Month: October 2012

Recent Goings-On.

The last month has been so busy with the start of uni that I’ve found myself rarely reaching for my proper camera to spend time capturing photos. I take quick snaps daily with my phone and Instagram them but I just can’t lug my big camera around everyday. I have taken a few photos here and there though and I thought I’d share those that haven’t made it onto the blog so far. My life has been up and down with health and work and resting these past few weeks (read more about the health situation here) so blogging has been a little sporadic, I still love this community of wonderful people and your support is amazing!

On Saturday my mother and I took a little trip to a nearby farm which is both a working farm and a lovely little set of shops – clothes, toys, food, flowers, homeware and a little cafe. It’s so cute, especially around Christmas, we go every year so it is full of childhood memories. Aren’t these little piglets adorable?

Although I don’t like that it’s starting to get chillier and it’s dark in the mornings, I do love the beautiful colour of the autumn leaves. The changes in season are always my favourite times of the year, autumn brings with it rather gorgeous scenes. I love the trees that still have some green but then have a gradient of colour from the green to red.

If you follow me on Instagram (loveliveandlearn) then you may have seen that I did some extra special baking this weekend. As I mentioned the other day, my next door neighbour has just had a baby so I offered to give her some time with the baby and I had five-year-old Ellen round to do some baking! We had so much fun as she is just the sweetest little girl and we made some rather pretty biscuits. She especially liked adding the sprinkles 😛

My lunches have often looked like this for the past couple of weeks – eaten on a tray whilst I read or work. This particular lunch was lovely, pumpkin and apple soup, with crackers and cheese. Such a comforting autumn meal 🙂

Lastly this little ball of fur has been my companion everyday since I started at uni. Because I’ve been feeling exhausted and very weak recently I do most of my work on my bed so that I can rest at the same time. Poppy always comes and curls up nearby which is somehow really comforting!

So, a bit of a random, mixed post. I hope you enjoyed reading anyway!

What have you been doing recently?
What do you love about autumn?

Do you have a favourite comforting, autumnal meal?

This Week #9.

I’m going to keep this post brief because I have developed a cold and combined with my fatigue it has left me feeling awful. I have an early start tomorrow and I need to get some sleep! I’ve had an okay week, I had a lovely day yesterday – I went shopping with my mother in the morning to buy presents for my next-door neighbours as they have just had a little baby boy. He’s so precious, I held him for such a long time and he is just a lovely baby. Then to give the mother some time to herself with the new baby I offered to look after their little girl, Ellen, who is five. She came round and we had heaps of fun baking and decorating biscuits 🙂 Unfortunately by the time I went to bed I wasn’t feeling very well and this morning was even worse. I only get a couple of colds a year but I’m hoping it won’t last long, I don’t need this on top of everything else!

A childhood favourite – mashed banana with yogurt | Roman holiday surprise (no idea why it’s called that!) | Monday seminar

Spaghetti with courgettes | Legs & Bum Pyramid workout | Spicy hula hoops

More pasta 😉 | Poppy’s sleep spot | Fish and chips – so moreish

Sweet baked potato for lunch | Breakfast reading | Honey toast comforts

I received a fantastic package from the lovely people at Total! I will be reviewing these next week – they’re delicious 🙂

Reading up on evolution for Victorian lit | Cheeky veg chow mein takeout | Raspberry and pomegranate yogurt from Total

My breakfast companion as always | The cutest babygrow for baby Arthur| Ellen’s decorating skills, they’re so cute!

Jamie Oliver’s 30 min meals Rogan Josh | Late night hot chocolate for poorly Sophie | Sunday afternoon studies

If you have Instagram too then you call follow me @loveliveandlearn to see my photos as I post them!

I hope you all enjoyed this post and had a lovely weekend 🙂

I also want to say that I am so overwhelmed and touched by all of the wonderful, supportive comments you left on my last post. Reading through them gave me a lot of comfort and I will be taking the time to reply to them all properly. I’m so lucky to have such amazing readers and blog friends!

An Update.

It’s been quite a while since I opened up and gave you all an update on how I’ve been doing for the past couple of months so I thought it was high time I wrote a post on it all. For any lovely new readers, if you’re interested in my condition I suggest you read this, this and this (if you don’t want to read it all then the last link is the most informative!) first so that everything makes a bit more sense.

As most of you will know, I recently transferred to a university closer to where I live so that I could move back home in the hope that it would give me a better chance to both do well in my degree and to recover. The move has been a lot easier than I expected, I’ve adapted to being home and losing my independence was a reasonably small sacrifice, and my first few weeks of studies have been going well. I was so nervous on my first day – petrified I’d get lost and unsure about how my classes and the people at uni were going to be! However it turns out there was no reason for my nerves, the lectures are really interesting, seminars are fun, and the people are just lovely.

In the last month and a bit I have been into various doctors/hospital appointments, sorting things out, having checkups, going to CBT sessions, and working with my physio. The outcome is fairly mixed which I suppose is to be expected. We already know that they will not be finding out the cause of all of my issues anytime soon and therefore won’t be finding some kind of “magic wand” cure. That sounds depressing but I’m used to that, it’s what I’ve been hearing from nurses, doctors, physios etc for years. But what has me feeling a little down is that no progress is really being made. Maybe that means that I’m slightly in denial, that I am still searching for a cure, but the thing is I want to feel like I’m improving, even if only slightly!

