I shared a post on my Instagram page recently about a how a beautiful plant I spotted in my local garden centre inspired me to think of my rough edges in a better way. If you’d like to read the post please do so here. As usual, when I have these moments of reflection, the thought grows and becomes much deeper than originally planned – so much so that I couldn’t fit it in another post on social media! I guess that’s the beauty of blogs right?
Mother Nature is a ceaseless source of inspiration and teaching for me. I’ve learned (and continue learning) so much about the world and myself, just simply by observing Her wonderful work. That’s where the beautiful pink rimmed plant comes in. The first time I saw it, I was struck by the gorgeous green of the leaves and their delicate lighter pattern. I love leaves; I’m much more a foliage than flower kinda girl, you can see evidence of my leaf love all over my home in my houseplant choices! Anyways, I digress…..
On the morning of the post, I woke up feeling a little rough around the edges. I suffer from various chronic conditions and some days are better than others, this day being a not so good one. It’s so easy to fall into a negative way of thinking when we’re not feeling our best, am I right? As open and honest as I try to be about my health, I usually want to gloss over it or hide it/hide from it – I mean, who wants to feel vulnerable all the time?
Looking closely at the picture of the plant, you can see that the edges of the leaves are not smooth at all. They are bumpy, jagged and toothed. Does that make the plant any less beautiful or fit for purpose? Of course not! Not only do they not have a negative impact on the life of the plant, Mother Nature has painted them a fabulous and bright shade of pink! So those rough untidy edges, instead of being hidden or smoothed out, have been decorated and celebrated and repurposed for the future of the plant – after all, bumblebees love colour and will be drawn to this one to pollinate it, so it will continue to grow year after year!
What if instead of protecting or hiding or covering up your rough, prickly, painful or difficult parts you celebrated them instead? What if you could paint them a beautiful and vibrant colour, and display them proudly like the plant does? What would it be like to change something that causes you harm into something that does you good? How would it feel to be proud of your rough edges instead of being embarrassed or ashamed of them?
My health is not my only rough edge. For years and years I have battled against the feeling of being too much; too intense, too passionate, too quirky, too loud, too deep. People I cared about have told me I’m too much, that I just need to tone it down, that I don’t have to be “like that” all the time. For a good long while I tried to be less, I tried to cover it up and smooth out that rough edge and I pretended to be something I wasn’t. It was exhausting, made me miserable, and those people that thought I was too much? Well they still left my life anyway, no matter how I smothered my personality! Now I love that rough edge, it’s a huge part of what makes me Dee and it’s not being hidden ever again! If I could paint that edge a colour; it would be bright red, the colour of passion and blood and life and fire – and it would show others that they don’t need to snuff out their own inner flame to suit people who don’t burn the same way they do.
Maybe you’re already aware of your rough edges, or maybe you’re wondering what the heck I’m babbling on about! A rough edge can be any part of you – physical, mental or spiritual – that makes you feel uncomfortable and/or causes you to worry what other people may think of you. It’s a vulnerable edge – like an exposed nerve in a tooth cavity – that we try to protect, hide or cover up because we believe it can do us harm. At least that’s what it means for me!
Whether you know where they are or not, we all have these rough edges. And I think they can all be repainted and re-purposed – like a holistic up-cycle project! Every part of us is there for a reason, and whatever the reason is IT’S NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK! So if you have people in your life who encourage you to hide, shrink or be ashamed of parts of yourself…. well it may be time to Marie Kondo your friends list. Nobody has the right to tell you what is and is not acceptable about you!
Why not start to get comfortable with your jagged and prickly parts, instead of burying or ignoring them? Get to know them, figure out why they’re there and what they bring to your life. What colour would you paint them? How could you celebrate that part of you? How can you make peace with that rough side of yourself, and find a way to move forward with it?
I would love to hear what your rough sides are and what colours they would be after a makeover! Please do leave a comment below, and let me know what you’re now celebrating about you.
