Food, Green, Lifestyle, Outdoors

Foraged Jam | A Recipe

One of the things I wanted to do whilst on holiday was to cook and bake some things I’ve been meaning to try for a while but just haven’t  had chance. Jam is one of those things I’ve always fancied making but just never got round to, so when I saw a ridiculous amount of blackberries just going spare on the side of the road in the village we now live in I decided foraged fruit jam was much more fun than just buying the fruit. I love this time of year when all the fruit trees are perfect for picking and you can often find your local park becomes a haven for foraged fruit and blackberries are definitely a favourite.

Having never made jam before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was actually very easy and tasted pretty good if I do say so myself. Of course the only way to serve it was on a homemade scone with a massive dollop of clotted cream, what can I say, I’m very British at heart.

Ingredients:
Foraged black berries or any fruit you like
The same weight of caster sugar as fruit
A squeeze of lemon.

Recipe:

1. Put all your fruit in a pan on the heat with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of water, just enough to stop the fruit sticking. Leave the fruit to simmer until the fruit has stewed, I liked leaving a few lumps in as I like a bit of fruit in my jam.

2. Once the fruit has reduced down add your sugar and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved heat the jam up to 105 degrees. Once hot take off the heat, leave to cool a little then put it into a clean jar.

3. Leave the jam to cool completely and enjoy the satisfying pop of the lid when you open it.

Enjoy!

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Food, Green, Health, Lifestyle

The Trout Oxfordshire | Restaurant Review

Now that I have a full time job Russell and I find ourselves going out for dinner quite a bit and I thought I would share a few of the amazing places we have been to. After a few stressful and difficult months at the end of last year we made the decision that in 2016 we would try to enjoy living in Oxford a bit more and make a conscious effort to go on dates rather than sit in and watch Harry Potter. Me and Russell are both very foodie having been brought up in families where food is the centre piece to family life and every special occasion so its no surprise really that one of our favourite dates is trying new restaurants or popping over to a pub thats had a very good recommendation. The Trout was one of those pubs we’d heard a lot about, walked past on a walk along the Thames path and almost stopped to have dinner at numerous times. But it wasn’t until a beautiful hot sunny day in Oxford that we decided quite randomly to go and sit in the sunshine and have a drink by the Thames.

The Trout is a lovely little gastro-pub situated right on the bank of the Thames and just in front of beautiful Port Meadow in Oxford. They have a large patio on the front which has always been full every time we’ve gone past as its a real sun trap and perfect for a drink with friends or a lazy summer meal whilst you soak up some rays. We were lucky enough to find a table right by the river so we could watch the water cascading down and even share our dinner with a few ducks who hopped onto the wall to say hello.

Russell and I are lucky enough to share the same taste in food and so we often find we either order the same thing at a restaurant or we like to share food and try each others. Although we both love a good burger we decided to try something a little bit different at this pub and the Sticky Platter was just perfect. It was essentially a sharing platter of different meat and was absolutely delicious, full of flavour and spice with amazing home made chilli jam and tzatziki to dip into it was the perfect summer meal.

We really enjoyed The Trout and seeing as it’s only about 10 minutes from us I’m sure we will be going back over this summer. 

Adventure, Books, Food, Green, Health, Lifestyle, Travel, Vegan

My New Years Resolutions

I know this year there has been a real trend going around that people aren’t making new years resolutions and whilst I fully support people not putting too much pressure on themselves to achieve I actually find setting goals quite a helpful tool for myself. Every year I like to set myself some achievable goals that I know I can do and some crazy out there dreams that help me to keep my sights on the stars. And so without further ado here are my new years resolutions for 2016:

Health and well being:
A goal I set myself last year was to become healthier and to take more care of myself both physically and mentally. This past year I’ve started to get really interested in nutrition and have learnt a lot about the foods we eat and what they do to our bodies, I have also started to exercise more, take time out to spend it in green open spaces and meditate more through yoga or prayer. This year I would like to continue learning more, I’d like to get fitter and stronger and lose some more weight. I have already lost a stone by changing my diet to plantbased and doing more exercise and I’d like to continue that to get back down to the weight I used to be when I was my most comfortable.

Writing:
As a lot of you will know if you’ve been reading my blog, I am a writer and I love it! My main goal for this year is to finish my current novel which I am now a third of the way through and to get something published be that an article, a short story or a novel. I think its more likely to be the first two but I am going to try as hard as I can to become a published author this year, wish me luck!

