Tuesday, 30 July 2019

FOOD // Vegan Smorgasbord

Having had to get creative with a vegan meal recently, I wanted to share a great VEGAN starter!

I absolutely love plate sharing! I know it is a nightmare for most and to be honest can often lead to arguments, but a good platter to share.....yum yum!

For my Mum's birthday this year I gave her meal vouchers which entitles her to a meal at our house whenever she wants. The food is also themed so she can choose from all sorts of options; one being Vegan. She picked this first as she knew it would be the hardest for us. She lives a very plant based diet already even though she is not full vegan or vegetarian; she uses it for health benefits. For the meal, Rob was head chef {we had ratatouille} but I came up with a vegan Smorgasbord and as it was so pretty I thought I would share it on here!

The vegan lifestyle is not one I am interested in. I see the benefits and I understand people's choices, but making this Smorgasbord taught me one thing; I could never give up dairy. The phrase "Cheese, please Gromit?" {from Wallace & Gromit} was said a lot in the creation of this as I really discovered I can't think of alternatives that would fill the hole cheese would leave!
However now you don't have to develop any kind of specialist method to creating vegan alternatives as lots of supermarkets are now offering so much more.
In fairness, I didn't want to just replace like for like on my Smorgasbord; I wanted to create something that everyone could enjoy vegan or not.

The Shopping List For My Vegan Smorgasbord

Roasted whole Almonds
Sweet orange British Tomatoes
Sliced almonds
Balsamic vinegar
Raspberries {ours were home grown}
Organic local honey
Cream Cheese alternative {Waitrose have a home brand one}

The Recipe:

So for me it was about creating a colourful pallet. I think that is really important when you are making food look appetising. Use the rainbow as your basic plan!

Tomatoes, sliced almond and balsamic salad.
Halve your tomatoes, drench in balsamic, throw in a handful of sliced almonds, mix, done! The longer this sits the more the tomatoes become infused with the balsamic vinegar.

Nectarines with cream cheese, pecans and local honey.
This is a really nice snack with classic cream cheese but Waitrose have a Vegan alternative which I used instead.
Quarter your nectarines, smear some creamy goo, add a pecan, drizzle with honey!

Fresh figs with honey.
Figs are a beautiful fruit but drizzle them with a bit of honey and they taste NAUGHTY!!

Raspberries in balsamic vinegar.
To be honest this is a byproduct of putting raspberries on the board but a raspberry in balsamic is an awesome combination. You can dress before hand, but placed on top of the rocket with a drizzle over both is delicious!

Roast almonds and Olives.
When making a smorgasbord I find that you need fillers between the main events so that is when nuts and olives comes in. I personally love them so pile the up on the board and enjoy!

At this point I just want to say that when it comes to actually building a board, don't stress. I would work in blocks and use a bed of rocket to start you off. It is very much about using colour to show off each item so group them together one at a time and build from there.

The joys of a sharing platter

Creating food to share brings a wonderful element to cooking. When you are prepping for other people {in a relaxed way} I find it can be quite therapeutic, a nice experience, and very much feel creative whilst doing it. I know its not the same for the everyday dinner but this, I really enjoyed and found that I enjoyed eating it even more.


Monday, 29 July 2019

FASHION // Prairie Style

Sharing the joy of dressing like I'm from Little House On The Prairie


Drees // ASOS
Boots // GRENSON
Hat // Old

Here we are in the heart of the British summer time. Can you believe it?
In Lincolnshire we have wonderful reminders of the times of year around us. After a recent trip to my parent's house I was only too taken by the beautiful growing wheat fields around them that seemed to dance in the wind. I took the opportunity to equally join them in their dance and wander the farmer's fields.

If you are like me and have one eye on the fashion world you will have seen an abundance of romantic 'broderie anglaise' trimmings on almost everything. This classic type of needlework has an exceptional level of romance that comes with it. Usually you will find it adorning white dresses and it is especially popular on traditional children's clothes. Why? Because it actually declares a greater level of work that has gone into the garment, for me though, I just think it makes clothes look beautiful. It is a gorgeous textile and one that I am quite happy to wear.

In a modern prairie way you may find that like me you are drawn to wearing pieces that represent a more romantic, wandering way of life. This idea of modern prairie really resonates with me but that's probably because I have grow up surrounded by these fields and actually watch the classic 'Little House On The Prairie' when I was a child! The girls in their puff sleeved floral dresses are the basis for this trend and one I am fully happy to wear while prancing through fields.

To bring such a classic style up-to-date I have teamed my ASOS pretty dress with some fabulous Grenson Hiker Boots (which I will be talking about more in the Autumn), and the most perfect straw hat!


