It’s too damn hot to not be allowed to eat ice cream

Day 18 of my Whole30! Woohoo! We’re WELL into double digits, people!
I feel pretty good so far. I can’t say I feel fantastic, but I certainly don’t feel bad in the slightest. According to the timeline in the official Whole30 guide, days 10 and 11 are meant to be the toughest, so if that’s the case, then I guess I’m doing pretty well, as last weekend really wasn’t so bad at all. Not to say that spending that weekend mainly in our flat by myself (hubs was away supervising DofE) hasn’t been a little hard… There’s most of a pint of Phish Food in our freezer that I swear was whispering my name when I was trying to read last Saturday night.

  
But besides that, I’m doing OK. Although I have to admit I’m eating probably way more dried fruit than is officially sanctioned by the powers that be behind the Whole30, but I need the energy. Because otherwise I get home from a full day at work PLUS teaching and/or practicing/going to the gym/going on a training walk and I’m totally exhausted. Like, head on the pillow and I’m out kind of exhausted. So I need to work on getting my energy levels up somehow.

  
In non-Whole30-related life news, we’ve just been for another training walk today for out 100 km walk from Bath to Cheltenham and good god it was HOT and I now resemble a lobster. So I have absolutely all my fingers and toes crossed that the actual event day (which is now less than 2 weeks away *cue crazy freakout*). James managed to complete the South Downs Challenge last summer in just under 19 hours. We’re not going to beat that record, but I’d be happy with completing within 20 hours. 
P.S. If you haven’t sponsored us, PLEASE DO! You can do so here.
And here’s the miscellaneous crap that’s been on my mind recently:
– I wrote an article about fitness for work that entailed going to a bunch of different workout classes and having my ass kicked numerous times. Read it here.

– By far my favourite meal I made this week was turkey meatballs in marinara sauce. Recipe here.

  
– Was very sad to hear of Adam West passing away recently, so now is a good time to bring attention to what I think is his best work, Lookwell.

– I’ve just started my 52 week Happiness Planner and totally love it!

– As recommended to me by mindfulness teacher/overall babe, Jackie, I’ve started reading a beautiful book called When Things Fall Apart by Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. Pema is an absolute badass and inspiration. You can listen to her talks on YouTube
That’s all from me for this week! I know this is a short post, but that article I wrote for work is fucking LONG and also my hayfever has turned me into a living breathing ball of mucus and sneezes the past few days. It’s desperately unattractive. 

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I’m back. For realsies. Promise. 

I realised a few days ago that I have taken yet another massive hiatus from this blog. Oy vey. 
I’m not going to apologise, though, because the lack of writing was mainly due to the fact that I started a new job at a wedding website where I write A LOT about random shit about weddings… which I’m good at because I know way too much random shit about weddings anyway so it’s great to have a place to word-vom all of it.

  
But this new job has also been a catalyst for me making a couple of resolutions to myself (even though we’re half way through the year now but shhhh). The first is that, because I have to write so much for work now, I will write more for myself. Which isn’t something I’ve really done in a long time – especially fiction writing – so rebooting this blog is part of that initiative.
The second is that I need to get my shit together and finally do the Whole30, which I have been umming and aahing over for a couple of months. Now that my Uveitis is back and I’ve returned to pummelling my body with drugs (and not the fun kind), I have to start taking better care of myself. The Whole30 was first brought to my attention by my friend Bobbi as a way to help some awful stomach cramps I’d been having which I couldn’t understand the cause of. I went ahead and bought the book and did a load of research… and then didn’t start it. I realised this was stupid of me, so 7 days ago I cut the crap and went full speed ahead.

  
I’ll talk more about Whole30 in the coming days and weeks, keeping you updated on my progress, how much I’m craving Phish Food ice cream, and what my fave Whole30 compliant recipes are. And if you don’t give a shit, well, don’t read my blog until July I guess. (Only do because I love you!) I am going to need all the moral support and cheerleading I can get because tbh I just really love pasta and sugar and I’m dreading going to the cinema this weekend to see Wonder Woman and not being allowed my precious pick ‘n’ mix. Pray for me. 

  
Anyway, back to the topic of the new job. If you were wondering whether this means I’ve stopped teaching yoga, the answer is FUCK NO. I still teach at Bikram Yoga Bristol and I still love every moment of what I do. I just basically needed some more money. Because, y’know, food… and bills… 
Actually, though, I’ve discovered that teaching less has made me enjoy it more. Now that my opportunities to teach are rarer, I take more advantage of them, and I feel I can give more to my students. 

