Hope you're well! If you're in the UK, how're you doing in lockdown 2.0? I think it's been a bit easier than the uncertainty of the first one, but there is certainly an element of monotony and boredom with this one, even if the lockdown is of course for good reasons.
Today, I thought I would put together a little list of things to do or watch in the hopes that it entertains you even just slightly if you're feeling particularly done with Mrs Rona right now. I know I am! Oh and I'm always sharing new things on Instagram if you fancy following on there too.
5 Things to Read
Please buy these books pre-loved if you can!
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Probably the most original book I've ever read and a hard one to describe. It's a coming of age story in more ways than one and the concept of what lies beneath a person (rage, self-destruction) along with how you control that is very fascinating. It's a beautifully written and brilliant book and I would thoroughly recommend it.
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I read this on my flight to and from America earlier in the year and I was hooked after the first few pages. It's a vividly written novel about a woman (Kya) living in the swamps of Carolina and her relationship with not only nature but herself. It tells a tale of love, murder, prejudice and loss and I devoured it from cover to cover.
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
A classic, but a book everyone should have on their list as control over women's bodies is a debate that people insist on having in the real world, so this book is a chilling hint at a world that could well exist. It follows OfFred who is the Handmaid of a family in Gilead, forced to have a baby, but she desperately wants to escape. I won't say too much but it's fantastic.
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong
I've read a few of David Wong's books now and they're all great. The main character finds out her dad has died, but has left her something so she ventures to an alternative Las Vegas style city where anything goes to find out what is is - hitmen and gangs in tow. It's a crazy fun book, brilliantly written with plenty of violence! I will be re-reading it soon.
In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami
If you're a fan of American Psycho or enjoy gory horror books, then you may like this one. The story centres around a man (Kenji) who offers tours of Tokyo's sex industry to western tourists. He meets Frank and knows there's something very, very wrong. It's not *as* gory as AP, but it's very good. I particularly enjoyed the social commentary too.
5 Netflix Shows to Watch
A newbie on Netflix, but it's so good that I may have to rewatch it asap. His House follows a married couple that escape South Sudan and find their way to the UK as immigrants, but the ghosts of their past come with them. It's a wonderful film, using horror elements and Sudanese culture and folklore to really draw you in.
Oh my god, I love Pose but I implore you to watch the documentary Paris Is Burning (also on Netflix) first to see what Ballroom culture is. Set in New York, Pose follows a house (several, really) of amazing characters not only in their Ballroom performances, but their every day lives and struggles. It covers serious topics from LGBTQ rights, being Trans in the 80s/90s and living with the Aids virus. It is an important watch as well as very entertaining!
The Haunting of Hill House
If you haven't already seen it, please watch this brilliant horror series based on one of my favourite books (read the book too!). I think the individual members of the family play such an amazing part and the erratic madness that was prominent in the books really translates to each episode.
If you're not American or haven't heard of the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsberg, then you should really get to know her. Sadly she passed away earlier this year, but this documentary showing all of her amazing achievements throughout her career as a Supreme court judge is astounding. She did so much for women's rights (and men's!) and her career is the definition of Hard Work. An absolute inspiration.
If you want something a bit lighthearted, may I suggest Good Girls? Following 3 women who get accidentally involved with a gang and money laundering, it's such a fun show to watch. It will make you laugh and make you tense in parts, but the main characters all play amazing parts.
5 Japanese and Korean Netflix Shows to Watch
I'm not sure if any of you know, but I watch a lot of J-drama and K-drama and have done since I was a teenager. It's comfort blanket TV for me and I've been watching quite a few throughout 2020.
Extra Curricular (Korean)
Oh I loved this one so much! It follows a teenager in school who has a side job as a modern day pimp. As it's all done online, none of the girls know who he is and they only ever see Mr Lee who is the 'muscle' of the operation. It involves scary situations, rival gangs, revealing identities and plenty of bloody murder.
Was It Love? (Korean)
A show I'm currently watching but very much enjoying. Single mother Noh Ae Jeong has always wanted to be a film producer and lands herself a job doing just that... but 3 men from her past come back into her life to turn everything upside down. It's great!
