Self Care is important

Self Care is important

“Self care” always seems a very millennial term to me. My mum often ends phone calls telling me to “look after yourself” and I think for me this isn’t about living extravagantly or being greedy with food or possessions. It’s more being kind to yourself, taking care of yourself even when things feel bleak and not going to extremes to make yourself feel better.

Caring for oneself might not be flashy, it might not give you the best social media following or Instagrammable moments 24/7 but it can keep you going when things get tough or when you’re feeling burnt out.

Here are some things that always help me when life starts getting on top of me (for whatever reason):

1. Have a bath. If you’re like me and your wonderful family and friends buy you a lot of bath stuff for Christmas or birthdays keep a stash to feel like a treat. There’s nothing like using something lovely smelling to lift your mood.

2. Soul food. There’s nothing like cooking the sort of thing you used to be fed when you were growing up to make you feel a bit better. If you’re really struggling with life even a bowl of kids cereal is fortified with vitamins and minerals and soup is cheap and filling (souper).

3. Take one thing off your list. In my job I write lists to help me to remember what I have to do and I encourage the people of my team to keep lists. I advise you, if you’re feeling truly overwhelmed with everything you expect to get done be realistic. Are you really going to have time for everything? You don’t have to be superwoman. Take something of your list to ease the pressure if it’s not an urgent task.

4. Sort out your socks. This is a silly one but tidying and cleaning helps you feel in control (this from a messy person!) and I realized just this weekend but actually wearing matching socks helps with the overall feeling of taking some pride in your appearance.

5. Spend time with loved ones. When life gets hard it is so easy to withdraw but I promise you company will help. Even if you’re sitting drinking tea at your friends house or playing games with your siblings. Don’t doubt the magic of spending time with people where you can just be yourself.

6. Get outside. See some nature. Get some fresh air. Blow those cobwebs away. Simple.

7. If you have a pet there is literally nothing nicer than them coming up to you and nuzzling you. I know not everyone is an animal person but if you are you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

Be kind to yourself ladies and gentlemen.

A change of scene

A change of scene

You may have noticed a period of quiet, perhaps some tumbleweed blowing through my little slice of the internet. Its been far from intentional, I still enjoy cooking and finding new spots of food, but I find lately my quest for a full stomach is not as all consuming. When I first started this blog, I was almost a different person. Almost a shadow of who I am now, having just moved to a new place, starting to make friends and not really wanting to admit that my university relationship was nearly over. Not as confident to pursue hobbies and ambitions and to be honest not really knowing what I wanted.

Anyway, time heals many things and having some stability at home (thanks boyfriend! thanks parents!) and more disposable income (thank you work!) made it easier to pursue more interests. But I found I was posting less on here and I don’t want to neglect what was perhaps my first adult passion. Blogging and writing in general. I do still love writing about food, writing new recipes and taking restaurant recommendations. In some ways I actually prefer writing about food now; I feel like I found my rhythm as a writer, quick and (usually) healthy recipes for people pushed for time, with the occasional longer recipe to enjoy over a weekend. Crowd pleasing recipes when you have larger groups to entertain. Stuff I as a woman approaching 30 would want to read myself.

However, life is so much more than food. I want to wax lyrical about the books I read, about the raw elegance of music on vinyl, why you should consider taking part in a Park Run, fashion preferences. Life through the eyes of a food lover, rather than a life led entirely by food.

D and I have discussed remastering some of the older favourites and starting some sort of youtube channel based on this blog. Simple recipes to appeal to cooks of all abilities. So the food writing and learning how to cook with more skill and precision won’t really be going anywhere, I just want this venture to keep growing and developing the same way I have over the years.

Plus, you know, food always did taste better when life was lived enough to work up an appetite.

10 things

10 things

So you may have noticed I have been a bit quieter than usual. There were several factors leading to this (I changed jobs, D and I went to Italy and we were both in shows in the space of about 5 weeks). More on all of the above later. Anyway, I have a lot of posts planned for the next couple of weeks and for some rather wonderful reason I have a lot of reviews lined up which excites me quite a lot (including afternoon teas and a low sugar chocolate spread). In the meantime I decided to just sit down and write. Writing is what I love and when the proportion of food posts to more general posts dropped, it was the writing I kept enjoying.

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So onto my list which is based around some of my random pondering.

