Connecting

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Thanks to mobile phones and social media channels, we can all keep connected pretty much all the time if we choose to. Of course, we know there are downsides, but treating your own well-being as priority, should help you drag yourself away from the latest horror stories after a period of time. Try to check in to the news just two or three times a day, but only for 10-15 minute bursts.

We don’t need to know everything. We can google all sorts of theories and conspiracies until the cows come home (?) but that’s your choice. And, where are you going with it? If you’re creating a future book or a personal journal of pandemic events, then fine, but don’t get lost in cyber space too often!

Other forms of connection are showing up all the time. One of my daughters and her partner created several funny short and distorted videos a couple of weeks ago which brought many smiles and belly laughs! Another of my daughters (a yoga teacher) has just made a short video of how she has found more confidence in herself simply by creating a video and some online yoga training. These connections mean so much and reach many people.

Acts of kindness are springing up all over the place and it’s heart-warming to know that not the entire human species are a bunch of idiots. 🙂

Recently, in a need-to-sort-everything-out moment, I found some poetry I’d written and on the same day discovered it’s poetry month and saw a post by Elizabeth Gilbert encouraging people to post poems. Thank you Universe!

So that’s what I did! I would never have dreamed of doing this before but I had a lovely comment on instagram so I thought I’d share it with you here. But before I sign off, this is the time to be thinking outside the box, even if you’re physically inside one….

phobiapoem

(This was my excuse for not learning to swim!)

Keep safe and well,
Linda x

P.S. If you’re connecting with your garden, there are pots of gardening tips posted here

Nutrition

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Well day two turned out to be nearly two weeks late! So much – and so little – going on right now on this crazy planet of ours.

Nourishment or nutrition was to be my next post so, chocolate aside, what can we eat to make us feel good and doesn’t require a cordon bleu diploma?

If you’re vegan you probably have all this stuff sussed by now. I haven’t managed the step yet as I don’t know quite how I would survive without eggs or honey, but there’s time, there’s time!

In my region, we’re not finding it easy to get basic foodstuffs (at affordable prices) and, having moved house fairly recently, I hadn’t yet stocked my food cupboards so I’m having to be very inventive when it comes to dinners. Some work out better than others. 🙂

If you can get hold of fresh veg and a few herbs though, soups go down well and a crusty loaf of bread will satisfy the carb cravings.

I like to make soups and one-pot meals – less washing-up! But also, when you make soup, you’re keeping the nutrients in, rather than draining them away after steaming or boiling. And the more nutrients we can get, at the moment especially, the better.

In the UK, we should be in asparagus season about now. Asparagus is probably my favourite veggie but tends to be expensive. Making soup seems to make it go further.

Note to self: Remember to get some asparagus crowns to plant!

Anyway, there’s a recipe below from  this page and I hope you enjoy it.

Aside from fresh vegetables, dried foods can help fill the gap. Pasta seems to have become one of the most bought items in the big supermarkets. Whether you buy wholemeal, plain or gluten-free pasta, there are a ton of recipes you could try that liven it up a bit. Make it as enjoyable as you can.

(I’m a fine one to talk as years of cooking for a big family made me a very lazy kitchen person.  Nutritious? – tick = throw it on a plate.)

But yesterday, I had a moment of madness and created a pasta bake out of random ingredients. Lots of prep but quite fun and definitely not hard! Apologies to vegans and vegetarians but this is what I did:

*Cooked the gluten-free pasta (for two servings), drained and put in a bowl.
*Steamed a handful of torn up kale
*Grilled 3 thin rashers of bacon, then cut into small pieces
*Boiled two eggs, peeled and chopped them
*Gently fried 2 chopped fresh tomatoes and 3 cloves of chopped garlic

Mixed all the cooked ingredients together in a bowl, then I made a plain white sauce, using cornflour and milk. Found a little cheddar, so grated that and stirred it into the white sauce until melted. Poured the sauce over the bowl of pasta mix and stirred it gently to coat everything.

