I’m Home!

After four months in New York (not counting my short trip home for Thanksgiving), it definitely feels good to be back in the city I grew up in. It’s nice to be around friends, family and my dogs, go back to my normal routine, favourite foods and my comfy bed. My decision to come back was not an easy one, but it was very necessary.

Zurich Sky

Zurich Sky

Before I left home, I always thought I had to get away from the sort of “narrow-minded thinking” the society here practices. Whatever you do has to have a reason – you don’t study for the sake of studying, you choose majors based on future possible professions, and university must become your life if you want to  to survive among thousands of other students. I wanted to break free from the norm and continue to dance while getting an education, something that is slightly frowned upon here … so I decided to go to the States – where anything is possible.

I found a school that practices the exact opposite of a Swiss school, concentrating on individualised education full of research papers or creative work you feel could be relevant to the course you interviewed for and selected, and not on how well you do on exams. The school wanted every student to do the best they could, and not be measured by an exam comparing them to others. Also, they followed a curriculum offering close contact with professors, where a student would attend a bi-weekly conference to discuss class work and the afore-mentioned research paper, formally known as conference work. The emphasis on the knowledge you attained at this school, in my case, was through independent study and research for your own work, not so much in class itself. There, we discussed the books we were reading and gathered knowledge from each other’s opinions expressed in the discussions loosely lead by the teachers.

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In addition to academic classes, you could choose creative ones as well. These were known as “thirds” and required more class time than any other class, but weren’t meant to have as much of a work load. I chose the dance third and spent an average of more than 3 hours a day in a dance themed class, like dance history, contemporary or improvisation. A lot of time got sucked up by being in a dance third, as I only had some odd slots in between to eat food before heading to my academic classes – it was stressful. The school wanted you to devote yourself completely to each and every class, and only then would you truly benefit from the education there. Go by things half-heartedly and you will be miserable and fall behind…

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Theoretically a great idea, in my case however not the best choice. I grew up in a system where you studied for tests as well; not only for your own acquisition of knowledge. If I wanted to know more, I would do that work independently, but the school would always offer me a general basis from what I could work off of. With the requirement of tests, I had short-term goals pushing me to study even when I didn’t really enjoy what we were doing, in every subject.

This was a major thing missing in my lit class for example, as while the discussions were based on the readings we should have done, it was easy to just weasel in a general statement that applied to the book as well when you didn’t really do the assignment, and no one would know because there would be no test to prove your lack of reading. This made it hard for me to justify going to class; why should I read something if a) it won’t really be discussed b) there is no test and c) my conference work counts for more than half of the grade, why can’t I use class time to do that instead? (same went for some of the dance classes I didn’t really enjoy.. why couldn’t I work on my homework instead?!)

Those were a few of the issues I noticed with the system, that over time would lead to me being more and more unhappy. I felt like since conference work was a bigger part of your grade, that was the only thing I was focusing on, while barely doing the work for class. I noticed I wasn’t using my education there to it’s full potential as I didn’t have enough interest in my classes to independently push myself – I thus felt like I was teaching myself through my research as I wasn’t benefitting from class time.. and this made me ask myself: why am I at a school if I am teaching myself?!

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My longing for the test-taking, stressful studying, lecture listening culture where you could “see a point in what you were doing even if you weren’t completely interested in the subject matter because you had tests” grew stronger every day, and I knew I had to return if I wanted to graduate successfully and move on to bigger and better things. I know within myself that a little bit of structure from a university helps me much more than a complete “motivate yourself to do the best you can do”-mentality. So is a bit of competition among fellow peers (I always wanted to know how well others did not their tests.. not proud, but it helped me push myself more!).

