Sunday, 6 January 2019

Epiphany

Today is Epiphany,  which unfortunately means it's officially the last day of the Christmas holidays. It's also the last day of my school holidays so I am back to work tomorrow morning and so I've decided to finish the holiday with a little treat.


In my family we wait until Epiphany to take our decorations down which is an old English tradition but something I didn't know was tradition on this day is something called an Epiphany tart. In the victorian era especially, people would bake an Epiphany tart to celebrate the coming of the wise men to visit Jesus and the end of Christmastime. An Epiphany tart is basically a fancy jam tart with a star of David in the middle separating the tart into 16 different triangles that house different flavoured jams in them. This represents the star followed by the wise men to Bethlehem where they found the baby Jesus.


As a practising Christian myself I thought it would be a fun way to finish off the season to have a go at baking one myself. As I'm a bit of a busy bee at the moment I decided to go the super easy route and use pre-made short crust and jam but if you wanted to be more traditional you could of course make the pastry and jam yourself.


It was harder then it looked and we made a rather blobby star of David but I quite like the homemade look and feel to it. Looking forward to tucking into this later today. Oh and if you were wondering, it was totally vegan!



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Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Veganuary



This January my husband and I have decided to try Veganuary (we are starting a day late as we had to fly back from Scotland on the 1st and decided it would be too complicated to start whilst travelling). This month we will be focusing on eating a wholefoods plant based diet and I am really excited to see what kind of difference it could make. There are a few reasons we are doing this and I thought I'd share them with you all.

Sustainability:

Its no secret that one of the most polluting industries in the world is the animal agriculture industry. Whether it's from the gases the animals produce, the ridiculous amount of water it takes to make one beef burger or the rainforests being decimated to make way for livestock. The amount of animal products we eat in this country is phenomenal and it is killing our planet. We have slowly tried to cut down on the animal products we eat, eating vegan food almost five times a week, but I wanted to really push myself to try fully plant based. Not only will it help to reduce pollution but I am also hoping we can choose to buy a lot of our plant based food not in plastic packaging. A lot of meat ad dairy comes in plastic so by not eating these we have the option to be less wasteful. I'm not sure what this month will look like but I hope to push myself more to become more sustainable with my food habits.

Health:

I have mentioned a few times on here that I am suffering with chronic health problems. I have now been diagnosed with three chronic illnesses two of which are digestive disorders. I have tried cutting out a number of foods and am continually reading about nutrition and holistic approaches to health. I recently read How Not To Die by Dr Michael Greger and was amazed to learn about the unhealthy effects of animal products. I was also encouraged to see how a plant based diet has helped to improve and in some cases eradicate serious illnesses and medical conditions in many people. It's pushed me to try going vegan to see if I can improve my health by filling my body full of healthy plants.

The Animals:

I love animals and I have always struggled with the idea of eating them. I went vegetarian for a year whilst I was at University but found it hard to keep up due to peer pressure. This January is really a test for me to see if I can live a healthy, fulfilling, sustainable life eating plants and not animals. I think just going for this the whole way is the best way for me to see if I can do this as a lifestyle and be able to live without hurting other creatures. The animal agriculture industry is full of the most horrendous treatment most of which I can barely watch. I feel like if I can't watch it maybe I shouldn't be eating it.

Are you doing Veganuary? If you are or are a vegan already please do give me some tips and tricks in the comments and share your thoughts on this. 
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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

2019 Goals



I know a lot of people aren't a fan of New Years resolutions but I absolutely love a chance to set myself new goals. You'll find me at the beginning of most weeks or months planning out what I'd like to achieve during that time and I find it really helpful. It keeps my buzzing brain more focused and I can clearly map out what I want to do.

I think it's important when setting goals to focus on achievable and to make it more of a plan. It can be hard setting yourself ridiculously high goals that you can never achieve and constantly being faced with the feeling of failure. Having said that I do think New Year is a great time to dream, to think about what you would love your life to look like and to really set yourself up for success.

2018 was the best years of my life and I am so excited for 2019 and all it will bring. As I said I love to keep myself focused, to plan but also to dream a little. So here are my goals for 2019, I hope they will inspire you as well to create the kind of life you want to live in 2019.

1. Launch my magazine - Fully Known will be launching online on the 8th March 2019 and I am so excited!

2. Improve this space and keep campaigning for sustainable and ethical fashion and living.

3. Learn to do a handstand - My yoga has improved so much this year I wanted to test myself a little in 2019 and push my body more.

4. Keep exercising 3-5 times a week.

5. Try Veganuary (post on this coming soon!)

6. Start planting my own fruits, veggies and herbs.

7. Take a holiday just me and my husband - we went away a lot with our family in 2018 which was lovely but I want to try and prioritise some holidays just for us.

