Project #1 dresser restoration

Pretty soon after we moved in I knew we needed somewhere to store some of our things; from the board games usually reserved to the under stairs cupboard to our wedding crockery. I searched the internet for a dresser, though finding one with glass doors proved quite hard and pretty much doubled the price. I also didn’t want anything too ‘fancy’ and intricate especially one that could be seen as old fashioned.

I’m quite new to the wonders of Facebook market place. We bought our dishwasher second hand from there so it was the first place I thought to look for a dresser. In the end though, a few weeks later, we found this one on Ebay for sale just up the road from us.


The paint was sprayed on which gave it an odd effect up close, and whilst it looked white it was actually quite yellow. So we set about restoring it.

After dismantling it into sections and removing each shelf, the first step was to sand off the existing coat to give the paint something to ‘grab’ onto.

Then it was the most exciting part! Paint time! Though I have to say, I had not appreciated the amount of sides, inside and out, a dresser has. I’m pretty sure I developed RSI in my hand.

We did the top of the dresser first in Down Pipe Grey; a dark grey paint by Farrow & Ball. It took 3 coats top ensure the right depth of colour but I’m sure on other pieces of furniture 2 coats would be enough.

The cream came after; Winterbourne White by Farrow & Ball. This isn’t too white in colour, its an off-white without having yellow hues.




The third and last step was to treat the wood. We sanded the surface to lightly remove the varnish before putting 2 washes of mahogany oil on it to bring out the colour.

The overall result is fantastic!


& here is the before and after to show just how much went into the project:

I think the re-paint has given the dresser a new lease of life and suits our modern but comfortable family home.

The dresser is in the dining room, which we haven’t decorated yet. The floor will eventually be replaced with grey flagstone tiles with a light grey on the walls. Any guess what my favourite colour is?!

Sam & I absolutely love doing things to our home, but most of all we love doing things together. At the moment, we are redecorating my dressing room and Sam is in the process of building me a wardrobe from scratch. I’ll post about that as soon as its done – I’m super excited about it!

Mystery Blogger Award!

Thanks so much to A life of Vanity for this nomination! I’ve not been nominated before so this is quite exciting!

Go check out A Life of Vanity when you can – she posts about her #vanlife experience so if, like me, you’ve ever contemplated doing just that you’ll find her blog invaluable.

So this is how this works:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  6. Answer the questions you were asked.
  7. You have to nominate 10-20 people.
  8. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  9. Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, with one weird or funny question.

Special shout out to Okoto Enigma for creating this v cool concept.

3 things about me:

  1. I’d give my right arm to have a dog. The bigger and fluffier the better. I’m that friend that points at every dog going and practically cries about how cute it is: ‘look at him, but just look at him, look at how he wags his tail..!’
  2. I go through periods of growing my hair long and cutting it off. It averages 3 years from between jaw-shoulder length and nearing my waist. I’ve definitely got the itch again, though this time when I cut my hair off I will donate it to a cancer charity who make wigs for young cancer patients.
  3. I’m currently trying to achieve a forearm stand before my 30th birthday. I’ve *tried* to take up yoga recently but its not going amazingly well…

Here are my answers to the questions A Life of Vanity asked me:

  1. What’s your all-time favorite movie? Probably Lord of the Rings – it is no exaggeration to say that I have watched each film in the trilogy in excess of 30 times.
  2. If you could have a shitload of money but a job you hate, or a job you love for v little money, what would you pick? I’m a happy medium which probably doesn’t answer the question! I’d rather be happy, as with happiness comes less anxiety which you wouldn’t get in a high-powered job.
  3. Dogs or cats? DOGS.
  4. Who should be our next president? I’m not American, I’m British. But I would suggest.. someone who isn’t Trump?!
  5. Who was your middle school celebrity crush? Johnny Depp, though looking back I’m not sure why. I think it was his pirate days that attracted me…


Fiercely Me

Little Van Ventures

Lovely 365

Absolut Lilac

The Chubby Mind

Georgia Beth Talks

Café Avec Christine

Catherina’s Creative Corner

The Half Arsed Runner

5 questions for you lucky nominees:

  1. Are you a Marmite lover or a Marmite hater?
  2. Would you prefer a heavy night out clubbing or a cosy night in by the fire?
  3. Which: an actual book or a kindle?
  4. Do you prefer to be behind the camera or in front of it?
  5. If you could have one super power for a day, what would it be?

