The power of pumpkins?

Reading over previous posts and having a little more ‘thought time’ than usual, I have realised the last month I have truly been engaging with mindfulness. After my time in America, I felt a little distant from myself, with part of me (pretty much all of me) wishing I was still there. After this realisation, I acknowledged my need for mindfulness, to feel in the moment and start to enjoy the present again.

Yes, you bet I am going to talk about ‘those little things’ again, but seriously focusing on the little things in your life, whatever they may be, has the power to bring you such a grounding feeling.

Feeling more grounded with the world around me, where I am without focusing too much on where I am going or where I have been has changed my mood completely. Of course, it is difficult but it’s the little things that can make a difference.

We all know that physical exercise is good for us but what about mental exercise? Focusing on one thing or time in your day, acknowledging the feel, scent and sound. Okay okay, I know some of you reading will probably look at the photographs of the cute dogs and leave here but bare with me.

During one of my many attempts at mindfulness, a mindfulness teacher asked me to eat one raisin, to close my eyes, feel it, smell it and taste it, noticing the texture and taste, more tasteful than any raisin I had tried before, I began to notice how little we engage with daily activities.

It is unbelievable how much of our lives we miss because we are not mindful, always rushing, looking around and thinking about the past or future. This Sunday to bring more content to your week, try and do something, anything, mindfully.

Oh, and where this post was going before the ramble, it was yesterday afternoon that I realised how grounded I feel, compared to a few weeks back. Mindfulness does not work over night, it takes time but over that time, with consistent practices you will begin to notice the difference, just as I did.

Looking around a pumpkin field, seeing so much colour there could have been a filter, filled with gratitude for my aunty and her doglets. Noticing the crunch of the leaves and even the smell of pumpkin (not the nicest smell I admit), I felt very content with where I was, in the moment.

Not quite the pumpkin picking post I thought would happen but sometimes I just must share these rambles, in the hope that you to have a mindful moment today.

Wishing you well,

Nicole

For more posts on Mindfulness, BeMindful.co.uk

To see more of my walks and rambles follow my Instagram stories

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Home Comforts.

Looking at my previous posts, I am sure you can tell I have had a touch of those ‘post adventure blues’. It would seem my plan to throw myself into all things work did not work as well as I had hoped and searching for employment is no easy task. It is not all bad though, I have had a few weeks to enjoy some home comforts, or at least try to without comparing everything and anything to New York.

But of course, nothing quite compares to exploring the beginning of autumn with my four legged friends! I have loved returning to jumpers, tights and all the autumnal colours. Nothing beats seeing Archie running in and out of the colourful leaves that are quickly falling. Being mindful of my surroundings and seeing the seasonal fruit appearing on the trees and enjoying that cosy feeling of coming in from a crisp walk.

Speaking of cosy feelings, a few weeks ago I went to visit my great grandmother. We popped into a cosy pub, it was a surprise to see vegan options, and gluten free to! I had the lentil cottage pie and it was a lot nicer than it looks. Don’t you think it is becoming easier and easier to be vegan?

With having to purchase a new car, being unemployed and well, trying to be somewhat independent, I am also feeling the ‘post adventure pinch’, as I am sure I am not the only one? Not that I am complaining, I mean I have been forced into getting creative in my kitchen and with the help from Deliciously Ella, forever browsing her app for inspiration, I have made a couple of lovely and very affordable dishes.

These recipes are very similar and simple to make.

Sweet potato and mixed bean stew, serves three
(two medium sweet potatoes, two tins of mixed beans, a handful of cherry tomatoes, one table spoon of tomato puree, one vegetable stock cube, a pinch of rosemary, cumin, chilli flakes, ground black pepper and steamed vegetables to serve)

First peel and chop into squares the sweet potatoes, part boil and roast for around 25 minutes.
Half way through, chop tomatoes and add to sweet potato for 10 minutes.
Whilst waiting for the sweet potato and tomatoes, rinse and boil the mixed beans, once boiled rinse again and transfer back to pan.
Mix in one crumbled stock cube along with enough boiling water just to cover the beans, put on a low heat and add tomato puree and seasoning, stir well and leave simmer for 10 minutes.
Add in sweet potato and tomatoes and leave on low heat for around 10 minutes, stir well and take of heat, allow to cool.
Once cool use a soup pulse or part blend, as if you were making soup, leaving a few sweet potato chunks and beans whole.
Once ready, for a crispy edge place into ovenproof dishes and cook for 20-30 minutes (or around 4 minutes in the microwave or hob).
I served this with steamed spinach, green peas, broccoli, roasted cashew nuts and nutritional yeast.

