Strength In Who We Are

We’re forever changing and becoming more ourselves as we grow older and, constantly I’m surprising myself with how strong and capable I really can be when overcoming an obstacle blocking my vision.

To me, strength is all emotional. You can be psychically fit, healthy and strong, which is great of course but, what about your emotional agility?

Emotional agility is all about understanding the way you go about everyday, your thoughts, core values, motivations and habits, which is similar to self awareness in that you have an understanding of your own character.

After years of feeling lost, endlessly nervous and full of worry about the future, I’ve now learnt to love and embrace my emotions. I acknowledge that I’m anxious, emotional and need structure. But, I’m also incredibly caring, supportive and resourceful.

Self awareness or emotional agility is something that keeps growing as you develop new memories and experiences though, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re still discovering the person you are because, well, we all still are!

In order to truly know your character these are some basic questions we can consider asking…

Why do we behave in a certain way?

Why do we love, care for and priorities certain things more than others?

What are our values and what’s important to you?

AND, most importantly, we all need to remember that although our opinions are important they might not always shared with others. We must have empathy and reasoning.

This leads me on to what I know and am still learning about myself.

As said before, I have anxiety. It’ll always be a part of who I am and although it drives me and my loved ones insane from time to time, it’s not going anywhere and it’s manageable now. I’m aware that I panic, become frustrated and sometimes avoid uncomfortable situations because of my anxiety, which means I spend a lot of time apologizing when I’m in a brighter mood.

I also believe that we don’t truly understand our capabilities until we are challenged in some way, big or small.

Personally, I truly started to learn my strength after losing a loved one. Although, our relationship wasn’t close my dads loss was still a significant event in my life that enabled me to grow. His loss devastated me but, because of him I sought counselling for anxiety that I had always experienced but was hightened when he passed away during my final year at University. And, because of him, I was also able to deal with the passing of my nan last year and support my mum through her grief.

I also know that, after losing loved ones I became a more empathetic person. The caring nature has always been in me but, I never knew that I could look after, support and care in my current job and personal life in the ways that I now do.

I’m constantly learning about who I am and although, life isn’t always easy, I know how to find ways to cope and manage my feelings so that my days aren’t ruined anymore.

In brief, alongside discovering who I am in terms of emotions and characteristics, I’m also learning to understand my values. For example, realising that it’s important for me to support local businesses and buy locally sourced food whenever possible, hence my recent love for Gousto.

All in all, I recognize my thought processes, know my strengths and what’s important to me to maintain a happy healthy lifestyle.

I’m my own best friend and I think we all need to focus more on our strengths instead of what we perceive are our weaknesses.

Loss in my life has given me strength, finding love has given me confidence and creating a home has given me hope.

Where Am I Going?

Does anyone really know?

I can’t imagine being someone who has their entire life mapped out but, I just thought I’d have my shit together at least a little bit by 25.

On paper I’m happy, I have a lovely little home with my partner, with a kitchen that I love, I have a job that pays the bills and that I enjoy, I live 5 mins from my mum and I’m driving distance from the ocean.  All good things that are important to me and meet my needs to sustain a healthy happy lifestyle.

I have vague ideas for the home and life I want to share with my partner one day and, I thought I’d be closer to achieving them by now honestly. The frustrating thing to accept is that I’m probably further away than I’ve ever been from a financial perspective at least.

A year ago I was arguably in a much more stable financial position but, I hated my flat and my job, so the money didn’t mean much to me in the end. Once I’d established I was unhappy that was it. It became obvious to me that it was more important to love what I was doing everyday than to earn a certain amount of money.

I still stand by that mindset and in some respects have never felt so good. Yet I don’t remember the last time I felt this financially stressed either. I’m beginning to wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life and turning 26 this year has really got my brain scrambled.

The realisation that a lot can change within a  year has hit me hard this Summer.  Last year there was a lot of loss and growth in my family and that theme has spilled over into life with my boyfriend. I could list so many things that I wish I could change but, everything is a life lesson and all I can do is hope that 2019 is good to me.

ALL I want is for things to go smoothly. I want to stay and progress in my job. I want my boyfriend to find a job he loves and, I just want to live calmly in my nice flat surrounded by beautiful houseplants. That’s my short term goal I suppose and, to go on holiday next year would be pretty great too.

So, yes, where am I actually going long term?

Well.

I wish I knew. This post would be so much simpler if I had some real direction and clue about what I was doing but, I don’t. I’m beginning to learn that making plans is all well and good on paper but, life doesn’t work that way. Life will put a spanner in the works again and again and it’s up to you to adapt your plan and learn to cope.

However I do know that I want to try my best everyday to be kind to myself and to others, to one day (hopefully) own a home with a fancy garage and big kitchen, to start a family and live amongst nature. If for whatever reason those things don’t happen I’ll be alright though, something better might be right around the corner. It’s not like I can’t change my plans and find something new to feel excited for.

I’m kind of making things up as I go a long with this constant vision of a beautiful house by the beach, where I can call home.

That’s keeping me going right now.

If I reach a point in my life where I don’t have to worry about the amount of money I’m spending on a meal out I’ll be truly happy and feel successful. But, I have no idea if I’ll get there and what career I even want to follow for that to happen.

To be unsure of everything is kind of exciting in some respects but, it’s a sort of nervous energy that I’d rather not feel.

I guess for now, all I can do is tell myself that everything will fall into place. And, despite the challenges I’ve been facing recently with my partner we’ve still managed to have the best Summer in a long long time and I’m so thankful for that.

“A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.” – Albert Einstein

Cooking With Gousto

I love cooking, planning my meals weekly and going food shopping but, recently I’ve been feeling a little uninspired.

I partly blame the hot weather, making me want to avoid standing over a hot stove and, also I blame myself for always cooking the same few meals.

We all do it though, right?

We find a few family favorites and cook them to death.

My go to’s until recently have been Carbonara, Stir Fry, Thai curry with salmon and Lasagna. All good meals that I’ve well and truly perfected but, just don’t interest me anymore.

At this point I could have started just researching some new recipes and going food shopping for exciting ingredients but, life is too short and amongst working 12 hour shifts, I don’t always feel like spending my afternoon in my local supermarket. So, I began looking at Hello Fresh but, I didn’t get on with their website because I didn’t like the idea of having to pay for the box before getting to see what was on the menu that week.

But then, I stumbled across a company called Gousto! 

At this point I should add that this isn’t a sponsored post.

The concept is much the same as Hello Fresh I suppose, with food boxes arriving at your door with a selection of recipes you have picked.

Gousto lets you pick up to 4 recipes per week for your family and, each week they have 30 recipes to choose from. You can pay a little extra for some premium dishes too if they take your fancy and you can add extras like a bottle of wine.

I really liked having the benefit of browsing through their recipes before signing up, which really sold me and encouraged me to put an order in.

I should also add that all of their ingredients are locally sourced in the UK. Every ingredient you will need for every recipe is provided in little packets and sachets, which means that the measurements are all done for you, making life even easier.

Here are three of the dishes I’ve tried so far…

Teriyaki Rump Steak, Rice & Sesame Pak Choi 

I paid I think an extra £4.99 for this dish because I’d only tried steak once or twice before and was curious to try an Asian alternative that I knew my boyfriend would love.

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I didn’t have a great time with this recipe or the plating up though sadly. Gousto provide you with simple step by step recipe cards, so I thought cooking this dish would be pretty simple but, I undercooked the steak at first, had to put it back in the pan and then I became flustered and the end result was chewy. Not Gousto’s fault I might add and the rest of the dish tasted delicious. I’m just annoyed at myself because this was supposed to be our premium dish!

I definitely want to cook this dish again, as the Pak Choi steamed with sesame seeds and soy sauce was delicious and making a Teriyaki marinade out of soy sauce and honey was incredibly simple. I’m amazed that I didn’t know how easy it could be.

I’m also a little stubborn and determined to get that steak right.

