Letter To Women Of My Life

Letter To Women of My Life, Honouring the ladies that have influenced me. Humbled to know them and proud of them. #InternationalWomensDay2018 #women #girlpower #womenrock

 

Today is March 8, International Women’s Day. The first time this Day was observed was not that long ago, 1909 in New York on February 28, but it was not until 1914 that March 8 was set as International Women’s Day. Throughout the past century or so there has been many controversies, marches, political arrests, scandals, bans, strikes and protests starting on or around this day but I will not go through the history and discuss them.

Instead, Dear Women, I would like to celebrate all of you I have been fortunate enough to have in my life. You took part in my life at various times and occasions, some only once, some more than once and some of you came in and became a regular ingredient of my days. You are spread all around the world, living and working in some of the most dangerous places on the planet. Places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Uganda, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Bolivia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Jordan, Nepal, Japan, Serbia but also in places like Germany, UK, Ireland, Australia, France, US, Greece…

Many of you went through hell and back in your lives. You were political prisoners, victims of domestic violence. You were subjected to intimidation, gender, ethnic and racial discrimination and violence. You survived attacks, rape, miscarriages, exile and displacement, loss of your dearest ones to senseless crimes… but you won all the battles.

 

Letter To Women of My Life, Honouring the ladies that have influenced me. Humbled to know them and proud of them. #InternationalWomensDay2018 #women #girlpower #womenrock

 

Each and every one of you goes through your everyday lives with admirable endurance, bravery and strength and you are committed to making the world a better and safer place through your personal actions, immensely difficult jobs and immeasurable love and dedication. And you always, always do it with a smile.

Every one of you is my inspiration, and I consider myself exceptionally fortunate for being given an opportunity to cross paths with you, to work and learn from you and enjoy your company. I am tremendously grateful for that.

May every day of your life be your day.

Love,
B.

 

Photo credits: Alice/Unsplash and Nicole/Unsplash

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How Accessories Change

Running late in getting ready for a birthday party of my six-year-old daughter’s school friend. I cannot help but think how the accessories that I wear have changed. Before the kids, my accessories were my big bag, phone, wristwatch, sunglasses, a pair of earrings that I carefully selected on one of my travels, rings, a scarf, cigarettes, lighter, car keys, even my passport.

 

alt=biljana hutchinson accessories change

Since I had kids, the list of my accessories came down to three things only, a present for a party host or hostess, kids and car keys. Three things and I still struggle to take them all with me in the first attempt of leaving the house…

Yours truly,

Fashionista

Photo by Amy on Unsplash

Typhoid For A Cigarette?

Typhoid For a Cigarette, How I stopped smoking in an unconventional but effective way, Biljana Hutchinson #smoking #QuitSmoking #HealthyLife

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Today is the little anniversary that I love to mark for more than one reason. Seven years ago to this day, I stopped smoking, and I haven’t had one cigarette since then. How is that such a big deal? To me and to anyone who knows me, it is a humongous deal!

I was one of these passionate smokers who never left the house without a new pack of cigarettes. The content of my purse was always keys, phone, money and cigarettes and lighter. My morning coffee with cigarettes was almost an hour-long ritual that was not to be interrupted unless there was a matter of immediate death. Even then, only if I really cared about the dying person. Like, really cared.

A cigarette after a meal, another favourite of mine. Or after hard physical work. With a glass of wine at the end of a long day. Not after sex, though. It spoiled the moment for me. Going out, drinking with friends and end up waking up with nicotine hangover worse than the alcohol one? Bring it on! Terrible morning feeling, but always a great night before.

To all the usual ‘smoking is bad for you, it shortens your life, it is horrible, stinky, filthy habit’ I always responded with ‘I love to smoke, I enjoy it and please leave me alone!’ I was devotedly smoking for eighteen years. Then, December 2009 came, I was working in Afghanistan and, after nearly a week of feeling badly ill and realising that it is more than just a case of severe food poisoning, so frequent in that part of the world, I went to the doctor and found out that I contracted parasites and typhoid. That week I lost 7, and in the next two weeks another 5 kilogrammes. I was weak, exhausted, couldn’t concentrate and all I wanted to do is sleep. Not useful when you are working on your project portfolio for the next year that needs to be submitted in the first week of January.

The treatment of my undesired guests consisted of three different courses of antibiotics that altogether lasted for 28 days and amounted to about a million milligrams in total. Daily, I was taking between 3,500 and 5,000 milligrams of antibiotics depending on the course. That killed not only parasites, Salmonella Typhi bacteria but also all the other, so-called, good bacteria that sit quietly in the corners of your intestines and play with pets or read books at the party.

Anyway, to recover from all that and rebuild my physical strength, I had to start an intensive workout and proper, balanced diet packed with protein and fibre. Also, I was not to drink any alcohol for about six months, but I was to consume plenty of yoghurts.

