ordinary and oddinary

I write therefore I exist.

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

VAT in Spain is going up from tommorrow!

Oh dear, I hope I can squeeze into Mercadona this evening and buy all the ingredients I need for tomorrow’s party. The increase list seems quite long. Apart from basic foodstuffs, everything will go up by 2-4%. Will this increase be borne by the consumers only? Or will there be some retailers who are generous enough to absorb the increase? I’m not positive about that.


Personally, the impact will be tangible in supermarkets, casual journeys (train, hotel & flight),  Zara, Mago, El Corte Ingles, etc., you know what I mean. Sigh. 



Icons of Madrid

Which building / monument should be the icon of Madrid? ABC.es has set out the following 10 candidates to pick the simbol of the city like Paris’s Eiffel Tower or New York’s Statue of Liberty.

For me, Palacio de Telecomunicaciones de Cibeles was the most impressive. Therefore she’s got my vote! How about you? Click the link below and cast your vote.


Puerta de Alcalá
Puerta de Alcalá

El Oso y el Madroño
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol
Palacio Real
Palacio Real
Plaza de toros de Las Ventas
Las Ventas
Palacio de Telecomunicaciones
Palacio de Telecomunicaciones de Cibeles
Fuente de Cibeles
Fuente de Cibeles
Las Cuatro Torres
Las Cuatro Torres
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
Museo del Prado
Museo del Prado

Michelle Obama’s Diet Secret

Well, the title itself is self-contradictory because we all know that there is no secret in a diet. Eat less, move more, right?

However, this kind of headline always catches my attention. I can’t help it. I’m not on a diet and maintain a slim figure, because I am conscious of what I eat. I mean I eat light the next day if I had a big dinner. I avoid carb-loaded food (can’t digest very well) and sugary drinks (never liked since child).

This is an article I came across last week. It’s not a secret but there are some good advice we all can make note of. Click here for the full article (in Spanish).

Per Mrs Obama,

1. Eat vegetables, and if from your own garden, better.
2. Many foods in small quantity.
3. Don’t look at the calories.
4. Meal plan to delegate to chefs (not applicable to all!)
5. excercise daily.
6. Stretching.

Sound and simple, right? 🙂


Madrid para siempre.

The highlights of my Madrid trip were two things.

The first one was undoubtedly Edward Hopper(1882 – 1967)’s temporary exhibition at Thyssen-Bornemisza. I spent there 4 hours to feel and ponder through his paintings. Not every painting of his was on display but it was more than enough to enjoy and observe his painting interests and styles chronically. These two were my favourites at the exhibition. As you see there is a gap of 52 years between two. When he finished ‘Soir Bleu’, he had not yet defined his style and was getting inspirations from all prominent artists in Europe.  However, it shows he already had ambition and vision to express for the future works.

                                                                      Soir Bleu (1914)

                                                         Two Comedians (1966)  

And ‘Two Comedians’ made me think a lot about life. It was painted just a year before he died. He was believed to portrait himself and his wife Jo here. His lifelong admiration for theatre, where two comedians finished their show and were bowing to the audience. The show is over. Is life a comedy or a tragedy? For him it must have been a comedy and a funny show which he enjoyed a lot but knew it would come to an end. And he accepted it graciously. 

On another pleasant note, the ratatouille I had at the restaurant on the 5th floor of the museum was by far the best one I’ve had in my entire life. 🙂

The second one was a ballet-flameco show ‘Carmen‘.

What can I say? This has finally completed a missing jigsaw piece that I was looking for. The opera version I saw a while ago did not capture the passionate ‘gitana’ Carmen perfectly. Carmen sings and dances. Carmen expresses her feelings with the whole body movement. Without her flamenco, you cannot understand her 100%. Wow.

Now I feel so content and alive.
Confirmation: I need cultural/artistic blood transfusion on a regular basis.

Edward Hopper

I have been always attracted to female portraits which are painted in an interesting setting. I love the ones which show subtle expressions and emotions to the surroundings they are in. The painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring (Dutch: Het Meisje met de Parel) by Dutch Painter Johannes Vermeer was one of those. I think it was probably year 1999 or 2000 while I was visiting Paris. Luckily I was able to see Vermeer’s temporary exhibition in one of the great museums. Not knowing who the painter was and how famous he was, I was instantly drawn to his collection. I literally stared at some of his paintings for hours and the most striking piece was the aforementioned. The facial expression on the girl’s face was so deep and intense. 

Then some time later I first saw Hopper’s paintings at Tate Modern Gallery in London. Before I met his paintings, my preference was more on a piece basis. Hence it was an exciting discovery as Hopper’s main theme was exactly what I adored. I bought a large print of ‘New York Movie (1939)’ and a collection of his postcards. For the same favoritism, I also purchased a large print of Henri Mattisse’s ‘The Inattentive Reader (1919)’. These two paintings are still hanging on the wall in my study and I never get bored appreciating them.