Not that I don’t miss teaching more; I totally do. But at least I know that, for the moment, whenever I walk into the hot room to lead a class, I am going in with complete presence of mind and excitement to see how my students have progressed, as opposed to slumping in thinking, “Oh not this shit again.” 
And believe me, if you’re a Bikram teacher, you have definitely thought that more often than not. If you haven’t, you’re lying to yourself. 
I must admit that this job has sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole, though, where I cannot figure out for the actual life of me what I actually want to do. Like, with my life. Do I want to have my own studio? Do I want to try to be a writer? Do I want to drop everything and go to law school so I can do my best to be an advocate and catalyst for change in this seriously messed up world? (Yes, this is something I am seriously considering.)
I’m at a serious crossroads here. And no, sadly I’m not referring to the Britney Spears film which was a masterpiece of our times. I mean I feel very confused and really quite lost. 

  
But hey, I got no time for feeling down about that right now because I have 23 days left of not being allowed pizza, which is definitely taking priority as a bigger problem in my head at this moment. 
God I just want some damn cheese.
IN OTHER NEWS

  • Just before I started my new job, I ended up getting corralled onto a Mindfulness retreat in Essaouira, Morocco with Jackie of Sky Garden Retreat. Essaouira is now my fave place and Jackie and I are soulmates. I also made friends with a lovely man there who makes shoes (because of course I did). You need this retreat. Learn more here.
  • Thanks to the aforementioned Bobbi, I’m now part of a book club in Brizzle where we read cool books and then talk about them whilst eating lots of food. Our most recent book was My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal. Not my favourite, but still a striking read.
  • I am the MOST pumped to be taking part in Inferno Hot Pilates’ first ever UK teacher training in Warwick next month! I’ll be teaching IHP around Bath and Bristol post-training, so I’m very excited to share the class with you and to share my teaching experiences here.
  • I am still traumatised over Valentina getting kicked off RuPaul’s Drag Race 2 weeks ago, but this interview with Bob the Drag Queen made me feel slightly better about it. I am also SO glad Alexis and Nina have gone the fuck home. It was about damn time. Still can’t decide whether I’m on Team Sasha or Team Shea, though. Bear with.
  • Re: RPDR. This:  

Ustrasana or Ustressana?

Those of you who frequent Bikram studios will know what I’m talking about. You’re ten precious minutes away from the end of class, so close that you can almost taste the ice cold coconut water on your tongue, but there’s just one big hurdle between your sweaty ass and the lovely, room-temperature outside world: Ustrasana. You may also know it as Camel Pose, but fuck it, at that point in class you don’t care what the hell it’s called, you just want to get yourself out of there.

Those of you who’ve been there before know how it is. You crawl up to the front of your mat and towel, sweating like… well, like you’ve been exercising in 105 degree F heat for 80 minutes, and stand up on your knees. “Do we have to do this again?” A little voice in your head asks. “We do this like every day, surely we can take a break.” But you ignore those thoughts and tilt your head back anyway, and are immediately punished for it with a wave of nausea.

Nevertheless, you go back half way until you can see the wall behind you (or the floor, or the person behind you… whichever), and put your right hand on your right heel, followed by your left hand to your left heel. And then you’re in it.

I had never felt the way I did before when I did my first Camel in a Bikram class. I’d done it in Vinyasa Flow classes, and it was moderately hard then, but the intensity of the heat seriously ramps up the intensity of the posture, and I honestly started to panic that I was going to pass out stone cold while in it. And then of course I started freaking out about falling directly back onto my ankles and twisting my calf muscles so badly that I’d never be able to walk properly again and – no? No one else had that very specific worry during Ustrasana? Just me, huh? Yeah, I thought so.

But I stayed in it, and I’m so glad I did. I don’t know what exactly it is about Ustrasana that makes us feel so nauseous and dizzy whilst in it (I guess I’ll learn that at teacher training), but what I do know is that, at least for me, it’s the most cathartic posture in the Bikram series. And I never let myself miss it.

