Cardamom Cake, Strawberry Jam Filling, and Cream Cheese Vanilla Frosting

I made this cake last weekend in two different sessions. The cake was baked early Saturday morning and the frosting made and applied Sunday mid afternoon. It became breakfast and was all but one piece eaten by Sunday evening. This cake was absolutely phenomenal, the cake itself was moist, fluffy, and yet perfectly spiced with the cardamom. I was worried this would overpower the cake and would be ill received, whereas to my great surprise everyone loved it.

 

I found the recipe browsing Pinterest one evening. Eternally grateful for the scrumptious recipe from Molly Yeh. Check out her website for the complete recipe!

 

Information Architecture – A presentation of folksonomies

Good afternoon all!

I’m currently enrolled in the Master of Science Technical Communications graduate program at Northeastern University. This past quarter, January 1st to April 1st, I have been taking the Information Architecture (IA) course. The most recent of assignments was a presentation on a concept within the field of IA, which I chose ‘folksonomies’. Folksonomies was coined by Thomas Vander Wal in 2004. It is a portmanteau of the words folk and taxonomy, which has come to represent the information classification system of tagging. This concept is often utilized in places such as WordPress, so I thought it would be interesting to share here. Attached is my presentation. If you are interested, all of my resources are located on the final slide. Many of these scholarly articles are free downloads on the web. I hope you enjoy and learn something new!

 

Free Speech – at a price? [[ Repost::]]

All Along the Watchtower

free-speech-voltaire

This week’s Catholic Herald has an interesting piece by Jordan Peterson on his attempts to battle with his own university’s (to him and many) peculiar definition of ‘free speech’. Jordan’s description cannot be bettered, so I shall quote it:

Political correctness has become a force of sufficient strength to pose a threat to the structure of our society. It is primarily a product of university-educated leftist radicals, who demand the adjustment of our institutions, speech and thoughts to their radical-egalitarian and censorious agenda. Anyone who speaks out against their principles and aims becomes a target of mob action, accused of racism and worse.

In the most recent edition of the house journal of my own profession, The Times Higher there are interesting pieces about how universities might cope with a populist political climate which is antithetical to what one author called ‘campus values’; only 11% of UK academics admitted to…

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“i love to you” a Philosophy on Feminism

Three weeks have past since I finished Luce Irigaray’s book, i love to you: Sketch of a Possible Felicity in History. I started reading this book as a Sophomore in college, a graduate professor had suggested it for a paper I was writing on language and gender issues. Ashamedly, I took bits and pieces from the book then, without taking the time to read it. The book is entirely philosophical and definitely written that way. The words tire your eyes and patience is a necessity. During that time I did not have this patience. Since then, I have picked up and put down this book at least five times. On this last occasion, however, I devoured it in one sitting. It was just as awe inspiring and remarkable as the individual lines I had read a few years ago. Irigaray’s views on feminism profoundly impacted me. The words on the page spoke to me in a way that much of the feminist philosophy today cannot do.

One of the more alarming aspects of this philosophy is that I do not believe it considered “acceptable” today. This philosophy is grounded in the reality of two sexes; man and woman, women and men. The current convictions, this new wave of third or fourth feminism, involves the varying different genders that have surmounted beyond the realm of science. This is the primary reason for which I think her ideas would be snuffed today. Perhaps this is exactly why it spoke to me. Before delving into her poignant philosophy, I will provide some background of her life.

luceirigarayLuce Irigaray is a philosopher, feminist, psychoanalyst, and linguist among other disciplinary interests. She was born in Belgium in 1930 and during her lifetime has written numerous books regarding feminism and language. As a woman, as well as a lover of languages, I was able to genuinely connect with Irigaray. She spoke of the importance of finding yourself within your sex, of valuing who you were as an engendered person, refuting the ever popular calls for equality. (See quote below.) Her beliefs are supported by research and conducted interviews with people of all ages and sexes. She conducted numerous studies in regards to linguistics, carrying out various forms of tests and interviews to better understand the ways in which we use language and how our use of language is profoundly impacted by our sex. For example, what she found is men often use sentences and language for stating the objective reality, one of her experiments entailed the use of the word “with”, in which men and women were asked to write sentences using this word. I took my book with me to class. I am having drinks with friends after work. I love spending time with my boyfriend. Irigaray discovered that men were more likely to describe his daily activities whereas women were more likely to create a sentence that involved her relationship to another or simply relations to another subject. I tried this experiment out on my own boyfriend, unfortunately after I sent him the video (linked below) but he still provided me the sentence that first came to mind: “I’m going to get drinks with my buddies after work.” Which really is quite interesting, because it is more uncommon to see men create sentences that involve a relationship to others. Of course, mine was “I love spending time with Philip.”