  1. If you’re going to a party and you don’t know anyone much beyond the host its always a good idea to take snacks. If you like baking or its a birthday you might want to make cupcakes or a birthday cake but generally you can’t go wrong with fancy crisps. There will always be someone who will be excited to see some Kettle Chips. (I am reliably that person).
  2. Life is so much better when you get past the point in your life when you envy people’s life events and feel genuinely happy for them. There is literally nothing nicer than sitting around with your old friends and having that lovely squishy feeling of contentment knowing people have achieved goals they set themselves, found their life partners or are expecting children. Jealousy weights you down and gets in the way of friendship, supporting your buddies just increases your happiness.
  3. In the same vein let the important people in your life know you care. Its always nice to feel appreciated.
  4. You never know what you can achieve until you put your mind to it. It takes guts, it takes practise but sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone is the best thing.
  5. Sometimes its good to take recommendations from friends and family on things. Tried and tested can be better than taking a risk (especially if its for something like a plumber or a roofer).
  6. If you’re regularly earning try to put a bit into savings each month, even if you’re not saving for anything in particular. When an opportunity does come along that you want to take it’ll mean you can just go for it without worrying so much about your finances.
  7. You know you’ve got a good one when you they tell you they’re proud of you when you achieve something you’ve been working towards.
  8. I’m just going to put this out there….I’m not sure I 100% understand all these people on my Instagram feed on holiday who are posing on inflatable things like doughnuts and flamingos. Where did they all come from?? How are they managing to pose so well on them? y brother and I had a blow up crocodile when we were 8 and 10 and we couldn’t stay on it for more than 3 minutes without falling  off and we were a lot smaller back then.
  9. Don’t feel bad for occasionally taking time out for yourself. Just to stop and relax and enjoy your own company. Down time is important.
  10. Even if you don’t manage a long holiday or to visit any exotic locations, try new things this summer.

Be happy my friends.

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An ode to moving to a new place

An ode to moving to a new place

I felt like given that it is around the time when a lot of my younger audiences are contemplating moving to a new university town and some of you might be in that horrible place between graduating and finding a job. Whether you find yourself moving to a town 10 miles up the road, or to the other side of the globe, relocating somewhere new can be daunting, especially on your own.

I am naturally shy and even as a little girl I was never one for going to something on my own. Whether it was hiding behind my parents and especially my older brother or being scared to go to a new activity; I have to admit I was pretty bad when it came to meeting new people. The first few weeks of university I was horribly homesick for my friends and family and it took me weeks to get the courage to actually get to know people. (I feel compelled to mention that the people I know from university were on the whole, wonderful, I was just scared to come out of my shell.)

However, this couldn’t continue and upon graduating from my MSc the recession actually, possibly helped. I mean, finding a decent job in my industry was pretty stressful and my confidence was pretty low because of this but in terms of lifelong confidence it helped. Between September 2010 and February 2012 I had 5 different temporary jobs in a variety of shops, offices and a research post. I also volunteered for my local hospice doing a phone based job. It was tough but the combination of having 5 different first days in a new working environment, meeting a lot of new colleagues and encountering customers forced me to talk to so many new people. Talking to people on the phone about a charity I felt strongly about stopped me being so afraid of asking for things. Then the last interview I went to in a scientific role before I gave up forever came up and I got the job and it was too far away to stay living with my (lovely) parents.

So I ended up moving to Harrogate, while its not massive I knew approximately 3 people, my Uncle, Aunt and my then 16 year old cousin. So in some ways I had a little support system already in place who fed me Sunday dinners and helped me out a lot when I didn’t know anyone else. It was still scary though the prospect of making friends. Luckily my friend ED and I started the same job in the same department on the same day and even today we are close friends. Then DC and Miss S started working and we formed a little friendship group which gradually got slightly bigger as we all got to know more people.

(This post has snowballed into a life story but bear with me). Times did get hard and it wasn’t all rosy. I spent a lot of time watching tv in my room feeling pretty lonely. I had housemates who were untidy, ones who had scary boyfriends and finally 2 girls who were plain lovely and I was very sad to leave. A long term relationship crumbled but while it was the most painful few months of my life I think it actually benefited us both in the longer term. Holding onto something that isn’t working any more, even when you still care deeply about somebody is emotionally draining, exhausting and everyone ends up hurt. The best advice I should have taken long ago from my parents was not to live in 2 places at once.

Pretty often I find myself now in situations where I think, “how did I end up having fun with you here? 2 years ago I didn’t even know you exist.” Its pretty amazing to think that if I hadn’t moved I wouldn’t have started blogging ergo wouldn’t have bonded with D over writing, I would never have had our pets or met all the people I did through D. I would never have had the opportunity to see so many bands, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start doing theatre stuff again after so many years and I certainly wouldn’t have hugged as many famous musicians.

