Lost in Dublin (but Very, Very Happy)

Last weekend, I took Aaron to Dublin for his 21st birthday. We spent three days in the b-eau-tiful capital of Ireland and I am already missing the constant busking, the sound of the Irish accent and – well, of course – the Guinness! I love dipping into another culture that greets me after stepping off of a plane and the Irish one was very special and one I’d quite happily dip back into! A lot of our days involved exploring the city that even looks picturesque with a completely fluffy, grey sky. Through doing so we saw a lot of what makes the island of the green clover just so special.

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Three days wasn’t quite enough for Aaron and I to correctly navigate ourselves around the city of Dublin even though it’s almost exclusively where we spent our time. It is huge and we were constantly confused about where we were heading and how to get to where we once were- although the signposts were pretty useful. However the size meant for accidentally finding brilliant places. The Ha’penny Bridge (in the second picture) was a bridge I was delighted to stumble upon (not literally) during the morning of our arrival. Built over the Liffey Bridge, it humbly lead us to another segment of Dublin we, once again, never fully understood. But really, really loved. Almost immediately as we stepped onto the bridge, though, we noticed it seemed to be the home for a couple of people of Dublin. Living in Cardiff for university, I have become increasingly alarmed by homelessness and Dublin hit us with another dose of the grim reality of the ugly side of such beautiful cities.

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Finding little spots where we could watch the hustle and bustle of the mostly excitable city was another favourite of the weekend. Whether it was the first cafe we stopped off at or the quirky features of Ireland we found, stopping to evaluate, plan and photograph always provided a dosage of tranquil among the busyness. We visited the Chocolate Cafe in the last hour of our trip and despite having that toddler I DON’T WANNA GO feeling, sat on the window seats brought another happy memory. Looking out to the main shopping high street while the sky turned dark blue and the Christmas lights sparkled is an image that will probably stick by me for ever. Despite liking the quiet, the beach and the greenery, cities can be quite lovely and somewhere I see myself a lot of the time.

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When researching Dublin (keeping my excitement about the trip at bay so I didn’t slip up and tell Aaron all about it before his birthday) I was delighted to see Dublin’s sightseeing can add up to a grand total of $0. We wandered around Dublin Castle while I pretended it was my new home. We accidentally became students of Trinity College and adored its stunning buildings and bubbly atmosphere. We had a ponder through Merrion Square which is home to a sculpture of the brilliant Oscar Wilde. Having studied A Woman of No Importance at A Level I felt like quite the expert as I chatted away to Aaron. As we walked back we soaked up some more culture by browsing through the National Gallery of Ireland. All free and all extra lovely memories filed away from our trip.

The city of trams (like a… tube… on the road) and crossings that beep like an alien gun; the city where I firsthand heard an Irish man say “fantastic” (goals); the city an hour away from my university city that allowed me to experience my first (glorious) try of lobster, steak and Guinness pie as well as a Guinness Irish stew accompanied by fries made out of pancakes. The city that made some of my favourite memories!

~ Kat ~

 

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A One in a Billion Woman

One thought that has always battled my sense of peace is this: We won’t always have the time to tell people the words they deserve to hear while they’re alive/while we’re alive. Call it morbid, but surely it’s only morbid because of the taboo label we attach onto death. Eulogies have always baffled me. Of course they’re a great tool of bringing people together in a time of sorrow and grief, but what if said “inspiring/brilliant/the-loveliest-person-ever” never got to know you felt this way? I think that’s the truly morbid part.

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It’s Not a Eulogy, it’s a Reminder

To my friends she is the Cath Kidston Mum: She bakes, she sews, she plays Sudoku at night. But she’s not as quiet and cutesy as she likes to make people believe. She’s weird. Really weird. The Unsuspecting Mother that is my mum, performs – performs – Zumba routines in the kitchen and she sings that note in Wicked t-e-r-r-i-b-l-y with me with all of her might. She would never do half a job when it comes to doing her favourite musicals proud. Never. Ever.

Yes, she likes home comforts – adores them – but she gives James Bond a run for his money. My mum ran 10 miles just the other day with the biggest grin on her face, I’ll have you know! She loves the competitive aspect of beating strangers on those Fitbit challenges. “I beat ‘Leslie’ by 5000 steps today!” My most inspiring woman in the world despises heights (whereas I quite like them) and yet walked around British Airways i360 more confidently than I did. She adored it. She wouldn’t say it, but she is adventurous.

So don’t be fooled by the Cath Kidston appearance (but be assured she is every bit as lovely and kind as everyone thinks she is) and don’t underestimate the intentions behind the lovely little lady handing you a slice of one of the potentially two or three cakes she baked over the weekend. Yes, she mostly just wants you to enjoy it but she is also waiting for the compliment (oh, and it’ll be so tasty that you will give it to her). And that trait? I actually think she got from me. What else about her weekends? Well she just might start and finish a whole book. She might even get through half of another. That’s just my mum for you. Or she might go on 10k jog when she was expecting to stop at 5k. She might just do all of the above. A teacher once called me “quietly confident” but the biggest secret is that I got that from my mum.

