Too much change in too little time. 

Life has been hectic to say the least. We have had house valuations, transitions to big boy beds, changes to diets, death, hospitals and the usual spatter of Birthdays, diy and food. 

Over the next month I will be:

  • Taking He and Him on a 2 day trip to London (stay tuned for dinosaurs and eclairs)
  • having surgery to remove my left ovary and clean up my endometriosis a bit. (Not sure how much I’ll post on that bit)
  • Putting my house on the market (because surgery isn’t stressful enough)
  • Celebrating my 4th wedding anniversary 😍

Most of 2017 has been like this, and it looks like it will continue to be full on. It’s more important than ever to focus on my values, keeping myself healthy, present and incredibly grateful for all I have in my life even when things get tough. 

Me x

Here are some pictures of delicious food that I will post about somedayone of my own cakes for a charity event. Semi naked red velvet. 

Black garlic miso tonkotsu ramen. Try saying that 3x fast. You can’t…  you’re face is full of ramen. Ramen Dayo

Gyozagluten free burger with brie, bone marrow butter, fig jam, truffle mayo, strawberry harissa, candied bacon. Bread meats bread

☺️cheese curds… drool

The best sweet potato fries


Food as medicine? Somewhere between paleo and AIP. 

I loathe the word “diet”. It always conjures the image of weight loss, I have no need to lose weight, I have no desire to lose weight, I just want to be healthier.

In an effort to help my body heal itself, I have been looking into diets designed to use food as medicine. There are dozens if not hundreds of diets purporting to help cure various chronic, inflammatory diseases; the endometriosis diet, the anti-inflammatory diet, paleo, vegan, whole30, the auto-immune protocol are just a few of the ones I have researched, peer reviewed journals and all. It is important to understand some of the science behind these diets, not one of these diets is a simple change, and they all involve drastic changes and eliminations of major food groups such as dairy. You need to know about your disease, its triggers, pay attention to your own experiences with foods and use some common sense to choose the most appropriate food plan for you.

For me, an essential criterion for this diet was feeling confident that I could stick with it. Giving up everything I find enjoyable would inevitably lead to failure and what would be the point in doing it at all? The best fit diet for me through my research was the auto-immune protocol (AIP), which is in essence a stripped back version of paleo. The idea behind this diet is to consume foods that our body evolved to eat, to eat only what our hunter gatherer ancestors would have has access t, so this eliminates farmed foods such as grains, dairy and processed sugar. The AIP protocol takes things one step further by eliminating other common irritants to the body such as eggs, seeds, nuts, the nightshade family (white potatoes, tomatoes etc), you have also to limit your fruit intake. This was a step too far for me. I couldn’t get passed the restrictions, just thinking about taking on this protocol make me sad and despondent, not the best of starts.

I decided the most realistic chance of success for me was to go with Paleo but cut out a few additional food groups, mainly the nightshades. Keeping eggs, seeds and nuts and fruit gave me a foundation for breakfast which I felt was lacking in AIP and I know me, I know if I don’t get breakfast nailed I will fall off the diet wagon. I have never had any reaction that I am aware of with nuts or fruit, but I have had reaction from eating too many eggs, so I limit myself to two a day and may eliminate these in the future once I have adjusted to some of the other restrictions.

Is it working?

So far I have seen some improvements; the pain in my joints has almost gone away, the swelling in my stomach has gone down and I am more comfortable in my clothes as a result. At this point I cannot say that it has reduced my Endo pain, but I will say that it is much easier for me to map where the pain is coming from instead of feeling pain all over. The first couple of weeks were difficult, I did not prep enough and ended up eating far too much fruit and too many nuts, my energy levels were on the floor. Lessons learned though, I made some egg muffins for the freezer, precooked sweet potatoes for the fridge, and purchased some root vegetable crisps (sweet potato, parsnip, beetroot and plantain), which has made it a lot easier to put together meals on the go and to snack.

Picture round: What I have been eating lately for breakfast and lunch

Focusing on Health Part 3: Chronic Illness

While I’ve talked about making changes to my diet and lifestyle in order to improve my health I have never really divulged why, I suppose I have never wanted to be defined by my chronic condition. I find it more difficult to manage my symptoms when I am focused on them; I seem to have found a way to partition my suffering so that if I focus on other things the pain becomes much more manageable. It was a strange concept that I was introduced to, very Buddhist, I cannot control my pain, but I can choose not to suffer. It takes immense internal strength and focus, I cannot do it if I am tired, hungry or stressed, I need to be in “a good place” otherwise whatever thin wall my suffering sits behind crumbles away.

