November Music Favourites

I haven’t done one of these in a while. Well, I haven’t posted anything in a while so it’s not that surprising. Anyway, here we go. My favourite tracks on heavy rotation in November:

1.  Bon Iver – Skinny Love

2. Tejas – Ruby

3. Tom Odell – Grow Old With Me

4. Catfish and The Bottlemen – Glasgow

Unfortunately I can’t find a better version. Here’s an Apple Music link, in case you have that.

5. The Maccabees – Toothpaste Kisses

There you have it. What do you think? Make me a playlist in the comments? Let’s share mixtapes.

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My Favourite Things: June 2014

My Favourite Things: June 2014

I haven’t done one of these posts in a very long time but now seems a good time as any to get back to it. So, here we go. My favourite things for June:

1. The Great Hunt

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This is the second book in The Wheel of Time series. I got into these books last month only, and already, I cannot get enough. For the uninitiated, The Wheel of Time is an epic, 15-book, fantasy series written by Robert Jordan. It’s set in a world where magic is in the form of the “One Power”, and starts with the protagonist, Rand al’Thor’s battle against the Dark One (who must not be named. I see now why JK Rowling got flack for some of her “inspirations”). This series will appeal to readers of the Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire series. Also, please note that each book is around 700-800 pages long, so you really do have to be ready to commit to take on this beast. As I mentioned earlier, I’m only making my way through Book Two right now, but I think it’s worth the investment already.

2. The Strokes – Razorblade

Does anyone ever need to explain why The Strokes make it to their list of favourites? I think not. Fans of The Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, The Zutons, and similar bands are going to love them. But if you’re a fan of any of those bands, chances are that you’re already a fan of The Strokes. So, let this be a reminder for you to re-listen to them. I’ve chosen Razorblade here only because it’s currently stuck in my head. Special mention should go to “I’ll Try Anything Once”, their demo version of what eventually became “You Only Live Once”, which is my favourite Strokes song of all time.

3. Swimming

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If you know me personally, you’ll know that this has been my favourite activity for quite a while now. However, I’ve had to take a break recently. So, I’m very excited to get back to it regularly now. I find it hard to believe these words even as I’m typing them—me, taking health things seriously! I suppose this is a by-product of old age. You finally realise that unlike your iPhone, you’re not going to be able to trade in your body for a new one. Though, it would be very nice to be able to do that, no? I’d get one without Siri though. I have enough voices in my head already.

4. Baking Bread

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I’ve tried cinnamon rolls and mini pretzels so far. Both have not been great successes. I basically didn’t add enough sugar to either. I thought I could get away with sneaking in a bit of “health consciousness” (I blame all the health freaks on the Internet who tell me substituting honey for sugar tastes the same. It does not.). I could not. These things taste the way they do because they’re not really good for us. And you know what, I’m going back to adding sugar as per the recipe. You can cheat on food if you work out later. That’s what I’m telling myself.

On the upside (or the downside?), I put together an excellent Upside Down Apple cake a while back. I recommend this recipe.

5. OS X Yosemite Beta Sign Up

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There. I said it. I’m a little bit of a Mactard (for which I apologise), and I’m quite excited that Apple’s finally opening up Beta registrations for us “generals”, as I like to call us non-developers. I will make no apologies for my excitement. I’m genuinely looking forward to the new features of Spotlight, Safari, and iCloud Drive. I’m also pumped about Continuity. Gone will be the days when I have to actually lift my phone to answer a call when I’m on my Mac. The lazy person in me is rejoicing.

So, there you have it. Those are my picks for my favourite things for June. Let me know about yours in the comments or on Twitter @anujap.

Note: This post is a response to the Daily Post’s Writing 101 Day One Challenge

All At Sea Playlist

There are some days, usually Sunday afternoons, or sometimes after work, when all I want to do is shut myself in my room with a glass of Glenlivet, close the blinds, switch off my phone and be “All at sea” with music and my thoughts.
If you know what I’m talking about, or you’re just looking for some good music, here are five tracks that definitely ought to be on your playlist:

Statutory Warning: Please do not listen to this list if you’re not in a mood to get slightly depressed!!

1) Jamie Cullum – All at sea (Obviously): This is my absolute go-to song. I wake up to this song as my alarm and it’s usually the last thing I play at night. Jamie’s piano playing is flawless, as always, and the lyrics get me nodding along, thinking ‘yes, this makes so much sense’.

