Ah Man, I just have to get this blog out before the end of January! This month has been a bit of a write off for me, as I have battled with the flu virus for most of it. It’s left me feeling pretty debilitated at times – really low in energy and mood and just struggling along for the most part. The good news is I am starting to feel better this week, and I’m starting to get my sh*t back together after a temporary body and mind go-slow. Can I start the new year all over again? February (and 2017)* here we come! I personally believe in setting goals for the year ahead. It keeps me on track and focussed when there is always so much other stuff going on. Here are my goals / hopes / resolutions for 2017.

 

 

1] Focus on Food – Food is always pretty high on my agenda anyway, but I still feel like I could give myself that extra push when it comes to meal planning, market shopping and batch cooking. I’ve recently made the final leap into vegetarianism (verging on veganism) so I really want to swat up on my plant-based cooking and research more into the nutritional benefits of natural foods, for all of our family.

2] Get a Bike [and a trailer] – Over Christmas we went back down to a one car family after running two cars for the last couple of years. The extra car was no longer necessary as the boy’s school is so close to our house and I work from home, so we are saving money (and the planet) by just using one car now. I’m really hoping to get myself a decent bike this year. We have considered Bakfeit style cargo bikes versus good quality trailers for the children. I’m really excited to have a greener, healthier mode of transport for getting myself around.

3] Start a Creative Business – I have been umming and ahhing over starting a small creative business whilst I am still able to work around the children and their school timetable. It’s going to be 5-6 years before they will no longer need me to walk them and collect them from school, and it’s really tough trying to consider a career that will be flexible around family life. Self employment always seems like a viable option for creative parents who want to work, yet are set on spending as much time as possible with their children outside of school hours. I’d like to get a business plan drawn up so that I can work out what’s possible for me.

4] Take more Photos – I feel like I’ve really let my photography slip over the last year. I want to make a resolution to take more photos, even if they never make it to my instagram or blog. And I want to get back to my film camera too.

5] Build my Business – For the last five years I have kept my Holistic Therapies business gently ticking over. It’s been a great way to keep practising my skills, earn a little extra money and get a relaxing break from my (lovely) children. I feel like I need to give the business a little extra push this year. I’m considering some extra training, and investing more time into promotion.

6] Fruit Bowl – Sounds crazy but I really want to focus on our family fruit bowl! I want a huge bowl at the centre of our dining table, full with a variety of fresh fruits. The children need a lot of extra encouragement to eat their fruit, and as a family, we could all do with a healthy focus – literally at the centre of our living space.

7] Travel – I miss travelling. It’s just not been possible since we had the children to travel too far or for too long. But I continue to hope for some new trips soon. My current travel wishlist includes Gothenburg, Barcelona and Berlin.

8] Learn to make Sushi – I’ll need a good recipe for vegetarian sushi! But this needs to happen soon. The sushi cravings are coming.

9] Yoga – Always a resolution of mine. I started the new year practicing Adrienne’s online 31 day yoga challenge, and am sad to say I didn’t make it past day 10 before I was too ill to practice. However, those 10 days did remind me how much I love (and need) yoga in my life. I felt a real reconnection with myself, which I haven’t had for a long time. So, something to get back to this year for sure.

10] Finish The Artist’s Way – Last year I began working through Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’. A book aimed to assist in the rediscovery and recovery of your creative self. It is a demand on your time, especially with two young children, but I made a commitment to it for 9 of the 12 weeks outlined in the workbook. I really want to make some space to finish the book, and the work. I’m excited to see what comes from it.

 

* Owen had to point out to me that it was currently 2017, not 2018 as I had believed for the last 31 days.

It’s not like I don’t treat myself to nice food during the week (and I do eat a lot of sweet things) – but when it comes to the weekend, I’m in need of something special, you know – something weekendy. We rarely drink alcohol, order take-away or even dine out (how boring we have become since having children) – and back in the day, Friday night would mean wine, greasy food and shop bought chocolates (revels, obvs). We’re much more clean living these days, but I still crave that weekend hit of something sweet, rich and indulgent to wave off the Monday-Thursday grind. It’s always cheesecake. That’s exactly what I want every time. So last week, I got myself prepped. Weekend cheesecake was ready and waiting for me, and it was really good. And so begins, a mini series of weekend cheesecake recipes to share with you.