Sloppy Joe Sliders & Gem Wedge Salad

Not going to lie, I was a little disappointed with just how teeny tiny these sliders were. However, they were actually pretty filling and the wedge salad was the perfect side.

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The dish was super easy to prepare, creating a sauce similar to a Bolognese with the beef, onions and carrots. All I needed to do was grill the buns, pop the mixture into the oven and top with mozzarella.

For the salad dressing, I simply mixed 3 sachets of mayo with a splash of white wine vinegar and some oregano to finish.

I was pretty impressed and my boyfriend loved this dish too.

An all round winner in the Collins Delamare household that’s for sure.

Ten-Min Creamy Tarragon and Mustard chicken

Even though I absolutely love love L O V E cooking, after work it does sometimes feel like a chore. So, this simple and healthy recipe was perfect for those kind of moods.

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The overall dish was so simple and really did take only ten mins, maybe a little less.

Brown rice takes forever to cook and although I think it’s worth the wait, I was pretty grateful to see that Gousto had given me a Tilda microwave wholegrain rice sachet for two.

This delicious meal felt like comfort food and I’ve officially been converted to wholegrain mustard. It’s an ingredient I’d only ever tried in mash before and never thought of pairing with rice.

Moving forward I think this is going to be a staple in my household this Autumn.

These are just a handful of recipes I’ve tried but, they offer such a wide selection for all dietary requirements. The range of cuisines they cover within 30 different recipes per week is commendable too.

I’m so pleased with all of the food I’ve experienced so far with Gousto and can’t wait to receive my next couple of boxes, which will include recipes such as Shredded Chicken Hoisin Wraps, Tofu Chow Mein, King Prawn Korma and, Red Pepper and Sasuage Pasta.

The boxes cost about £34.99 per week and I understand it might not be the most cost effective, it’s definitely convenient for my lifestyle at the moment. I’m absolutely loving the growth Gousto has given me as a home cook and the confidence I’ve been given to step outside of my comfort zone with new recipes.

I’d highly recommend to anyone seeking an easier time in the kitchen. The recipes are easy to follow and really effective. Plus, you won’t need to spend time in the supermarket on your much deserved day off!

What’s not to like?

If you fancy trying Gousto  signing up is really simple.

To receive your 50% discount on your first two boxes simply enter KATE13656695 and enjoy!

 

 

Taking It Slow

Sitting on my sofa, having a relaxed Monday morning I contemplate my lifestyle; whilst it feels like the rest of the world heads off to work.

In March I remember writing a post called Hello Happiness  where I wrote openly about my decision to quit the 9-5, gave some advice for people wanting to do the same and, shared some personal opinions on my ‘career’ so far.

Whilst writing I remember feeling a bit fearful to share my feelings regarding office work and why it wasn’t for me, because I was still thinking maybe, I might go back one day. Sometimes, I still see myself falling back into an office job again, and wonder whether one day it might suit my lifestyle better if/when I have a family. But, after meeting up with a close friend and old work colleague my opinion might have shifted, at least for now.

She was trying to encourage me and in a positive way, suggest that I might want to return to my old job in a different department, as there is a current vacancy I could apply for. At the time, I was pretty interested and had spoken previously with my partner about wanting to go back if they’d have me. However, it wasn’t until a few days after that I began realizing that it would be a mistake and I would be taking a big step backwards.

Self care is the most important thing and my life is so calm, slow, peaceful now.

I work 3 or 4 days a week and have more than enough free time to live my life the way I want to. Before, I was consumed by work. I would constantly shop for work clothes, come home feeling stressed every day, wishing my life away and praying for the weekend.

Now, my life doesn’t exist within the confines of 9-5 and it’s the best. I don’t share the same weekends with everyone else because my routine is changing constantly. I feel that the job I’m doing is important and I’m not ashamed to say that I left working at a Law firm to become a Dementia Care Assistant anymore.

The job isn’t always glamorous but, there’s never a dull moment and I couldn’t think of a better use of my time. It’s in my nature to love and look after, so I’m staying put.

I might see my friends less because of the conflicting work hours but, I see my partner and family more, which means so much to me. I also have a lot of time to myself to write, cook, decorate my new home and enjoy my own company.

The most important thing to mention is that, my mental health has improved so much since saying goodbye to the unnecessary pressure I felt whilst working in a busy office. I’ve always had anxiety and still feel it sometimes but, it’s much more manageable now thanks to discovering a slower way to live.

I’m officially living my best life.

I’m the most confident and comfortable I’ve probably ever felt in my own skin.

I’m untroubled and am able to make the most of everyday.

I don’t go to sleep feeling worried and wanting to phone in sick anymore. I sleep so soooo well and, although I have no idea where my career is going long term, I’m enjoying life right now and that’s the most important thing.

 

 

 

 

Mount Edgecombe & The Little Fox

On a beautiful hot Sunday me, my partner, his dad and best friend traveled to Cornwall to attend the Mount Edgecombe Classic Car show.

The event is held annually on the first weekend in August, and it has become a family thing for us to attend in matching t-shirts with our almost 40 year old Scimitar.

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The event is so so much fun, as lots of classic cars from around the UK travel to be part of the exibition, paying £10 to socialise with other car enthusiasts and eye up each others vehicles.

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But, you don’t have to own a classic car to attend. You can simply visit for the day, parking your car separately or traveling on the little Cremyll ferry from Plymouth direct to Mount Edgecombe and, in addition to the cars, there’s a massive boot sale too.

The event is an all day thing, starting from about 9am with cars usually leaving around 5 or 6 in the evening and, as we were up at 5am getting ready to go we knew we deserved a good evening meal to end the day. So, we made a reservation at the Little Fox Hotel for a delicious dinner with a view.

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The Sunday evening menu was a little small and the by the time we had arrived the waitress had advised that the roast beef and steak options were no longer available, which we were all a little disappointed about to say the least.

However, in the spirit of feeling a little adventurous I decided to order roast duck with black pudding croquettes, something actually quite far outside of my comfort zone.

I’ve only tried duck once before whilst staying in the Cotswolds and had never dreamed of trying black pudding. The thought before that evening made me feel uneasy but as a meat eater anyway, I thought I’d give it a go and, I liked it.

I’m upset to say that and I certainly won’t be raving about it to my vegetarian mother.

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The overall dish and presentation was stunning however, I have to comment on the two little perfectly formed potato rosti.

I’m not sure if they were homemade or not to be honest? I like to think that they were but, they just look too perfect. They weren’t particularly rich and crispy like you usually expect either and, felt a little more like mash potato inside.

For pudding, we were given two menus which were a little confusing. There were lots of items available on both it appeared, until the waitress came back and mentioned that they were out of several options and we had to change our order.

I wanted the advertised lemon tart but, ended up with a classic dark chocolate and raspberry tart with chocolate ice cream and was not disappointed. The thing was beautiful. Very rich and the pastry fell apart on your spoon. There were also whole raspberries inside to add a lovely additional texture.

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What can I say?

The restaurant and food at the Little Fox Hotel is really special. If you’re in the area and fancy some good hearty food I’d recommend stopping by.

The meal for me and my boyfriend came to about £50 in total but it was certainly worth the money and, despite the lack of beef available on the menu, there were lots of other choices including fish and chips, halloumi and chips, roast chicken and duck!

What an incredible day all in all.

The service at the Little Fox could have been better but it certainly wasn’t terrible by any standard, and the car show is always great.

I’m seriously looking forward to next year already and if I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it again, I love coastal living! Having events like this, food, vast countryside and sea views is a total dream and I never want to leave the South West.

 

 

My Instagram Dilemma

For as long as I can remember Instagram has been my favourite social media platform.

I was one of the last people in my friend group to get an Iphone and when I did it totally changed my life. I attempted photography for the first time, found a love for capturing everyday life and, creating an Instagram profile helped my hobby to thrive.

When I first created Cake & Coast my followers kept going up and up and up but all of a sudden, I’m struggling to make it over 700 followers. 700 is a lot and I’m very thankful but, over recent months I’ve noticed so many tweets about the Instagram algorithm and it’s made me think.