Then I popped it in the oven – not too hot – for about 20-25 minutes. Serve with any green salad or veg you can rustle up.

It was interesting and tasted good but a little bland. I didn’t have any fresh herbs, but if you have some, definitely add them. But, mostly, use what you have in the cupboard, tinned sweetcorn and tuna go well together. Experiment!

So, the promised asparagus soup recipe…..

INGREDIENTS:
asparagus
butter or margarine
water or stock
seasoning
1 medium sized onion

METHOD:
1. Prepare asparagus and onion and cut into small pieces.
2. Melt butter in saucepan and add asparagus and onions. Cook gently until the vegetables start to soften. Keep the heat low and a careful eye open at this stage. Don’t burn the precious veggies!
3. Add stock and seasoning and bring to the boil. Simmer until vegetables are soft.
4. Either serve as a clear soup or puree the vegetables in a blender or through a sieve. Re-heat gently.

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

P.S. There’s a long list of family recipes here

 

Easter Eggs

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We often have rain or even snow at Easter. This year, who knows what’s going to happen next?! But, if you have some time on your hands and are up for a challenge, I found this recipe in an old recipe book called ‘The Chocolate Book’ – I don’t think it’s still in print but if I find it I’ll add a link.

Do this on a day when you can use the egg for an omelette or cake etc; because the eggs are moulds for this recipe.

Anyway, here goes…. (Very fiddly!)

 

Ingredients: (makes 4)

4 medium eggs
8oz. (225g.) plain or milk chocolate
3oz. (75g.) finely ground praline
2 tablespoons (30mls) cream

Decorations (all optional):
Icing to pipe
edible balls/flowers etc
coloured ribbon

 
Method:

1. Using an egg prick or pin, pierce a hole in the pointed end of each egg.
2. Using small scissors, carefully enlarge the hole to about 1cm (half and inch)
3. Using a cocktail stick or toothpick, push it into the hole to puncture the yolk. Shake the raw egg into a bowl.
4. Run water gently into the shells and shake until clean. Turn upside down and leave to dry.
5. Melt the chocolate. Stir in the praline and cream. Spoon or pour the mixture into the dry shells and leave to set.
6. When set, break the shell and decorate with icing or silver balls and flowers

Alternative:
When set, seal the holes with a small sticker and place face down in an egg box – probably be better to make six if you are doing this. Remember to increase the ingredients. Bon Appetit!

Stay safe and well,
Linda x

P.S. For grown-ups, you could add a little brandy or rum to the chocolate mixture 🙂

 

Coping Strategies; Practical Stuff

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Over the next seven days I’ll be posting some ideas and coping strategies to hopefully help us all stay grounded until, well.. ‘this too shall pass’

Day 1 – Practical Stuff
Day 2 – Nourishment
Day 3 – Connecting
Day 4 – Relaxing
Day 5 – Playing
Day 6 – Learning
Day 7 – Moving On

I was going to try and make an acronym of these titles but there weren’t any vowels to play with 🙂

We’re living in uncertain times and looking back over the past year, we’ve seen some radical movements in climate change campaigns, political tidal waves and plenty of self-care and life coaches popping up. I saw a post the other day saying

“I’m feeling like the planet has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we’ve done”

So, if you’re self-isolating or in compulsory lock-down or if you’re house-bound in any way, the following days could be more difcicult than usual to navigate. Time to look within. Nothing much you can do out there anyway, unless you’re on the front line, in which case you are our heros and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Day One – Coping Strategies for Practical Stuff

Looking at practical ways to deal with being at home with the family and not diving into the gin bottle. Not all of these ideas will resonate – pick the ones that do.

*Schedule: If you are used to a schedule, it may be a good idea to create one now. But don’t forget a lot can and may have to be juggled. At work, your colleagues know what has to be done, and to a large extent they do it. It’s different at home. If you find yourself having an argument with a three-year-old (btw, you won’t win) remember, their rules are different – i.e. they have no rules! Be prepared to be flexible and go with the flow.

