Friday, 29 January 2016

Healthy Living

For the last 21 years (my entire life) I have never really cared that much about my diet and what it does to my body. I love to cook and I love really good food so I never ate anything really bad for you on a regular basis and a lot of my cooking involved meat, carbs and vegetables - a nice balanced meal. I was never particularly interested in nutrition or eating in a way that would best serve my body. I had had problems with weight gain but if I put on too much weight I would just cut out all the junk exercise a bit more and a few months later I'd be back to normal and the whole process would start again.

However when the new year came a long last year and I had put on more than a few pounds (about two stone) I decided enough was enough. I was very unhappy with my weight and although I was never really fat my weight had yoyo'd all over the place during my life. I was constantly on and off diets, I would always be on to the next faddy diet like the military diet or a juice detox in the hope it would give me that "perfect" body. But none of these diets were sustainable and they often just made me feel a lot worse. I decided enough was enough, I wanted a sustainable diet that was healthy and made me feel amazing all the time. Whilst still at uni I began to look into nutrition a bit more. I became more aware of the importance of understanding exactly what you were putting into your body and how hard this can be on not only your internal system but also the world outside. Due to a particularly bad bout of depression is took me until the summer to really begin to turn my diet around but during that time I read books, blogs, articles I found on pinterest and I began to learn all about nutrition. Now I am in no way suggesting I am a nutrition expert or my diet is the perfect diet but the changes I have made to my lifestyle and my way of eating have made such a huge difference I really wanted to share them.

It began over the summer when I decided to cut out as much processed food as I possibly could which unfortunately included chocolate (insert weeping here) and instead focused my diet on wholesome, healthy, balanced meals. I stopped eating most things that came in packets and if it did come in a packet it could only have 5 or less ingredients and nothing strange that I couldn't pronounce or didn't understand. Processed food is one of the worst things we can eat as not only does it contribute so much waste and pollution to the environment the food itself is also packed full of preservatives and additives that can be harmful to our bodies. Eating unprocessed was amazing and really helped to get my body back to being healthy.

I started to do a lot more yoga as well and meditation to help my anxiety this pared with a healthy diet really made a huge difference to my body and my mental health. Over the summer I also began to read about plant based or vegan diets and the more I read the more it interested me and was something I wanted to try. However being at home with my family where we all sit and have dinner together it was too difficult for me to adopt an entirely plant based diet and so I ate plant based during the day and waited till I came back to uni to try it 100%.

I've been eating a plant based diet for 3 months now and I have to say it feels amazing. Not only am I losing weight and starting to get back down to my natural healthy size but my acne has cleared up on my face. As I said I love to cook and so I am really enjoying finding new and exciting ways to create my favourite meals like lasagne and burgers I am also enjoying how much cheaper my food shop has become since I stopped buying meat and filled my trolley with fruit and veg (you can buy almost twice as much).

I know this diet wouldn't suit everyone and I am by no means saying that this is the perfect diet and everyone must do this but it works well for me and I want to share my journey eating plant based and trying to get into a healthy lifestyle in case others are interested or in case it may help others who want to do the same things. I am planning on sharing recipes on here and what I eat in a day videos on my YouTube channel as well as talking about different exercise routines I am trying. I post food things on my instagram too so if you're interested check that out.

Hope you enjoy this new addition to my blog and I'd love to hear your thoughts, recipes and ideas so please do comment or tweet me.

Bye for now!
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Monday, 25 January 2016

Adventure Awaits.....

Now that I am working most of the time I find myself really treasuring time off, I make much more of an effort to get out and do things and have fun rather than spending all of my days off in bed watching netflix (although sometimes you just need that). I've also found myself being rather inventive when it comes to finding things to do for the day as I am trying to save as much as I can this year. Luckily both me and my fiancé got ourselves National Trust membership at the beginning of this year (Only £30 if you're under 25!) and with me now having a car we have endless places we can explore. Greys Court is only 45 minutes away from us in Oxford and so one cold day we decided to venture out and see what it was like.

As we started to drive away from Oxford the fields that surrounded the country roads we sped down slowly started to turn whiter and whiter and we soon realised the "rain" we were driving through was actually snow. When we arrived at Greys Court the whole place looked as though it had been delicately sprinkled with icing sugar with just a little bit of snow here and there. We decided not to look around the house this time as we really wanted to go for a walk and thought it would be better to explore the house on a day when we had more time to enjoy it. The grounds around the house are really lovely and there are quite a few different trails you can follow. 