The reason I like Hopper’s painting is that I totally ‘get’ it. Every single piece of them.
I can immerse myself in each painting and become the woman. Call me unsophisticated, but I’m being honest – I find it difficult to relate myself to some art movements (cubism, surrealism, you know what I mean) and to appreciate as much as I would like to.

I’m indescribably excited to go to the special exhibition on Edward Hopper in Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. As seen on the home page, ‘The exhibition brings together the largest and most ambitious selection of works by the US artist ever to be shown in Europe, with loans from major museums and institutions including the MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, in addition to various private collections and with a particularly generous loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The latter is sending 14 works from the Bequest of Josephine N. Hopper, the artist’s wife.’.

What can I say more? I feel so privileged.:-)

A life lesson

It was probably when I was 16 and a high school student.

We were busy copying what the teacher wrote on the blackboard and the classroom was very quite. Then suddenly, the teacher broke the silence and said ‘You know about the rice..’. Rice? The food? (Rice is the staple in Korea by the way.) I lifted my head and looked at him. He carried on where he paused. ‘Imagine if the rice is too sweet or savoury. You wouldn’t want to eat every day. Because it tastes bland and blends well with other dishes you can always eat and are never tired of it.’ That was it. He stopped and moved back to the textbook.

I just laughed. I was only 16 and I didn’t know what he really meant at that time. However, this has turned out to be the most enlightening lesson of life. Now I truly know what the message was after I’ve experienced many different – good and bad – things in life.

No matter what you eat, you need staple foods. You could eat a piece of chocolate cake or a grand lobster dish every now and then but these are not something you can live on. Staple gives you confidence and security. You don’t need to struggle to choose because you can have both. It’s not a matter of choice! You can eat rice with others. Or you can eat others one day but when you’re tired you can always go back to rice. You don’t need to/cannot  replace rice with something else (ok – rice, bread, potato, you know what I mean).

I could extend this even a bit further. Life is all about who you are and where you are from. As long as you are secure about yourself, you can achieve whatever you want in life. You will enjoy the experiences and learn to co-habit with those things that life has to offer. This vital lesson can apply to so many aspects of life. I’m still in awe to think about the teacher who casually said those words to us 16 year-old girls. He was a real philosopher. I cannot thank him enough.

Don’t forget the staple, it’s always there for you.

Smartphone addiction

It’s been more than a month since I posted a new post.

In my defence, my communication need has been met perfectly by other sources, that fact that I had a blog completely slipped my mind! 🙂

I had a two-week’s wonderful holiday at my house in Spain and threw loads of party. I practised my cooking skills and attempted new dishes with unfamiliar ingredients. Cooking and baking inspires me. I’m now seriously considering embarking on a culinary career when the time is right. 🙂 I already started checking some cooking schools in San Sebastian (FYI, this city is the top gourmet place in Spain). We will see.

Today, this headline from ABC.es has captured my attention. Oh dear, I’m one of them.

El 55% de españoles renunciaría a la tele o al coche antes que al smartphone  55% of Spaniards would give up TV or car for smartphone

I did try to put in some control measure to mitigate my addiction. Firstly, I’m not on 3G. My iphone only works (well, does ‘smarts’) on wifi. This helps me abstain from my iphone during working hours. Secondly, I ‘didn’t ‘ have internet connection at my house in Spain so that I had relaxing technology-free weekends. It’s a past tense for a reason. My good friend and neighbour Isabel and I had a little martini session some weekends ago and I casually mentioned that I made a trip to the communal rubbish collection area to upload some photos on my twitter because there was free wifi available around that area. It was meant to be a harmless and funny story without recourse, however Isabel was almost upset and asked me why I didn’t ask for the ‘clave‘ for her wifi. Naturally, oh right, ‘No se por que no pedi!’ tada – I ‘had to(!)’ gratefully accept it. lol

Now more and more restaurants and cafes offer free-wifi connection and I’m sure it will be a basic feature in any commercial premises in a very short space of time. I will not be able to escape unless I put myself on ultra strict abstention, which is quite unlikely.

Smartphone, if used well, is a fantastic little apparatus. I’m always in touch with my family back in Korea or what’s going on in the world. Let’s not forget the Olympics. I almost feel like I’m an Olympian in London!

However it takes up too much of my time. I think I can easily spend 3-4 hours staring at my iphone after I get back home. It’s a total time waster. I’m sometimes disgusted with myself to see that I continuously check email, twitter, facebook and other blogs and even go back at them again and again  like a stalker until my eyes are sore. My iphone totally controls me! Mind you, I was in heaven that I didn’t have access to wifi while I was holidaying in Spain. I read countless books and felt more time on my hand. Honestly nothing happened at all while I didn’t find out breaking news from the social network channels. Now knowing I’ve got the internet on my iphone, I won’t be able to go back to my same old self. My weekends will not be the same again.

Saying that checking if there is a free wifi connection available (and if there is, I feel… high!) is still the first thing I do when I’m sat at any restaurant. I hate the fact that I’m a slave to my iphone but I can’t help it! I’m totally obsessed.

Post Navigation