TILT – 17 April 2014

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This week’s TILT belongs solely to my fantastic husband.  Today is our wedding anniversary and we’ve been ‘hitched’ for five years now.  Five years… wow.  This is coming from the same girl who was never going to get married… when you meet the right one, everything changes and becomes a possibility.

Like most other wives, I’m incredibly thankful to be married–in fact, I love being married.  I still get a bit of a giddy thrill when post comes to us addressed as Mr. and Mrs.  Even the bills!

N has done so much for me and been there for me in so many more ways than anyone else.  I couldn’t comprehend my life without him; he is absolutely my best friend.  He knows me better than I do, and sometimes that’s insanely weird.  He knows when I have a headache without me having to tell him.  He knows when I just can’t bear the thought of dealing with dinner/dishes and orders chinese instead.  He knows when I just need a nap.  He knows how to make me feel ok again, even when I’m feeling my lowest.  Perhaps he’s magical.  I’m not sure, really–but he’s certainly all mine.

We’ve had our rough days/weeks/months, goodness knows.  But we got through them and we’re a million times better for those tought times.  Those times make or break a couple and they’ve certainly made us.

So this week, I’m entirely thankful for my marriage and the strength it gives me to get out of bed some mornings, to get through the day and to come home to bliss.

steph2

If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1. Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

Meet my Fat Babe!

About a month or so ago, Leah posted over on her blog that she’d had a Fat Babe design done for herself.  I loved the idea so much that I went out and got in touch with Rachele and ordered my own!

Check out my babe-a-licious Fat Babe!

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Rachele did such a brilliant job capturing both what I look like and the essence of my blog with the flag duo in the background–I’m so impressed!

She’s also been totes amaze and has given me a lovely cupon code to share with you all.  Click the image below to go straight to her Etsy shop where you can get your very own Fat Babe made!

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Keep your eye out for my Fat Babe–she’ll be making a more regular appearance soon!

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If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1. Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

 

Do you need a mentor?

WoMen3Today marks the launch of the WoMentoring Project and their website.  Exciting times!  Not sure what it’s all about?  Keep reading for more information.

About?

The WoMentoring Project exists to offer free mentoring by professional literary women to up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities.

The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simply to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. The hope is that we’ll see new, talented and diverse female voices emerging as a result of time and guidance received from our mentors.

Each mentor selects their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project – from the project management to the website design to the PR support – is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals. Quite simply this is about exceptional women supporting exceptional women. Welcome to The WoMentoring Project.

Why do we need it?

Like many great (and not so great) ideas The WoMentoring Project came about via a conversation on Twitter. While discussing the current lack of peer mentoring and the prohibitive expense for many of professional mentoring we asked our followers – largely writers, editors and agents – who would be willing to donate a few hours of their time to another woman just starting out. The response was overwhelming – within two hours we had over sixty volunteer mentors.

The WoMentoring Project is managed by novelist Kerry Hudson and all of our mentors are all professional writers, editors or literary agents. Many of us received unofficial or official mentoring ourselves which helped us get ahead and the emphasis is on ‘paying forward’ some of the support we’ve been given.

In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we wanted to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.

Applications

In an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn’t possible so instead we’ve tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that out mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.

Applicant mentees will submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about why they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be in application to a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time.

Why our mentors are getting involvedWoMentoringIllo3Web

The reason I’m doing this is simple: mentoring can mean the difference between getting published and getting lost in the crowd. It can help a good writer become a brilliant one. But till now, opportunities for low-income writers to be mentored were few and far between. This initiative redresses the balance; I’m utterly delighted to be part of the project.

Shelley Harris, author of Jubilee

I have only achieved the success I have with the help of others, and now I am keen to pass on that help. I particularly want to reach out to those who don’t have the privileges of wealth, status or existing contacts, but who have so much to gain and to give.

Marie Phillips, author Gods Behaving Badly

I’m so pleased to be involved in the WoMentoring Project, and I can’t wait to meet my mentee. I know from my own authors how isolating an experience writing can often be, especially when you’re just starting out, and so I really wanted to be involved. I hope that knowing that there is someone on your side in those early days will give writers courage and confidence in their work.

