How to cure (emotional) hangovers

hangover

When we feel intense emotions, it can be tempting to give them an expiry date and expect that once the rush of feeling is over that it’s, well, over. It makes things simpler to see them as isolated – we can cope with a stressful day at work, or a bad week, or a rough patch. The appeal is easy to see – we can contain those tricky emotions within a specified time period and after that they’re gone. The problem is that, as with most things, it’s never as simple as that.

It’s easy to find ourselves saying ‘I don’t know why I’m so tired/ grumpy/ sad today’ when, if we flip back a few pages, we’ll find difficult feelings and experiences that we have compartmentalised and then thoroughly ignored. Now, this is most definitely not something to blame ourselves for. House rule number one applies here: don’t beat yourself up. Putting our problems in boxes is very natural; pain often provokes coping strategies that involve distancing ourselves from it’s cause. No-one likes to be hurt, or stressed or angry. Whilst that instinct is self-preservative, it can also come back to bite us in the bum.

When we experience what I call an “emotional hangover”, everything can feel really out of whack. We wonder where the malaise came from and why it’s turned us into the walking dead. It can be frustrating, especially when we have tried to parcel up our emotions into an allotted time. But, trauma has a tendency to bleed out into our everyday lives if we don’t or can’t deal with it effectively. That’s not always within our control, so how can we process these difficulties when they don’t stay neatly holed up?

The cure is knowing that there is no cure, and being able to accept that. There’s no amount of tabasco sauce or lucozade or fry-ups that will magically bust you out of your hangover. Emotional trauma and negative feelings don’t naturally work their way out of your body the way that alcohol does short term. Mental distress, just like any type of illness or long term substance abuse will leave a trace behind. If you drink too much alcohol too often for too long, your liver won’t be thanking you. Keeping a lot of pent up rage and pain has a similar effect on your whole body and mind. Hurt needs an outlet and some time to be released in a healthy way.

So, here’s what you’ll need to deal with an emotional hangover:

  1. Patience and lots of it. There isn’t a quick fix or a magic pill, so being able to be patient with the process of healing is massively important. And quite tricky. Just remind yourself that it’s ok for it to take just as long as it needs.
  2. Time to spend with yourself. If you can predict it, schedule some time in advance to de-compress after a stressful situation. If that’s not possible, take a conscious 5 minute break to stretch, chew some gum, have a peaceful cup of tea, wash your face – it is not so important what you do, but that you do it with the intention of being with and soothing the difficult emotions.
  3. Compassion for yourself. Emotional hangovers are painful and complex things. It might take a few hours or even months to lift, so be gentle with yourself. We are often capable of great compassion for other people but find extending that same courtesy to ourselves difficult (or we don’t even realise that we can and should do it!).

In real terms, what do these things mean? It means actively noting when you have unforgiving thoughts about yourself (i.e. ‘I should be over this by now’, ‘other people have worse problems than me’) and challenging them! A counsellor or a close friend can help you with this. It means sleeping when your mind is running on empty. Get your 8 hours, or more if you need it. It means paying attention to what you’re spending time doing and seeing if it’s working for you (if you find being around a lot of people very tiring, don’t feel bad when you want a night in, or vice versa, if cabin fever is biting your ankles, get out and about). Think about and treat yourself as you would your best friend – you wouldn’t tell them to just get over it, so don’t mistreat yourself that way!

Take your time, be kind and be patient!

Advertisements

Self-care for summertime sadness

IMG_2805

Summer. Some people get through the winter months, subsisting on the mere thought of it; some people cringe at the thought of all that daylight and those sweaty nights. I tend towards the latter, personally. Whatever your stance on summer, it happens. It’s important to keep up with good self-care practices, whatever the weather, so here are a few suggestions:

