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(Lemon, Honey and Ginger Chicken) Roasts and Rituals

So if I google image rituals, I get pictures like this 

and this

and this

Fyi in this post I am not talking about a witchy-style ritual, this post is not about how I sacrificed a chicken, a lemon and some honey. That is the next "things to do with your lover" post. Rituals, as the Oxford English dictionary describes it are "a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone", so encompasses everything from worship rites, and rites of passage to shaking hands at the beginning of a meeting.

Rituals is also sort of a blog thing - all over blogosphere there is information on other people's rituals, routines repeated every day, posts about skincare rituals, bedtime rituals, coffee rituals, blog-writing rituals.

For me, when I think of rituals, I think of those little good things that we repeat often and through that become big good things.

Often a lot of something however good can be bad, it makes us bored of it, ungrateful, or we go into autopilot and barely realise we're doing something. As the Spice Girls said, "too much of something is bad enough".

But rituals are the anomaly to that rule, something we do repeatedly, but with each repeat the experience somehow becomes nicer, almost as if that niceness compounds with each act. As you carry out a ritualised act, you're not just enjoying the good stuff in that moment, but you also feel all the sweet nostalgia for when you've carried out those acts before and also a touch of excitement for the next time.

Here are some rituals - past and present - I have had (still have) and liked (like):

  • A Cadbury's curly wurly after swimming lessons (a ritual ages 4-9, before they became as expensive as a normal chocolate bar!)
  • Fresh pyjamas on a Sunday
  • Monday house night, where someone cooks a meal, and the others buy 2 for £5 bottles of red wine (a ritual ages 22-24)
  • Watching "It's a Wonderful Life" on Christmas Eve with my family
  • Advent Calendars
  • Actually most things I do in December
  • Taking my make up off with a hot flannel before bed every night
  • Playing cannister and getting to drink a coca cola on Saturday nights (a ritual from 11-15)
  • Hot water with lemon first thing in the morning
  • Using my pink highlighter on Mondays
  • Getting in to BBC Strictly Come Dancing every year
I recently read an article found through Cup of Jo (one of my faves) about a ritual a lady had started, which was far more life changing for her than any of these have been for me (though they have been lovely). She began - or more her husband did - to cook meatballs every Friday, and anyone was welcome to come round for them (as long they let her know by Thursday evening). 

Her Friday meatball cooking and hosting ritual she says has "transformed [her] family's life". It got her out (well in but) socialising after kids, it stopped her (as a stay at home freelance writer) feeling isolated and helped her interact with her community, it allowed her to spend quality time with her daughter, and it gave her something nice to look forward to and help her relax each week.

So here is my new Sunday ritual - a roast chicken and a great film.

oh hey there crumby belly 

Now, I would love to eventually have the confidence (in both myself and my cooking) to extend my roast and movie invitation to neighbours, friends and family though I am not sure I am there quite yet. But I do want something to look forward to each week, and make sure I spend my Sundays in a way that sets me up for the week: A Sunday well spent equals a week of content - as little heart shaped wooden placques you hang in your home say.

I also thought it would be a nice thing for Will and I to do, our own little ritual to have centred around our new home. Sunday roasts are the ritual of many a family up and down the country, and we've also been muttering for a while about watching all of AFI's top 100 films from 100 to 1, in part in an attempt to end our ususal movie night stand off of romcoms vs dark, sci fi films. 

So my new Sunday ritual is to cook a roast and watch a movie (at least for the next 2 years whilst I have AFIs films left to watch). I would love it to grow to a thing where friends and family know it is happening, and drop by, or even I'd love to be doing it in 10 years time with my own kids (would obviously have to choose something more age appropriate than Blade Runner) don't.freak.out.Will! 

For now though, it is just nice to set the table, open a bottle of wine on a Sunday and enjoy my home and my boyfriend, before I leave it for a week at work.

My favourite roast - a recipe: 

Once I read an interview with Holly Willoughby where she said her favourite roast is always chicken because if she is going to eat a nice piece of beef she'd prefer it in steak form. I don't know why but that really stuck with me, I too love steak, and therefore I always opt for a roast chicken.

The recipe below is for a roast I like that gives a lovely comforting lemony chicken, and the honey sort of makes all the veg around it taste like honey roasted veg too. Also apparently the combo of lemon and honey is a real flu fighting one, so I figure it is good for my health to eat lots of this roast chicken this time of year.


1 heaped tablespoon of coconut oil (any butter or oil really, I just like coconut because of the consistency you can spread it on the chicken and it is not as bad for you as goose fat)
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic
A good grinding or 3 of pepper
A good grinding of salt. Gosh a grinding of something sounds dirty, sorry.
A thumb of ginger
A little squidge or spoon of honey.
A small chicken (just up this ingredients if you have a bigger one)

I am not even going to write a step by step recipe for this, as that would be ridiculous as it is so easy, I can do it. 