Blogging:
I love this little space of the internet but over the past few months I have struggled to figure out what it should be. I found myself worrying about what I was doing and copying other successful bloggers who I liked instead of looking for my own unique voice. This year I would like to focus more on what I want this space to be like and what I want to share on here. I don’t want to be a bad copy of something else I want it to be entirely me. I am hoping to explore my interests and learn more about photography, green living, cooking and fashion through trying out new things on here. I’d also love to meet more bloggers and do some collabs so please message me, I’d love to chat.

Random:
There are always a few random goals I set myself and this year is no different. I would like to read one inspiring book a month as well as making the time to read more. I would like to start to grow my own vegetables and I would like to make mine and Russell’s Sunday walks a weekly thing for this year.

I hope you all had a lovely new year, what are your new years resolutions?

 

Adventure, Green, Lifestyle, Outdoors, Summer

Summer Wanderings

It seems at the moment that my favourite spaces seem to be the beautiful gardens of National Trust stately homes or in this case a privately owned Castle otherwise known as Glamis Castle. I love to wander through looking at the walled gardens full of stunning wild flowers and then stepping out of the gate into the wilderness of parkland that surrounds these stately homes. Maybe it’s my subconscious telling me I should actually be a Gaelic princess living in a Scottish Castle hidden away in the highlands preferably with a library like Belle as I said in my last post.

These beautiful photo’s were taken last weekend when me and my boyfriend went to a classic car show held in the grounds of Glamis Castle. My boyfriend is very into his cars especially classic ones and being a big fan of vintage I rather like them too. He has his very own classic car and so we decided to exhibit it at the show meaning we had to be there rather early. But included in the price of the ticket was access to the grounds and gardens of the castle and so we decided to have a little wander before the business of the day began.

Stepping into the gardens was like stepping into another world, the noise of cars revving and horns beeping and the bag pipes blowing slowly disappeared as we entered the woods at the side of the house. We said hello to some friendly highland coo’s across the water and went to smell the flowers in the walled garden. It was a really beautiful hour spend relaxing in the sunshine and because it was so early we were the only ones there. We also managed to find a beautiful little cottage in the woods which looked like it had fallen out of a fairytale book and it took all my strength not to go and knock on the door to ask if I could move in.

It was such a beautifully serene morning and if you are ever in Angus I would really suggest you go and visit Glamis Castle as it is a truly amazing piece of architecture as well as having such lovely gardens and grounds.

Bye for now!

Food, Green, Lifestyle, Summer

My First Time……

 …….picking strawberries! Yes I was a very deprived child and was never taken strawberry picking. But to be fair to my parents I was one of four and my house was always a bit crazy and to be honest there aren’t many strawberry farms in Liverpool. But when my boyfriend and his family found out I’d never been strawberry picking they told I hadn’t truly experienced the joys of a strawberry until I’d picked them myself. And so on a rather sunny day (not something we get a lot of in Scotland) me, my boyfriend and his sister all went to the Cairnie fruit farm to go strawberry picking.

I was relatively restrained and only ate a few strawberries whilst I was picking as it did seem a bit naughty even if everyone else was doing it. And I have to say it was really fun actually picking my own strawberries and being able to take them home to eat. It was also quite a cheap trip out as there was no entrance few you simply paid for what you picked so the three of us had an hour of entertainment for only £4.50. We also got to dip them into cream and hot chocolate sauce when we got home which was amazing. 

I’d definitely like to go again and I think it is definitely something to do when I have my own children as I imagine its almost more fun to watch a little one picking and eating than it is to do it yourself. Let me know in the comments if you’ve been strawberry picking this year or if you used to go when you were little.

Bye for now!

Green, Lifestyle, Summer

A Secret Garden

Summers are definitely a time for adventures and I seem to be catching up on all the ones I couldn’t do whilst at uni. One of my favourite places to go an explore is a National Trust and having been going to at least one every holiday during my childhood it only made sense that I continued this tradition into adulthood. It is also ridiculously cheap for a student yearly pass and so I decided to get one last year and even if I don’t use it as much as I would like it still feels good to be giving money towards the upkeep of our heritage and beautiful landscapes.

So when my Auntie came to stay for a girly few days a couple of weeks ago we decided to pack up a picnic and make our way to Berrington Hall. We had a really lovely day exploring the house and grounds. There also happened to be a Jane Austen costume exhibition throughout the house whilst we were there which as an Austen enthusiast I loved! But my favourite part of the hall was definitely the gardens particularly the walled garden which reminded me so much of one of my favourite story settings – The Secret Garden. It was absolutely full of vegetables, fruits, herbs and so many different flowers and all set out in such a beautiful and decorative way that I instantly fell in love.