 

 

Frozen Raspberry & Chocolate Weekend Cheesecake

(based on my new root’s cashew dreamcake – and it’s raw, vegan, refined sugar free, dairy free and all that good stuff)

 

½ cup whole almonds

½ cup medjool dates

pinch of salt

1½ cups cashew nuts, soaked overnight

juice of 2 lemons

1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

13 cup coconut oil, melted together with 1cup raw honey

2 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 cup raspberries (fresh or well thawed frozen ones)

frozen raspberries, hazelnuts, shelled hemp seeds, cacao nibs for decoration

 

Process the almonds, dates and salt until they are finely chopped and will stick together to form your cheesecake base. Press this into a loose based cake tin, around 8 inches. Pop it in the fridge or freezer to set. Drain the cashews, and place them in the food processor (or even better is a high speed blender) with the melted oil and honey, lemon juice and vanilla – until completely smooth. Remove half of the mixture, and add the raspberries to the half left in the blender, and pulse again until smooth. Stir the cacao powder into the other half. Layer up the cheesecake with the chocolate mix first, then top with the raspberry mix. I threw on a load of decoration healthy stuff at this stage – and then pop it all into the freezer to set for at least two hours. This cheesecake is best served semi-frozen to help retain it’s shape (due to the lack of cheese I guess!) so take it out around 45 minutes before you want to eat it – and you can store any left overs back in the freezer.

The 11am hunger curbers, the 3pm get-me-through-the-afernoon snack and the 9pm end-of-the-day-i-deserve-something-sweet nibble. Collectively, these things have come to be know, in our house, simply as ‘mamma treats’. There isn’t a chance in hell that my week will run smoothly if there aren’t at least two varieties of mamma treat in my kitchen at one given time. I usually crave something cakey or biscuity, along side something chocolatey or fudge-like. It really has become a weekly necessity for me to invest some time into stock piling sweet treats, that have become the life-force to keep me upbeat and balanced (or as close to) during a busy week managing children, work and general family life. Luckily for me, the kids are not always temped by my healthy treats – and although Owen has the occasional dabble, he’d really just prefer to be eating crisps. So favourably for me, these mamma treats have become exclusively mine. The conditions upon my treats are simple – they must be refined sugar free, preferably refined wheat flour free, and quick to whip up. I’ve honed my weekly treat repertoire to a few simple recipes, so I thought I’d share them with you here as they are well-tested and really easy to incorporate into a busy world.

 

MY FULLY LOADED SUPER COOKIES

A friend naughtily passed on this ‘secret’ recipe to me, after being given it to from her health coach. I’ve adapted it over the years by loading them up to full cookie capacity with added superfoods, and they remain a firm staple in my kitchen. For a more indulgent treat, I omit most of the extra seedy healthy ingredients and stir in 100g of dark chocolate pieces.

 

1 cup of almond or peanut butter

3cup of coconut sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp chia seeds

handful of seeds (I use pumpkin & sunflower)

handful of dried fruit (I use cranberries, chopped apricots & sultanas)

shelled hemp, bee pollen, more seeds as topping

 

Blend together the nut butter, coconut sugar, egg and baking powder. Mix through the chia seeds, seeds and fruit. You can pretty much add anything to the nut butter, sugar, egg and baking powder part so just cram in as much as you can (dark chocolate is very good!). The mixture is very stiff and oily, so spoon tablespoons on to lined baking trays, and press down with the back of a fork. Top with more seeds and stuff. Bake at 150°C for 8-15 minutes, but no more than that if you want to keep them lovely and chewy.

 

 

THE MINIMALIST BAKER’S RAW (BRAZIL NUT) CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

I’ve already raved about these raw brownies. So quick and easy to make, super nutritious and the perfect indulgent after-dinner treat. I adapt Dana’s recipe to use brazil nuts instead of walnuts, for a creamy dreamy chocolate fix. I love the Minimalist Baker’s blog, you can find it here. Recipe here. (I swap walnuts for brazil nuts) (The ganache is insanely good but definitely not necessary if you want to keep it simple).

