5 Quick, Easy & Beautiful Mediterranean-Inspired Recipes

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Okay, I admit it. Growing up, I was a disaster in the kitchen. Let’s be honest: I was rarely ever in the kitchen, unless it was to get processed food or put something in the microwave. I was bad.

But I didn’t stay that way. In my late teens, cooking became a real novelty to me. But that was a problem, too: it was a novelty. I would find archaic French recipes which took two days to prepare – and which I had neither the ability nor the tools to execute. Then, there was my canning phase (I once made an amazing blueberry apple butter; but I was giving it away in bathtubs, and still couldn’t find the end of it. I never wanted to see a blueberry again). When everyone in my high school cooking class chose easy, modest recipes for the big test, I decided to bake a calzone – with homemade dough, of course. It came out okay (somehow), but really – what was I trying to prove?

All I accomplished was to exhaust myself, and to decide that cooking is too hard.  Eventually, I swore off cooking altogether, and gave in again: to the deceitful, alluring call of frozen pizzas and canned soups.

Fast forward: Me, of all people, falls in love with a chef – and ends up working with him in a kitchen. (Doesn’t life just have a great sense of humour?)

I learned so much from the experience, but mostly – I learned about myself. I learned to re-train my brain to simplify the mental process of preparing food. I learned my palette – which ingredients appealed so strongly to me, that even including a small amount in a dish would excite me. (You’ll see what a few of those are below.) I learned that food was beautiful, and simple, and obvious; and I learned how much better it tasted when you made it yourself, plated it properly, and felt proud of it.

The recipes below aren’t mine. They are a few of my favourites that look gorgeous, taste amazing, and incorporate some of my most-craved components (pomegranate, balsamic vinegar, rich soft cheese). They might not all be strictly Mediterranean, but they have a definite Med flair. They take from 15 to 40 minutes, so you can choose them as they suit you. I’ve reworked the recipes to simplify them or suggest possible substitutes – I don’t speak cookbook, so it’s more helpful for me to translate into realistic terms. (Speaking of cookbook, two of these bloggers have published cookbooks that are 4.5 – 5  star bestsellers that you should probably own. I’ll link them here, and again at the end. They are beautiful, and they’re all on sale.)

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When you take interest in your meals and love the way they look, it can transform your relationship with food – I am living proof.

Caramelised Balsamic Goat Cheese Pasta
by Half Baked Harvest
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Takes 30 minutes – vegetarian

Basic ingredients: roasting veggie (beets, peppers, tomatoes…) // olive oil // thyme // pasta // butter // mushrooms // garlic (if you like it) // balsamic vinegar // honey // crushed red pepper or cayenne // crumbled goats cheese // topping of choice (pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, raspberries, cranberries…)

Preheat your oven to 425 f / 220 c. // Original recipe uses beets, but this works just as well with bell peppers or tomatoes. Chop your chosen veggie into medium-large pieces, toss them in a little olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper, and bake for 20-30 minutes – until they’re soft. // While your veggie of choice cooks, make your pasta. (You know how to make pasta.) // Put a big spoon of butter and a good drizzle of olive oil into a skillet on high. Cook some sliced mushrooms (whichever are your favourites, I love portobellas) until they begin looking done, then add some minced garlic (if you like it). Cook just long enough to soften the garlic, then put the mushrooms aside. // Pour a healthy amount of balsamic vinegar (this will be your sauce base), a few spoonfuls of honey, and some crushed red pepper (or even a sprinkle of cayenne) into your skillet. Let it bubble softly for 5-10 minutes, until it’s thick and a little sticky. // Mix your sticky sauce with your mushrooms and pasta. If it’s not saucy enough, add water to thin it. Serve it with your roasted vegetable, and add crumbled goats cheese. Pomegranate seeds are a pretty touch, but you can also experiment with using crunchy pine nuts, raspberries, or dried cranberries.

