What time is it? It’s Vegan time!


Yummy vegan and vegetarian food!

The ‘Wicked Kitchen’ range of exclusively vegan food is actually Wicked; from what I’ve managed to try, they’ve managed to get a lot of flavour into their products, which is something I often find lacking in most packaged foods, especially catered for vegetarians/vegans. My favourite has to be the sourdough caponata pizza with mint salsa verde (tasted amazing!).

So as the title may hint, I’ve been experimenting with a changeup of my dietary habit, just because! I’ve always liked vegetarian/vegan food, but it’s always been very Indian, and as I’ve mentioned before a lot of Gujarati food is vegetarian, in fact on closer inspection it’s actually vegan. So I figured why not!

It started off quite easy and for the first two weeks (the last two of Veganuary) it was great, I was very strict with what I would eat and I actually found myself more focussed and more energetic, probably because I wasn’t binge eating as much nor was I indulging. I actually really enjoyed the vegan food I cooked at home, and sometimes it would end up being vegetarian if I could escape certain ingredients, but nonetheless, I really enjoyed cooking and eating freshly made food at home! I even managed to re-write my results chapters for my thesis and write the majority of my conclusion too.

But the great start was not to last, a few cravings later and I found myself seriously wanting a different texture and taste, notably chocolate. And of course, since JamJar recently opened in Coventry, it was a no brainer. The mix chocolate cookie dough was divine! Very indulgent but perfectly sweet, not too much and not too little and the hazelnut gelato was a much preferred accompaniment to the hot cookie dough over vanilla ice cream served elsewhere. If I had more of a sweet tooth I would be going back regularly! But luckily I’m not overly hyped on dining out! Save the pennies AND the pounds! A necessity for a student.

So whilst it lasted it was certainly interesting, I lasted a lot longer than I had initially given myself credited for and I think I’m certainly going to change my dietary habits, mostly cutting back on the binge eating and trying to consciously include freshly cooked vegetables into my everyday eating pattern. And although ‘Wicked Kitchen’ is incredibly pricey, I will certainly be looking out for overs and marked down prices, because the food is good and the tub is reusable! Perfect!

 

PS. Food listed from left to right, top row: Mustard seed potatoes (Gujarati – rai vara bataka), Chana masala, Delhi dal makhni (ready to eat range from Ashoka). Bottom row: Gluten free mac and cheese with spicy mushrooms, Spiced brussel sprouts and sugar snap peas, Mushroom curry.

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Winter Blues


You know, I give up, I can’t be doing this anymore and I need a way out. What is it that has got me so rattled, you may ask? Is it my PhD? Is it my personal life? Is it my inability to find a job? Well, it’s actually a combination of everything, and yes I have been blaming the season, even though as we near the end of the year, it often becomes my favourite part of the year. As of now however, I’m simply apathetic. I’m struggling to find the motivation to get out of bed and finish those last few experiments and complete my PhD. I suppose it probably has something to do with the fact that the answer to my simple yes/no questions, is only maybe. ‘Maybe’ can’t get you very far. Even a ‘no’ is more useful. Yes, I agree that it’s a negative response, but even negative responses can be motivational, much better than a ‘meh’. Which perfectly describes my current state of mind.

I can’t even remember if it truly is seasonal…my brain (like many others) has a tendency to forget about anything remotely depressing…and of course, romanticising that which is does remember. I can’t blame winter, even though I feel blue. I just want to perk up again, I only wish I knew how.

I think I need to distract myself…maybe some time away? Or read one of the two Mark Billingham books I have sitting around untouched. I just need to do something…and even cooking and eating isn’t helping (very sad!). And of course, when I am sad and upset I want chocolate. Even though I have a dairy/lactose sensitivity…so what does that mean?…Painful tummy aches and worse! I need to cheer up and finish everything!!! So much to to do, glad my spirituality is helping me to just take a few minutes out several times a day. I need more of that. Amplified.

 

My Favourite nachos from Las Iguanas!

Yummy tuna bagel. Best bagel I’ve ever had!

Chocolate chip packed brownie!

Vanilla gelato and Ferrero Rocher cookie dough from Sprinkles. Extremely decadent.

Homemade kidney bean and potato chilli.

