Friday, 13 November 2015

Straight Outta Cardiff

Jacket: Vintage
Shoes, scarf and jeans: Topshop
Bag: GAP
T-Shirt: Ebay
My pinterest board is filled with tall blonde Scandinavian women wearing COS, Acne Studios and the like.  I keep trying to feed some of that 'Scandi coolness' into my life but then I see t-shirts like this and I get sucked into the whole novelty dressing idea.  Do I need to wear faux fur and a hat? Probably not.  Does it make me feel like a famous movie star? Absolutely.  

My friend Fiona snapped these of me last weekend.  People who aren't interested in blogging don't understand the need to photograph outfits.  I have an old friend visiting me this coming weekend and I don't think he'll be as understanding. Taking photos of my outfits is more than the #ootd tag on Instagram, for me it's about being confident and feeling good in my skin and clothes.  Am I so wrong for wanting to document that?

Anyway, November is rolling onwards so quickly and before you know it I'm back in Brazil for Christmas again.  My summer trip to Rio feels as if it was yesterday and not back in August.

So far this November I'm:

Listening: to Chet Faker's cover of No Diggity. This version sounds positively romantic. 
Reading: The Sunday Times. I now have a subscription for the weekend, I'm obviously an adult now. Blog wise: I adore Jane's blog and seeing her life in Australia.
Watching: Netflix's documentary Winter on Fire, about the uprising in the Ukraine in 2014. I cried, got angry and was left speechless. 
Discovering: That I can run. More on that later.
Goal setting: Not letting negativity into my life, accepting it and moving on

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Something strange happened this weekend.  I had a slight out of body experience.

Since January I've been teaching myself how to run. I'm not lying to you when I say that 11 months ago I couldn't even run for a minute. It's not a gross understatement, just pure truth. I always used to dread summer in school because it meant athletics was always around the corner and the thought of having to run in front of my peers made me sick. I didn't understand how people could run for long distances without stopping, much less that they enjoyed it.

But in an attempt to get to like the only body that I have, I set myself the task of learning to run.  How hard could it be? The answer: very.

But 11 months later, some tears, some weeks of no exercising and countless re-tries of C25K I got up on Saturday morning with a mild gin hangover, laced my Nikes up and ran.  In fact, I ran my first 10km in 1 hour 16 minutes.

The out of body experience happened around the 9th kilometre.  I'd been caught in a downpour of cold rain, my brain was screaming 'you're dying just stop running' but my legs just carried on taking me forward.  Then suddenly it didn't feel like I was in my body. For a few minutes the beat in my headphones was all I could hear and it didn't even feel like my feet were touching the ground.  The song ended and I wanted to pass out.  In the end I made it to the 10th kilometre and collapsed on the second set of stairs back up to my flat.

Whilst I was running I realised something: my body is strong and capable.  I've spent years hating how I looked and hating my body, now I see how incredibly harsh that was.  It's amazing that the body I've hated probably since I was 15 is capable of doing things I never thought it could. I may not have a flat stomach, or abs, or be able to barbell squat with heavy weights but my body is still capable of doing amazing things.

I don't know whether it's down to the fact that I've really pushed myself during running or whether it's down to me also going to acupuncture, but I've never felt so physically and mentally strong in my whole life. It's probably the best feeling in the world because I worked hard to get myself to this place, and to reap the rewards is beyond rewarding.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.” - Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Cooking with Nina - Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Sage Risotto

Halloween is over now and the temperatures are dropping so it's the perfect excuse to use your left over pumpkin and rustle up a tasty risotto. People are scared of cooking risottos because they do require constant attention but once you've mastered the tricks the basic recipe will become a staple in your life.

To make this risotto you will need:

- Risotto rice (1 cup per person)
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- 1 glass of dry white wine
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 small pumpkin
- 1 handful of freshly grated parmesan
- Salt and pepper to season
- Some sage leaves
- Butter (optional)

1) First preheat your oven to 200.  Peel, deseed and chop up your butternut squash and pumpkin.  Put them into roasting dishes, add a dash of olive oil, salt, pepper and sage.  Mix it all together and put into the oven to roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the cubes have softened but not become mushy

2) Whilst your butternut squash and pumpkin roast, finely chop the garlic and onion.  

3) Heat up your stock in a separate pot.

4) Add your finely chopped onion and garlic to a large pan with olive oil and on medium heat fry until the onions become clear but make sure they don't burn.

5) Add your risotto rice and turn up the heat.  Fry the rice for a couple of minutes making sure it's liberally coated with the onions and garlic.  Then add the wine and stir until the liquid has cooked away, the cooking will evaporate the harsh alcohol taste.  Now add your roasted butternut squash and pumpkin and mix everything together.

6) Now add a ladle of hot stock.  Turn down the heat to a simmer.  Stir your risotto until all the liquid has been absorbed before adding another ladle.  Keep repeating this for about 15-20 minutes depending on how you like your rice cooked, so make yourself a cup of tea because this part takes the longest. The key is to not let the rice stick to the bottom of the pan and burn so don't leave your rice unattended.  I like my rice with a little bite but that's just a personal preference.  If you run out of stock just add a little bit of water.  For those of you who aren't up to constantly attending the rice, paella might be the recipe for you.

7) Once the rice is cooked to your preference take the risotto off the hob.  Add your parmesan and stir,  If you're feeling naughty add some butter (or even better some garlic butter!).  Serve with sage leaves, salt and pepper for garnish.  It's best enjoyed as soon as possible but risotto also keeps well for the next day.

Garlic bread is optional but a hefty glass of white wine comes highly recommended.  This risotto recipe can be adjusted to suit your personal tastes. I like to swap root vegetables for leek and bacon, or tomatoes.  This is a great basic recipe to have as part of your cooking repertoire, it always impresses friends and you can cook it in bulk to last you for a couple of days.

If you give this a go let me know, would love to hear what you think!

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