Wednesday

words.

As little Olive softly sleeps in her bedroom down the hall, a couple of pigeons are busy making a nest outside my window, I sit. Finally having a great urge to write.
I am so tired, physically and emotionally and instead of closing my heavy eyes for 20 minutes or so I sit cross legged on my bed desperately tapping away at the laptop.

I have had the most magical weekend. Celebrating my 30th birthday and Easter all in one big long weekend was truly wonderful. Family, cake, balloons and all the love surrounded me in one big shiny bubble. I felt so very happy. Happier than I have in a long while. Somehow, today, as I get to unwind and collect my thoughts alone during nap time, I feel like my shiny magical bubble has been popped.
For a long time I have been unhappy with certain little things in my life and now I feel it's all taking it's toll. I know so very hard that for things to improve and to make space for all the magic I need to be at peace, to feel grateful with everything in my life. It's hard though. I have probably told at least 3 people this week to do just that and as I say those words it feels like it pours out of me to them and I'm left drained of my own wise words. Empty and at a loss. I can't shake it. My mind spirals into deeper thoughts and feelings and moments I try many a time to let go of and they are there, lingering. If it were on paper I could cut those pieces out and throw them into the wind and watch them swirl up and float away and the paper would feel so much lighter, cleaner, shinier. But it isn't on paper it's inside of me and I can't quite reach far enough to shut it all off.

I want to pack all the important things in my house and grab my husband, my daughter and tell them it's time to go. Time to go and start somewhere new. Somewhere far away in the hills, next to a forest where you can hear nothing but birdsong and sheep. Somewhere where we can feel free and live slow and be happy. Away from all the pretending and away from the people who are too busy and away from all the noise and the frustration and just be at peace.
Writing all this down is as easy as achieving it, I know that. Gosh it would be easier if I could drive, it would be easier if my husband and I were earning proper money from boring jobs to be able to take that risk. It would be easier if we both had the nerve to take the risk and just do it!! Why do we make things complicated for ourselves? Why do we always look for excuses? Why do I consistently focus on all the bad things when a grey cloud swoops by? When the logical thing to do would be letting all the negative energy go. Feeling grateful. Focusing on the positive. And to simply close the door to the past and the people. 

Only I can change all this.

I want to accept that I live in the centre of town and it's noisy, and filled with people I just do not want to ever meet. And that neighbours are louder than me and that people like to share their awful music with the rest of the neighbourhood - and have no idea how disrespectful it is (whatever time of day it is!). I want to accept that even the closest of people really just do not even know me anymore and that it's okay to move on. I want to accept that right now is supposed to happen and that it is setting me up for such magical things and that one day soon all this will be long behind me.

I have to be grateful. I should be grateful! I have a supportive and loving husband and a beautiful daughter who is the cleverest 16 month old I have ever met. Not to mention funny, healthy and so very perfect. I have a roof (albeit old and in a undesirable place) and a loving family. I have exciting Summer adventures planned with my girl soulmate who just completely gets me.

I am going to start right now. Olive has just woken up from her nap and by the sounds of it, is happy looking out the window for a little while. I am going to spend my evening, planning my Summer adventure, sticking inspiring pictures and dreams in my dream book all whilst snuggled up in bed. I have the decision to change my life. I need to take every single opportunity to do it. Otherwise I'll be here again, in the same place, saying the same thing. And that just cannot happen!