One of the things I love to dream about is my future garden and being able to grow all my own fruit, veg and herbs and this little garden gave me tons of idea’s and inspiration. These are just a few snaps but I took ridiculous amounts of photos to keep and remind me of how beautiful my own kitchen garden could be one day. It was so peaceful and smelled so amazing that I didn’t want to leave this is definitely somewhere I’d like to come back to.

Let me know if you’ve got plans for your own garden or future garden I’d love to read them in the comments below.

Bye for now!

Beauty, Green

Natural Beauty Products

 A while ago I decided to try and change all of the products I use to more ethically made products and so as each of them ran out I would replace them with a product I new hadn’t been tested on animals, didn’t have a huge impact on the environment and wouldn’t be made using harsh chemicals or unnatural ingredients. I now have a good stock of products from Lush and The Body Shop all of which I love and I wanted to share some of my favourites with you.

Lush:

Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo – This shampoo is the most amazing shampoo I have ever used. I don’t have a picture of it because I used it all up and we don’t have a lush back at home (this needs fixing!) It left my hair so soft and voluminous and it also makes your hair smell great. It doesn’t smell of beer don’t worry but it does smell divine. Its a little expensive as the big bottle is £14.99 but I think its definitely worth it and you can always buy a small one to try at £4.50.

America Cream – This conditioner is great, it smells amazing like strawberries and vanilla and it leave your hair shiny and smooth but not too weighted down. You do have to use quite a bit to get a good smooth finish but it has such a lovely effect. Its the same price as the shampoo which makes it quite expensive but it is quality stuff.

Body Shop:

Tea Tree Night Lotion – This stuff is absolutely amazing! For some reason this year for the first time ever I started to develop acne on my face, this being something I had no experience of I panicked and had no idea what to do. I started researching online and tried loads of products like face washes, face scrubs and over the counter cream but nothing seemed to work. I then came across this product and it had such rave reviews online I thought it was worth a shot. I am so glad I did! My spots have nearly all gone and my scars are starting to fade away, my skin looks better than it has done in 6 months and I feel much more confident about it. It is expensive at £9 a go but for me that was totally worth it.

Born Lippy – I love these little lip balms, they are a great substitute for vaseline as they are nice and hydrating and they taste amazing, My personal favourite is Raspberry flavour and at £2 you can’t really go wrong.

Tea Tree Face Wash – I had a similar experience with face washes as I did with acne creams but once the night lotion had such an amazing effect I decided to try this face wash and it has been amazing. It makes my skin feel really clean and not greasy which is great just before bed and just after I wake up. Its £5 but I got a huge bottle and it lasts for ages.

Satsuma Shower Gel – You actually end up smelling of satsuma’s, need I say more? This shower gel smells so yummy and fresh that it really helps to wake me up in the morning. It also comes in lots of different sizes which is really helpful for travelling! This little one is just £2.

Rainforest Shampoo and Conditioner – I tried this Shampoo and the Conditioner and I wasn’t 100% happy with the finished product as my hair didn’t feel as good as when I used the lush shampoo however it does smell amazing and its a great cheaper alternative as its only £2 for the small bottles and £4.50 for the larger ones.    

What products do you use? Have you tried any of these? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

Bye for now! 

Green, Lifestyle

48 Hours Phone Free

The last few weeks have been incredibly stressful for quite a few reasons. I have moved house at home and am in the process of moving house at uni and on top of that my boyfriend is moving back to Scotland. All of these things mixed together have caused me to be very stressed and very anxious lately which is why the other night when I got home from driving 3 hours, packing up my uni house in Oxford and moving it into another one then driving 3 hours home again I decided to turn my phone off. I had been getting lots of messages and I kept on checking my emails and I would repeatedly do this throughout the evening and into the night just before going to sleep which then meant I would work myself up into an anxious state and not be able to sleep. I decided enough was enough and I switched it off and put it into a draw.

At first I thought I was just going to do it for the night so I could have a nice relaxing evening with my boyfriend but it ended staying in that draw for 24 hours and then when I needed to set an alarm on it I simply set it to flight mode and the next day when the alarm went off I turned it off again and put it back in the draw. The first night wasn’t so great as I was still worrying but the second night I slept absolutely amazingly.

