Living with Joe || Alcohol Awareness Week 2016

Joe is waiting on the front doorstep when you get home from work.

“Good day?” he asks, a glint in his eye.

“I guess so, nothing special,” you reply. You begin to fumble in your rucksack for your keys, but a hand stops you. It’s Joe’s. You look up and he’s smiling wickedly.

“No, allow me,” he says, proudly, before opening the front door to reveal a bombsite. There’s food on the carpet, upturned furniture all over the place and graffiti on the walls. He gestures around the room as you’re left speechless. This is your home. All you want is to sit and relax after a long day.

“What the hell has happened here?” you ask, but Joe is already making work of setting fire to the settee and emptying the kitchen bin all over the floor.

“Deal with it,” he says, definitively. “You’re clearing all this up.” A cushion goes up in flames. “This is all on you.”

* * *

Nobody is really sure when Joe moved in. He just sort of appeared one day, baggage in hand, and made himself comfortable. Bizarrely, your family accommodated him with little fuss – fed whenever he needed it, given all the attention he desired. As obnoxious as you find him, and as much as you hate his presence in your home, he’s just sort of slotted into your life.

Annoyingly, he seems to be wherever you’re going whenever you go out, too. He’s in the supermarket, hiding in the next aisle over ready to jump out when you bump into an old friend.

“Did you hear Emma won the lottery? It’s true! She’s taking all the family on holiday!” His eyes meet yours over the fruit and veg, and he’s got that same infuriating smirk on his face that you see every day. Your friend turns to you, eyes wide with shock, and she’s very excited.

“The lottery? Oh Em, that’s fantastic news!”

You haven’t won the lottery, but now everyone thinks you did. You didn’t even buy a ticket.

* * *

The media’s portrayal of alcoholism and alcoholics, I’ve found, is hideously inaccurate. We tend to see either the extreme cases – Louis Theroux’s doc ‘Drinking To Oblivion’ springs to mind – or the just plain stupid (did anyone else catch that episode of Eastenders where a drunk Phil Mitchell got behind the wheel a construction crane and smashed in his offices?), and that’s it. What we’re not shown is the ordinary, everyday life of a functioning alcoholic, and how it feels to live with one.

My own experience of living with an alcoholic is like living with a Joe. Here’s a few things you may not realise.

1) There’s no on and off switch. When you live with an alcoholic, it’s always at the forefront of your mind – you’re never quite sure what you’re coming home to, and even when things seem okay you can’t relax because you’re wondering how many seconds are left on that ticking time bomb.

2) Alcoholism is entirely separate from the alcoholic themselves. It’s just an illness, an add-on, in the same way a broken leg (or a Joe) is. It can be frustrating, sometimes, to see an alcoholic who falls apart at home put on a positive face out and about when you know that’s not the full story – but that’s why they do it. An alcoholic is not their alcoholism and if they can hide it, then why wouldn’t they?

Finally, and maybe most importantly,

3) if you live with a functioning alcoholic, or are close to somebody who is a functioning alcoholic, your concern is just as valid as it would be if they were pouring vodka on their cornflakes and sleeping rough. It’s okay to feel angry, upset and hopeless, that your efforts simply aren’t enough. It’s okay to seek help, for them AND for you.

It’s Alcohol Awareness Week, and I didn’t feel I could let it pass without sharing my own experience. If you know of anyone struggling with alcoholism, to any extent, I urge you to reach out and offer your support however you can. Even just lending an ear can go such a long way.

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-support-services/

A Day of Coffee (Lentmas, Day 6)

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Evening all! It’s been a very long Tuesday for me. I’ve been sat here, racking my brain for interesting post ideas, but I’m coming up short so here’s a little day-in-the-life. Specifically my life, on the 16th February 2016. Heh.

My day started at 5am, at which point I woke up sort-of hungover with a mouth like sandpaper. My brother, cousin and I went out for a drink last night, but ‘a drink’ quickly became 3 large glasses of wine and as I am a big fat lightweight it went straight to my head. So at 5am, I decided to start my day – by dozing until 5:45am when my alarm went off for work.

After walking to work because Mum had forgotten to put the car keys back where I could find them, I had a fun shift where time seemed to just fly by. My favourite thing about my job is definitely the bunch of people I work with; I’m always having a laugh whoever I’m on shift with and there’s nobody that I don’t get along with. I also like working a morning because it’s when all our regulars are in – it’s lovely just to see so many familiar faces and have easy small chat as opposed to dealing with huge families or stiff-upper-lip types who tend to show up in busy periods.