Start by using Jamie Oliver's clever method of rolling the lemon until it slips slightly (a sign you're starting to release the natural oils) and at this point grate the lemon zest into a little bowl. Then grate your ginger, and smush one of your garlic cloves into this bowl too. 

Add the coconut oil to this and mix together, seasoning it with your salt and pepper too.

Spread this gingery lemony mix all over the skin of your chicken, massaging it in a little. 

Take your left over lemon, cut it in half and squidge a little bit of honey onto each half. Stuff these and your 2 left over garlic cloves (also each cut in half) up the chicken, going garlic, lemon, garlic, lemon.

Put in the oven and roast for as long as the instructions on the packet (normally about 1 hour 15 for a little one), maybe taking it out part way through to baste and add your veg you want to roast, these will too get all lemony and honey-y.

Serve to happy people who are impressed you cooked a roast.
Fyi. It is very difficult to take a picture of a raw chicken which looks very appetising. It is also harder than you think to take a picture of a cooked chicken, next to a bottle of wine, bathed in candlelight that looks as good in a photo as it does in real life. I hope you'll use your imagination on both counts!

Copyrights for pictures of rituals - top io9.com, second fiveforhowling.com, paulnolandsound.com

Nine nice things - September

So it is that time of the month again, or more accurately, it was over 2 weeks ago, when September actually ended, to do my monthly 9 nice things post. Also not sure I can refer to this as "the time of the month for my monthly post" when it has happened only once before, but it will become an established monthly series goshdammit.

I hope everyone has had lovely Septembers, and indeed lovely weekends. As I sit down writing this it is Sunday morning, and I am hangover - albeit not cold- free, on my second hot chocolate ready for a day of pottering before heading out to Sticks n' Sushi in Wimbledon tonight. I've had such a lovely weekend full of brunching, and vinyl shopping, and failed cinnamon roll making, with a little dancing and prosecco thrown in for good measure. Plus yesterday evening, I had double pie for dinner (steak for main with mash, apple with custard for dessert) so that was just the cherry on top of the cake (/pie). Feeling in such a tiptop mood makes this happy list even easier to write, but whatever mood you find it in, I hope it has something in it to perk you up!

3 Lovely things you can buy for under £20

1. A purse (/pencil case) with a little Je Ne Sais Quoi -£20 Anthropologie

See what I did there - the purse has both a "little je ne sais quoi" in the colloquial sense, and also in the literal sense. I spotted this baby at Anthropologie a while ago, but was like hmm can I spend £20 on what seems to be a pencil case? And then in a wave of wrecklesness I bloomin did. And I love it, I use it in my handbag to ensure I can easily get to all the little important things (like eyeliner, pens, keys) rather than having them get lost in the sea of receipts and scraps of paper. And everytime I do, it makes me feel like a sophisticated, cool and yet humourous young woman. Excellent.

2. This little cactus - £4 B&Q

I feel like I am betraying a lover here, as I am on the internet advising people to buy cactai from other places than my homeware kindred spirit, Ikea.

Ikea has always been my cactai shop of choice, my boyfriend and I have had many an argument at the plants system where he has insisted I don't look after my existing house plants enough and they are attracting flies, and I have insisted I can never have too many cactai.

But this time, sauntering through B&Q this little chap caught my eye, and I cheated. I bought a cactus from B&Q and I am not even sorry. Not that I am a cactai conneseur, hell, I can barely keep them alive, but this one seems like a pretty good one. And it comes in quite a good quality and boho chic terracotta pot, which I think looks pretty nice on my table. Hell, I am now thinking of buying one of their massive £20 0nes, just yet to win that argument with Will.

3. This dining room light - £18.99 Ebay

Since Will and I moved into our little South London flat, we've been awkwardly eating dinner, and entertaining people in our dining room under a lampshade made of the previous owners wedding photos. Bit awkward. Our dining room ceilings are over 3m high, and the lampshade wasn't just a lampshade but fully attached to the wire and the ceiling so everything would have to come down at once. So, because of this debaucle they didn't take it down for when they left, and we didn't take it down for over. four. months.

I kept looking for the perfect light, and then I broke and just didn't want to be under other people's wedding photos anymore and ordered this one from ebay on a whim. And dya know what I am pleased as punch with it. You can pick one up here.