Thanks for the nomination and I look forward to reading all of your responses!!

The 3 W’s

This is my first time taking part in WWW – a meme revived by Taking on a World of Words. So here goes, my 3 WWW’s!

What are you currently reading?

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. Its written in a diary form which would usually put me off, but its so captivating! Ivey is quite an artist at describing the turmoil the expeditioners faced traversing Alaska and I’m enjoying every page so far. It’s a bit like a re-imagining of the Scott expedition to the Antarctic, but less like a present-day documentary and more a story of colonization and long distance love. Its beautifully raw.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It was a brilliant read, but not as good as A Thousand Splendid Suns in my opinion (though many people think the opposite). I would definitely recommend you read both if you haven’t already as they really had an impact on how I view the current conflict in Afghanistan and other parts of the world; a more humane view point that the news is unable to portray.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not sure. I tend to read whatever takes my fancy at the time, but Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey is on my list so I might give that a go. I have no idea what it is about (apart from, maybe, a girl called Elizabeth who goes missing?) so I’ll let you know how I get on with it.

What are you guys reading? Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Creative spurt

Anyone who knows me knows that I often lack imagination and creativity, despite being a dab hand at art and crafts when I get going. Now that we’ve moved into our new home 🙂 I’m so keen to get on and starting making it our own.

Pinterest is a great platform to gain inspiration, and I often find that an idea I initially began with starts to grow and expand into something more pronounced and beautiful than what the confines of my own mind could imagine. For several years now I have had an obsession with pallet wood and all the natural and bohemian-type designs that can flow from working with such a basic, rustic material. Pinterest has truly helped me to develop my little ideas into something that will suit a grown up family home.

My tastes are quite simple: I love wood, plants and grey hues with preference for industrial-type designs that incorporate dark metal over the more ‘twee’ cottage styles. One thing has become quite apparent over the last couple of years, and that is my love of texture, especially when it comes to home furnishings. Thick and chunky and hard-wearing, not fragile and delicate to touch. With this in mind I’ve enrolled the help of my mother to teach me to knit. I’m starting off with medium wool but hope to be able to knit with my arms in the near future; I have visions of a massive chunky bed throw or blankets piled on wooden crates. Wish me luck – my foray into knitting is still in its early stages but its probably fair to say it doesn’t come that naturally to me given the amount of hand-eye co-ordination required!Arm Knitting 5

Having help around the house – not just with my ideas but also on a practical level, is lovely. My parents are very hands on and love to lend a helping hand. Admittedly this is mostly around the garden as neither Sam nor I are particularly green-fingered, but it also extends to painting and helping us lay the flooring in the house too. It is a good bonding exercise but also gets the job done a lot quicker! My mother has always been into interior design so I think I have definitely got the ‘bug’ from her.

DIY has moved on these days. It is not just about wielding a drill and changing a bulb but now includes all aspects of home improvement work. Whilst I could get someone in to lay my wood floor and paint my walls, I enjoy doing it myself. If gives me a sense of pride, and the little knocks and imperfections don’t bother me. I would consider my work to be of a pretty good standard though I am by no means an interior designer or professional painter, etc. Sam is also keen to do as much as possible so we have agreed that he is going to be my builder! Of the non-masonry sense. Sam has basic carpentry skills and has worked with metal since he was a boy, so we are going to make my dining table and benches, as well as a bookcase, over-the-bath unit and toilet roll holders. He’s going to have to get cracking soon as my list is getting quite long…

I plan to share our little creative journey with you and would appreciate any ideas that you guys have too! For now, I will leave you with the following pictures of the type of home we hope to make for ourselves:


When only a chicken & mushroom pie will do

The last few weeks have flown by and it’s nice to finally have the opportunity to sit down and reflect. We had what felt like a rushed Christmas and New Year, covering nearly 1,000 miles seeing our various family members across the country. And whilst the festivities were lovely and it was nice not to be at work, our attention was somewhat elsewhere despite the busyiness.