Warming green lentil and sweet potato soup, serves two
(one tin of green lentils, two medium sweet potatoes, two servings of sugar snap peas, a handful of cherry tomatoes, one table spoon of tomato puree, a tea spoon of gram masala, a sprinkle of cumin, turmeric, ginger, a pinch of chilli flakes and ground black pepper)

First peel and chop into squares the sweet potatoes, part boil and roast for around 25 minutes.
Half way through, chop tomatoes and add to sweet potato for 10 minutes.
Whilst waiting for the sweet potato and tomatoes, rinse and boil the green lentils, once boiled rinse again and transfer back to pan.
On a low heat add just enough boiling water to cover the lentils, stir in spices and tomato puree before adding the cooked sweet potato, tomatoes and sugar snap peas (cut to own preference).
Stir well and leave simmer on low heat for around 10 minutes.
Pulse or blend, adding water until you achieve your preferred consistency, I enjoy this soup quite chunky.
Enjoy straight away or let cool and reheat later.
I served this soup with some crispy kale and sprinkling of toasted almonds.

Like most of my recipes these can be left to cool and transferred into plastic containers, popped into the fridge or freezer until ready to be served.

There is no free from favourites this month but I have got to mention Rhythm 108’s tea biscuits, found in Aldi but also available online. I do not usually enjoy gluten free biscuits as they often taste like they are trying to be an alternative, non-gluten free biscuit but these are a biscuit in their own right (okay slightly over the top, but you should try them). The lemon and ginger are my favourite and are fitting for this home comforts post.

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Let me know if you try any of these recipes or if you also have any allergy and budget friendly recommendations?

Thank you for reading,

Nicole

The light I now see.

If you have been following my journey for a while, you will know how much I love the outdoors, or ‘the little things’ I often talk about, and if you have been following my journey for even longer, you will know that this hasn’t always been the case.

Living with Anorexia, took my love for pretty much everything away. I was lost, withdrawn and the way I saw the world around me became very dark. Throughout my recovery and journey so far, the way I see the world has become lighter and lighter. So much so, I often become filled with gratitude, this is something I hope to share with you all.

Continue reading “The light I now see.”

Thriving day three & four.

Another addition to the #thrivelive blog posts, beginning my Wednesday with a very slow pased morning. I usually rush through my mornings, trying to get ready as quickly as I can. Instead, I tried to be a little slower and I guess more mindful of the small activities I was doing. Even brushing my teeth, being more aware of how I felt and instantly feeling more connected to myself.

Once ready, my mother and I went into Chester, as I mentioned in a previous post I am going away for the summer and well, my suitcase is still empty. I went with the hope of buying most of my things but ended up buying gifts, a bath bomb and one pair of shorts, oops. Non the less, it was a beautiful day and my mother and I enjoyed a lovely lunch at Olive Tree Brasserie, but you will hear more about our visit in May’s free from favourites. 

Expecting to be exhausted after wondering around Chester all day, I had planned to pop on a face mask and relax for the evening, until my sister asked if I wanted to go for a run. The sky was still blue and the sun was beaming, my dad, who is training for the Chester marathon, suggested we went through the country lanes and I could not resist. We ended up doing over five miles, not all running I must admit. It was so very beautiful, I would have taken photographs but my sister and dad were in ‘the zone’ and whilst used to me by now I think my ‘look a cow, look a lamb, look at that tree’, may have been slightly annoying. This is definitely where Instagram stories comes in handy.

Day four of #thrivelive, I woke up a little later than usual, I had another slow paced morning and ate breakfast whilst watching some morning television, featuring Rich and other Time to Change supporters, talking all about talking about mental health. I love the media coverage Mental Health Awareness Week has received, only also reminded it should not be needed but here’s to hoping for change. Speaking of Time to Change, even my car is standing up to stigma!

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This morning, I took a drive to a favourite town of mine, Llangollen. I usually wait for somebody to join me but I quite enjoyed my own company. I walked through the town, admired the view and popped into a couple of shops to.

I know it doesn’t seem like I have done a great deal but the last four days of #thrivelive, of being aware of my mental health, continuously practicing mindfulness and doing things that make me happy has really helped me feel at peace with myself. I am now finding myself asking, why don’t I do this more often?