No matter how bad I’m feeling, and no matter if the maximum I’m able to bring myself to do is to just tilt my head back at the beginning of the posture, I need Ustrasana. Because, more than any other posture, it allows me to let go of what does not serve me (a phrase frequently used by Bikram teachers). I realised this about a year and a half ago when I had to be in New York for seven weeks to do an internship and Boyfriend stayed in the UK. I went to a Bikram class about half way through that period, and found myself having a massive sob-fest after Camel. Tears were coming out and I just couldn’t stop them, nor could I really understand why I was reacting that way. And then I realised that I had been back in NYC for 3 1/2 weeks, getting increasingly frustrated with my family, missing Boyfriend terribly, and working in a very stressful job. And yet I had taken absolutely zero time to confront and deal with any of those feelings. Instead, I kept just “getting on with things”, thinking that I had no time to let myself feel those emotions.

I find this happens all too often to all of us, especially when we go through a period in which we face a lot of set-backs. I, personally, am pretty insistent on just brushing myself off, getting back up and getting on with the next thing. But then I’m only setting myself up for a major meltdown about a week or so later, because there’s only so much negativity the mind and body can take.

One of Mary Jarvis’ favourite phrases to use is, “To sit in Lotus and notice yourself.” Well, I like to hang out in Camel and notice myself. I notice exactly what I’m feeling on that given day – what’s hurting in the posture, what’s more comfortable than normal, whether I’m feeling nauseous or overwhelmed – and then I ask myself why? What’s going on that’s making me feel like that? Did I have enough water before class? Did I forget to eat this morning? Or is there something going on with me emotionally that I haven’t dealt with yet?

I recognise whatever those factors are. I acknowledge them. And then I let that shit go.

It’s so easy to pigeonhole Ustrasana as a posture you just have to “get through” and “endure” in order to get to the end of class. But maybe next time try to see it as a form of therapy. A chance to understand what’s fucking with your head. Acknowledge that it’s there, and then choose to move past it, as opposed to suffer through it. You might come out of the pose feeling like you just downed 5 tequila shots in one go, but your mind will thank you for it.

P.S. I’m now a week into my Dechox challenge in aid of the British Heart Foundation. Please consider donating a couple of quid here. x

Doing your 50

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I last posted! I sincerely promise you, readers, that this will not be a normal thing. All I can say to defend myself is that I’ve been severely distracted lately.

Last Sunday I went for two auditions. Yep, two. In one day. Talk about a boatload of emotional exhaustion amiright? Years ago I used to picture myself bouncing in and out of audition rooms like it wasn’t no thang, and yet after all the times between then and now that I’ve been told “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”, my progress in the area of Not Freaking Out has been minimal.

I don’t get stage fright. I’ve luckily always been able to saunter into auditions without breaking a sweat or displaying any kind of physical signs of nerves. But it’s the post-audition nerves that get me. I’m sure those of you who are also performers know perfectly well what I’m talking about – you start going over everything you did in your head, wondering if it was good enough. Then you start analysing everything that the casting director said or did that could hint at how they felt about you. You swing alarmingly quickly from being totally confident in yourself, thinking that you were the best person in there, to thinking you were absolute shite. And this can go on for days.

Mind you, I’m probably a particularly bad person to speak to after an audition because I am probably one of the more neurotic people on planet Earth. Right up there with Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine and the mum who’s the subject of that Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom. (By the way, if you haven’t seen that yet, you really need to check it out. Funniest shit ever. And yes, I will probably end up being a very similar type of mother.) This neuroses of mine is the reason that, when I was auditioning for drama schools, every time I came out of an audition and my dad asked me how it went, I would reply with “I don’t know.” Because saying you don’t know is easier – and probably healthier – than allowing yourself to verbally spew all the absolutely insane theories that are spinning through your mind about how you might have done.

Luckily, I have one thing keeping me sane whenever I start to go down this terrifying spiral of self-loathing: the Theory of Doing Your 50.

This is something that was instilled in me when I was gearing up to my drama school auditions by my ex acting coach, Andy Johnson, and it has proven to be my sanity’s saving grace. The theory is based on the idea that every audition is a game of two halves: what you do in the room, and what the director is looking for. Only one of those halves (50%) – what you do in the room – is within your control. That 50% is wholly dependent on how good you are on the day, how you’re feeling, how well-suited you are to the character, etc. The other 50% is entirely out of your hands. That part is based on what the director is looking for, i.e. their own vision for the character and how you compare to it. It’s also based on who else walks into the room that day – if someone who the director thinks suits the character more than you do walks into the room, there’s nothing you can do about that. In the realm of drama schools, the other 50% has a lot to do with the fact that many drama schools are looking to essentially put together a small theatre company, and if they don’t think you “gel” with the other people who they’ve already decided to accept, there’s nothing you can do about that. Maybe they’ve already accepted a girl with brown hair and blue eyes of about your height. Tough shit.

