Saturday, 29 October 2011

Just A Bunch Of Hocus Pocus

Since I’m 26, and no longer in a position where trick or treating and dressing up in an Disney Princess Costume won’t look weird/creepy (no matter how short and childlike I appear) I have to satisfy my inner child and love of this time of year with Hocus Pocus marathons and marvelling at various blogger skills with a knife when it comes to pumpkin carving (Looking at you Beth!).
Although as I’ve said before these are about the only few things I love about Halloween. As I’m officially A Grumpy Old Cow now I usually kick off Hallow’s eve by unplugging the doorbell to deter children from begging for Cadbury's Giant Buttons and Haribo at my house. But I have to admit I do miss dressing up and knocking back a skin-full and then attempting to gain entry to a club which is filled to the rafters with girls dressed as slutty versions of every possible variation of animal. Many a year I enjoyed drunkenly trying to apply cat whiskers to my own face with liquid eyeliner which I’d be trying to hastily rub off the next day on the way to a lecture.
Anyway, I thought I'd make the effort to get into the Halloween swing of things with a I want/I love  list of goodies for you to have a butchers at. 

From left-right: Skull and cross bones ice cube tray, Bat cookie cutter, Plastic candelabra, Spiderweb placement, Halloween bunting, skull plug stopper, Spiderweb cake stand, Misted tumbler, Candle.

From Left-Right: Gluten-free carrot&ginger cake, Pumpkin party bags, Squash soup, Beth's awesome pumpkin carving, Pumpkin soup, Hummingbird Halloween cupcakes, Bodum whisker, Halloween pegs, Paper lanterns.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Speedy Sides: Edition 2

I'm usually the sort of person who is repelled by fruit in salads, or nuts in curries or any of that other faff. Its like drinking a pint of water when you need a wee, it goes against the grain. But saying all that my dad made this marvelous little salad from the September issue of Delicious magazine (which if you don't read you should since it's awesome) and after I tinkered about with it and made it to my liking, I thought I'd shove it (belatedly) up on here for you to have a butchers at. I know strictly speaking we're well into autumn and in this weather we're way beyond thinking about salads, but this salad is warm and with all the orange-ness it doesn't look a bit Halloween-Esq (clutching desperately at those straws now).

          Total Time:20 minutes
  • 3 Nectarines
  • A good old glug of olive oil
  • 3 Tsp's of caster sugar
  • Mixed baby leaf salad
  • 200g Of feta or Gorgonzola (or any crumbly sour cheese)
For the dressing you'll need...
  • A Tbsp glug of white wine vinegar
  • A tsp of runny honey
  • A tsp of gluten-free grainy mustard
  • 5 Tbsp's of olive oil
  • Start off by halving your nectarines and getting rid of the stones, then cut all the halves into nice chunky wedges.
  • Mix up your dressing by popping all the ingredients in a clean jam jar and giving the whole lot a really good shake until its well mixed and yummy.
  • You don't have to use a griddle pan but its the best thing for cooking your nectarines. Pop it over a medium/high heat until its getting on for pretty hot. 
  • Dunk your nectarine pieces in the olive oil,making sure they're all well coated and then carefully place them on the hot griddle. your going to want to cook them for around 30-40 seconds on each side but be careful they don't burn at such warm temperatures.
  • Once you've cooked them on both sides, sprinkle on the caster sugar and balsamic vinegar. It will make a bit of  a splutter (like your parents when you used to go out in a mini skirt when you were 15), but it will reduce down straight away.
  • Take the nectarines out the pan straight away or they'll burn, you just want to glaze the fruit not preserve them for pickling.
  • Assemble your baby leaves and feta on a plate after tossing them in a bowl with 80% off the dressing.
  • Arrange in a fart arty sort of way on the plate, laying your nectarines in the most pretentious assemble as you can manage and pour over the rest of the dressing.
  • Serve with steak or a bit of white fish with a flourish and a 'I know I'm awesome,what of it' gleam in your eye.


Well bugger me. Not actually mind, metaphorically.
When I was umming and ahhing over my depression post over the last 8months, re-reading it, picking holes in it and bottling it every time I came to publish it, I never ever thought it would get the reaction it did. For me, publishing such a personal post meant only preparing for the an inevitable shit storm of possible ignorant or mean comments.
Oh but how wrong I was. The cynic is eating humble pie my friends (and oh it’s a bittersweet pill/pie to swallow) because 100% of the feedback I received was positive, supportive, kind and quite frankly overwhelming.
I never wrote the post with a view to getting sympathy because Christ knows I’d rather receive sympathy for my love of syntho pop than for being saddled with a mental illness. Publishing the post put me in the company of those who were out the depression closet (No hope of finding Narnia in that MDF monstrosity) and other than making me feel extremely vulnerable it put me in the position of being able to talk about my depression in a (however misguided) attempt to create not just more understanding but also for anyone- from a long term follower, or someone stumbling across my blog on the off chance- to find some comfort however small in the fact someone else is out there feeling the same thing.
When your caught up in depression, as I’m sure any sufferer will tell you, its very easy to get spun up in how YOU feel, it can be hard to imagine that there are other people everyday going through the same thing.
For me, acknowledging that to myself and finally when I decided to write this post marked a significant turning point when I started to think of my depression in less selfish terms, and started to think in terms of ‘how can I turn this shit into gold’. Not actual gold like, I’m not David Blaine, but it has taken me a long  time to sieve through the crap to syphon off something positive not just in my depression but my physical illness as well.
Not that writing the post wasn’t cathartic to a point, but it was never my intention to use it in an exercise in self therapy.
So, thank-you to everyone who read the post, commented on it and tweeted or emailed me about it, this might have you running for the sick buckets but it made all the stress and worry about posting it all worth it and it meant an awful lot to me that people took the time to tell me what the post meant to them personally. It was like being  Professor X in his little brain pod and finding all the mutants all over the world, I felt like I was opening up a (good) can of worms. I don’t want to jinx myself but saying this, but writing that post was a big turning point for me in getting on the long and dusty road to getting better, in every sense of the word.
But listen guys, you can’t let this stuff go to my head, promise? But be gentle, yeah? I’ve got depression over here :P