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I began to no longer enjoy my dance class, as it was required for credit and not for personal pleasure. Not wanting to dance is a major indicator of me being unhappy! I also noticed that I felt I couldn’t do what they expected of me, and that I simply didn’t want to do the work, and that too much was asked of a student, academically or creatively. This made me ask myself, is it the school or simply the studying I don’t want to do. I then realised that it was the school itself when I was personally spending more time researching information about nutrition, health and science instead of reading a book I was meant to, working on a choreography for myself, or writing down bits of paragraphs I would one day want to incorporate into a book. This showed me I can study for the sake of knowledge, but it has to be knowledge I wish to acquire…

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I guess you can take the girl out of Switzerland, but you can’t take the Swiss thinking out of the girl…

So now I will be planning my next steps. Stay tuned and get ready to see what I will do next! 😉

With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxo

 

Thanksgiving Saturday etc

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Food. Tis the season to be round and jolly. I don’t know about you, but because I eat a diet of mainly fruit and vegetables, portion control has never been one of my strong points. Now while I have been told that my over-consumption of grapes, berries and cucumbers is hereditary, there is no sign in my DNA that speaks for a frequent indulgence in things my body does not function well on, i.e. any normal kind of food other people are lucky enough to be able to eat daily, but if I eat them one time too many I generally turn into one of the snowballs depicted above. Being in college has definitely had this “snowball effect” on me (use of amazing figurative term intended 😉 ). Food is available EVERYWHERE in this consumerism-run country, and it is hard to stick to my finally perfected, 80 % raw diet. The lack of fresh produce at my school has made me fine tune my diet in ways that end up in me consuming way too many cans of nuts, cups of tofu and rice in search for healthy alternatives to what is offered here. My choices are not technically unhealthy, but they do begin to leave you slightly more “bulky” when you only ate them for one or two of your meals in the day, like I was used to, and not depended on them completely!

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Cooking veggies

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Late night snack

 

That’s why I decided to do a short cleanse while back at home, eating like I used to again!

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Salad at the Pain Quotidian with Goat’s Cheese, roasted pumpkin and quinoa taboulé

I felt AMAZING after revamping my nutrition (says she munching on a few whole grain tortilla chips, while waiting for a sushi delivery….) I will definitely go back to it when I go back home, as a diet lacking in fresh produce and super foods has a terrible effect on my mood, my energy and my general well-being.

At this point in my life, I’m happy to finally have figured out what foods I function best on! Too bad I’m not always able to remember that when wooed by things like double chocolate chip cookie cheesecake bites, greasy burritos and the works. “I’ll start again tomorrow…” is the way I generally end my day, stomach bloated, feeling way too tired and wanting to sleep forever. Oh, when will I learn from my mistakes..

Anyhoo, back to Saturday. I was continuing my cleanse, and started off my morning with a little pilates with my father.

IMG_0803This was taken post workout. I was amazed my how fit my dad was.. the exercises were tough and left me in a pool of sweat, despite my daily dance classes and 5 x a week workouts!

After pilates I had made myself lunch and went back to studying. Then, around 5, this wonderful, bestest girl showed up

IMG_0744…and picked me up to go to a ball!

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IMG_0736The theme was New York Nights

IMG_0811The pictures speak for themselves. The night was an absolute blast!

Also along for the ride: my best friend

IMG_0747Who also made a countdown, counting the days to my return home

IMG_0845The night started with us getting dressed and my wonderful mom driving us to the university where the ball was being held.

IMG_0805My makeup for the night

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The University

IMG_0806The inside

IMG_0810Notice the Empire State Building 😉

The cocktails:

IMG_0808Cosmos for us two. They were delicious, buuuuuuuuuut, I hadn’t had eaten dinner and was still on my cleanse; read: I needed to get food and fast! All my good intentions –> out the window

IMG_0809Brownie time!

..and once I got home I had to remind myself:

IMG_0801 😉 that made me feel better about my slip-up that weekend.

I got home at a reasonable time, as I had a flight back to NYC the next morning!

With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Fail and Earl Grey Oats Win

A few months ago I shared with you some of my favourite overnight oats recipes. My two most loved ones were Peanut Butter Oats and Earl Grey Oats. I tried recreating them here with steel-cut oats, but failed miserably as the soaking period is longer than for quick oats and I ended up needing to chew much more than was enjoyable. Not letting my disappointment get to me, I decided to get up early instead and cook up some oatmeal in the morning.

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My first breakfast oatmeal attempt were my Fudge Oats, and I fell in love with the fluffy yet creaminess that the steel-cut oats attained. That being said, you can imagine how excited I was for my next steel-cut-oat experience!

IMG_0635In the form of Peanut Butter Oats.