Million Yen Women (Japanese)
Another show I was totally hooked on. 5 women show up at the door of an authors house, paying him 1 million yen per month in rent but he has no idea why. Each episode tells the tale of each woman and why they came to be there. It's brilliant and each character plays their role so well! It's funny in some parts, emotional and serious in others - well worth a watch.
A period drama (1500's) telling the story of royal families clashing, betrayal, loyalty and... zombies. Yes, there is a zombie outbreak and it's the running, vicious, flesh ripping kind which I am partial to. It was refreshing to see the zombie narrative in a different setting.
Ju-On: Origins (Japanese)
You've heard of The Grudge, right? This series is based on the famous horror films and tells the story of one house throughout the years and the horrible things that happened there. I thought it was brilliantly done, as the Japanese do horror so well. I will warn you, however, that episode 4 is particularly disturbing.
5 Things to Cook
Italian Vegetable Soup
I made this recently and it was so delicious! 10 minutes of chopping vegetables and you end up with a comforting bowl of deliciousness. Add plenty of parmesan and dip a garlic bread in on a cold day.
I make this around 3x per month and it's delicious. If you're new to tofu, this is a perfect introduction and it works perfectly. It's spicy, delicious and is the perfect blend of Indian and Asian cuisine. I recommend Meera Sodha's cookbook East in general, it's great.
Classic Tomato Pasta Sauce
I make a batch of tomato sauce about once per week and it's very good, if I say so myself. I'll include the very basic recipe below:
1 onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic (large ones if possible), chopped
1tsp cayenne pepper
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
1 tube of tomato paste
2tbsp balsamic (or more if required, see method)
1tbsp butter (or more if required)
Handful of basil, torn
Lots of salt and pepper
Method: Fry onion until soft then add garlic and cayenne pepper for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add tinned tomatoes and use potato masher to break it up. It needs to be in small chunks. Add balsamic, butter, sugar, basic and salt + pepper. Leave on low for 20 minutes. Taste and add more balsamic/sugar/basil/butter/salt to your taste. I tend to go through about 3 rounds of tasting until it's balanced. It should store for a few days, or you can freeze it.
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bars
A previous recipe from this here blog and one I made again recently. We managed to eat the full tray in 24hrs, they're that good. It's sweet, salty perfection.
I've made 2 or 3 batches of apple crumble so far this Autumn and they've both been delicious. I use this recipe as a base, but swap the demerara/golden caster sugar for 70g caster and 30g dark brown sugar for both the apples and the topping. I also add 2tsp of cinnamon to the topping too, so it's doubled. The 50g almonds is swapped for 50g oats in the topping. It takes hardly any time to put it together, but it's so so good.
5 Workouts to Try
Yoga With Kassandra
My go to YouTube channel for everything yoga. I've been subscribed for a long time now and I love Kassandra's instructional yet soothing way of teaching yoga. She's completely converted me to yin yoga too. You can find a playlist of my favourite videos here.
If you have some dumbbells in the house or are looking to get some, then Nobs Guides is a great at home workout. Lucy has done a great job of creating a plan (via an app) with progressive overload using both weights and bodyweight, spaced out over 12 weeks. You'll find yourself getting stronger with this one!
A fellow geordie and someone I met through actual real life Pilates classes (remember those?), Georgina has created her GPT Arsekick plan using kettlebells, bodyweight and Pilates classes which spans 8 weeks. It aims to help you overhaul both your exercise regime and your mental attitude towards it, as it's about balance rather than restriction. Georgina is always very down to earth in her approach and I totally credit her with kickstarting my love of regularly working out, as I tried her plan last November. However, if you don't want to commit to 8 weeks but need something, she's currently offering live workouts on Facebook for only £10 per month! TEN QUID. This includes a similar style of workouts to her guide inc Pilates. Sign up now by dropping her a message on Instagram!
BodyFit by Amy
Another YouTube channel which I refer back to if I really want to sweat. Amy does workouts with dumbbells, kettlebells, bodyweight and pilates and they're all great!
Yoga with Adriene
I think everyone knows Adriene on YouTube when you're searching for yoga videos. She has loads available and many 30 day long playlists if you need some structure.
So, that's my roundup of some things which might entertain you during the last portion of this lockdown or over the Christmas period! Do let me know if you watch or read any of the above or try any of the recipes.