 

 

FOOD FIX UP’S CHAI SPICED WHITE CHOCOLATE BARS

I have also raved about Stef’s Food Fix Up recipe app several times on the blog – but really, I go back to it on a weekly basis for meal ideas and for my Mamma treat inspiration. Stef’s philosophy incorporates refined sugar, gluten and dairy free recipes, with physical health and compassionate wellbeing. Her recipes always inspire and remind me to enjoy the indulgence of eating good food, with good ingredients and amazing tastes. So let me tell you about this chai spiced white chocolate! I don’t share my treats very often and I am particularly cautious when it comes to parting with even a crumb of these goodies. However, the friends that have sampled these super chai treats have been blown away. They contain rich cacao butter, coconut, cashew butter, spices and salt – and you can find the full recipe and many many more by downloading the Food Fix Up App here. It’a the best couple of pounds you can spend, promise.

 

 

HEALTHY DIGESTIVE BISCUITS

Since I quit sugary shop bought treats, there has been a noted (by Owen) lack of biscuits in the (now non existant) biscuit barrel. During my Ayurvedic training, I was told that dry foods like crackers and biscuits are “no good for my airy vata body type” and I’ve kind of been put off ever since. However, when the craving for a crunchy sweet something does strike, I tend to make these healthy digestive biscuits and everyone in the house is happy. Plus the boys love decorating them (thanks to The Lunch Lady for the inspo!)

 

100g whole spelt flour

75g light spelt flour (or plain flour)

150g oat bran

pinch of salt

150g coconut oil (or butter)

4 tbsp coconut sugar

milk (whatever you usually use)

 

Mix the spelt flours, oat bran and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter to form a breadcrumb like consistency. Stir in the sugar. Using your hands, add some milk a little at a time, until the dough comes together in a ball. Pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough out (around 4mm thick) and press out circle shapes with a cutter. Add a face at this point if you wish!! Bake at 180°C for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and dip some dark chocolate hair / facial hair if desired.

 

 

SARAH BRITTON’S COZY BANANA BREAD

I think everyone needs a go-to banana bread recipe. I used to swear by an old weight watcher’s recipe that my Mum gave me years ago – and although it only added a little honey to sweeten it, it was full of refined flour and low fat margarine. I stumbled across Sarah’s recipe online, way before I fully developed my foodie crush on her and her blog, My New Roots. Everyone that has tasted this banana bread has asked me for the recipe. It is full of nuts, seeds and banana goodness – with the most moist texture – aaaaaand you can pretty much make the whole thing in a blender. Banana bread recipe here. My New Roots blog here. App here. Do it. Sarah I love you btw, just saying.

 

A WORD ON BUYING INGREDIENTS

I realise that baking or making healthier sweet treats, almost always involves switching up many of your usual store cupboard ingredients. This can be costly and confusing if you are not used to buying health and whole food staples. It has taken me years (and I still have lots to learn) to figure out how to economically cook better food. I think it comes down to making an investment. I will particularly invest money and time into my ‘treat’ foods as after all, putting something good in my body is what makes them a treat in the first place. I buy nearly all of my ingredients in bulk on Amazon by comparing prices and working out what works best per gram. I usually use the Sevenhills or Biona brands. If you have an Aldi near you, their raw nuts, pure maple syrup and coconut oil are some of the cheapest I’ve come across. And if you have a Costco card, you will find so much bulk goodness there too.

Some days, weeks or even months, I go through these explosive periods of inspiration, creativity and general buzzy headedness – considering all of the things that I love, that drive me, that influence me. It’s a great time, and I can’t wish it away – despite that it keeps me awake at night and tinges me with a slight sense of desperation to get going or to get something started. I tend to keep all of my ideas or current inspiration as notes on my phone, or as files on my laptop. Sometimes I print images or create a visual blog to act as a reminder for things that have come to the top level of my consciousness. Basically, there is always a lot in my head. So I’m going to start dumping it here, to share it with you! Because maybe, you might like some of it too.