*Make Lists: Different from schedules because they can be made by everyone individually. If you are sharing chores, everyone writes their chore on their list as well as the other things they want to get done in a day. Try writing your list for the next day just before bedtime. Then when you wake up, you’ll know what you ‘should’ be doing today.

*Parenting: Children actually thrive with certain boundaries and direction. You may not be home-schooling but there’s so much more to learn and now’s a great opportunity to get up to speed with any anti-social behaviours emmerging. They happen, and children shouldn’t be dismissed as ‘naughty’ or ‘delinquent’ because it’s just their way of learning social skills and also pushing their parents as far as they can sometimes – be prepared!

*Think ahead: Yes this too shall pass but maybe not as quickly as we want it to, so thinking ahead could save you frustration and anxiety in the weeks to come. Take stock of what provisions you have. If you’re not one of those who has stock piled so much you are depriving others, and I’m not going into that because it makes me crazy, then you may have to work out just how many toilet rolls and packets of pasta you will need in a couple of weeks from now and maybe get an online order in now.

Just a few ideas on practical coping strategies. Tomorrow we’re talking about Nourishment.

Keep well

Linda x

 

Who Would You Be?

monalisa-pin

Someone once asked me who I would like to be if I could be someone famous. They were dreaming of being rich and famous themselves.

While I wouldn’t say no to being rich, I’ve never really aspired to being famous. It just seems to be too much trouble – having the media constantly watching you and not able to pop down to the shop without a bodyguard has an air of the ridiculous about it – in my world anyway!

The question itself is hypothetical and anyway, shouldn’t we all be happy with our own lives? … hmm

But my subconscious must have been secretly evaluating the question because just recently I realised that there is one person I would like to be. And, strangely it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that she’s a billionaire – although that would be very nice of course – but more to do with who she is and what she represents.

I’m talking about JK Rowling.

Her creativity, imagination and writing expertise is phenominal and on those days when inspiration has vanished in a haze of everyday worries and uncertainty, her books have helped me find that nugget of self-worth and confidence that I need to develop my own writing skills.

So thank you for all the wonderful stories you have shared with the world JK!

Who would you like to be? And Why?

Linda x

 

Home Life

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and what it could be like.

With recent events causing more time spent at home, there are a few questions coming up as to how to cope with it all.

Apart from the usual keeping yourself well by eating healthy foods and not going anywhere near the rest of humanity, there are the everyday practical, mental and spiritual issues to take care of.

If you’re not sure you’ll still have all your marbles at the end of your isolation period, check out these few ideas in case…

It’s all just too Boring?

Well, isn’t work boring sometimes? What about those mornings when you’ve wanted to stay home and get the housework up to date or prepare for a celebration?

Actually there may be lots of loose ends you could be tidying up right now. Have a wander round and make a quick note of jobs you’ve wanted to get around to for ages. Perhaps…

  • de-cluttering
  • sorting out the kids clothes
  • general tidying up
  • taking up the hem of the curtains

and then sort out your notes into a schedule – and if you don’t keep to it, juggle it around until it fits with your mood of the moment.

And there are probably some creative pursuits you would have time for at home. Is the sewing machine collecting dust? Or maybe you learned to knit, bought some patterns and yarn and never got around to knitting those winter gloves or hats. Are you a closet artist? Get drawing!

Maybe you’ve been dreaming about your own business, or starting a blog but don’t know where to start. There are hundreds of thousands of videos on youtube. Get inspired by watching others’ online success stories – although I would add a disclaimer here – not everything you find on the internet is true for you!

And remember to take some action on anything that resonates. Or you’ll find yourself drowning in a sea of overwhelm 🙂

kids

Kids driving you mental?

Children are sponges for knowledge. How many times a day do you hear ‘why’ as the beginning of a sentence? Use the time to learn with them. Try not to ‘copy’ school. Home life is different.