It was this diet that made cigarettes unpalatable, disgusting. I never tried to stop smoking before. As a matter of fact, I never wanted to. All of a sudden, I reduced from smoking, at least, one pack of 20 cigarettes a day, to maybe 4 or 5 and even they tasted and felt foul. That was also the moment when a friend of mine gave me Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking book and said it worked for him to help him stop smoking. I was sceptical, yet decided to give it a go. It was evening, sometime after dinner and I was reading the book and smoking. The author actually instructs the reader to smoke while reading his book. It is quite impressive, indeed.

What I think happened was that the book managed to tip me over to the other side, the non-smoker side. But I wasn’t enjoying smoking anymore. It was really a pure habit, and I was smoking because that was what I usually had been doing for 18 years. I was thinking what am I going to do when I go out, how am I going to have a drink without a cigarette. Or coffee? How the hell am I going to enjoy my morning coffee without my cigarettes?! The truth was, I was ready to stop. All I needed was a little nudge, and that is precisely what I got. The timing for that little bookish wrap up was perfect.

Now, maybe this method is a tiny bit unconventional, and I can’t say that I’d recommend it. How do I stop smoking? Well, first things first: parasites and typhoid. If you want to hit it hard, go straight for typhoid. One month of heavy-duty antibiotics, physical weakness and rapid loss of weight and you’re done. Congratulations, you are a non-smoker! Somehow, I don’t see it catching on. On the other hand, it is a highly effective method, no doubt about that.

So, finally, why do I celebrate this anniversary? Because I can take a deep breath without feeling dizzy again. Because I don’t cough anymore, and I can actually smell and taste food again. I celebrate it because it is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life and it makes me feel amazing!

Photo by Andrew Pons/Unsplash

 Pink Mist at Bristol Old Vic

 

alt= biljana pink mist

 

If there is one theatre play you want to watch this year, make it this one.

It is verse-drama that deals with the timeless human cost of war, with young people’s desire to belong and with love, acceptance, guilt… Tremendously important and beautiful in performance.

For me it was as emotional and personal as inspirational.

What’s All This Cooking Stuff!?

Maybe these recipes seem a bit random, but I came to love cooking, baking and all things kitchen. When combined with my family’s love for eating – it’s a perfect match.

Before I had children, I was not cooking nor baking for more than one reason: I worked long hours, and I lived on my own. Also, I wasn’t interested in learning how to cook after a 12-hour day in the field, and I mostly ate fast food on the go.

 

What's All This Cooking Stuff!?! How I became a passionate family chef, Biljana Hutchinson #cooking #chef #food #interest

 

My mum, a wise woman and a fantastic cook, used to tell me every time I’d say that maybe I should learn to cook this or that, ‘Don’t worry about it, when the time comes you’ll learn’. Or ‘Don’t worry about it, you’ll learn when you have to’. My menu consisted of eggs in 5 or 6 ways, pasta in 105 or 106 ways and three kinds of soup, two of which were from the packet.

Working in Afghanistan where we had cooks preparing delicious food for us didn’t do me any favours either. Until 2011 when my daughter was born. A few months later the time for me to learn how to cook had come.

Mum was there to help as she did and I started going to a local green market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. I started finding my own favourite local producers, buying meat from the butcher’s, fresh herbs and preparing food for our little girl and for us.

 

What's All This Cooking Stuff!?! How I became a passionate family chef, Biljana Hutchinson #cooking #chef #food #interest

 

I already read a lot about food and knew a little bit about healthy eating, dos and don ts of nutritionism, so this was a chance to apply my knowledge and expand it. And so I did. I read more about healthy eating, I talked to friends that knew about it more than me, I learned and learned and applied as much as I could to our everyday meal rituals creating new and improving our existing eating habits.

I started cooking, baking, brazing, grilling, kneading, you name it. There was a lot of burning of both me and the food at the beginning. But, I did it every day, trying something new, finding recipes and following them to the letter. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

While exploring cooking, I found that it helped tremendously with my healing too. It had pretty much the same effect on me as my therapy – my mind had a new focus in which I could fully engage not only because I was learning new things but because I could be creative in a brand new way.

Two years ago we moved back to the UK, and it was then that cooking indeed became my new passion in a sense that I started exploring, creating and combining ingredients outside of the recipes I had. I gained enough confidence to test combinations and my knowledge, and I am so happy and proud of myself that it’s working! Wooooohooooo!

So here I am – sharing my own recipes! How cool is that! If somebody had told me only two years ago that I’d be doing this, I would have laughed out loud to their silliness and throw them out for daring to ridicule me in my own house in front of my own kids secretly wanting them to be right after slamming the door behind them…

Cooking makes me happy and is one of the things that gives me a feeling of achievement at the end of the day. There will be plenty more food to prepare and enjoy and many more recipes to share