About three years ago we made the decision as a family to take our kids out of the education system. It was one of the biggest decisions we have ever made – and it turned out to be one of the best too!
There are lots of reasons for our choice, although they can all be boiled down to one core truth – the schools were failing our kids.
Our eldest is exceptionally academic; because she showed such amazing potential she was pressured, overworked and had the responsibility for the school’s league table standings put on her shoulders. She was bullied badly, and the school did nothing to protect her.
Our youngest is creative, a thinker and dreamer and problem solver. He was bullied viciously for years, again the school didn’t help. We moved him to a “better” school and they crushed him with SATS pressure.
The schools failed our kids.
And I sometimes feel like we did too; we made them go to school even when they were unhappy and scared, we listened to the teachers instead of our own children, we believed that school was the right thing. Still working on forgiving myself for it all.
Over the years we have tried many different styles and approaches to home education, trying to find a way that works best for both our young people. There are hundreds of options available out there and we tried; printed/published curriculums, online courses, private group schools, forest schooling, structured timetabling, nature based learning and on and on and on…. Until we finally decided on the unschooling method and we’ve never looked back!
At it’s core; unschooling is about freedom, respect and partnership. I do not decide what my kids will learn, they do. They learn about whatever they want to and we facilitate them; sometimes that means we buy resources for them, take them on trips, book them on courses. Sometimes it means sitting and watching a movie together, or having a big conversation over dinner, or even letting them cook dinner while we sit back!
Whatever they are interested in, we fully support them and give them the freedom to learn however and whenever they want to. We don’t have any ‘school’ hours! Some of their best learning happens late at night after we’ve gone to bed!
I know it seems strange – how can they really be learning, what about tests, how do you know what they’ve learnt if there’s no workbooks – but both kids have excelled in their education through this approach!
Currently my eldest is in college part time, studying for her English GCSE and her Level 3 Performing Arts qualification. She is about 2 years ahead of her peers in terms of academic performance, and has managed to hold her own easily in a class made up of students at least 2 years her senior.
My youngest has just been accepted onto a Computer Sciences college course, studying all manner of complicated and technical stuff (can you tell I don’t really get any of it?) as well as his Maths GCSE.
If they hadn’t been learning anything at home, they wouldn’t have had the skills and capacity to study at college level so early! The freedom to learn as they will has given them many skills; research, analysing evidence, being willing to engage with adults, self motivation and team work. Not only that, they know how to actively learn instead of waiting to be spoon fed information to remember.
All that came from being allowed to do what they want, in a supportive environment.
What do you think about alternative education? Maybe you’re a homeschooler yourself, or perhaps you are considering it? I would love to know what you think!
It’s been a hectic month for us here in the Valley! Getting back into the routines of college, work, home education and chores has been a bit of a shock after the delightfully slow days of December. Is it just me, or did January seem to last for about four months instead of one?
Today’s post is about taking a moment in time to check in with YOU. To find out how you are really doing, what you’re feeling and thinking and where you’re at right now in relation to your hopes and dreams for 2019.
I spend a lot of time asking others how they are; I know that a lot of folks ask the question but don’t really want to hear the answer, so when I ask I make a point of being around to listen. I care about people deeply! Whether I am checking in with my kids and husband, or texting a friend or a colleague – if I ask “How are you?” I actually want to know.
I also get asked a lot about how I am. Health professionals, my husband, kids, friends, acquaintances, social media contacts all want to know how I am. This usually means how is my physical health, how are my pain levels, am I very fatigued today etc. When you live with a disability you have to get used to giving lots of detailed information in answer to “How are you feeling today?”
It’s really lovely being asked how I’m getting on, so surely making time to ask myself those things is going to be a good thing – right?
Self Reflection Exercise.
The first thing I do is make myself a nice hot drink – usually a herbal tea – and I grab a notebook and pen. Then I find somewhere quiet and comfy to sit, where I won’t be distracted for at least 15 minutes. As I sit quietly and sip my tea, I start to ask myself the following questions;
How am I feeling today in my whole self?
