Be Right Back

To my dearest readers,

I hope you are all having a wonderful day so far. This post is to apologise that I won’t be blogging in accordance to my schedule this week. *Drum roll* This is because I will be moving in with my boyfriend! Ahhhhhh!

I am very excited but packing has, unfortunately, taken over my life as I try to #konmari all my stuff at the same time… This might also explain the countless sleepless nights where I dream of boxes and home organisation items from IKEA. All very bizzare!

Though on that note, would you like to know more about my Marie Kondo journey? Please do leave me a comment below if you do!

I haven’t had the headspace to write meaningful blog posts that you have all come to enjoy. I will resume our usual blogging schedule next week Thursday. Thank you for being so patient and understanding! You are all wonderful 🙂

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

Thought of the Day: Reading and Wellness

reading and wellness

Hey everyone!

Happy weekend 🙂 what did you all get up to? I am currently in a cafe and blogging from Rotterdam (very cool and chic) which I can’t wait to share with you all later, once I have processed my thoughts!

Following on from Art & Wellness blog post last week, I wanted to touch upon Reading & Wellness. This is something that is very close to my heart as well. There is a lot of research and articles in this space; so I am not going to try and reinvent the wheel but thought it would be useful to share a few articles which I have found to be helpful.

Reading has personally been very positive to my wellbeing. This is also why it is one of the more important new year resolutions I want to complete and would like to encourage others to make it one of theirs.

Reading & Wellbeing

  • Reading is relaxing – I constantly struggle to find time to do everything; as for many of you, do you feel like there is always a conflict of what one wants to do and the time available to us? I have been trying to actively make time for myself (working progress), often I use it to read or visit a gallery/museum. Reading is one of the most relaxing past times and I can easily get lost in a good book and not move for hours. For those looking for a comfortable cushion, I really recommend the L shaped IKEA cushion for only £7 (not an ad, just really love this cushion!).
  • Reading is a work out for your brain/mental stimulation – keeping the brain mentally stimulated has been proven in studies to slow down the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. I believe that keeping your brain active and stimulated would help later in life. I think it is comparable to as being physically fit would keep you better equipped for bumps and pains when one gets older. With personal experience of dementia in my family, I would wish everyone to keep their brain active so that it stays healthy and happy! My aunties always tell me that mahjong does the same thing, so whatever works for you!
  • Reading can help with depression – following nicely from the previous point, studies have found that reading can help with depression. A wonderful personal account by Raifa and I think she delivers a very important message that reading only complements professional help; it is not the magical solution for those who have a mental illness.

The sense of community that one finds in books, a companionship with the narrative voice or the characters, can help provide a friend when in need and tackle one symptom and possible cause of depression – loneliness. – Rafia Rafiq

  • Reading improves your memory – it has been found that making new memories can also help consolidate existing ones. I think this is similar to the idea of giving your brain a workout and helps you concentrate.

There are a lot of other reasons why one should read, such as more interesting conversations and better vocabulary. I hope I have persuaded that reading is amazing :)! For those who would like to read more, I found a great article on 14 ways to cultivate a lifetime reading habit! Or if you aren’t ready to read another article, there is a great TED talk on trying something new for 30 days!

Thank you for reading my blog post today and may you continue to have happy readings!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

Culture: I am Ashurbanipal

Hi everyone!

How has your week been so far? I am not going to lie – I feel like January is starting to drag, however, I can’t believe that it is already near the end of the month and I have Chinese New Year to look forward to!  To keep my spirits high and trying not to let the cold winter days bring me down I have been keeping my eye out for exhibitions in London to share with you all.

Last Sunday, I went to the British Museum to visit “I am Ashurbanipal, king of the world, king of Assyria” exhibition. Though I have been fascinated by the history of Babylon and the Middle Eastern region during this time, I do not know very much about that period apart from the beautiful statues that I had previously seen in the British Museum and the Louvre. As you can imagine, I was super excited to learn a little bit more about the Assyrian empire. The current exhibition will be available until 24th February, so if you are in town and want to keep out the winter cold, I would highly recommend the exhibition.

