Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Tide and Time

I came back from Mr and Mrs Im's yesterday, I had a lovely week away mainly focused on eating and drinking coffee. It was really great! The food was amazing!
My body is really telling me that it needs the exercise though, so I decided to start the 30 Day Ab Challenge again - but today rather than on 1st Jan. Odd maybe, but no time like the present, and you know, eveyone likes a rebel.
Today was Day 1: 15 sit ups, 5 crunches, 5 leg raises, 10 second plank. Last time I did this I got to Day 20 before, flaking out. Let's see how this goes!

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

I've been staying at Mr. and Mrs. Im's over the holidays. This morning we opened presents, ate some mince puffs and then headed out to Mrs. Im's sister's in laws for Christmas dinner. All in all we had 14 humans including a baby, and another half actually since one of us was pregnant, and also 7 dogs. It was exciting!

We had a crazy amount of food on the table: Turkey, beef, pigs in blankets, sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, roast potatoes, roast veg (including beetroot, my favourite), Yorkshire puddings, bread sauce, parsley sauce and gravy. It was a lot of food!

Because Mrs. Im and I are vegetarian we brought some grilled halloumi and some vegetarian things halfway between a burger and a cake. They were glorious.

Vegetarian type burger cake things

1 sweet potato
1/2 cup of rice, cooked
small tin of sweetcorn
grated cheddar
2-3 eggs

Bake a sweet potato in the oven, until it is soft and let it cool. Cook up the rice. When cool, peel the sweet potato and mash it up. Add in thesweet corn, the now cooled rice, some grated mature cheddar and then add 2 or 3 eggs. Mash everything together so its mixed well. Grease a muffin tray and spoon mixture in, put in the oven at 180 C for about 20 mins or til they start to brown. Then turn it down to 160 for another 10 mins thereabouts just to get the top browned and make sure it binds. You could put more cheese on there if you want. Leave in the tin to cool for a while.
Really easy, really yummy and great with gravy.

After all that we opened presents, had a break and then had 4 different types of cake and 8 different types of cheese....
We fairly much rolled home! We're in front of the fire now and Mr. Im has made tangerine jelly and cream. I feel like I won't eat for the next week! Proper Christmas, eh!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

So last night Miss R and I had dinner and then tried to go to a rum tasting - I say tried because the four of us who were going were the only people there in the end and so the owner said she was going to cancel it. But it seemed a shame since we were already there so how about we open a bottle of rum and at least try one thing? Well, ok, I'm not that big on rum but I wasn't going to argue. Actually this was my first time drinking rum as a sipping drink on its own, and this one was quite nice.
After that she decided that she had plenty of taster bottles that we should try, and shouldn't I really try that Maiden Gin again, just in case I liked it this time? Turns out I didn't but I did like the apple gin, and the elderflower vodka and a few other gins that she poured me. 
By this point there were a couple of lads who worked there who had wandered in, and everyone else decided to buy a bottle of rum between them. I wasn't that fussed so the owner gave me more free gin to try, and told me I should have more of the first rum - because once the bottle is open she can't sell it anyway. 
I got chatting to the lads - they were really sweet - and the Christmas decorations covered everyone in glitter and I felt all like David Bowie. In the end, we left, covered in glitter, and went to Munchies to get garlic bread to soak up all the alcohol. Luckily I was dog sitting not far away, so not far to stumble home! I might give the school night tastings a miss in future though....

Monday, 7 December 2015

A Love Letter to Myself

I've been going for a bit of counselling lately just to get more perspective on a few things. Last week the lady asked me to write a love letter so myself. I read it out to her today and she loved it. She even had a little cry.

Dear Nat,
Life has been pretty hard the last few years and maybe you feel like you're not as sparkly as you once were, but I think it's important that we take stock of the situation, lest we forget what really matters in life:
I'd like to tell you that you are brave for getting through your time so far with so much laughter and humour, I do think you've had more hassle than some but more joy than some too. You are noted for your laugh, it really is rather loud but also infectious, or so I hear. You like trying new things and you like pattern and colour and sparkle and you bring all this to the world. You somehow manage to dance whimsically through life spotting ridiculous, beautiful, interesting things along the way and even though you might feel pressure from the world to go at a different pace, don't cave in. People love you because you are you, and you let them be them too.
You're giving and generous and spirited and kind and people notice what you say and what you do, even if some days you don't feel it. You have clear gut instincts that keep you out of trouble, listen to them carefully, your body tells you a lot about where you should be going - or in some cases when you need to stay put. Inspiration and guidance come to you from the unlikeliest of places, stay open and you will know what to do.
Above all be kind to yourself, take breaks and sing songs, and wear dresses and dance round the kitchen, in short do the things that make you happy, take care of your body and yourself, give yourself space to be who you are, take naps, pet dogs, talk to people, stop and look at interesting things.
In the end all you need to do is be yourself and all beauty and goodness will follow,
Yours always,

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Mother's Ruin

After last week's Whiskey tasting with Miss R, I dragged her to a gin tasting to get her back. It turned out that not only did we have the usual 6 gins to try, the guy from Anno distillery was there too so we got to try all of his gins too!