What do I need more/less of?
What have I learned from the last month/week?*
What part of me am I thankful for?
*depends on your reflection frequency.
I write the answers and thoughts down as they come, usually using the questions as headers in my notebook and ensuring each page is dated.
When you have done your journal, do take a moment to read your responses to yourself. Pay attention to each word – try to avoid correcting spellings etc – and allow yourself to connect with what you have written, without any shame or embarrassment. It’s your life after all, to live however you see fit!
I think a really important part of checking up on our self is looking back over where we’ve been.
Perhaps you’re feeling wobbly, overloaded and drained but you can’t think why? Taking a minute to reflect back on your month, you see how you finished a huge project, worked late 12 times, had a bad cold and the dog got sick! No wonder you’re struggling!
I know it’s a silly example, but I usually find the answers to how I’m currently feeling lay in looking back.
And there you have it – a quick chat with your inner self and a spot of pure self love 😊 Getting to know yourself better will only ever lead to good things – deeper self esteem, unconditional love, grace and integrity are just a few of the benefits of living a life completely rooted in your being.
Do you practice self reflection? How do you like to go about it? Got any tips for me – I do struggle to sit still at times!
Much love xx
A lot of people these days are looking for a way to reduce their consumption of meat. Whether that’s for health reasons, to help the planet, or to cope with tighter budgets; campaigns such as “Meat Free Monday” and “Veganuary” are gathering a lot of support.
I think it’s GREAT to see more and more people eating less meat! It can’t be bad for us to chomp on more vegetables right? However, I do understand that cooking without meat can feel like a big challenge if you’re not used to it. And when the food budget is already tight, do you really want to risk buying ingredients for something you might not like? I know I don’t often have the spare cash to take that risk – not to mention my aversion to any form of food waste!
With all that in mind, I introduce my family’s take on Meat-Free Shepherd’s Pie. It’s filling, comforting and packed full of vegetables and goodness. I don’t use any “Meat substitute” or any weird ingredients – in fact you probably have everything you need already! It’s a great recipe for using up the veg left at the bottom of the fridge – you can even add in frozen veggies too to bulk it out further. Plus it’s great value for money, and you get a big bang for your buck.
There you have it! Do let me know if you decide to have a go making this for yourself – I would love to hear what you think.
Much love xx
So here we are, January 2019. Personally, I can’t quite believe that it’s 2019….. I was born in the 1980s and grew up thinking that by this time there would be flying cars and colonies on the moon! Oh well, at least we have Smart phones 😆
Because it’s January, social media is awash with resolutions and pledges and promises to be a better you this year. From Veganuary to Dry January, Slimming World Best Year Ever and so on….. there’s something for everyone. Because EVERYONE has stuff to change, and setting a New Years Resolution is the best way right?
Wrong. Most people break their resolution before the second week of January!
You have probably gathered by now that I am not a resolution fan. I believe that it’s just another way to put pressure on people; people who are constantly fed by society the lies that they are too fat, undesirable, too unhealthy, too ugly as they are.
Not for me thanks!
No diets – working on loving myself unconditionally means loving my jiggly bits however jiggly they might be!
No workouts – I have ME and a whole other host of conditions; do I want to hospitalise myself for a so-called hard body? Computer says no.
No lifestyle changes – my body, mind and spirit have been through enough change and upheaval! Why would I subject myself to anything else?
This year, as I have for the last few years, I am choosing to focus on what I am able to do and being thankful for how far I have come already. I have picked a few fun and interesting things I hope to be able to do this year – things to look forward to and hope for.
Because what is a new year without hope?
It is my deepest hope that someone reading this realises that they are wonderful just as they are. That they don’t have to join a diet club, a gym, or anything else because they are loved and lovely and worthy of love right now.
That’s what I hope for!
What are your hopes for 2019? I would love to hear what you think in the comments!