King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (r. 669–c. 631 BC) was the most powerful man on earth. He described himself in inscriptions as ‘king of the world’, and his reign from the city of Nineveh (now in northern Iraq) marked the high point of the Assyrian empire, which stretched from the shores of the eastern Mediterranean to the mountains of western Iran. – British Museum

The Lions and the Library

When you first enter the exhibition, there is a wonderful ambience. I personally, think it is one of the most tastefully displayed exhibitions that I have been to in a long time. The room was relatively dark but key pieces were highlighted with spotlights. From the start, the impression I got about King Ashurbanipal was that he completely understood the concept of “personal brand”. The beautiful artwork carved in gypsum clearly advertises his bravery through the killing of lions – the greatest beast in the Assyrian empire. Not only did he consistently boast how brave he was but also liked to tell everyone how smart he was. During his reign, he made it a mission to learn from the scholars at the time.  There were great examples of their clay tablets and writings at the exhibition, including extracts of the Epic of Gilgamesh

Lights & Action

Assyrian artists seemed to have enjoyed depicting their success of wars through cruelty and brutality in extremely graphic detail! The museum made wonderful use of projectors, which I had never seen before. By projecting an outline on a different part of the panel, you were able to follow the intricate story; it really gave an insight into how stories were told to the masses during that time. With sound and lighting effects – it was just like a movie. I found it truly jaw-dropping; even if you might not be interested in the history, it is worth just to see the use of projectors!

I spent roughly two hours at the exhibition, and this was also not at my usual pace of reading every single thing possible. There was so much in the exhibition, unfortunately,  I did get fatigued with all the information and intricate objects that I found myself skipping certain items or sections because I just couldn’t absorb any more facts.

If I was to give feedback to the British Museum, they should have provided an option of an audio guide, so that it was easier to step back and observe an object and listen to commentary rather than rely on the information written on display. There was exclusive curators’ commentary available through Apple Music and Google Play. However, by the time I found out about it, I was already inside the exhibition with no reception so I couldn’t download the audio guide and I also didn’t have my headphones either…

Nonetheless, it was a great exhibition; so it gets a 4 out of 5 pineapples. Have any of you been? What were your thoughts? As always, I would love to read your comments and thoughts. Do share any interesting facts about the Assyrian empire with me; or if you have any questions on the exhibition, please comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S The Guardian does a great review of this exhibition as well if you want to learn more!.

 

 

Thought of the Day: Art & Wellness

Hi everyone,

How is everyone doing? I hope you have had a wonderful weekend. Today’s post is going to be a long one, so sit back and relax with a nice warm drink. I have subscribed to the Art Pass for about two years now and because I am able to get discounts to exhibitions, it has meant that I have ended up visiting many more museums and galleries than ever before. The Art Fund has conducted a wellbeing report, which I want t share with you today 🙂

Stress and Anxiety

From the research, it has been found that people in the UK are anxious about their workload, financial situations, health issues, and social isolation etc. To be fair this is not a surprise and something I think about more often than I would like. It is also not surprising that many people struggle to find time for themselves and/or pursue activities that positively contribute to their own wellbeing, such as visiting museums and galleries.

Wellbeing

This is a topic I care passionately about, but I realised that if someone asked me – what exactly wellbeing is? I would not be able to give them a concise answer. This is probably something I should delve into more in the future. However, for the purposes of this post, I will use the definition from the report.

Wellbeing covers our happiness and our satisfaction with our lives, but stresses and anxieties are also central to our overall wellbeing.

It is too simplistic to believe that wellbeing is just absence of anxiety. It also encompasses how we feel about our lives in general. This would change depending on whether we are focusing on the present or the future.

Anxious society?

I think we can agree that we need a bit of stress in our lives. This just keeps us moving and helps us get things done, however, if is long lasting and persistent then this can have a negative effect on our wellbeing. I have certainly experienced this myself when my personal needs conflicted with my career. From the survey, it turns out that 45% of adults in Greater London say they feel anxious at least some of the time.

How do you de-stress?

I am really going to try and work out what my best ways are to de-stress this year. I have touched upon recovery, previously. During the early stage of my career my wellbeing was what I neglected the most and did not realise the impact it had on my mental health. For someone who likes to say yes to everything and do things that stretch me, it is an easy trap to fall into.