 

1. After years of avoiding pizza and deeming it as a totally unhealthy food option, we’ve recently started putting it back on the menu at home. I’ve been using Sarah Britton’s spelt flour dough base, Oh Dear Drea’s easy no cook sauce, plenty of fresh basil and nutritional yeast. Pizza = healthy = fine by me.

2. Give me all the vegan freak shakes.

3. I’m listening to a lot of Laura Mvula at the moment. She recently hosted a brilliant programme exploring the musical roots of Nina Simone. Unfortunately it’s not available on iPlayer any longer – but you can watch her awesome radio one live lounge performance (and Tame Impala cover) here.

4. Owen has just finished his run of spoken-word theatre performances, with his show Wrong. You can watch some feedback and highlights here.

5. I’m noticing an increased amount of people taking instagram ‘breaks’ or confessing their lack of mojo for social media participation lately. I have felt similarly myself recently. I enjoyed reading Amanda Watter’s take on her more present path since quitting instagram.

6. My holiday reading.

7. Obsessed with Danish outerwear company, Rains. We just got Owen this jacket.

8. Loving Shantell Martin’s work.

9. Latest insta-crush. 

10. I may be running behind on this, but I have just discovered dirty chai masalas. This recipe though!

11. I’m looking for the perfect cool putty grey paint for our family room. Help!

12. I read that watching someone having a massage can release the same relaxing hormones as actually having a treatment yourself. I’ve been revising my pregnancy massage techniques by watching these videos – and have been feeling super chilled.

13. I found the perfect armchair.

14. I’d love to go to this Barbie exhibition.

15. My friend Rox is offering 20% of everything in store this bank holiday weekend, if you join Studio NL‘s mailing list.

16. I don’t know how I stumbled across these, but I found Warren Buffett’s quotes on investing and success really powerful!

17. BFGF are doing ceramics now. Right on.

18. Well done to our City Mayor for challenging Britain First’s unwelcome visit to Leicester.

19. The best of Airbnb in Britain.

20. I’m selling my car in the Summer and considering one of these.

If, like me, you have let yourself over indulge on the sweeter side of Christmas – I thought you might enjoy hearing about a couple of healthy alternatives to satisfy any left over chocolate cravings, as you enter the New Year. These are a couple of my go-to chocolate recipes that I like to have stored in the fridge for that 11am slump, or to have as my (well deserved) evening treat after a day with the boys. I like to eat regularly and I hate to deprive myself of things like chocolate and sweet treats. However, I rarely eat refined sugar or dairy products these days, so I really felt the difference over Christmas when I ate milk chocolates, sugary cookies, late night cheese & biscuits and all at completely out of sync times with my normal eating routine. I know that’s what Christmas is all about (and I definitely enjoyed eating half a chocolate orange for breakfast) but by New Year’s Day I was feeling sluggish and tired – and craving sugar so bad! If I’m not organised with alternative treats, I will always reach for a quick sugar fix – particularly for the next week or so as I try to get over these post-Christmas sugar cravings. I’m sure you will love both of these recipes, and your body will thank you too.

 

RAW CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

These are such easy raw chocolate brownies to make – particularly if you make them without the ganache topping. You can find the full recipe on Dana’s blog The Minimalist Baker, here. But for a quick version – blend 1 cup of whole almonds, 1 cup of walnuts, 3cup of cacao powder,  1teaspoon of sea salt and 2.5 cups of medjool dates (or dried dates soaked in hot water for 30 minutes) in a food processor until dense and fudgy. Press the mixture into a lined tray and top with chopped walnuts and cacao nibs (pushing them in to the mix with your hands). Chill in the fridge.