Much love xxx
Todmorden is a special place. It’s a small town, right on the border of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Surrounded by hills, moors, mountains and rivers. Woodland and beauty are everywhere you look – perhaps that’s why so many artists come to live here?
The Lamplighter Festival began in Todmorden as a way to celebrate even the smallest joys in the gathering dark. This little town hasn’t had it easy – floods have wrecked this valley so many times, some houses still bear the damage from the 2015 flooding. Businesses went bust, people lost everything – truly dark times.
But LOOK at my beautiful town!
For the four weeks I have worked with an artist from Handmade Parade at the Healthy Minds group. We have been building lanterns for this event – and the main piece is The Big Top.
There were literally hundreds of other lanterns made by Todmorden residents, working together over several workshop meetings to light up the night! Not to mention the glorious creations from Handmade Parade…. I mean just look at the magical Polar Bear (the legs actually moved) and the majestic Lion!
We had the privilege of walking in the Parade too – right in front of the astounding Magician’ s Hat, complete with doves fluttering out. It was totally BRILLIANT. The roads were lined with thousands of spectators, people in fancy dress and adorned with fairy lights, children waving and clapping….. wonderful.
I can’t wait to see what next year’s Lamplighter Festival has in store – this year has been a fairy tale.
Much love xx
My son is 13 years old and his whole life revolves around his computer. He hardly ever asks to do anything in the kitchen with me (I love to cook and bake) so when he asked if we could make some pretzels……
Well let’s just say I think I made him jump a little when I screeched “YES LET’S DO IT!”
I shared a pic on Instagram of the finished article and a few folks asked me for the recipe. Foolishly I didn’t photograph each step, so I hope my explanations are clear enough!
As I said before, I love to cook and bake; however my health hasn’t liked to cooperate much for a few years so my kitchen creativity had taken a bit of back seat. My hubster bought me a stand mixer for Christmas last year and it’s made such a big difference to me! Now I can bake more – cakes are a doddle and even bread is easy peasy – which my family thanks me for but my waistline doesn’t.
A couple of things to note; you may not need all the melted butter/milk liquid, or you may need all of it. Different flours have different needs, so use your own judgement. You’re looking for a soft, slightly tacky smooth dough.
The other point I want to make (I thought it is obvious but my teen tells me it’s not) is that you don’t have to use cinnamon in your sugar. You can use vanilla if you like, or even just plain sugar. Or maybe something controversial like ginger…. whatever you enjoy really!
Anyways, here is the ridiculously easy recipe for the soft sweet cinnamon sugar pretzels of dreams.
For the Pretzels
80g butter, melted
300ml milk, warmed to hand hot.
1 sachet fast action yeast.
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
275g plain flour
275g strong plain flour
For the Bicarb Bath
500ml very hot water
2tbsp bicarbonate soda
For the Coating
70g melted butter
100g caster sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
You will also need greased baking trays, an oiled mixing bowl, a clean tea towel, a cooling rack and a stand mixer. (You can make the pretzels without the mixer, you will need to knead the dough on an oiled surface for 10 minutes instead)
In the bowl of your mixer; combine the flours, yeast, caster sugar and salt. Attach the dough hook to your machine, then turn it on to a low setting and slowly mix the dry ingredients together. Meanwhile, stir the melted butter into the warm milk thoroughly.
Gradually add the liquid to your dry ingredients as the mixer works. Allow time for the butter/milk to be worked in before adding more. If you add too much liquid and the dough seems very sticky and wet, add some more flour 1tbsp at a time.
Once your liquid is added and you have a soft, slightly sticky dough; turn your mixer up to medium and allow it to knead for about 5 minutes. Turn out into the oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave in a warm place for upto 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200c fan, 180c electric or Gas Mark 5.
Put the dough on a clean work surface and divide into 16 equal-ish pieces (you can weigh them if you really want to but I didn’t!)
Now here’s the technical bit; take a piece of your dough and roll it into a long thin snake – you want it to be at least 30cm – making sure it’s even all the way along. Take the ends up above the body and twist once, then fold back down and press them into the body. Flip it over et voila! A pretzel! Repeat 15 times.