Anno is distilled in a little village in Kent, Andy and Norman were both chemists by trade and set up business a few years ago when they bought some copper stills from Germany. I wasn't as keen on the flavoured ones, but I like the regular Anno gin, and I really loved the Anno 60 - that was to celebrate Andy and Norman's 60th birthdays this year. It is 60%, which is just over 57% which is Navy strength, the strength alcohol needed to be to make sure it hadn't been watered down on the voyage - they used to put in on some gunpowder and set it alight and if it failed to burn then it had been watered down.

We met a lovely couple there who had been round the distillery tour and they recommended it. I kept in touch with the lady and she gave me some really great beer recommendations - including beer that tastes of coffee (BBNo) and a beer that tastes like bacon! (Mikeler).

After that we got down to the other gins. We looked at another local one called Maiden, which is made in Maidstone. I really didn't like the packaging, and the gin was pretty rough around the edges for me. I quite liked the William Chase, that was pretty smooth. We tried some genever, I had never had that, that is somewhere between a whiskey and a gin and I wasn't overly keen on that. I really quite liked the Dogs Nose, that was pretty smooth with some really nice botanicals and a much softer flavour than I was expecting from the packaging. My favourite of the evening was Jinzu, it is flavoured with cherry blossoms and has a really creamy finish.

Again we got pretty drunk - especially given that we had double the amount! This time, we stopped off at Munchies on the way home and I got a jacket potato, much more sensible!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Magical Mystery Tour

Me getting on the bus after work today

Me: I'd like to go to East Station, please
Bus driver: What do you want to go there for?
Me: Because I live near there.
Driver: You don't want to go there!
Me: Where would you like to take me then?
Driver: We'll go to Southend to the seaside and have fish n chips.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Bourbon Tasting

Yesterday I went with the lovely Miss R to a bourbon tasting session at our local wine shop. She's been to a few tasting sessions there but I never have so this was very exciting. I really didn't know what to expect - we rocked up at 8pm to the shop, and they had glasses and several bottles lined up on the counter.

The proprietor Jamie poured out the first one and apologised - usually his wife hosts these because she knows a lot more about spirits than he does but she is ill today. Since I don't know anything about bourbon it didn't bother me in the slightest. We tried several including Mellow Corn, which I wasn't keen on, Elijah Craig which was alright and some Wild Turkey, among other things. He told us about how the charred barrels came from an accident at the Elijah Craig place, where the barn was struck with lightning and the barrels got charred. When they took the spirits out at the end, they turned out all the better for that, and so they carried on charring the barrels to make the whiskey. My favourite one was in a quirky bottle, and was much smoother than the rest. I guess I won't be much of a bourbon drinker!

Miss R ended up talking to a chap about her studies and I got chatting to his friend who is an architect, he was really funny and we got pretty merry together. It was fun! Since I got dragged along to whiskey, I'm getting my revenge with a gin tasting next week. Should be fun!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Oultlands Festival

Miss R often goes places and does stuff and luckily for me she tells me about it and I tag along. Today we went to the Outlands Festival - this is the third weekend in a row that it's been running, it is run by Music for Change and had several bands and other exciting things on. We mainly went to see Emily Watts, who has just brought out a new EP 'From the Blue' and is doing a seaside tour.

We also got to see Thomas Ashby - who plays a drum with one foot and a tambourine with the other. He played a lovely cover of Riptide and his own lovely, lovely music.

I'm glad the weather stayed dry and people seemed to enjoy it - and all in a good cause!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Sports Day and Jive - The Oddest Combination?

I've been a bit off colour for a long while, but it feels like things are finally starting to get back on track. People are coming up to me in the street more, my friends are ringing me more and I'm wearing more colour again, yippee!

Yesterday was one of those days where everyone invited me to something! I went out for coffee with one of my flatmates then spent the afternoon at Miss R's retro Sports Day and then I went Jiving in the evening with R & N. When I say jiving I really mean out to dinner and then having a chat out on the terrace with the occasional dance but you know what I mean! I'm starting to really enjoy dancing again, and not just dancing but all the socialising and meeting new people that comes with it. Life feels a bit more joyful which is a relief.

People start warming up for the events:

We start the actual relay:

And we have some winners! The housemates have won! 

After that everyone else stayed on to play Rounders while four of us went to the house to set up for the bbq. I have no idea why but Miss R thought it would be a good thing to put Marisca and I in charge of the crisps - I'm surprised there were any left.

I went early to go and meet R & N so we could go over to Margate. We went out for dinner at Roost - it's pretty easy going chicken n' chips place but their macaroni cheese is amazing, as it the Asian style slaw.

