The Versatile Blogger & Blogger Recognition Awards.


This morning I woke up suprised to discover that I have kindly been nominated for The Versatile Blogger & Blogger Recognition Awards by the lovely dearblogloveliz.wordpress.com . I very rarely get to participate in any form of tag or nomination train, so I am very thankful to her for allowing me to be a part of this. 

In true spirit of receiving a nomination like this, it only makes sense to nominate other people who inspire me. It’s not a requirement to write a reason as to why I have nominated each person, but I will do so to include a little message for each of my nominees (-hope you all don’t mind). So without further hesitation, here are my Nominations for both awards:

  1. frugalhausfrau.com she never ceases to amaze me with her recipes, always unique and an expression of diverse cultural foods. I very much want to try and make her ‘Easy rustic tomato & caramelised onion galette’.
  2. noodlesnote.com every post is like following their travels, mainly around Hong-Kong’s restaurants, writing in both English and Japanese.
  3. lottiedoes.com her Disney trip made me so jealous, but I loved reading about her adventures and all the yummy foods she got to eat.
  4. theobsessivewriter.com constantly writing with full emotion which is inspiring.
  5. shesallaboutit.com posting with such variety, detailing everything from scrumptious healthy recipes to informative pieces.
  6. snapshotincursive.com I thoroughly enjoyed reading her ‘Eating my way through the Alphabet’ series.
  7. robertokaji.com a very talented poet who can find inspiration in the simplistic of things.
  8. theflyingtofu.wordpress.com discover the colourful and historical places of Japan with her.
  9. wretchedanddivine.wordpress.com we have followed each other on WordPress and Instagram for quite some time already, any anime and cosplay enthusiast will love her content.
  10. learningtolovethesilence.wordpress.com another poet who continuously writes with passion.
  11. brookeclarke.com you’ll never miss a helpful beauty review by reading her posts.
  12. laurasliving.com the perfect blog to follow for being nosey and taking tips from her daily routines.
  13. jamesedgarskye.com such a creative writer who is always flowing with fantastic ideas.
  14. thebareskinhacks.wordpress.com thank you for all the skincare reviews and advice.
  15. queeniekylee.com come on a journey around the world with her.

Now I have been instructed to give 7 facts about myself… (probably not going to be interesting, I apologise in advance).

  1. My favourite foods include spaghetti bolognese, chicken katsu curry, tteokbokki, dak-galbi, british roast dinners, mandarin cheesecake, dark chocolate, lychees and chow mein.
  2. One of my favourite films is Grease, even though musicals most of the time irritate me.
  3. I am the oldest child, with a brother named Daniel who is a little over 3 years younger than me.
  4. Quite often I am called Em, even by people who I have only just begun a friendship with.
  5. My name was supposed to be May, but my Mum named me after her late friend instead. I would like to be called Emma-May.
  6. Before moving abroad I was a Teaching Assistant in a British primary school.
  7. I have OCD, things just need to be kept clean and tidy or I can’t function.

Rules of nominating and being nominated:

  • This one kind of goes without saying, post about you being nominated and who nominated you. Don’t forget to thank them 🙂
  • Please include a list of 15 bloggers who you are inspired by and therefore would like to nominate.
  • Use a header image with the name of the awards.
  • Add 7 facts about yourself at free will.

Have fun nominating. I would also like to thank everyone who is reading and following my blog so far. We are a small group, but I really enjoy writing freely and feel honoured to receive such lovely comments. 

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My experience of taking antidepressants.

Firstly I want to make it clear that I’m most definitely not the type of person to ‘fashionalise’ mental health illnesses or discuss depression in the hope of recieving sympathy. Infact to recieve sympathy would make me feel worse about myself, I’d feel horridly guilty of taking someone’s time and impacting them with such negative concern for me. Whenever I write about anything concerning depression, I do so in the hope of encouraging people who live in silence to obtain the help they need and deserve.

It wasn’t until the start of this year that I opened up about my depression. Of course I’m still not too free with mentioning it, it’s not exactly necassary to open a converation or introduce myself by saying ‘Hi, I have depression and am crippled by social anxiety right now’. Even if emotions and mental health are majorly important aspects of our lives, it’s not lying or untruthful to keep ourselves secure by mentioning how you feel to everyone and anyone; that would be like randomly telling someone your inner monologue.

