutely none. I don't know.

Is winging it okay?

I was never a kid who knew exactly what I wanted to do. For a long time I remember wanting to be a princess mermaid, probably as a result of watching The Little Mermaid but as a grew older I realised that that isn't really an ideal career path for myself.

Over the years of high school in particular I swapped my career of choice on a somewhat regular basis. I remember deciding that I wanted to be a physiotherapist, an obstetrician/gynaecologist, a neonatal surgeon (I had been on a Grey's Anatomy binge, okay?!), an architect, an interior designer/decorator, a professional dancer, a civil engineer... the list goes on. While I find all of those things interesting, I feel like none of them are my passion.

I love singing, and I love performing but I have never had any desire to make that my career. To me it is a very enjoyable hobby, and something I'd like to do my very best to prevent becoming a chore. It is refreshing to be able to sit down at my keyboard or pick up my guitar and get lost in music again when I am stressed, even when they have had a few months of neglect.

So right now I am plugging away at my maths degree and hoping that an epiphany will smack me in the face (nicely!) somewhere along the way.

Does anybody really know what they want to do at 21?

Not me!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

MIFF Film Review: Ukraine is Not a Brothel

Kitty Green’s film Ukraine is Not a Brothel is a very honest and delightfully composed documentary of Ukraine’s topless feminism awareness group, Femen. The film that was originally sparked by an article in a Melbourne newspaper was born of over 700 hours of footage; recorded whilst Green lived with these girls in Ukraine.
 


The movie follows the stories of the young women who protest in order to change Ukraine’s reputation of being full of female sex-workers and the perception that all Ukrainian women are controlled by men; they wish for females to be equal to men and have the same work opportunities.

It begins with quite an optimistic view of the girls, who each share tales of their involvement with the organisation, and how it affects them and their families, through interviews and footage of their bare-breasted protests. Each of the them are stunning, slim, model-like girls (apart from one, whose grossly overweight body is used for her ‘shock factor’ and publicity for the group) and the documentary sheds light on not only their courage in the faces of the public and hoards of pushy, old, male paparazzi, but also the hypocrisy within their own organisation. It ends with a bizarre twist, which unintentionally revealed itself over the course of the fourteen months of filming, that shows that even the most vocal feminist groups can be riddled with the very patriarchy that they protest against.

Without giving too much away, when watching you become aware of a shady male character named Victor, who remains hidden for majority of the film, but at the end allows us a brief insight into his involvement with the organisation. The girls also receive majority of their funding by ‘donations’ from wealthy businessmen, but choose to ignore the relevance of this.

Visually, Ukraine is Not a Brothel showed a very bleak Ukraine and used the subtraction of red from their footage to achieve this effect. It gives the impression that it is a cold, grey place with a lot of poverty, and uses these beautiful girls with colourful headdresses and body paint as bright beacons of hope. Many of the scenes show close-up shots of the bruises and scars that the girls receive as a direct consequence of getting dragged away by the authorities during their protests. These allow us to sympathise for the girls, who truly believe that baring their breasts is the only way out of their squalor conditions. 

Perhaps the only serious downfalls of the film are that it is very insular and provides no update of the girls now. The interviews are only centred around those directly involved with Femen and it would have been interesting, and perhaps added a different perspective, if we’d have received an insight into the opinions of the general public about these girls. We can only assume that these girls are as influential as they tell us. 

Ultimately the documentary was beautifully presented, with many stunning landscape shots of Ukrainian landscapes. I was really proud (and felt a little bit patriotic) knowing that a fellow Melbournian had made this gorgeous film. The positives certainly outweigh the few negatives of this film and is very deserving of a 4/5.



Thursday, 31 July 2014

Melbourne International Film Festival

The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) runs from the 31st of July to the 17th of August this year. I've decided to do a subject at uni that is centred aroundthe festival and this means I'll be going to six documentaries and two industry talks as required by the course, and four films of my choice! This is one major plus about choosing to go to Melbourne Uni.. I'm almost finished my maths degree, yet all through my tertiary education, I've been required to do a subject a semester outside of my faculty, and it's been great to immerse myself into arts subjects (namely music and film) that I wouldn't have studied otherwise.



I'm really glad that I chose the documentary stream, as I really think I'll get a lot more out of it than a fiction stream. I'm not a huge film kind of girl, and it's not unusual for me to be gasped at with an 'oh my god, how have you not seen [insert film here]?!' I don't really have an excuse, I have just chosen to spend my time on things that I consider more important as I grew up - namely books and annoying my siblings to play Monopoly with me. I'm not even much of a television watcher to be honest, I didn't get into Breaking Bad and I'm still not into Game of Thrones... but hey, Grey's Anatomy is returning to telly soon, and I'm pretty excited about that!