  • Asparagus weather: Indulge in some seasonal vegetables. I recently made this asparagus and radish risotto and it was divine!
  • Don’t shave it: If you’re a person that shaves, it can be a ballache when it’s too hot to wear tights or to have your legs covered up. Shaving too often can be damaging for your skin though, especially if you have a skin condition like ezcema. Give your skin a break and go au naturale.
  • Sunnies and sun creams: Protect your little eyeballs and your skin, especially if you’re fair and can easily burn. Don’t underestimate the blazing solar overlord.
  • Nature or nurture: Summertime can make us feel guilty for being indoors. Whilst it’s true that we need to top up our vitamin D levels, sometimes our self-care has to come first. Don’t feel beholden to the sunshine – do what you need to do, regardless of the temperature outside.
  • Goddamn mermaid: Water your animals, your plants and yourself. One of my favourite mottos is ‘Keep your friends hydrated’.
  • House rule #1: Simple – Don’t beat yourself up.
  • Pal up: Spend nice times with nice people. Picnics, ice-cream and walks are delightful ways to do this, but watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race obsessively with the curtains drawn is equally valid and awesome.
  • Juicy peach: Have some fruity goodness in your life. Vitamin D is not the only vitamin.
  • Follow your fancy: Be whimsical. Even if you get the summertime sadness, it can be nice to treat it like a holiday season. Revisit childhood summer shenanigans. Splash about in a paddling pool, buy pick’n’mix and eat it walking round town or go messing about in boats.

 

Keep cool and don’t sweat it.

 

Redheads, assemble!

 

My love of red-headed folk is long-standing. There are ginger genes in my family. My nan had auburn hair and my mum is a bright, coppery beacon. As a child I even had a shrine of images on my wall that burst with oranges and reds and translucent skin. I was in awe of red-heads even then; I called them my ‘happy people’. Seeing an abundance of coppery hair has always drawn me and made me smile.  I guess you could call me a rutiluphile but for me it’s much more than sexual attraction. It’s a feeling of affinity and of kinship. It’s a feeling of both longing and belonging.

Whilst I’m only a token ginger by virtue of my mum’s carrot hair hues and Lush’s rouge henna, I heartily identify as a redheaded woman. Lucky me, then, that there are some awe-inspiring, powerful, bold, flawed, ginger heroines throughout history to take a cue from. From Boudicca to Ygritte the Wildling, via Lucille Ball and Elizabeth I, redheaded women are known for their fieriness, passion and explosive tempers. I mean, you wouldn’t mess with Black Widow or Jean Gray, would you?

 

The past is bursting with examples of red-headed women inspiring art. Dante Gabriel Rossetti and other Pre-Raphelite painters loved the lusciousness that red-headed women brought to their work. Alphonse Mucha created flowing art-deco images blazing with red-heads. Part of the appeal to artists is how striking red hair is. It is visually arresting and creates a powerful contrast or emphasis that makes for compelling art. Just as red-headed men have become associated with being untrustworthy due, in part, to the depiction of Judas as a redhead, women with red hair have become synonymous with sensuality, licentiousness and deception. The image of the wily temptress is often portrayed simply by the addition of ginger hair.

 

 

Throughout history, red-headed women have been known not only for their stunning beauty, but for their ferocity and cunning. Being already well-aware of the physical allure of red hair, I’ve recently been reading more about the characters of these well-known red-headed women. I love historical fiction; it’s meaty, character driven, informative (when taken with a pinch of salt) and full of amazing personal stories. What intrigues me most is the intimacy of the readers’ relationship with the central characters, whether they’re maids, jesters or monarchs. Little wonder then that I adore Tudor fiction with the powerful and poisonous Queen Elizabeth I. I’ve read pretty much every novel based on her life, and those of her mother and father. (Henry VIII was, after all, a red-head).

In terms of non-fiction, Tracy Borman’s Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen shows us a female-centric world in which the cult of the personality, as in most monarchies, prevailed. Elizabeth used her red-headedness to her advantage throughout her reign, and not just as a means of seduction. It was a blatant defiance of any doubt cast on her parentage. Her hair was Tudor red and she played on this as proof that she was her father’s daughter and that she was capable of leading as Henry had before her. Naturally, red hair became fashionable during the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth relied on this as a symbol of self. In her later life she wore wigs, which she had made in different hues of red and copper. It certainly had the desired effect, creating an instantly recognisable figure to us today.

Reaching even further back into society’s cult of the redhead is the legendary figure of Boudicca. When I discovered the Dreaming the Eagle series based on the warrior queen, I think I made a sound that only dogs and Professor Xavier could hear. Boudicca has is all as far as I’m concerned – she’s a warrior, she’s a leader, she’s Scottish, she’s anti-establishment and she is so ginger it hurts (see my post Me, Myself and Merida for more on this killer combination). The mixture of the mythology surrounding her and historical fiction format, this series is proving to be an immediate favourite. In these books, we meet the warrior queen Boudicca before she even exists – when she is a child named Breaca. We meet the men and women in her community and see how central the spirituality of her nation is to her every choice and action. It is laden with small details that together build an immersive world, every bit as real as our own. Boudica is depicted as a woman, destined for greatness, but by no means ready and willing. It is a tough slog with hard decisions, personal loss and bad choices.