Like all bloggers, I find it really disappointing to notice my engagement decrease on Instagram and my blog after a couple of days absent. The annoying thing is, I’m not not posting because I have nothing to say or because I can’t be bothered. It’s because I have a job. Sometimes I work 36 hours in space of 3 days and that means no social media for me. When I have the time/energy I schedule tweets but, I don’t always get around to it and then all of a sudden, goodbye 20+ followers.

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So, what am I doing about my dilemma?

I’ve only been writing since December last year and I’m trying to be kind to myself about the whole thing. I’m trying really hard not to stress and I hope the other little bloggers like me aren’t worrying too much either. It’s difficult because I want to continue writing and I want my blog to be somewhat successful but,I’m trying to adopt the attitude that it doesn’t matter if you have 100 followers or 1000.

Basically, as long as you enjoy the content you’re creating that’s really all that matters right?

I’m also slightly torn about how to improve my content going forward however, I’m trying to look at Instagram from a different angle. I’ll be sticking with my rustic Iphone photos for the time being and blog when I feel I have something I want to share.

It’s not possible for me to be doing more than I currently am and, I need to remember that I love my blog. It’s an ongoing hobby, something I’m still new to and I want to continue enjoying every moment of.

My hope is that people will read my blog, find my Instagram, see the joy I feel for writing and hopefully want to subscribe.

If you want to check out my content on Instagram and read about my latest life ramblings click here

By The Sea Shore

Where I feel at home.

I’m happiest when I’m swimming in the ocean, that’s a fact.

I crave the fresh sea air when I’m at my flat.

When I’m away from the water for too long I’m restless. My skin feels dry and I feel stuffy.

The sea is probably the only place I feel truly myself. I don’t know what it is exactly but, the freedom I feel from swimming is so relaxing and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to share that with my partner recently.

A couple of weeks ago I felt so carefree, full of joy and delicious food.

We didn’t know that life was about to become so much more stressful.

All of our worries at that time had escaped us, as we stayed in Cornwall soaking up the sun for almost an entire week, swimming at the beach, sunbathing, eating fresh seafood and catching up with old friends.

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Life has become much more stressful now but we’re both trying to manage it as best we can. All I can do is sit back, let it all wash over me and pray that the waters will calm soon.

Honestly though, nothing compares to living by the sea. I keep dreaming of having a home on the beach one day. Vast ocean and countryside views, big windows and that clean air. A place for my creativity in the kitchen and garden to thrive.

Pure bliss.

They say that living by the coast has so many health benefits too and, in a previous post I explore why I love this lifestyle so much. I’m not sure I’m feeling the full health benefits at the moment from my flat in Plymouth but, I know that the coast is only a short drive away and that makes me happy.

Overall, I think I can say that this has definitely been the best and worst Summer I’ve had in a long time. I know I’ll be sad when it’s over but I’m looking forward to the future and Autumn so much too.

 

Mothecombe Beach & Schoolhouse

Whilst sunning it up in Devon this week and enjoying a lovely trip to Mothecombe beach we discovered a little restaurant named Schoolhouse.

I was a little skeptical of what to expect of their food after a few bad lunches recently but, upon closer inspection of their menu I was pleasantly surprised and couldn’t decide what exactly I fancied for lunch.

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Local seafront restaurants in my opinion usually produce the best food, as long as their chef is driven and given creative freedom, which it looks like he is! So, I was really excited to see all of the seafood they had to offer.

I went for the crispy squid option with garlic aioli and salad and had to order some dirty fries on the side! The first time I tried dirty fries was an Hubbox and ever since I’ve been hooked and interested to see others interpretations.

In addition to my attempt at a light lunch, my boyfriend ordered the not so light house burger with beef and bacon, which according to the waiter was a really great choice.

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I think we both made fantastic choices for lunch though. My squid was really fresh and crispy and, although it cost £9.50 I was given an enormous portion that kept me satisfied with every mouth full. My dirty fries were also pretty good, covered in cheddar cheese, bacon and both red and spring onions. What’s not to like basically!

My boyfriend said that the house burger was one of the best he had ever tasted and honestly, I believe him. I’m kinda gutted I didn’t get to try any because it looked so so good and was stacked!

Definitely worth the money after a beautiful swim in the ocean that’s for sure.

My only regret is that I didn’t order, take a photograph or even acknowledge any of the delicious cakes they apparently had on offer.

In terms of the decor, everything is super rustic and laid back. Outside where me and my boyfriend had lunch were lots of old sofas and benches, covered in sand but were really comfortable and relaxing. Indoors is much the same, with lots of chalk boards, giant lampshades and antiques.

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If you’re ever in South Devon and want to check out some local food I’d highly recommend Schoolhouse. They might not be the most cost effective option but their food is certainly delicious and worth experiencing.

Also, Mothecombe beach where we spent our morning soaking up the sunshine is only a short walking distance away and there is a separate dog beach too.

Everything about Mothecombe is simply so beautiful, unspoilt and picturesque.

Yet, I should warn you of the £4.50 parking charge for the privilege of leaving your car at some local guys field.

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All in all, I hope you’ve all been enjoying the sunshine as much as I have recently.

Remember to stay safe when out and about during Summer. I love the beach but I always make sure to keep topping up my suncream. No matter what I never tan but I’d rather be pale in summer than burnt.

Make sure you keep eating and stay hydrated too!!

Making Life Good Again

Sometimes all you need is a good catch up with your mum to make things good again.

After a stressful couple of months dealing with moving house and the finances involved, this weekend has felt like the first in a while where I could just chill and take it all in.

Me and my boyfriend ended up moving house a little early due to lack of communication from our estate agents, and everything sort of became a mess. I ended up spending more money than expected and moving became a huge rush. We’ve been in since June 1st but are finding problems left right and center.

Lets just say it’s not been easy. We’ve contemplated our regrets a lot and are only just beginning to feel settled.

I’m eternally grateful for my mums support and my boyfriends dads too though. My mum has been amazing and my boyfriends dad has been there to try and help with every issue we’ve found with the flat.

I know so many people who have such complicated relationships with their parents and I’m so glad I’m not one of them. My mum literally makes everything better. She is full of kindness and I turn to her for support in everything I do. If I didn’t have it during this move I don’t think I could live here. Is that weird?

Anyway, I’m so open about how thankful I am for everything she’s ever done and continues to do for me and I just want her to have the best life possible.

Times have been rough on us all recently and it’s so hard to put on a brave face when you’re feeling your worst. But, I encourage myself and my loved ones to take a step back and get some fresh air as often as possible. That means different things to everyone but to me and mum, it means getting outside. Being with nature, having a good lunch and a catch up. Laughing lots and talking through our problems.

Recently we did just that whilst visiting a local farm shop. We ordered lunch, watched chickens running around and laughed at Alpacas. We shopped for fresh veggie produce and eyed up the deli section. We sat on a bench with a big cup of coffee, discussed our worries and how we wanted to resolve them.

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I always feel that everything is better after eating a good meal, drinking a hearty coffee and spilling out all of the thought that have been consuming you all week. It’s easy to keep things bottled up but, it’s not healthy to live like that and I don’t want to watch someone struggling either.

We’re trying to make life easier, better and healthier in all aspects. I’ve been trying to hold it together and struggling throughout the move but things are getting easier and, I think the sunshine truly helps with that.

I also try to live by the simple words my mum would always say and reiterate them to her when she’s feeling down…

Everything works out. It just does. This is just a moment in time.

What you’re feeling now is only temporary. It’s natural to feel anxious and worried but don’t let it eat away at who you really are.

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I just think it’s easy to focus on the things that aren’t right in your life but, there’s plenty of good things happening too.

My new home is coming together slowly.

I’m going on holiday to Cornwall and will be dog sitting later in July whilst mum is sunning it up in Spain.

Life is good and so are we.