We were let down on our house purchase only a couple of days before Christmas so, naturally, at my work Christmas party I hit the red wine with full force! Our agent advised us that whilst the market is always slow in the winter, there was definitely a downturn – and we could see that ourselves.

I was quite content to move back into rented, confident that we would find somewhere to buy within a few months and then we would be in a really good position as ‘first’ time buyers. Sam was more sceptical and even talked about doing up our house a bit more and staying there for another couple of years. I went along with that briefly, but ultimately had to ‘fess up that I simply didn’t have the heart to empty all of the boxes we had already packed (at that stage, the count was 32).

We arrived at my parents’ home on Christmas Eve and discussed the hells of the house buying process whilst baking mince pies and swigging mulled wine. We had a quick look online and I widened our search to include a village which was literally the furthest I would consider living. The house I had loved several months before was still for sale and both Sam and my mum loved it. We decided to view it over New Year. Since then it’s been 100mph!

We loved the house so much we put an offer on it, which was accepted 🙂 the best part was, as it had previously been rented we were able to move in and break the chain for our amazingly tolerant buyers. We are now renting the house for a month whilst the conveyancing goes through and then we will once again be home owners. But this time, of a much larger family home!

We’ve been here 10 days now and it feels like home, not a house. It’s fair to say I was a bit apprehensive on moving day as it felt like the end of an era and I wondered if we had made the right decision. Once our first little home was empty of our belongings it suddenly didn’t feel like a home, it was back to being a house again. It felt strange suddenly realising that it is not the bricks and mortar that make a home, but the items and memories that fill it.

Our new home is wonderful and I am so glad we made the move. My commute is better and that has made me so much happier; I am able to have an extra half hour in bed and still have a whole hour to get myself ready before having to leave, rather than rush about! I’m planning on using this time constructively in the morning to work on my appearance (I sometimes look like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards) and to make my lunch.

To top it all off, I decided to make a pie today. It’s my favourite food and the ultimate in making me feel content and warm and squishy. This is the life I’ve always wanted; a home smelling of baked bread and cooking, the radio on in the background whilst I leaf through my bookcase and think about what the next novel should be. I’m sat at our breakfast bar typing this with a mug of earl grey for company and a big grin on my face!image

Part of my happiness is probably down to my cooker; it is a Rangemaster, a brand and type of cooker I’ve always wanted and the sellers are leaving it here for us for free! Life win, right there.


So if, like me, you like or LOVE pies, here is my chicken and mushroom pie extraordinaire:

You will need:
Knob of butter
Half an onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
300g mushrooms
4 chicken thighs (boneless)
Dried thyme
1 chicken stock cube
200ml water (boiled)
200ml milk
50g flour
3 tbsp single cream

For the pastry you can either buy ready-made short crust (for the base) and puff pastry (for the top) or you can make it yourself. I’m hopeless with puff pastry so I used a ready-made block but it’s definitely worth making the shortcrust yourself if you can:
200g flour
125g butter
1 beaten egg
1 tbsp water

1. To make the filling melt the butter in the pan and added the chopped onions and garlic. When golden add the mushrooms. Chop the chicken into small bite sized pieces and add.



