Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Positivity for breakfast

It may be because the sun is beating down on my hometown, it may be that I've just got back from an equal parts restful and active holiday in Europe, or it may be that I've come to terms with a terrible haircut - but I am feeling super positive and energised at the moment.

I'm listening to a lot of Peace, Sleeper and any number of early-to-mid 2000s bands most people have forgotten about.

I can't promise to lend you a fiver right now - I can when I'm less skint, if you need it - but I can give you my time, home cooked food (it will be dip, I'm currently obsessed with dips) or company. If you wanna hang out, let me know.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Making soup while the sun shines

"Soup?" I hear you cry, "in SUMMER?"

Yes. Spicy sweet potato and lentil soup, no less.

I'm souper, thanks for asking
This is my completely unrelated foray into food posts, because I really like food.
I invented it/cobbled together from some delicious bits and bobs, so please forgive the vague measures. FYI, I don't really use salt so add yours to taste, and this is an unintentionally vegan and gluten-free recipe. Serendipity soup!

The ingredients listed below will make 6 generous bowls of homemade, fresh soup.

You will need:

1x Quite Big Saucepan with a lid
1x Wooden spoon
1x Measuring cups of various proportions - I use my Matryoshka cups because they're super cute and go from 1 cup to a 1/4 cup
1x Teaspoon
1x Chopping board
1x Sharp knife
1x Grater
1x Vegetable peeler
1x Hand blender - I use a 'stick' style one, you can use a 'jug' style blender but let the mixture cool right down first

Matryoshka cups for added cuteness
6x Small sweet potatoes - I used the red kind, but you could use the white variety if you like
4x Big carrots
1/2 cup x Red lentils
1x Red onion
4x Garlic cloves - adjust if you want more or less, I personally love garlic and there is no such thing as too much
1 and a 1/2 litre Vegetable stock made with boiling water - I use Kallo brand low sodium stock cubes
1x Glug of vegetable oil
1x Large chili - You can de-seed it if you like, I leave mine whole
1x Teaspoon of cumin
Lots of black pepper
Pinch of dried chili flakes

Peel and chop the red onion, garlic cloves, sweet potatoes and chili. Wash your hands after doing the chili; that stuff is not what you want in your eyes. Trust me.

Top and tail the carrots, peel them and grate them roughly with the grater. They cook so much better grated, as I've found diced carrots take approximately eight years to cook.

Measure out your red lentils, I use dried ones and don't soak them first as you don't need to! If you're using a different variety, follow the soaking/prep instructions for those ones as they might need a specific technique.

Sweep up the lentils your spilt everywhere, fill the kettle and do the prep wash. Do it now.

Sweat the onions and garlic in the vegetable oil over a medium heat. Leave the lid on the Quite Big Saucepan and they'll sweat faster in their own little sauna.

Boil the kettle. Make a cuppa at the same time, you deserve one.

Once sufficiently sweaty, (the onions, not you) add the chopped sweet potatoes, chili and grated carrot and stir that business around pretty quickly. You want everything to mingle, like vegetable speed dating.

Crumble the stock cube over your veggie mix, add the cumin, the dried chili flakes, black pepper and the boiled water. Stir until everything looks well mixed.

Pop the lid on, bring it to the boil and drink your tea. Let it boil hard for 3 minutes, then reduce to a simmer. Wait for about 5 minutes. Check your emails.

After 5 minutes, stir in the red lentils and replace the lid. Allow the mix to simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through - you can test them by squeezing one between your fingernails (scrub under them first!)

When the lentils and sweet potatoes are cooked through, remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Allow extra cooling time if you're using a 'jug' style blender as I've seen them crack with hot liquids going in them! No-one wants a cracked jug.

It's cool! Hurrah! Take your blender of choice and blend until it's reasonably smooth. It's a fairly grainy soup thanks to the lentils so it won't go creamy but you'll get a good, hearty texture.

Ta-dah - you've got yourself some tasty homemade soup! Warm it back up, cover it in black pepper and more chili flakes if you like it super spicy and scoff with abandon.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Brexit, Exits and the Nextsits.