Starting With A Poached Egg

Some time ago I remember visiting Bills and raving about their delicious veggie breakfast. I wanted to recreate my own version at home but life has been busy, so I’ve been avoiding breakfast or eating porridge as a quick fix for as long as I can remember.

This bank holiday weekend things are different though.

After a manic week of feeling worried about my personal life and doing overtime at work, I swore to myself that today I would relax. My boyfriend is out all day too so I’m taking things easy. There’s a little tidying up to do but if I don’t get it done I won’t beat myself up about it.

Taking things slow for me means that I sleept in, had a bubble bath and will watch and eat whatever I want.

I accidentally had all of the ingredients to recreate a version of Bill’s breakfast today so, after eating leftover pizza for breakfast I thought I’d attempt to make a poached egg for lunch. I’d tried a few times before but failed. Apparently the trick is vinegar not salt. Is this something everyone else knew apart from me?

Regardless it worked!

Maybe it was actually me anxiously waiting and watching the pot boil that made it work actually? Practice makes perfect I suppose and it was my last egg.

I paired my poached egg with some delicious bread for the Aldi deli section, chopped an avocado, mixed with garlic and paprika and spread over two thick slices of bread. To finish off I added a splash of sweet chilli sauce as well.

The only thing missing from my dish compared to Bill’s was the lack of tomato hummus or mushrooms but, I’ll be more prepared next time. Halloumi would also be a delicious addition I’m sure.

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I suppose it turns out that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, regardless of when you decide to eat it. My pizza breakfast this morning was me feeling lazy but, this was just the opposite. Getting up and making myself a little something exciting to eat has filled me with joy. I’m still lacking the motivation to clean but, I’m blogging and feeling cheerful for what feels like the first time in a long long week.

My breakfast for lunch is a small attempt at me trying to be kinder to myself. I’ve been getting carried away, wrapped up in work and exhausted. I’ve not been giving myself enough time to breathe and as a result I’ve been short with just about everyone. Relationships feel like they’re crumbling and I’m trying to hold it together.

I’ll be making this breakfast again that’s for sure and I’m already looking forward to it.

I’m trying to get my shit together and I’ve started with a poached egg.

Coastal Living

When the sun is shining and I can escape to the sea I’m so grateful that my mum chose to raise me in Plymouth.

What a great decision!!

This week whilst the sun has been shining away me and mum have been able to spend lots of time together, going for beach walks with the dogs and coffee by the shore. It’s been so lovely and I’m so thankful for weeks like this, where I can enjoy my days away from work and feel like I’m on a little holiday.

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I bumped into a couple old work colleagues on their lunch breaks buying fish n chips and thought to myself, thank God I chose to quit. Thank God I have entire days to enjoy this weather, not just short lunch breaks dreading going back to that office.

I couldn’t imagine not living by the sea and Devon is where I want to spend the rest of my days, living with my boyfriend and eventually raising a family. Plymouth is a beautiful city surrounded by vast landscapes, with Cornwall and Dartmoor only a stones throw away, so why wouldn’t anyone want to live here I don’t know but, it’s something I hear all the time from people who currently reside in the city.

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I don’t think people really realise what they have until it’s gone, which is why so many people move away from coastal cities and return later in life to raise a family or retire. There are so many benefits to living near the coast compared to living in a larger and much more densely populated city like London for example.

Waking up to fresh sea air is a huge benefit and something that appeals to many but there are some other serious health benefits too. The sea helps you feel calm, enables you to sleep better and helps to decrease your levels of stress. Living by the ocean and green spaces also apparently encourages people to exercise more and to take up more outdoor sports such as coastal walking, jogging, surfing and sailing.

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Personally, knowing that I have plenty of beaches in both Devon and Cornwall to choose visiting whenever the sun is shining makes me feel spoilt. I know that if I need to get some fresh air that I’m in walking distance of beautiful parks and the sea, which already makes me feel a lot less stressed.

In terms of food, it’s also great knowing that there are plenty of fresh seafood restaurants to enjoy and that all the ingredients are locally sourced, which is important to me as a foodie. You can’t beat a good bit of cod in batter and I know that whatever the time of year I can access this delicious meal and it’ll be fresh.

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Coastal living also provides a great quality of life to your pets. Allowing your dogs to attend some beautiful walks with you, giving them the opportunity to enjoy nature and paddle in the sea is just as important to them as it is to us. Enjoying days out with your dogs in this way is a beautiful thing and something I encourage doing so as often as possible.

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Even if you don’t live by the ocean and can’t access green space as often as you’d like, it’s important to get away from city life from time to time. Visit your local park or swimming pool, take some time out and book a mini break to Cornwall, take a long drive to the coast or go on a long walk.

There are days when it’s sunny but we want to stay in doors having some alone time but, I urge you to enjoy the great outdoors whilst you can. When the sun is shining it’s a glorious thing and getting a little vitamin D will help brighten your spirits.

British weather sucks for the most part so it’s important to enjoy the sunny days whilst we can. I mean, who knows when we’ll get a week like this again. So, get out of the house, get your friends or family together and head out of the city and towards the coast!

I promise you won’t regret it.

 

 

20’s Life Struggles – Adulthood, Moving Out & Employment

If you’re in your 20’s you probably know exactly how I feel and are facing the same financial struggles as me.

I thought that after leaving education that life would get easier, I would settle in to a career I loved and start a family. But, it’s really not that simple.

Trying to find the right career, balance a social life and find independence is much a big challenge. I work hard, always pay my bills on time and after that, well, my disposable income is pretty non existent.

It’s really disheartening that I can only afford to have a nice day out once or twice a month and, that I always have to feel guilty when shopping for myself and my home.

Savings

Unless you have wealthy parents who are willing and able to financially support you into terms of buying a property or, you are willing to live at home into your 30s and save hard, it’s difficult to imagine ever being able to afford your own home.

It drives me insane when I hear people who claim to be struggling with money, somehow manage to afford a big holiday or to buy a beautiful home, just out of thin air! It’s just not true that they worked hard and saved every penny.

I’m not convinced anyway.

When I was 22 and living with mum I was paid weekly which made it so easy for me to save I must admit. I would give my mum £50 per week, keep £50 for me and save the other £150 every week. I still had a pretty good social life yet, after working for 4 months at that job I managed to save £2000 and, I can imagine that if I continued to live at mums and wasn’t made redundant from that job, I probably would have been able to buy a house by now.

But, life doesn’t always run that smoothly. I had to find a new job, ended up moving out of my mums and all of a sudden, saving became almost impossible.

I always aim to put £100 in my savings each month but, usually it’s back at 10p by the time the month has ended. This month I’ve tried hard to save and I have a little bit for the first time in 3 years which feels really great. However, I’m fully aware that pretty much every month there’s a hiccup and the money might need to be spent.

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Nonetheless, I’ve been trying to remember the advice I gave myself with my first job after graduating in hopes to motivate myself and anyone else wanting to save –

  • Plan a monthly budget – £200 on food shopping, £100 on social events etc
  • Set a strict amount to add to your savings each month
  • Create a Direct Debit to make life easier
  • If you take money out make sure to put in back when you get paid
  • Have a goal figure in mind
  • Set up a joint savings account with your partner and make sure to add equal amount each

Renting

If you want to leave your family home in your 20s you’ll probably be renting unless you’re really really lucky.

This wasn’t something I was prepared to do. I want to buy one day of course but, I love my boyfriend and living with either of our parents wasn’t an option. Thankfully at the time we chose to move I had saved a further £2000 and my boyfriend had redundancy money which meant that we could afford to move out, pay the deposit, estate agent fees and fully furnish our flat. But, it wasn’t cheap and anyone who’s living in rented accommodation will tell you the same.

If you live at home already you should be aware of what will be required of you once you’ve decided to fly the nest and rent. Your chosen estate agents will charge you first months rent and a deposit, which will usually total the cost of one months rent plus an extra £100. If like me, they might also charge you an additional amount to take secure the flat from any further viewings too, which cost me another £300. Oh, and don’t forget, they will also charge you for the cost of checking references.