2 Leave to cook, stirring occasionally, Add the thyme and salt and pepper as necessary to season and mix up the stock with the water.
3. Once the chicken is no longer pink, add the flour and slowly add the milk, Then add the stock and stir. You want to keep it on a low heat so that it is only simmering. 4. Add the cream and stir. As soon as the sauce is thick and creamy take it off the heat to cool.image
5. Now for the pastry. First make up the shortcrust base by either rolling out your pre-made dough or by making your own. Mix the flour and butter together with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and water and scoop up the flour mixture so that it it becomes a doughy ball. Now roll out so that it is just bigger than your pie dish.
6. Place the shortcrust base into the dish then spoon in the filling.
7. Roll out your puff pastry and place on top. If you are very good then you should be able to slip your knife into the outer edge of the puff pastry to loosen it. That will help it to rise and puff!
8. Then brush on some beaten egg round the edges and on top and bake in the oven for c.45minutes at 180-200 degrees.

Et voila!image



Perfect pie if I do say so myself. I hope you enjoy it

Humanity. To be, humane.

Growing up, I was always quite a sensitive person. Worrying about people’s feelings and keen to ensure that those who were different or vulnerable were given equal treatment and included in activities. My social awareness was very limited at the time, given my age.

But I can distinctly recall that my feelings and thoughts at that time were not of an anti-bullying nature, but a wider sense of wondering why people were being singled out or referred to in a particular way simply because of a particular ‘trait’ (I use this term because the word ‘different’ may get cumbersome and repetitive). I was lucky to go through school without bullying being an issue; the popular kids mixed with the geeks who mixed with the sporty ones. We were an exemplary year group. But kids are not without their faults and many would throw around terms without really thinking about what the word/phrase truly meant and without meaning to be malicious or hurtful in any way. And often the name-calling wasn’t about someone else on the playground, it was a way of referring to other people in society; celebrities, the neighbour, etc. Phrases that I’m sure if I named them many of today’s youngsters would not know what I’m talking about as they probably use different terminology now.

Fast forward 15 or so years and my early to mid twenties were very different. I became quite judgemental – not about the vulnerable but about everyone else. I was still in the process of becoming socially aware and hadn’t quite worked out that people are shaped by their early life and experiences but that environmental factors also play a huge part. I was unduly angry by people who did not want, nor try, to better themselves but thought they were entitled to something automatically. I went through a period of several years wondering how some people had managed to mess up their lives so catastrophically – without having the information to hand to entitle me to even make that judgement about someone else.

The biggest factor in my way of thinking was my emotional detachment. I can’t pinpoint when this happened exactly, but I believe it was in the early years of university. As part of my training, I was exposed to a number of harrowing situations; domestic violence, extreme violence, death, non-accidental injuries to children. Pictures of this kind became ‘normal’. I had to be able to block out my own feelings in order to be able to act and advise objectively.

So I emotionally blocked out everything – to the point where I would see someone at face value only rather than putting myself in their shoes. An elderly person. A young person. The vulnerable. The homeless. To me, there was a reason and thus a cure for everything. You just had to find it.

I’m pleased to say that I have grown up a lot since then, though I think it is less about maturity and more about becoming aware of the world around you and having to actively try to imagine myself in someone else’s place emotionally, rather than it coming so easy like when I was younger.

The last 6 months have been a turning point for me. Whilst I no longer do care work, it has taken a long time for me to switch on my feelings – and it was only then that I realised I had turned them off in the first place. The little things in life have helped me to see that.

In sharp focus at the moment is the treatment of the homeless as a wider social issue. I work in a city which has the most funding developmentally outside of London. I love working here, it is a wonderful city, but it also has one of the worst homelessness problems I have ever witnessed. I see the same three people on my 4-minute walk between the train station and the office. Day in, day out, sun, rain and snow. Being moved on by the police from a doorway and having to roll up their bedding. Being on a street corner but told they ‘can’t’ be there. And that’s when I started to analyse my own behaviour (and of course, that of everyone else).home1

Because we walk by, don’t we? The vast majority do anyway. Pretend he/she isn’t there – not that they don’t exist as a person, but that they are not homeless as we are lead to believe. Keep your head down – if we don’t make eye contact then we won’t feel as bad. Can you hear them ask for some pennies, or a hot drink? Walk on by like you didn’t. Yet, the homeless always thank us anyway, even though we have done nothing to deserve it.

