Small Reminders for the New Year

New Year’s resolutions are doomed to fail but I do think we should reflect on the previous year and think deeply about what we want for and from the coming year.

Resolutions that fail make us feel inadequate so my reflection comes in the form of reminders, things I’ve already known and already forgotten. Things I should remember when too much negativity enters my life and I get bogged down with routine and responsibilities. Some are borrowed from a website I found when looking for resolutions (of which I forgotten the name and didn’t save the link!) and I jotted these down in my christmas present from my younger sister, a notebook for my famous lists.

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1. Choose a narrow path. The sooner you pinpoint exactly what you want to achieve in your life, what you want your legacy to be, the sooner it will happen for you. Don’t choose the well beaten path; create your own. Dare to be different and aim for the moon (in order to reach the stars).

2. Embrace change. If life were consistent and without ups and downs, it would be boring, bleak and monotone. We’re here to dodge bullets, get back up when we’re kicked down and make decisions for ourselves. It’s all about building your character. Never fear change, it could be exactly what you need.

3. Its okay to eat cereal for dinner. You only live once…

4. Own your mistakes. The only way to learn is to make mistakes. The only way to learn from mistakes is to own them. You’ll be surprised how much people will value you for owning your mistakes, no matter how small your role in them.

5. Appreciate what you have before you ask for more. Because there is always someone worse off than you.

6. Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. But never forget you don’t have a body, you have a soul. Your exterior will never define your interior.

7. Who you are is not what you have; its what you do with what you have. Ever noticed how some of the happiest people in the world have the least? It isn’t about what you have (material things or achievements), but what you decide to do with that. Your life is your legacy. How do you want to be remembered?

8. Be Loyal. In love, friendships, and most importantly with your family. Stay true to your word.

9. Laugh more.

10. Words are powerful. It takes just two to commit your life to another. Words are powerful – choose them wisely.

11. You can never be over educated. Want to learn another language? Its better late than never. Thinking about taking art classes? You never know what it will lead to. You are only limited by your choices.

12. Be gracious. Be humble. Be kind.

13. Live in a new place. You will be surprised as to just how much our surrounds shape us.

14. Live within your means. Life isn’t about keeping up with the Jones’s.

15. Have an opinion. Voice it, engage in healthy debate, but never be rigid and close-minded.

16. Be proud. Credit where credit is due. Learn to welcome compliments and accept them – by doing so you will provide value to them and soak them up like a sponge. It will lead to better work in the future.

17. Accept criticism. But know when to distinguish between constructive criticism and a genuine insult. If someone insults you, it says more about them than it could ever say about you.

18. Get outdoors more.

19. Spend time with anyone older than you. Age = experience. Experience = wisdom. Spend time with your grandparents and ask questions. No one stays on this earth forever – make the most of the time you have.

20. Be honest. People will value your opinion if it is raw, honest and made with consideration.

21. Don’t give money, give your time. There is no greater gift than your time.

22. Take a day off. Do something you have always wanted to do. By yourself.

23. Track your finances better. 

24. Work hard(er). Set your goals higher and higher… your limits are only those you believe to be true.

25. Smile at strangers.

26. Keep a journal. Sometimes the best way to clear your mind and keep a clear vision is to jot down your thoughts at the end of the day or week. Consider what you did, who you met, how you felt, what was on your mind. Think outside the box and sort through your thoughts rather than offloading your troubles onto someone else.

27. Escape into a film. Bad day? Don’t dwell on it. Escape to someone else’s reality or jump inside a fiction. Two hours later you’ll have forgotten the trivialities.

28. You are the company you keep. If your friends aren’t bringing joy into your life, maybe you’ve outgrown them. Don’t be afraid to make new friends that understand you (and where you’re at in life right now). Adapt. Change. Learn. Grow. Evolve.

29. You’ll never be as young as you are right now.

Why blog? Who cares?

While I’ve always liked writing, I’ve always felt tortured over blogging. Mainly I would ponder its uses, its purposes and what people think of it and truthfully, what people thought of me and my motivations for doing it. I would get carried away blogging,  write a load of posts and then suddenly feel self-conscious about what I had posted and whether or not it would be perceived as attention seeking. I always felt like I had to justify my existence online and I guess it’s something introverts struggle with who do things like this which are out of character. I’ve always been better on paper than face to face so it felt like a more comfortable medium for me to communicate through.

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A new study shows that humans have a strong tendency to affiliate with other people, especially in emotional situations and this provides an explanation for the basic human motivation to affiliate with others, particularly in emotional situations. The study demonstrates how sharing exposure to emotional stimuli with a friend buffers the impact of negative stimuli and enhances the impact of positive stimuli.

So while I may be sharing something mundane like a recipe and not recounting significant trauma, it is still this need for sharing that drives people to write blogs and mainly why I write. Whether it is on the level of sharing experiences or even just a love of aubergine based meals, it all counts. It all matters because someone out there cares.

Viva Mexico – Pozole Verde

I adore the food of Mexico and I’m pleased that I got Margarita Arronte’s new cookbook for Christmas. I haven’t had a chance to delve into it yet but thought I’d share a Mexican dish that I’ve been cooking for years, pozole.

Each year our family hosts a Mexican themed new years party for friends who have kids. As much as us Scots love Hogmanay, the reality amongst our friendship group or urban family is that often we find ourselves at home with the kids watching the bells on STV, having the obligatory tipple before heading off to bed. So a few years ago I devised this daytime event where folk could bring along their kids, who would upon arrival, disappear into the sea of toys in our kids’ bedroom while the adults would share food, talk and celebrate the new year.

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Pozole is a traditional hominy-based stew from the Guerrero region. I’ve no idea where I got the original recipe from and like most regional dishes the world over there are many, many variations of this dish. This particular one, the verde version, gets its name from the addition of green tomatillos and big fat poblano peppers. Most of the ingredients aren’t averrable to me fresh so I have to buy them in tinned. Comment below for some links to grocers.

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  • 1.65L chicken stock
  • 500ml water
  • 4 chicken breasts (optional – on the bone), with skin
  • 450g tomatillos (fresh or tinned and drained – husked and halved)
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 poblano chiles (tinned or fresh – cored, seeded and quartered)
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and quartered
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • A handful chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp oregano leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Three 450g cans of hominy, drained
  • Finely shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced radishes, chopped onion, diced avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips and lime wedges, for serving
  1. In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, bring the chicken stock and water to a boil. Add the chicken breasts, skin side down, cover and simmer over very low heat until they’re tender and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate and shred the meat; discard the bones and skin, if any. Skim any fat from the cooking liquid and reserve.
  2. In a blender, combine the halved tomatillos with the quartered onion, poblanos and jalapeños, smashed garlic, chopped cilantro and oregano. Pulse until coarsely chopped, scraping down the side. With the machine on, add 250ml of the cooking liquid and puree until smooth. Season the tomatillo puree with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the tomatillo puree and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce turns a deep green, about 12 minutes.
  4. Pour the green sauce into the cooking liquid in the casserole. Add the hominy and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Add the shredded chicken to the stew, season with salt and pepper and cook just until heated through. Serve the pozole in deep bowls, passing the lettuce, radishes, onion, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips and lime wedges at the table.