It’s not cheap and hardly ever affordable but, I’m a strong believer that us young adults shouldn’t live at home until we’re half way through our adult lives. I know it’s tricky getting the finances together to rent and it sucks not owning the property itself but, it’s certainly nice to have independence.

Trying to feel positive about the many great aspects of living in my own flat makes it just about okay that I have no savings and, hopefully if you move out you’ll feel the same way too. If you’re lucky you’ll also find a nice enough landlord who will somewhat let you decorate the place too and, that’ll give you the freedom to feel like the place is yours.

Home Aspirations 

I’ve always had a dream of owning a beautiful red brick property, with high ceilings and pretty fireplaces. Thinking about having an office of my own and a real workspace for my boyfriends IT company to take off. He could even have an amazing garage space to store his vintage cars and I could have an incredible kitchen kitted out with every gadget imaginable.

That’s my big dream and goal in life. I want a happy home. The thought of having enough space to take all of our hobbies seriously and enjoy our free time together in means everything to me.

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I’m aware that the government and implemented Help to Buy schemes are various other ways for young adults to enter the property ladder but, it’s still something I certainly can’t afford. We hope that one day we save up that 10% required to purchase our first home together but it’s not easy. Banks and mortgage loans are so complicated. Purchasing a house should be fun but, thinking of the cost of estate agents and solicitor fees on top of the property itself makes me want to break down and cry.

Employment

It doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t in your dream job right this second. It’s all experience and will lead you to the career path that’s right for you whether you realise it or not.

Sometimes, working in a job that you dislike can have it’s benefits too. It makes you not care to worry about the job outside of the hours you’re there and, it allows you to narrow down your next job search. Once you know what you don’t like you can think about jobs that might be better suited and apply for those moving forward.

If you have found a job you love, make sure it will still work for you in the long run. Make sure there’s progression, that the salary is acceptable and will increase as your skill set develops. Make sure they value you and that your relationships are good with senior management.

Make sure that you have a pension, the option for flexible working and a good maternity/paternity package. Basically, make sure your employer isn’t demanding too much and giving too little in return. Read their policies and keep up to date with changes that may impact you. You should be able to access your companies policy or handbook by speaking with you manager or accessing internal systems, they might have even included a copy in your contract too.

Pensions & Retirement Age

I recently looked at my pension scheme with the People’s Pension and was horrified if I’m honest.

Legally every employer has to offer some sort of pension however, that doesn’t mean the pension is necessarily that amazing. I mean, I pay about £6 per month into mine, which is matched by my employer and over the past two years that’s added up to a very sad amount of money. According to the People’s Pension it means that I won’t be able to retire until I’m 68 years old at earliest.

I hate to break it to you but, unless you work for a major organisation like the NHS for example your pension probably sucks too.

Regardless, I think it’s still so important to be enrolled on a pension. You can choose to opt out if you want to but,  in doing this you’re not investing in yourself or understanding that later in life you and your loved ones may need this money.

It might not look like a life changing amount at the moment and you might resent putting whatever amount you put in every month but, you’ll be grateful when you do retire to have that bit of money behind you. That’s how I’m trying to feel about it anyway!

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If you want to know the total amount your pension is at just contact your pension provider and request a statement. Alternatively, the amount you put in monthly should be on your payslip and you should be able to work out the total from there.

If you’re registered with the People’s Pension just visit their website and log in or activate as a new user with your NI number. They’ll breakdown everything you need to know about your pension and provide additional info too.

To sum up…

Life is hard! It’s always going to be difficult. Hopefully one day money won’t be a worry for any of us and I hope so badly that all of our aspirations come true.

In the short term, all we can do is try our best to focus on the good and plan for things that bring us joy. Don’t forget, it’s okay to treat ourselves too. I’m not saying we need to be strict or worried all of the time. We should all let our hair down, live in the moment and be spontaneous with the money we’ve worked bloody hard to earn too.

Think of the positive and plan for the future as best we can.

I Would Prefer Not To

My life motto.

I’m somewhat unavailable, it’s true.

I work 12 hour shifts which means getting up at 05:45am and getting home at 8pm sometimes two or three days in a row. It’s exhausting and on my much needed days off I’m sleeping, taking a bubble bath and catching up with chores.

I don’t like saying no to people but mentally I’m not capable of pleasing everyone and I’m done with feeling pressured and apologetic because I choose to spend my time in a certain way. In the past I wouldn’t dare to disappoint a friend and because of that mentality I wasn’t happy in myself. I started to feel hurt by the friends who didn’t realise the positions they were putting me in. I’m not sure when it happened but, at some point I decided enough was enough.

We’ve all dealt with uncomfortable situations where saying no hasn’t felt like an option I’m sure. Whether it’s agreeing to a work event that we weren’t really interested in attending or, agreeing to go out for dinner with your in-law, the feeling SUCKS but you continue saying yes to these sorts of things. You might have been tired after work but still decided to go to that shitty house party your friend invited you to when you really wanted to stay home. The FOMO is real and sometimes the thought can feel really unbearable yet, you probably regretted your decision the next day and realised that the hangover wasn’t worth it.

For a long time I would go to every party I was invited to, drink when I didn’t really want to, hang out with people I didn’t really care for and make extra effort for people who wouldn’t do the same for me. I don’t make the time for these sorts of things often any more and life is better as a result.

I’ll always try to be available for the close friends who respect how I manage my time and, who feel similarly to me in regard to personal time management. It’s not always easy to see each other often but, when we do find the time it’s all worth the wait.

When I do reach out and plan to meet a friend I always try to manage the time responsibly. I try to meet up with people around 11am or 12pm for brunch meaning that, I can have the lie in I want and take my time getting ready. It also means that when I get home in the early afternoon I still have time to do whatever chores need to get done and I’m still motivated instead of tired.

With certain friends, when I know I have a couple days off in a row we’ll meet at our favourite pub for dinner on my first day off, have a catch up for a couple hours and try to make sure I’m home at a reasonable hour. I’ll make sure that I don’t make plans for the following day, allowing myself a ‘me’ day to r e l a x.

I always try to remember that if I’m feeling overwhelmed on the day I have a plan that’s it’s fine to reschedule. I continue to feel guilty for saying no or canceling plans but sometimes it needs to be done. My brain often feels frazzled from work and the thought of being social can sometimes feel too stressful. I try to be honest about the reason I’m no longer available and that makes me feel a little better about things.

The thought of disappointing someone is awful I get it but, the thought of unnecessarily going out of your way to please someone else is much much worse.

If you don’t want to say yes to whatever is being asked of you that’s okay. Saying no doesn’t always have to be a negative thing, it’s just about addressing your wellbeing and respecting the needs of others too. The party will still go on, your friends will still have fun and you can do whatever it was you wanted to do with your time instead. Even if it means going home, getting into bed at 8pm and watching Netflix that’s fine too. It’s all about doing what makes you feel happy.

To help me feel better I try to remember the following…

  • Valuable friends and family won’t mind and will still support you.
  • If saying yes makes me feel stressed I’ve made a mistake.
  • Being available constantly isn’t always a good thing either.
  • It’s important to be honest and realistic about how I manage my time and it’s healthy to want some space.
  • Saying no doesn’t mean I won’t ever be available for that person/event in future.
  • I’m still growing. If I need time to recharge then that’s fine. It’s no one else’s business to decide how much time is too much.

The reality is, not everyone will want to or say yes to every invite you throw their way either, so it’s important to make the decisions that make you feel comfortable and fit in with your schedule.

Don’t forget, never ever put someone else before your own wellbeing. Do what’s right for you. Go or don’t go to that event, catch up with your friend or family member another time and enjoy whatever brings you peace.

Dirty Delicious Hubbox

Hubbox essentially is an American street food joint based in the South West.  At the moment you’ll only find them in St Ives, Truro, Pentewan, Plymouth, Exeter and most recently Bristol.