I always think as I’m walking along, ‘oh, maybe I could buy him a hot drink’, or if I was already holding food or drink I would give it to them. But I haven’t. I haven’t even gone out of my way to drop more than a few pennies into a hat.

Why? Homelessness is not an infection. It is a social disease, but not contagious. Are the few pennies/pounds in my pocket going to make me more happy than if I donated them to someone else? Someone who is probably in dire need of them.

I am deeply ashamed.

And in the same vein I am saddened for all those who, like me, can’t see what is in front of them.

I do not know what the long-term answer is. The cure. I don’t even know if there is one. I know that these issues are both due to individual circumstances but also part of a wider political and social issue. I am not educated in these matters. But maybe I don’t need to be. Maybe, what’s important is doing ‘my bit’. Stopping to gift what I can from my purse, offering a drink. Heck – buying a drink in anticipation that I will see that same chap I usually see further down the road.

I would like to think I am a kind person in all areas of my life, but maybe its time for more than that. Kindness is an act, a gesture. Being humane is way of thinking.

Definition: having or showing compassion or benevolence.

Its time for that. Realisation is but the first step.

And its not just the homeless. I need to extend this way of thinking to all areas of my life. Little acts of kindness that can help us go a long way.

My 30th Year Bucket List

In exactly one year I reach the grand old age of 30. Three – zero. Three decades on this planet. When my mother turned 30 she had a mini mental breakdown and was in a bad mood pretty much for the whole year apparently.

I don’t plan on sulking about my age, though I am somewhat surprised that it has come round so fast.

I, like most people I’m sure, have a busy year ahead. But I figured that in my ‘30th year’ and whilst I can still say I’m only 29, that I should set myself a series of mini-goals. And 30 of them seemed the most apt number.

So here goes, here are 30 things I hope to do/achieve before I turn the big 3-0!

  1. Go inter-railing around Europe
  2. Eat multi-coloured macaroons
  3. Make an olive loaf of bread
  4. Do a head/forearm stand
  5. Wear red lipstick
  6. Knit a blanket/throw
  7. Complete all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones
  8. Visit America
  9. Get toned/fit
  10. Go surfing
  11. Lay in a hammock without falling out
  12. Single-handedly design my new kitchen (for a house I don’t yet have, but probably with a little help from pinterest)
  13. Eat at a Michelin star restaurant
  14. Be a nicer person (i.e. less bloody judgmental)
  15. Get a dog
  16. Get a lob (a ‘long bob’ for those not in the know)
  17. Get to and maintain a weight of 10’3
  18. Host Christmas
  19. Enjoy a Sunday brunch out
  20. Have a candle-lit bubble bath
  21. Go bungee-jumping
  22. Get a VW Transporter van #vanlife
  23. Grow vegetables in my new glass greenhouse (wow, this does sound grown up)
  24. Complete the Three Peaks Challenge (though maybe not in 24 hours)
  25. Complete Final Fantasy 15 on PS4 (I am still a teenager at heart)
  26. Finish the cushions I’ve been sewing for c. 3 years
  27. Drink more leaf tea
  28. Have a massage
  29. Be in Thailand, or an equally exotic country, on my 30th birthday itself 🙂
  30. Spend every single day treasuring my Sam

Reading back through my list, there seems to be a good balance between challenging myself to achieve something, and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

I’m going to make this year a year to remember!


Long or LOB?

I thought it only right that my second post of 2018 should be about something meaningful and deep. So naturally my thoughts turned to my hair and I pondered once again whether I should get it cut.

