Friday, 15 February 2019

A Big Wild Thought




Doesn't Christmas feel like so long ago already? I'm already seeing signs of Spring in the air and it seems like 2019 is shooting past as quickly as 2018. It seems a bit strange to go back to Christmas but I really wanted to share one of my lovely presents with you guys. I was so lucky and was given a whole host of beautiful gifts from family the majority of which were ethical and sustainable which made me super happy. But one of my favourite gifts was this jumper from my husband. 


I'd wanted a cosy, comfy and casual jumper to wear for Sunday walks and writing days for a while now and this fits the bill perfectly. But not only is it super cute with it's little embroidered bee on the front it also helps to raise money for bee conservation. Big Wild Thought make a range of jumpers and t-shirts each with little embroidered wildlife on that then give 10% of the proceeds to conservation of that particular wildlife. t's such a great idea and I totally love the products. 


And it's not just jumpers they do, we also bought my sister in law a t-shirt from Big Wild Thought with an embroidered orca whale which raises money for whale and dolphin conservation and it looked so cute. They also do wash bags and rucksacks too! If you're looking for an interesting, trendy gift that makes a difference by helping wildlife I really suggest you check out Big Wild Thought's products.

Jumper - Big Wild Thought | Jeans - Old | Hat - Old | Wellies - Hunters 

Hope you're all having a great February so far! 

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Saturday, 9 February 2019

Experiencing Valentine's Day


Some people love it and some people cannot stand it but the day of love is fast approaching and I would like to encourage you to experience it in a totally different way.

Personally I quite like valentine's day. A lot of people will argue its a commercialised holiday that just forces you to spend more money and that you don't need a specific day to tell the person you love how much they mean to you. I agree you don't need a specific day to tell the person you love how much you love them and I agree it is commercialised but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy it.

The commercialised nature of valentine's day is something I really do not like and I think it is a shame that all our holidays and celebrations have been turned into days of over consumption. As you will know if you've been reading my blog for a while, I always strive to live seasonally and I enjoy celebrating each season and celebration as it comes but in a more traditional way. I like to encourage more time spent together as friends and family creating beautiful homemade decorations from things lying about the house or in nature. I love to cook and bake seasonally choosing to celebrate with a feast of smells and tastes and sights that are reminiscent of that particular time. For me it is much more about the experience of it all. I like to collect memories not things.

And so it is with valentine's day. This year I want to encourage you not to give in to overconsumption but to instead choose to celebrate differently. Here are just a few ideas of how you can experience valentine's day.


1. Ladies Night

All throughout my teenage years I would organise the Ladies Night on or around valentine's day. This would be a chance to invite all my girlfriends to a meal. Sometimes we would have it at my house and sometimes we would go out for dinner. It was a chance to celebrate the love we had for one another and to enjoy our friendship. It was a truly wonderful occasion and I have so many memories such as singing at the top of voice on Sing Star whilst eating take away or sharing hot dough balls dipped in Nutella at Pizza Express whilst laughing til tears ran down our faces. Valentine's day isn't just about romantic love, it can be a great time to celebrate your friendships too.

2. The Couples Dinner

Valentine's doesn't always have to be a dual affair it can also be a great time to catch up with friends. Try organising a dinner party where each couple brings a different course. One couple can bring salads, the other starter, the other pudding and so on. Or if there are going to be quite a few couples you could have a potluck. That way no one is under pressure to cook the whole dinner and it makes it a much more fun and relaxed affair. Spice up the evening with some home made cocktails or play a few couples games where each couple has to guess their partners answer. It could be as relaxed or as formal as you like. A great chance to catch up with friends and celebrate being in love.

3. Homemade

My first few valentine's with my husband we had very little money but I still wanted to show him just how much he meant to me and so I would make something. One year I made him a box of heart shaped chocolate cakes (which disappeared very quickly!) but it could really be anything. Some ideas in the past have been fudge, jam, home made relish. If food isn't your thing maybe you could knit or crotchet a hat or scarf or mittens. Pinterest has a flurry of great home made gift ideas so make sure to go and check them out for inspiration.


4. Acts of Service

Another great way to show your partner or friend just how much you love them this valentine's day is through acts of service. Maybe you could do their washing, cook a few meals, clean the house or hope them with their errands list. A few times I've come home expecting to share the cleaning and chores with my husband only to find them all done whilst I was out. It completely changes my mood and makes me feel so lucky to have some one do those things for me.

5. Date Night

And finally the traditional valentine's celebration, a date night. For a lot of people valentine's day can be a nice change from being at home cooking dinner and cleaning and watching TV. It's a chance to go out and do something together just the two of you for a change and that can be really important and special.

If like me however, you and your husband have regular date nights then you could use valentine's to do something a little bit special and it doesn't have to cost the earth. Think lying out under the stars (take a duvet though, it'll be cold!) or maybe you could watch the sunset together. One of you could cook a fantastic meal or you could both cook a dinner together to enjoy. One of my favourite thing's my husband does is what we call Russell's spa where he will play spa music, light candles and place them all around the bedroom and then give me a lovely massage with some our favourite lavender oil.