So why is this such consolation to me? Because as long as I “do my 50”, I have done the best I can do. This rule has worked for every audition I’ve done; if I honestly feel like I did my 50, I will either get cast, or I’ll get rejected on the basis that I didn’t fit in with the CD’s other choices. And then there have been the auditions where I’ve walked out and thought “I definitely did not do my 50.” And lo and behold, I didn’t get the job.

This rule even proved true in the case of one of the auditions I had last Sunday, which I heard back about last night. I walked out of that audition thinking that I’d done my 50. I was good. There were some rough bits, but as for the role that I really wanted, I did my 50, and the other 50 was (as always) out of my control.

I was rejected.

And, as I normally do, I asked the director for honest feedback on why I wasn’t cast. She told me that she felt I was better suited for a different role than for the one I wanted – weird, because every time I’ve done this particular play, or sections of it, I’ve been cast as that role – so there you go. She had a different vision for the role. I wasn’t it: the 50 that was out of my control. As for the other role that she thought I was better suited to, she thought I’d gabbled my words when reading for it – there’s my 50. So in this case, sadly, neither half was totally in place, and I didn’t get cast.

So next time, I just have to make sure my 50 is even more secure. Everything else is beyond my control. All of us actors get up and move on, always better prepared for the next one, when we’ll inevitably get rejected again. Because that’s the business we were smart enough to get ourselves into.

We’re all fucking idiots.

Oh, and by the way y’all, I’ve joined the British Heart Foundation’s DeChox initiative. Basically I’ve agreed to give up chocolate for all of March in order to raise some money. Please visit my page and sponsor me if you can! You can do so here. x

On having to admit that you’re actually very scared

It’s half-term this week, as you’ll very likely know by now if you’re a British schoolchild or a parent of one. I know it’s half-term because I work as a nanny and Boyfriend is a history teacher, so we’ve had the week off as well. A lot of people with normal jobs probably think adults who get a half-term holiday mostly spend it drinking, clubbing, going to late-night showings of films (“50 Shades”, anyone? Nope, definitely not us.) and “relaxing”, whatever that is. What have we actually been doing?

Spending the week at Boyfriend’s parents’ place.

The principle activities this week have been things such as: eating far too much cake, doing the crossword with Boyfriend’s dad (“What do you reckon 5-down is then, Sam?” “I don’t know, Geoff, that’s why I left it blank.”) and playing the kinds of card games you play to pass the time on a camping trip when it’s raining. Oh, yeah, and there’s also been a lot of Thinking About the Terrifying Looming Future.

You see, this July will ring in rather a lot of changes for us. I’ll be graduating from uni and Boyfriend will be leaving his job at a school in Surrey to move to a school in Bath, near his hometown of Bristol. So we’ll pack up our Brighton flat into lots of boxes, haul them into a van, and plop them back down in Bath, which will be our home for the foreseeable future.

Now, to be clear, I am super excited about this. I am thrilled about this. I’ve wanted to move to Bath for ages, and I definitely think now’s the right time, especially since I’ll be leaving uni and joining the “real world” and all that other glorious shite you have to do to be a proper grown-up. But this week, whilst we were strolling around Bath talking about how we wish we were millionaires so we could buy a townhouse on the Royal Crescent, I started to get a horrible lumpy, crampy feeling in my stomach. (And no, it wasn’t from eating too much of Boyfriend’s mum’s Lemon Drizzle cake, although I did consider that possibility.) It was from suddenly being very aware that, come July, the proverbial rug is going to be yanked out from under me, and I am very likely going to land flat on my not-so-proverbial arse.