So I thought I'd share some of my film experiences with you guys - they'll probably be strongly influenced by the pieces of writing I am doing for my assessment, but they'll give you a great insight into the films I'm seeing, and how I feel about them!

Don't get me wrong, I'm no film critic and I've read very few film reviews in my life, but these are simply going to be some short and sweet critiques of my first film festival experience! :D

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Running, university and the future...

I thought I'd write a short blog post while waiting for some rice to cook. I haven't put my thoughts down in writing for a little while so perhaps this sort of therapy will work its magic on me.


First things first, I've signed up for my very first half marathon. It's with the Melbourne Marathon, and is about twelve weeks away. I'm absolutely terrified. I've never made this kind of commitment... and it is a really really long way! It's further than the distance that I travel on my bike in a day, commuting to uni, and that in itself takes about an hour. I'm already worried that my legs are going to stop working halfway through.

So I've been reading a lot of articles, and searching Pinterest relentlessly for half marathon training guides. I think I'll use my Nike+ running app as a guide too. If anybody has any tips, please share them with me!

I reckon I'll finish it comfortably in about two and a half hours. I know this is a fairly slow speed, but I'm a pretty cruise-y runner to begin with anyway. Pace is important for short distances for me, but I'm a fairly new long distance runner so merely getting through the km is more important to me!

I'll post updates on how I go as my training progresses!


I have three days left of my winter holidays for university and I couldn't possibly be feeling any more lost. I have a year left of my maths degree, or only eight subjects depending on how you want to look at it. The fact that I have to pass every single one of those subjects between then and now, or risk extending the length of my course absolutely terrifies me.

I don't feel like I've fallen in love with uni the way that people say you will. Sure, I've made lots of amazing friends that I wouldn't have met outside of uni, but the stress and amount of pressure that comes with it isn't enjoyable. Maybe it's the course I'm doing, maybe it's the amount of involvement I have in extracurricular activities or maybe it is just me.

I know that it'll be worth it, but crying myself silly over marks that I'm unhappy with is a little bit ridiculous.

I think my lack of direction has a lot to do with it. I started out doing engineering and my degree has taken a different path, so now I have no idea what use my degree will have, if any, apart from looking pretty on my resume. There are so many career options but absolutely none of them scream out at me going "Jessie! You'll enjoy this for the rest of your life!"

Maybe that's where my problem lies, I know that nothing is permanent but I am putting so much pressure on myself to make 'the right choice'...

All I know for certain in life is that I want enough money to travel the world and be happy.
A little bit of perspective... That's all I really need.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Recipe: Homemade Beef Burgers



Last night for dinner, we had burgers. Burgers are an awesome, cheap and easy meal. It uses loads of pantry staples so if you have lots of sauces and spices, you won't end up having to buy very much!


This recipe is to make about 8 or 9 large burgers. You can make these a few hours ahead of time and you can freeze any uncooked leftovers for next time!


Jessie's Easy Burger Recipe
Serves 4.
Prep time: 10 minutes (with 20-30 minutes time in the fridge).
Cooking time: ~8 minutes.

Utensils you need:
a teaspoon
a grater
a large plastic or glass mixing bowl
a large frypan
a spatula
a large plate
cling film/glad wrap

Ingredients:
500g of 3-star beef mince mince
1 large brown onion grated (unless you like chunks of onion, then diced)
1 large egg
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
Seasonings of your choice (I used the following but you can put in whatever you want)
- Tomato sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
Dried herbs : rosemary, oregano, basil, coriander
Spices : paprika, ground cumin seeds
1 tsp Keen's Curry Powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil (for frying)
A little bit of plain flour
 For the sauces, I just put in a generous squeeze of sauce, but not too much as you don't want your mixture to be too wet! The herbs and spices, I did a few shakes of each - probably loads more rosemary though because I am obsessed with it lately.

To double the recipe you just use 1kg of mince, 2 large eggs and one cup of breadcrumbs. If you don't have breadcrumbs, break a couple of pieces of bread, or a single bread roll up into little pieces and dry oven roast them for about ten minutes in the oven (on about 180°C).

I use 3-star mince as it keeps the burgers quite juicy. You can use lean mince but you'll find that it retains a lot less moisture and results in drier and 'crumblier' burgers than if you use the more fatty mince.