I suppose what I’m trying to get across is that sometimes the most wonderful parts of life come from the scariest feelings of the unknown. I was lonely that first night in my first house here, I was so terrified of going on a date with D that I required a pep talk from my housemate and my poor parents got multiple tearful phone calls about people using my toothpaste, ex boyfriends and finding the initial stages of adult life difficult.

I think the best advice I can give to anybody who finds themselves in a similar position to me is to start saying yes to people. In the earliest stages of friendship go along to everything you get invited to, keep in touch with old friends, be the event planner of your friendship group from time to time. Please don’t let nerves be the reason you don’t join in with a new activity. I wholeheartedly speak from experience when I say somebody will make an effort to make you feel welcome.

Although I miss my family and friends from home a lot at times relationships with people who really matter won’t change if you take a new opportunity. If you do move for work university I think throwing yourself into somewhere new, even if you feel sick with fear makes your life so much more than just a job, or a course.

Confidence

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As I write this post I have the first line of Parklife going round my head. I’ve just eating a bowl of ice cream and I’m curled up on the sofa with a hot water bottle with cramps. Such is life.

I’m not one of those people who gets inundated with people asking how I get so confident; but I’m also not one of those people who is worried about talking to new people or obsesses and over thinks everything either. However, a few things this week have reminded me of how far I’ve coming in terms of feeling confident and self assured so I was hoping people could relate.

In addition, I think when you are close to rock bottom in terms of confidence one of the worst things you can be told is that “nobody will love you until you learn to love yourself.” The less said about the person that told me that one the better. Anyway; before I start my actual list I will say this is completely not true. You are worthy of love in your darkest hour. You might look in the mirror and see a monster that you aren’t, or be racked with self loathing and you will still be loved. You’ll still be wonderful, worthy of adoration and interesting to talk to. It just might take you a bit of time to like yourself and that’s ok too. Be kinder to yourself and it’ll creep in.

Anyway, here are some things that helped me with confidence in all aspects of my life:

  1. Break out of your comfort zone. Start small, go along with friends to an activity you’d think twice about, talk to someone new at a party (try not to get distracted talking to the host’s cats or dogs like I often do). But keep chipping away at it, keep the momentum of trying new things. The first time I met D in the flesh I was shaking with nerves when I was waiting for him and I often have to force myself to talk in situations where I feel uncomfortable; however in pretty much every scenario where I’ve been dreading something I feel amazing afterwards.
  2. Get moving. Find exercise you like, try new things. One of the most fun Saturday nights I have had recently was going to a trampoline park with my friend and jumping for a good 60 minutes. Anything that puts you moving and puts your heart rate up will give you a nice dose of endorphins.
  3. Give yourself some downtime. Light a few candles, bake, put on comfy clothes or watch films with your significant other (sounds so adult), with friends or on your lonesome. Anything that gives your mind a chance to relax. As I have mentioned before I am a particular fan of sofa nests.
  4. Give other people genuine compliments. This puts me in such a happy mood making people smile and it made me realise when people were saying nice things to me, they genuinely meant it. Just maybe don’t give the same people compliments every hour of every day or you’ll look like a creep (hahaha).
  5. Fake it until you make it. This one actually comes partially from my mother (Happy Mothers Day). Dress in clothes that make you happy and things that suit you, do your hair and make-up how you like, make yourself walk taller and smile. I can’t remember when I stopped doing it because it felt like the most sensible thing and it just became my life.

Obviously if you have major issues with self confidence and self esteem it is always worth talking to somebody about it and taking steps to seeking help. Nobody should have to suffer alone. But hopefully this will help somebody who is having a bad day and my experience might help someone else.

If you’re lucky and I remember I will write a sister post to this one (because I am in fact my brother’s favourite sister) in a few days about body confidence and how I found mine a bit more in my mid 20s. Thank goodness for instagram filters and boyfriends with decent fashion sense.

Anyway, in all seriousness I hope this post has cheered somebody up. I feel I have come a long way since I was the girl with shattered confidence in 2013 and I cannot thank certain people enough for giving me pep talks and encouraging me to like myself again.

