Sunday, October 13, 2013

J. Courtney Sullivan

In less than a year, I read all three novels by J. Courtney Sullivan and she quickly became my favorite author. Her novels are filled with a combination of feminism, humor, love and friendship and it is basically everything I am looking for in books and what I enjoy the most.
Julie Courtney Sullivan is a novelist and writer from Massachusetts, she wrote for different magazines and newspapers and also published her own books, fiction and non-fiction. She now lives in New York with her husband and her dog.
The first book I read by J. Courtney Sullivan was Maine, her second novel. I picked it up at JFK airport last year on my way to Colombia and I didn't know anything about it. I noticed it had a character named Alice and was about three generations of women going on vacation together in New England, so I bought it (it's all that I need, --take notes). Reading it, I fell in love with Sullivan's writing and her characters. It left me wanting more.
Back in Belgium and on my way to Barcelona, I bought Commencement, her first novel. It centers on four students at Smith College (where Sullivan studied herself). We follow the lives of Celia, Bree, Sally and April, four girls with nothing in common who will be forced to live together in a dorm. Frienship, love and feminism are the main themes of the novel and Sullivan's writing and sense of humor bring something more to the novel.
After almost an entire year of waiting, J. Courtney Sullivan's third novel came out: The Engagements. Centered around the line "A Diamond Is Forever" and the idea of marriage, it follows the lives of Evelyn, Delphine, James, Kate and Frances over a hundred years. The style echoes the film technique of 'mosaic movie' where different stories and characters evolve in different sub-plots, with some degree of autonomy, but always united by a thematic, narrative or stylistic link. In the end, but not always, the stories intertwine and come together to give more meaning to the story. It all works perfectly in Sullivan's novel. As always, her themes, writing and sense of humor were there and it was all I wanted and more.
As Wikipedia puts it, J. Courtney Sullivan "self-identifies as a feminist" and it can be seen in her work. Personally, I don't really know if I would consider myself a feminist. I strongly believe it is important for men and women to be considered equal in our society, for them to have the same rights and opportunities. In some way, I am a feminist, but not to the extreme point of going out bust-naked in the streets, and I don't yell it on every rooftop. Let's say I am a soft-feminist and, most of all, I really enjoy reading books about empowering women, what J. Courtney Sullivan manages to do beautifully.
I don't think I could pick only one favorite book, but one thing is sure is that J. Courtney Sullivan managed to find a combination of almost all my favorite things and writes about them. She is, and by far, my favorite author of the moment and I cannot wait for another book.
For more information, visit her website and follow her on Twitter (she's the nicest).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Three-Chocolate Cookies

Now that I'm all done with my Bachelors degree and University (until September, at least), I've got plenty of time for myself to do things I really enjoy, like, for example, watching too many episodes of Modern Family or going to get a haircut. Between two Audrey Hepburn movies, I decided to bake some cookies from my pretty awesome New York recipes book. I was really in the mood for cookies and I'm really happy with the way they turned out.. I would even say these are the best cookies I've ever done. Enjoy this great (slightly altered) recipe!
(for about 20 cookies) 
75g of butter
160g of sugar
1 egg
150g of raising flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
100g of white chocolate
100g of milk (or dark) chocolate
(I used milk chocolate, but I'll try with dark chocolate next time.)
Mix the butter already a bit melted (for that: either let it sit out of the fridge for a while or put it in the microwave for maximum 20 seconds) with the sugar in a bowl. Add the egg, flour and cocoa powder and mix until you obtain a smooth dough.
Chop the chocolate either with a really useful "chopper" or, like me, with a pretty big knife (without hurting yourself). If you choose the second option, I would advise doing this recipe in the Summer otherwise the chocolate would be impossible to cut. Add your chopped chocolate to the dough.
Preheat the oven at 180°C (356°F). Put baking paper on your baking tray. Make small balls of dough with your hands and place them on the baking tray. (Don't make them too big because they stretch a lot when baking.) Press with your fingers to stretch and widen them. Also, don't put too many balls of dough on the tray at the same time so there is enough space between them (make two batches if necessary).
Let your cookies bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Get them out and let them cool and harden for 2 minutes, then put them on a shelf so they cool completely.
Enjoy these absolutely delicious cookies!
Also, music to listen to while cooking: the entire Once soundtrack.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"The Taxi" by Amy Lowell

When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars   
And shout into the ridges of the wind.   
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Alice's Top 10 Men of 2012

Alice's Top 10 Men of 2012
(and the ones to look out for in 2013)