My mum has been working a handful of jobs – working weekends and whenever necessary – for as long as I can remember. All the while she has cooked my dinner and baked with me; taken me to tennis lessons and scrapbooked with me; listened to me recite text for tests at school and spent my days off from school shopping with me or watching Love Happens with a pizza. And she’s raised a girl who doesn’t see her gender as an obstacle. She’s raised a daughter who is proud of being confident, able to speak out and someone who always wants to improve. Credit where credit’s due, I’m a delight. 😉 But, really, for all my faults, she really has created my strongest qualities.

And thing I am most grateful for- the thing I must say thank you for the very most: The absolute core of me is made from her. How lucky am I to have inherited some of her passions. Books and the magic they make us feel. Baking and the warmth it provides us. Wave jumping and doing it because it makes us giggle… Doing things others might not because it makes us happy. She bakes, she sews, she Sudokus. She runs, she reads, she gets excited. She’s lovely; she’s brilliant; she’s beautiful; she’s everything I aspire to be like. Like the good hearty stuff I haven’t got the hang of yet- and wonder if I ever will. Even if it’s just my little finger that posses my mum’s…

  • courage
  • selflessness
  • heart
  • wisdom
  • strength

…I’ll take it and use my little finger with pride.

She deserves these words for every single day I’ve known my lovely mum, and for every day onward. And she deserves way more. A book? A series? A script that follows my every thought about her. Because maybe that way she’d always remember how important she is to me. How irreplaceable she is. How she is my best friend. So I’ll raise my metaphorical happy glass of fizzy pop to my mum: The strongest and best woman I know. Just another woman worthy of the history books that are still biased. Still full of ugly fear. But still waiting for us to make a change. And my mother is the exact reason the world needs to take us woman more seriously. Because she isn’t really just another worthy woman: She’s my mum and she’s the best.

***

It wouldn’t ever cross my mind to be ashamed of being a feminist- it wouldn’t cross anyone’s if the world realised it stands for equality for women and men; for help and support for women and men. There is still so much more to achieve in the improvement of opportunities and quality of women’s lives around the whole world (focusing on the girly aspect of feminism today, just for this post!). Glass ceilings still need to be smashed; sexist, misogynist comments need to be a worldwide no-no-no; women need to be seen as equal in every single way. For the women in the UK and countries alike. And for the women in countries where they aren’t a person- they’re an excuse; the victims of other peoples’ ignorance… constantly.

One of the main reasons I believe in women so strongly – like we all should – is my amazing/awesome/lovely/thoughtful/strong mum. Support feminism for your mum, your wife, your sister or your friend. And tell the women in your life that they are really something. That they’re not simply one thing. They should embrace all that they are. My mum isn’t simply just a brilliant, one in a billion mum. She’s a hard worker and a great baker and all of the above plus more. Tell your girls as soon as possible, because if we don’t, how are we ever going to move this world into the what the 21st Century really should be?

~ Kat ~

P.S. Love you to the moon and back, mum!

Kat Vs. Injury

On Saturday, in front of about 100 runners at my home’s ParkRun, I ran into a railing, flung back and a lot of my weight was piled onto my right hand as I fell down. The result? A lot, a lot of pain but luckily, only soft tissue damage. I did get to have an X-Ray which I was secretly thrilled about (it was no secret). Although now with a great story to tell, I have been limited exercise-wise and food-wise and it seemed right to moan about how limiting a poorly hand is and how I’m trying to get around it… Next time I’ll just try and get around the railing!

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List of tasks I can’t do right now of which I definitely took for granted pre-injury:

  • Cut a potato
  • Tie up my hair
  • Squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube

List of things I am struggling to do without a moan and a groan:

  • Write
  • Brush my teeth
  • Poke my right hand

Press ups, I knew right away were off of the cards. The thought alone sends a spark of anger through my hand. Similar exercises are, of course, a no-no too. Arm day? As of now, still not possible. Skipping exercise until it’s repaired? No, gurl, no.

I, of course, do not have the worst injury in the world and so I don’t need to wait for it to heal to be active like some people may. I’ve been walking lots and did leg day at the gym today- whilst feeling so happy to be back after being at home for reading week. I avoided the exercise that would put strain on my hands and set myself a new challenge of running a mile on the treadmill as fast as possible. I find running inside on a treadmill far harder because of the heat and so I plan on improving my speed every week. It was a challenge I needed this week. I plan to run, walk, get my leg days in and train my abs until I can start doing exercises that no longer throw me back to the moment where I should have see the dang railing. 

I’ve been following the nurse’s orders in terms of resting and moving my hand, but there are some parts of life I have to take a sharp intake of breath through gritted teeth before getting on with it. Cutting potatoes and vegetables, opening chopped tomatoes and packets of rice has not been a barrel of laughs but this injury has made me want to eat even more on the more “nutritious” side of things. My hand is not too strenuous when chopping and there are ways to make it less painful. I have been chucking a lot of spinach in- no cutting required. I’ve been using soft fruit like tomatoes because they’re easier to cut. I’ve had smoothies full of goodness to get my fruit and veg in easily, made in just a couple of easy minutes. I’ve not been adding extra bits that would make my life a little more ticky right now, e.g. chilli.