My most recent red-head reading has been Red: A Natural History of the Redhead by Jacky Colliss Harvey. It’s essential reading for red-heads, aspiring red-heads and social historians. It charts the mythological and social perception of red-heads, their anatomical differences, the gendered assumptions about redheads and more. The gene may be recessive, but the cultural obsession is growing!

As for me, I’m ready for the red-head-revolution:

 

miss lilith

red-head and proud

In the chair: How to prepare for therapy

FullSizeRender (1)

 

Starting counselling can be very stressful. Often it comes after months on a waiting list and it’s entirely feasible that the original motivation for your therapy has long since ceased to dominate your daily life. That doesn’t mean that the work doesn’t still need to be done. For some people, starting that process will be a massive relief, for others it presents multiple challenges, mixed feelings and a lot of anxiety. Having been through the process various times in recent years, here are a few pointers that might help alleviate the anxiety of the hot seat:

 

  • Housekeeping: Make sure that you know all the administrative details in advance of your session i.e. where it will take place, cost, time constraints, cancellation policies etc. Minimising any complications ahead of time will help it to be a therapeutic, rather than anxiety-ridden experience.
  • What a girl wants: To make most effective use of your sessions, you should spend some time thinking about what you see as the ideal outcome. It will help you to have an overarching focus or theme during your sessions.  Some examples might be: ‘I want to feel more confident in social situations’ or ‘I want to learn to recognise toxic people around me’.
  • Talking therapy: It’s called talking therapy for a reason – that’s what you’re there for. Try to think of your therapist as a sounding board. They aren’t there to judge or to advise you, but to help you recognise where you are and what you’re struggling with.
  • It’s not you, it’s them: If you don’t feel comfortable with the therapist that you are allocated (if you go through your GP or a large organisation) then it is totally fine to ask to see someone else. It’s not a personal affront, it’s your preference and it is ALL ABOUT YOU.
  • A room of one’s own: Just like finding the right therapist to work with, the space in which you do it is also important. Taking the time to make the space your own should make you feel safe, as well as powerful. It might be helpful to bring some home comforts with you, such as a pair of slippers, a favourite blanket or scarf to get cosy with. If you fancy it, essential oils can be helpful for calming or energising.

 

Above all, there are no rules. Counselling is an intensely personal process that should be both challenging and supportive. It’s a self-centric, but by no means selfish endeavour. Pull up a chair and get stuck in!

Confessions of a Lindy addict

katiebrooks

‘If in doubt, wiggle something!’ – Katie Brooks

 

As a child, I learnt to dance in my village’s scout hut. We practised new routines for months until we perfected them: waltz, quickstep, foxtrot, tango. Every summer, we made our curtsies and took our exams in the church hall. I learnt how to hold my frame, when to rise and fall, how to position my hands and head, how to follow. The next year, I started to learn Latin dances, too. It was love at first step. The year I stopped dancing, I won our dance school’s award for the highest exam score in the Latin section. Age 12, I started playing women’s league hockey, quit dancing and that was that. I didn’t have proper dance lessons again for over a decade. Last year, I picked up swing dancing and got bitten by the bug right in the get-down.

It’s true what they say: Once you hop, you just can’t stop! (Disclaimer: people probably don’t actually say that)

 

Here are 10 reasons why Lindy Hop is the new love of my life (and why it might just be yours, too):

 