I just want to say a massive thank-you to everyone who nominated and then voted for me for the Cosmo Blog Awards. Sadly I didn't win, but the awesome Skinny Latte Strikes Back won in my category and the lovely girls over at Where Are My Knees? won the commended blog which is fab news! I was gutted I couldn't go, but as per usual I was at the mercy of TOBP's but it looked like everyone had an amazing time (the jammy lot) and all the girls looked gorgeous and sparkly. So Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

I guess thats why they call it the blues

You weren't 'alf right Elt!
 There’s nothing quite like the immortal words ‘I have depression’ to piss all over a conversation (although ‘I used to be a man’ might do it) and there will always be someone (friend/family or stranger) who upon hearing this news who will bolt for the hills like Seabiscuit.
Lets face it though, there’s so many misconceptions and misunderstandings attached to depression and mental illness its no wonder sufferers don’t tell anyone what they’re going through. And crap as it is, there will always be people who jump ship as soon as you bring the subject up.
Depression, like Enrique Iglesias’ mole, is something we all know is there, but a thing we just never acknowledge. With 9% * of us in the UK suffering from the big ‘D’  and an estimated 450million people worldwide who will suffer from a mental health disorder at some point in their lives, you’d think we’d all be talking about it a bit more, but it seems the less we do the more it gains the enigmatic mystery illness status that people avoid talking about and have trouble understanding.

So why am I discussing my own depression on here -a blog about coeliacs and baking- you might ask (and Christ knows I have asked myself the same question!) and I have to be honest and say although its beyond hard for me to share (I’d have an easier time giving up an eyeball), let alone talk about with anyone, I think above all else I suppose I wanted to set an example that depression can happen to anyone, that anyone can get lumped with it, even the most unlikely of people (not that I’m necessarily unlikely mind).  I wanted to show that depression doesn’t mean you’re insane (however bonkers you can appear-like me) or thats its similar to feeling ‘a bit blue’ like you would on a bad hair/big arse day.

But it’s not laying in bed all day listening to the Titanic soundtrack with a face like a slapped arse crying into your pillow. It encompasses symptoms beyond feeling sad, being low and not being yourself, the particulars of which I hope you’ll understand I won’t be talking about in this post.
I can attest that admitting you have depression can be as difficult as having it, and trying to explain it to someone who hasn’t experienced it (whether having it or dealing with someone who has) can be a bigger ball-ache than teaching a German Shepherd Steven Hawkings A Brief History of time.

In the almost ten years that I have suffered with depression I’ve seen varied reactions from the people I’ve told, from a friend who looked at me with a look of astonishment that one as bonkers as me was prowling the streets and not locked up in a padded room, another who asked ‘couldn’t you just snap out of it?’ as if it hadn’t occurred to me that if I shook my head hard enough, rang Jim’ll fix it or get Harry Potter to wave his wand the problem would go away, to the people who ‘get it’ and understand.
Looking back its fairly easy to map a pattern in my depression over the years because it tends to rear its head in times of my life that have been hard, sad or stressful.
This time the finger points at the culprit of The Other Bowel Problems (what the ruddy nora else,eh?) slowly zapping my confidence and self esteem which (queue violins) has left me feeling depressed, anxious and isolated.
In the past I’ve had counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and various anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. This time around I’ve tried to steer away from the medication since I already take enough tablets to rattle like a Maraca.
I’m not going to lie…in the past depression has made me do and say things that I’m ashamed of. It made me selfish and my life became as insular as a test tube and I never stopped to think how it was affecting my family and friends.
I was the Regina George of depression; a grade A Queen Bitch and I look back now and cringe. Time and hindsight has given me the luxury of perhaps dealing with my depression a bit better, not necessarily getting over it any easier but defiantly working through it with a more level head then I perhaps had when I was 19.
The Other Bowel Problems (we’re going to have an entire strings section by the end of this) have stripped me of my formally outgoing, bubbly personality and gobshite mouth and ability to chat all sorts of shit to anyone that I came into contact with.
With all the stress of TOBP’s, my mum always says I’d be forgiven for being depression. But I will always think of my  depression as a weakness and a failing on my part.
I always regard anyone who suffers from depression and can acknowledge it openly in much higher esteem, then I would ever afford myself. And while I have mega respect for anyone who talks about his or her depression openly, when it comes to discussing my own it feels disgustingly self-indulgent.
I know that when my bowel problems get better that my depression won’t suddenly disappear and that I’ll probably have to work as hard to get better mentally as I did to get well physically.

But I’ve come to think of it like this:
My depression is a room that I wanted painted yellow, but the decorators have come in and painted it black instead, and although I don’t and will never love it, I’m learning to live with it.

Thanks to Skye and Chris.

For more information, help or advice on depression and any other mental health problems contact Mind, Mental Health Foundation, Sane, and The Samaritans

*Stats taken from the Mental Health Foundation,