I stayed almost in utter silence, only close family, a few friends including a friend who I worked with at the time and my boyfriend knew of my emotional state. The first time I recall feeling depressed (not sadness, there is a big difference) was aged 9. On and off the depression would reoccur spontaneously or be triggered by bad events in my life. The reason why I hadn’t consulted the assistance of a professional or taken medication prior for aiding my depression is because I pretended like it wasn’t happening. My ‘self treatment’ was ignorance and I could help myself with distractions: I still believe it isn’t wrong to approach my feelings this way. Afterall I felt comfortable solving the issues myself or with limited amounts of people surrounding me, just there comes a point for some people when secluding yourself escaltes the depression and you regress in recovery and productivity. 

This stage happened to me around 12 years after initally experiencing depression. I was becoming weaker due to the fact that physical factors were having an impact on my mental health management, so I went to a few doctors and I was prescribed Citalopram which other than Fluoxetine is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. 

One of the doctors honestly wasn’t that helpful. She spoke to me like I was some naive child who didn’t understand anything about mental health. She said something along the lines of: ‘depression isn’t going to solve itself just with antidepressants, it’s about your outlook on life. Is a glass half full or half empty?’ To some extent I agree with her. Antidepressants aren’t a cure and therapy is a good outlet: but not for everyone. I just wish she would realise that not everyone can be helped with therapy, self help plays a big part and medication might be helpful. You can talk about how you feel without constantly expressing events which made you depressed, there is no need to forcefully relive those times by resurfacing them unwillingly.

Citalopram is a Serotonin inhibitor. If you don’t know, Serotonin is one of the hormones our bodies naturally produce. It controls how we feel. A lack of serotonin can make us feel anxious, negative and overall just low or depressed. Too much serotonin makes us feel ‘high’ or could have the adverse effect of that ‘good feel’ feeling. It’s theorised that more people are suffering from depression thesedays not just because of more modern world pressures, but also more people are being born with or having a sudden change of their serotonin levels through age. Taking antidepressants helps restore serotonin to a ideal amount inorder to feel like ‘ourselves’.

It takes 3-4 weeks for antidepressants to fully take effect. At first they can make you feel worse, be aware that suicidal feelings and confusion are some of the side effects during the first few weeks of taking antidepressants. During these first few weeks it’s important to stay in the company of people, rather than being alone. 

Personally I did feel like the antidepressants help ‘lift my spirits’, but at the same time I felt too numb towards feeling some emotions. I managed to get through my days continuing to distract myself as I had been, but at least in the first few hours after taking the antidepressants at the same time each morning as guided, I felt too controlled by antidepressants. I just wanted to be me without the depressing part. 

After a few months, I took the antidepressants like a routine. Alongside vitamins my energy levels peaked. 

Note: just because you feel better it doesn’t mean you can break the cycle of taking your medication.

I broke the consistency of taking Citalopram. My depression became the worse it had ever been. I did take another form antidepressant for a while but it was making me feel physically ill.

Nowadays I have found alternatives to medication to cope with depression. One major difference is I don’t suffer alone. My loved ones encourage me to speak to them when I relapse. Its not shameful to admit that you aren’t totally fine. I also use this blog as an outlet, by talking directly about how my issues or turning my thoughts into some sort of poetry. 

If you take anything from this post, is that the cliche ‘you are not alone’ phrase isn’t so sickening or disheartening. It’s so true. Talk to someone. Whoever you feel like opening up to, just do it. You aren’t going to burden them, they can help you or help you get help. There is always someone out there for you.

This past weekend.

This past weekend was a little different for usual. I barely spent time at home and past through the crowded city of Seoul which I preferably would avoid at a weekend. My boyfriend and I attended two music concerts held and produced by a lovely, very talented married couple who we are only just beginning to make a friendship with. 

Starting off with Saturday the 18th of November: I finally got a new phone after almost 3 years! I had sacrificed my need of a up-to-date well working phone for way too long. I hate spending ‘big’ amounts of money, no matter how great a product is, so I convinced myself to not by a replacement phone until my Samsung Galaxy S5 completely needed to retire: that time had come. I managed to get a second-hand, practically perfect condition LG G5 for almost half of it’s recommended retail price. Absolute bargain! The LG G6 not long ago was released, though this G5 is still very well equipt and continues to sell well in phone stores in Korea. The main feature of the phone which I care about most is the camera. It has a 16mp duel back camera, and the front facing camera is a massive upgrade from what I was previously using. I’m no photographer, but I love taking snippets of memories to help with my bad short term memory and generally just taking clips of simplistic things I like or enjoy. I share most of my photos on Instagram, reserving some for me personally.