Once they are all formed, they need to have a bath. This is part of the traditional process of baking pretzels and gives the characteristic chewy exterior with the soft insides.
Stir the bicarb into the hot water, in a shallow dish – hot not boiling – and then add the pretzels a couple at a time. Flip them over in the water, then remove to a cooling rack and allow them to dry. Keep going until they are all done.
Now it’s time to bake these bad boys! They need to be baked in the centre of the oven for 5 minutes, then turn the tray and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the baking tray immediately and leave to cool a moment on the rack.
Meanwhile, combine the caster sugar with the cinnamon and mix thoroughly – you don’t want any explosive spice nuggets on your pretzels!
Brush the baked, hot pretzels all over with melted butter and then toss them in the sugar mixture. Make sure they get a good coating, it’s the best bit! Once they are all done, serve them immediately. They are best eaten straight away, but if you have leftovers then keep them in an airtight container and warm through gently in the oven before eating.
They also are yummy dipped in melted chocolate. If you don’t think they are decadent enough I mean!
It is impossible for me to over-hype these gorgeous baked goods! They are so soft, so flavourful and so so so moorish…. If you have any leftovers I would be super impressed by your gargantuan levels of self control!
Our batch didn’t last the day….
If you decide to have a go at making these, please do let me know how you get on! I would love to hear what you think of the pretzels and if you found it as easy as I did to make them.
Much love xx
I have been a “housewife” or “homemaker” for a long while now, about 9 years altogether or thereabouts. Before this, I was a successful career woman (my hubster was a full time stay at home Dad) but my health took a turn for the worse and my hubster and I swapped places. I thought it would be easy peasy! Man, I was wrong about that one….
When you hear the words “housewife” or “homemaker” what comes to mind?
The first thing that pops into my head is the classic stereotype of the 1950s super woman; immaculately dressed and made up, perfect house and kids, husband’s slippers warming by the fire for his return from a busy day at work. Haha! I once challenged myself to keep a 1950s housewife schedule for a month – it was beyond hard-core! I have so much respect for my Grandmother’s generation. Those ladies were tough, frugal and fierce matriarchs!
The next thing that comes to mind is Pinterest bloggers….. I know, what does that have to do with home making? Well, I love Pinterest. I have about a million pins, on hundreds of boards and can get lost on there for hours! It’s impossible to avoid the bloggers though. The ones with sparkling clean homes (in their amazingly staged photos) who only clean with expensive essential oils and have amazingly well behaved kids who don’t eat any refined sugar, gluten, dairy, or grains. Know what I’m talking about? The ones with perfect hair and make up, smiling joyfully in the awesome pictures with their super slim bods in their on trend clothes. Yeah. Them.
Both of these ideas of home-making have a common thread; they are completely unrealistic and unachievable! And both of them, for the longest time, made me feel like crap. True story – because I don’t clean my home with several £40 bottles of essential oils, because my hair is never perfect and I wear make up about 4 times a year, because my kids eat dairy, gluten, refined sugar, grains and whatever else….. I felt like crap. Like a failure. Like a bad Mum and a bad Wife and the worst housewife that ever lived.
Anyone else feel like that?
But you know what I figured out dear reader? It’s not true! I am not the worst Mum, Wife and Housewife in the world; I do my best every single day, I love my kids and husband and they know it, and I love my little house too.
My home is just that – HOME. And I made it, with my hubster and kids; so therefore I am a homemaker! It may not be immaculately clean and fragrant, but it’s a welcoming space and people enjoy coming to visit here. We eat food that’s freshly prepared with love, and yes it contains the dreaded stuff BUT IT’S DELICIOUS. Our friends and family often comment on how much they love being in our home, and we regularly have to tuck a blanket over visitors that have decided to take a nap on the couch!
Once I started to look at my home in this way, seeing all the good things about it instead of focusing on the “negatives” it really changed everything for me. Not just with homemaking; looking for the positives in every situation has helped me so much in so many areas of life.