Irigaray’s book was an emphatic vocalization of woman’s need to define for herself a culture of her sex as well as the need to create a syntax for what it means to be woman. There are so many of her ideas that I wish I could write wholly of, alas, I would be here until after the new year if I attempted. Here are some of the passages that spoke so loudly to me as I read, my favorite, happens to be the last:

“…[women] lack a positive definition of their gender and the objective qualities which give it an individual and collective content…” (Irigaray 2)

“For such a development to come about.. it is, rather, a question of awakening her to an identity and to rights and responsibilities corresponding to her gender.” (Irigaray 4)

“To return to ourselves as living beings who are engendered and fabricated is a vital and ethical need of paramount importance.” (Irigaray 14)

“… claiming to be equal to a man is a serious ethical mistake because by so doing woman contributes to the erasure of natural and spiritual reality in an abstract universal that serves only one master: death. Aside from her own suicide, she thus deprives man of the possibility of defining himself as man, that is as a naturally and spiritually sexed person.” (Irigaray 27)

Perhaps I have peaked your interest, perhaps you think I am on my way to being impressively non-PC, however, her words are specific and her sentences beautiful. If even to read for its style, Irigaray touches on some great aspects of feminism that would not even be acknowledged today in mainstream society.

A video below represents an interview held with Irigaray in early 2013.

 

Reflections on Bad Feminist

The other morning, I wrote what felt like a scathing review of Roxane Gay’s essay “Reaching for Catharsis: Getting Fat Right (or Wrong) and Diana Spechler’s Skinny“. Scathing because I have an incredible amount of disdain for heavy and negative criticisms. I feel ambivalent towards this book. At times, I laughed joyously at Gay’s account of her Scrabble experiences, at others I was infuriated by her harsh judgments, her criticisms, and her incessant verbal attacks on individuals she perceived as not having the “right experience” to understand her plights.

Although, when I completed the final two chapters last evening, I had the very typical warm and fuzzy reading you get once a book arrives at its culmination. I had the opportunity to listen to Roxane Gay speak about this book prior to its release, in the fall of 2013. It was at our Alma Mater, Michigan Technological University. I had forgotten until last night, that she had read an excerpt fmturom this book. I had forgotten how her words made me feel that night. When I began reading the final chapter, I was slammed into ground – at the location, of the very night I heard her speak and all the memories came crashing down at me. I remember exactly what the weather was like, I remember how I was mad at my significant other before I arrived to her speaking, I remember my text messages, and I can remember the very vivid details of what occurred afterward.

I re-read these chapters with alacrity.

I admire Roxane Gay for many reasons. Her writing is absolutely beautiful, as noted in my previous entry, the words she writes form the image of a ribbon baton in my mind. I aspire to write with as much passion bookand determination as she does. Mostly, I believe Roxane and this book made such a warm and touching impression on me because by the last two chapters she finally opened up to us, the readers, and provided us with a modicum of insight as to who she is. You can readily understand her opinions and official stances on major issues throughout her essays, but these final two were just different. Her guard was down, her words were soft, and her defenses lifted.

As much as I adore, yes adore, the final two chapters… many of her essays were not for me. I anticipate and know what her criticisms of the line “not for me” would entail. Probably some repudiation because I am a white woman. In spite of this, I enjoyed reading this book, and would definitely recommend it to others. It did spark within me, a return to the personal questions I have with feminism. ughHow I can accurately describe myself as a feminist without reluctance? Do I want to be a feminist? Am I a feminist? Am I passionate enough to be a feminist? Am I a feminist if I want my boyfriend to take care of me? If I want to be a stay at home mother (even for just a little bit)? Am I a true feminist if my boyfriend is conservative and comes from a country with a conservative culture? I guess, now that I’m a older, I like to think of feminism as supporting women. If I think of it  with such excessive banality, the whole concept becomes clear to me. Support people. Support and care for each individual. Ultimately, be kind and have empathy, treat people fairly. I suppose this is my current take on feminism. I am sure this will change in the years to come, perhaps even months, but like she says, “I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

badfeminist

 