I felt a bit like a modern day Lucy from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe wearing a 1940s style dress, a faux fur headband and wandering about the grounds of a large house. I felt even more like Lucy once we walked into a small snowy wood, it was a rather magical feeling, I love anything Narnia-esque! I am really looking forward to coming back to explore the house and I think the gardens will be so beautiful in the spring. Its great to know we have somewhere so pretty to go and visit so close by.    


What I Wore...
Dress - Old | Coat - Wallis | Headband - Market Stall | Wellies - Hunters 
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Friday, 22 January 2016

Why I Left University

"Not all those that wander are lost" - J. R. R. Tolkein 

Almost a year ago now I wrote this post about wanting to live a life that was mine, a life I enjoy and that I felt was what I wanted. At the time I had been wanting to leave university but I was still so heavily influenced by the world around me and I assumed everybody else had a better idea of what was best for me than I did. I think there is definitely a lot of wisdom in listening to others and being given advice from people with real life experience but there is only so much advice and help you can get before you need to just go it alone. 

I didn't really want to go to university but I went anyway, it made me very unhappy and I wanted to leave but because I didn't have a life plan I was made to feel like I had to stay so I moved to a different university and a different course. After the first few months the excitement of new friends, new church and new place began to ware off and all I was left with was university. It still wasn't right. But I just didn't know what to do. Everyone I knew was at university or had gone to university, it was the normal way of life - the thing that everybody did. A good platform to start from before you entered the big wide world of work and a wonderful time waster for those of us who really had no idea what they wanted to do. But it just didn't feel right to me, I felt trapped and alone and so so unhappy. I started to get ill, depression and anxiety took over and I sunk to the lowest I have ever been. It was an awful time but it made me realise this was just not right, forcing myself to go to university because everybody else thought I should had actually made me ill. It took almost a year of bad mental health to realise what the problem was. And so after much thought, prayer and talking to others I made the decision to leave university.

Its been a couple of months now since I decided to leave and I can honestly say I feel amazing. My mental health rocketed back up as I began to take control of my life and ask myself the question what do I want? I had allowed myself to be dictated to for so long that the thought of being able to spend time actually figuring out what I wanted filled me with joy. I decided to get a job so that I could support myself as it's a little bit hard to feel in control of your own life when you have to move back in with your parents and I have began to explore what makes me happy. 

Of course I am still not 100% sure what that is and to be honest I am not sure anybody does. There are obvious things like my fiancé, the outdoors, puppies and books but my job and possible purpose in life I don't have much of an idea. I know I love writing and I want to do that for as long as I can but that is about it. And that is okay! I have discovered that this is okay, even if the world makes us feel like we should know what our sole life purpose is right now and that our job should define us, it's okay not to know. People ask me what my plan is, where my life is going, what I am working towards and I've just started to shrug. I don't know and to be honest I don't care too much right now. I'm a wandering through life, taking all the opportunities I get and enjoying the moment right now. I want to write my books and hopefully get them published but that is about as far as it goes for the moment. 

Leaving university may seem like a crazy move and for a lot of people university is great but for me it just didn't work. It took me getting very ill to figure that out and although I think it is important to stick some things out to see how they go ultimately you have to listen to yourself and if it's not right it's not right. Working a part time job and writing a novel was definitely not what I thought I'd be doing right now but its working for me and I love it. Maybe in the future I'll go back to uni, maybe I'll find a full time job I love, maybe I'll travel the world who knows. For now I am just happy on focusing in on the present and on what life has to offer right now, because if you take time to look around I think you'll see life is pretty damn good. 
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Friday, 15 January 2016

My Year

For the past few weeks I've been pondering over the new year and, after making the life changing decision to leave university, what I want to achieve this year. For the first time in my life I feel free to do whatever I want and to decide which way my life will go, this is both an amazing and terrifying feeling. I began to get worried that the freedom would overwhelm me and I would try to do everything at once and instead of achieving anything I would just be stuck in limbo, pulled in so many directions that instead I remained still. It was around this time that I stumbled across this post by the lovely Ashley from The Shine Project (if you haven't heard about the shine project then definitely go read all about it, it's amazing, inspiring and so humbling) where she suggested having a word and a mantra that describes the 2016 you want to help you focus yourself. This was exactly what I needed and so I set about creating my own.