Decide when your own child/children respond best to learning and learn with them. We know, from various tv programmes and social media posts that parents have forgotten – or indeed never learned in the first place – a lot of the stuff that kids are learning now.

Home schoolers have support groups online and your local authority may have some guidance available for your child’s grade.

And, learning aside, how about some fun? The biggest challenge with today’s kids at home seems to be separating them from their devices and screen-time. So, get the board games and jigsaw puzzles out of hibernation if you have them. If not, don’t despair! Get into some traditional games that our grandmothers would have played. They were often fun and educational. I’ll put a link to a handy download of Indoor Family Games below.

If you have a garden, or even just a little windowsill space, sow some seeds with the whole family. Nurturing plants is a joy in itself and you may be able to grow some nourishing organic food. There are some useful gardening posts here so no excuse!

housework

More household chores?

Well, yes, but you have time to do them now. I wrote a quick post about washing up and the pleasure to be found – yes really!

But again, the household chores can be turned into a learning time and also fun. How about either a recap or a new experience in …

 

  • tidying away toys and belongings – adults too!
  • putting laundry in the laundry basket – ditto 🙂
  • appreciating their space
  • baking sugar-free cookies
  • putting a meal together

Age has to be considered of course, but with some proper coaching about possible dangers and how to avoid them, children can surprise us every day with their ability, responsibility and creativity and imagination.

My grandchildren could teach me a thing or two in the kitchen!

You’ll have no ‘office’ clothes to launder so enjoy the yoga pants every day. And yoga pants don’t need ironing – Bonus.

money

Less money?

Tricky, as money always seems to be an issue when trying to raise a family or simply survive in recent economic times – although I’m not sure it hasn’t always been like that.

 

It’s about how we respond to the bills and finances generally that makes the difference.

Being at home all day is bound to increase home utility bills but being aware helps. Did you really need to put the heating on that early when there are lots of people milling about generating body heat? Maybe not. And it’s not really necessary to always sprawl on the couch in your underwear. Turn the heating down and put a shirt on!

Washing hands and general cleanliness is of course important, but if you don’t have to take a shower first thing before going to work, perhaps take one later when economy fuel time kicks in, or limit yourself to every other day? Just a thought. 🙂

A small investment in seeds and pots could result in some good food you can pick yourself, as I mentioned before. And getting creative in the kitchen can really help reduce food bills. Find vegan recipes and test them out on the family. 🙂

Keep well and enjoy the moments you can

Linda x

indoorfamilygames

Indoor Family Games to play at home or away, and mostly for FREE!

This is the fun stuff that children got up to before the days of computers. Bring the whole family together with a fun idea and the little darlings may even switch off the computer game voluntarily!

Using everyday items, and sometimes none at all (FREE!), all 31 games are played without plugs, batteries or chargers.

Pure and natural resources – imagination, creativity and a little energy – help develop life skills while having fun.

Finding the kid in you keeps you young, and, of course, you get to spend quality time with the children without having to dig out the credit card. Just about every game can be adjusted to suit the age and number of players.

Enjoy a whole month of rainy day games you can play in the sunshine. (And it’s super cheap at the moment!)

Amazon US , Amazon UK , Apple Bookstore , Barnes & Noble , Kobo , Payhip , Healthy Living Books at Etsy ,

 

 

 

Washing Up

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When there are more people in the house all day, inevitably more washing up accumulates. Rather than running the dishwasher more times, try doing the washing up the old-fashioned way – you know – sink, water etc;!

Dishwasher detergents can be costly and the electricity consumption fairly high with these long cycle machines. Washing machines are priceless when you have a family. I’ve washed by hand for a few years for six of us and a washing machine was like a dream come true. But washing up the dishes?

It’s quite therapeutic to stand at the sink washing up. Time for a meditative pause in the day or a few minutes of focused thought. Make it make a family affair and if anyone moans about it, try explaining that if they didn’t use a clean cup from the cupboard every single time, but rinsed out their used cup and re-filled it, then there would be less washing up.