Tandoori potatoes made in my new worktop oven/grill! Yum!

It’s okay! I’m alive!


No really, I am! Despite all the last minuteness of everything going on right now and all the chaos and stress coming at me from every angle. I am very much still alive. However, only just. It’s difficult to stay afloat when you don’t have the strength to get out of bed…or perhaps it’s just pure laziness. Whatever it is, it certainly is a hinderance. And whilst that warm and cosy feeling I have when I’m lying in bed is plenty to keep me there (and successfully it has!)…that little voice in my bed reminds me more and more adamantly…that there is work to be done. Stay tuned.

I need a paper towel and a Valium.


Nos somos humanos, e nos não somos perfeitos. Mas, tentamos.

Isn’t it a relief to have your car insurance sorted? It feels like a bit of a load off…though sadly not a huge amount. I was supposed to have finished everything by now…but here we are, almost mid-July and I am yet to complete my PhD lab work. It’s not entirely my fault or ineptitude either, something I’ve ordered and subsequently re-ordered over a period of 5 months has yet to arrive. Bio-Rad. Why the incompetence? My PCR studies should’ve all been completed by now, but I’m still waiting to hear from you, it’s unacceptable!!! I’m now hoping that the one contact I have at the company can speed through their incredibly useless processing and get me what I need ASAP. Apart from that…everything else seems to be dependent very much on luck. I seemed to be unable to yield any results from something which worked at a 100% success rate…and now that (with a great deal of help) I’ve got it up and running again, I’ve now run out of antibodies…so despite spending 10 hrs in the lab yesterday…I’ve nothing to show for it.

On a slightly better note…my DoS has just sent back corrections for me to do with my chapter…and although that’s a good thing, having a flick through, I don’t feel so great about it. There are a lot of tedious things that need changing and some data which is apparently not needed. But of course…I spent weeks if not months collecting the data and then of course the painful analysis, so it feels a bit painful to remove. I feel quite deflated to be perfectly honest, the sort of feeling where you’re trying to pump air into a balloon with a hole in it. Absolutely futile. I won’t lie. I’m exasperated. I want to finish everything and move on with my life. This PhD has been draining and not because it’s too difficult, but because this environment is corrosive. This is where hopes and dreams come to die, Little One.

But let’s end on a slightly positive note…I tried baking peanut butter and M&M cookies on Sunday. The verdict was positive, though being self-critical (as always) they weren’t what I had wanted. Recipe was from Tanya Burr, although she also adds pretzels and I didn’t have nearly enough M&Ms (little brother ate them!). Enjoy! I’m going to try and find as many things to bake as possible…my only real form of stress relief!

Cookies!

 

PS. Titular reference is Lorelai’s reaction to Emily wanting to date.

“Oh dear…not those chilli flakes again”


In The Middle.

The above is the title I was planning on using, but the events of this weekend have forced a change. As is so often the case with me, there so many trains of thought all of which enter that cerebral station…and so it would appear that the more obscure the title is, the more fitting. Not in the least to say the the intended was not obscure, but certainly not as obscure as what it is now.

So, enough of the waffle (although I do love waffling…and procrastinating, one would say that they both go hand in hand, I would agree), March is over and April has begun, which means my deadline is ever near. And strangely enough, despite realising that the mountain of work I have yet to get through is ever growing, I seem somewhat unfazed. Perhaps through naivety? Or perhaps the dawning realisation that my shackles will soon come loose have shed perspective on what really matters? I suppose I can only answer that when I am well and truly free.

Now it may seem as though, the sentiment I have expressed would have me rushing towards a secure job with no sight of the tedious and uncertain world of research; on the contrary, it’s quite the opposite. I’m well prepared and more than ready to take the plunge into unknown waters. With the hope that the hopelessness I’ve experienced will equip me with the best of buoys to keep me afloat. Yes, that’s right, I’ve applied for a research position AND also finally communicated with Rainbow (one-sidedly of course). It’s an entirely different matter as to whether or not there is gold to be found beyond the rainbow. If there isn’t, well it certainly isn’t for a lack of trying.