8. Read 52 books - I set a goal of 50 in 2018 and managed 53 so decided to set this goal again. Reading so much has been such a great goal this year and I'm looking forward to all I'll learn in 2019.

9. Knit Russell a cardigan - I have been improving and learning so much more with my knitting this year and so I think it's finally time to try and make my husband the cardigan he's always asking for.

10. Keep focusing on improving health and finding holistic ways to heal my chronic illnesses - food and exercise is my remedy of choice and I want 2019 to be the year of eating wholefoods and lots of plantbased meals.

11. Move to a bigger home - my husband and I have been renting a tiny one bed flat here in Oxford and we are finally in the position to rent something a bit bigger and more expensive. We are hoping to move to a two or three bed property in one of the local villages, preferably with a garden with lots of space for growing things and a country walks just down the road.

12. Start fostering - This is quite a big one, something I've not really shared about much on here. It's still in the beginning phase but my husband and I are starting the journey to become foster parents. I am hoping 2019 will be the year we get to take care of our first foster child.

I would love to hear your goals down in the comments and I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve Tonight
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Friday, 28 December 2018

My 2018


I can't believe one more year has already gone! And what a year it has been. I think I can say without a doubt that 2018 has been my best year yet. I struggled a lot in 2017 and I think it was probably the worst year I've ever had which only made me more determined that 2018 would be different. I've been given some great opportunities this year which has made a huge difference but I do believe that a lot of it comes down mindset and hard work. I worked very hard not just this year but also in the last few years and I've been so happy to see it finally starting to pay off.


The year started out with me leaving my mind numbing job in retail and focusing full time on my Creative Writing Diploma at Oxford University. I was very fortunate to be in the position financially to do this and I know not everyone will be able to do the same so I definitely didn't want to take it for granted. I worked extremely hard on all my assignments and was amazed to see my grades jump almost 10% from the year before. I couldn't have been more pleased when this summer I was given 68% in my final year project and a 2:1 overall grade for my diploma.


Shortly after finishing university I finally managed to get a job in a school library. School librarian positions are quite competitive here in Oxford and I had been applying for almost two years, often getting an interview but not the position due to less experience than other candidates. If you didn't know already I am a huge book lover and dreamed of being able to share that love of reading with others. I also wanted a job I could really pour myself into whilst having school holidays off to work on my writing. In June I began my position as school library assistant at an all girls school in Oxfordshire. It is such a dream job and I really love my work. I teach creative writing club, create inspiring displays to encourage reading and get to help girls pick books that will help to inspire and inform their thoughts as they grow. I also have 17 weeks off a year to work on my writing projects which is totally invaluable.


2018 was also the year that my dream of creating a Christian women's magazine really started to come to fruition. This has been a dream of mine for over four years with the concept developing and changing as I grew. I am so pleased with what we have created this year and I can't wait to show you all on March 8th 2019 when we launch. You can follow our progress over on instagram.


I feel like this year has also been a great year for my blog as I focused more on sustainable and ethical fashion and living rather than general lifestyle. It has lead to some really exciting opportunities including a chance to speak at an ethical shopping event run by Anti-Slavery Initiative Oxford and share my passion for changing the world one purchase at a time.


Writing wise I have started writing my first non-fiction book and I am currently 25,000 words. I have also published many articles on sustainability with We Are Tearfund in 2018 and have loved getting to work with them more. It has also pushed me to try new ways to be sustainable including creating a zero-waste beauty regime, buying nearly every item of clothing from a sustainable and ethical source, supporting the Fairtrade initiatives more and trying to buy local whenever it's possible.


I have also spent 2018 being the proudest wife ever watching my husband go from strength to strength in his new job. I am amazed by all he has achieved and without going too soppy this year has been the most beautiful year of marriage. I feel like we've really clicked into rhythm and it feels very much like the best kind of partnership.


Of course there has been bad as well as good in 2018. I have now been diagnosed with three chronic illnesses and regularly struggle with pain, insomnia and exhaustion. It's been tough but I pushed myself to keep going and am so proud of all I've achieved despite these difficulties. Being chronically ill encouraged me to change my diet and begin to exercise regularly. I now do a workout 3-5 times a week, I regularly practise yoga and I am starting to eat a mostly whole foods plant based diet. I still have a long way to go until I get to where I would like to be health and fitness wise but I am pleased with my progress and the habits I've managed to make this year.


Overall this really has been a cracker of a year. I can't believe how far I've come in just 12 months. I am so proud of myself and grateful to all the people who got me here. I'm especially grateful to my amazing husband for all his support, I really couldn't do this without him. I can't wait to see what 2019 has in store!
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