The Saturday concert was based around the vocalist. She had themed her track list around Van Gogh‘s art and his life. As she sang with her powerful, yet relaxing voice with it’s unique slight raspy tone, a slideshow of Van Gogh art was projected on the wall behind her. At intervals she discussed about the letters in which Gogh wrote to his brother Theo. She selected some of her favourite letters and gave a different one to each audience member upon arrival to the venue. The letter additonally containing a postcard with one of Gogh paintings was given a beautiful note book with the cover of ‘Wheat field with Cypresses’. That lucky person was my boyfriend. Who had to read aloud the Gogh letter in which he had enclosed in his given envelope. It was a nerve racking few minutes, but worth the lovely gift. 

Moving onto Sunday: I have started Christmas early *sorry, but kinda not sorry*. We waited so long to spend Christmas together, our first Christmas together, so instead of settling for a small Christmas tree we treated ourselves to a nice 5ft and a half slim artificial tree. All the lights and decorations were conveniently included as a set, alongside with some bunting to hang on a wall reading ‘Merry Christmas‘. Only small annoyance is that it has a ‘singing’ setting with light patterns that I’m sure could cause hyperactivity. Surprising Aki, my kitten, hasn’t distroyed the tree yet. Delivery services here 90% of the time are prompt, so it only took 2 or 3 days for the tree to be delivered. As we are going to be in Japan for a week of December, we thought we would display the tree early to admire the festivity for a long as possible. We just need to hunt for a nice star to top it with.

I think it’s clear now that I am a foodie, despite opting for a healthy balanced diet with a light exercise; so of course we stopped off for some dinner before the second concert. I finally had my first Vietnamese Pho experience! The previous day had a queue for entering the restaurant due to popularity, so I was pleased that we managed to get a seat the following day. I choose Pho Ga, which is Pho with boiled chicken. If you have never had Pho, it typically includes rice noodles, finely chopped spring onions, white onions, bean sproats, coriander, and a lemon slice for garnish all contained within a warming mildly oily broth. By self service you can cater to your taste by adding either, bay leaves, chilli flakes, cumin, cloves, soy sauce or chilli sauce to your Pho. All the condiments and spices were placed near the stools and benches in which you sit upon. 

Sunday’s concert was more of a jazz ensemble. The pianist lead the production but thrived off of the passion and happiness of his fellow musicians. One song in particular drew the audience to mainly the pianist’s attention, it’s hard to explain properly unless you were in the room listening, but the pianist became emotional and I had tears gather in my eyes with goosebumps all over my skin. I have never experienced such an engagement with a music performance prior to this one. 

We ended the night with some dessert. Korea has such amazing desserts inspired by French, Italian and Japanese cuisines. Until yesterday I hadn’t been to any of the many patisserie franchises in Korea (-which makes me think ‘why hadn’t I?!’) They served everything from matcha iced tea to sweet potato cream cake. We decided upon a pretty presented tiramisu and blueberry cheesecake for a place named Dessert39.

Autumn evening. 

Arms interlinked like a necklace,

footsteps in perfect symmetry.

Following the night lights which glimmer,

illuminating their smiling faces.

Captivated by the tranquillity of a Japanese water feature,

still huddling side-by-side in seek of warmth.

He guides her, trusting his intuition:

she feels safe and content.

Sitting across from eachother in a patisserie,

hands enclasped across a table.

Listening to a jazz concert,

eyes welling with tears;

fingers trace their way to entwined once again.

Tonkatsu (-Japanese pork cutlet). 

I very rarely eat pork, only as sausages or thesedays in Japanese pork cutlet form. I’m afraid I have an addiction. It’s just like fried chicken! Tonkatsu is a pork cutlet which has been made thinner by hitting it with a wooden or metal meat mallet also know as a tenderiser. The pork is coated in special breadcrumbs called Panko before deep-water frying. Traditionally the cutlet is dowst in a puddle of Tonkatsu sauce which mainly contains Worcester sauce, served alongside steamed rice, a cabbage salad drizzled with a tangy salad cream and miso soup.Due to the ever growing popularity of Tonkatsu, their has since been many variations of the dish. Chicken or beef are common substitutes for pork, favourably being served with Japanese vegetable curry. Whilst in Korea, there is of course alot of access to Japanese cuisine including pork cutlet resturants. Some notable cutlets are: cheese cutlet, fish cutlet, cutlet with tteokbokki and the Autumn edition of sweet potato cutlet. Spicy tonkatsu is one of my favourites, based around the original recipe with as expected by it’s name with added chilli to the sauce. Chicken katsu curry and tonkatsu omurice are mouthwatering!

