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Summer porridge

Fresh summer porridge to go

Breakfast needs to be ready quickly in my house. There’s not time to faff about preparing anything. Grab and eat is best, so this summer porridge recipe I found in my current food bible, The Family Cooks, ticks all the boxes.

I’ve often intended to prepare a week’s worth of bircher muesli in advance but have never gotten around to gathering all the ingredients and getting organised enough to do it. This recipe has a similar principle, but is much simpler, and I’ve added in a couple of shortcuts of my own – a bought muesli, and frozen berries.

You’ll need:

  • Summer porridge ingredientsAir tight jars (I use three 500ml Kilner jars)
  • A cup of rolled oats, or raw muesli. I use Wessex Mill’s The Millers Muesli.
  • 3 cups of Greek yoghurt. I prefer full fat, it just tastes better.
  • Two large apples, grated.
  • 3 tablespoons of honey.Summer porridge muesli
  • A cup of frozen berries. I always have frozen raspberries and blueberries in the freezer.

Mix it all together in a large bowl. Spoon into your jars and store in the fridge. Breakfast, done. If I’m really rushed I can just grab this from the fridge and take it with to eat at work.

My jars are big enough for these portions to feed both Poppet and I for our three work/nursery mornings a week, but she despite the fact she likes all these ingredients separately she’s decided she doesn’t like them together. All the more for me!

Do you have any great grab and go breakfast ideas? Please share them below.

I’ve just squeezed this post in as today’s post in the Blog Every Day in May challenge. Follow me and my fellow bloggers on Twitter.

 

 

My living room

My heart belongs in my living room

I love my living room. Usually it’s the kitchen that usually gets the honour of being the heart of any home but for me my living room is where it’s at.

Sprawled on the sofa wrapped in Designer’s Guild blanket, or sitting on the rug doing a puzzle with Poppet, its the living room I gravitate to as soon as the day’s work is done. It’s where I’m sitting typing this post right now, and where I was earlier snuggling up with Poppet before she went to bed. It sees all of the action in our home.

One of my first posts on this blog was my living room mood board. We hadn’t moved in yet, and I had started to piece together a vision of what my living room would look like. Some of my pieces I had for years, other were new and the mood board helped me see how it would all work together.

Now you can see how it all came together in the picture above. Not bad hey?

You can check the mood board post for more details about the items in my room, but here’s a quick listing incase you see anything you like:

Maroq rug, Cox and Cox

Berry lampshade and Selby clear glass ball lamp, Laura Ashley

Charlotte cushion (just seen behind Poppet) – Bluebellgray

– Side table (part of a nest of three), TK Maxx

Felix light blue armchair, Swoon Editions

– Mushroom grey sofa, Paddington Furniture (bought in Sydney in 2009)

– White TV console table, from a furniture shop in Sydney the name of which I don’t remember!

– Wall art, home-made with Marimekko fabric.

ps. Spot Olaf! (If you don’t know who Olaf is then you clearly haven’t wasted enough time watching Frozen with children under the age of 10. Clue, he’s on the ottoman and has a carrot for a nose.)

I’m taking part in Blog Every Day in May  with Rosalilium and this is post number 7. One week down! Follow me and my fellow bloggers who’ve taken up the challenge on twitter at #BEDM.

Check these fabulous blogs out immediately!

Time to share the blogging love and give a shout out to my favourite blogs. I find that these days its not the traditional media I turn to for advice, ideas and inspiration, but my fellow bloggers. We’re a clever bunch you know. 

So without further ado here are the blogs I think everyone, blogger or not, should get up close and friendly with ASAP.

Freelancing/Blogging/Solopreneuring

The Dexterous Diva – Jo Gifford is my guru for all things that could possibly be labelled content creation. Blogging for business, pop up Pinterest workshops, repurposing content, you name it she’s got it covered. She’s creative, smart and incredibly generous. Her enthusiasm is infectious and the fact she does it while living with several debilitating long-term health conditions simply puts me to shame.

Rosalilium – the blogging bootcamp queen who set up Blog Every Day in May (of which this post is one of my contributions) has been creating content on her blog for years, but its her blogging nous I turn to her for.