And I don’t mean positive thinking that blindly ignores problems – that’s called delusion – I mean acknowledging the tough stuff but finding the good in it too. That’s the ticket!
Home is what you make it. I want mine to be full of laughter and peace, freedom to kick your shoes off and put your feet up, where you can get a good dinner and a bucket full of encouragement.
What kind of home do you want to make?
Much love x
Yesterday was a busy day! We had loads of stuff to catch up on at home and a home education project to do with our son. Then my lovely hubster had a two hour driving lesson.
Busy busy busy.
At 4pm, my son and I set off to the local park. He wanted to try out his new boomerang gizmo and I just needed to get out of the house! We met the hubster there; and while the boys threw the frisbee thing around on the field I sat on a bench and just…..
The colours of Autumn are all starting to show off! It has been about a week since I last made it to the park and the difference is striking. Now the lush greens are turning into oranges, yellows and reds.
It looks like the treetops are on fire!
I love the Autumn. Not because of all the stereotypical reasons (think pumpkins, halloween, PSL – have you even had a Pumpkin Spice Latte? Tastes like vomit in my opinion) but for the feeling of settling down, slowing down into the quiet rhythms of winter.
Autumn is the time for my favourite festival of the year, Bonfire Night! In the UK on the 5th of November the skies are lit by huge fires and massive displays of fireworks. We stand around wrapped in our scarves and woolly hats, gobbling pie and peas and parkin, waving sparklers and having a great time.
I LOVE Bonfire Night!
Bonfire Night is celebrated more as a tradition now. Originally it began as a way to remember the failed attempt Guy Fawkes and his companions made to blow up the Houses Of Parliament in 1605, and the consequences of their actions. That’s why on some Bonfires you will see a “Guy”- a roughly human shaped doll that is parked on top of the pyre.
Interestingly, it seems that a lot of people celebrate that Guy Fawkes tried to destroy Parliament, rather than celebrating his failure!
Not sure what that says about the political climate in the UK.
I love Autumn for the darker mornings and evenings, the warming food and for the days of blinding sunshine and crisp cold blue skies.
I am not a huge fan of the driving rain, dropping temperatures or fog. But it can’t all be picture perfect I suppose!
What about you, when is your favourite time of year? Do you enjoy Autumn, or maybe you’re a Spring kinda person?
Much love xx
I am not a lifestyle guru. There, I said it.
I blunder through life day to day, hoping for the best and trying to get by; winging it is the most accurate descriptor for my parenting and homemaking style!
I am trying to live lightly – to generate less rubbish and do more good to the planet than harm. I am trying to live kindly – to heal my body and mind and be free of stress and anxiety. I am trying to live free – to raise my kids with freedom and confidence and have a bit of it myself!
I first had the wacky idea of writing a lifestyle blog whilst picking nettles in my pyjamas, at 5am, wearing crocs, and looking less than sane. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know how to be as fabulous as me? Obviously I dismissed it. But its been like a midgie buzzing in my ear ever since.
Or maybe a midgie actually got trapped in my ear and I should probably get it checked out?!?
I don’t know what you can expect from me. Probably not super slick blog posts. Probably not anything other than the ramblings of a dippy hippy woman from rural Yorkshire.
You will probably not find the answers to the biggest questions in life here! Or maybe you will, but it won’t be a faddy product you can buy to fix everything or a magic pill to take. I am not into that kind of thing.
However; if it’s honesty, humour (I think I am hilarious), helpful ideas, maybe the odd craft project/recipe, even the occasional product review of stuff I buy and use……. well you are definitely in the right place!
Oh and expect lots of photos of the gorgeous place I am lucky enough to live in! And my beautiful husband. Maybe the cats and puppy too….. and the kids…. basically lots of photos.
So that’s it, my first post done and dusted! If you would like to, please comment and let me know what kind of things you are interested in and what wafflings I can write for you in future – it would be a huge help!