I first cut my hair off when I was 18 years old at college. It was the most drastic cut I’ve ever had; my hair was cut from waist to my jaw.mine7

Since then I’ve cut my hair off two or three times, mostly to my shoulders though often I cut it an inch above a few weeks later. Inevitably I then grow my hair as long as I can bear it before cutting it again, typically 2 or so years later. Its got to the point where I can tell what year it is by how long my hair is.

My hair is now the longest its been since I was 18. I’ve just had 2 ½ inches cut and its still super long.


In previous years it would all be off by now, but for some reason this time around I’m more hesitant. I keep thinking I’ll award myself with a hair cut if I achieve something, maybe if I keep at my ideal weight for 1 year, or if I work at getting fit and healthy for a few months, or once we’ve moved house. The real reason I haven’t cut it off yet is because I know its more than just taking a pair of scissors to my hair. I have to learn how to style it and that is part of the problem. My straighteners haven’t been turned on for over 5 years and I barely know the difference between a mousse and hairspray. I think I probably knew more when I was younger than I do now. That, or I’m just more judgemental, like a perfectionist now. Funny that, seeing as I often think that I look like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards but do nothing about it.

I look at girls with long hair and it looks lovely. Flowing, wavy, hair that blows in the breeze. Not knotty like mine, hanging over my shoulders with no purpose or style in sight.

Then I look at the girls with shoulder-length lobs (long bobs), and I wish I had hair like that.

Cut – an synonym for style in my book. I keep thinking that if I did cut my hair once more that I would instantly look like that. Then I remember that nobody’s hair looks like that naturally and I’d need tons of product to give it any volume, plus a 6-month course in how to use a curling wand.

I have yet to make up my mind, though I know deep down I will most likely cut my hair and grow it again in the next few years until I get to an age where long hair looks silly, or its too thin and lank and looks awful.

If anyone has any tips or tricks to style any type of hair that only takes 5 minutes to do, I would be grateful! It might make the difference to whether I cut it or keep it.

Blogging goals for 2018

I figured I’d start 2018 how I mean to go on. I’ve not had my blog very long and in that time I’ve definitely neglected it, sometimes for weeks on end, and then I go through phases of posting frequently. I’ve always wanted to have a ‘fluid’ blog containing posts about meaningful topics and events in my life, rather than just random page-filling babble. I’ve wanted to give readers an insight into the important aspects of my life and things I enjoy doing, as well as having a balanced take with the stresses and strains that is part and parcel of my routine too.

I acknowledged to myself yesterday that I hadn’t posted much at all in November or December and after some thought (and a few bevvies last night) I realised that stress and anxiety are bars to my blog. I’m a bit of an introvert and have to quietly deal with the issues facing me before I can think about anything else; be it hobbies, health and fitness or blogging.

I want to make a real effort to post more frequently in 2018, but I may need a bit of help from technology.

Now, I’m a bit of a techno-phobe. I don’t know if that is the right word actually, but I simply hate technology. If I could I’d throw my ‘phone in the canal and go back to telegrams and carrier pigeon. But to blog I need some tech and my home laptop (admittedly, nearly 6/7 years old now), is not quite up to the job. That, and I just don’t have the time to sit down and type most evenings which has definitely had a knock-on effect on my blog.

So I’ve come up with a solution – which involves a bit of sales shopping hahaha – and I’ve decided to buy a small laptop that I can use on my 2 hour commute each day. Light-weight and portable and a good use of my travel time, I really hope it helps me to become more of a regular blogger and that I will be able to optimise my blog in the coming months. I think I’m going to grab a cup of tea and order it now before I think about the cost too much(!)

I hope that you will see and read a lot more from me in 2018 and it’d be great to hear from you guys too with any tips you can offer me!


Happy New Year.

Moving on… to 2018

2018 is almost upon us. Its that time when we start looking ahead to what the New Year will bring, as well as looking back on the happy memories and difficult times 2017 gave to us. Sometimes I hope the following year will be a complete change, whether that means a new hobby, a new home, or just making an effort to take care of myself. Other years my only resolution is to get more sleep!