Teaching some life lessons, meditation moments, working out problems and some quality family time – all from ignoring the dishwasher and getting your hands wet 🙂

Keep well and as sane as possible!

Linda x

Family Games

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Oh wow, crazy times we’re living in at the moment. But I guess we just have to do what we can to keep well and accept that what is, is! But if you find yourself at home with the kids with or without any outside space for them to play, it’s important not to let them spend 12 hours a day on their devices.

We all know that, of course we do, but often these devices are handy ‘baby sitting’ tools when we are rushing around trying to get a meal on the table or cope with other household chores after a day at work.

 

But what if you aren’t going out to work every day. Some will be working from home (which might mean you can juggle your time a little) but others will be at a bit of a loss as to how on earth they can keep the kids entertained in a confined space without resorting to video games etc;

Aside from craft activities, board games and jigsaw puzzles, there are plenty of other games to play. The secret?

Time Travel!

Step back in time to when you, your parents or grandparents (depending on your age!) made their own entertainment. Before the days of TV.

What did they do?

There was a lot more ‘playing out’ going on back then, but the communities were tighter and there were fewer, if any, cars on the road so it was probably a lot safer for kids to play out on the streets with often no more than a ball and/or a skipping rope. But there were always those days when it was raining too hard or far too cold to go out to play.

Time to flex the imagination muscle. The games we made up as kids were often bizarre and had no meaning to them other than they passed the time and often made us giggle uncontrollably. 🙂

We also played family games, sometimes simple games like noughts and crosses or joining dots to make boxes. But often we played games that stretched our thinking but were still fun and still often hilarious.

One such game was:

TABOO

Players decide what word is ‘taboo’. For example, you may decide ‘and’ is taboo so therefore every time a player has to say ‘and’ he must say ‘taboo’ instead.

One person is chosen to be the questioner and can ask each player as many questions as he wants to try and catch them out – if they say the taboo word, in this case ‘and’ then they drop out of the round. The last player left wins and becomes the questioner in the next round.

The secret to this game is speed. The questioner can ask questions at random and may interrupt a player in mid-answer to try and catch them out.

For example, if the questioner asks a player, “What did you have for breakfast this morning?” the player may answer “Toast.”

The questioner should then quickly ask “Did you have anything with the toast?” The player may answer “Yes I had toast taboo cereal”. If player replies “Yes I had toast and cereal”, he has said the taboo word ‘and’ and therefore must drop out of the round.

Can get kind of confusing at times this game!

…………

Google traditional games or family games and enjoy some quality fun time together as a family while you can. They grow up so quick!

Have Fun!
Linda x

P.S. Couldn’t resist putting a few of my favourites together in a printable download. The game above is one of ten easy to play family games you could be enjoying right now!

10FamilyGames-etsy

10 Family Games

10 Family Games to play without plugs, chargers or batteries. Old-fashioned play will bring a smile to everyone’s face. One of my favourite quotes:

“You don’t stop playing because you get old. You get old because you stop playing” George Bernard Shaw

Available at Payhip and Healthy Living Books at Etsy

 

 

My Garden Journal

MyGarden-bookcover

When I first started gardening, it was chaos. I always seemed to forget when I sowed seeds or planted out seedlings, which meant inevitably I missed a crucial element in getting the best from my crops.

So, I finally realised it was a good idea to keep notes. I keep notes about everything, to-do lists, not-to-do lists, birthdays to remember etc; so why hadn’t I thought of it with the gardening adventure? Who knows. But of course I do have a theory 🙂

When you go out into nature, whether it’s on your balcony, patio, back garden or for a woodland walk, it’s easy to lose yourself in the moment. I often wander into the garden at random moments – usually to avoid the washing up glaring at me in the kitchen – and while I’m out there, I may decide a plant needs re-potting or the fish need feeding or maybe just a few weeds need evicting. Or it might be just one of those ‘breathe the air and admire the flowers’ times.