And then we rolled ourselves down the hill to Morgans for a dance. I spent a lot of the evening on the balcony chatting with people, it was lovely to catch up with a few familiar faces and get to know some new ones. I did get a few jives in though and even a Charleston.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Roaring Fun

I went to my first Charleston class today, it was so much fun! There were only about 8 of us in the class and it was pretty fast paced with lots of energy. I was really glad that Nic told me to wear leggings and a sports bra, you really move and you really sweat. We did a routine to Speakeasy from Bugsy Malone. The teacher, Hayley, broke it down into little bits and then we ran through the whole thing three times at the end. It was a lot of fun - I think next week we are doing a Fred Astaire number and Hayley has asked the girls to bring feather boas and the lads to bring canes.... I can't wait!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Nancy's Coleslaw

I've been out strolling with Nancy recently and then we usually go back to hers for dinner. Yesterday we had a 3 mile walk out and then she made me pizza and the most wonderful variation on a coleslaw salad. Yum!

Nancy's Coleslaw Salad

finely slice or grate:
red cabbage
red onion

combine in a jar and mix:
olive oil 
a good amount of lemon juice
a couple of teaspoons of sugar

pour the dressing over the salad. 

(optional bits include white cabbage, spring onions, chopped apple or sultanas)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Kim's Chocolate Mousse

....otherwise known as a blissful cup of wonderment. This is amazing. Really.

- 1 (very) ripe avocado
- 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Green & Black's)
- sugar or honey to taste

optional: a dash of vanilla essence, or you can add a banana if you want.

Whizz up all the ingredients to a thick, moussey texture. Put in a dish and chill in the fridge for a while. Or just eat straight away because who has time for this to chill?!

Words cannot express how rich and amazing this really is. We just spooned it out of cups but you could use it as frosting or as a middle layer in a cake. You can't really taste the avocado at all, just yummy, yummy chocolate mousse. That is vegan and gluten free. And did I mention it was amazing? *swoon*

Monday, 6 July 2015

Miss T's Gran's After Dinner Treat

Miss T made me dessert while we were watching Bones (Season 1, it's a thing we do). Her gran couldn't have scones so she used to have bread with clotted cream and jam. Miss T's version has rhubarb and orange jam, and we had a glass of Jammy Red Roo by Yellow Tail to go with it. Scrummy!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Picnics in the Park

Summer time in Britain, so what better than a picnic! My Russian friend introduced me to pickled tomatoes. They are quite common in Russia, but it had never occurred to me but they are really yummy and I might look into pickling my own.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Paul Hollywood's Stout Bread

Super easy peasey lemon squeezy and hardly any of the faffing about that happened with this bread!

I randomly caught this recipe being made on telly one day at a friends (I don't have a telly) and decided to make it for Sunday dinner along with some picnic bits. It turned out perfect!

Paul Hollywood's Stout Bread

200g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
550g wholemeal flour
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 pint of stout 
220 ml buttermilk

- Put the oven on at 230 C/ 450 F/ Gas 8 and grease a 2lb baking tin. 
- Put the plain flour, bicarb and salt in a big bowl and stir in the wholemeal and the sugar.  I was thinking spelt flour might work well for this recipe too.
- Pour in the stout and the buttermilk and mix well to form and wet dough. 
- Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and fold and work the dough until it forms a fat sausage, roughly the size of the tin.
- Put the dough in the tin and smooth over the top with wet hands. Set aside for 10 minutes to rest. This was an ideal time for me to drink the rest of the stout....
- Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 180 C/ 350 F/ Gas 5 and bake for another 25 minutes or until the top is golden and the base is hollow when tapped.
- Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool.

We sliced into this a bit early and it went crumbly, but hey, who doesn't like warm bread fresh out the oven?! Stout is a pretty strong flavour and you can really taste it here, I think the main thing is the reaction between the buttermilk and the bicarb, so I was thinking of trying it with a pale ale and maybe you would get a more easy going bread? In any case, this was seriously yummy and really easy to make. Definitely recommended if you fancy making a loaf last minute.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

King of the Castle

So my papa has been visiting for a couple of days and yesterday we went to Dover Castle. It's not that far away but for some reason I've never actually been there, so this was quite exciting! It is pretty pricey but it was so interesting, we were there for more than three hours and the time flew by.

Yesterday meanwhile we met up with Miss R and went to The Chapter Arms in Chartham for lunch. It's not great for vegetarians, but the food they do have is delicious. It is pretty beautiful around there so we attempted a walk but it started to rain! I don't think my dad believed me when I said its been really sunny lately! We got back in the car and went to the Good Shed for some coffee instead.

Then today we went to the Beaney, had lunch and then had a stroll about the Cathedral grounds. Perfect lazy Sunday before he left to catch the train to see my sister. Lovely!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Where's Wally?

Look who I spotted while I was invigilating an exam!

There's Wally! And he is even accompanied by the Wizard too!

Monday, 25 May 2015

My first Steampunk Enchanted Forest themed Wedding

 23rd May 2015 - an historic day when Ireland voted a resounding 'yes' to legalising gay marriage, Sweden won Eurovision and.... oh yeah, I went to this wedding.

C and L got married at Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, so Mr and Mrs Im and I went up to Edinburgh for the weekend.

We had rooms that were like mini duplex apartments!

People followed the theme - not least the bride and groom!

Everyone else was pretty amazing though:

We got a chance to look around the venue - Our Dynamic Earth: