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' •

Wednesday

'Have Courage and Be Kind'

When things get tough and heavy, the easiest thing is to let it sit on our shoulders, eat all the chocolate and take to bed with a crappy film on Netflix. Through the fog and fuzzy we must try our darn hardest to wash away those negative feelings and replace them with happy thoughts, soft music and fresh air. I find a jar of fresh spring like blooms help. That and hot cups of tea and little lady Olive cuddles.

When you feel the blues I know full well how hard it is to pull yourself out of it. But speaking from experience it never helps to sob into pillowcases, re-reading all the harsh words you stumbled upon, thinking about all the empty conversations you had, and generally feeling all the negative. Don't get me wrong, I always find a good cry alone helps. Especially when you don't feel like your thoughts and 'silly' tears are worth bothering anyone with (aka silly girl stuff - aka stuff you never thought as a grown up/a mother you would be crying over!). Because truthfully, deep down you know that you're getting upset over something SO not worth it. And to talk about it out loud (especially now as I think about it, whilst I write) just seems all very silly (it's not by the way!).
I guess what I am trying to say is that no matter how horrible people can be and how crap you feel about things - Being kind and being strong is the best thing you can be. Not only being kind to yourself (because we really are SO important!) but also being kind to the unkind. They have bigger issues than you do. 
I have struggled lately with all sorts of things and when I have been feeling down about them they spiral out of control into something a lot more complicated and a lot more grey - because I'm focusing on the bad stuff. I have since pulled myself out (with a little help from my friends - Thank you! As well as a little 'Cinderella' watching with Olive) and I can now see clearer. I am focused, I am ready and I now have a better understanding.
I am grateful. I am grateful to the unkind and I am grateful to finally be able to have strength to let go.
I have been away from my computer, my blog, my creative projects, and all of the things that kept me inspired but I am going to keep this feeling going and carry on until I succeed full time happiness. I am ready now.
I really am ready.