It has been almost 4 years since my diagnoses and as much as I had hoped that the surgery I had at that time would be a cure, that thinking was naïve. I was absolutely in the denial stage of my diagnoses at the point. I didn’t progress through that as someone normally would, when my diagnoses came I was already angry, angry I was in pain, that my life was shrinking around me, angry that despite reaching out for help I had been dismissed by doctors, my pain being put down to IBS, PCOS and the most humiliating experience of all when one A&E doctor diagnosed trapped gas as the reason for the pain in my stomach, a pain so excruciating that it rendered me mute for hours. After collapsing in pain at work and getting another referral to hospital I was reviewed, told I had a 6cm mass on my left ovary, but that I wasn’t in the “right type of pain” to warrant further treatment. I was then discharged from that service and referred back to my GP for pain medication. When I left the doctor’s office that day I wanted to scream, I could feel it inside me, a hot, angry, course noise desperate to get out, but I knew if I started I probably wouldn’t stop and I had to get to work, of course I had to get to work, that’s what you do isn’t it? Instead of bawling in the street I called my Husband (Then Fiancé) and swore like a drunken sailor and he promised to come to every appointment with me  from then on, after all it would be much harder to dismiss me publically and with back-up wouldn’t it? I told him there wouldn’t be any need; I wasn’t going to see another doctor, as they clearly didn’t want to help. It is a rotten, hollow despair that fills in for the hope you once had that you would get help to heal, it toughens you to the world in the worst way, the strength you think you are showing is acerbic to others, words used to describe me during that time were sharp, curt, direct, there was no soft side, I couldn’t afford soft, soft couldn’t handle the pain.

And so I soldiered on trying to hide how much pain I was in and slowly getting sicker as time went on. Eventually we decided to seek help privately, which was simply life altering for me. From the minute I stepped into the private hospital, all doilies and comfortable chairs, the mood was different. The receptionist was warm and personable bringing a tray of tea (teapot and all) out to waiting visitors and patients alike. My doctors listened intently to me, examined me and within ten minutes had given me a clear indication of what he thought was wrong, not IBS, nor PCOS, nor gas but Endometriosis. I was scheduled for surgery to remove the growth (an endometrioma) which had now grown to 9cm (that’s the size of a grapefruit). I woke up from my surgery to hear the most incredible words “I’ve found the reason for your pain”. I felt vindicated, validated and relieved, all I said to my husband was “I knew it wasn’t in my head” and wept. I think at this point I began living in a bit of denial, I felt like a new person after my surgery and the surgeon was confident it wouldn’t grow back so maybe it wouldn’t? When my symptoms started to return I started bargaining, maybe if I give up sugar as well as wheat I won’t get worse, I did, maybe if I give up dairy as well then I won’t get sick, I did. It did come back, its 6cm and growing steadily and spreading.

Right now I am somewhere between acceptance and depression, accepting that radical changes to my diet and lifestyle are needed to give me the best chance at controlling the rampant progression of my condition and depression about how restrictive that feels during this transition point between how things are and how things might one day be.

What I am sure about is that I have to keep trying, my Husband and Son both deserve that.

And Me, I deserve that.

Me x

Moving Home: Struggling between letting go and creating waste

After seven years we have decided it’s time to say goodbye to our house. If I am honest it’s never really felt like a home to me. It’s where I live and I find comfort in it, but we have always known it was a temporary situation, we certainly didn’t intended to stay for seven years. The house was a great starter, helping us get a foot on the “property ladder” but it was never somewhere we intended to raise children. Our son will be two next month so it is time to move and get him into the nursery school system of the new area.

Looking at your house through the eyes of a viewer is downright terrifying. Now I know I have too much stuff in my house. We have been working on simplifying for the last year and we have rid ourselves of a lot of clutter. There have been many, many trips to the local charity shops and recycling centres and yet somehow my house is still full! I am now decluttering on steroids with a view to downsizing our belonging before the house even goes on the market. The rest of our belongings we will pack away and with any luck in a The Minimalists inspired packing party won’t ever come back out.

