Blue January and Winter Walks

It's been a long month so far, it's not quite over but we are nearly there. January is like waking up in the morning, you don't want it to be that time again but you have to get up. As horrible as it can be sometimes, it hasn't been all bad, I find that it can be a good time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the rest of the next. Thinking about all that you want to achieve and making plans.

Getting back into the swing of working again has been a little tiring, after a break you're never quite ready to go back. My job has kept me very busy the last few weeks, the company that I work for is currently re-branding and it's up to me and my boss to get it all done. There are endless tasks, changes to make and with our website launch in a few days it's all getting real and exciting. It makes the days go quick but the weeks still drag.

For me, it's the lack of sunlight and dark days that get me feeling a little blue. Last week was my least favourite time in January, I felt awful to be completely honest. I was not sick enough to lay in bed all day and go off sick but I was by no means feeling 100%. Thankfully it passed and this week I have been feeling more like myself.

A few things I've done to tackle the January blues..

One of my favourite things to do is go for walks. I don't go out walking for the simple act of walking enough. Breathing in the fresh air and looking at my surroundings can do so much good for my mind and body. It does not take a lot of effort, you just have to go.

Be with the ones you love. I sometimes forget how people, especially the important ones in your life can fill you up and make everything okay by just having them by your side. When the warmth that radiates around them reaches you and makes you smile, that right there is what it's all about. From your family, friends, boy or girl. They are there for you and you are there for them.

Keeping busy and focusing on my goals. Of course some days I want to curl up and hide away but you'll never waste your time doing something productive or something you truly want to do. I've been  making an effort to work out frequently and do other little things like reading a book in the bath and clearing out my bedroom. Focus on what you want and need.

It's also okay to rest, we all need to sleep in at the weekends, go to bed early and lounge around in our comfy clothes or pjs from time to time.

Hopefully the January blues haven't hit you too badly, I don't like to wish time away but it will be Spring before we know it, the days will be brighter and so will our minds. Keep going, we can do it.


Bakewell Tart

Every year at Christmas I make a dessert, years ago when I was younger I would make a trifle with my Mum and the last few years I have found new desserts to make. As requested by my little sister I made a bakewell tart. In our house we're not Christmas cake and Christmas pudding lovers so we go against tradition and make our own modern Christmas traditions. And as tradition goes, I made it on Christmas eve. Had a little incident with the flaked almonds burning on top, my oven can be temperamental. Luckily it was only the top layer and I was able to scrape off most of the burnt flakes and added new ones. It still tastes delicious, if you make this keep an eye on it. It's not a seasonal dessert so you can have it at anytime. I hope you all had a wonderful time and ate some tasty food over the festive period. Now it's back to healthy eating and not indulging in sweet treats every day.


For the shortcrust pastry 
175 grams plain flour
75 grams chilled butter
2-3 tablespoons cold water

For the filling
2 tablespoon raspberry jam
125 grams butter
125 grams caster sugar
125 grams ground almonds
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
50 grams flaked almonds

For the icing 
80 grams icing sugar
3 tablespoons cold water

When making the pastry, pour the flour into a bowl and rub the better in with your fingertips until the texture is like fine breadcrumbs then add the water to form a soft dough. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and line a 20cm/8inch flan tin. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C. Line the pastry case with foil and fill the tin with baking beans or rice and blind bake for 15 minutes, after remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes to dry out the base. Spread the raspberry jam on the base generously. For the rest of the filling, melt the butter in a pan and take off the heat and mix in the sugar well with the ground almonds, egg and almond extract. Pour it into the tin and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top. To avoid burning the almonds, cover the tin loosely with tin foil for 35 minutes. Finally make the icing in a bowl with the water and you can use a piping bag or a spoon to pour the icing over in a zig-zag effect. Leave to cool and enjoy.


2016 Hopes, Dreams and Goals

Goodbye 2015 and hello 2016. The past year has been a real journey, things have happened that I did not believe would happen and some I worked hard towards and others challenged me. I wouldn't have changed any of it because it got me where I am today. I learnt this year that life is truly what you put into it. Life happens to you but it is how you react to it and what you take from it that counts.

Thinking about where my head was at the start of 2015, it feels like another life. I feel proud of what I have accomplished, especially looking back at my goals from last year. I finally got a full time job, in the field I studied for. It was my mission in the first few months of the year, I was constantly looking and applying for jobs, even went to 3 interviews in 1 month with no luck. And then I got given a chance and I'm really enjoying it. When you're determined, you can do anything. Something I need to remember more often. I continued to workout regularly and tried to continue to eat healthier food, there is always room for improvement. I didn't spend as much time as I would have liked writing but when I did, I wrote with purpose and intention, I want to continue this into 2016. In December, I finally got round to printing some photos and will work on it again this year. I loved more and found more happiness in 2015. It was mostly in the latter half of the year, I learnt to love more and find happiness in everyday life but that's great because I could see how I grew in the year.