Review: Roxane Gay’s “Reaching for Catharsis: Getting Fat Right (or Wrong)” and Diana Spechler’s “Skinny”

This week I am reading Roxane Gay’s compilation of essays, Bad Feminist. A beautiful writer. I will attempt to explain to you how her words feel inside my soul as I read them… imagine the ribbon baton. This is the kind of baton I would have used dancing around in a glittery tutu when I was young (or even now for that matter). Her words are the glitter and her sentences are the movement of the baton. Her witty commentary is the sharp whip the ribbon makes when waved vigorously. Although Roxane’s prose energized and lulled me simultaneously, there were a few instances that I was deeply offended by her brash assumptions and criticisms. I often shy away from the use of offended; I often try to understand the intentions of the other person before I recoil into myself and open myself to pain. I wasn’t just offended, I quickly realized too, that I was angry. Livid even.

In this particular essay, Roxane discusses Diana Spechler’s novel Skinny. A story of a woman escaping the pain of her father’s death and becoming a camp counselor at a fat camp. spechlerThe main character, who has recently gained approximately 30 pounds, begins to console her anguish and loneliness with weight loss. She begins to exercise and eat fewer and fewer calories; soon, she is barely consuming any calories, her body atrophying with the excessive physical training.

Roxane Gay begins to describe her criticisms of the novel and its overall effectiveness in communicating the story of a young woman who finds herself in a situation in which the only consolation she can find is within the self-absorption she has with her own body. A weakness, Gay begins to explain, is “the implausibility of all this drama over a mere thirty pounds of excess weight…”.

Earlier in Gay’s book, we learn that she is overweight. She finds comfort in food and security in being bigger. Taking all of this into account, I understand that I have never been the weight of Gay. I have, however, been almost 200 pounds as an eighth grader, with a body that was perhaps only capable of carrying the weight of a 130 pound girl.

Not only was I overweight, but it consumed my thoughts for 95% of my childhood. In high school, after the summer of my sophomore year, it became 100%. 100% for the next seven years. That is a long time to spend worrying and thinking about your weight, the perception you have of yourself and others have of you, and of your own happiness. In fact, as someone who viscerally experiences almost every moment of her life and the events of others in their own life, fighting a seven year battle with your own mind can become quite lethal.

When I read this line, when I read the implausibility of all this drama. I was stabbed in the stomach. How dare you invalidate the pain and experience others have had because you have a different version of the pain described. Because your version is different, absolutely does not mean that that pain and anguish does not exist or is implausible.

I have not read Spechler’s book, I have not been to fat camp, but I have suffered from eating disorders. Eating disorders “not otherwise specified”. Eating disorders that resulted from only being 30 pounds overweight. Eating disorders that caused me to destroy my body internally and externally. I was so starved I began to eat my mind and regurgitate it in the form of liquid and chunks of granola bars. I lost myself, in attempt to find consoling; I chopped my hair, I punched my stomach, just to feel out of the skin I was in. I did these things. Mostly, I hugged myself and I cried because the experience was altogether too painful and I could not escape my body, mind or the poignant feelings of disgust and shame, anger, and fear of what others were going to force me to do.

When I read or listen to people speak in the way Roxane Gay does in this particular essay, I am deeply wounded. The lack of empathy for people other than themselves is all too distinct.

I will fight this behavior for as long as I live because every voice with a story of eating disorders, deserves to be heard, regardless of the particulars of that person’s experience. The invalidation of pain one has not experienced is inexcusable, and frankly is counterintuitive to most of the movements Gay proclaims to stand strongly for.

I hear you, Roxane, when you explain why you wrote what you did, but I cannot help but believe that you are immensely mistaken in your criticisms and overt judgement of who is eligible to have and experience the pain of an eating disorder.

HR4EU Fabulous New Online Interactive Croatian Language Learning For Free

This is so amazing! I am so excited to incorporate this into my lessons from a book I own. How fabbity fab. I’ve already created my account! Catch up Duolingo!!!