In my quest to curate a healthy, happy and reflective home, there is one area I still struggle with; waste.  I want to shed the accumulated stuff that no longer adds value; the mismatched, the duplicates and the well-used. There is a huge part of me that wants to wipe the slate clean and start all over again, just have a garage sale , everything must go, but is that just an excuse to accumulate more, albeit different stuff, under the guise of intentional purchasing? And what happens to all of the original unloved stuff, we try wherever possible to sell, donate or give away what we no longer need, recycle anything beyond use and landfill only what is necessary, but it’s still waste.

It’s a struggle I hope to reconcile within myself while I go through the process of packing up and clearing out the house for marketing, the upsides to such dramatic simplifying outweigh the downsides for me at present.

  • We will be able to be objective about the sale of our current house, seeing it for the bricks and mortar it really is, We will also be more flexible in choosing our future home not having to try and force a lifetimes worth of possessions into what is likely to be a smaller space.
  • Apparently having a clutter free home boosts your sale price, well that would be nice.
  • We might be able to raise some money from the sale of some of our unloved things.
  • Having less will save us money on storage when we are between homes.
  • Each item going into storage will have purpose and value in our new home.
  • We will have a blank canvas in the new home to create a better environment for family life rather than duplicating the pattern we have here now.

If I focus on these positives for me and my family I am sure letting go will become a lot easier as long as it is done responsibly.

Me x

Gluten free in London: Good food with a great friend

Minimalist and Christmas are two words that don’t go together very well. I am still trying to minimise my life and constantly asking what adds value and brings joy. Christmas is particularly awkward because I don’t spontaneously need things on December 25th and if I have decided to add something to my life then I feel odd “banking” that need so that someone else can buy it for me? That being said my Husband, who is not a minimalistbut is  supportive of me, still wants to buy me a gift for Christmas. 

Not wanting a lot of physical things coming into my life when I am trying so hard to declutter in general I asked for experiences and an easily minimised item; flights to London to visit a friend, a contribution to my new haircut and a the book Rice, Noodle, Fish by Matt Goulding and Anthony Bourdain. 

My flights fell just after New Years. Sarah is a teacher and so time off is scarce. I am lucky to be able to get an early (7am) flight down to London and a late (9pm) flight back up, allowing me to experience London without the expense of a hotel. It’s a long day with trains, planes and automobiles galore but so worth it to spend time with such a dear friend. 

Post Christmas London was crisp and cold and littered with pine needles. Our first stop of the day was for breakfast at beyond bread in Fitsrovia. What a gorgeous little cafe. It is 100% gluten free and everything we had was delicious. For breakfast we both had seeded toast with dressed smashed avocado topped with two poached eggs garnished with chilli, feta and toasted almonds. The tasted almonds and feta were a great topping, the salty sharpness of the feta cutting through the eggs and avocado and the almonds adding a welcome crunch. The bread was moist and soft, if I hadn’t told Sarah we were going gluten free she said she would never have known and that is high praise indeed. Washed down with two pots of tea, the bill was £21 which for London was great value. I will definitely be back in March. 

We did come back on the way trough to the airport to pick up some baked goods to take home including a slab or red velvet cake and a chocolate gooey cake. I also bought a baguette which was light and crispy, a moist and fruity raspberry muffin and I completely forgot to take any pictures of those. Oops. 

The red velvet cake was divine, moist and light and with a dreamy whipped Cream cheese frosting. The chocolate cake was dense and nutty with a rich ganache topping, it’s the complete opposite of the red velvet, almost brownie like in texture and I am having to eat it in smaller portions. 

The four bakery items came to £10 to take away which is an absolute bargain for incredible gluten free treats. I would recommend visiting one of their cafes if you are in London whether you are gluten free or not. 

We took a quick trip around Liberty on our way to China town, while most of the time Liberty is far out my price range I did find a new brand in the fragrance section Korres. They had a collection of very natural no additive fragrances hitch sounded perfect for me, vanilla, fresia, and lychee and peonia, vanilla and amber pear. The second one appealed more but the sample bottle was empty and the sales associate wouldn’t open another bottle so I walked away and ordered the first one online with matching body milk for the same price. Liberty’s loss is my gain. 