While it is not easy to do, the report recognises that making time for ourselves or taking time out with others can help build resilience against stresses and anxiety. Having my best friend return to London has done wonders to my wellbeing as I have someone to engage in deep meaningful conversations. I am grateful that I have a wonderfully supportive boyfriend who has helped me cope with whatever life throws at me/us. Having time for myself is very important and I really appreciate it. My favourite things are visiting museums and galleries; as well as reading and travelling – basically, anything covered in this blog!

Do we use our time wisely?

The survey found that when we do have time to ourselves participants use over 3 hours watching TV and nearly 2 hours a day on social media. Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with that, as long as it works for you. However, in the survey, these were not activities chosen by respondents to relax or deal with anxiety. In fact, 39% said staying away from social media was a way to de-stress!

screenshot_20190120-081825

Art and Wellness

We all understand the benefits of our wellbeing comes from doing the things we love. This really isn’t rocket science! The survey found that most of us (59%) understand the power of our leisure activities and we consider them as an important part of our lives as well as helping us feel more positive about life in general.

screenshot_20190120-082909

What I found fascinating was that over half (53%) of adults say their leisure activities help them deal with life’s up and downs, rising to 74% among those who specifically make time for these activities. Though especially for art, the survey responses found that 63% of participants have at some point used a visit to a museum or gallery to ‘de-stress’. However, only 6% of them had visited a museum or gallery at least once a month.

This is one of the reasons for my blog. I have seen the benefits of seeing art for my wellbeing and it seems like others feel the same way! (It’s nice to know I am not the only one.)

screenshot_20190120-083159Per the report, they described museums and galleries as places which can offer an oasis of peace and tranquillity or an array of stimulating new ideas. I really agree with this, I find them such conducive environments – you learn so much and it is something we can share with others. I have definitely had more interesting conversations and the report said that it could potentially give one a sense of purpose (I have yet to experience this).

What do you think though, do you agree with the findings of the report? I have personally experienced the benefits of visiting museums and galleries and would love to encourage you to try the same and see whether you felt a bit better after 😊 Regardless, of whether you like art or not, be kind to yourself and make time for yourself to do something you love – you know you deserve it!

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

 

 

Art: Klimt/Schiele – Drawings

[Disclaimer, this post contains adult content]

Hi everyone!

How are you all doing? I hope your week has been filled with positive moments and energy. So far, January has been personally tough on my mental wellbeing. It might be due to all the work that was just put on pause during the festive period and is kicking off again. As a result, I did not think I was actively building recovery into my schedule. As I slowly learn how to listen to my body and brain, I recognised I needed to detox from the stress of work and chores and do one of my favourite things – seeing Art.

I love making use of my Art Pass to visit the numerous exhibitions in London. I hope that I can keep this up as this is the reason for the blog in the first place! What is better than starting the year with one of my favourite places – the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly, London. Last Sunday, I went to visit the Klimt/Schiele: Drawings (from the Albertina Museum, Vienna) exhibit. I bought the ticket without knowing anything about the artists; only after wandering in the exhibition I realised that Klimt created the infamous painting “The Kiss” (1907-1908)! I clearly still have much to see, read, and experience but I am very grateful that I can continue to learn by visiting all these wonderful exhibitions curated in London.

“Klimt / Schiele: Drawings is a unique opportunity to see extraordinary drawings produced by both artists, considered to be some of the 20th century’s most important works on paper.”

Exhibition

The exhibition marks the centenary of the deaths of Klimt and Schiele in 1918. They were the two foremost early modernist artists. Despite the age difference between the two men (28 years); they drew on each other for inspiration, Schiele drew on Klimt in his younger years (before 1910) by the time of their deaths Klimt was inspired by Schiele, who by that time was generally acknowledged as his successor.

The exhibition took c.1 hour to walk around with audio headphones. I recommend paying for the audio guide because it provided so much more of a story than the little cards next to the paintings. It has proven to be a very popular exhibition, so for those who are interested please do book your tickets in advance. I booked the first slot on a Sunday morning and it was already packed!