Of course it has been a lot easier to do this with just finishing university and not having a deadline to meet but I think there is more to it. I think a part of me has been seeing myself as recovered, recovered meaning I don’t need to take as much time to look after my mental health anymore. Going back to my earlier post, ‘we all have mental health’ and looking at how four days of self-care, of making an effort to look after my mental health has made me feel so much happier and connected. I guess maybe I needed this reminder, that no matter how far along our recoveries are, mental illness or not, we all need to look after our mental health. Apologies if this has been a little confusing, kind of a realisation moment.

After that little ramble I shall leave this post here, I hope you are having a nice day.

Thank you for reading,

Nicole

Thriving, day two.

Continuing to share my #thrivelive with you all, only not live and with a kind of dairy style post instead. I began my morning determined to get back outside with a short run, unfortunately my knee had other ideas. Without beating myself up, I decided to have a quiet morning, sit in the garden and catch up on some emails.

Just as I was beginning to get a little agitated with myself, my mother came home with three bunches flowers, including my favourite, Freesias. After recently updating my blog introduction and being reminded of my floristry days, I decided to take a few moments to put together the flowers. It is sometimes hard to get out of that ‘what is the point’ mindset but I instantly felt the therapeutic benefits of being a little creative. I may have got slightly carried away as I lined each jar/vase up against my garden wall.

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I was not able to run today but that did not stop me exploring. This afternoon, I found myself and Archie wandering through a near by woodlands.

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The beautiful weather lead into the evening and so my sister and I took Ralph, my sisters puppy, for an evening walk. Both walks leaving me feeling grateful for dogs but also to live by such beautiful surroundings and actually notice them.

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Today its been the little things that have made me feel like I am thriving. What have you done today that has made you feel present and happy?

Wishing you well,

Nicole

Surviving or Thriving?

Today sees the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 and I have already seen some wonderful posts raising awareness. People sharing their experiences, informing us of the current statistics, facts, signs and symptoms.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Surviving or Thriving?’ with the key message ‘we all have mental health’.

With the pressures of life becoming more and more demanding and our fast pace, always on the go type attitudes often resulting in us merely surviving life. Our enjoyment is quickly disappearing right before us and we are living so far into the future, or past, that our now sadly becomes non-existent. This is how life was for me, that was before choosing and practicing, to be mindful, being aware of my mental health and making more time for self-care.

I cannot stress enough the importance of looking after your mental health, of doing whatever it is that makes you feel happy and connected. Of course, this does not come easy and sometimes we need that little bit of encouragement to take time for us. To help us with this, the inspiring Jake Tyler- Black Dog Walks, has come up with the wonderful idea to do something each day, for mental health awareness week, that makes us feel good about ourselves, using the hashtag #thrivelive.

I will be getting involved by taking part in this challenge and documenting my #thrivelive either here, via Twitter or Instagram. Please get involved and take a moment each day to do something for you.

Here is what I did today, a few weeks back I accidentally wiped my blog of all its photographs, every single one and much to my embarrassment, I did not take this well. Although, managing to restore most, I felt very upset and rather angry with myself to. Since then, I have had a ‘what is the point’ kind of attitude, not picking up my camera or documenting my walks.

Today I decided to put this behind me, breathe in the new day, pick up my camera and take myself, and Archie to, outside. I decided to do something for my mental health, a small task that has made me truly happy.

A walk I have done many times before, yet each time it seems to bring me something new, a new moment of the now to enjoy. Like today, whilst watching Archie run through the buttercups, sparking a conversation about how my mother’s grandmother used to make toast. ‘Freshly cut, grilled not toasted, buttered and placed back under the grill, until we were ready’- my mother as she smiled thinking of her grandmothers toast, a small conversation that made us both happy.  It looks, like Archie is licking his lips with the thought of buttery toast.

This walk never fails to make me feel free, with the open fields, nobody insight and such blue sky, the world felt huge.

A huge world with a tiny wooden bridge, across the river and through the fields, seeing white butterflies all around and crops just starting to sprout, this walk was truly beautiful.

I hope you have enjoyed reading and seeing my #thrivelive, I am looking forward to seeing what it is you all get up to.

See you tomorrow,

Nicole

The sky, the trees & all the animals.

This weekend has been truly beautiful. The weather here in Wales has felt like Summer has come early and of course I have made the most of it. Here are a few of the photographs I took whilst out exploring.

Starting with a little trip to Aldford, a near by village. My family and I, Ralph to, took a walk through the village, before stopping at The Grosvenor Arms  for lunch. We sat in the garden and enjoyed the sunshine whilst eating and watching Ralph play with his water dish which he insisted on carrying for the whole walk.