As most of you know, I am a (wee) bit boy crazy and celebrity crazy, but nothing that can't be cured, don't worry. Around the New Year's, I stumbled upon this article from HelloGiggles and it got me thinking: I am like her. Really, I'm just like that Katie girl from that super-duper cool website: I LOVE BOYS. No seriously. So, since her list of 2012 crushes was amazing but didn't entirely fit all my standards, I decided to make my own. I've been thinking about it for a while, I'm still not sure if I'll be happy with the result in three days, but it's just so hard to narrow it down to only 10 guys. So, here are the guys that made my 2012 a lot better and that I'm sure will brighten my 2013. (Try not to drool too much!... I sure will TRY.)
10. Collin McLoughlin

Collin was on this season of The Voice (America). He didn't get all the way through, but he sure caught my eye. (By the way, Cassadee Pope from Hey Monday, that I've loved for 4 years, won!!) I watched this year's entire season of that singing show with my flatmate and ever since the day we saw him sing that cover of "Wild World" at the Blinds, I've had a soft spot for that very tall 22-year-old New Yorker. I love his voice and his face, and I can't wait to see what is coming up for him in 2013 (a bunch of concerts, an EP... maybe a trip to Europe?). Oh and also, he told me on Twitter that he would, and I quote, “definitely” marry me. It's on, you guys.
9. Ryan Lochte

Just like me, you probably spent your Summer drooling over Men's Swimming at the London Olympics. When it wasn't Michael Phelps' amazing performances or Tom Daley's very pretty face, we were all staring at Ryan Lochte, that Adonis from the American Swimming Team. Admit it. Go on, don't be scared, it's normal. In fact, we are (so) not the only ones: he is known to be quite the ladies man. And while we know that we could never be “good enough” for him, we can still enjoy watching him with no shirt on on our television.

8. Francis Scott Fitzgerald

Okay this one might be a bit weird, but he was one of the guys that struck out the most in 2012 for me. I got to read The Great Gatsby in my American Lit class and I am so glad I did! That book is really great, and I found my favorite literary character of all times: Nick Carraway. The fact that my teacher was obviously in love with F.S. Fitzgerald rubbed off on me and I am now a really big fan. Also, he is not all so bad looking.

7. Matt Lanter & Dez Duron

Okay this is not cheating... well kinda. Matt Lanter has been a highlight of my year for more than 4 years now playing Liam on 90210 and Dez Duron was on this season of The Voice (America) and was probably the hottest part of the whole show (if you don't count Adam Levine of course... but how could you not?). You probably think they have nothing in common and are not supposed to be together on my list (and that it's cheating because then it's Top 11 and not Top 10, but hey! My list, my choices. And how could you argue about more eye candy?). Well, these two seem to be very good friends and I can't seem to separate them in my mind. Don't they look alike? I think so. And they look gooooood.

6. Jeremy Chapron

A warm welcome to the only Frenchie of the list, please ladies. Except for Guillaume Canet, I've never really had crushes on French artists so it's saying a lot that he gets the sixth place! Jeremy was on the 7th season of the Star Academy, a French tv show to form singers and performers, and I was kind of obsessed with him at the time. Five years later, he is finally releasing some of his music. This week, his first song and music video came out (check it out here: "Le Paradis Blanc", a cover of Michel Berger) and I cannot wait to hear his entire album. I'm sure it'll have been worth the wait.


5. Phillip Spaeth

2012 was also the year Smashstarted. This tv show about Broadway is absolutely perfect and I cannot wait for it to start again in less than two weeks. Sadly, the second season will not feature my favorite part of the show: Phillip Spaeth. Although he only had a small part (Dennis), I noticed him immediately and, following him on Twitter made me realize of how great a person and an artist he is. His beautiful photography alone is already worth following his tweets and his inspirational quotes once in a while are always welcome. I later noticed he was also in Hairspray(the movie version with Zac Efron, who is sadly/strangely missing from this list) and I now spend the entire movie trying to spot a small Phillip in the back. He will soon start in Matildaon Broadway and I really wish I could go see him some time this year.
4. Max Greenfield

Max is not in the Top 3 but he came pretty close. New Girl was last year's best new show, there is no doubt about that, and I'm sure (by the looks of the second season) that it'll continue on that right path. Max Greenfield's character, Schmidtt, is certainly the best part of the entire show. There isn't one episode in which Schmidtt didn't make me laugh. He was the highlight of my year, I'm telling ya, he made me laugh way too much. And a man who makes you laugh is a keeper, ladies.

3. Aaron Tveit

I thought about it for a while, didn't know if I wanted to put him at the third or second place, but when you'll see who is second, you'll understand. Aaron Tveit is by far my favorite Broadway actor. From Gabe in Next to Normal and Fiyero in Wicked to Roger in RENT and Frank in Catch me if you can, that boy was absolutely perfect. He sings like a dream and is real eye candy. You might have noticed him in a couple episodes of Gossip Girl, playing Nate Archibald's cousin (I mean, Chace Crawford's cousin, then he could only be good-looking). You can currently watch him die beautifully in the movie version of Les Misérables and cry your eyes out (both because seeing Aaron die is just unbearable and also because the character of Enjolras is the best character of all times). If you have time to spear, just look up videos of him singing, and you'll thank me.