Mind you, it would be like this wherever we were going to live after I graduate, whether we stayed in Brighton or moved to the bloody Orkneys. The fact of the matter is, I have no job prospects (because I want to be an actor), no fall-back options (because I want to be an actor), and will probably have to continue doing student jobs, i.e. barmaid, Saturday shop assistant, nanny, etc (because I want to be an actor). The current name-of-the-game is to get on Spotlight. (For those of you not in the UK, Spotlight is an online database of actors used by agents and casting directors. You have no cache as an actor in the UK if you’re not on Spotlight.) To get on Spotlight, you need to have done 4 PAID acting jobs – not short films, music videos or adverts – and to get those jobs, you need to have an extremely flexible schedule. To have that kind of schedule and still pay the bills, you need to work as a barmaid or a waitress. Maybe a part-time nanny. Either way, you’re not bringing in much money, and you certainly don’t have any kind of guaranteed financial future.

All of this dawned on me during a very nice day in Bath, when I should have been getting excited about starting a new chapter in a new city with the man I love. Instead, I spent most of the day feeling totally depressed, and then had a quiet, Emma-Thompson-in-Love-Actually style sob to myself back at Boyfriend’s parents’ house.

I guess all soon-to-be graduates have to admit this to themselves at some point, and I admitted it to myself this week: I am utterly shitting bricks. And there’s nothing for it except to plunder my way through my last term of uni, save up a bit of money for the move, and hold out some kind of faith that it will work out. 

Yes, it will mean submitting myself for every paid job possible on Casting Call Pro. And yes, it will mean pounding the streets of Bath handing my CV to every pub and restaurant – even the ones who aren’t advertising for help – or potentially taking on another badly paid nannying job. But I did the exact same thing three years ago after I abruptly left drama school and that didn’t go too badly. And then – hopefully – one day, my fantasy of Julian Fellowes popping up out of nowhere, pointing at me, and shouting “You, girl! You will star as a recurring character on the next series of Downton Abbey!” will come true. (By the way, Lord Fellowes, I’ve already got my character’s storyline totally written out if you’d like to peruse it some time.)

In all seriousness, I know the best I can hope for is that, some day soon, an agent will take their chances on me and then maybe I’ll get some bit-parts in a few TV shows. It may never make me a millionaire – it may never even make me a living – but I have to try. Because if I don’t, I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering “what if?”, and I would never forgive myself. But that doesn’t make me any less scared or any less unsure of myself. I wish I was the kind of person who would be happy taking a desk job. It would make my future a lot more certain and it would make July a lot less scary, but instead I appear to be a victim of the stubborn resilience that apparently runs in my family. The only thing I can focus on right now is what I am able to do right now. 

And the other night, when all of this was running through my neurotic-ass head, the only thing I was immediately able to do was to go downstairs and have dinner with Boyfriend and his parents, and laugh about his dad’s outright refusal to get a hearing aid. Because he seriously, seriously needs one.

Valentine’s Day and the art of Not Going Out

I know, I said on Friday that I’d post again on Saturday, and then I didn’t end up doing that. Sorry, I’m a bad person.

But this past weekend was VALENTINE’S DAY so

I kind of had an excuse, especially because I had a Galentine’s Day with my best friend on top of all the other normal festivities. So let me fill you in:

Galentine’s Day (Friday) was spent in London with Vicky, and I have to tell you, I did not have as much of a public transportation nightmare as I had originally predicted, especially given it was Friday the 13th. Granted, my train into London was hideously overcrowded and the only free seat in the carriage was being used as a bag holder for a particularly stupid-looking blonde girl. I did consider asking her to move said bags, but decided it would be more fun to give her evils for the duration of the train journey. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I hate when people sit next to me on trains, but when a train is packed like that and there are 20 people around you who have to awkwardly stand in the aisle, it’s just common fucking decency to move your damn bags. Plus I was wearing heels. Heels! I mean really, have some respect for your fellow woman!

But I digress.

Vicky and I had pretty typical “us” day: shopping and eating, followed by more shopping and then a bit more eating. At this stage I feel like I have to give a particular shout-out to Shoryu Ramen (www.shoryuramen.com) in Kingly Court for not only providing us with kick-ass noodles, but also for some super delicious mochi truffles, of which I honestly could have eating at least twenty. But they only gave us three. Sad times.

photo

As for actual Valentine’s Day… well, it was nearly a bust, seeing as my boyfriend got ill just as I started to get better, but I think we managed to pull it out of the bag thanks to a great deal of over-the-counter cold medication.

Now, I’ll say this about V-Day: Boyfriend and I are not ones for candle-lit dinners at expensive restaurants. After all this time of being together, we have only had a truly successful amazing dinner at a restaurant for a special occasion maybe one time. My theory is that restaurants don’t respond well to pressure, so big occasions like birthdays, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, etc, always overwhelm them and the food ends up being “meh”. I also think we as humans tend to put too much weight on these days, so if our experience is messed up in any way, it lets down the whole occasion far too easily.