Croatia, the War, and the Future

From left: Jurica Polancec, Matea Filko, Dasa Farkas and Diana Hriberski The HR4EU Team Photo: HINA/ Ivan SaravanjaFrom left: Jurica Polancec,
Matea Filko, Dasa Farkas and Diana Hriberski
The HR4EU Team
Photo: HINA/ Ivan Saravanja

HR4EU is a new free portal for online interactive Croatian language learning developed by a group of young linguists from the University of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb with the help of EU social projects funding, reports Croatian news agency HINA.  This project, besides developing and presenting interactive Croatian language lessons, also involves the development of new and the build-up of existing computer-based resources for the Croatian language.

Free and entertaining courses already exist for many languages but not for the Croatian one. We thought it would be most useful to create something like that because, today, languages are most visible exactly via the internet,” said Matea Filko, PhD in Linguistics who works on this project.

Homepage HR4EU Photo: ScreenshotHomepage HR4EU
Photo: Screenshot

The interactive HR4EU Croatian language learning course is…

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Well hello sunshines!

Oooo oooo ooooo it has been quite the long time since I have last visited WordPress… let alone taken the time to write (other than technical documents). I have been feeling quite joyous this past week and have decided that while my mind is in such a beautiful bright place, I shall be creating a goals list for myself. I always love having something to look forward to, yet these items should be activities that I can do everyday to enjoy every minute of everyday. I wish to no longer seek for the weekend, the next month, the next event, the next holiday, the next anything. So here I dipp-dippity go!

  1. Learn Croatian – with the goal of (by Christmas) be able to speak with my boyfriend’s family.
  2. Read 5 Books – (between now and let’s say…Thanksgiving… the week of is totally included).
  3. Save Money – with the greater goals of; 1) saving for graduate school and 2) saving for my trip to Croatia next August
  4. Exercise a couple times a week – for a happy and healthier mind.
  5. Continue to show adoration and feel the love – between my family, my boyfriend, and my two amazing kittens
  6. Relish in the art of cooking – (and eating)  I have been whipping up some nooooiiiiice recipes lately. I would love to keep this progress going!
  7. Send everyone I know cards – for their birthdays’ and happy events! ❤
  8. Take care of myself better – and take time to breath

I hope some of this has perhaps helped inspire you to focus more on what brings joy, happiness, and health to your life. For now, ta-ta and happy Friday!

 

And welcome world! To my beloved Medo and Luna

 

 

Easter Sunday and New Baking Creations

Easter Sunday, I went home to visit my family and took my boyfriend with me. My mum has been cooking and baking ubiquitous amounts of food since my grandmother arrived in the fall; she decided that the dessert for this holiday weekend was to be a project of my own. I didn’t mind, as I haven’t had the opportunity to prepare any dishes for my faPoundCakemily since Philip and I began to cook more advanced meals. I scrounged the internet a couple days before. I came across an absolutely gorgeous pound cake from Food and Wine’s online magazine. The fresh fruits and colors absolutely inspired me and I became so excited to bake this Clementine and Yogurt Chia Seed Pound Cake.
Although, I love poppy seeds far more than chia, so I decided to do a little bit of improvisation in the recipe, replacing the amount of chia seeds with poppy seeds.

One of the best aspects of this recipe was how easy it was to make. Truly it wasn’t difficult at all, I was quite amazed. Even if you have never baked before, this recipe is more than capable of being your next food creation in your baking career. Please be forewarned, however, that this pound cake recipe is incredibly sweet. Not the ingredients within the cake itself but the candied clementines and the clementine syrup, in addition to the powdered sugar lemon icing it becomes incredibly rich. Personally, I have an insatiable sweet tooth (seriously, I ate a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla Heath Bar ice cream last night… lawwwwwwdd soooooo delish), but if you follow this recipe (almost) exactly you are likely to want a steaming cup of dark black coffee to accompany a rather small size bite of the cake. Do not fret, the cake lasts for at least a week in the fridge and it still tastes absolutely delicious on day 6 and 7 as it did on day 1. I hope you try out this recipe and even alter it to make it a bit of your own, as I absolutely adored it. Happy baking, happy eating, and happy joyous living.