 

2 INGREDIENT CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

This is my go-to truffle recipe that is so easy and can be easily adapted to add more flavours and create variations. Not only do they store well in the fridge and make the perfect mini chocolate-fix, they also make lovely gifts for health-conscious friends – and like the raw brownies above, they are refined sugar free and suitable for vegans. The full recipe is from McKel’s great website, Nutrition Stripped. For my quick version; break 10 ounces of dark chocolate (at least 75%) into a heavy based saucepan and add the cream from a tin of full fat coconut milk (you can save the rest for making pancakes or coconut curries). Place on a low heat until completely melted and combined. Stir in half a teaspoon of sea salt and pour the mixture into a small bowl. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, until it is firm enough to scoop and roll into small balls (I use a melon baller works perfectly!). I like to coat mine in more cacao and chill again in the fridge.

 

If you are looking for more inspiration for a healthier and happier 2016 – you might be interested in McKel’s 7 day wholefood reset and rebalance e-book, which contains all the information you will need to kickstart a fresh new year. Also Sarah Britton over at My New Roots has finally released an app, which includes 100+ healthy vegetarian recipes at your fingertips. I made the banana bread pancakes for breakfast this morning and they were sensational.

 

Happy New Year everyone! I hope it’s a good one.

We’ve been slowly decorating our not-so new home over the last couple of years that we have lived here. It’s been a patchy process to say the least – with a few things hung here and there, a bit of tiling here and a new rug there – and so on. Recently I decided to tackle one room at a time, to really get each one decorated properly, so that our home started to feel a little more complete. I know that homes are ever evolving projects and ours will certainly change as the children grow and as our tastes change – yet I’d still like to feel that each room in the house has had a good bit of attention.

 

It’s always difficult to know where to start with a big decorating project like a new home. When we moved in two years ago, we painted every wall, skirting board and picture rail in white. I don’t regret that one bit – and although I hope to add colour to the walls eventually, it has given us a good clean start to creating a fresh space at home.

 

You may have read an old post here about coping with tiredness. I was not blessed with good sleeping babies unfortunately, and the last four years have been (at times) a difficult ride of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Our bedroom situations have been mixed up from one week to the next; from co-sleeping, to having the boys in separate rooms, to them in a shared room, to us all in the same bed, to three beds in one room….and so on! The last month or so has seen a giant shift for us as a family, as the boys (now sharing a double bed in their own room) have begun to settle better and sleep through the night together . This major sleep breakthrough has been nothing short of life changing for me – not only am I sleeping better, I also have my bedroom back!

 

To celebrate these new victories in family sleep patterns, I decided to focus on making our adult bedroom fresh and new. I wanted to create a space for myself and Owen that felt serene, clutter-free and peaceful – exactly how I want my mind to feel after a busy day looking after the children. Now I have a little more control over the night time situation at home, I wanted to make getting a good night’s sleep a complete priority.

 

 

When planning my bedroom make-over, I pondered over the interior variables that would influence me sleeping well – and I figured that there were four things most important to me in aiding a good night’s sleep.

 

1) THE RIGHT MATTRESS & PILLOWS

We had a bad mattress for so many years, and I couldn’t believe how much better I’ve slept since replacing it. We now have the Ikea Malvik memory foam mattress. It was in our price range and it’s been a dream to sleep on. Personally, I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to pillows. As long as my neck feels comfortable during the night and in the morning when I wake – I’m good with something simple like these softtouch ones, from John Lewis.

 

2) CURTAINS & BLINDS

We have white wooden venetian blinds at all of our windows at home. I like how much we can control the light coming in, and I’ve always loved the aesthetic, both inside and outside of the house. However, I love a draped curtain for softness – and we interchange these between soft white voile panels to let extra light through on dark winter mornings, and dark grey linen curtains for keeping early hours summer light out.

 

3) BEDROOM DÉCOR

I have made a concerted effort to get more things on my empty white walls at home! In our bedroom, I’ve tried to strike the balance between clean, yet curated and welcoming. I love the two mirrors we hung as they bounce so much light around the room. Our shelves home some of the few nik-naks that I cherish, mostly from our travels, and a couple of other much loved items, like my handmade dream catcher. Because we have wooden floors throughout most of the house, a cosy rug was a must for our room. I was so pleased to find this natural rag-roll one in Spain for ¢6!