  1. Learn your lesson: Lindy has a fascinating history that should be remembered and celebrated. Lindy Hop is the beautiful love child of African and European dance styles. It’s a wonderful hybrid of partner and solo styles: Charleston, Black Bottom, Cakewalk, Tap… This black magic in Hellzapoppin’ was brought to buzzing life in a society that still segregated people because of the colour of their skin.
  2. Circles of love: The swing community is one of the most welcoming, eclectic, supportive, bonkers and joyful groups of people I’ve ever had the fortune to slot into. ‘Circles of Love’ celebrate not only a collective love of dance, but birthdays, weddings, new beginnings… And, if you fancy showing off your slick steps, a jam circle might be in order…
  3. Sweatsville: Lindy Hop is a hot and sweaty business. If team sports and treadmills don’t turn you on, try Lindy. Exercise you can enjoy, hot damn. Plus, it’s a culture not centred around drinking alcohol, which is a total health bonus! Please swing responsibly.
  4.  In safe hands: There is a lot of emphasis placed on making sure everyone feels comfortable – consent is the foundation of all classes and social dances. It is always made explicitly clear that each partnership is entered into willingly or not at all and that (shock horror) consent can be revoked at any time. If you don’t want to dance tandem, you don’t. If you don’t like to dip, you don’t. Seems simple. Refreshingly, it usually is.
  5. Old dog, new tricks: The swing scene is delightfully diverse in terms of age. Whilst it’s raging through universities across the land, Lindy has a devout following in a nostalgic older generation too, as well as everyone in between. Swing knows no boundaries (apart from those of personal space and nice manners).
  6. I believe in music: Banging tunes about food and sex – what’s not to love?
  7. Monkey business: Well, just how exactly did you think one became King of the Swingers?
  8. It’s a shim-sham: Amongst all of the jazzy beats know to Lindy Hoppers, there are a few tunes that will always cause a reaction: from the stuff of flash-mob dreams – the Shim-Sham (danced to this banging tune) – to the jam-circle jam of choice – Sing Sing Sing
  9. All gear, no idea: Dressing up is highly encouraged. I may be a novice dancer, but at least I can dress like I know what I’m doing. Swing dancers come in all shapes, styles and sizes, but they do love to get footloose and fancy-free. Fancy-dress and bow-ties as standard – be still my beating heart.
  10. Sensible and silly-billies: First rule of Lindy Hop is THERE ARE NO RULES (apart from that immortal rule: don’t be a dick). Lindy hop is playful, energetic, joyful, silly and, more than anything, FUN.

 

And remember: In the immortal words of Katie Brooks, ‘If in doubt, wiggle something!’

 

The Eagle Huntress: A Raving Review

aisholpan

Photo Credit: Asher Svidensky

 

I have a new heroine. She’s called Aisholpan. She’s 13 years old. She is The Eagle Huntress.

This is a raving review, not only of a beautiful piece of film-making (an amazing undertaking by novice Otto Bell), but of a girl showing bravery, resilience and passion despite the not inconsiderable obstacles of tradition and terrain. Set in the stunning mountains of Mongolia, The Eagle Huntress is a documentary that looks at the nomadic way of life, tradition and progress on an intimate level. As viewers, we are privileged to experience the coming-of-age of an extraordinary girl. Aisholpan is a trailblazer, but all the more for how unremarkable she is in other ways. She goes to school, looks after her siblings, paints her nails, has dreams of becoming a doctor. She lives in a world that is changing – straddling the nomadic tradition and the increasingly modern world.

Aisholpan’s forebears are Eagle Hunters: revered members of the nomadic tribes, bringers of food and fur, masters of the majestic Golden Eagle and, always, men. It is a male inheritance, a male ancestry. This is a celebration of non-conformity. This is a story not only about a young woman, but about the men around her that have the strength to correct a long-lived falsehood – that women are not strong enough, resilient enough, patient enough. Instead they are proud to say, ‘Women are more than enough’.

Aged 13, Aisholpan proves herself to be a robust and talented individual, regardless of those factors which others have proclaimed must exclude her. Even the proof of their own eyes will not persuade the tribe elders of their misjudgement.  Aisholpan’s victory in the festival is received with discomfort and disregard. ‘It’s proof of a sort’, concedes one of the elders. The objection remains that Aisholpan has yet to prove herself beyond the arena, that she must succeed in the wilderness, too – only then will she be worthy. The catch-22 is that the objective is one of which they do not think her capable.

All too often this is true for those who are female, non-binary, of colour. Going beyond the achievement of the male (or oppressor of any kind) does not guarantee triumph, it does not even guarantee equality. Yet, it has been said that the best revenge is success. Fitting, then, that the film ends with Aisholpan catching her first fox, having weathered the brutal conditions of the mountains. There is abundant proof of her capability and even more of her contentedness.

The role of the Eagle Hunter or Huntress is vital for survival; it serves both a practical and a spiritual purpose. The meat and fur provided by the day’s hunt will keep the families alive. The connection between the eagle and the hunter is sacred. It is a partnership built on mutual dependence; it is a significant connection with the natural world.