I really want to try and slowly wean myself off technology. I am already trying to stop looking at screens after about 10 and instead read and slowly wind down for bed. I’d love to be able to have screen free weekends or even weeks at some point. I just want to take out time for myself, to read, to write with a pen and paper, to bake and cook, to sing and play the piano and just do all the things I love to do. I think this will also encourage me to spend even more time outside which I think is so important to my general health. I’m hoping this 48 hours without my phone will soon become 48 hours without my phone, laptop or ipad. Maybe I will try that next weekend.

Have you ever tried a phone free day or week? Let me know in the comments below.

Bye for now!      

Green

The Good Life

I always new I was destined for a slightly different life. I’ve never been what people call “normal” (whatever normal actually is) and I have always deviated slightly from what my friends and others my age are doing. Firstly I chose to take a gap year when I was 18 rather than going straight to uni because I wasn’t sure uni was for me, I wrote about that a little bit here. I then proceeded to go down the usual path – going to uni but soon realised it wasn’t right and so quit and tried again but this time decided to do it my way and do a degree where I get to spend the majority of my rime actually working rather than in a classroom. However as the years have gone on after school I have started to realise what I want from life and that it is very different to what the world tells me I should want.

It all started when I began to watch the 1970s sitcom The Good Life (which if you haven’t seen get on it straight away!!). In the Good Life the protagonist Tom reaches his 40th birthday and decides enough is enough, he wants to start living rather than existing and along with his wife Barbara the two of them turn their suburban Surrey home into a model of self sufficiency. They earn no money and what savings they have they use to buy equipment to help them go off the grid and they buy pigs, a goat and chickens and plant vast amounts of vegetables. It was a completely radical idea to me and the first time I had ever heard of self sufficiency, it totally bowled me over and made me realise that there were actually many paths possible in life.

At first I ignored the niggly feeling the normal path of uni, 9-5 job, buy big house with lots of stuff wasn’t what I wanted. But eventually it began to eat away at me. Having lots of money and lots of material possessions wasn’t making me happy in fact if anything it was just making me worse. The nature of material possessions is that the more you have the more you want, after you have bought some expensive clothes in a few months you will only want more, when that iphone looks less shiny you will want another one and when the novelty of your new car wares off you will want to buy the latest model. I am not saying it is bad to have material possessions I myself have loads of technology and an expensive camera but ultimately they don’t make you happy.

My boyfriend has a medical condition which we have been seeking help for from a neurologist at the local hospital. Recently the neurologist told us that for him to feel better and be able to function normally we must live a simpler life, one that involves lots of time outdoors doing exercise that isn’t too strenuous like walking, hiking, gardening e.t.c. And as I have begun to discover recently this type of life also helps to keep my anxiety and depression in check. We therefore have come to the conclusion that we are going to say screw you world and live exactly how we want to live.

We are not sure exactly what this will entail but we know we’d like to cut out processed foods, buy less and grow more, have a lot less stuff and make a lot more things that we need and spend as much of our time outdoors as we can. We’d like to make a difference in our community and create memories and moments rather than buy more and more. Our general idea is to save up, buy a small home in the country with land to grow our own veggies and keep chickens, a horse and maybe some other animals and to own our own local and sustainable business. These are very big dreams but what is the point in dreaming small, we know that together we have a possibility of making this a reality.

We are starting to make little changes now like I’m slowly cutting out processed and packet foods, I’m trying to buy more local, I’m making do and mending my clothes or buying them second hand. I have also started knitting a lot more with all the random balls of wool around my house. From September I am growing my own veggies back at uni and my own herbs as well as spending as much time as I can learning to cook new things and baking from scratch. I am trying not to buy anything new that I can get second hand and I am reading a lot about self sufficiency and owning my own business. I know that we won’t be totally self sufficient we do want to own a business and make some money but the idea of that is just so we can survive.

I know its a bit of a crazy radical idea but I love it and it might seem like a crazy dream that will never come true to some people but its my dream and I intend to try my hardest to make it come true. What are your dreams? Are you also interested in self sufficiency?

Green, Sea

Easy Ways To Be More Green Today

Hello everyone! So for the past few years I have slowly been trying to live a more green life style and make less of an impact on the environment. I feel that saving the environment is something that often gets pushed to the side and is associated with hippy’s and do gooders but really it is an issue we should all be passionate about. We live in a country (Britain) that has already lost 80% of its forests and woodland to make way for “developments” causing thousands of species of animals to be wiped out completely. Our sea’s are being pumped full of improperly disposed waste, and rubbish such as plastic bags and balloons are harming and killing so much of our marine wildlife. And that’s before you even look at how much air pollution we are creating, I was shocked to find out a few weeks ago that people in London had actually been told not to do exercise outside due to the air pollution.