They take pride in their ingredients and have gone out of their way to ensure that their food is locally sourced. Their potatoes come from Cornish Potatoes, their meat Phillip Warren Butchers and their veg comes from West Country Fruit. All of their coffee and alcohol is locally produced too from various UK based companies including Cornish Orchards and Harbour Brewery.

I’ve eaten at Hubbox about a zillion times since they opened in Plymouth a couple of years ago and I have no complaints. Their staff are super friendly and I always look forward to going back. I just wish they were around when I was a uni student because I would have spent my entire student loan eating from their menu and felt so fat and happy doing so.

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Their current menu (which I hear is set to change soon) has lots of choice in terms of beef, chicken, fish and veggie burgers. They also serve hot dogs, nachos, mac n cheese and various types of chips. Honestly I think there’s a little too much choice because I never ever know what to order. Literally just because I know it’ll all be delicious and I don’t want to make a mistake.

So, what did we order you ask?

My boyfriend was a little hungover so he wanted to go all out whereas, my non hungover brain was just craving a big greasy burger. He ordered the BBQ tray which I would only recommend if you have a larger than life appetite. The tray includes beef brisket, pulled pork, fries, chicken wings, a frank (hot dog), pickles, slaw and onion rings (which I stole). I wanted something a little less complicated and I ordered the Kim Yum Chick BBQ chicken Korean burger with dirty fries.

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What are dirty fries you ask? Well, they are delicious I can tell you that much. You can ask for any type of fries from their menu and just ask to make them dirty, which means adding their Hub sauce mixed together with diced white onions and plenty of jalapeños. If spice is your thing you’ll love this sauce. It’s literally so mooreish and like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. I wish I knew how to explain the flavour better but I think it’s something you just need to experience yourself. If you’re unsure whether you’ll like it but want to give it a try, just ask to have some on the side and they’ll be happy to do so.

In terms of my burger, the best way I can describe it is like a really REALLY good KFC Zinger because it’s essentially a slightly tangy buttermilk chicken burger. Inside of their burger itself is a Korean BBQ sauce so you would expect a little kick of some Asian spices, which I didn’t really notice but that’s okay because it’s damn tasty regardless.

My boyfriend loved his meal but had to take a break because as you can imagine, it was really filling. I didn’t get to sample anything apart from the yummy buttermilk fried onion rings but he assured me that the tray was worth the £17.95 it cost.

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Overall, I just love the Hubbox ethos. I commend them for being able to make fantastic good quality food at a competitive price and, I appreciate the efforts they have gone to in order to support other local farmers and suppliers when creating their menu. They are a force to be reckoned with, a big competitor in the Plymouth burger industry. I think they are here to stay and us Plymouthians absolutely love having them.

If you’re ever visiting the South West I would highly recommend trying to track down a nearby Hubbox. Their food is seriously dirty and delicious in so many ways.

Check out their website and drool over their food at your leisure!

Supporting Local Cafe’s – Make

I enjoy venturing out and supporting independents whenever I can and, I’ve loved watching my hometown of Plymouth’s creative community grow in recent years.

With community spirit in mind, I visited Make recently to sample their homemade food thanks recommendations from my mum and sister. Make are based at  140 Vauxhall Street in Plymouth and their premise not only runs a cute cafe but, is used as a workshop for crafts including sewing and crochet. I’m not creative with fabric at all so I’m purely invested for the food but, their workshop space looked fantastic and if you’re interested in getting creative they have a calendar you can access on their website.

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Their cafe and workshop space is neatly organised to sit side by side and is completely void of clutter. The space feels so warm, inviting and well, really creative! From the minute I walked in the door I felt welcomed and couldn’t wait to try the food.

In an aim to show support I obviously had to sample a good variety from their menu including tea and coffee. I started off by drinking a lovely strong cappuccino whilst pondering their menu choices and changing my mind over and over again. Their menu is almost entirely vegetarian and vegan friendly you might be pleased to know, although they do have some meat options available too.

img_0050I almost ordered the brunch poached eggs on toast but at the counter was tempted by their savory muffins so instead, ended up ordering a cup of mushroom and thyme soup with a vegan olive and pesto muffin.

By God did I make the right choice! Their adorable mug of soup was delicious, not too heavy and the muffin was light yet filling as well. My sister ordered their cheese muffin too, which meant we could split them in half and sample each others with the soup. We both agreed that the olive muffin was the better choice but both were pretty tasty to say the least.

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After a much needed catch up I decided I wasn’t leaving until we had cake. They only had a few options available and I was hoping for a little bit more choice but honestly, I was pretty satisfied with my soup and any cake was going to be a bonus. I went for a yummy citrus orange polenta cake accompanied by lots of tea whereas, my sister chose their chocolate and salted caramel brownie.

My orange cake was really delicious but maybe a little too heavy after a big savory muffin (my poor choice not theirs) and the brownie looked pretty damn delicious too although, I didn’t sample it unfortunately.

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I used to work right around the corner from Make so I’m kind of gutted I didn’t ever visit sooner. Regardless, I’ll hopefully be going back in the near future and I might even bring my boyfriend if he’ll let me.

Their food in taste and presentation feels really special so if you’re looking to take a friend or relative out for a little something to eat I’d highly recommend Make. They’re more than just a cafe. They’re a real space to grow, get creative and enjoy good food.

Oh and, they’re also a dog friendly cafe! Which means, if you’re venturing out with your adorable doggo to the Barbican anytime soon you can stop for a little something to eat without a single worry.

If you love their food and their ethos they can also plan events including children’s parties, Hen Do’s and Baby Showers! You can find out more about all of their products, workshops and events by visiting their website https://www.makeat140.co.uk

Side note, it’s so incredibly important to support local retailers, cafe’s and other businesses alike whenever you can. Your support in buying their products and providing exposure through social media means an enormous amount. It’s particularly important when the weather is bad (e.g. recent snowfall) because businesses can really suffer more than you might realise.  They will see their profits change during good and bad weather and this impact can ultimately save or shut down your favourite.

So, I urge you to please still go out, visit your favourite independent or try somewhere new, making sure they stay afloat even when the weather is miserable. I promise it’s worth it if you want them to stick around.

Hello Happiness – Quitting 9-5

As I relax in my lounge on a Monday morning, I think about all of the wasted Mondays I’d spent panicking about the work week ahead. I think about how grateful I am to have taken the (not easy) decision to make a change in 2018, and how I’m now ready to share an update with you all.

At end of January I quit a job I loved and said farewell to lots of great friends I’d made whilst working in that office. I started a new job a week later and in February I wrote about feeling stressed and regretful about my decision to leave. However, you’ll be pleased to know that I feel totally differently about things now and I’m so much happier in myself.

If you love your career and 9-5 works for you then this post isn’t going to be your cup of tea but, for a lot of people it doesn’t whether they know it yet or not and, feeling overworked in an office environment is a very real concern.

I studied Business Management at University and after graduating convinced myself that as long as I was working in an office I was vaguely using my Degree but, that simply just wasn’t true. I’ve learnt so much more working in an office, as a receptionist and in a call centre than my Degree ever taught me honestly, and I’ve never had the opportunity to use my Degree at work.

Up until recently, I’d been working 08:30 – 17:30 everyday and although I loved the people I met and the client interaction, the job began to weigh me down. I was just tired and frustrated about the actual work itself and the long hours. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until my friend left on Maternity Leave that I started to miss her support a lot and that’s when I think I knew my time was nearly up. However, for some stupid reason I stayed for another 4 months before actually handing in my notice. I’d been thinking about it constantly but was too afraid. Then, I had some time off over Christmas to think about where I wanted to be and after speaking with my partner and mum I decided enough was enough.

It was December 28th when I sat down with my manager and discussed the reasons I wanted to leave. They were so considerate and the conversation was great. A weight had been lifted and they reassured me that I was making the right decision. We had agreed that my last day would be January 26th, which allowed me plenty of time to make plans, find a new job and wrap everything up with them. It also meant that they could find someone suitable to replace me and I could help train them.

So where am I now?