Particularly moving was Aisholpan’s attitude and outlook throughout the film. From scaling a mountain face to capture her eaglet to competing in the world-renowned festival (as the first female and youngest competitor), she approaches everything with a stoic calm and assuredness. Perhaps this can be attributed to her youth, but it is an attitude of which many young women are stripped early on. She turns an entire tradition on it’s head without missing a step. She is never disrespectful to her heritage, though; she is simply growing into who she is and has every right to be. Becoming an Eagle Huntress is not a child’s whim, it is an act of dedication and a sweeping aside of barriers that ought not to be there.

If in doubt, ask yourself, what would Aisholpan do?

 

Dating Manifesto

fullsizerender-8

Sweet peach!

TW: Over-generalisations left, right and centre. Boys are rubbish. Not really.

Here it is – the good, the bad and the ugly. A new and (vastly) improved dating manifesto. Disclaimer: by, to and for myself.

I solemnly swear that I will studiously avoid pursuing, fantasising about, dating or committing to the following:

  • Shitheads: non-specific, but covers the wider categories of fuckwits, dickheads, arseholes and ignoramuses.
  • Psychopaths: turn around and run. Leave no forwarding address.
  • Work colleagues: don’t shag where you eat, so to speak.
  • Spongers: Always 50/50 in relationships…
  • Narcissists: self-obsession tends to get in the way of a partnership.
  • Alcoholics: substance dependence is a sure-fire romance killer.
  • Emotional robots: Cold-fish need not apply.
  • Religious fanatics: Three’s a crowd.
  • The intellectual: Who must always be right but have nothing to say when they’re not.
  • The Meninist: Apparently some people are more equal than others…
  • Right-wingman/ Brexiteers: Or anyone, basically, who doesn’t live in the real world. May be identified by wild patriotism or Gap Yah rhetoric.

… and anyone that believes in steak and blow-job day…

So there are the no-goers. And yes, its totally fine to be decisive about what you don’t want in a potential friend/ partner/ lover/ spouse. Your emotional and physical space is sacred and shouldn’t be lightly given up. Being open to people is great but you should follow your instincts. Being closed to people who set your alarm bells ringing is no bad thing, as long as it doesn’t turn into straight up prejudice.

If you’re worried that you or a friend might be in an abusive relationship, have a look at these warning signs:

  • Big changes in habits or behaviour i.e. eating less, being late when usually punctual etc.
  • Submissiveness or seeming to lack own volition to do things – seeking approval for everything.
  • Withdrawal from socialising – being quieter, drinking more, not going out at all, being uncontactable.
  • Change in taste/ preferences to mirror new partner/ lover etc. This could indicate certain elements of brainwashing or manipulation i.e. change in clothes/ make-up/ hair
  • Mood swings – being unable to regulate mood may be due to a general sense of anxiety/ uneasiness/ sense of isolation. May also be due to the abuser poisoning the victim against family or friends.
  • Social media posts can be out of character/ extreme/ use unusual language etc. Also may be more sensitive about photos etc. going on social media.

 

But it can’t all be doom and gloom. This is a manifesto – it should be a statement of intent. So, the game plan is to work on my singles game before even attempting a double act. Two is tricky. Check out my posts on self-care if you’re struggling to be good to number one. It’s harder than it seems, especially if you’re going through a bad patch. If you want/ are ready to meet a sweet peach or several juicy nectarines, make sure you know where your limits lie – not just want you want, but what you need and cannot compromise on. Go slower even than you think you should – if they are worth their salt, they’ll be patient and give you the breathing space you need.

Maybe this manifesto should be a celebration of all the beautiful qualities that make a beautiful person. So, here’s to honesty and openness. Here’s to good communication. Here’s to making each other laugh. Here’s to generosity, kindness and considerateness. Here’s to patience. Here’s to creativity and being energised. My manifesto is an elegy to growth and mutual support.Here’s to nourishment. Good people breed good love. Here’s to all kinds of health – mental, physical, emotional. That’s a manifesto worth believing in.

Autumn is a time for eating.