Thank you for listening xxx

Monday

Self Care

When I think of Self Care, I think of cosy bubble baths, calming candle-lit surroundings and good healthy food.
Lately I have been feeling all kinds of stress from my work life and my Mama life so when I left both of those 'lives' behind for a weekend at the end of February I was in full de-stress mode. I went to Brandshatch Place in Kent, for a Spa break with my (nearly) sister in law and the rest of her hen party. It was such a lovely and relaxing weekend. We swam (I floated and chatted in the pool whilst others swam!), ate healthy sandwiches (with a naughty side of chunky chips), enjoyed a much needed back, shoulder, neck massage - I had major 'Mama knots' in my shoulders! And spent the afternoon chilling in the relaxation room catching up with Mama, sipping Chamomile tea. It was bliss.
When I got home I vowed to stay relaxed and really wanted to cleanse a little. We had enjoyed a rather delicious but extremely guilty fry up for breakfast at the hotel so I definitely felt that some healthy eating was needed.
I made myself a bowl of steaming hot soup. New Covent Garden Soup Company's chicken & root vegetable no less. This is exactly what I needed! A bowl of cosy comfort but packed full with vegetables. I'm not the type of person who LOVES vegetables so hidden amongst chunks of chicken and pearl barley is definitely my thing. Plus it's 1 & 1/2 of my 5 a day!
New Covent Garden soups are my favourite soup - especially with a warm ciabatta roll to dip in or a buttery cheese scone. The soups are chunky and filling, and full of flavour. New Covent Garden Company release a soup of the month, and for March it's 'Creamy Leek & Cheddar' and guess what, it's 1 of our 5 a day! *gasp* it's got cheese in it AND it's 1 of our 5 a day- Winner. This is a good reason to give the ol' cheese sandwiches the heave ho!
My goal for this year was to eat healthier and so far I haven't really succeeded in that all too well. I think this is a good start. We all know that good, healthy foods take care of our insides and in turn make us feel more alert and energised. Even though my brain tells me I'm happy when eating a handful of biscuits, it's not. When I eat certain foods it leaves me feeling sluggish and lethargic. I definitely think eating hearty salads and chunky soups for my lunches will improve things on so many levels. I also want to drink a lot more water and less caffeine too. My skin has become quite dehydrated lately from all the cold weather, it's way of telling me I need to drink more water daily.
^^^ could the robe be any bigger!?!
As well as eating healthier, I feel strongly about needing to spend more quality time with myself. Being a mother is never a lonely life with a pretty little shadow wanting to help with washing or wanting to sit beside me and generally follow me around all day every day. Spending the weekend away taught me that time alone is very important. It's good for my head space and good for my soul. I am trying to go to bed at reasonable times and instead of watching Netflix I snuggle up in bed with a book. I want to switch off easier and fall asleep with a clear mind. I'd also like to have more evening baths just to lay and relax in Lavender bubbles with candles. I get so knotted and tense from all the lifting and leaning etc that my body is a heap of achy mess by the evening, so a lovely relaxing soak in a hot bath is key.
I think it's important for me to spend a little money on getting my hair done every now and again. As well as paying a visit to the spa for a 35 minute shoulder/neck massage every few months. A little luxury pampering every now and again to boost your happiness/confidence and loosen the tense is very important. You should always be your best self.

My goals for the rest of the month is to put all these in motion and to reflect on how it affects my mood. Just thinking about a hot bath or a healthy chunky vegetable soup is making me feel de-stressed and happy already.

What things do you do for when it's time for a little self care? Do you schedule quality YOU time in?

Friday

Recipe // Bébé mini Cheese & Courgette muffins

Olive used to be a little fussy at meal times, luckily she is much better now and is up for trying anything. Though sometimes I still have to cover vegetables with cheese so she eats them.
She also has a huge appetite and some days just spends it eating or snacking between naps! As well as raspberries and dried apricots, Olive's favourite snacks are these mini savoury muffins. It is also one of my favourite recipes as they are so easy to make. Perfect for us busy mama's!

A few people have asked me for the recipe so here it is. I will also say that they are NOT just for bébés! Replace the cheese with strong mature cheddar and bake them in a regular muffin tin and you can thank me later grown ups!
Suitable for 9-12 months.

Ingredients ::
75g plain flour
75g wholemeal flour
3 tsp baking powder
100g courgette (finely grated)
60g mild cheddar (finely grated)
1 egg
100ml whole milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil 

Method ::
-Preheat the oven to 200C (Gas 6).
Grease a mini muffin tin or line with muffin cases.

-Sieve the flours together with the baking powder into a mixing bowl, adding back any bran that remains in the sieve afterwards.

-Add the courgette, cheese (and herbs* if using).

-Beat the egg in a separate bowl and stir in the milk and oil. Pour these over the dry ingredients to make a thick mixture.

-Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray/cases. Bake for 12-15 minutes.


Options* :: 
Bébé - Add 1 tbsp finely chopped Parsley or Oregano.
Grown ups - 60g finely grated strong mature cheddar, 1 tbsp finely chopped chives. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

The mixture creates 24 mini muffins or 6 mini and 6 large - if you fancied baking some for yourselves. Once cooked and cooled they can be refrigerated for 48 hours and can be frozen too. So not only is the recipe super easy they can be frozen - Hooray - which is perfect for those of us with To Do lists longer than our arms! I have honestly never been more grateful for my freezer. Except that time in pregnancy when I craved cookie dough ice cream!!
Try at breakfast with scrambled eggs and fresh fruit or served alongside a bowl of soup. Or simply as a snack - perfect for on the go (whilst you nibble on a slice of cake - I got you Mama's!).

Happy baking!


• Recipe taken from Fiona Wilcock's 'Feeding Your Baby' •