 

4) BED LINEN

This is my ‘last but not least’ choice in bedroom decorating must-haves. I am a very tactile person and so I love to climb in to a bed that is soft and inviting. We chose a pure linen duvet cover and pillowcases from H&M’s premium range – which is so snug and perfect for wrapping myself in after a long day. We recently bought the boys an organic cotton bedding set from Toast, an investment I certainly don’t regret. Their bed linen is so soft and luxurious, and they have never slept so well. I also love the 100% cotton range, available at Yorkshire Linen. After so many years of bad sleep, I can’t stress enough how important a decent set of bed linen is to me now, in aiding a peaceful night’s rest.

 

 

 

 

bed linen / brushed cotton sheet / linen cushion covers / mirrors / african milk bush cactus / chair / small wooden bench / copper basket / blanket / slippers / ring holders / natural fibre wall hanging / a year of mornings / fourth trimester magazine / trainers / bag / dream catcher / fathers journal / leather pouch / cup / shelves / print.

 

*This post is in partnership with Yorkshire Linen*

 

It’s taken me a while to sit down to write this. And even as I do, I’m not even sure what I can say. I’ve never been the first to speak up in political discussion – sometimes I don’t really understand why the world works in the way that it does. I still can’t comprehend that human beings can commit pain and destruction upon each other. But, they do – as we all know. The death of Aylan Kurdi struck a deep cord within our household and left myself and Owen equally saddened and frustrated at the current refugee crisis. All too often it is easy to turn the page, close the laptop, press the off button. Nobody likes to see suffering and we are often overwhelmed by our own emotional responses to other people’s distress. I know we were.

 

It took us a little while to figure out what we could do. Our first instincts were to perform a grand gesture; homing a refugee family perhaps, adopting an unaccompanied child or driving to Calais with clothing and food. After reading several articles and speaking to friends at The Red Cross, the reality was far simpler. Donating was enough.

 

I think it is any decent human’s nature to want to sweep in and directly help other people in need. But in this case, there are hundreds of people already doing the front-line work needed. I’ve found some practical ways that individuals can help support these organisations – to tackle the refugee crisis in Europe.

 

1. SPEAK TO YOUR LOCAL RED CROSS

Your local Red Cross will give you advice on the best way to directly donate money to their European Refugee Crisis Appeal. On request, our local RC will email out poster JPEGS that you can print and put up in your local school or place of work, that gives details on how to raise money yourself and how your money goes to help. For more information on the Red Cross’ work with the Syria crisis visit here

 

2. DONATE DONATE DONATE!

Your local Red Cross will accept donations of clothing, toys, books, long-life food and sanitary products. Not all donations will go directly to refugees, but they can be sold at Red Cross shops for donations to the refugee crisis appeal – and other donations will go directly to local individuals in need, such as asylum seekers, street sleepers and low income families. There’s never been a better time to clear out your wardrobes and your cupboards.

 

3. GIVE MONEY TO UNICEF

Unicef are collecting donations to help children directly affected by the Syrian conflict. They are one of the few organisations working inside Syria, as well as delivering aid across the region. Donating is easy. You can do it here. £11 can provide a family with an emergency water kit to help protect them from disease.

 

4. GIVE MONEY TO SAVE THE CHILDREN

Save The Children’s child refugee crisis appeal works directly with children and families within Syria, as well as surrounding and destination countries. Donations will help provide shelter, clothing, food and water – as well as safe spaces for children to play, learn and receive emotional support. Save The Children also provide training for workers and foster carers, helping to resettle children into new countries. Donating towards aid and support is easy – you can do it here.

 

5. GIVING MORE DIRECTLY

It seems a common urge to want to directly help the people most in need during this refugee crisis. You could check out Calais Action, who have created a UK map of drop-off and collection points where you can donate directly to support refugees in Calais and Europe.

 

 

There are so many individuals and organisations acting to support victims of war and suffering. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with how to help, and end up doing nothing at all. Really, we have done very little here. We ransacked the cupboards of sleeping bags, warm clothes, coats, socks, toys, books and games. We drove it all over the our local Red Cross and have decided to make weekly food donations part of our family routine.