It didn't actually take very long at all, I found I knew exactly what I wanted my 2016 to be and within about five minutes I had it written down. So here it is, my mantra 2016:

Cultivate the type of life I want to lead

I decided on the word cultivate as I felt it encompassed exactly how I felt about what I wanted to do this year. The word cultivate means many things - to raise or grow something, to try to develop or acquire a certain skill and to try to improve or develop ones mind - all of which explain exactly what I want to do with my year. I have already begun to follow my dream of becoming a writer and living a creative life and I want this to permeate into every corner and aspect of my life. I know now that I am in charge of creating the type of life I want and therefore I have to be proactive, I have to go out and get it and achieve what I want. I need to cultivate the life that I want. 

I also have a word that helps to sum up exactly what this mantra and this year means to me and that is simply: create. This year I want to create my life be that through my job, my relationship, my home and my future. I am excited by the start I've already made, I know creative living is a hard thing to aspire to and I have been told by many that it is only for the brave but it is what I want and this year I intend to get it.    

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Monday, 11 January 2016

The Yellow Gorse and Crisp Leaves

I'm not sure when it started but I seem to have found a new love for enjoying every season when it comes. I always thought that Autumn was my favourite season but I am starting to find there is beauty in every season that I didn't stop to look at before. I love the bareness gothic look of winter branches reaching up to a grey sky, the small buds of spring peeking through the soil to say hello, the lush green expanse of grass in a meadow that later turns to brown under the sun and the bright golden colours of autumn that explode in front of your eyes each time you leave the house. Each new season marks a passing in time, it's own individual stage of growth in a yearly cycle and for me this feels true too. As the seasons change my life changes with them and new and exciting opportunities arise. At the moment I am revelling in a new year, in the new possibilities that this brings and the lost opportunities it allows me to say goodbye to. I made a promise to myself that I would take life slowly this year, that I would focus myself more to achieve specific things rather than trying to achieve all at once and I would take time out to enjoy the small things in life. 

For me a country walk with my fiancé (still weird calling him that) encompasses all those promises. It gives me time out to think and pause, to reflect on where I am going, to focus myself back on what I want to achieve in this moment and it allows me to dream with Russell, to reconnect with him and what our focus on life is together. It also gives me a chance to wonder at the beauty of nature and to be reminded of smallness in the midst of everything. I am really enjoying the winter this year, the bareness of it reminds me of a Bronte novel and fills me with inspiration every time I leave the house. The silver trees, the clouds that stretch across the sky like a dark streak of paint and the blue-black waves of the sea, I love it all and find I am never without my camera these days.     

This outfit I love. The dress is another Fatface sale buy and, as is usual when it comes to Fatface, one of the most comfortable dresses I have ever bought. It feels a little bit like an overgrown tshirt, soft and cosy, but it looks like a pretty floaty dress that I can go wandering around the woods and onto the beach wearing. I seem to buy all my clothes with one question in mind these days, "could I wear this wellies for walks?" and if the answer is no it better have a good reason to be. I spend a lot of my time now wandering around green spaces and to be honest I wouldn't want it any other way.   

What I Wore....
Dress - Fatface | Cardigan - Marks and Spencer | Wellies - Hunters
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Friday, 8 January 2016

What I Got For Christmas

I was so lucky to get some really beautiful and lovely presents this Christmas and I thought I'd like to do a little round up of a few of the things I was given.  

In this picture:
The Bronte Sisters Book - I absolutely love reading, the Bronte's and beautifully decorated books and so this was a definite favourite this year from my future parents in law. I can't wait to get stuck into this in the next few cold months. 

Jane Austen Writing Set - Another favourite of mine is Jane Austen and so this writing set with cards decorated with beautiful quotes from the woman herself is just perfect. I'm not sure I'll be able to send any away to people I think I will just keep them all for myself!

Lush Products - A big love of mine is lush and although not strictly a Christmas present I thought I'd include them in here. I was lucky enough to be given a bag full of Christmas lush bath products from my fiancé that he picked up in the sale for me as a surprise ( I am a lucky girl). I got 5 products in total including The Magic Of Christmas Wand, The Magic Wand Bubble Bar, a Butter Bear, a Cinder bath bomb and a Star Light Star Bright. 

Bobble Bunting - This bobble bunting is the best thing ever! Made by my amazing future sister in law it's going to be put up on my wall at uni and I shall clip post cards and pictures to the miniture pegs dotted in between the felt balls. 

Ginger Sheep Soap - This is just the cutest little sheep soap, it smells so good and it looks really sweet. I'm a sucker for an animal shaped soap (I also have a whole pig family made from soap at home)

In this picture:

The National Trust Recipe Book - As I said before I love to read, I also love to cook and so cookery books for me are the best as they combine the two! A lot of people think I am strange but I am one of those people that likes to read a cookery book like a normal book, especially the introduction so I am very excited for this one. I love the National Trust having membership myself but I've never bought a cookery book from them before so I can't wait to use it in the new year. 