3 Lovely blog posts I loved

1. Lean Living Girl's Fig and Honey cake

One of my favourite things about Autumn (in a humongous list of favourite Autumn things because I love it so much) is Tesco's seasonal fruit pot. Figs, plums, blackberries, yum. Figs figs figs. Cannot get enough of them. So any suggestions of how to get more of them, by eating them in meals and puddings and not just as a snack are welcomely received.

If there is another thing I love perhaps more than the Tesco's seasonal Autumn fruit pot, it is the "healthy cake". Inspired by all those hip health food bloggers, I have started making all my favourite cakes and replacing sugar with maple and date syrup and honey, and all the flour with buckwheat (with varying degrees of success). This cake on Lean Living Girl sounds like a dream - cheese, figs, cake and apparently healthy. Come to mumma.

2. Take Courage - Our Bedroom

Cat has long been one of my biggest blog crushes, and I love her home interiors. Her new home in Rochester seems absolutely beautiful. I love her bedroom, shared here, which made me immediately regret all the interior decisions I made on my own. The unfortunate thing about Kat's blog is that she bought a place a couple of months after me, which means I can't quite copy her in time, but hey inspiration for my next place!

3. Jenny Purr - What would you do with an extra hour in your day?

A inspiring post about cutting the crap and having more quality time in your day. For me personally, although I do like sleeping, I reckon I am more of a lark than an owl - if I stay up an hour later than intended I spend the time (at best) clicking through facebook and buzzfeed lists and (at worst) feeling worried and anxious. If I get up an hour earlier, it puts me in a great mood for the day, I do something productive and good for me. Which brings me on to the next thing on my list...

3 things money can't buy that I loved this month

1. Blogging breakfasts

Partly inspired by Jenny Purr's article, I've started getting up and going to bed a good 45 minutes to an hour earlier, and it is so nice!

Gone are my days of running down the road eating nutella on a piece of toast! Nowadays, I get up, do a little bit of yoga, have a shower and get dressed, and then make myself a yummy breakfast and sit down and write Loner. Lover. Friend.

It has helped me carve out the time in my day to write this blog that I've been struggling to find for the last few months, and it puts me in such a better mood on the way to work.

Breakfast is also the meal of the day when I am most inclined to be healthy, so I figure I should take advantage of it! My favourite breakfasts on rotation at the moment: overnight bircher (oats with apple juice and coconut milk popped in the fridge overnight, and then I stir yoghurt and fruit in in the morning); porridge with my Dad's homemade blackberry jam and cinnamon stirred in, smushed avocado on bagels with chilli and chia seeds and good old peanut butter on toast (sometimes with some pomegranates sprinkled across too for good measure). All washed down with a hot water and lemon. Laaarvely. Also, cheaper than Pret!

2. Cooking dinner

To go down the theme of meals, September really was the month I started cooking dinner more - nothing fancy, but more effort than a vegetable stir fry with a salmon fillet in the oven, or pesto and pasta which were my previous go-tos. Having a bigger kitchen (and indeed a dishwasher) in my new flat has made putting a little more effort into teatime so much easier. I sort of love that it gives me a little routine as well, a plan for the week. I leave one day out of the planning so I can spontaneously take up a drinks offer, but if I have to come home one day as I have pulled pork cooking deliciously away in the slow cooker, well it just isn't that bad.

Even nicer is that our proper dining table arrived in September and sitting in our now (I think) lovely dining room, chatting away with Will every night is such a great way to forget all the work stress. It is so strange, it has sort of made me realise we didn't have as good quality chats before as we do now, with a bottle of red wine and a plate of homemade dinner, chatting about everything from childhood tales of breaking out of primary school to buy sweets (Will not me, I was too good) to who will win Strictly...

3. Autumn

How could I do a favourite things in September post without mentioning the season which is my favourite : Autumn. I say this, as the season changes from Summer to Autumn, I am getting properly excited with the first morning chill in the air, the turning of the leaves into such glorious colours, the fires and the candles and the fabulous outerwear and cinnamon in everything... however, I am not sure whether I don't just get excited with every change of season. In my head right now, I feel like I never anticipate a change of season like I do Autumn, but I can vaguely recollect that feeling when things get a bit summery, the evenings draw longer and you start having enough time to come home and eat dinner outside before it gets dark, do I feel just as excited then? Or with that first wash of blossoms and daffodils? I can't remember, all I know is I feel so tremendously ready for Autumn now. Bring on the hot chocolate, bring on the velvet everything, bring on the snuggly nights watching all the good lead-up-to-Christmas TV, bring on the wooly jumpers. Oh Autumn, it is good to see you.

PS. Why 9.