Tuesday, 23 July 2019

MIND // 5 Steps To Get Out The Door {A Look At Agoraphobia}

Following on from a few changes to my blog and affirming its direction to be a source of help to people in all sorts of areas of life, my new MIND// headings will be popping up more. 

My New Understanding About Agoraphobia

Having recently started listening to JORDAN PETERSONS: 12 RULES FOR LIFE I was really struck by something that he talked about regarding agoraphobia: the inability to leave home. It isn't something that I can say I have suffered from but listening to him describe how we actually create a Positive Feedback Loop which details how our brain takes a situation of anxiety and uses that to dictate how we feel about something. This is a really good clip that explains it more // JORDAN PETERSON AGORAPHOBIA CLIP (I would watch it before reading on).

Basically, in a moment of panic at a shop a pre-agoraphobic person can withdraw and go home with their anxieties dictating that the experience was bad. The next time the person thinks about going to the shop, the mind reminds that the shop is a place of danger and bad experience and that stops the person returning. 

I find this whole thought process very interesting because, actually, it highlights just how easy it is for us to avoid a place where we have a bad experience. Agoraphobia is a mix of emotions about mortality and embarrassment in public and when you actually think about those emotions yourself you can see how easy it is for someone to slip into a trap of social avoidance.

Recognising where signs of pre-agoraphobia slip into life

It was only when I started re-listening to JORDAN PETERSON to write this post that I began to reflect on my own life. between the ages of 18 - 20 my mum suffered badly with a mental breakdown. As a "grown up" at the time I had little understanding of the true realities of mental health but looking back at it now, knowing the small amount about this area that I do, I look at it in a completely different way. 
I am not here to write a diagnosis or discuss her experiences but there are a few key things that stand in my head about the situation. We lived in a big, old farm house surrounded by Lincolnshire's finest fields. We were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing and with no real help close by. My Mum's breakdown had a lot to do with mortality having had such a bad experience as a child but within that I remember her avoidance of wanting to be at home. My parents were lucky in a way that they had older children who had stayed close for university meaning that my older brother and I lived at home. That way there was always an "adult" around as a babysitter. But I remember mum and dad going out for hours. Hours and hours and dad would come home and tell us that she just didn't want to be in the house. Don't look at this with any kind of sympathy. At the time I don't remember it hugely affecting life, we had a big house and were all quite used to playing and entertaining ourselves so it never felt weird but it was one of the side effects I really recognised. Her want to avoid the house could have been down to the lack of safety out there. Almost the opposite to agoraphobia in that maybe being in town meant that there was always this security. But whatever her experience she created this positive feedback loop where her mind would warn her of the stresses of the home (I mean, she had 8 kids, way stressful) and therefore her want to return to it would have probably given her heart palpitations and then her anxiety would kick in and I fully believe she was then having to battle that inner demon to fight her getting back through the door. I am purely speculating because I have listened to some guys talk about it but what I am doing is reflecting on my life experiences and recognising that somethings do line up.

For me more personally I would never have said I was agoraphobic but I can see how easily it can slip into life. 

When Raph started school I became obsessed about not being to far away from school so that I could get there if there was a problem (sounds like a fear of mortality). This meant that I stopped travelling about. I wouldn't take Etta, who was still at home with me on days out, we would simply spend the 6 hours at home playing. The result of this time was actually a really happy thing for me, I missed Etta so much when she went to school but, at the forefront of every day was that I had to plan my time to have anything done by 2pm as I couldn't ever risk being late at the school pick-up (oh, sounds like fear of being embarrassed publicly). When you look at these two factors as to why I started staying at home more, they are clear indicators in a therapist signing me off with agoraphobia. Luckily for me it never affected my body with panic attacks or anything and at the time I enjoyed life at home with Etta, we had a wonderful time together even though at the back of my mind my days were set up like that to ensure I would always be close to school. I was trapping myself in my house because of it. 

It is interesting when you have a topic that you think you have no connections to but actually find there are several parallel lines.

I would class myself as lucky. I could have easily used my anxiety to rule over my emotions when Etta went to school but I found her going more of a break from them. I now love to spend time out of the house because it means I can avoid the tidying that constantly has to be done!

I want to help you

I wrote this post because JORDAN'S thoughts on it really inspired me. They got me thinking about these other areas of mental health that just isn't discussed and in a way I wanted to educate you a bit more. I mean my chat is nothing compared to the really clever people who are talking about it but  wanted to share this small reflection on it as you never know who it might help.

That said, I have come up with five steps to help you not let you mind develop any agoraphobic tendencies and to help you battle through anxieties about leaving home.