The Freelance Lifestyle – great resources for freelancers delivered to you in a fun and practical package by the fabulous Emma Cossey.

Sigrun – I recently discovered this Icelandic lady who as a business architect has made it her mission to help anyone turn their passion into profit. Helping you identify your passion first of course. She may not be a prolific blogger but she makes her content count.

Fashion & Beauty

The Small Things Blog – former hairdresser Kate’s hair styling tips are addictive, and most importantly are not hard to achieve even a for the low maintenance type such as myself. She does tend to blog about her kids frequently which I skip (I’m not  fan of parenting blogs, I have my own child, I don’t want to read about tother peoples). It’s all about the hair for me. I’m simply amazed by the endless creative ideas this lady has about styling hair.

Interiors

Apartment Therapy – my go to interiors bible. Full of great style tips, organisation advice, Ikea hacks, home maintenance motivation and more. I love it.

Swoon Worthy – the self-proclaimed ‘home of eclectic boho glam’ this is an interiors blog with some serious swagger. Her style may not be everyone’s thing – it’s mine with several bucket full of glam thrown in – but I’ve learnt some great tips from Kimberley, such as creating a mood board, how to use colour and a tips for creating a knock-out gallery wall that I’m hoping to implement any day now.

So there you  have it. A quick and dirty run down of the bloggers I turn to for inspiration, aspiration and information.

I always have my ear to the ground for new and interesting sources of inspiration so I’ll look forward to reading the other #BEDM posts today. Or if you want to share your favourite bloggers tell me about them in the comments below.

Six books that changed my life

Today I want to share with you six books that hold some deep significance in my life. These are books that are not just great reads, or beautiful to look at, they also represent a part of me, or they enlightened me in some way.

For me reading a great book is the ultimate luxury. Losing myself in a spellbinding book is the ultimate escapism. I can lose myself in a book in a way that I don’t find possible with any other medium. But there are some books that do even more than this. They exemplify a key time in your life, or change what or how you think. As a result hold a special power over you thereafter.

The reason I decided to share these books with today is because I recently retrieved several boxes of my stuff that have been stored in my mum’s garden shed for the last seven years. I packed them up when I moved to Sydney in 2008 and I’d forgotten they were there to be honest.

Two of these boxes, the largest ones, contained all my favourite books. Rediscovering these books has been like finding old friends. Stretching from my teens to my mid-thirties these are the literary works that meant enough to me to hang onto for posterity. The books I decided I would always want on my books shelf. A few of these, the ones I’ve detailed below, represent key times of my life, or what I now see as moments of enlightenment.

1. Marilyn Mon Amour by Andrew de Dienes

I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe when I was a teenager. I collected pictures of her and read book after book about the screen idol who had an incredibly sad life and a mysterious death. This book enchanted me with its images of as a glowing and naturally beautiful Norma Jeane Baker before she became the gilded goddess we all know. Looking at those images I saw the hope in her eyes, her youthful optimism, that was later replaced my cynicism, fear and loathing for those felt trapped her into being Marilyn Monroe. Looking at these images was the first time I realised that the reality of even the most glittering of lives is often very far from what it seems to be.

2. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown.

I travelled across the US when I was 19. What I thought I was going there for – New York, LA, the American dream – were not the things that made the biggest impression on me. I bought this book after standing with tears streaming down my face reading the poem that will one day be part of the finished Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. I didn’t read it until 15 years later and found it so harrowing I had to stop reading half way through. But I persevered. It is an incredible account of the destruction of an entire culture through the eyes of the victims. This this book exemplifies what struck me most about that trip – the horrific plight of the native Americans. When I look back now I know that trip was the awakening of my social conscience. I left the US with the painful awareness that the culture I was part of was not necessarily a force for good.

3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

OK, this books has never been left in the box in my mum’s shed. I’ve kept this book with me everywhere I’ve been because it is my favourite book of all time. You can see how well-thumbed it is. It is the unbelievable quality of Nabokov’s use of language to tell an engrossing story that lure me in every time (I’ve read it at least four times).

4. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.