Copyrights (middle row only, the rest are mine) - from left - Lean Living Girl, Take Courage, Jenny Purr

What I am getting excited about (and booking now): October

I know not everyone gets it (though, if you are reading this I will probably be preaching to the choir) but I very much like blogosphere. I love reading blogs and getting little snippets of other people's lives, especially those who live in my home city (Laaaandaaan!) and who give me great ideas of how to use it.

If I was to have one tiny squirm - and it is not really a proper squirm as I still happily devour those blogs too, as it plays to my nosey side - it would be blogs that regularly write reviews of things I can't go to. Because I am not famous or because it was a one time event, that will never occur again or not for like a whole more year.

Now, as I said, not a proper squirm, and I know I too have a penchant for writing about something that is an annual thing and I've just been to, hell that was the basis of my first blog post, but at the same time I do want my blog to have at least a few elements that are vaguely useful for other people than me.

In many ways, though I am not against getting a bit cleverer and trying to grow the number of you guys reading this, a lot of this is for me. I really enjoy the attempt at being creative, but mainly just the period of reflection on my life that keeping this little corner of the internet encourages, but I don't want it to become a wholly narcissistic venture.

One of my talents and shortcomings is I really like to plan, spontaneity can make me a little angsty. So I say, if you are reading this, take advantage of that, cos here I will show you what I am planning and what I am getting excited about- the sort of thing you really have to book now to enjoy later. That way, I won't just enjoy it and write a review, we can all enjoy it too!

My planning side does not enjoy that this does not easily sit in my blog plan to be filed under "loner" "lover" or "friend" but hey, maybe I am just feeling cray this Friday morning. Wreckless. Later I may dye my hair pink (I really might, I have been planning it for months, just I am not sure it will clash with my Autumnal wardrobe colour palette...)

I'll try and post something like this every 6 weeks or so (with less waffling about pink hairy dye), so it will turn into a little series and even better, encourage more planning!! Woooo. So with no further adieu: what I am getting excited about:

1. Chills in the Chapel - Escape from New York

As I have grown older I have really grown into Halloween. Very tempted to enter Lauren Conrad's Halloween costume competition even though I have very limited craft and costume making skills just to capitalise on all of that Californian Halloween-lovingness.

Probs won't do that. What I will do however is go to see Escape from New York with a live orchestra at Union Chapel in Islington. I went there a couple of years ago to see the Thing when I lived in Angel and it was a fabulous Halloween treat. Watching a scary film is something I do annually for Halloween only (the rest of the year I'm a romcom and musicals kind of girl, my boyfriend loves it). I like to watch said film it in a wonderful spooky location like in a church, or in the wigwam on the top of the Queen of Hoxton.

Union chapel has been one of my faves, but last year bloomin Time Out went and ruined it for me by announcing it the best thing to do in London for Halloween which meant suddenly all the tickets were bought. You are not getting me this year Time Out, I already have my tickets! You can book via Union Chapel's website here.

(My favourite ever Halloween outfit below. October 2011. I was meant to be evolution - fish at the top, woman by my feet, but it was too tricky so fish it was. As you can see, I felt very confident in it.)

Maybe I should enter this one into Lauren Conrad's competition? If I can find the hat.

2. Rules Restaurant at Christmas

For more about how wonderful Rules is and how it is the MOST CHRISTMASSY PLACE IN THE WORLD you can read my blog post from last year here. You can always try your luck with a drink in their fir trimmed fire roaring bar if you don't want to go the whole shebang and dine their, but if you do want to, and at Christmas you need to book by earlyish October for those days leading up to the big 25.

Book via Rules' website here.

3. Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Landmark

I booked to take my mum here yesterday, and they had already run out of all the earlier day time settings on the 6th December. If you want to enjoy Landmark's award winning afternoon tea, Christmasified, with you sitting next to a 100 foot (estimation and exaggeration but it is humongous) Christmas tree then book ahead!

You can book on the Landmark Hotel's website here.

4. Ice Skating at Somerset House

Sorry this is a very Christmassy post! I really do start getting excited for Christmas by early October, when you leave the house in the morning and there is that first chill in the air!
inally Ice Skating at Somerset House! With some of the other London rinks (Canary Wharf, Tower of London, Natural History Museum) you can leave it a little longer but if you want to skate round that big rink just off the strand, it is better to book sooner than later. It is one of my school friends and mine Christmas tradition that we've carried on well after we've left school, and I really love it!

You can book ice skating all over London via ticketmaster here.

Oh my giddy ants this post has made me feel very Christmas Christmas Christmas. So. flippin. excited. Have lovely weekends!

PS. If you are really into planning you might want to read my list of things to do alone to make yourself feel Christmassy and get your late November and December all booked up now!