2017 has flown by.  We’ve enjoyed a record number of holidays both here and abroad, my brother is now a doctor(!) and I still want a dog! Here is a snap shot of my year:

It hasn’t all been bronzed tans, blue skies and a laugh a minute though. We’ve been first and foremost trying to move house this year. I say trying because we have yet to actually move. I didn’t post much in November/December because that was pretty much the most stressful two months we have had. Quite upsettingly, our onward purchase fell through only 3 days before Christmas, which somewhat tainted the holiday period for us. We think it was a blessing in disguise though; we are not people to force something through if it is clearly not meant to happen. We tried our hardest to make it work but it wasn’t meant to be so now we have to focus on the future and find something better! Positivity is key at the moment.

So my 2018 resolutions are a bit different to what they would normally be. They are a mixture of me and Sam as a family unit, but also a few things I want to work towards during the course of the year. I’m a firm believer that nobody should sit still and let life pass them by; I want to work to improve myself in what ever form that may be.

So here they are: my New Year Resolutions.

  1. To carry on with yoga and be able to do a headstand/forearm stand by New Year’s Eve 2018.
  2. To bake the best pie known to man with my new pie-making kit and receipe book.
  3. To blog more.
  4. To knit a blanket/throw.
  5. To actually make the most of my appearance. I’m 30 in 1 year and 2 weeks and its high time I started to take care of my hair, wear a bit more make-up so I don’t look constantly shattered and stop living in hoodies.
  6. Improve on my collection of tea pots 🙂
  7. And last but not least, to find and move into a beautiful home and hopefully start a family one day.

I have high hopes for 2018 so it’d better be my year!! You never know – a dog may make an appearance at some point if I’m lucky.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve! We are going to a 1920’s Prohibition Party so I’m digging out my flapper dress and heels for a change.

My 5-day simple pre-Christmas Detox

What is it about the magic of Christmas that makes you excited? The fairy lights? The chance to spend some quality time with your nearest and dearest? Or perhaps the turkey with all the trimmings, Christmas pud, chocolates, and the never-ending finger buffet?

It doesn’t matter what it is, most foods makes me feel uncomfortable (unless its cheese because, lets be honest, there’s no such thing as too much cheese). And whilst its inevitable that I’ll put a couple of pounds on over Christmas, its the bloating that I hate. And its not just over Christmas itself, I primarily feel bloated in the lead up to it.

My weakness is bread and all manner of bread-related food. I could eat a whole loaf in a day if I let myself. But unfortunately, whilst I have learnt to eat bread in moderation (I have two slices of toast each morning), it still makes my feel bloated, even the wholewheat seeded variety.

Having a calm tummy makes my day so much better and I’ve learnt over the years a few tips and tricks to enable me to have an enjoyable festive season. Please note that this is in no way a diet, I’ve just learnt to be in tune with my body and its needs. I’m lactose intolerant and have to substitute some foods – my post about it covers some of that – so I have quite an awareness of food generally.

I’ve discovered that just 5 days are enough to help me feel better, and the changes to my everyday life are tiny. No green juices or gym memberships here!

  1. Drinking lemon with hot water each evening. Lemons contain calcium, potassium and vitamin C and helps both digestion and your colon.
  2. Walking more. Taking the steps instead of the escalator at the train station.
  3. Reducing my bread intake. Not all carbohydrates, just bread.
  4. Eating more vegetables. I already eat plenty of red peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, garlic, squash and leaves, but I feel much better for adding a few stems of broccoli here and there – it goes a long way. Bananas and ginger specifically help to reduce bloating. Try spiralizing vegetables to get them into your diet – courgetti with your spaghetti!
  5. Getting more sleep. Everybody needs more rest but so many people over look it. Take time to look after yourself.

    fruit and veg
    These are some of my favourite fruits and vegetables

These are simple steps for me, and don’t involve drastic changes to my life or habits. I try to live by them but ordinary life does get in the way sometimes. A positive outlook and an awareness of what you are doing – eating, sleeping, moving, etc, – all helps. So far, on the 4th day of December, I am feeling quite well and have no bloating issues yet.