2) Paolo Nutini – Autumn leaves: This track is hauntingly beautiful. Written by Paolo about his grandfather, you’d seriously have to be a monster to not get emotional when you hear this song! It never ceases to surprise me how his voice seems to belong to someone from the Sinatra era, I can imagine him crooning away at a dingy jazz pub, then smoking cubans and drinking all night long with his band mates.

3) Norah Jones – Don’t know why: A breath-taking beauty with a voice to match (even surpass, perhaps), Miss Jones is a classic choice for this list. This particular song takes me to a sultry Sunday afternoon spent reminiscing about lost love, lost opportunities and lost friends.

4) Foo Fighters – Home: This song is a relatively recent addition. It’s the final track off their 2007 album ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace’ (make sure you check it out). I’ve been a Ghrol fan since his Nirvana days and honestly, his talent always leaves me completely in awe of him. Ghrol’s usually gruff voice takes a peaceful tone on this track and the soulful melody (the violin, the piano, such sheer bliss!) is just what the doctor ordered when you want to miss home, and generally feel humbled.

5) Jamie Cullum – Gran Torino: To complete the circle, and also because he’s so awesome, I’m back to Jamie. Gran Torino is an old-world song, it’s got a nice, clear, piano root accompanied by Jamie’s honest voice. It takes me away into a classic movie full of suits, big cars, cigars, bitter dreams, and somehow, a very skewed, yet real, reality (I haven’t seen Gran Torino, the movie, by the way, I’ve heard it’s good though). For me, this really is the perfect ‘alone’ (not ‘lonely’) song.

There you have it, hope you found some new and interesting music on that list, or just re-discovered your old favourites. Let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions for this list!

Unpretty Days

No matter how confident we appear, how high our heels are or how shiny our hair is, there are days in every girl’s life when she feels ‘unpretty’. Societal conditioning often leads us to believe that we must achieve this ‘perfect’ body image that has been placed in front of us in adverts, magazines and on TV, in order to get ahead in our jobs and get with the ‘right’ men. So, on days when the pressure is too much, when a boy hints that he doesn’t like your hair or when another girl sneers at your new dress, we bring out the ice cream tubs, put on baggy sweatpants and curl up in bed, unwilling to face the cruel world outside. For a few lucky girls, these days are a rare occurrence, but for most of us (I hope, because I really don’t want to feel like the only loser who goes through this) these annoyingly depressing thoughts get us down periodically. I think the worst comes when our ‘time of the month’ decides to clash with these days of ‘unpretty’. Bloated stomachs that feel like giant bouncy castles, tired eyes that seem droopy and faces that look like blown up balloons are too much for anyone to handle! I usually deal with this by re-watching Bridget Jones for the millionth time and fooling myself into believing that Colin Firth and Hugh Grant are not unachievable dreams.

The point is, we could all use a little pick-me-up on days when we’re down, so here is my list of top five empowering songs to play when you’re feeling ‘unpretty’ 
1) Unpretty – TLC (c’mon, you saw that coming!): These three ladies from back in the day got it right with the video and the song. Perfect for going from down and depressed, to hopeful and contemplative about your own perception of the ‘perfect’ body image.
2) Beautiful – Christina Aguilera: The pop princess of yesteryear’s appeal to believe that “you are beautiful, no matter what they say” actually feels sincere and it’s somehow comforting to know that a girl as stunning as Ms Aguilera also goes through this harrowing ordeal of self-doubt.
3)  I am not my hair – India Arie: This is such a nostalgic and beautiful song! Ms Arie sings it right when she says it’s not about her hair, it’s what’s inside that matters. So, don’t worry about the pouf, or the frizziness or even the flat head days, wear your hair down in defiance or scrunch it into a carefree bun. If they don’t see you for the awesome person that you are, they aren’t worth the pain.
4) Daughters – John Mayer: Okay, so I know this song has nothing to do with body image but isn’t it wonderful to think that a bad boy like John Mayer is trying to figure women out and appreciate them for just being themselves? It gives you this unnatural hope that John Mayer type hotties will love and cherish a girl blessed with a ‘good good heart’. Now that, certainly picks me up 😉
5) Put your records on – Corinne Bailey Rae: This is such an all-round feel-good song! The video is brilliant in itself, filled with warm tones and comforting images. The young Ms Rae doesn’t sound preachy, she sounds optimistic, encouraging and just down right helpful when she sings “you’re gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow”.
There you have it, a small list to help you feel better on ‘unpretty’ days. This is obviously just a temporary solution, the sooner we learn to love our bodies just as they are, and the sooner men learn to do the same, the better we shall all be. Don’t you agree?