Female Form

I found that the exhibition was a great introduction to the beautifully fluid lines of Klimt and the use of colour by Schiele. There was a lot of adult content so those with a delicate disposition;  I would not recommend this exhibition as there was a significant focus on the female form. Personally, it was refreshing to see the artist moving away from the usual “refined” way of drawing women (usually clothed) to something that was much rawer and more honest. I also loved the fact that both artists liked using charcoal or graphite pencil on brown packing paper. Below are a few of my favourite pieces:

Walking through the exhibition, which is ordered in roughly a chronological way, moving from Klimt to Schiele and the bringing their drawings side by side at the end. I thought it was clear why Klimt had a reputation as the most sought-after portrait painter by the fashionable society of the time. I personally preferred his style compared to Schiele who was bolder with his colours and lines. Schiele was imprisoned in 1912 for the charges of child abduction, seduction and immorality (scandalous!) which had a profound effect on his work at the time. It was fascinating how his art gave a glimpse of his mental state.

4 out 5 Pineapples

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition and highly recommend a visit. I would give it 4 out 5 pineapples!

  • Have any of you been?
  • What did you think?
  • Or did any of you know of the artists before, if yes, who is your favourite?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S. For those who are interested in the latest with my boyfriend and different content, check out his latest post on crypto trading.

Travel: Malta

malta jan 2019

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well and had a wonderful weekend 🙂 It has been personally a stressful week and I have been struggling with quite a lot of different emotions. It isn’t an excuse but ultimately this has meant I could not keep with the posting schedule I set out at the beginning of the year.

I had such high hopes that I would be able to stick to a bi-weekly post, but I think Christine Rai (@yeahitschill) summarised it perfectly with her Instagram post. I am going to forgive myself and I think I will discuss the topic of resilience later on, as part of my self-discovery this year.

Alas! You are not here to read about all the above, I am very excited to share my weekend trip with my boyfriend to Malta! For those who have been following my blog, would know that I did not travel out this Christmas so we decided that we would start the year with a BANG and go away.

Where we stayed

I did some prior research to the trip and many different blogs recommend St. Julian’s as a place to stay rather than the old town of Valetta. I wanted to stay somewhere I could enjoy the sea, so it seemed like a good choice. It is a resort area rather than the cultural UNESCO town of Valetta. Luckily, St Julian’s is only around a 20-minute car ride away from the city centre, so I thought that wasn’t too bad in terms of distance/getting around. We stay at the Westin Dragonara Resort; my initial reaction was it was a huge hotel and had a Wes Anderson feel to it. It was painted this wonderful pink and white on the outside – which I LOVED!

Ignore the baby cot in the picture, they just put it in our room by mistake! 

Tip: When booking hotels I always request a higher room because normally the more expensive rooms (such as suites) are located on the top or penultimate floors. If you want to enjoy the “same view”/amenities but not the price, asking for higher floors is a great way to do this.

This time it really worked out because the hotel was in the process of renovation and we ended up with a newly decorated room and floor. The most basic rooms are HUGE!!! With a super king size bed, desk and sofa space; a massive closet and a good size bathroom. Perfect for a resort type of holiday, where you might be spending more time in your bedroom relaxing. The choice suited us because we wanted to use this weekend to recover from the festive period with family. This is distinctively a different kind of holiday than my usual where I pack it full of stuff to do and exhaust myself. The hotel has an indoor heated pool and a big gym as well (but I can’t tell you whether it was amazing or not because we didn’t manage to get to see it…too busy relaxing hehe).

What we did 

Admittedly, we didn’t have that much time in Malta, so we had to try and make the best of it for the only one full day we were there. We didn’t hire a car but we did see the double-decker sightseeing buses, so I thought that would be a good idea for an introduction to the island. There are three companies in Malta, but we chose Citysightseeing because our hotel was a stop on their route, which made it very convenient. We purchase the €20 day pass each, which is pretty reasonable, especially compared to London transport.

This is not my usual way of travelling but given my limited time and I didn’t want to do too much planning, this was a nice in between. There is a North & South route which the ticket allowed us to travel on. We opted for the South route which stopped in Valetta and also to travelled to Marsaxlokk fishing village and the Blue Grotto.