I have never been so moved by the story of anyone’s life as I have by Nelson Mandela’s. I lived through part of his imprisonment, watched transfixed when he was released, and cheered him on as he lead South Africa to its first democratic elections and became president, but I didn’t read this book until I was in Africa in 2002. I saw it in a book shop in Windhoek, Namibia and remember thinking, ‘Why haven’t I read that?’ and I bought it on the spot. I’ve read it twice. The enormity of what he did is incredible. All the power, strength and possibility of humanity is all there is one man’s story. If only I had even an ounce of his strength, integrity, selflessness and forgiveness.

5. Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D Yalom.

I borrowed this book from someone I met on a meditation retreat in 2006 and never gave it back. It started a long-term obsession with books about psychotherapy and psychology, and with Irvin Yalom in particular. I nearly embarked on a career as a counsellor because of him. I’ve read most of his other books and they are all gripping, moving and enlightening. It must be karma because I too lent this book to a friend and never got it back, but my other copies of his books that I found in my boxes reminded that it was this one that kicked off the ‘Yalom years’ for me.

6. Choosing Single Motherhood by Mikki Morrissette.

I had already taken a few tentative steps down the path to becoming a single mother by choice when this book was recommended to me, but a inner fight I was having with myself was stopping me from taking any decisive action. This book helped me give a name to what I was wrestling with, I was grieving the dream. Having a baby by myself wasn’t the life I had planned for myself, it wasn’t ideally what I wanted for me or my child. I wanted the perfect partner and the perfect life, but what this book showed me was that I had to accept that by going it alone I was making the best of the circumstances life had thrown my way. It also helped me realise that everyone, single or partnered, decides to become a parent for ultimately selfish reasons, but that parenting itself is intrinsically selfless (or it should be). As a result I feel proud of myself for taking the path less travelled, and I know my life is far richer because I did.

There are no books I’ve read recently in this list for the simple reason that since Poppet was born  I don’t read as much as I used to. What I do read tends to be lighter, and unenlightening. Nothing I’ve read lately has rocked my world, but they haven’t taken much commitment either, which is what I need right now. My world rocking book days will return one day, I am sure.

What books represent moments of enlightenment or key times of your life? Do books hold this meaning for you? I’d be interested to know.

This my fifth post in Blog Every Day in May with Rosalilium. Follow the conversation at #BEDM on Twitter. I’m not on topic today but what the hell, rules are there to be broken right?

 

 

 

No guilt, just pleasure

Day 4, and I’m still in the running. Just. However I’m struggling a bit with today’s topic. We’ve been asked to talk about our guilty pleasures, but I don’t have any. I don’t believe in them.  I don’t feel guilty about any of my pleasures, however uncool they might be. 

However on the spirit of this challenge I’ve come up with three ‘pleasures’ that if really pushed I might admit feeling slightly guilty about (but actually I don’t at all – does that make me a bad person?):

  • I’ve eaten more of Poppet’s Easter eggs than she has (yes there are still some left believe it or not). I hid them from her so she wouldn’t overdose on chocolate and every evening after she goes to bed I’ve been slowly working my way through them. I hide the packaging so she doesn’t see it in the recycling. Yes, I’m that sneaky.
  • I might be addicted to Hay Day. For the uninitiated, Hay Day is an iPhone app farming game. It’s utterly pointless and repetitive but oddly compelling. It’s totally unlike me to play any kind of computer game – most of them bore me stupid. I’m trying really hard to lead by example and not waste time glued to my phone in front of Poppet, but when she’s in the bath I go and sit on my bed to milk my cows, collect eggs, and harvest my wheat. Shoot me now.
  • My last not-so-guilty pleasure is wine. I have a glass of wine most evenings after Poppet is in bed. I don’t think this makes me an alcoholic but I know I feel like a brighter, shiner version of myself if I have at least three alcohol free days a week. But wine is my reward for getting a through another day of solo parenting. It keeps me sane and I’m afraid a life without wine is a life not worth living.

So there you have it. I’m a chocolate thieving, wine quaffing, Hay Day playing time waster, and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it.