We have two branches of Caffé Nero in my town and I’d volunteered to do some sick cover at the other one for a few hours after my shift this morning, so I headed straight down in the car (after sitting at the main traffic lights on the way for 10 minutes – who thought doing road works and having 4-way light control in half term was a good idea?!) and had a relaxed, fairly quiet 3-hour shift there. Got an orange hot chocolate to go on the way home. If you’re anywhere near a Nero and love a Terry’s chocolate orange, seriously give our new drink a go. It’s so so good.

Now I’m back home and have eaten some delicious Covent Garden soup for dinner, their Goan Chicken and Spiced Lentils flavour from the skinny range. Will definitely be buying this again. I was meant to be heading out to Aqua Zumba tonight, but considering the class starts in 10 minutes and I’m still vegging out on my laptop in my work uniform I feel like it’s not gonna happen.

Hope you’ve all had a good Tuesday! Until tomorrow,

Emma x

 

25 Facts About Me (The Narcissistic Blogger’s Dream)

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Happy Monday! I thought it’d be nice to make today’s Lentmas post a ’25 Get To Know Me Questions’ tag, and after reading Megan‘s set here I thought they’d be perfect. Plus, who didn’t love these sorts of things on Bebo and Myspace back in the social media dawn of time?!

 

 

 

1. What is your middle name?: If you hadn’t already guessed, it’s Robyn. I think it’s so pretty.

2. What was favorite subject at school?: I really took to Philosophy A Level, so much so that I now have a degree in the bloody subject. But during my GCSEs I’d say my favourites were Business Studies and English.

3. What is your favorite drink?: Big lover of a black coffee (on a bit of a decaf streak at the moment and it’s working for me), a peppermint hot chocolate if I’m treating myself or blackcurrant squash as a bit of an all-rounder.

4. What is your favorite song at the moment?: I’m glad this says ‘at the moment’ otherwise we’d be here for hours! I have two: Hymn For The Weekend by Coldplay and Check Yes Juliet by We The Kings, purely for nostalgic purposes.

5. What is your favorite food?: Agh. Steak (rare), chips, mushrooms, onion rings and peas with peppercorn sauce is my all-time favourite meal. As for food by itself, I am biiiig on green pitted olives.

6. What is the last thing you bought?: Last Friday I had a bit of a ‘treat yoself’ trip into town, and £70 later the last thing I bought that day was some YSL Touche Eclat foundation. Game-changing.

7. Favorite book of all time?: I always say Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. No book has ever stayed with me or changed my perceptions on reading – and the world itself, on a bigger scale – more.

8. Favorite Color?: Earthy green. Probably not it’s official name, but you know the sort of green I mean.

9. Do you have any pets?: Yes! My little pudding Corky is 10 next month and still the hostile bitch she was the day we brought her home. But she’s my baby.

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10. Favorite Perfume?: Jo Malone’s Mimosa & Cardamom.

11. Favorite Holiday?: It’s a toss up between New York last year and Guernsey in summer 2002.

12. Are you married?: As the perpetually single gal I am, I’m not going to dignify this with a response.

13. Have you ever been out of the country, if so how many times?: I’ve been to Wales, Scotland, Guernsey, France x2, Germany x3, Crete and New York.

14. Do you speak any other language?: Nah. Wish I could. Ain’t got the brain space.

15. How many siblings do you have?: Just the one! My older brother Jack is 23.

16. What is your favorite shop?: TIGER, Wilko (yes, really) and any clothing shop that can get me into a 12 without making feel like I have to work for it. I love little nik-nakky, independant shops too, but I don’t have a particular favourite that I can put my finger on.

17. Favorite restaurant?: Boston Tea Party and Las Iguanas, but really any restaurant with a round table.

18. When was the last time you cried?: Fuck I don’t know. I nearly cried at work yesterday, but properly it was probably a couple of weeks ago now?

19. Favorite Blog?: MINE. mwahaha (nah actually go check out Polly she’s great)

20. Favorite Movie?: Growing up it’s always been Monsters, Inc., but The Theory of Everything really packed a punch for me.

21. Favorite TV shows?: I’m not a big TV watcher! South Park is one of my all-time faves, but I’m generally more into UK comedy panel shows and game shows. I’ll have to pick out A League Of Their Own and Pointless as highlights.

22. PC or Mac?: PC PC PC (although if anyone has a spare macbook going it wouldn’t go amiss)

23. What phone do you have?: iPhone 5s, and I will do until May 2017 when my contract’s up. Then, who knows what iPhone we’ll be on by then.