In a society that values profit above everything else it can be very hard to live a greener and simpler lifestyle but really it should be everyone’s top priority. When it comes down to it if we have no trees, no clean water, no animals and the air is so polluted we can no longer breath oxygen it won’t matter whether you have £1 or £1 million the damage will be done.

It has been hard for me to start to live a much more sustainable lifestyle and I still have a long way to go but I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks on how to be more green in the hope that it will encourage you to make a change.

Transport:

This is an easy one stop using cars as much. If you need to get somewhere far away try to get public transport – yes its more of a hassle but its also a lot cheaper than owning a car. Or if you have a car why don’t you try car sharing with your friends or work colleagues. You could easily take it in turns and it would probably be a lot of fun driving to work together each morning. Or even better try walking or cycling if its too far to walk, not only will you be decreasing the effect you have on the environment but you will also be getting in some fresh air and exercise which is something everyone could do with getting a bit more of.

Clothes:
We live in a society where fashion is disposable and cheap. For years and years I would buy cheap clothes wear them a few times and then throw them away. I really hate the disposable attitude of the fashion industry and its one of the huge changes I have made. Try shopping in shops where the clothes are ethically made and/or fairtrade, places like Fatface and Marks and Spencers are great for fairtrade cotton and ethically made clothes and their clothes are made to last. They are more expensive but they will also last longer, I have started to realise quality is a lot better than quantity and buying two good t shirts that will last is  a lot more effective than buying cheap t shirts that will get holes in quickly. The same goes for shoes and bags. Where I live in Oxford I have found a fantastic fairtrade shop that sells all sorts of accessories, food, wrapping paper and cosmetics which has been a real help in buying greener things. It is harder and more time consuming and may mean you need to buy clothes online in fairtrade shops but it is so worth the effort.  

Recycle, Recycle, Recyle:
This applies to clothes as well! I recently did a post about this here and I talked about how much more effective it is to give your old clothes away instead of throwing them in bin. You can also upcycle old clothes and shoes – there are loads of ideas on pinterest and its a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon believe me.
And of course recycling as much of your waste as possible. More and more I have been trying to buy less in plastic containers and more things in tins or glass jars so that they can actually be recycled. The charity Marine Conservation Society is actually holding a plastic free month where you challenge yourself to live without plastic for as long as possible if you want to be more green but not sure how to start this challenge would be a great incentive for you and you can raise some money for a great cause too!

Food:
As above buy things in recyclable containers or better still buy things that aren’t in containers at all. Stock your trolley up with fruit and vegetables not only will this give you a good healthy boost but will make a massive difference to the amount of waste you dispose of. Eating less meat is also very good for the environment and if you can getting it from a local butcher rather than the super market will not only boost your local economy but be better for the environment. Buying things like dolphin friendly tuna is also easy to do just check for the picture on the tin. Also invest in a few bags for life or go and buy yourself a couple of large fairtrade cotton bags to carry your shopping in whether it be food shopping or clothes shopping come October England will be charging for plastic bags anyway so best to start now and get used to it.
Take a packed lunch! Stop buying sandwiches in packets that can’t be recycled and buy yourself a good set of tupperware this will also make a difference to your bank balance and is likely to be a healthier option.

In the home:
I recently started buying all my beauty products in Lush and the Body Shop and it has been amazing. The difference in my hair and skin has been wonderful thanks to the sudden use of products using all natural ingredients. All the products from these two wonderful shops are ethically made and environmentally friendly. I’m not suggesting you go and throw out all the beauty products you have at the moment that would be silly but once they have run out why not buy from Lush or Body Shop instead and see what a difference it could make.
Another great way of being green is to have screenless days, not only will this benefit your health but it will help to save energy. Pick one day a week and turn off all laptops, ipads, tvs and phones and go outside in the fresh air or if its too cold light a few candles in your bedroom snuggle up under the duvet and enjoy a good book. I promise you that very soon you will begin to see the wonders of tecno free life!
Shut your doors, keep the heat in and turn your lights off. These are simple ways of helping the environment and saving you some money. Taking a shorter shower and not wasting water when you brush your teeth will also make a difference. I also try to only put one wash on a week and then dry all my clothes on a rack or on the line outside rather than using the tumble dryer. This often helps to flatten out the creases too so you don’t have to iron as much and that not only saves you time but saves energy too.

These are just a few ideas of how to be a bit greener and make a positive impact on your environment. If you have any other tips and tricks I’d love to hear them. Hope you are all having a happy Monday.

Bye for now!