Hi there. Yes, it’s me; the one looking sheepish and in distinct need of a haircut. (NB Sheepishness and haircut are not synonymous. I mean, they could be, but I’m not great at metaphors).
This is going to be a long one, in three distinct chapters, so settle down with a cuppa and I’ll begin. At the beginning, which is only correct.

Your chapters are appropriately titled Then, Now and Next. Don’t tell me I’m unimaginative.

WARNING: Contains politics with which you may not agree. I’m not asking you to agree with me, just listen, read and make your own mind up. Insert that quote about opinions being like private parts here and so on.


“I was looking for a job, then I found a job…” The Smiths, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

The beginning stage needs some more explaining due to my profound radio silence in the last two months. Since we last met, I have been working at an education provider start-up. I did the marketing and quality assurance, and – I’m missing a huge step here. I’m sorry.

I was unemployed following a massive leap of faith and began a work experience placement in February which took 8 weeks to complete. I was taken on full time in April and did a little bit of everything. Flyers, press releases, internal comms; you name it. The people working there are fantastic and dedicated to their work. I have been able to move into a flat with my boyfriend and we can live like normal humans. There are fat pigeons that sit on our windowsills. We are well domestic.

Then last week, the UK voted to leave the EU. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock.

At work, we were understandably concerned by the outcome; after all, the company relies heavily on money that filters down from the Government through educational sources.

The first week was the worst. Everyone had an opinion; everyone had a voice desperate to be heard. We drank our tea in silence. We tagged each other in funny Facebook videos, kept our heads down and hoped for the best.

We thought we’d be okay. I thought I’d be okay. And then I was made redundant.


“Gorgeous poverty of created needs…” Manic Street Preachers, Slash N’ Burn

I cleared my desk, which took a pathetically short amount of time. It’s difficult to accumulate that much stuff in two months, and that’s coming from me; the hoarding queen. The shoes under my desk; some peppermint teabags, a few Biros and knackered notebooks later and I was on the bus home.

ENORMOUS AND HOPEFULLY OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER: I can’t state strongly enough that my former employers are excellent people. They did everything they could to try and keep me. This is not a slight on them and I would hate it to be interpreted as so. This is the fault of something greater than them; larger than any one person or small group. I hope that’s clear.

And now I have come full circle back to job hunting. Hello Darkness my old friend, etc. Except, no, actually; that’s not fair. I am now more determined than ever to succeed. This is the second time I have lost a job due to Government funding cuts, and I no longer accept it.

I had a phase of being extremely angry last week at the UK population en masse. Or at least at the 52%. Angry like I was at 14 when politics was a closed door of the 6 o’clock news and a vague idea of one group being wrong and one being left. Ahem. And while I can’t profess to know as much as I could or should, I now firmly know a few fundamental things I believe in. And while it may be tempting to blast out this on repeat, 29-year-old me knows anarchy is no longer the solution (although the movement does have the benefit of a cool logo).

Activism is a powerful statement, and one that will bring people back together to common good. No promises should be made on half-truths. People must be treated as humans with hearts and minds. We are not tin men or cowardly lions. For me, the clumsy statements on Generation Terrorists are never more relevant than they are now. The UK in the early 1990s doesn’t seem so different to the confused and suppressed era we are entering now. (Yes, I am old enough to have ‘been there’, but I was a small child oblivious to anything other than snack time and books – how little changes.)


If memory serves - then why am I still waiting for it to return?” The Futureheads – The Beginning of the Twist

Personally I am sick of the word Brexit. It sounds like an awful healthy cereal, or rubbish brand of biscuits, and I hate what it has come to stand for. I hate the negative things that seem to have happened under its watch and most of all, I hate feeling powerless to stop it. And as for the campaign itself - David Hare has written a beautiful opinion piece here about the snake swallowing its own tail.