Alison Hennessy, Senior Editor at Harvill Secker

The WoMentoring project is the kind of opportunity I would have relished when writing my first novel. It’s founded in the spirit of paying it forward, and I’ll take real pride in sharing whatever experience I’ve gained with a mentee. I’ve benefited from the advice and encouragement of some truly inspirational writers, the right voice cheering you on can make all the difference when you’re in your solitary writing bubble. The formality of the mentoring arrangement also gives a sense of responsibility and focus – something that’s invaluable when you’re lost in the sprawl of a work-in-progress – and it’s beneficial to mentors too.

Amylia Hall, author of The Book of Summers

My career as an editor has been immeasurably enriched by working with inspiring women writers, yet the world of publishing would have been inaccessible to me without the time and support I was given when first starting out. The WoMentoring Project is a wonderful, necessary thing and I’m very proud to be taking part in it.

Francesca Main, Editorial Director, Picador

I wanted to get involved with this project because I’d like to help authors feel that whoever they are, and wherever they come from, they have a right to be heard.

Jo Unwin of the Jo Unwin Literary Agency

Why female writers feel they need this opportunity

I’m interested in being mentored because although I think you have to make mistakes to learn, having someone who’s been there help you work out the ones with no value can be really useful. Most of all I’d like to have someone to push and challenge me on what makes me and my writing tick.

The idea of women sharing their skills and experience in a dynamic, nurturing way is a really important one given the lower profile given to female writers. Even though the mentoring is one to one a collective voice and resilience is still being built up – I think it’s a great idea that, for writers like me, will help get rid of some of the layers of doubt and creative loneliness that come with being a beginner.

Clare Archibald

I’m on my third novel; I’ve had good notices from Faber, HoZ etc. but still not quite there. What I need is that final push. I especially need guidance on pacing, keeping the action pulsing along. I feel a mentor could be hugely beneficial in this process.

Suzy Norman

Check out WoMentoring on their website or give them a shout on Twitter.  They’d love to hear from you!

steph2

If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1. Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

TILT 3 April 2014

It’s been a mix of a week… some good stuff, some bad.  I guess that makes it a normal week?  Or not.  I dunno.  Either way, this week I’m loving:

  • I had a very important meeting earlier this week which I can’t disclose but it took me to an office that had lots of lovely books that I was allowed to choose from to take home with me.  I could have taken a few but I decided I didn’t want to look greedy (and I would have needed a van) so I just selected one.  And by one I mean The One.  I’m 99.9999% sure this book is going to be my favourite book of the year.  The Book of You by Claire Kendal is out next week and it’s going to be a hit–I can say that with the utmost certainty.  I flicked through the first few pages after my meeting and had to find somewhere to sit and dive in… it was that good.  I whipped thought the 300+ page book in a matter of hours, unstoppable in my page turning.  It’s miles better and more exciting than Gone Girl and Before I go to Sleep combined.  I seriously LOVED this book. It’s out next week from HarperCollins–check out my review on Judging Covers!

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  • This week’s brilliant twitter meme #BeyonceBooks.  Buzzfeed have kindly done a roundup of some of the best including my personal favourites Put a Lord of the Ring on It and Run the World in 80 Days.  Check out Buzzfeed’s list here and let the laughs commence.
  • YOU.  Yes you, you crazy, weird and wonderful people.  You with your weird search terms… a few weeks ago it was “trees that smell like tacos.”  Yesterday I had TWO in one day!  Not only did I get “sensual massages in fairdale and louisville ky” but also “why are there so many fat people in oxford street.”  I mean… who the heck is googling this stuff?  But even more importantly, what have I been writing about on my blog??????

Tell me in the comments what you’re all about this week!

steph2

If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1. Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

 

March 2014 Book Wrap Up

It’s hard to believe we’re just about to go into the month of April. Sometimes it honestly makes my head spin just how fast time goes. Soon it’ll be summer and then Christmas all over again. Mental.

Anyhow, this month’s book list is a smidge shorter—there were a few longer books on the cards for March.

 March books

Books Read: 5

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton – Elizabeth L. Silver
A Single Breath – Lucy Clarke (review here)
Apple Tree Yard – Louise Doughty (recommended by Sugar!)
The Troop – Nick Cutter
I Am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes  (review here)

 

Currently ReadingThe Storyteller – Jodi Picoult

What are you folks reading?

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If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1. Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

Steph’s Veggie Moussaka

Oh my dears, if you haven’t had moussaka in your life before, what the hell is wrong with you??