Boyfriend and I also tend to strongly dislike other humans. In fact, this was one of the things that we initially bonded over. We don’t do well in over-crowded places, we hate it when people sit next to us on public transport (see above), and we have to take turns going to pay for drinks in pubs because we both equally dislike the embarrassing ordeal of ordering something.

So Boyfriend and I have a new approach to things that we only started trying this past New Year’s: Not Going Out.

We get dressed up like we’re going on a big date night, and then we go absolutely nowhere. Instead, we cook whatever foods we feel like, get a few bottles of wine, and watch a film. And go figure, it works out fucking brilliantly.

Day time on Saturday was spent grocery shopping and watching “Breaking Bad” on Netflix – which, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to spend a day – and the evening was spent cooking, (menu and recipes at the bottom of this post!!) eating and watching “Bridesmaids”. I honestly could not have asked for a more perfect day.

So next time you and your Significant Other are gearing up for a special occasion, consider Not Going Out. Cook your favourite food (even if that’s just a packet of Super Noodles each), pop on a funny film and enjoy a whole evening of not having to deal with other people. It’s bloody amazing.

For those of you who enjoy getting a bit more creative with your Not Going Out nights, though, here are the recipes we used on V-Day…

Beetroot, Goat’s Cheese and Walnut Salad (adapted from Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things)

You will need:

500g beetroot (we got ours pre-cooked from Tesco)
200g goat’s cheese
75g chopped walnuts
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp honey (plus extra for drizzling)
1 spring fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to season

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

Place the beetroot in a roasting tin and drizzle with one tbsp of the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and add the thyme. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes – just long enough to heat the beetroot through. (If using raw beetroot, instructions can be found online for how to roast from scratch.)

When the beetroot is out of the oven, pour the leftover juices and oil from the roasting tin into a bowl (you’ll use this later for the dressing) and chop the beetroot up into small bite-size pieces. Tear up the goat’s cheese and sprinkle on top of the beetroot.

Crush the walnuts (not very finely, leaving some larger chunks) and add them to the bowl with the oil from the roasting tin. Whisk in the other 2 tbsp of olive oil, the red wine vinegar and the honey (you may like to add more honey or more vinegar depending on your own taste). Finish with a little salt and pepper and pour over the beetroot and goat’s cheese.

Finish by drizzling over with the last bit of honey.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

You will need:

75g unsalted butter
250g arborio risotto rice
750ml chicken stock
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
125g mixed wild mushrooms
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh marjoram, chopped
75ml dry white wine
75g grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Directions:

Put the stock in a saucepan and keep at a gentle simmer. Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the finely chopped onion and garlic. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes (timings vary depending on the type of saucepan you have) until the onions are soft and translucent, but not browned. Stir in the mushrooms and herbs and cook for about 3 minutes, just to heat through, then pour in the dry white wine and turn the heat up to high. Boil hard until the wine has almost evaporated (this will stop your risotto from tasting boozy!) and stir in the uncooked rice. Fry until the rice is dry and slightly opaque.

Begin adding the stock, one ladle at a time. Be careful here!! This bit is why so many people think cooking risotto is hard. It isn’t at all, but you’ll mess it up if you don’t carefully watch it during this stage. Stir in each ladle-full of stock just as the last one has been completely absorbed by the rice. This will stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Continue this process until you’ve used all the stock. This should take about 10 minutes. By the end, the rice should be cooked, but still quite al dente.

Turn the heat off, add the parmesan, salt and pepper, and you’ve done it! Enjoy the yummy glory!

Tin Foil Baked Sea Bass with Ginger, Spring Onion and Soy Sauce (adapted from the Itsu cook book)

You will need:

2 fillets of sea bass, weighing in at around 130g each
10 cm (a thumb-sized piece) of fresh ginger, finely sliced
1 bunch of spring onions, sliced
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce

Directions:

Place each sea bass fillet in the centre of a square piece of tin foil. Sprinkle the chopped ginger, spring onions and chilli over each fillet, making sure that the slices of ginger are lying across the middle of each fillet. This will make sure the flavour infuses well in the oven. Bring the edges of the pieces of tin foil together so that the sea bass fillets are each essentially wrapped in their own foil tacos (eloquent, right?) and allow a small opening at the tops. Pour in half a tablespoon of soy sauce through each opening, then press the foil together.

Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes each. Cook time will depend on the size of fillets you use – we used heavier fillets from our local fishmonger on Saturday and they ended up taking about 18 minutes – but standard fillets bought from the supermarket should only take about 10.

Unwrap each foil parcel, take off the ginger and chilli (unless you’re into eating that sort of thing) and serve your sea bass with the spring onions and some steamed veggies.

And finally…

Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food Ice Cream

photo (1)

You will need:

About £4.50 depending on prices at your local shop.

Directions:

Go to the shop, buy some Phish Food, go home and shove that glorious chocolatey-marshmallow frozen concoction in your face whilst watching a really cheesy film.

 

Namaste bitches!

I’m ill.

My sinuses are so blocked that I feel like I’ve been punched in the face. Normally at this time on a Monday I would have been to work already and would be half an hour into a Bikram class but… not today. Today I am at home with my duvet and Netflix and I reckoned it would be an opportune moment to start a blog.

I have no idea why I thought that.

I mean I’m a very opinionated person. Anyone who knows me could tell you that. So I will probably use this space to rant and rave on more than a few occasions. But mainly I want to use it to share with you the three things I love and am enthusiastic about: yoga, baking and acting.

Yoga has helped me through a lot of shit. Since I was sixteen I have been turning to it to calm me down, lift my spirits and give me some kind of purpose. The day I found out my eye disease had come back from remission, I went to yoga. The day I broke up with my ex, I went to yoga. Every time I screw up an audition (you guessed it), yoga. More recently (the last 2 1/2 years) I’ve gotten into Bikram and have become even more of an annoyingly enthusiastic yogini. I love the way I feel after a class, and I love the transition from the cold, hectic outside world into the isolated hotbox where, for 90 minutes, no one can reach me or bother me. It’s helped me massively with overcoming body dysmorphia and other mental obstacles, and with putting life in perspective during hard times. So you’ll be hearing about it a lot.

I got into baking a couple of years ago. I’d always enjoyed it, but previously did nothing more adventurous than follow the instructions on the back of a Betty Crocker cake mix box. Then, in September 2013, my best friend came home from uni for the academic year after learning her mother was seriously ill. ‘Home’ for her just happened to be the exact town that I had recently moved to, and with all our other friends at universities around the country, I made sure I spent as much time with her as she needed. But I had to figure out something to do with her that would distract her from what was going on with her mum – give her some time off, as it were. So we started baking. We baked a lot. Basically went through the entirety of Hummingbird Bakery’s cookbook and then some. Now baking is like an addiction for both of us. Get ready for some badass pictures of cakes.

Acting is what I would like to do for a living. I know, that sounds like a joke, right? Who makes a living from acting? (Except obviously Benedict Cumberbatch because he is a god and is fully deserving of all beautiful things in this world.) But no I’m totally serious I want to be an actor. I don’t even know how or why I got into it, all I know is that I’ve always wanted to be on stage and in films. And when I say ‘always’, I mean it. On my preschool application, my mother wrote “Samantha would like to be a movie star when she grows up” in the miscellaneous information section. I was three. As I live in Brighton at the moment, I’ve been doing shows with local theatre companies ranging from serious, heart-wrenching drama to a musical for kids, all along hoping that Julian Fellowes would randomly turn up one day, point at me and loudly proclaim, “You, girl! You shall be the next big star on Downton Abbey!” But until that day comes, I’ll be plugging away at student films and theatrical productions like it’s nobody’s business. Ever wondered what a rehearsal process is like, or how actors deal with all that rejection? You’ll hear about it plenty.

Anything else? Oh yeah… I really hate travelling on public transportation and nearly have a meltdown every time I’m on an overcrowded train from London to Brighton. I’m probably going to experience this exact hell on Friday so GET READY!!

Pet hates in this area include: people who listen to their music too loudly; people who talk too loudly (on the phone or to a travelling companion); people who try to talk to me, especially whilst I’m reading; people who eat smelly food; people who put their coffee on the communal table between the four-seater booth things and leave a coffee ring so I can’t put my book down; people who sit next to me when there are literally HUNDREDS of other available seats…

Yeah. This should be entertaining.

Namaste, bitches. x