Autumn is  coming, fresh and chilly. It’s time to go into hibernation, but you can’t snooze on an empty stomach. Here’s a weeks’ worth of gluttonous goodness! Get your chops round these vegan, GF beauties! They’re delicious, cheap to make and more moreish than you can possibly imagine ❤

 

The Most Velvety Butternut and Chickpea Curry Ever:

You will need:

1 butternut squash

1 red onion

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp ready grated ginger

1 large can chickpeas (drained)

Handful of cherry tomatoes

2 stock cubes

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinammon

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

Brown rice to serve

 

This is how we do:

  • Dice butternut squash (in 1 inch pieces approx)
  • Toss squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinammon in a baking tin.
  • Roast at gas mark 4 for 25 minutes or until soft
  • Meanwhile, fry off the red onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and remaining spices.
  • Add stock a bit at a time to form a thick sauce.
  • Add chickpeas.
  • When the squash is cooked add to the sauce.
  • Add water as required and simmer for around 20 minutes or until the squash begins to disintegrate a little. Or, do it to whatever consistency you like it.
  • While it’s simmering away, boil the rice.
  • Serve!

 

Ultimate Comfort Food Honey-roast Veg and Sweet Potato Mash:

(Good with some grilled halloumi, too, if you’re veggie)

You will need:

1 large red onion

1 carrot

4 cloves garlic

1/2 butternut squash/ gourd

Handful cherry tomatoes

2 courgettes

1 red, orange or yellow pepper

1 beetroot

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Salt & Pepper

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

Honey

Sweet potatoes

Vegan butter/ spread

 

This is how we do:

  • Chop all veg and place in a large baking tin or pyrex dish.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and toss with the spices.
  • Add a dash of balsamic vinegar.
  • If you’re in a hurry, roast on a medium high heat for 25 minutes, then add the honey for another 5-10 minutes.
  • OR if you’ve got all day/ are in dire need of a cup of tea then roast on a low heat for a couple of hours then turn it up for 10 minutes and add the honey for a delightful glaze.
  • Boil the sweet potatoes for 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Mash up with a little knob of vegan spread.

 

Vegetables Galore Stirfry:

You will need:

Sesame oil

Spring onions

Baby corn

Peppers

Pak choi

Sugar snap peas

Broccoli

Any other veg you fancy – try grating raw carrot on top

Rice noodles

Grated ginger

1 clove garlic

Salt & Pepper

GF soy sauce

Honey

 

This is how we do:

  • Chop the veg to bit size chunks.
  • Heat the oil.
  • Add the spring onions, garlic and ginger and fry up for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the rest of the veggies.
  • Season and add soy sauce and honey.
  • Prepare the noodles whilst the veggies cook.
  • Eat!

 

Scrumdidilumptious Lentil Dahl:

You will need:

Olive oil

1 red onion

1 clove garlic

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp garam masala

1 stock cube

Red lentils

Yellow split peas/ green lentils (optional)

Brown rice, naan bread and mango chutney to serve.

 

This is how we do:

  • Heat the oil and fry the onion with the garlic.
  • Add the spices and soften the onions on a low heat for a few minutes.
  • Add the lentils (I tend to do it by eye and make loads as it freezes well)
  • Add boiling water and simmer.
  • Keep adding water and stirring as the lentils soften.
  • Cook the rice and simmer the dahl until cooked.
  • Devour!

 

Cous-cous Stuffed Peppers:

You will need:

1 pepper per person

Maize cous-cous

Pomegrante seeds

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp harissa paste

Vegan spread

 

This is how we do:

  • Prepare the cous-cous according to the instructions.
  • Add the spices and spread and stir in while the cous cous is absorbing the water.
  • Cut the top off the peppers and de-seed.
  • Fill with the cous-cous.
  • Replace the tops of the peppers and roast for 20 minutes until soft and slightly browned on top.
  • Serve with the pomegrante seeds and any additional veg you fancy.

 

*Not technically food* Comforting Mulled Cider:

You will need:

  • 2 litres of apple cider
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 orange (quartered)
  • Honey (to taste)
  • Brown sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 2 star anise
  • 4/5 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

 

This is how we do:

  • Put the cider in a large pan over a low heat.
  • Add the spices, orange pieces and orange juice.
  • Add the sugar and a large squidge of honey.
  • Stir and heat until the flavours have all come together and steam is rising (no need to boil)
  • Adjust the sweetness to taste.
  • Serve on cold nights!