To be fair, my first moussaka was an Innocent Veg Pot version a few months back.  And it was yum, but I wasn’t freaking out over it.  Then a month or so ago N and I were down and out and having a weekend treat (ie BINGE) on takeaway from Meza (obviously).  We decided to try their version of moussaka and oh my sweet baby Jesus was it good.  Then we hit our stride as weekday vegetarians and, guess what?  We’ve got an awesome moussaka recipe in our repertoire.  My moussaka is based on the brilliant version over on Messy Vegetarian Cook (a brilliant site all around!) but, ever experimental, I’ve changed a few bits.  We loved this particular version because it was portioned perfectly for two people.  Bear that in mind if you do make it!

Ingredients:

Directions

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I’m a big believer in being organised in the kitchen so I always get everything together before I do anything.  Seriously.  I’m probably slightly OCD but I’ve had too many ‘oh-my-god-we-forgot-the’ moments when about to commence cookery.  At least before I get to chopping I know something’s missing.

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First, preheat your oven to 250C.

Slice your onions into half moons and pop them into a pre-heated pot with a lug of olive oil.  Allow to fry until nice and soft and gooey.

While your onions are frying off, slice up your aubergine.  You can do it pretty much however you like–I’ve cut them into both rounds and slices (lengthwise) and either works well.  What’s important is that you make them somewhat thick so that they don’t burn to a crisp in the oven.

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After you’ve sliced up your aubergine, lay the slices out on trays and lightly brush olive oil on both sides.  Pop into the oven for about 8 minutes on each side.  Keep an eye on them–once they start to go crispy/burnt they go quickly.

While the aubergines are roasting, return to your onion and check its softness.  When you’re nearly done frying, add in a tsp (plus a dash–I’m so technical) of Ras el Hanout.  More on this gorgeous blend of spices here, if you’re interested.  Dry fry for a few seconds and add your crushed garlic.  Saute and stir continuously for around 30 seconds.

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Next, add in your can of tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, sugar and lemon juice.  Allow to bubble away for 5 minutes while you’re busy rescuing the aubergines from the oven.

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Ignore the grilled halloumi peeking into the background…

When the sauce has had at least 5 minutes and the aubergines are done, toss them in with the chickpeas and stir in your pomegranate molasses.  The pomegranate will really change both the colour and the flavour, so don’t be shocked when your stew goes a brownish, purplish colour!

Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes on a low heat.  Keep an eye on the stew and stir occasionally to keep from anything sticking to the bottom of the pan.  If absolutely necessary, add a pinch of water to loosen.

Add in the parsley for the last few minutes or keep to the side for garnish after dished out.

Serve, enjoy and try not to feel too smug about how amazing this moussaka tastes.

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Again, a massive shout out to Messy Vegetarian Cook for providing me with a base recipe to jazz up to my own tastes.  I’ll be honest, the first time I made this I followed the MVC recipe to the letter and it was amazing so if you’re a bit timid with exploration or can’t get your hands on Ras el Hanout, it’s a brilliant version and just as yummy!

Share some of your veggie recipes!  N and I are still weekday vegetarians (I know, right?) and we’re looking for new things to try.

steph2

If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1. Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.

TILT 27 March 2014

Bit quiet this week… sorry for that.  N has had a lurgy which has led to sleepless nights, I’ve had the occasional migraine and I’ve just been too plumb ‘wore out’ (as we say in KY) to do much of anything that requires extra brain power.  I have, however, managed to come up with my three things I’m loving this week:

  • My garlic crusher.  Ok, don’t laugh.  I’m not generally a very materialistic person but I draw the line at kitchen gadget.  N and I both love them but when I came home with a £12 garlic press which was an impulse buy from John Lewis a month ago he did raise his eyebrows and have a bit of a go about the price.  But let me tell you, this garlic press is the best thing since sliced bread… IT CLEANS ITSELF, PEOPLE.  I don’t have to dig my fingers in to get the stringy bit.  Oh.  YES.  Check it out here
She is a thing of beauty...

She is a thing of beauty…

  • Good books.  I’ve just finished two–A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke (Judging Covers review here) and The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver.  I really enjoyed both and particularly flew through A Single Breath.  I do predict that’ll be a popular one this summer.  It’s out today–snag your copy!
  • The Pickin’ On series.  Bluegrass covers of Maroon 5?  I think so.  Banjo renditions of Red Hot Chili Peppers?  Yep.  Never fails to entertain me.

Tell me what you’re loving!

steph2

If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or @londondiaries1.  Alternatively you can email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com.