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IMG_0651The texture was good, but I should not have added PB 2 to the mix at the end, as it gave off a weird artificial aftertaste.

IMG_0649The texture and creaminess were great though, so I decided to eat half before dance and doctor the rest up later before going to the gym.

This “doctoring up” came in the form of almond butter with chia seeds, cocoa powder and more chocolate chips.

IMG_0652The result: brownie batter oats without the nasty after taste! Absolute win.

IMG_0655It became very sticky due to the added almond butter and also super chocolatey with the cocoa. Needless to say, I enjoyed every last bite and did not crave any unhealthy cookies or cake afterwards!

IMG_0667My next attempt at a stove-top version of my overnight oats was more successful than the PB2 drama as I stayed as close to my original recipe as possible, with only the slightest tweak: a tablespoon of honey drizzled on top.

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IMG_0768These earl grey oats were perfect. I was surprised that steeping the tea bag in the boiling coconut milk actually worked! It was scrumptiously delicious!

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With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girls day Bronxville

 

 

This is sort of going to be a Manicure Monday/what I did on a Friday/favourite food post
1469812_10151834753795983_106676067_nWe spent an afternoon in Bronxville last week to do our nails and get a kick of caffeine in our system. I tried a Peppermint Mocha for the first time and also had a sip of a Salted Caramel Macchiato. I was definitely hyper after my little coffee break.

Coffee Date

Coffee Date

Before we enjoyed coffee, the three of us got our nails done.

IMG_0686We all went for OPI. 🙂

IMG_0687I chose a shade from the Miss Universe collection called It’s my Year. This name doesn’t just apply to winning the competition, but also to my new look on life. A double meaning, and a beautiful polish to match? I’d call that a win/win.

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I am still very much in love with this colour. Depending on where the light hits it, it sparkles with a golden shimmer. It’s a beautiful purple for the holiday season 🙂

Photo on 21-11-13 at 22.18 #2And getting my nails done instead of doing them myself made them last super long!

Photo on 21-11-13 at 22.19

Photo on 21-11-13 at 22.18I might or might not have ordered the polish for myself…

IMG_0690Coffee and nails – check!

Later that night I enjoyed some sushi:

IMG_0615Sweet potato and avocado sushi to be exact!

IMG_0616The restaurant – Haiku – is one of the best for sushi. The content to rice ratio is larger than at most places, so you get more of the good stuff for a reasonable price! Sushi in the States is so much cheaper than in Switzerland, so of course I frequent this restaurant on a regular basis.

1395317_690084707670736_522325108_nThis was at another girls night a few weeks before, same restaurant.

IMG_0709 IMG_0713I’ve also tried their vegetables. I’m a huge fan!

With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga – completed

Maya wanted to help me channel this discipline into productive energy to teach me how to learn to be patient with my body, which – once being a dedicated ballerina herself – she knew a dancer is never taught to do. After noticing an increasing frustration due to not having any patience in yoga, I considered learning how to be patient may be helpful in my future.

I began to take the class more frequently, mainly because it was the only hobby I was practicing that took place five minutes away from home, and thus easy to attend during a hectic school week. Every Tuesday at 6, I rolled out my mat, my mom next to me, bracing myself for the class, and proceeded to do this for the next 5 years (sometimes with and sometimes without my mom). Class began 10 minutes before 6, lying back on the cushion with the belt around our hips and heels to help elongate and open up our joints in Supta Baddha Konasana. We then continued into either Adohmukha or into leg stretches beginning with Supta Padangusthasana. I learned quickly that it was pointless to force a stretch – it takes time to achieve perfection. This enlightened realization may or may not have included a nearly torn thigh muscle after pushing myself into the splits (which I am still trying to recover from today, after aggravating it doing too many treadmill runs!!)

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In the very first class, I learned I was doing Setu Bandha Sarvangasana all wrong. What looked like a simple pelvic raise was more than I initially thought. I was only using my abdominals and not able to relax any of the muscles that weren’t meant to be used in this exercise. Every single time Maya checked up on my alignment, she corrected me until I finally got it right. I had to learn to open up my chest and expand my rip cage more, while letting go of my abs and turning my inside thigh muscles outwards.