What about you? Do you feel guilty about any of your pleasures?

Sunday

Self-care Sunday is here…

What’s your Sunday routine? How do you get ready for the week ahead? I don’t work on Mondays so I don’t have quite the same Sunday as most other people. It frees me up to have totally indulgent, lazy Sunday. Proper self-care if ever I’ve known it.

I love working three days a week, it’s so liberating. I’d work less if I could, but damn it, I have to pay the bills somehow. As a result, my Sundays are truly my own. No Sunday night blues – dreading work the next day, and worrying about the week ahead. No, I just get to kick back and take care of me and mine.

As for most, Sundays are usually a family day. Poppet and I are most likely to be found hanging out with ‘Granny’, either at our place or at her house – the house I grew up in. My brother and his partner sometimes join us. These are the kind of Sundays I missed hugely when I lived in Sydney, and as a result I appreciate them all the more now.

The self-care element of family Sundays is not to be underestimated. When I was on the other side of the world there was no default position of just hanging out with family on Sunday if I didn’t have anything else arranged. As a singleton I often found myself at a loose end on a Sunday, which stressed me out and made me feel lonely. Not good. Here it’s easy-peasy.

As a result of getting so much quality family time it means I can now enjoy those rare Sundays when we are alone. In this busy, busy, information-overload culture we live in, a restorative day at home does wonders for the soul.

So I love a Sunday just kicking back at home. Poppet and I have a busy time during the week, and on Saturdays she has her ballet class and we catch up with friends afterwards, so on Sundays it’s a treat to just stay in pyjamas all day, not have to put on any make-up, and just please ourselves. Lie on the couch watching movies. Yes please. Laze about in the garden, maybe stirring occasionally to do some weeding? Yes again.

Sunday me can also be ‘get things done’ me. There is after all so much to do around the house. The mental list I have running at the moment consists of:

  • Put up curtain rail in Poppet’s room so I can hang her black-out curtains and conjure up some semblance of darkness in her room at bed time (and at 6am!).
  • Hang pictures. All those lovely picture frames I bought before we moved in won’t I’m afraid fill or hang themselves;
  • Fill holes in walls. Tedious but necessary.
  • Hang lovely vintage shelves I bought months ago on the kitchen wall.
  • Mow the lawn. Again! Who knew you had to do this every week!?
  • Weed the front garden. Those pesky weeds keep on coming back.
  • Prepare our vegetable beds for our Rocket Garden children’s garden plants. Home grown veggies here we come.

I could go on! The list never ends, or in fact gets any shorter. I find ticking this stuff off therapeutic, don’t you? A get a satisfying sense of achievement. I’m still making this place our home, and it’s getting there, step by step. Having not lived in a home I owned for getting on for seven years, it’s delightfully grounding feeling to know this is ours, and to be able to put our stamp on it. We are marking out our territory in the most primal way. As a result I feel more grounded than I have in a very long time.

So that’s self-care Sunday for me. The people and places that make me feel safe, secure and loved.

Tell me what Sunday means to you in the comments below. Do you spend it with family? Dedicate it to a hobby, or find yourself lost and at a loose end? 

New Year's Eve 2009

Life is one big adventure

It’s day two of Blog Every Day in May. If you’ve signed up with Rosalilium you’ll know that Elizabeth has set a topic for each day. Check out the topic calendar (and sign up to join the challenge too) on her website. 

Some days I might not follow the subject plan but today the subject is ‘adventure’ and being an an adventurous type of gal I’ve got plenty to contribute to this topic. I’ve had many, many adventures in my 43 years. But rather than bore you with tales of my youth – deeply fascinating though they are – I thought I’d take you on a pictorial trip through a few of adventures of my lifetime.

Standing at the most eastern point of Australia, Byron Bay lighthouse, in them midst of a two month road trip in 1995.

1995: Standing at the most eastern point of Australia, Byron Bay lighthouse, in them midst of a two month road trip of Australia’s east coast.

Fraser Island 1996

1996: Strolling along a Fraser Island beach just before we realised our car was stuck in the deep sand and we would have to walk 14k back to civilisation.