My 5 Steps To Get Out The Door//

1. Don't become trapped. 

If you feel like you are beginning to panic about going out, stop! Put on a hoody, open the door and step out. You don't need to go anywhere in particular or even in a car but walk for a few minutes before you return. If you feel really anxious, start with just a couple of minutes and build up, if you think you are totally fine and this isn't an issue for you, go on a half hour walk, that is great medicine for keeping good mental health.

2. Exercise.

You can do this at home or out but one key way to make your mind healthy is to fill it with endorphins. The easiest way to do this at home I believe is by dancing. You need nothing but music. You don't need any fancy gym wear or special shoes, you need a radio and you need to find a space where you can just dance. You know that phrase Dance Like Nobody's watching. DO IT! 

3. Talk to someone

One of the biggest blocks in dealing with mental health is our inability to talk about our problems. We must teach each other and our children to talk about feelings. We must cry, we must laugh, we must share annoyances because not talking and bottling up emotions only leads to one place, depression.

4. Find a purpose to leave

You need to put something into your life that gives you a reason to leave the house. That may be a love for going to the cinema, or a community group, even going to a gym class but go at every opportunity. Build it into your routine and that will help you have a reason to leave the house.

5. Never fear the doctor

As with all things health related we have to talk to professionals. We can never fear the doctor. I know it's hard sometimes and we can all have bad experiences in the Drs surgeries making us not want to go back as they appear like a waste of time, but you must. You keep going back until they help you because they can and they will help you.

I hope some of these tips have informed you and given help in you combatting any mental health issues you might have. If you feel you have no issues I hope this post has educated you in some way and you can use the information and any additional thoughts to help you develop a greater understanding of mental health.


Thursday, 11 July 2019

Life Lately // Escaping Normality

When It's Who you Know Not What You Know.

I mean, I have to be fair, we only got this experience because of the kindness of someone else. It is only through other people's kindness that we are lucky enough to escape normality and have one of these days that teach you about simplicity. 
We were kindly invited to spend the afternoon at a friend from Church's house. She offers each summer for us to come round and use the pool she has in her garden and we usually take her up on the offer!

This past weekend, with the temperatures soaring we headed to D's for what was quite simply a beautiful afternoon. The thing was that there is a certain amount of magic within children when they see that someone has a pool. I mean, I get it, it is so luxurious and like a dream really so the kids were so excited when they found out we were going over. 

That magic continued to gleam across the sun soaked afternoon and between eating, swimming and playing table tennis we found ourselves completely and utterly relaxed in D's homely environment. 

I thought I would share some photos from the day. I like to share the kids on here as this blog is a wonderful connection to so many family members. They are growing right??


Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Life Lately // Bike Rides & Scarecrows

It would seem that as a family we love to bike and are doing so at every opportunity, so this last weekend we went off on another little adventure!

Biking as a family.

I think that our bike life has changed dramatically since Easter time when Etta learned to ride her bike without stabilisers. That was not only freeing for her but for us too, more than we realised at the time. Rob has ridden a bike to work for a few years now and he is definitely the pioneer in the family in that way, making sure we get on our bikes a whole lot more, but the last few months I have found it more liberating than ever.
We all cycle at least once a week to Church and usually to the children's theatre club. It gets us all out and at this time of year it is just so easy to skip the traffic and opt for the fresh air. 
I myself am cycling more but am more nervous in town, unlike here where you either meet a tractor or horses (that happened today) but I am making myself do it more each week. 
We are not big fans of driving somewhere to bike, it seems a bit silly to get in a car to cycle, when for us, we are in the position to be able to cycle locally to town and amusements quite easily. That said, we loaded up and headed out to my parents' as the local village to them had a Scarecrow festival and it meant that we could have a nice summer cycle down the country lanes to get there.

Scarecrow Festival

At this time of year you can find lots of local villages putting on summer fetes and garden picnics. There are lots of nice things to do locally and with the school holidays coming up I am sure it is about to boom.

This specific event runs every year and usually follows some sort of theme. It was music this time round so as we walked round the village we were treated to some delightful homemade scarecrows decorating people's gardens!






 And this scarecrow was a real guy!! Singing a famous Lincolnshire Farmers' song!

What this is is a really nice couple of hours of wandering around and eating ice creams. We walked and the kids played at the park where the event had its base. There were teas and coffees and a few stalls but really we just like the little wander around being nosy and looking at all the pretty gardens and just getting out on a sunny afternoon.

Once we were done and before the kids got too tired, we cycled the couple of miles back to my parents' before we headed home. 

If you are looking for local attractions, just small and family friendly check out your locals Visit sites like VISIT LINCOLN or check out local village facebook pages which post events online. 

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