If you fancy splashing out a bit maybe you could go away for the weekend together or try that amazing restaurant you've heard about so many times. You could take a horse ride together or go for a kayak. Valentine's is a time to think outside the box, to move away from things and instead to look towards experiencing something together.

Of course you can also have a great date night with a best friend. Maybe treat you best buddy to a wonderful day out just to show them how much you love and cherish their friendship.


So there are a few ideas of how to experience valentine's day differently this year. For me it really is about making memories. They will always last so much longer than the shiny excitement of a new present. Valentine's doesn't have to be expensive or over the top, it's just a chance to show the person you love the most, whoever that might be, just how much you do really love them. I hope you all have a wonderful day next week.





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Friday, 1 February 2019

Life Lately: An Honest Update



So you might have noticed it's been a little quiet on here and especially on my instagram. Although I've shared a bit on my instagram stories and quite a lot on my other instagram account I haven't really talked much about what is happening here on my blog.

The truth is I am not actually very well. For the past few years I've been struggling with multiple chronic illnesses that have just got worse and worse.

After my wedding where I was so unwell with food poisoning that I almost ended up in hospital the night before the big day I was left with a series of digestive issues. We still haven't quite got to the bottom of them but it's been diagnosed as viral IBS and I am having some luck treating it with diet and lifestyle.

On top of that I have also had a constant sore throat and ear ache for over two years which at first was thought to be caused by acid reflux from all the digestive issues but after an endoscopy the gastroenterologists aren't sure that is the cause so I have been referred to ENT. The sore throat has been pretty hard to deal with as it has stripped me of my ability to sing. For those of you who don't know I used to sing professionally and had just started my own business going into care homes and performing for elderly people with Alzheimer's disease when the sore throat started. I've not only had to give up doing something I loved that helped make a real difference to the lives of elderly people but I've now completely lost the ability to sing at all. As some one who has been a singer and a performer her whole life this has been pretty heartbreaking to say the least. 

I have also been suffering with knee pain for the last four and a half years which has become steadily worse and worse. I first noticed it when I had just moved to Oxford. I used to run three-four times a week and I suddenly found it was becoming painful to do so. I was told it was likely a condition called chondromalacia patella or runner's knee. This is very common in young people who are active and would take a little while to heal but if I rested I would get better.

After three years the pain suddenly became severe and at the end of 2017 I was in so much I couldn't walk or stand and had to quit my job. Luckily my parents offered to help fund me whilst I was studying at university so I was able to stay at home and rest lots. As the weather got warmer it improved and I finished my degree and took up a dream job as a school library assistant.

The pain was still there but it was manageable and I was seeing physios and doing daily exercises to help build up my strength and muscles. However, in late November the pain suddenly increased and I could barely stand let alone walk or drive to work. It was even more severe than the year before and I ended 2018 off work and only just able to hobble around.

That brings us to present day. I've been off work for weeks now and although the rest has dramatically improved my pain I still struggle to walk any distance, climb stairs or drive. I've had X-Rays, MRI scans, blood tests and I've seen so many doctors but no one knows whats wrong. I have now been referred to a rheumatologist who I will see next week and we are all hoping they will be able to at least give me a diagnosis even if there is no treatment.

January has been one of the hardest months of my life health-wise. I've been in so much pain and it's completely changed my life. It's so hard to suddenly be unable to walk or move, I have become disabled almost over night.

That being said I have been incredibly lucky with all the treatment I have received on the NHS. I am so grateful to live in a country where it is possible to have seen physio, podiatry, gastro, radiology, rheumatology and ENT within just over a year. We should never take for granted the wonderful gift we have in the NHS and I am so grateful to all the wonderful medical staff I've seen.

I've also had the most amazing support from my family, friends, church and especially my husband. I couldn't do any of this without him and the support has gotten me through these last few months with quite a good mindset considering the circumstances.

So what now? Well the problem is we really don't know. I am too ill to go back to work but I can't just stay at home forever. Financially it isn't viable in a place as expensive as Oxford but also I think I would probably go completely mad. We are looking into lots of options but our hope really lies on seeing the rheumatologist next week. For now I am trying as hard as I can to get as fit and healthy as possible. I try to exercise regularly and eat as well as I can. I feel that if I can get myself to the healthiest I can be with my weight, diet and fitness then that's the most I can do to help myself. The rest is up to the specialists.

I am documenting my journey over on my healthy life instagram if you'd like to see how things are going. This helps me on the days when things are bad to have a place to share my pain but it has also become a place to share the triumphs of battling chronic pain and illness and succeeding.

I am hopeful that February will bring more clarity and we can start to make a plan of action for the next few months. I hope you all have a good start to your month.

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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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