I’ve actually been procrastinating with this post a lot more than I would have thought…a lot more activation energy required…it has been far too easy to simply lie on my floor and mindlessly stare at the ceiling. Something which is often associated with the pursuit of a doctoral programme. In fact, the past few weeks have been very contrasting, going from very productive to not; not due to a lack of mental capacity, but due to a lack of physical capacity. Sometimes it all just adds up and hits you when you least expect it. In fact, it hits you more often than not. I think I’ve recovered, but either way I have no more time to lose. I need to finish everything I’ve got lined up by the end of the month, not just because I’m starting back at my summer job (I love it there!), but because there is going to be a massive upheaval of equipment and much of what I need will disappear in a matter of days!

So, as it’s always said…certainly in my own head…get a move on Nazra!

Toodles!

 

PS. Titular reference is what Nazra ends up screaming when she clearly pushes a limit, darn you hot sauce! And also, I’ve been seriously binge-watching The Middle…not much else you can do when you have a cold 🙂 And the more I watch, the more I relate.

Let’s be Zen.


Sometimes it’s harder said than done, and sometimes it’s the easiest thing imaginable; to constantly be there for someone, who has no regard and no appreciation of you. It’s difficult, I won’t lie. It’s almost as though you are choosing who to be, the person who is a doormat, or the person who is giving and kind. The latter is certainly more flattering and often rewarding when recognised, but that’s hardly ever the case, is it? Well, anyway, despite feeling a little like a doormat, I’m choosing not to be disheartened. In fact, I’m choosing to adopt a ‘zen-like’ approach…to some things (wouldn’t be me, if I were zen in everything!), notably my PhD (my most stressful burden).

Although, I have to admit…perhaps I’m being too zen? I have a lot pending, and yet I seemed relatively unfazed, as though I have all the time in the world…not true, I really don’t. But then, why should I ruin this ‘calmish’ state of mind with anxiety? It’s not often, one studying a PhD can say that they aren’t very stressed, certainly not something you’d hear from a finalist.

So, what I’ll do is take this all in my stride. I won’t let anyone else take me for granted, I’m a valuable resource, but mistreat it and it’ll go…and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Fend for yourselves, you dirty Feet (because I’m a doormat…get it?)! Nazra is no longer a doormat, I’m going to be a tapestry, pick me up and put me on a wall! Oh yeah! Also…I need to get stuck into doing research, and this time, instead of freaking out about why I’m not freaking out, I’m going to work with the ‘zen-like’ attitude and calmly and rationally approach everything with an open and clear mind. If something isn’t working, I’ll simply move on to the next thing. Baddabing baddaboom. Job done.

 

NQ out.

Must’ve eaten from the same beetroot.


I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve posted (it probably hasn’t, but I haven’t really got much sense of time at the moment), so here goes!

So just to get things up to speed, I’m recovering from a cold…it’s been more ‘headache’ than most other symptoms, but I’m not complaining…much. Although the cold may be subsiding, the headache may be here to stay. Undergrad projects have started and that spells chaos, and since we’re (PhD students) making a point of staying well out of the way, I’m hopeful that the chaos won’t spread. But who am I kidding, since when doesn’t chaos spread? In fact, it may even reside well within the roots of each of our respective studies…now that’s a scary thought!

Four weeks to get through, and I’ve finally got my “plan” written down, whether I can complete all that I ambitiously aim to fulfil…well…we’ll just be optimistic, won’t we? As I said to a colleague of mine earlier today, I have 7 lots of experiments to complete until the end of April, and I should be able to complete 5 of the 7 things. But then again, life does tend to get in the way of things, and I do mean Life…please don’t ask me what that means, my mum has asked me plenty as it is! (Crawls into the smallest little crack in the wall…They’ll never find me here!…laughs theatrically until a spider crawls into my mouth)

Like I said before, this is going to be a very busy year, and I expect to be procrastinating a lot. A lot. I just hope that everything happens like I hope it will. There’s a lot of hope and effort to be put into this year, and it’s entirely possible, with the support system that I have. I love you all. I just want my silly isolations to work, and I hope that I can make sense of the flow cytometer! I have no idea what the outputs mean, right now it’s all just random blobs…in what I would say are the wrong places. But how would I know! Oh well, just have to try again and then again, until I can get something that I actually understand.

So here’s to new and old techniques, and a year of waiting and seeing.

 

PS. Titular reference: Something I heard on TV.