Copyrights - top left - randomaniac.us
bottom left - landmarkhotelpress

I went to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet and he wasn't that good (Kidding! Made you look!)

Kidding!! Made you look!

As predicted he was excellent.

My amazing friend Lucy got Barbican membership and kept refreshing her screen for 7 hours over a year ago to get tickets to the crazily sell out production of Hamlet, starring oscar award nominee, and Laurence Olivier award winner (twice!!) Benedict Cumberbatch this year. I went with my 3 friends (btw by coincidence, all married and man that is a weird moment when you realise everyone else is going home to their huuusbaands - said in my head in a Beyonce accent - and you are suddenly like shit, I really am a grown up. The income tax and that mortgage isn't lying.) Anyhoo my point is, Hamlet in general and Benedict in particular were marvellous.

Be aware if you don't know Hamlet this post does have some spoilers!

I know a few Shakespeare plays quite well having studied him all the way through school and then my degree, and I probably know Hamlet the best as that was my A2 Shakespeare. I have always been a bit of a Shakespeare fan, at one point as a teenager I went through a weird obsession phase where I had a "Shakespeare notebook" with a picture of Shakespeare on the front (it came like that) and loads of my favourite sonnets and lines from plays inside, sometimes with clippings of Leonardo Di Caprio playing Romeo, or Joseph Fiennes playing Will himself (it did not come like that).

I have grown out of Shakespeare scrapbooking but in all serious, I do agree with Ben Jonson (who wrote a foreward to Shakespeare's collected works back when they were released in 1623) that Shakespeare really was "not for an age, but for all time" - for me, he really taps into what it like to be human, he has good stories, and his poetry is shit hot.

Back to Shakespeare today, (or last week for me) at the Barbican: the set was incredible, goodness knows how it was so big and I do not envy whoever cleared it up at the end of the night as there is so much going on on it. (And not because they have to clean up knickers that have been thrown by Cumberbitches, though apparently that does happen).

All the performances, not just Benedict's were spot on, and made me see the play in a different way. Polonius, who I have not really cared for before I found a really funny character, and I slightly warmed to his nosey busybody personality, and was dreading him getting stabbed. Ophelia, who - this sounds horrible but - I often see as a pretty weak and pathetic character, had so much dimension and I liked her too (in part because of her fabulous wardrobe of mustard yellow jumpers and cool lacey monochrome dresses which is sort of the look I am going for this Autumn too). When she commits suicide, it felt so poignant and so tragic. Even Claudius himself seemed both scarier than usual, but also still had that fear of being found out that makes a baddy believable. (Played by the King-beyond- the-wall Ciaran Hinds).

Having studied Hamlet all the way through my final year at school, and barely glanced at it since, it was interesting to revisit the play 10 years later (oh good grief it is 10 years ago that I was in year 13). It occurred to me a little bit of what Hamlet seemed to be having - aside from the death of his father, the ghost of his father, the marriage of his mum to his uncle, and the fact he is a prince - a bit of a quarter life crisis. The standard realisation that you are a grown up, your parents are just people, the relationship you are currently in may be the one you stay in forever, and you've inadvertently made a decision about what job you'll be doing the rest of your life. Ok, so there is a much more suicidal depression running along for Hamlet, but never the less it was interesting to visit it as someone a little bit older. The question of whether Hamlet is mad (did he really see the ghost of his father) is one of the key themes in Hamlet, but mad or not, looking at Hamlet now, I recognise he definitely had some serious mental health issues, very bad depression, and as a grown up I empathise with that far more than I did in school, and Hamlet (play not the man) gets a little more interesting because of it.

Yet despite all of this, the wonder of Shakespeare (and some great comic timing by Benedict Cumberbatch and the cast) is that there are still some bits that you laugh at, and you don't walk away feeling like utter crap and a bit sad face, but more pleased as punch you did something so damn cultural on a Tuesday night.

Ok, so it would be silly for me to be like "yeah just go and get some tickets" as they are difficult as hell to come by (and fyi they check ID with the name of the person on the ticket on the door so there is no point buying a super expensive ticket off ebay) but my main take away from this is I would like to see Shakespeare more often please. How lucky I am to live in the country he was born, and in the city where his plays are constantly on. If you are desperadoes to get tickets to see Benedict because you are a massive Cumberbitch, then you can try and get one of the on the day tickets, by waiting outside the Barbican before they open at 9 (though I've heard those go like hot cakes).

I was a good girl, and like asked by Benedict, took no photos of the show so I can't share them, but what I will share is this short clip of Beyonce and her huuuussband singing Coldplay, just because:

PS. More things for cultural cumberbitches.

Copyright for top photo - Evening Standard