But whatever lures you outside, it often has a feeling of freedom about it. Then, why would you think about clipboards, pens and journals?

Oh well, now’s the time to really get into the garden. Even if you haven’t got a garden, you could grow a few herbs on the windowsill to add some cordon bleu designs to your everyday dinners!

But if you have got a garden and are planning to do anything at all this year, I would suggest keeping some notes. I put together this handy pdf printable this week. And it’s going to help you get the most from your garden.

Every month has some gardening job suggestions for temperate climate dwellers. Adjust to your region and weather conditions as you need to. Gardening has to be a flexible hobby simply because we can’t control the weather! There are also a few handy gardening tips and resources you may find helpful.

MyGarden-bookcover

My Garden Journal

Because it’s a pdf it’s easy to download and print should you so wish. Available from Payhip and Etsy 

Otherwise, I hope you get lots of outside time this year and wishing you bumper crops and delicious nutrition for all your family and friends.

 

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

 

 

Easter Plans

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Let’s be good to our fluffy and feathered friends, as well as all the other wonderful creatures on the planet – I include (most) humans as well!

I only say ‘most’ because there are still some strange humans who think trophy hunting is something to be proud of.

Anyway, before I start ranting on about that, there are a few Easter plans we could make this year to help save the planet. Yay!

Often, at this time of year, the shops are packed with chocolate and plastic novelty toys. And parents everywhere are adding stuff to their to-do lists in lieu of creating egg hunts and making all the Easter plans that pop up at Easter time.

One of the wonderful things about Easter is that it usually arrives along with the Spring. Although sometimes we get snow at Easter – but moaning about the weather is not what I’m doing today – the sun’s been shining!

Chocolate is actually good for you (see my post here ) but the problem is that it’s only the dark kind which doesn’t always appeal to the children’s taste-buds. If your children love it, then great! But regular easter eggs are often packed with sugar and additives and all they really do is satisfy the craving for a few moments and turn the kids into hyper-active crazy people. Yep, been there, done that.

So, how about going down a different road this year? We still have a month to go and time to get creative – how about…

**Making energy balls? There are tons of healthy recipes online – I found this one on Nest & Glow. Although one of the ingredients is cocoa powder, there’s usually organic cocoa available in most good health stores.

Sesame chocolate raisin balls

1 cup / 140g Sesame seeds
1 cup / 150g Raisins
½ cup / 50g Cacao / Cocoa Powder

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until the paste starts to stick together
You may need to shake the blender or scrape the inside a few times between blends
Scoop out a heaped teaspoon at a time and roll into balls
They will keep for a few weeks in an airtight container in the fridge

NOTE– they will only keep for a few weeks if you hide them!

And when the big Egg Hunt Day arrives, maybe they could be wrapped in greaseproof or waxed paper – anything other than plastic is a plus.

**Avoiding plastic novelty toys really should be priority these days – I suppose it always should have been but we do know better now. How about checking out local eco-friendly craft markets. Supporting small businesses helps families pay their bills and take their children swimming, rather than lining already rich pockets with more of your hard-earned cash.

Have a look on Etsy. I just typed ‘childrens easter gifts’ into the search and came up with some amazing natural gifts. Really worth a look.
**And if you’re feeling creative yourself, make something! Many years ago, I was strapped for cash when my youngest daughter’s birthday was coming up and I designed a doll – since then I’ve developed many costumes and themes for the doll and made the patterns available for everyone to try.

easterspecial

 

This is the Easter Version – if you’d like to try it yourself, pop over to the Ekokids. page

But if dolls or knitting aren’t your thing, what is?

 

Again, have a look on Etsy and see if anything springs to mind. Are you an excellent wood carver? Maybe you could create wooden egg cups or Easter bunnies! Really, looking at some of the wonderful creations made me want to immediately sort out some crafting space in my home.

So, a month to go if you’re reading this a month before Easter 🙂 – plenty of time to create something different this year.

Anyway, Happy eco-friendly, sugar-free Easter everyone!

Linda x