Once again as the new year has begun I am setting myself new goals and intentions for the year. Some are continuing on from last year, some are brand new and others are goals for life. I like to challenge myself and it's always great to improve on yourself. Small or big steps, no matter what your goal is, you owe it to yourself and most importantly you deserve it. Make it happen.

Save Money
Now that I'm in a position to start saving to buy my own home, I'm making this year a saving money year. Ask anybody who knows me and they will say that I'm good with my money. For a long time now I've had a bit of extra money in the bank for a rainy day and now I want to move forward and be on my way to independence. In 2016 I'm going to be extra careful and save as much as possible. There is a new government scheme to help first time buyers get on the property ladder. This year I want to open a Help to Buy ISA, where the government will boost your savings by 25%. I also want to apply for a credit card to build up my credit rating to help me buy my first home. A very grown up goal but it's something I'm quite excited about.

Look After My Body
A typical new years goal, I know. I want to dedicate more of my time to improving my fitness and make a more conscious effort to drink plenty of water and eat clean food that's good for me. I tried out new classes like pilates and yoga, I really enjoyed it. I'd like to try some more this year and mix it up a bit. I went to a body pump class this week, it's challenging but I feel so good afterwards. I would like to try and run 5K without stopping this year too. Getting enough sleep at night is important, sometimes I don't feel like I rest my body as much as I should. It is becoming an important part of my lifestyle to look after my body and if I end the year knowing I put my effort into it then I will be very happy.

Document My Life 
Last year I wanted to take more photos and I didn't really think about it most of the time but this year I would like to take more and document all the great adventures and everyday good things so that I can look back on them and be taken back to that amazing moment. I bought myself a new camera in the January sales and I hope it will inspire me to take more photos. Maybe think of creative ways to display them as well as blog and share them.

Do More Of What I Love 
At certain points of 2015 I felt like I hadn't picked up a book to read, blogged or baked in a while. It makes me feel a little sad that I neglect doing what I love. I have a whole stack of books to read, a desire to write and blog and do all those little things that make me feel good and happy. I want to make time for them, even a couple of hours a week. Life is not worth living if you don't get to do what you love.

Be Positive
I'm not the most positive thinker, I have my days when I'm feeling empowered and feel like I can conquer anything. Unfortunately, there are those days when I don't feel like I can do it or something happens and I question if I'm strong enough for this. Those negative thoughts are simply bad. I want to banish them from my mind, forever. Of course, that is not possible but by looking on the brighter side more often I think it can do incredible things for my well being.

I hope you all had a wonder start to the year and I would love to know what are some of you hopes, dreams and goals. Good luck with yours for 2016!


Days in December

Looking back at the last month of the year, I can remember all the lovely things I have done with friends and family. Earlier this month I shared what I got up to in winter so far, and since then everything got even more festive. Spending my weekends in December making new traditions and getting ready for Christmas day. Most days were quite busy and I think that's one of the reasons why Christmas comes around so quickly. We all get caught up with all the great things about this time of year. Finding thoughtful presents for the ones we love, celebrating the year that has gone past and all the exciting things that can only be done in the festive season.

As incredible as the month has been, I only wish I could have spent more time with everyone I care about most. At this time of year, I feel so thankful for everyone I do have and the ones I have met this year. That's what it's all about. And I hope I will still have all my dear loves with me next year.

A week before Christmas I went down to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, for years I have wanted to go and unfortunately never got round to going until this year. There was so much going on, lots of food, drinks and rides. We walked around and I bought a new Christmas tree decoration, gingerbread and fudge, ate some chocolate marshmallow kisses and had some mulled cider. It was a lovely winter afternoon, I can't wait to visit Christmas markets all over again next year.

Ginger biscuits are one of my favourites, I wanted to start a new tradition and make gingerbread cookies. I'd love to make them every year from now on and have a little piece of this year go on for as long as possible.

This year Christmas was very relaxed, I think that's the best way to spend it. In the morning we started with presents, for the first time ever I was the one everyone was waiting for to come down and open them, I was more excited about sleeping in than opening presents, does that make me a proper grown up? Then I watched some Christmas films before starting to make the dinner, like last year I made it all by myself, in between it all I ate so much chocolate. It's okay because this is the time of year you can indulge and I'm already looking forward to healthy eating in the New Year.

I hope your December has been wonderful and the New Year brings you greatness, love and joy x