I work in Care. A Dementia home to be specific. It’s further away from my Degree than I’d imagined but I love working with people and I have the flexibility I’ve always wanted.  I’m working three days a week at the moment, giving me lots of time to blog, have a social life and feel happier in myself. I’m able to progress too by studying for various qualifications in Care after getting my Care Certificate, which I’m working on at the moment.

My now ex-colleagues were so supportive and had such kind comments to say when I’d informed them of my career move, so I knew deep down that I was doing the right thing. I’m so glad that my boyfriend was so supportive too because his opinion means so much to me and I doubt I would have left if he didn’t give me the green light.

Overall, I think making the change and saying goodbye to 9-5 has been the biggest decision I’ve ever made and probably the best. Working in an office isn’t for everyone and we all have our breaking points. I loved my old job and there were many aspects that I’ll forever miss but, certain things really started to swallow me up inside and coming home complaining to my boyfriend everyday wasn’t fair. I’m not saying I won’t ever come back to 9-5 office work because one day it might suit my lifestyle better or it’ll be in a role I really love and care about.

I’m now looking forward to progressing my blog, gaining new skills, learning to drive and having more ‘me’ days. I feel so much more confident and content in my personal life and can now be the best version of myself.

Would You Like to Make a Change?

If you’re considering a change in career but feel scared my advice is to talk to your family, speak with a close colleague or even your manager if they’re easy to approach. There are also things you can do in your free time to help you make the right decision. For me, I  found it helpful creating a pros and cons list about the job itself. I started looking into other careers I could possibly persue and the skills/qualifications I wanted to gain as well. I also looked at my existing skills and the aspects of work I didn’t enjoy (e.g. math related admin tasks), which made it easier to narrow down my job search.

It might also be time for you to evaluate your financial situation. You can do this by looking at your account and assessing how much of your total salary is spent on travel to work and lunches for example. You should also consider asking these questions if you’re serious about wanting to make a change…

How can you reduce spending if you choose to stay in your current job?

Do you value a higher salary to be more important than your personal happiness at work?

Is it possible for you to take a pay cut for your dream job?

And remember…

Your potential is endless!!

We all have good and bad working days and the only limits are the ones we put on ourselves. If you feel your mental health is suffering because of your job, it’s time to rethink. That doesn’t necessarily mean quitting though. It just means reaching out to your manager or someone in the organization with authority. They might be more understanding than you realise and be able to find ways to help you by introducing flexible working hours or allowing you to work from home for instance.

I’d love to hear your career stories and find out how you manage to find balance between work and your personal lives. Tell me why you do or don’t think 9-5 works and feel free to share your honest opinions.

 

 

 

Embracing ‘Me’ Time

Feeling snowed in?

On a freezing cold day in March, I’m able to reflect on my love for ‘me’ time.

When life gets busy and we feel stressed it’s easy to forget to look after ourselves. There are times in all of our lives when we won’t love ourselves as much as we should but, I’m learning to cope with my negative thoughts and enjoy alone time.

It’s important to let happiness and positivity in. Although, when things get really tough and happiness seems far away, we need to at least acknowledge our feelings and take time to heal in whatever way works for you.

For me, in order to function and feel good about everyday, I choose to spend one day a week at home or at least in my own company. I never feel guilty because the day is important to me. I need to recharge my batteries and I enjoy my solitude. It gives me time to process all of my racing thoughts and be calm. It’s particularly essential for me to keep my home and mind organised. Sometimes this slips but there are certain things I like to do to get life in order again…

I’ll wake up when I want and won’t set an alarm. I’ll take a relaxing bubble bath, put on a face mask and pamper myself. I’ll change into fresh pajamas and I’ll eat a nice breakfast, take my time and listen to the radio. I’ll tidy up, chill out on the sofa and catch up with my favourite Netflix show. In the afternoon, I might go for a walk or go out for lunch. I’ll rustle up a nice dinner and maybe try something new. I’ll get an early night, scroll on my phone and read a good book. Catch up with my boyfriend and fall asleep at peace.

I love these days.

I’m not being selfish or lazy, I’m just an introvert. I love the productivity I have when I’m all alone, seeing what I’m able to achieve when I’m in my quiet space. This blog for example!

“Introverts are collectors of thoughts, and solitude is where the collection is curated and rearranged to make sense of the present and future.” – Laurie Helgoe, Revenge of the Introvert

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I like to set time aside and stick to it yet, some weeks I might not need my day and on others I might need more than one. Sometimes, I cancel on friends because I’m not done recharging. It just takes as long as it takes and that’s why sometimes I flake out on plans but, reading Chloe Plumstead’s blog post about being the flaky friend reminded me that it’s okay to not be available all of the time. Good friends and family should understand and if they don’t then I just shrug it off these days.

Basically, lazy days are great, having the house to yourself is great and being your own best friend is great too.

It’s important to love ourselves inside and out, to understand what we need to feel good and to never ever forget that!!

My Food Journey

Whether I’m cooking at home or going out for a nice meal, nothing brings me more pleasure than eating with my loved ones. From a young age I remember always wanting to help my mum cook in the kitchen, and when she was working late shifts as a nurse me and my sister would cook together too. I think one of the first meals I learnt to cook was Ratatouille. I always wanted to chop the mushrooms, peal the veg and annoy my mum with my questions about food. I always fondly remember my mum cooking honey and mustard chicken, vegetable curries and her infamous roast dinners as well. She was the type of mum who would be serving up dinner the minute you entered the door from school, and I loved her so much for that! I will always remember walking home with my sister and trying to guess what would be for dinner that day.

With mums help, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a chef but I was really scared about the training involved and the equipment, so I over-thought about it and instead, I stayed safe and chose to study Business. Although, I continued to grow my interest in cooking from the comfort of my own kitchen.

When I moved out for University I think one of the first things I made for my housemates was Fajitas, which I continued to live off of through my first year. Cooking whilst at University was always a bit of a struggle though. I enjoyed cooking but everything had to be on a tight budget. I mainly led a vegetarian diet and I ordered A LOT of pizza from our local takeaway.

It wasn’t until I moved in with my boyfriend during 2016 that things really changed and my confidence in the kitchen began to come to light, partly because I had more money in a new job, and also because I had someone who I was excited to cook for. Some of my favourite dishes to cook for us include Thai salmon curry, lasagne, carbonara and sausage & mash.

Unfortunately having someone to cook for and more expendable income to buy ingredients can impact our health negativity though, as it’s often difficult to find a good balance between eating rich food and living a healthy lifestyle, something I’ve been battling against for some time now. I always cook with lots of vegetables and eat a lot of fish but, me and my partner have a big sweet tooth and eat a lot of sugary treats too. I’m also a sucker for making big portions, which means my plates are usually overcrowded or we go back for second helpings. Also, I love sides! If I’m making a stir fry I almost always have to have some spring rolls and/or prawn crackers, and if I make anything Italian we need to have garlic bread too. Is this a dilemma in other households or is it just me being greedy??

Having said that, things are changing and I’m not sure how it will impact the way we eat long term. I’ve taken a new job which means I’m working 12 hour shifts and won’t be cooking dinner everyday like I used to. My plan is to cook meals in bulk  by utilising my slow cooker, meaning we can both have a home cooked dinner even on days when I’m working. This isn’t something I’ve managed to achieve yet but, I’m planning to start this Sunday with a big comforting cottage pie.

I should also note that, I’m already seeing positive changes in my cooking on the days I have off during the week. I’m able to take more time and care in the kitchen to rustle up our weekly favorites, and experiment with new dishes too. It’s nice having the time to do a big food shop without rushing around after work too, as I’ve been able to pick ingredients more carefully.

It’s just been so good to have more freedom. Long term I feel this change in routine will have such a positive impact on my happiness, my relationship, and my skills as a cook, which of course is amazing news! For an example, as we all know it was Valentines Day on the 14th, a great excuse for me to try out a new dish at home. I think I might have mentioned in my previous post reviewing Bill’s Diner that I wanted to try steak and really enjoyed theirs. So, I thought it was about time I tried to recreate my own version at home and to be honest, I think it might have been just as good, if not better!