It also took me three years to fully understand how to do Adohmukha. I realized I had to try to stretch my calves to get my heels on the ground, but not by pushing my legs down. I had to activate my thigh muscles that then extended past my knees to my calves. Activating my shoulders to extend my back helped increase flexibility in my hips, also helping me get my heels on the floor. Little changes like those made big differences.

Same realization with the twists; I was always either sitting with my back leaning too far back or too far forward, not in my center, which could only be changed by adjusting my pelvic alignment. It took me another year to understand the concept of leg muscle rotation, especially in Prasarita Padottanasana. I never fully got how to rotate my inner muscles out and my outer muscles in, but as soon as I did, my back automatically lowered a few inches, making me – and my teacher – very proud.

It took me a long time to learn to observe yoga as a way of connecting various parts and muscles of my body to achieve an improvement in another one. As Vasili told me in my very first class, it was an absolute help in my dance training as I learned to accept my body for what it is and not for what I want to force it to be. It is making me become more patient and lenient with myself, which I now see has helped make improvements in not only my stretches and exercises, but also in my self-perception and funny enough academics; things don’t always require force and big changes to be achieved, sometimes small adjustments over time can be equally powerful.

At the Gym

At the Gym

Manicure Friday and a Winter Formal

I don’t even know where to start anymore.. It has been way too long.

So let’s start with a much-anticipated nails post!

Specifically: Grapefruit scented nails!!

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I didn’t ever think scented nail polish existed until I cam across this magnificent polish by Sephora a few weeks ago. I thought the colour would be a perfect match for the upcoming Winter Formal a few Friday’s ago.

IMG_0402The scent wasn’t quite as strong as the strawberry one, but the colour was just as beautiful and easy to apply!

IMG_0412Plus it matched my dress to the T

1460089_10153517142425245_1203957558_nAnd the bottom of my shoes for that matter 😉

Speaking of Formal..

1459872_10153490059090245_1615466293_nI adore these people! There are a few key favourites missing, but I was happy to get at least some of us all together on a professional picture!

555951_10153489184365245_2004302384_nAnd these two princesses make sure every moment is the time of my life!

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1393021_547780268630832_1456560023_nAn extremely delayed, much-needed photo-blast! 🙂

IMG_0401With attitude and nail polish and many delayed posts, Anoushé xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

Failed Brownie Baking and Pink Flowers

Heeeelloooo World, how was your week?

I had a pretty awesome time these past few days; extremely sporty as well for a school that is not praised for its teams…

IMG_0320The basketball team introduced themselves to us at this event called Midnight Madness last Monday. We also got to know our mascot – the Gryphon (which is still unnamed. Any ideas for a name?)

I have also been to a couple of soccer games.

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Go me and showing school spirit! 😉

Speaking of cheer, look at these cupcakes:

IMG_0344I MUST make them for Halloween, but so far my baking attempts have not succeeded in any way.. hence my blog post title.. The photo I took of the Protein Brownies I tried to make didn’t even come out. It turns pitch black whenever I try to open it; that’s how bad they were. Note to self: try the protein powder before attempting to incorporate it in to brownies. The result might taste better – maybe. I tried to follow a mixture of this and this recipe, and their’s came out well…let me know if one of you have better results? Maybe it was because I didn’t add any cocoa..

In better food news, there is this place here in Bronxville called Dumpling and Noodle that I have been frequenting on many a girl’s night. This past visit I had a great tasting red basil tofu dish with brown rice.

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IMG_0346Very satisfactory and healthy! 🙂

In dance news, one of my friends was wearing the cutest shirt ever in improv the other day!

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IMG_0352It says I love you to the moon and back! I absolutely love the book “Guess how much I love you”. I grew up with it and know it by heart, so I really enjoyed her shirt with the quote on it 🙂 Also Sarah is one of the nicest people ever and I think the shirt and her go well together 🙂 Adorable!

I also got be the inspiration for a few spontaneous dance shots:

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IMG_0348…and received some of the most beautiful flowers from a secret admirer 😉

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I can’t believe it’s already the end of the week! But you know what that means…Tomorrow will be Manicure Monday! Here is a taste of the polish I will be speaking admirably of:

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It’ll be my first Butter London manicure post! Exciting 😉

With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxo