Arts and Culture

Art Around Town (Metz, France)

After taking four days off to recover from the Trail des Passerelles, the Ninja Turtle ventured outside for her first run as the weather was just too darn nice to stay indoors. Her quads are still incredibly sore from the downhills so it was slow going; she kept to a route close to home (just in case she needed to cut the run short from too much pain) which meant sticking to within the city.

Now that Europe is thrown into the height of summer, there are endless activities and free entertainment lined up. Metz Plage started two days ago; that’s the “urban beach” where a whole pile of sand is dumped somewhere to re-create a beach atmosphere for those who live only about 8 hours from the closest real beach.

There’s currently a series of open air art exhibitions displayed in various venues too – gardens seem to be a favourite exhibition spot. So as the Ninja Turtle shuffled towards the end of her easy 5-miler, she chanced upon this pretty cool series:

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Arts and Culture

Scenes from the Parc de la Seille

This morning, the Ninja Turtle headed to the local park (like most Wednesdays). However, she wasn’t planning on running her usual course. Instead, she came armed with a camera in an attempt to capture some sights she normally passes while running.

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There is no sadder sight than an empty playground on a sunny day.

C’est la rentrée ici en France. A new school year has started here.

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Except for these guys. They're too cool for school.

Still, the local park was crowded on such a beautiful day.

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Some still insist on sunbathing in September

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While others indulge in skinny-dipping

After an hour it was time to go home, but there was one final feat to tackle.

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Climbing the stairway to heaven

In case some are wondering why she’d skipped a run on such a lovely day, it’s because her Monday LSD was pushed back to yesterday, and she’ll do the tempo (or hills) tomorrow. Promise.

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Food

Quick and Easy Party Snacks

Not long ago, GodzillaPin and the Ninja Turtle had a couple of German friends who came by to visit for a couple of days. There was a lot of beer going on, and of course with a drink (or three), one naturally seeks out a snack. How often though, is one faced with peanuts, chips and crackers? If you’re really lucky and someone decides to be fancy, you may get green olives and salami. It does the job of soaking up the alcohol in your stomach, but come on, food ought to be a little bit more than simply utilitarian, especially at a party or a gathering!

It really isn’t challenging to lift the game with a couple of simple, fresh ingredients thrown together. Bonus: if you make enough nibbles for your guests, you could even do away with preparing a main course all together! (OK jokes aside, the Ninja Turtle is known to overdo the tapas sometimes, and completely ruin her appetite for the dinner itself, so she’s just speaking from personal experience).

Here’s what the Ninja Turtle served up for the group’s soirée:

Cheese plate! What's not to like about an assortment of cheese?

Cheese plate! What’s not to like about an assortment of cheese with seasonal fruit?

The Ninja Turtle and her best friend initially horrified GodzillaPin with the whole jam+cheese idea, but he’s wrapped his head around the sweet and savoury pairing. It gets deliciously messy to eat without crackers involved, but if your friends love you, they will be licking, not pointing their sticky judgemental fingers at you.

Tomme de Savoie, emmental, morbier... there are hundreds of French cheese to work through before this snack becomes old.

Tomme de Savoie, emmental, morbier… there are hundreds of French cheese to work through before this snack becomes old.

Searching a healthier/lighter option for the warmer weather?

The 3 Cs for a crunchy canapé: cucumber, cheese (ricotta) and caviar.

The 3 Cs for a crunchy canapé: cucumber, cheese (ricotta) and caviar.

Or for something more substantial…

Terrine and confit on French loaf

Terrine Lyonnaise and Sauvignon confit on French loaf

None of the above takes more than three minutes to whip up, which leaves one free to hang out with the guests, because nothing is worse than being the kind of host who spends the entire time noticeably absent by slaving away in the kitchen. And none of them feature more than three key ingredients each, which should make it friendly on the wallet. Ultimately, there are thousands of snacks one could serve alongside drinks, so there really isn’t any reason to be presenting your guests with peanuts and popcorn ever again.

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Running

Running Motivation

Hello, and happy St Patrick’s Day! Since the Ninja Turtle is neither Irish, nor Catholic, it seems a little strange to be hat-tipping this festivity, but she never says no to one more reason for a cold beer, which seems to be the real point of today. Like all runners, she is also somewhat superstitious and ritualistic – no hunting for four-leaf clovers or wearing horseshoes, but she certainly wore green while out running today, and the thought crossed her mind to go around pinching those who didn’t, so she would be chased into picking up her pace.

We’re halfway through March, and now seems as good a time as any to re-evaluate how this year is coming along. This time last year, the Turtle was training hard for the Marathon de Paris, her first, and having a bucket list goal to work towards is one hell of a motivation in itself. Having achieved the goal however, the Ninja Turtle has decided that there is a lot more to running than just marathons. Sure, they are nothing to sneeze at, but 2014 is the year she’s going to diversify her running experiences. She aims to do more festival and music runs (because she loves dressing silly and scoring high-5s from the children), as well as trail racing. Of course, she’ll go back to the marathons if something really attractive comes up, but for now, there are other priorities.

It must be said that with a less solid goal, it can be challenging to stay focused. When you’re aiming to complete a marathon, you have a mantra on your runs, it sounds something like “42.195… 42.195… if I don’t make it, I’d rather die… 42.195…” (or if you use miles, “26.2… 26.2… I’m going to run faster than you… 26.2…”) When, like the Ninja Turtle, you’re an amateur runner without a coach or a tailor-made training plan, and all you want to do is have fun/run through rugged terrain, mantras become less evident. They sound a little bit more like “kill the hills! kill the hills!” or, while running on the grass in Anywhere, France, “do NOT step on dogshit, do NOT step on dogshit”.

Nonetheless, there is plenty to get her lacing up and out the door; as mentioned before, spring has sprung early this year. The riverside trails that were closed over winter due to floods have reopened, and she did most of the 8 miles alongside two rivers – the Seille and the Moselle.

The best feeling in the world can only be attained by outrunning the ducks on the river.

The best feeling in the world can only be attained by outrunning the ducks on the river.

And along the way, she was treated to views like these:

La Seille, as seen at the Porte des Allemands.

La Seille, as seen at the Porte des Allemands.

Of course, scenery aside, this runner has a few other “carrots” to keep her running. In no particular order, they include:

  • A new running playlist
  • A large post-run meal featuring a LOT of peanut butter
  • Enrolling for an upcoming race
  • A running magazine that GodzillaPin bought for her

How do YOU motivate yourself to run?

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Arts and Culture, Stories

Remembering Who We Really Are

Once in a while, it seems like we lose sight of who and what we really are.

Some things are eternal. We're not one of those things.

Some things are eternal. We’re not one of those things.

Countless of sunrises have preceded our fleeting existence, and millions more will follow our demise.

In the grand scheme of things, we’re so very small, and our time here, so very brief. We all live on borrowed time.

It’s good to like what we are experiencing in this world of ours, but we should never forget:

We are not owners of any of it. We are simply caretakers.

We are not owners of any of it. We are simply caretakers.

This place doesn’t belong to us. It’s not ours to stake our claims on, and certainly not ours to spoil.

It’s not even a matter of safeguarding it for future generations. It’s about right here, right now, doing the right thing.

If we are a part of it, then let us learn to take better care of ourselves. If we are apart of it, then let us learn to tread softly and leave no trace behind.

True beauty is a delicate thing. Let us not be the ones to shatter it.

True beauty is a delicate thing. Let us not be the ones to shatter it.

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