2. Darren Criss

This was expected, I know. But Darren did get quite an eventful year in 2012! From being amazing as Blaine on Glee to making his Broadway debut in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, we got to see him everywhere (especially if you are Facebook friends with me. I am not apologizing.) Darren's voice is beautiful and he can sing everything (yes, really). His face (and body) help a lot, and the fact that he is the dorkiest and quirkiest actor ever is just precious. Him and his friends from Team Starkid are some of the funniest people ever and the fact that they made a MUSICAL parody of HARRY POTTER makes them the best people ever (yes, I did discover them a couple years ago, but re-watching videos and listening to their songs once in a while is always good. Also, they are coming out with a third show very soon, A Very Potter Senior Year). I don't have to give you a full description because you'd have to be living under a rock to not know who he is, but let's just say that that gorgeous Spanish/Chinese/Filipino 25-year-old from San Francisco made my year a lot greater by his hilariousness and his pretty face.

1. Craig Mather

Who could top Darren Criss you are asking me? Well, this West End actor. Craig Mather is a 23-year-old British musical theater actor and he was my #1 guy in 2012. After seeing him in June 2011 as Marius in Les Misérables, I quickly became obsessed with him (all very sanely, I promise). I got to meet him in April 2012 after watching the show again in London and it was probably the best day I had that year. His voice is beautiful and his acting is great, he conveys so much emotion and feelings through his voice that it's impossible to not feel anything. He is also one of the nicest and cutest person I have ever met and I am so looking forward to what he'll be doing next. Tonight is his last night in Les Misérables after an 18-month run and he is currently workshopping a new musical about The X Factor and working on his own music. I cannot wait to see him in another production and follow his career that is only beginning. A well-deserved first place, if you ask me.

As you might have noticed, on top of being gorgeous and singing/acting like angels, all these guys are nice guys that make me laugh. It's the most important thing, because why would I enjoy following their every move if they were just old plain boring pretentious people? I thought so too. There are so many other boys I would have add to that list if it were, say, 10 times longer. A bunch of them are some of the most gorgeous guys alive (seriously), such as Channing Tatum, Ryan Gosling (I mean, come on), Logan Lerman, Allen Leech (from Downton Abbey, seriously, who isn't in love with Branson?) and Liam Hemsworth, but I just had to make a cut (it was hard, really). Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my list of the greatest men of 2012 that you should be looking for in 2013. And even if you didn't agree, you at least got to look at a bunch of photos of beautiful men. You're welcome.

Ps: if you think making the list was hard, trying to find the best pictures took me forever! But I'm not complaining, it's not like they have bad faces.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The "Easiest Cake Ever" Recipe

This week, my super cool Spanish flatmate and I have made this cake twice. The first time was for her boyfriend's birthday on Monday and the second because we both passed some of our exams for University, so we wanted to celebrate and give ourselves strength to keep on studying. Cristina is the one who told me about this recipe, apparently well-known in Spain, so I went to find it online (here) and thought I'd translate it for you guys on here. You are supposed to measure every ingredient with a yoghurt pot. It's really, really simple and tastes delicious!

1 yoghurt
1 yoghurt pot of sunflower oil
2 yoghurt pots of sugar
3 yoghurt pots of flour
3 eggs
1 sachet of baking powder
A bit of butter for the mold
(+ personally, I would add some vanilla sugar or cacao powder in the mix to give it an extra flavor)
Preheat the oven at 180°C (thermostat 6; 350°F).
Put the yoghurt in a bowl and use its pot to measure the rest of the ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and the 2 pots of sugar. Add the baking powder, the flour and the oil. Add the yoghurt. Mix until the dough is homogeneous and thin.
Put some butter and flour in your mold to keep the cake from sticking to it when you'll take it out of the oven. Put the mold in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Take it out of the oven and of the mold and let it cool.
We decorated ours with M&M's and other little birthday decorations, and spread some Nutella all over it to make it extra-delicious. Decorate as you wish, as this cake is really neutral and can go with everything, either as a dessert or for breakfast! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Coup de coeur" of the Week #17

I have known Fun. for a while now, because their label is Fueled by Ramen and they toured with my favorite band Panic At The Disco, and this song has been out for some time already, but I just watched the music video and it find it too beautiful not to share it. The song is really great and I like where they went with the music video. So, enjoy!
(I apologize for the lack of posts, I have exams for the moment, and I've been pretty busy with my Erasmus, but I have some ideas for new posts, so it'll come. Just, patience.)