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I cooked my version of healthy chips by cutting my potatoes in to thick wedges, par boiling them for 5 minutes before sticking them in the oven with a spray of fry light on each. I rotated them after 15 minutes and sprayed more fry light on the other sides. I think in total I baked them for 30/40 mins at 200 until golden brown.

For the steak, I was aiming to cook it to medium. I again used more fry light, I sprinkled a little pepper on each side, and cooked on each side for 3 minutes. I used the BBC Food guidlines to help me on how to cook the perfect steak. I ignored the recipe but half way down the page they note the following…

  • Blue: About 1½ mins each side
  • Rare: About 2¼ mins each side
  • Medium-rare: About 3¼ mins each side
  • Medium: About 4½ mins each side

I paired my steak and chips with fancy long stemmed broccoli and a peppercorn sauce. Unfortunately I didn’t cook the sauce myself, as I totally forgot to buy the ingredients but, I will definitely attempt to next time because there will be a next time! I know it’s an easy dish to some but I’d never made either of the main components before and I was so so pleased with the results, as was my boyfriend.

I also recently made a ricotta baked chocolate cheesecake. I glanced at a recipe whilst in the supermarket shopping for ingredients but didn’t really follow it when I got home. I remembered my mums amazing baked chocolate cheesecakes from when I was a teenager, and just went with my instincts from there. It was simple really. I literally just added three tubs of ricotta cheese into a bowl with two egg yolks, 100g of caster sugar and 275g of melted dark chocolate. For the base, I melted 50g of butter with half a packet of crushed digestive biscuits and pushed it all to the bottom of a cake tin, added the cheesecake mix and baked for an hour at 150.

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I feel like my food journey is only just beginning to grow and I’m incredibly excited about my future food ambitions. I’m hoping to master the art of the perfect yorkshire pudding, bake the perfect cake and figure out how the hell to make a poached egg amongst many other things! Feel free to read the full list on my 2018 goals post and I hope you all continue to read about my many cooking successes and failures to come.

 

 

The Sunshine Blogger Awards

I’ve been nominated by the lovely Homebird Hang-Ups and Kate Carter for the Sunshine Blogger Awards. I can’t thank them enough for the support as a new blogger and so, below I have responded to Homebird Hang-Ups questions and nominated some of my favourite bloggers.

The rules are:

1. Thank the blogger (s) who nominated you for the blog post and link back to their blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.

3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 questions.

4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo in your post and / or blog!

Below are the questions I’ve been asked to respond to (all would you rather and why).

1. Have unlimited time or unlimited money?

I would rather have unlimited money of course. I might have limited time on earth but I’d be able to make the most of my days, travel and live lavishly. I would also be able to provide financial support to my friends and family and leave a legacy to charity.

2. Be stranded in the sea or the desert?

In the desert. Not an easy question to answer and I absolutely love swimming in the sea but, I’m not that strong. I doubt I’d be able to survive for long in the water and would have a better chance on land.

3. Join the circus or be kidnapped by aliens?

Join the circus. Being kidnapped by aliens seems a lot more scary. The fear of the unknown I guess but, if I was in the circus I could possibly train to be an acrobat or help with costumes if I was able to befriend my kidnappers of course.

4. Fast forward to the future or go back in time?

Future please. Only about 5 years of so, but I’m always thinking about my future. I think about my partner and wonder where I’ll be. I want a nice home, a job I love and to not be renting anymore. I want kids and a nice garage for my partner to keep his nice car.

5. Live without books or TV?

Without books. I feel so bad saying that. I love reading at the moment but I’m always always watching TV. Reading is something I dip in and out of and TV is something I rely quite heavily on to relax.

6. Run 25 miles or walk 50?

Walk 50. I love walking. Running has never been my thing but walking is something I always try to participate in as often as possible. There’s so many nice places to explore and if I was running I wouldn’t be able to stop and to appreciate them.

7. Be a celebrity or a politician?

Celebrity. I’m not a genius in the kitchen by any means but I’d love to be a celebrity chef. I would like a big fancy kitchen with all of the gadgets in the world, to be a judge on Masterchef or something and have a cook book.

8. Give up chocolate or caffeine?

Caffeine. I absolutely adore a good cup of coffee from a coffee shop but, chocolate is something I eat more often.

9. Lose the sense of smell or taste?

That’s a tough one. Smell I suppose? Smell and taste go hand in hand so, without one you really lose a significant amount of the other. I love everything about eating and cooking so, my taste has to stay if I had to pick.

My nominations are…

MollyRees

Bonvoyagelucy

Beccymaysays

TravelTales_CA

ItsJadeMarie

Myselfwise

Moreaboutcat

OddballContent

Ellamaygarrett

Lunavioleta_x

Hilariceblog

So now onto my questions.

As I’m a new blogger and love food, I would like to ask the above nominations the following questions…

  1. Why did you decide to start blogging?
  2. What is your favourite topic to write about?
  3. What are your goals as a blogger?
  4. How do you manage to fit blogging around your job and/or education?
  5. How do you utilise social media to drive traffic to your blog?
  6. What is your favourite meal to cook for other people?
  7. What is your guilty food pleasure?
  8. What is your least favourite cuisine in general?
  9. Have you been reading any books this year and if so, do you have any recommendations?
  10. Have you been watching any food or lifestyle series of Netflix and if so, do you have any recommendations?
  11. If you like to cook, do you have any recipes that you would recommend I try?

 

 

Carbonara Overload at Prezzo

If you happened to read my last blog post, you might be aware that I’ve been having a little panic about what the hell I’m doing with my career and how I’m going to spend time with my loved ones.

It’s hard to fit everyone in and around conflicting work schedules but, we all try our best to make it work. Whether it’s due to finances, laziness or lack of free evenings, me and my boyfriend rarely go out for dinner either.  But, we decided to visit Prezzo last Friday night thanks to a lovely £40 gift voucher as one of my work leaving presents. We were both a little tired but planned on having dinner followed by a few drinks to wind down from a long week.

The night started off with our taxi being 15 mins late and me pacing up and down the sitting room impatiently waiting. From then on the night went sort of downhill. Nothing went horrendously wrong but we weren’t all that talkative, our food was relatively mediocre and we ended up coming home around 10.

I hate to be critical but, I’d never been to Prezzo before so, my expectations were pretty high. Knowing that they have a prime spot at Royal William Yard and lots of venues across the UK, to me meant that their Italian food must be pretty damn special.

Classic Italian dishes are pretty hard to get wrong I say! I mean, everyone loves a good pizza or hearty bowl of pasta. They are relatively easy dishes to cook at home too but feel really special when cooked with high quality restaurant ingredients you might not have in your kitchen cupboards.

So, what did I order you ask?

I chose the chicken and wild mushroom ravioli with a carbonara like sauce, paired with a tall glass of Rose wine. The dish was pretty yummy but I was slightly peeved that my pasta bowl had sauce on the rim, which should have been wiped off before serving surely? I’m just being picky but presentation is important. Also, the chicken and mushroom filling wasn’t particularly strong which was a shame.

We both must love carbonara and so, my boyfriend ordered the Prestigio chicken and mushroom carbonara pizza however, we both felt it tasted more like breakfast. The pizza was lacking in sauce and the richness you would find in this great classic pasta dish. It was simply overwhelmed with the taste of two fried eggs and, I know it’s supposed to be a twist on the recipe but, maybe it was too much.

 

 

I wouldn’t say I’d never go back to Prezzo but it definitely wouldn’t be my first choice. We both love Italian food and it’s a cuisine I regularly cook at home, which added to the disappointment. I’m just glad that we had gift vouchers, else I would have been really disappointed to have had to pay £53 for our dinner. Maybe next time I’ll order something more exciting. Lots of other dishes caught my eye, so maybe I just ordered the wrong one.

Simply putting this failed evening down to tiredness on our part, a bad taxi driver and carbonara overload in all the wrong ways.