 

Even seemingly little gestures can and will make a significant difference to other people’s lives.

 

Apologies for the lack of blog action of late. I blame it on the summer holidays. Despite being a whole year away from Omi starting full time school (maybe), we’ve still fallen well in line with the traditional summer-break mentality. Lots of slow mornings, double breakfasts, dilly dallying days away without really achieving much – and letting the boys watch far too much ninja turtles on youtube. I feel like we all need a break. And it feels good to let ourselves off the hook over these few weeks.

 

I’ve got lots of things lined up to post on here over the next week or so. There are some photos from Ori’s 2nd birthday, a blog about how to start using cloth nappies in a simple & straight forward way, some breakfast inspiration and also some ideas for what to do with a glut of courgettes (if any of you are harvesting your plants at the moment).

 

Come September, both the boys will be starting a playgroup for two mornings a week, as well as having a bit more structured childcare with my Mum & Step-Dad and my Dad & Step-Mum. I’m really excited, as this will be the first time ever since having the children, that I will be able to create a regular (part-time) working week. I’m hoping to strike a balance between seeing my holistic therapy clients and also putting time aside to hatch out some creative ideas that I’ve been working on (in my head!) for the last few months (years)!  I can’t wait to share them with you.

 

I hope you’re all having a great summer.

 

ps) I’ve been obsessing over this Pattie Boyd picture, featured here on Anna Cate’s blog & also again this week on Bleubird’s 10 things post. It reminded me a bit of this film shot I took of my good friend, Nadia in summer 2008.

 

Just when I thought I’d simplified enough. I was so wrong.

 

It’s funny how quickly the complications of life creep back in. There’s the never ending to-do lists, the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, the personal goals, the emotional strains, the creative targets, the work pressures, the wishlists (oh the wishlists!), the relationship maintenance, the motherhood pressures, the pile of books to read, the blogs to follow, the fashion, the fads and of course, that all important time for yourself. All of these things will no doubt feel cyclical (or never ending) to most people – it’s no wonder that life feels exasperating sometimes. I know it does to me.

 

I felt like there must be a better way to manage all of these life issues (first world ones no doubt), but issues all the same. I thought I’d simplified as much as I could. But modern life still doesn’t feel like a simple thing.

 

Then I discovered the concept of deciphering my priority.

 

I read a brilliant article on Kinfolk online. An interview with Greg McKeown, author of ‘essentialism, the disciplined pursuit of less’ (which I can’t wait to get my hands on). He said lots of interesting things (you can read the article here), but what resonated with me the most was the the language history of the word priority. “It came into the English language in the 1400s, and it was singular, because that’s what it means! It means the first thing, the prior thing, the most important thing. Then ostensibly it stayed singular for the next 500 years, and only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term to priorities. What!? What does this word mean now? Can we really have a dozen first most important things? You need to take on whatever that priority is and do it. If you try to do 24 different things simultaneously and treat them all as equally important, you won’t get any of them done. And so in that little language change, we can see a lot of how this madness has taken over. It’s changing the way we think. It’s warped reality.” [quote from Greg McKeown]

 

Of course I feel that I have several (or more) priorities going on at once. But when I stopped to think it over, the idea of a priority as a singular construct really welded with my ideals of mindfulness and living presently. If you truly are living in the moment, you really could only deal with one task, or priority, at one time.

 

So instead of constantly trying to regroup my priorities, put them into categories and orders of importance or commit them to limited time frames, delete all my to-do lists (they make me so stressed out!), before rewriting them (because I feel disorganised)(and that makes me feel so stressed out!) …. I’ve been trying to take things one step at a time. I’ve been asking myself; “what’s my priority right NOW?” Sometimes it’s washing up, sometimes it’s silence. Sometimes it’s getting the children to sleep, sometimes it’s phoning a friend in need. Sometimes it’s weeding the garden beds, sometimes it’s stretching my achey back. But the realisation that really you can only deal with one thing at one time, has been quite profoundly calming for me and my busy mind.