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Shop the Trends: Russian Street Style, Russia Fashion Week Fall ’18

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A few hours ago, Vogue posted a slideshow of the best street style looks from Russia Fashion Week. Though Russia may not be the first place you think of when it comes to runway couture, it should be on your radar for cutting-edge influential trends that are permeating youth culture, especially in Europe. Working-class, ironic, and edgy, the Russian street style look mixes vaguely punk sensibilities with a fearless appreciation for retro sportswear. Plus – these looks work great unisex. Personally, they give me huge insight into trends to come, especially on apps like Depop! Here are ten of my favourite looks, and where you can shop the looks on eBay. (Snatch up the clear trench coat before everyone else does – they’re going fast! 😍)

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Clear trench coat, £11 // Wide-leg tartan trousers, £9 // Genuine leather quilted bag, £32

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Long Distance Relationship Advice: 5 Tips to Make It Work

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Yesterday was the anniversary of my first time meeting my long-distance relationship boyfriend.

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Since then, there have been many transatlantic flights, nine months spent together in England, thousands of hours on Skype, and one big decision:

We’re getting married.

I hadn’t really planned on announcing it yet – mainly because he hasn’t officially proposed. As with many long-distance relationships, the decision to get married happens a little differently. We weren’t together when we decided – we were on different continents. We’ve been talking about marriage for a long time, but we didn’t know when. I guess we can thank UK Visas and Immigration for answering that question for us. Because it’s so difficult to secure the unmarried partner visa, marriage is our best option. Besides, we knew it was coming eventually – and when you know, you know.

Still waiting for that ring, though… 💍😉

Being the anniversary of when we first met, I’m reflecting a lot on our relationship. Since we’re made it this far successfully, I want to share five tips that have helped us get here. Some of these are specific to LDRs, but some apply to all relationships!

1. Visit often
2. Communicate constantly
3. Don’t play games
4. Be honest
5. Talk about goals / plans

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Five Things I Wish I Knew: When I Started Selling Clothes Online

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How much is your time + freedom worth to you?
And how can a little success be your worst enemy? Read on to find out.

I am what has become known as a ‘#girlboss’. A ‘#bossbabe’. I prefer entrepreneur.

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At an early point in my adult life, I realised that working for other people was simply not going to be for me. It was ten years ago that I pulled out my laptop and started searching: How to work from home. How to be self-employed. Ideas to make money on the internet. There were a few leads I chased up – but reading about one particular site, which was only a few years old, would change my life forever. That site was Etsy.

Apparently, people were selling jewellery, and art, and anything else they had made, on this site. But that wasn’t all. They were also selling antiques & vintage clothing. I had always considered myself an old soul – with a deep appreciation for 60s music, black and white films, and – lucky me – secondhand clothing. I first started buying and wearing vintage when I was only 15, and I hadn’t looked back since.

After a bit of research, I launched my own Etsy shop in 2008 (it has since been reopened as a UK Shop & USA Shop). Though I saw a little success in my sales, it wasn’t until years went by – years of experimenting, learning, losing hope and getting a “real” job again,  then quitting that “real” job, experimenting some more, and finally – meeting my brilliant and business-savvy boyfriend & partner – that I began to see the income I’ve always wanted (currently grossing an average of over £400 // $550 weekly). And – even better – sales are still steadily improving.

So, if I could go back ten years – what would I tell my younger self?

 

 

Some of my Etsy shop photos, Year One

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Hythe, Kent: A Visitor’s Guide

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View of Hythe Beach from my flat

On my last stay in England, I lived mostly in the seaside town of Hythe. Hythe is a small town on the English Channel, in County Kent – “The Garden of England.” It’s a sleepy, beautiful place very near the Channel Tunnel, which joins England to France. On clear days, I could see the French coast, and I remember watching the fireworks across the sea on Bastille Day.

Stationed on the Southern shore – the first line of defence against invasion – Hythe has an ancient and rich military history. Now, it’s a residential haven near the larger port towns of Folkestone and Dover. But sometimes, it’s the small towns which hide the most often missed gems. Hythe is very sunny and temperate compared to much of England, and makes a lovely summer holiday spot – plus, it’s the gateway to France and the rest of Europe!

I wanted to share a few places that you shouldn’t pass by if you are able to visit Hythe.

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