 

Cheetah Conservation Fund 2002

2002: Just another day stroking a cheetah at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. I was on an expedition with Raleigh International, managing groups of young people.

Namibia 2002

2002. Busy fixing pens for the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

2006: Living the dream. Sailing in the Greek islands.

2006: Living the dream. Sailing in the Greek islands.

New Year's Eve 2009

New Year’s Eve 2009: Probably the best spot to celebrate new year in the world!

Thai detox 2010

2010: Feeling fabulous after three days of detoxing in Thailand.

The day Poppet was born

2011: The biggest adventure of my life had just begun…

Sadly, I wasn’t able to find any of my photos that pre-date 1995, so my adventures prior to that are missing from this montage. I toured the US when I was 19 – my first big adventure – and those pictures must be in a box at my mum’s house. I’ve moved houses, countries – and it seems lives – so many times that I’ve lost track of many of my possessions.

What does adventure mean to me? Getting outside my comfort zone, taking a risk, flying by the seat of my pants and living life to the full. It’s still how I live my life, so I expect there to be plenty more adventures on the horizon.

What does adventure mean to you?

Are you blogging every day in May? Tweet links to your posts using the hashtag #BEDM and join in the conversation!

I’m going to Blog Every Day in May

Blog Every Day in May with RosaliliumBlog every day in May? Am I mad? Perhaps so. But that’s the plan. I’ve accepted the challenge set by blogging powerhouse Elizabeth Sellers, aka Rosalilium, to give my blog a kick up the arse by attempting to post every day this month. Day one, done!

The reason I’ve signed up is because I love writing. I’ve invested some time in self-examination lately that’s helped me get to the core of what it is I’m good at and what I love doing. I have felt for a long time that I’d lost touch with what it is that drives me, what I love doing, and even what I’m good at.

I work as head of communications for a healthcare company, and have been in similar roles for 10 years now. Before that I was a real life journalist on women’s magazines. When I look back at the work I feel most proud of, what stands to is the writing. A newsletter I wrote for one charity particularly stands out. An annual review I put together at another.

In my current role I feel like I don’t have time to just write. Today a colleague asked me to edit a letter and it struck me – this is what I’m good at. This is what I feel confident about. This is the skill I have that helps others. I can take or leave the strategies, the managing staff, and particularly the political bullshit that is part and parcel with working in any organisation. I just want to write.

That’s why I started this blog, and for a while I was on a roll, but it’s all to easy to find that life gets in the way of blogging. Sick child, tough week at work, or extra freelance work filling my time – whatever the reason my energy have been sapped and I haven’t been blogging. Frankly there’s only so much staring at a screen a person can do. But I want to blog, I really do.

My other issues is that I’m a perfectionist, and I want my blog to be perfect too. Not only do I strive to craft the words as perfectly as I can – I edit and re-edit until I’m happy – but I also want each post to have a stunning image, to be peppered with catchy sub-headings and be each engine optimised to within an inch of its life. But here’s the things, sometimes that means it feels like it’s far too much effort and I end up not posting at all. Not writing at all. And that doesn’t make me happy.

So I’m letting go of all that. Much of what I post this month will be a stream of consciousness. Free writing. Realistically that’s the only way I’ll get a post out every day. There might be images with some post, there might not. There are sure to be typos and spelling mistakes because I’m only going to edit each post once (Note: I’ve already broken that rule with this post!). None of that matters. I want to write, I want to establish a habit of writing every day, and I want to connect with other bloggers – that’s what excites me. So here we go.

Here’s my first post of the month. Welcome to the challenge.

If you want join in the Blog Every Day in May challenge with Rosalilium it’s not too late to join. Click on the image below to sign up now!
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Relaxing with Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed: my truths laid bare

As soon as I read a review of the book Wild I knew I had to read it. Everything about it resonated with me. A solo adventure in the outdoors, breaking free from society’s normal rules and confines. But ultimately what grabbed me and drew me in irrevocably is hinted at in the sub-heading, ‘A Journey from Lost to Found’. Wild is ultimately a book about Cheryl Strayed’s journey through grief after the death of her mother. Read More