Finding motivation within

Staying motivated to achieve a particular goal can be hard; whether its to lose some weight, get fit, eat well, read more, make time for others, the list goes on.

We put so much pressure on ourselves these days. Our working hours are longer then ever, we face difficult commutes and to top it all off we still have to do the more mundane tasks like bathing, washing, getting the kids to bed and finding time to eat. Its a wonder many of us can find the time to fit in any hobbies during the weekdays. I’m sure we all feel that we could do with an extra hour or two in the day sometimes.

I don’t think it helps when we switch on to social media and see idealised lives and images. Sure the quotes and captions are designed to be inspirational, but when I’m stuck in a rut I struggle to see a way out and being confronted with motivational images and captions makes me sink even further; comparing myself to those who clearly have far more time on their hands to work for their beach body.

I go through many phases in the course of the year, each and every year. I, like many others, feel the need to eat well and healthier at the beginning of the New Year, and to try and become fitter. A general push towards wellness and having a healthy balanced lifestyle. Usually, though I’m motivated following the Christmas splurge, January is actually a hard month for me because its my birthday and one of the busiest months of the year at work. Then its February and I hate that month – rainy and miserable – I really don’t want to have to trek to the gym!

But despite struggling to fit it in and having to traipse up town in the rain, I am always pleased when I fit a work out in or make a healthy choice (as opposed to a Greg’s sausage roll!)motivation quote1

I was very happy earlier this year in July when I achieved my weight-loss goal just in time for my holiday. I’d been trying to lead a healthy lifestyle since the previous August, but really stepped it up a gear in January. Unfortunately, once we returned from holiday I lost all my motivation to work out, though I did continue to try to eat healthily to maintain my weight. By September I’d cancelled my membership altogether.

And thats the point when I realised where motivation came from. It comes from within. Not from buying the latest gadget to help you achieve your goal, or from being jealous of those who are achieving their goals and trying to emanate them. Its finding something you love so you can stick with it.

Then, it dawned on me that whilst I have always wanted to be active in some way, running was just no longer comfortable for me (I have ligament problems) and that instead of doing it half-arsed I should find something else. Something that still allows me to feel like my muscles are moving, but without putting so much strain on my body.

This month, I started taking yoga and Pilates classes, one of each a week. And I have never been so excited to go to class before! Pilates satisfies my desire to try and be toned and to build up core strength using only my own body weight, and yoga helps me stretch and to improve my (apparently non-existent) flexibility. I feel the stretch and pull after each class and even in a short couple of weeks I’m noticing improvements. I can safely say, I am enjoying myself keeping active in a way that is sustainable.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about motivation, why it ebbs and flows and why some people barely seem to suffer at all. Yes, you need a positive attitude and a support network would be ideal, but I believe it comes down to this:

  1. To look forward to reaching your goal but being content with the journey it takes to get there. It may be a long road, but the journey is just as important as the destination.
  2. Little and often. You don’t have to completely change your life in order to achieve something. You just need to make one little change, and try and practice that everyday. Don’t feel bad if you eat a pizza after promising yourself it will be another salad for dinner. Accept it, and move on. The whole day is not lost just because of one decision. Get back up and start again!
  3. You might feel uncomfortable now, but being happy in your skin knowing you are doing what you can do, at your own pace, should bring you some peace and comfort.

motivation quote2We’re heading in to the Christmas season now and its going to be so tempting to indulge in chocolate and all manner of sweet and savoury goodies, but a little bit of awareness goes a long way. I’ve decided not to deny myself any treats, but to not overeat either. I’ve found over the last few months that the key to maintaining my weight whilst not working out is to enjoy the naughtiness but know that I don’t need to eat a whole tin of Celebrations to feel enjoyment.

Lets say positive to avoid the age-old January detox next year!motivation