The Natural Cook - As I have mentioned in previous posts I am very interested in nutrition and healthy eating especially as I have been on a mainly plantbased diet now for almost 4 months and so I was very excited to receive this book from my fiancé. There is also a big introduction in the front which is always my favourite bit as I love to learn more about nutrition and different diets. 

The Little Coaster - The coaster was a little present from my other sister in law and on it there is a lovely bible verse which will help me to remember how amazing God is throughout my days. 

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! Let me know in the comments what you got, I love to hear about everyone's presents. 

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Monday, 4 January 2016

The Slow Winter Days

I love this time of year. Everything seems to slow down as the last week of the year draws to a close and the first week of the new year begins. It could be that this has always been a time off for me, time off from school or work or university. My days are no longer filled with essays and textbook reading but instead I get to curl up in front of a fire with a book or roam the Scottish countryside in a pair of dungarees. I eat left over cake, I enjoy warm mugs of home made vegetable soup, I cuddle the dogs, I write and generally enjoy a slower pace of life - something I aspire to for my day to day living unfortunately it very rarely turns out that way. 

I've also had a chance to reflect on the last year and look forward to the new, something I enjoy doing each year and I have to say I am excited for this new season of my life. It is going to be very different and I don't doubt also very hard as much that is worthwhile in life often is. These slow and peaceful days I am still enjoying will be harder to catch once the year gets going and so I am holding onto them with both hands, desperate for them to stay around longer. I will have to make more effort this year to have these days and to live a slower pace of life but for now I can relish in them. 

These dungarees are perfect for these country days, so comfy and cosy and easy (and also very durable I found out after falling slam into the mud the first day I wore them). I picked them up along with the lacy top and a dress I'm sure will feature in a later post, at the Fatface sale. I am not a big one for sales but Hereford where my parents live isn't the busiest town and I had seen some great things in the sale online and so I decided to venture in and was glad I did. 
I am also wearing these beautiful little shell earrings I got as a present from my mum along with a matching necklace for Christmas. They are a very simple design which is perfect for me and remind me of my childhood by the sea. Having grown up by the sea I miss it a lot when I am in Oxford and can't wait to get back to rocky sandy shores with sea glass and shells just waiting to be discovered. Hopefully these earrings will help to remind me of my favourite place when I am away.   

Happy New Year everyone! 

What I Wore....
Dungarees - Fatface | Top - Fatface | Wellies - Hunters 

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Friday, 1 January 2016

My New Years Resolutions

I know this year there has been a real trend going around that people aren't making new years resolutions and whilst I fully support people not putting too much pressure on themselves to achieve I actually find setting goals quite a helpful tool for myself. Every year I like to set myself some achievable goals that I know I can do and some crazy out there dreams that help me to keep my sights on the stars. And so without further ado here are my new years resolutions for 2016:

Health and well being:
A goal I set myself last year was to become healthier and to take more care of myself both physically and mentally. This past year I've started to get really interested in nutrition and have learnt a lot about the foods we eat and what they do to our bodies, I have also started to exercise more, take time out to spend it in green open spaces and meditate more through yoga or prayer. This year I would like to continue learning more, I'd like to get fitter and stronger and lose some more weight. I have already lost a stone by changing my diet to plantbased and doing more exercise and I'd like to continue that to get back down to the weight I used to be when I was my most comfortable.

As a lot of you will know if you've been reading my blog, I am a writer and I love it! My main goal for this year is to finish my current novel which I am now a third of the way through and to get something published be that an article, a short story or a novel. I think its more likely to be the first two but I am going to try as hard as I can to become a published author this year, wish me luck!

I love this little space of the internet but over the past few months I have struggled to figure out what it should be. I found myself worrying about what I was doing and copying other successful bloggers who I liked instead of looking for my own unique voice. This year I would like to focus more on what I want this space to be like and what I want to share on here. I don't want to be a bad copy of something else I want it to be entirely me. I am hoping to explore my interests and learn more about photography, green living, cooking and fashion through trying out new things on here. I'd also love to meet more bloggers and do some collabs so please message me, I'd love to chat.

There are always a few random goals I set myself and this year is no different. I would like to read one inspiring book a month as well as making the time to read more. I would like to start to grow my own vegetables and I would like to make mine and Russell's Sunday walks a weekly thing for this year.

I hope you all had a lovely new year, what are your new years resolutions?


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