 

Sometimes things get done. Sometimes they don’t. More often than not my priority is not myself. But there is always space to find a little time for me. And I’m happy that that priority does get met from time to time. I could list a hundred things that are important to me, but right now, in this moment, my priority is to finish writing this blog.

 

What’s your priority in this moment?

I wanted to share a few recipes for some great homemade raw chocolate we have been making at home lately. I’m really loving Nutrition Stripped‘s website as well as the Food Fix Up app, for clean and nutritious recipes – and I recommend them highly if you are looking for fresh alternatives and healthy eating tips. The best thing of all – they both do desserts – and chocolate! I’ve been making my own chocolate for a while now, and it is so easy because it’s based around three simple ingredients; cacao powder, cacao butter & maple syrup – melted and blended, and set in the freezer. By sharing some fantastic raw chocolate recipes, both Nutrition Stripped & Food Fix Up have inspired my raw chocolatier-ing to the next level. Making chocolate yourself is great because it contains no refined sugars (and the level of natural sweetness can be controlled by you), it is dairy free and it contains all natural, raw ingredients. For me, this redefines the guilt-laden idea of eating chocolate and turns it into a healthy treat, full of natural antioxidants. I keep my raw chocolates in the freezer, broken into small chunks, ready to be nibbled at any time I need a little pick-me-up. These recipes are so easy, even the boys love mixing the ingredients and spooning the chocolate into the moulds (we made eggs at Easter too). If you are interested in giving it a go, I would suggest buying some key ingredients in larger quantities. Health food items are often expensive, but the overall quality of the end product is so much better, that you consume much less at one time. After years of shopping around, I now always use Amazon to bulk buy my cacao butter, cacao powder, coconut oil, coconut butter, maple syrup (and many more items on my shopping list). I either make my raw chocolate with cacao butter or coconut butter as a base – both recipes are equally simple and can be found below.

 

 

FOR THE COCONUT BUTTER BASE * for recipes 1, 5, 6 & 7 – melt together 400g of coconut butter  and 50g of coconut oil (in a bowl over a simmering pan of water). when melted, remove from the heat and stir in 4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup and a pinch of fine sea salt. divide the mixture into four bowls and add your flavours from below. if you want to make a full batch of one particular flavour, just add four times the quantity of your chosen flavour.*

 

FOR THE CACAO BUTTER BASE *for recipes 3 & 4 – melt 200g cacao butter (in a bowl over a simmering pan of water) and add 4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup and a pinch of fine sea salt. divide the mixture into two bowls and add your flavours from below. if you want to make a full batch of one particular flavour, just add double the quantity of your chosen flavour.*

 

1. KEY LIME RAW CHOCOLATE

Add the juice of 1 lime and half a lemon.

 

2. MANGO & CHILLI RAW CHOCOLATE

I’m still perfecting this recipe, so I won’t share it with you now. Unfortunately these bars had to go in the bin, but they were so pretty – I couldn’t resist photographing them.

 

3. TAHINI CARAMEL RAW CHOCOLATE

Add 50g of tahini, 10 dates (diced finely) and 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds.

 

4. CHAI SPICE RAW CHOCOLATE (my favourite)

Add 100g cashew butter, half a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon and quarter of a teaspoon of mixed spice.

 

5. RASPBERRY & COCONUT RAW CHOCOLATE

Add a handfull of raspberries (pureed) and 1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut.

 

6. ESPRESSO RAW CHOCOLATE

Add 2 tablespoons of cacao powder and 1 teaspoon of powdered espresso (mixed with enough hot water to make a thick liquid).

 

7. BASIC CACAO RAW CHOCOLATE (not pictured)

Add 4 tablespoons of cacao powder.

 

Once your chocolate flavours are combined (and you’ve used every bowl in the house!), spoon the mixture into lightly oiled silicone moulds (I use a spray coconut oil & and I buy my chocolate moulds from ebay). A tip here, is to place the moulds on a tray or a board that will fit in to your fridge, as lifting silicone moulds full of melted chocolate is very messy (and near impossible). You can set and store your chocolate in the fridge or freezer – though if you are using fresh ingredients like fruits, they will perish quicker if kept in the fridge.

 

Enjoy! x