It can be a little tricky to make homemade tonkatsu. You can have all the authentic ingredients required to produce the dish, but making the pork taste…well…less ‘porky’ and more like chicken for you to be able to taste the breadcrumb coating and sauce well can be a little difficult.

Here is a recipe which I used. I have adapted it to make it taste more alike the pork cutlets which I have eaten at restaurants or had as delivery food:

Ingredients for the pork cutlet – (serves 2):

  • 2 boneless Pork loins or tenderloins.
  • Grounded black pepper.
  • Salt.
  • 2 large eggs, or 3 medium eggs.
  • Plain flour.
  • Panko breadcrumbs. 
  • Vegetable or canola oil.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • Worcester sauce.
  • Tomato ketchup.
  • Soy sauce.
  • Mirin.
  • Sugar.
  • Dijon mustard.
  • Garlic powder.

Recipe:

  1. Wash the meat and trim as much fat as possible if necessary.
  2. With a sharp knife make several scores on both sides of each pork loin. If the pork is thicker than 1cm, you can speed up the cooking duration by making the pork thinner with a tenderiser.
  3. Season the pork with black pepper and salt. 
  4. Coat the meat with a dusting of plain flour. Gently pat off any excess flour to ensure there is a evenly thin distribution.
  5. Dip the loins into eggs that have been whisked.
  6. Cover the egg wash with the Panko breadcrumbs.
  7. Heat a frying pan containing a deep amount of oil. Shallow frying isn’t suitable. The breadcrumbs will burn and the meat will be undercooked.
  8. Carefully place the cutlets into the boiling oil. Two loins at a time is safest.
  9. After 3-4 minutes turn over the loins. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
  10. The meat shouldn’t take longer than 8 minutes in total, being turned once or twice until golden brown.
  11. Rest the cutlets on a cooling rack for a few minutes; this will also allow excess oil to drain off.
  12. Whilst allowing the cutlets to cool, prepare the sauce. If you don’t want to make Tonkatsu sauce yourself, it can be brought ready made online or at well stocked Asian supermarkets. Combine 1/3 of a cup of tomato ketchup, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of mirin, 1 tablespoon of sugar or sugar substitute, 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder. Mix well, ensuring no lumps remain.
  13. Place the cutlets horizontally. Cut into 5-6 vertical strips, perfect for being able to pickup with chopsticks.
  14. Present on a plate, pouring some sauce onto top of each cutlet. Accompany with a small dome of steamed white rice, and shredded cabbage drizzled with salad cream. Toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on the dish is optional.

Pasta Galore. 

Undeniably pasta is one of may favourite foods. Spaghetti bolognese has been my all time favourite dish for as long as I can remember and as a child I would have pasta Carbonara once a week without fail before dance class. These days I try to reduce my carbohydrate intake as consuming pasta 3 times a week proved to be a bad habit. Nevertheless pasta based meals will always be my preferance, particularly if they are simple and quick to make. So here is a couple of pasta dish ideas that you may like to try.

Sundried tomato, feta and spinach pasta. (Serve cold).

Honestly I didn’t think of this combination entirely by myself, I was inspired by ‘Mark’s & Spencer’s‘ who sell this freshly prepared chilled pasta in their sandwich section. It’s a ideal lunch for taking to work, saving you time of having to wait to take your turn to use the staffroom microwave. The tangyness of the sun-dried tomatoes are perfectly counteracted by the mildness of the feta cheese. It’s filling and accompanies well with Italian herb brushetta or seeded breadsticks. 

Ingredients: Pasta, jarred sun-dried tomatoes, dried oregano, dried basil, fresh spinach leaves, feta cubes.

  • Simply boil your favourite average sized pasta, I used Gemelli (the tight twist type) and leave to cool down. 
  • Separate the contents of the jarred sun-dried tomatoes, by pouring the oil directly into the chilled pasta; reserving the actual tomatoes.
  • Halve the sun dried tomatoes, stir them into the pasta with a sprinkle of dried basil and oregano.
  • Gently toss the spinach leaves and drained feta cubes into the pasta, one handful of spinach per person.

Tomato, chorizo, emmental & black pepper pasta bake. (Serve 2).

This dish worked well purely out of luck. When living in France for a few months, I had a half-full jar of tomato pasta sauce, way too many packets of penne, a small bag of grated emmental and an already opened packet of sliced spicy chorizo. It’s a pretty straight forward recipe, starting with the basics.