24. How tall are you?: 5 foot 1 and a half. The half is crucial.

25. Can you cook?: Depends what you want to eat. My speciality is beef, chorizo and rice stuffed peppers. Ask me to whip up a roast dinner and I’ll probably just panic.

So there we are! 25 facts about me. I hope you feel like you know me a little better now. If there’s anything else you want to know don’t be afraid to ask!

Until tomorrow,

Emma x

I saw my only snow of the season in Berlin.

True story.

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I’d just tried currywurst for the first time. *So* much better than expected.

Here is a long, long overdue retelling of my spontaneous visit to Berlin to see Vicky. I was only there for two days, from the 14th to the 16th of January, but we managed to pack so much into that time that I came away feeling absolutely shattered!

So, for starters, I feel like I should give a shout out to myself for organising my own travel and successfully catching a plane with next to no supervision. I got my timings spot on, caught all the right trains, didn’t forget my passport – and had more than enough time to peruse duty free before the gates opened (if I’m remembering correctly I opted for a Boots meal deal, my plane boarded from gate 2 and the flight was delayed by about 15 minutes).

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My flights there and back were both really pleasant. I got window seats both ways, the gent next to me on the way out fell asleep almost immediately after take off, on the way home I got a double seat to myself and there wasn’t a single bit of turbulence on either journey. The more and more planes are good to me, the more and more I’m starting to actually enjoy flying.

Victoria met me on the other side and we caught the bus and S-Bahn (? I think) over to her neck of the woods, Friedrichshain (thank you, Google, for helping with the spelling). On first impressions, I was really surprised at how dated everything looked in Berlin – the buildings, road signs, even the trains and buses. I learned that this is all to do with Berlin’s economic standing while trying to rebuild the city after the Berlin Wall was brought down. While other European capitals, like London and Paris, have been able to build on their pre-existing wealth (read as: becoming bloody expensive places to live), Berlin has had to focus more on its reinvention.

I learned so many other little bits of trivia via experience in Berlin, thanks to Vicky and her expertise – the cool fact about east Berlin’s crossing men, the Ampelmännchen (the fact that they’ve only got the funky lil hats on the eastern side, and that they’ve survived reunification where they were in danger of losing their hats to the more generic Western crossing men. They’re now a bit of a German icon. It’s all to do with the West being the more built-up, businessy side, while the East was a hive of culture and creativity. I think.) I also learned that in Berlin it’s totally cool to drink a beer on public transport – so cool, in fact, that there was a little counter in the offy with a bottle opener attached.

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For two days we managed to cover a lot of the touristy bits. Most of the more popular ‘things to do’ in Berlin only really require walking past and having a look. Amongst other things, we stood (and took an attrocious selfie – see left) under the Brandenburg Gate, we ventured up the Reichstag, we walked along the ‘no man’s land’ which would’ve been between the two sides of the wall, marked by some pretty prison-like metal poles, and on the morning before my flight home we walked the length of the East Side gallery. Something I think gives Berlin it’s own kind of charm is the city’s tacit appreciation of graffiti. It’s everywhere, really fits with Berlin’s slightly worn vibe and is a million miles from my hometown’s approach to street art – which is hastily sprayed over by the council and dubbed anti-social.

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Graffiti at the entrance of Prinzenstrasse (Prince Street) station – if you squint you can see the frog wearing a crown and treasure chests full of jewels! 

As well as indulging my inner tourist, I also got to experience Berlin from a student’s perspective – Vicky took me to her favourite Indonesian restaurant on my first night, which we then followed with drinks at a really cosy bar with some of her year abroad friends. We hopped on and off trains and buses with little panic or map-fumbling, and I felt so at home in her flat (the coolest flat I’ve ever been in, by the way) that it was nice to just chill there and not feel the urge to be squeezing as much as we could into every last minute of the day.

It’s only a shame I couldn’t have stayed for longer, but I’m so glad I made the fast decision to book my flights on a lonely night at home. (Also a lovely excuse to see one of my oldest and dearest friends!)

 

Until next time,

Emma x

Beef & Chorizo Stuffed Peppers | Blogmas Day 2

Good evening good evening, one and all!

It’s been a not-so-festive day this end because I’m really not feeling that Christmassy just yet. When your Mum and brother’s birthdays both fall in December, and putting up the tree is something that is done – traditionally – no earlier than the 17th, getting into the groove so early in the month is a bit difficult.

So, instead, I’m bringing you a new recipe I tried out this evening which went down a treat. I found it in the community section of Nigella.com, posted by user CakeMuffinPie (so, to give credit where credit is due, thank you very much!)