That evening, my auntie and I took a walk around Ellesmere lake, a childhood favourite of mine. It was so very peaceful, I always find there is something about watching rowing boats (and ducks) relaxing.

Bringing me to Sunday which I am pleased to say was mostly spend outside. Starting the day with a local walk through the woods, over the fields and past the church. Another favourite of mine, and Archie’s to. Especially when the sunlight streams through the trees, filling the forest with mystical greens.

Ending the weekend by visiting family and of course my four-legged friends at the farm. It has just dawned on me that I have probably seen (and spoken to) more animals than humans this weekend, I am one step closer to becoming Eliza Thornberry.

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For more of my exploring follow me on Instagram where my story is usually filled with the sky, the trees and all the animals. It goes without saying that Sunday evenings, once all the exploring has been done, are filled with annoying Syd with loves. I hope, wherever you are, sun shinning or not, you to have had a lovely weekend.

Nicole

A touch of frost.

I was far from happy to see the car was frozen over this morning, as I planned for our usual walk, but with this walk just a five minutes away and no need to drive, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

A route my mother and I only seem to take if the weather is somewhat warm, unlike today. I am pretty sure this is the coldest it has been all year but with our many layers on, fast walking pace and the sun brightly shinning down we managed the whole walk without stoping for a cup of tea.

Looking through Instagram it seems we are not the only ones who enjoyed this crisp, cold and frosty morning, I couldn’t help share with you some of my walk.

It was a lovely mix of countryside, seeing the farms, lakes and horses and of course some off-lead time for Archie to, he loves running around, jumping everywhere, he is kind of like a kangaroo, the way he pounces up and down. With also some road walking to, not as fun for Archie but it is nice to see pretty cottages and others who are out walking.

After over an hour and a half walking it was definitely time to retreat home, nearing the end my hands, legs and nose to became very cold and a bath is all I could think about, complete with a Lush bubble bar and bath bomb, the perfect way to end the morning and set me up for an almost productive day.

Wishing you a lovely day,

Nicole 

A peaceful Christmas.

Hello all, I hope you have enjoyed Christmas time and are all well.

I write this post as a reminder to myself that looking after my mental health during this time of year is really rather important, a kind of follow up from my ‘A Healthier Christmas’ post.

Being completely honest my promises to myself were a little slack and keeping on top of meditation and mindfulness during this time was much harder than I had originally thought. I had a couple of moments of anxiety but I rationalised my thoughts and feelings and made a conscious choice to bring myself to the present moment.

Unlike past Christmas days, I kept well and I really enjoyed my day because of this, here are a few photographs to share with you. Beginning with Christmas Eve, I of course completed my Moo Free  advent calendar, I think I shall be opting for the same calendar next year to! I then wrapped some last minute presents including my fathers gifts for my mother (I just love to wrap!), visited my grandfather and helped my mother prepare some of the Christmas lunch, I then cuddled up with the boys and watched film after film, what better way to spend the night before Christmas?

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Christmas morning was very relaxed, my family and I exchanged presents and awaited more family to arrive before having lunch. Of course there were many gluten-fee, vegan options including, a cranberry and cashew nut rose, rosemary and red onion sausages, seasoned roasted brussel sprouts and new potatoes, roast potatoes, red cabbage, peas and carrots, a vegan feast pictured before my second plate and a covering of tomato sauce and chilli flakes (it’s good to think outside the box, right?) Speaking of all things vegan my parents bought me this truly beautiful tin and filled it will all kinds of vegan chocolates.

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Vegan Christmas dinner aside, my day was filled with family, laughter and a great feeling of gratefulness, I am truly blessed and very lucky to have such wonderful people (and dogs to) around me.

 

As tradition on Boxing Day my parents, Archie and I enjoyed a beautiful walk, in one of my favourites, Llangollen. We were blessed with blue skies and bright sunshine. It was also so lovely to see other people out walking and enjoying the morning.

After our walk my father and I had to drive over an hour to pick up my MacBook. During this drive, whilst sky gazing yet again, I was reminded of those not so peaceful times, my aunt used to take me out for drives to try and clear my mind and I couldn’t help feel such gratitude to be where I am today, to be healthy, happy and at peace with myself. For those who may be reading this who are where I once was please have hope, I promise it is possible.

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A short post but one I hope you have enjoyed reading, I always love to hear other peoples Christmas traditions, and I couldn’t resist a little vegan ramble, what with ‘veganuary’ approaching.

Wishing you well,

Nicole