 

Aubergine Dream Pasta:

You will need:

  • 1 aubergine
  • Olive oil
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 carton passata
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 carrot (diced up small)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup white wine (optional)
  • GF pasta
  • Vegan cheese (optional but opulent)

 

This is how we do:

  • Dice the aubergine and courgette.
  • Roast for 20-30 minutes.
  • While the veggies are roasting, make the sauce.
  • Fry the onion, carrot and garlic and season.
  • Add the wine gradually and allow the alcohol to evaporate off.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and passata.
  • If you want a smoother sauce you can blitz using a handblender.
  • Cook the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  • Combine the roasted veg with the sauce and serve!

 

Now, HIBERNATE!

Take care 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun and fancy for free

foundpoem

They say the best things in life are free and I wholeheartedly agree (with the exception of buying dresses, of course). A person can’t live on dresses alone and nor should they try! Since wages aren’t what they should be and, anyway, Money Makes You Mean, here’s a list of shenanigans that won’t cost the earth (or even an island). Some of them cost nothing at all. Imagine that.

 

  • If you’ve got it, flaunt it: Use that gym membership that is totally neglected, delve deep into the recesses of Netflix, wiggle to your premium Spotify and enjoy your ad-free fantasy world (damn you). Read an entire book of poems that you haven’t picked up yet. Just an idea.
  • Stroke an ego: Maybe your own, but not necessarily. You could beat down a friend’s door with flowers and serenade them in a creepy Ginny Weasley’s cupid kind of way.
  • Deal with it: Crack out a pack of cards or a chessboard and make a move.
  • Booked up: Raid a library, whether a public one or a friend’s. Get stuck in. Reading can sometimes feel daunting if you’re out of the habit so start light – maybe don’t go straight for War & Peace… try one of the Very Short Introduction series by Oxford University Press, maybe. Or Mills and Boon.
  • Dirty Dancing: Learn an iconic dance routine. Become Kevin Bacon. Or leap into Jennifer Beals‘ dancing shoes.
  • Creative cooking: Dig out everything in your cupboards and create something from what’s in there. Things might get interesting…
  • Snuggle ‘n’ snacks: Is there anything better than a cosy cutch and some first-rate munchies. The correct response is no.
  • Water baby: Go for a muddy walk and splash in a puddle. Put a watering can out in the rain. Steam your face. Try watersports…
  • Found you: Grab some free magazines, chop them up and make found poems with the headlines (see main picture for ‘Here’s one I made earlier…).
  • Beauty queen: Go through your beauty supplies and spend some time experimenting. Try some basic nail art or play around with a shade of lipstick you never use. Try repurposing it as a blush stick. Try something a little different, or get ready for halloween… Youtube is your friend.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Self-care for dummies

13221622_1071031786283910_1349320850949869745_n

 

Taking care of your emotional well-being is the most important thing you can do. But, it’s not easy and might take a bit of getting used to if you’ve been in the habit of neglecting yourself. It’s good to build habits that will let you move forward through difficult times. The best way to go about it, in my experience, is make it an everyday habit, rather than a big blow-out. While planning a spa experience does sound lovely, it’s not necessarily practical or affordable. Little things will give you a boost and keep you buoyant.

Here are a few things you might find helpful:

  • Wash that stress out of your hair: Have a long hot bath and lather up. Add bubbles and heat your towels. Light a candle – it’s nice to feel nice.
  • That’s a mouthful: Have a little snack of whatever you fancy – a row of chocolate or a handful of nuts.
  • Brideshead Revisited: Revisit a favourite book that helps you to feel safe.
  • Savour the flavour: Make an event out of tea time – infuse a special brew in a teapot, drink out of your granny’s china, have a nice little biscuit on the side… Make it a ritual.
  • Change as good as a rest: Try walking a different way to work or order something new from the takeaway.
  • Light up: Light a candle or some incense and focus on the flame or light.
  • Clean your act up: Take care of your garments or gadgets. Take a few moments to polish and freshen up your shoes or delete some apps to make things go smoother.
  • Tiger, tiger: Try Tiger Balm for your aches and pains. Lush have a great range of massage bars that’ll do the trick, too.
  • Get it off: Switch off all your devices, it’s incredibly liberating – find a new part of town, get some undisturbed shut-eye, read the dictionary, stand on your head, or maybe get it oooon with some sweet guy or gal…
  • Present you: Future You is going to love Past You – make sure you have a nice lunch and an enchanting ensemble ready for tomorrow, set your alarm a little earlier so you can ease into the day.

 

For more ideas, have a look at my lists, 50 Things To Do On Dog Days and 50 MORE Things To Do On Dog Days

Take care!