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Beef and chorizo stuffed peppers (with extra gubbins on the side, because my portion control is anything but controlled). Lovely, lovely stuff, and so easy to make!

You will need…

  • 6 large peppers
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I used rapeseed oil, any cooking oil is fine)
  • 500 grams minced beef (I actually used pork, because we had some that needed using up, and it worked just as well)
  • 150 grams chorizo (chopped into small pieces)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100 grams rice (again, I switched things up here and used a pack of microwave rice. Lazy, I know, and it was waaay too much rice, but if you’re looking to cut corners just follow your heart…)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 75 grams cheese (grated)

Once you’ve got all that together, here’s the method! This dish takes just over an hour from start to finish, if you chop quickly.

  • Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.
  • If you’re boiling your rice the *proper* way, get that underway to start with. If you’re using a packet, like I did, you can make the filling first and come back to this later.
  • To make the filling: Heat your oil in a pan, add onions and garlic and fry until they’re nice and soft. Add the minced beef (or pork!) stirring until it has browned.
  • Add the chorizo, stir in and fry for a few minutes allowing the juice and flavours from the chorizo to come out. Add the chilli, cumin and oregano next, stir them up a little bit then add your chopped tomatoes and allow it all to cook together for about 5 more minutes.

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  •  Getting the peppers ready: chop off the tops just below the stem and put them to the side, but keep them. Place the peppers in a bowl with the seeds and membrane removed, dont forget to include the tops.
  • Pour over freshly boiled water and allow to soak for 5 mins.

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  • Remove the peppers from the water and place upright on a baking tray.
  • Mix the rice in with the filling, and stuff the peppers with the mixture. Replace the tops on to the peppers.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. At the 20 minute mark, remove the pepper tops and sprinkle the cheese on to the mixture and return to the oven until the cheese has melted.

Long-winded, I know, but if you’re interested they’re definitely worth giving a go! In the words of LessAmazingPhil, and something I try to live by myself, try new things?

Until next time,

Emma x

Get your kettles ready.

Happy Sunday evening!

Winter has arrived in bitterly cold fashion in the UK this weekend and therefore it is only appropriate that the kettle is put on at least three times as often as normal throughout the day. If I didn’t get my fair share of hot drinks working at Caffé Nero already, I am now stocked up around the clock after tagging along with my Mum to do a food shop this morning and accidently buying a lot more tea and coffee than is strictly necessary.

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(I’ve spent the afternoon sampling everything I bought and can confirm it is all tip top.)

After nearly forgetting about green tea entirely (something I’d specifically added to the shopping list before we left the house), I ran back to quickly grab a box and ended up being too intrigued by this to not have it. It’s a ‘super green tea’ by Tetley infused with lemon and honey, which promises to boost my immune system. I’m actually drinking this one as we speak and it’s really good – sweet and lemony and not really tasting of green tea at all. I’m going to list that as a pro rather than a con, because I think the majority would agree that if you could reap the health benefits of drinking green tea without having to put up with the ‘green’ taste, you’d do so in a heartbeat.

This little jar of Douwe Egberts infused instant coffee was admittedly a lot smaller than I thought it would be for the price – I think it cost just under £3 – but after seeing the advert for this range on TV I had to try some. At work I am so, so bad for paying extra for and adding shots of Monin syrup to my already calorific lattes, and after a few months of work the novelty is slowly wearing off and I need an alternative! These are perfect. As I went to take the first sip of mine earlier the roasted hazelnut smelled gorgeous and tasted really smooth too. The other flavours in the collection are caramel, vanilla and chocolate which I’m also v excited to try.

Every so often at uni I would add these Double Choca Mocha sachets to my online shopping basket because they’re so good (and they often saved me on nights of assignment stress and minor panics about the future). That’s all I have to say really. Pour sachet into mug, add boiling water, leave for a bit, stir, ta-da. 10/10. Would mocha every day if I could.

Finally I’ve got the Drink Me Spiced Chai Latte powder which, as you can see on the tub, is the exact same powder we use to make chai lattes at work. My Mum is adament that this is a Christmassy drink just because it’s best served sprinked with cinnamon on top. It really isn’t, it goes hard all year round and I’m chai ’til I die because it’s so sweet and spicy and everything you could ask for if you’re not looking for a caffiene kick.

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Now that I’ve done the shameful thing of using ‘chai ’til I die’ in a sentence and published it on the Internet I’m gonna go. Hope this has given you some inspiration to switch things up from your regular breakfast tea this winter!

Until next time,

Emma x