Ingredients: Penne, one white onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, canned tomatoes/ regular tomato pasta sauce, dried basil, chorizo, emmental, half a red chilli*.

  • Boil the penne in saucepan of salted water.
  • On a low heat fry one white diced onion with some olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  • With the fried onion combine 200ml of canned tomatoes or regular tomato pasta sauce with one tablespoon of sugar and a few dashes of dried basil. Adding half a chopped, de seeded red chilli is optional.
  • Slice the choizo into similar sized pieces as the pasta, add this to the sauce. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, then pour it into the sauce. Stir the ingredients well.
  • Top with grated emmental and plenty of ground black pepper.
  • Transfer to a heatproof dish, and place in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Books I grew up with.

Jacqueline Wilson books: I’m not assamed to say that I had the tenancy to be antisocial as a child. I wasn’t unpopular at school, just I wouldn’t hang out with friends outside of school that often; at least not during my secondary education. I love books. Thesedays I don’t read as much I should. I remember when books became preferable to me. I stumbled upon a rack of Jacqueline Wilson books. For those who don’t know, she is the author of books which became children’s television series’: The Story of Tracy Beaker and Girls in Love. Tracy Beaker was my favourite early 2000’s show. I’d watch it everyday after school and had plenty of merchandise themed on the character played by Dani Harmer. The second book of the Tracy Becker series was a story I read more than twenty times; it was called The Dare Game. For anyone unfamiliar with Tracy Beaker, she is a girl soon to enter her teens who has been in the foster care system for most of her life. Her bad behaviour deterred her from getting fostered until one day a quirky author named Cam, decides to raise Tracy as her foster daughter. The two learned to be comfortable with each other after much doubt that they could live coinciding. They were both creative people, Tracy wanted to be a actress like her birth mother. The stories are mostly light hearted, detailing the mischievous wrong doings of a tomboy girl; though you can see the harsh reality of the amount of children who struggle to get fostered or adopted in the UK’s care system. The care home in the stories was nicknamed ‘The Dumping Ground‘: a reflection of the feelings of neglect that children without parents feel like. Other books by Ms Wilson are equally as enjoyable. She has a real talent for writing descriptively, making an reader’s imagination flow like her somewhat childish mind. Some of her books are aimed at teenagers, the characters portraying the social worries and conflictions that adolescents face. It was comforting to grow up with the same author, progressing from short stories to stories focusing on concerning life experiences. I am tempted to read her books these days even if I’m now 22 years old. I’d highly recommend her books, particularly to young girls who feel like an outsider among their peers.

The Twilight Saga: I’m most definitely not the only one who spent their teens engrossed in the Twilight saga, rushing homework to read another chapter. I was a couple of years late to the craze. I didn’t like following trends and convinced myself that ‘surely this Twilight thing is overrated’. One weekend I noticed that the series was on sale. For some reason curiosity got the better of me and I purchased the first two books of the series. I purposely hadn’t watched the first three films which had been released, preferring to know of the tale via its original format. Honestly, the Twilight saga is so bad that it’s good; it’s like ‘cheesy’ cringe worthy pop music. It’s not artistic but you can’t help but sing (in this case read) along with it. So are you team Edward or team Jacob? Haha. 

‘A child called It’ series: This was a slight major ‘grown up’ reading stage, completely different from the imagination fiction that I spent several hours inspired by. A child called it is the recount of a man’s abusive childhood. He uses writing as an outlet of the experiences that he had to keep as a secret for so long. He almost suffered alone as his siblings didn’t suffer abuse to the same degree. He felt like an outcast trapped within his own ‘so called’ family. I never finished reading the series because some of the things that happened to him were so upsetting and terrifying to read about when aged 14 or 15. I don’t think I would be comfortable with reading them now either

During the years that I had to study for exams I didn’t have time to read the books that I chose. Alike most others in my age group who cared about their education, I substituted my freedom to read certain novels and plays which the government said we had to study. I thoughly enjoyed English language and literature classes. The exams and essays could be stressful, though it was so good to have lessons where we would do nothing but take turns to read aloud. At this age anxiety riddled me. I shaked each time I had to read confidently, but reading passages of, Of Mice and Men, My fair Lady, Macbeth and Jane Eyre still made me happy. I think my life would have been very different without the hobby of reading. I think I would have found it more difficult to do well in my English exams, and would have spoken mainly in slang as that’s how alot of people speak in the part of London I am from.

Thesedays I mainly read classics, biographies and non-fiction wartime stories. 

Readers: we aren’t nerds, we are the imaginative ones.