Chinatown is a must visit for me whenever I am in London. I just love the atmosphere and I usually find it quite easy to eat. Though while I travel I don’t stick 100% gluten free if there’s something I really want, and I wanted Taiyaki. These came onto my radar while honeymooning in Japan. They are essentially a fish shaped waffle but come in different forms. The traditional are closed and filled with red bean paste or more modern versions with custard. I still dream of a chocolate custard filled one I had on a cold night in Sendai. You can also get them open and filled with cream and fruit or ice cream. We went to Bake on wardour street, a cute little Chinese bakery with hot Chinese buns and chiffon cream cakes. But we’re there for the fish. They do two kinds, mini custard filled and the hollow kind you can fill with ice cream, either vanilla or chocolate. 

The sweet mini ones

I went for the green tea version as anything green tea flag is a winner for me. The ice cream is the soft serve kind from a machine so it isn’t great quality I’ll be honest but it still makes a nice sweet treat to wander London with at £3.80. The waffle itself is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside and you can watch them being made at the window. I do love some theatre with my food. 

A little more wandering around carnaby street and a near miss at Dr Martens, they had those Magdalena boots in stock but at £125 it was too much to part with there and then, we came back to the edge of Soho and Greek Street where these is a beautiful little paper shop that sells stunning Harry Potter themed posters, note pads etc. I lost Sarah on there for quite a while. 

Our Lunch destination was right across the street at Viet Pho. On a cold winters day there’s nothing better than a huge bowl of soup and the rice noodle broth that is Pho was exactly what we needed. I went for the rare beef Pho which arrived in a huge bowl with a side plate of bean sprouts, Thai basil, chilli and lime. The broth was fragrant with coriander and a dozen other flavours I couldn’t pick out, the noodles had the perfect chew and the beef was melt in the mouth tender. 

Sarah went for the seafood Pho which had prawns squid and Mussels. It was Sarah’s first Pho and she enjoyed her seafood version immensely. 

I will be back in London in March but this time with Husband and Little boy in tow. If anyone reading has some recommendations for places to eat suitable for a fidgety toddler I would love to hear them. 

Me x

Trip planning – London to reconnect and the gift of time

One of my dearest friends Sarah sent me a message a few days ago. “I am missing you like crazy right now. I wish we were closer 😥 x” I know she meant closer distance wise but the truth is since she moved back to the south of England and closer to home 9 years ago a lot has happened. We have both gotten married, had a child each, developed careers and have whole and entirely separate lives from the lazy university days when we met. We simply don’t get much time or spare budget to arrange cross border trips to see one another and the message above was a bit of a shake-up. I need to put more effort into the relationships I cherish outside of my family.

Rather send back a non-committal and empty promise of meeting up soon, I got on sky scanner and checked for flights. Shockingly it looked like over the festive period the flights were very reasonable: £56 return Glasgow to London. Husband has been nagging at me for Christmas gift ideas, which is a whole post in its own right, he is infuriated that I never ask for anything, but I have been working long and hard to get to a place where I don’t want for thigs anymore and trying to balance people wanting to gift things to me with my desire to not receive anything that doesn’t add value to my life is causing some friction; first world problems eh?. So I presented the flights to him as a gift option and he agreed. Within 12 hours we were all booked up for a day trip to London together, I had a happy friend and a relieved husband who now no longer had to panic about what to get me for Christmas.

Now I’ve mentioned several times before just how much I enjoy pre trip planning and I have been to London multiple times, I always have to look and see what’s new, because such a large castling city is always changing and to visit old favourites, namely Chinatown. This trip will cover a bit of both, as it’s the tail end of the festive period there are still some Christmas themed events on and two caught my eye, Matthew Bourne’s adaptation of the 1948 movie The Red Shoes which is an absolute favourite of mine and a candlelight tour of the Charles Dickens museum, all decked out for a Victorian Christmas with special readings from A Christmas Carol. Thankfully the Red Shoes is going on Tour and will be coming to Edinburgh next summer so I could scratch that off the list and catch it closer to home so we are free to indulge in a bit of extra Christmas cheer.

Next on the list is an oldie but a favourite, a trip to Chinatown. Despite the name it is much more like Asiantown and has everything from Thai to tandoori within a few street blocks and much to my delight more Japanese food is creeping in, including a street food favourite of mine; Taiyaki. Taiyaki is best described as a fish shaped waffle, wither closed like a toastie/jaffle with a custard or red bean filling or open to be stuffed with cream and fruit or in this case ice cream!. I’ve had it both ways, stuffed with cream and fruit in Kyoto and filled with chocolate custard in Sendai, I still dream of the chocolate filled Taiyaki and I live in hope I can have another on this next trip.