Plan? What plan? A lot of things seem to have gone into overdrive, or meltdown, or have snowballed, or any other metaphor (see, told you I wasn’t good at those) and the future is extremely unclear. In the 90s we had Mystic Meg, and now all we’ve got is a race to the bottom for Twitter trolls both online and in the real, horrible, cold and damp real world. Yeah, it’s summer now. But I think this really could be the winter of our disco tent, or whatever it was that local car park attendant said, and I don't think he was talking about Glastonbury.

No one really has a clue what’s going on, and for as long as this confusion lasts, I’ll be blogging more regularly, cooking up a (culinary) storm and generally keeping my head up. 

Oh, and I’ve started going to the gym. Vive la révolution!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Down the rabbit hole

"As close to being inside a reader's head as possible"

On Friday 15th April I had the pleasure of being invited to the wonderful live event Are You Sitting Comfortably, hosted by White Rabbit, and heard my flash fiction read aloud.

Seven other writers had the same experience of being read, and falling down the rabbit hole into the funny, creepy and sometimes nightmarish world of other people's dreams.

You can read an extract here of the piece read, and I have no current plans to upload the full version as I have a project in mind!

I know White Rabbit will be publishing a new podcast soon to feature the other writers chosen. You can hear my work featured on this one at 31.00 minutes.

The next theme is Monsters, so I'm constantly on the look out for more inspiration.

What are your monsters?
Bunnies only

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Live fiction performance

Exciting news - my fiction is being featured once again by the excellent and admirable White Rabbit.

You may have read an extract here, and the full story is being read aloud at Toynbee Studios, London, on Friday April 15th, from 7.30pm onwards.

All stories are told by the lovely Gareth and Bernadette, which is best as I am crap at reading out loud. I've never figured out why but I find it really difficult!

The evening also features lots of other independent authors who have written about Dreams. This is my third time with White Rabbit, who are a wonderfully inclusive and creative group. There's a bar at the venue and there are rumours of chips. Possibly.

Tickets are available here and I'd love you to come!

If you don't already, then follow me here on Twitter for more up to date information.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

What's on my clipboard #4 - Flash fiction extract

The following is an extract from a flash fiction piece I have submitted to White Rabbit under the theme of Dreams. The full story is based on my fear and experiences of sleep paralysis.
The sounds start to get louder. Bones crack, joints creak, a papery, leathery noise of dry skin rubbing against itself. My bedroom is sinewy and dank, like a cave with the tide coming in. The waves crash closer towards me; small watery creatures rush away, spooked; gulls scream and wheel overhead. The sun plummets behind the very edge of the ocean, leaving me alone and cold. The tide is around my waist now, choking me, smothering me. On dry land, something climbs onto my bed.
My body is a hundred-weight, immovable and leaden. Concrete boots on an outlaw swimmer. The mattress squashes here and there as the creature makes itself comfortable. My heart hammers against my ribs in an awful tattoo. A shadow towers above me and it watches. And it waits.
 This piece was written by me, Ruth Sedar, and I claim all copyright and author's rights. Please contact me for further information.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Celebrity crushes - in defence of daydreaming.

We've all been there; the moment you spot an actor, musician or artist and your stomach unexpectedly turns over, you break into an terribly embarrassing blush and you suddenly realise you're 13 years old all over again. You have a crush, and there's nothing you can do about it.

You can be happily coupled and have a celebrity crush. You can be single and have a celebrity crush. You can be anyone, in any situation, and still wake up to discover you fancy Daniel Radcliffe (who is 26 years old, by the way, and did that naked Equus thing among other things that aren't Harry Potter).

I reckon you think about crushes the way you think about cake or desserts you know you shouldn't have, but you do want, and eat anyway - maybe this is a bad analogy - and then you feel sickly and sugary but still rave to your friends and defend that fudge cake to the last...

Daydreaming is fine. It's not like I know where Daniel Kessler or Daniel Radcliffe live (although I'm pretty sure they're both in New York, but that's beside the point). Crushes provide a harmless moment of nonsense in an all-too serious world. They'll never replace the people you love.

For Tom