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Here’s to a happy, healthy January

Here’s to a happy, healthy January

I think the first few days back to work after Christmas can be more than a little tiring. After time over Christmas basically sleeping, eating biscuits in front of the television and a nice amount of wine getting out of bed has been something of a struggle every morning this week. While I don’t exactly make New Years resolutions (it’s all too tempting to break them) I tend to have yearly goals. However, the main thing I try to do in January is just to be kind to myself. Well, that, and trying not to eat too many biscuits.

So anyway; instead of promising myself I will take things up, go on diets or give up sweet things here are a list of things I think will make January (and the rest of the year) bearable.

  1. Instead of dieting by cutting back on things instead try to eat more healthy meals. Try new healthy recipes, make turkey burgers, stuff a courgette. The world is your multicoloured oyster. I got sent some delicious cold pressed juice in December (its called B fresh) and now I’m a total convert. Who urges you to try this. Anyway, your skin will look better, your blood sugar will spike less and I honestly believe by enjoying healthy living you actually enjoy your food more. If you take away feelings of obligation and guilt and just enjoy your meals, enjoying the odd treat as well your mindset and your relationship with food will improve and you’ll find yourself making healthier food choices more often.

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2. Wear your slippers as much as possible. One colder days I actually wear slipper socks under my boots. Try it. Its deliciously warm and comfortable.

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3. Get outside. I know its cold and rainy yadda yadda yadda, but hear me out. I adore colder crisp days. The light its beautiful and nothing puts me in a better mood than fresh air. Who can blame me with views like this?

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4. Up your breakfast game. When D and I are both off work we tend to have brunch rather than breakfast. Ours over Christmas were particularly decadent (and delicious). However I started making fruity porridge and chia pudding and I have since remembered how delicious healthier alternatives are. So I definitely think a decent breakfast is the key to starting as you mean to go on.

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5. Have a good clearout and do the cleaning you keep putting off. Over the last few weeks D and i have been slowly reorganising our house and sorting our conservatory into a home gym. Its a work in progress but I think its already looking promising. Nothing can describe how happy it made me when our conservatory walls were scrubbed of mildew and sparkling again. To illustrate this point here is a picture of our rabbits who were banished from their usual haunt of the conservatory while we cleaned.

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Don’t they look unimpressed? They also had a fun trip to the vets and were thoroughly spoiled on their return.

I wish you all a Happy New Year.

7 signs you suck at social media

I love blogging, when I miss a few days, or weeks I always have a niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I want to write and I miss having writing s a creative outlet – I often find myself bursting into song and dance routines or doodling in my diary during meetings (sorry work!) when I have to be serious for too long. However, I am so aware that I write and take photos about things that make me happy and good times with my friends rather than producing super polished work. Sometimes I think if i had more time I would make my blog more magazine style and take photos of myself where I look dreamy, but then I sit back and think, I work full time, I try to exercise, I’m in a show and I have a happy relationship, a nice home, great friends and a lovely family. So I can’t pretend I sit and worry and compare myself to others social media too much; yes it makes me smile and I enjoy reading others blogs and seeing beautiful instagram stuff x, y, z; but its not something that keeps me awake at night. So this is me basically poking fun at myself for not being as hip and happening and some of the blogosphere (I kind of hate that word).

I suppose what I really want to get across through this is to other people thinking of blogging, or who post photos of instagram that don’t immediately get flooded with likes, don’t worry! You’re still cool, you’re still edgy and fun. Don’t get bogged down by all the wonderful things people seem to be doing on social media. Happiness is way more about what is going on right now than anything else! Whilst I love social media and sharing my life and photos I do think it can be damaging, especially around certain events (summer, Christmas, etc) as it only shows the best sides of life.

  1. You frequently forget to post flat lays. When you do it looks like something you dropped on the floor rather than something carefully placed.
  2. When you post a photo of yourself and your significant other nobody comments saying “relationship goals”. You consider it a success if you manage to fit both of you into a picture where you look vaguely normal.
  3. 98% of your facebook photos you’re either drunk, windswept or have potato face. But they make you strangely happy looking back on a nice event.
  4. Your instagram feed is filled with pictures of your pets and nice cakes you have eaten, coupled with the odd blurry photo of a gig you went to. You bet I’m cool.
  5. You forget to tweet for weeks at a time. You rarely use hashtags and don’t understand what 50% of emojis mean.
  6. You’re not 100% what the terms “bae”, “instagram famous” or “on fleek” really mean.
  7. You get really, amazingly happy whenever somebody follows your blog, comments on an instagram photo or likes or comments on a blog post. I adore it when people do this (thank you if you have).

    Thank you and goodnight.