Of course this hasn’t been an entirely limiting injury. It’s barely limiting at all. But staying active is my favourite hobby and not doing press ups, the plank and training my arms has been a little frustrating. But what good has come from it? I’ve learnt to hold on tight – not literally… that would be a massive OUCH from me right now – and to calm down. No obsessing. I’m just getting on with this injury and training as best as I can. What else has come from it? Well, I am now what-I-call ParkRun famous. (I’m not.) I revelled in being spoken about on the ParkRun’s Facebook page (to warn others not to be quite so stupid), and was more than delighted to hear a friend say, “Oh, so you were the runner I heard bounced off of something!”

That’s me, everyone. The girl who runs into the object the ParkRun organisers warn of every week. *Claps super duper slowly.*

~ Kat ~

The Chocolate for Breakfast Recipe

Parents across the globe may scream, cover their eyes and hold their kids closely when one might insist that chocolate for breakfast really can be totally healthily. Since making up my chocolate smoothie recipe I have realised it is a bit bitter for some people to consider it indulgent. And so I pretended to be a professional food human and kept trying to make a new, creamy and chocolatey smoothie that tastes far too yummy to be healthy but perfect for a morning breakfast… or a daytime snack!

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Ingredients | For one with chocolate-tinted glasses

  • 1.5 frozen bananas
  • 100g frozen raspberries
  • 2 x Medjool dates
  • 1.5tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1tbsp almond butter
  • 1tsp honey
  • 1 dollop of low fat Greek yogurt
  • 100ml almond milk
  • 20ml coconut water
  • Toppings I love include extra fruit, seeds, goji berries and cacao nibs!

Method

1. After removing the seeds from the Medjool dates, chuck it all into your smoothie maker and blend until everything is mashed in together, producing a super creamy texture

2. Top with extra crunch and fruit to make for a breakfast that feels really quite indulgent


I like messing around with this recipe, adding more or less of certain ingredients and adding different fruits inside- blackberries are a winner! After a few weeks of have a smoothie most days at university, I’ve slipped out of the routine but I’m going to get back into it once I’m back from my reading week. Something like this is probably what I need when I’m doing coursework and suddenly get distracted by the want for a slice of cake!

~ Kat ~

 

Dinner Party Buddha Bowl

One night this summer my friend came round for dinner and I tried my first attempt at making a Buddha Bowl. This Buddha Bowl is a smidge different to that one – last time I used quinoa instead of brown rice and chia seeds instead of sunflower seeds – but still super duper yummy. As Honor is as pretentious as I am (and she does it way better), she was delighted with our bowls of yum and healthiness and I have finally got around to making another for a super filling and nourishing lunch.

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Ingredients | For two pretentious pals

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 pinches of pink Himalayan salts
  • 60ml almond milk
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2-1 of a small chilli (depending on your chillibility)
  • 120g brown rice
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Two sprays of Fry Light oil
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 16 strawberries
  • 1/2 broccoli
  • 1 avocado
  • 160g kidney beans
  • 2 sprinkles of sunflower seeds

Method

  1. (My brown rice takes about 30 minutes so I) Boil the rice, turn it to a simmer and pop a lid on top
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into cubes. Put to one side. Take the skin off of the red onion and slice into half moon shapes
  3. Boil the kettle with as much water as possible.  Place water that fills a medium saucepan on another hob. Add the 2 pinches of pink Himalayan before adding the onion and potato into the salted water and boil for 15-18 minutes (or until fork-soft!)
  4. Half your broccoli, cutting off the trunk (as I like to call it) and cut into the new little trees
  5. Cube the two chicken breasts, heat a frying pan with Fry Light and start to cook chicken
  6. Boil more water
  7. Remove the seeds of the chilli after cutting off both ends. Really super finely chop the chilli (like teeny tiny!) and chuck into a mixing bowl for when the sweet potato is ready
  8. Pour water into another little saucepan; add 2 pinches of pink Himalayan salts and then the broccoli too. Boil
  9. Place the handfuls of spinach in the bowl- imagining each part as a segment. Cut off the strawberry greenery and discard; then cut them into halves. Top each pile of spinach with 8 strawberries. Fill the next sections with half an avocado (sliced) each. Cut the lemon in half
  10. Drain your kidney beans and cook them in the microwave according to the instructions on the tin
  11. Once the rice is cooked, drain any water that may be there and add the juice of half of a lemon and mix in
  12. Drain the potatoes and onion. Throw the potatoes into the mixing bowl. Mash the three components altogether with a fork until it looks like mash potato consistency. Add the almond milk and stir, stir, stir!
  13. Dollop all of the separate parts into the bowl, squeeze the remaining half a lemon over the top and sprinkle the seeds for extra crunch
  14. Take pictures and eat!

I’ve had a week of eating a few less fruit and vegetables than normal and a few bits and bobs I don’t like to eat too much- was super worth it though. This lunch was the perfect way to get “back into it”, and it’s definitely made me feel super healthy and excited to keep incorporating as many fruit and veg and goodness into each meal and snack. Yumskies.

~ Kat ~