  • Valetta – We stopped at the Valetta waterfront, which was beautiful! I highly recommend stopping there to look at the sea and the beautiful Barrakka gardens.
  • Marsaxlokk fishing village – We only drove past this on the bus but I regret not stopping off. It is super picturesque! If I was to go back, I would definitely have an ice-cream by the sea and watch the beautiful fishing boats bob in the water.
  • Blue Grotto – Learn from our mistake, go early in the morning and preferably not in the middle of winter. By the time we arrived at 14:30, the last fishing boat was departing. I was unable to convince my boyfriend to join because of the choppy waters, which was a shame. It will have wait until next time.

Where we ate 

  • For a really cosy Italian restaurant with great seafood, I highly recommend Storie e Sapori. We had fresh lobster linguine with clams and it was so delicious! The people are wonderfully friendly and I think was reasonably price given the quality of food.
  • We also tried Palio’s restaurant at the Westin. Again, the food was amazing quality and fresh. Though casual and probably not a usual place for date night, I think it is worth trying. Highly recommend the ribs.

Short but sweet

I was sad to leave on Sunday morning back to London. Malta did have a bit of everything, culture, nature, friendly people and good food. It was a short trip but a very sweet one. Next time, I will visit when it is warmer and for longer.

I hope you found this guide helpful. Have you ever been to Malta before? Would you recommend anything I should try next time I go?  As always, would love to hear from you, so leave a comment below. For more pictures, do check out my Instagram!

Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

 

 

Thought of the Day: Resolutions & Priorities

new year

Hi Everyone,

We are about a week into the New Year and I would like to share my thoughts about New Year’s resolutions and priorities for 2019. I am not sure how helpful it is to share my specific goals, but for those who have not set their goals for the year, I am going to share my framework. For those who are not interested in making goals/focus for 2019, I suggest reading this post by my boyfriend. It might encourage you otherwise!

The Goal Pyramid

resolutions

This is a method I developed with my boyfriend and we have been using it for a couple of years now. It is simple and I think this is why it works for us. It helps us to focus and also makes it easier to review throughout the year to ensure we are on track.

  • Health is the foundation of the pyramid. You need your health for the strength to tackle whatever you have planned. Taking care of #1 (YOU!) is key! Whether this is just trying to walk a bit more or mindful eating, this is where those goals should go.
  • The mind is in the middle. This is the powerhouse of your body and needs constant nurturing. I love to learn and I recognise my need for creativity, so this is where I set my goals to concentrate on this. In particular, my blog is a goal for the year and I have put it under this category – creativity and learning all wrapped into one!
    • Have you thought about what can help your mental wellbeing?
    • What makes you curious/excited?
    • Will you consider meditation or the practice of mindfulness?
  • Wealth is a difficult goal and often plagues my mind. As much as I do not want to worry about my own finances, it is something I discuss a lot with my friends and family. Examples of resolutions in this category are:
    • Do you want to focus on a particular way to build enough wealth to live a certain lifestyle (i.e. save/invest)?
    • Do you want to raise capital to fund a particular dream?
    • Do you want a more positive relationship with money? (For those who has an answer to this, please email or comment below!)

Priorities

I have previously written about priorities and asked my readers to consider their own. I did find this task extremely challenging. The purpose of the exercise is to let you step back and assess what you would like to focus on. Ask yourself what do you really care about the most. It is also just as important to learn how to forgive yourself and recognise that you can’t do everything! Time is precious and once gone, we all know you can’t get it back. Thus, I am slowly learning to say no. I love to help and please others. I am a very “should” person.  However, I realise that in the past, it has been very detrimental to my health and mind (even sometimes my own wealth!).

The reason I write about priorities again is to highlight that your goals for the new years should align to your priorities. I have found that when they are, I have had a better chance of sticking to my goals and not struggling with conflicts. [For those who are interested in my updated priorities list, let me know and I can add it to the comments].

I hope you found this useful and would love to hear how you get along with making your new years resolutions. Wishing you every success for 2019!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x