Method:
1. Put ALL ingredients (except for olive oil and plain flour) into your large mixing bowl
2. Lightly sprinkle your plate with some plain flour (this stops the burgers from sticking to the plate later)
3. Make sure you have washed your hands first then use your hands to combine all ingredients, until well mixed
4. Roll burger mince into golf ball sized balls and place onto the plate
5. Cover with cling film and put into the fridge for 20-30mins to firm up
6. Heat up the fry pan with some olive oil until hot and place the burgers a few cms apart
7. Squash the burgers down a bit with the spatula and fry for about 4 minutes each side on medium-high heat
8. Burgers are ready once they are light pinkish-brown in the middle
9. Serve with bread rolls, cheese, lettuce and veggies on the side


Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Recipe: Carrot and Walnut Muffins


Yesterday morning I made some Wholemeal Carrot and Walnut Muffins, and they are actually awesome. I've never baked with wholemeal flour before and thought that they turned out really nicely. The recipe I used is roughly the recipe used on Anna Saccone's banana muffin video.


I had absolutely loads of carrots that needed using, so decided to making 'carrot cake muffins' would be a great way to use them up - especially because I don't have a juicer.. wah! There are so many different recipes for carrot cake and carrot muffins, but I really liked the look and sound of this recipe because of how little sugar it uses. I know there's still a bit of sugar in them, but a lot of the natural sweetness comes from the dates which is pretty cool.


I also really just wanted to see if wholemeal flour would be that different... and it wasn't, so I'll be using that loads more in my cooking! :D


I completely winged it in terms of the icing - I had a little container left of icing sugar (probably about half a cup?) and a tub of cream cheese and mixed it all together.. the end result wasn't too shabby!


 To make the muffins you will need: 
2 cups wholemeal self raising flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 level tsp of each: nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped small
3/4 cup dates, chopped small
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
3 large carrots, grated
1/2 cup vegetable oil

To make the cream cheese icing you will need: 
1/2 cup icing sugar
250g tub light spreadable cream cheese
walnuts to decorate

---

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan forced
2. Sift flour, baking powder and spices, add in leftover wholemeal chunks
3. Add brown sugar, seeds, walnuts and dates
4. Stir dry mixture until well mixed
5. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs
6. Add butter and milk to eggs, stir
7. Add wet mixture and grated carrot all at once
8. Stir until just combined - don't over stir! - adding in oil as you go to ensure mixture is moist enough
9. Bake for 25 minutes/until the tops spring back when lightly pressed
10. While these are cooling, put icing sugar and cream cheese into a bowl and whisk until soft
11. When the muffins are completely cool, ice them and decorate



Enjoy!
:) Jessie xx

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Blogging again!

I've been wanting to get back into blogging and vlogging for a while now but keep having creative-blocks as to what I should talk about. So I thought that I may as well just jump in the deep end, otherwise I'd be forever putting it off and wouldn't get back into it again anyway!
I want to start my new and improved blog off with a few of my favourite photos since I last posted in 2011!

One of  my favourite trips in the UK was to Scotland in June 2011. This photo was taken from Stirling Castle, and remains one of my favourite photos of my travels on my gap year.

 

In April 2012, Tom and I went to western Indonesia for 10 days for my first 'off the beaten track' Asia experience. It was truly the best holiday of my life and I don't know when and if it will ever be beaten.

Our view of the ocean from our hut in Pulau Weh

Snorkelling off the coast of Pulau Weh

Journalling in Ketambe, in the jungle

In September 2012, I visited England on my holidays and Tom and I made time to visit the Harry Potter Studios in Leavesden. It was absolutely incredible and 100% recommend it for any HP fan :)


In June 2013, when Tom was preparing to move to Australia, I flew over immediately after my last exam and surprised him at his going away party. We spent 10 days together and, as I hadn't brought too much over, Tom used most of my luggage space for his extra stuff to take bring back to Australia!

How incredible do Tom's mum's flowers look!?

In November 2013, Tom and I completed the Eureka Climb in Melbourne. We climbed a total of 1642 stairs over 88 levels, and successfully reached the roof of the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. We also raised over $1100 for charity, for the event.


And finally in December of last year, I was surprised with my very own Surprise 21st 'J' Party. About 100 people all dressed up and gave me the shock of my life, and subsequently the party of my life.


So I think my life is pretty interesting, and I can't wait to share more of it with you guys (...if anyone ever reads this apart from my parents...)! I'm hoping to put up loads of things - recipes for eating well on a uni student budget, workouts that I do, training plans that I follow, maybe some book and movie reviews, and general stuff about my life!

:) Jessie xx