Me x

Finding the time for Me time; the amazing results.

Intro: This post has sat in draft for over 6 months. I have struggled to post it, in part I think, due to some kind of internal guilt that I am still trying to overcome. So at the end of this post you will find a bit of an update on how I feel now after implementing some of my me time plans. I hope it helps some of you see why it is so essential to have some Me time.  

Me x

As a busy working mum, I can’t afford to waste any time I get for myself, its precious, It’s time stolen during naps or Daddy time and most importantly its time I am stealing from myself!

Trying to multi task at every opportunity is preventing me from focussing on what’s important at that point in time. ME! It doesn’t matter what I want to do with my Me time, what is important is that I am dedicated to it, focused on it and present. If I decide I want to run a bath with a Lush bath bomb and watch the great British bake off then so be it. If I want to spend that time window shopping with a friend or researching a blog post so be it.

I’ve really felt a loss of identity since becoming a mum and all of the activities above are part of the journey I need to take to find Me, and I am not finding myself while sitting on the sofa watching re-runs on comedy central feeling exhausted and wishing I could be doing something more worthwhile or feeling guilty for not being more productive. I get 30 minutes when Husband bathes Little Boy and as soon as I sit down I get back up and start tidying!

I’ve been listen to Jess Lively from life with intention podcasts lately. A huge amount of the content is resonating with me particular intentional living based on core values! And I am seriously considering signing up for her class.

I have just finished listening to her podcasts with Alisa Vitti on how to make embodying pleasures a habit. I’ve always felt selfish for taking time for myself and have to almost force myself to enjoy any form of self care. Alisa said something during the podcast that finally hit home with me. “It’s only selfish if you have to deny someone something they need for you to have it”. Why do I feel guilty for enjoying a little time to myself? My Little Boy is in bed my Husband is enjoying some Him time, probably gaming. Who is being hurt while I am tucked in bed reading a book? No-one!

I have to make time for me now. To be a better Mum, Wife, Employee and person in general. Taking time for me isn’t selfish if it benefits the people around me!

So at least for a little while, until the little pleasures become a habit, I need to make myself a priority, to carve out some time to pamper myself or to indulge a hobby. I need to look after myself properly, not only the “should’s” but the “would like to’s”. I also need to make time for a self-care routine.

So I am planning to indulge myself a little and pick an activity from the list below, at least once a week, and dedicate myself to it and to me.

  • Food – eating, cooking, reading recipes, I have a real passion for patisserie
  • Reading – on my list is the fringe hours, the war of art and better than before and the Harry Potter saga, I read the first book in Paris.
  • Pampering myself – a new body mist or lotion, a Lush bubble bath, an at home facial.
  • Being Creative – cake decorating, home décor.
  • Physical activity – Horse riding, climbing, skating, joining a meditation class.
  • Researching – I love a good Google. Pouring myself into research really makes me happy.
  • Adventure -close to home or abroad; visit somewhere new and try some new things.

Me x

6 months on: when I read this back I can feel the anxiety pouring out of it and I feel for the Me that wrote it. What I can tell you 6 months on however is that I no longer have that constant feeling of anxiety. Did I do everything listed above, hell no, I probably never will but I have implemented a few changes that I really think have helped a lot.

Food – my diet has improved immensely, I no longer have a nightly pattern of comfort eating once my son is in bed. On the whole I snack far less.

Reading – I did read the Harry Potter saga, then the cursed child, then the his dark materials trilogy and now I am re-reading a Christmas carol. More importantly I spend less time glued to my phone.

Pampering myself – I am still failing on this point

Being creative – I have been making more things for Little Boy, slime, pipe cleaner animals, more adventurous meals and I even attended a bread making class.

Physical activity – I haven’t joined any of the classes above, I probably won’t its just not been feasible to fit them in and I value my time with my Son more right now. We do make sure to get out at a family for an outdoor activity onece a week which is really lovely. Little boy gets to discover and Husband and I get a chance to talk.

Adventure – since starting this blog, defining my values and deciding to pursue a more intentional life, I have been to Paris, Berlin and Turkey with a trip to London on the horizon.

As an bonus I am also free of debt! What a lovely side effect of minimalism that is as it affords me the privilege of choosing how I live my life. My family as a whole are happier, I AM happier, I am healthier too. Take care of yourselves, mums or not, please.

Me x