The doctors and nurses at the pain clinic seem to be fairly stumped. The woman I saw for my two CBT sessions (I’ve already been discharged) said that there was no need for me to carry on coming as from a pain management perspective, as well as the mental perspective with my psychological relationship with my condition, because I already do all of the things they recommend to chronic illness/pain sufferers. I’ll be completely honest, I’m not sure whether I’m pleased that I’m doing things right, or annoyed that she couldn’t do more…

I know I seem like I’m coping, but coping is a difficult concept. I’m getting to uni, I’m spending time with my family, I’m visiting Tom, and I’m keeping up with my work. But there is so much more that I want to do, and I can’t help but worry about the future.

This worry brings me to the most important change in my medical situation at the moment. The one positive that came out of my final CBT session was that we decided it was a good time to venture into the world of eating disorder help etc.

I have never been diagnosed with one of the big three (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating) but as everyone who is interested with or concerned about eating disorders and food issues knows, there is a lot more to having an eating disorder than fitting into one of those exact categories. Food and body image is something I have struggled with almost constantly since the age of 14 – that’s almost six years now. I don’t feel like I am currently suffering from a proper eating disorder, on the whole I eat pretty well, but I know that on the mental side my relationship with food is far from perfect. It’s actually pretty messed up.

So I’m going to be making an appointment with my doctor and getting a referral, recommended by my cognitive behavioural therapist, to a specialised out-patient centre in order to start seeing someone to help me in my journey to full, mental recovery.

I have to completely honest, I’m scared. I don’t know exactly what to expect but I have a feeling things will probably get a little worse before they get better – I am going to have to delve into memories I don’t want to dredge up and issues that I mostly ignore. But I feel like I’m in a good place, at least physically what with being at home, and now is the time. It’s always going to be difficult to do but it makes more sense to do it before I properly became independent and start full-time employment!

I’m sorry if this post is a little dense to read, and a little intense. I just feel like I owe it to the wonderful readers who always comment and really care about how I’m doing. As well as to all the readers who have been, or are going through, something similar.

I hope you’ve all had a great week!

Have you ever have any CBT? Was it helpful for you?
Have you ever been diagnosed with any kind of eating disorder, or EDNOS? Did you have medical help?
Any words of reassurance or advice for me?

A New Kind of Long Distance – Advice on Making Things Work.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for several months or even from the very beginning will know that firstly: this person is incredibly important to me, and that secondly: we have been living with a long distance relationship for over four years now.

Four years.

We had only been together for six months before we ended up being over 200 miles apart for about two-thirds of the year.

It sounds a little worse than it was, although for eight to twelve week periods three times a year we’d only get to see each other once or maybe twice, we did have long holidays at Christmas and Easter and then several months in the summer in which we only lived a few miles apart and could see each other for lovely long periods of time!

Although the terms could sometimes seem to stretch out for an incredibly long time, we always had the holidays to look forward to. After weeks of not seeing each other, the time we had seemed extra special and we could forget being apart for several weeks.

The thing is, things have changed this autumn. Tom has moved to the capital and has started a full-time job (scary!). This means that now there are no lengthy student holidays in which we can see each other several times a week for a month at a time. But it does also mean that we are geographically closer and thus only a reasonably short train ride apart. Weekends have become incredibly precious, roughly every other weekend one of us hops on the train to visit the other and stay the night. These nights are already my favourite time, waking up besides Tom just feels like such a wonderful treat, it’s the only time I wake up with a smile!

Long distance definitely is not easy but there are definitely things you can do to make life a little bit easier for both people and make the relationship stay special…

1. Communication. Seriously. Everyone who’s ever been in a long distance relationship will tell you this but it is just so true. You need to talk, you need to tell the other person how you’re feeling, you need them to know when things are a little tough. Skype will become your new best friend – you can talk to each other for free and you can actually see each other which really really helps when you’re missing each other! Send little texts in the middle of the day; write long emails; maybe even send the occasional letter, imagine how happy your partner will be to open it up and read it.

2. Have some kind of clear relationship parameters  Because you are not together as often as couples in more conventional relationships it is especially important that you both know where the other stands on important relationship issues. Be open about what you want from the relationship and what you see for it in the future. This might sound a little stilted but being clear about what you want is really helpful and avoids any problems of this sort.

3. Make your time together special. When you only have a little time together make sure you don’t waste it. Do something fun together, go on dates, spend time doing each other’s favourite things, discover new places together, maybe even take the occasional mini break. Create wonderful memories to cherish and relive in the time you are apart.

4. Trust each other. I cannot stress how important this is. Depending on how long you have to be apart, sometimes emotions like jealousy or lack of confidence can begin to surface and this can be toxic to your relationship. You need to trust your partner, of course they will have a social life with the people around them whom you have never met, this is normal and healthy, that doesn’t mean they’re forgetting about you. Equally by being open about what you are both doing means that there can be no damaging suspicion and you can both feel safe in your relationship.

5. Stay positive! Although it may seem really horrible to be apart, there are some positives, for example the time you do have together will feel extra special, you also have more space to do your own things and develop as your own person. It’s incredibly important to make sure you do not dwell on any negatives, if you have an argument deal with it and then let it go – holding on to it will only breed unhappiness and further arguments. Enjoy your relationship and on the plus side, you will definitely appreciate your relationship that extra little bit 🙂

I hope my advice is helpful to anyone out there about to start, or already dealing with, a long distance relationship. Sometimes they do fail and people decide to separate but I can promise you that they can also be hugely rewarding and worth everyday of feeling lonely!

Are you in/have you ever been in a long distance relationship?
Do you have any advice of your own?

This Week #8.

Oh dear. I can’t believe I only posted once this week… I’m really sorry for disappearing for five days, I’ve been napping a lot this week and just generally feeling shattered most of the time which means I don’t really have the energy or drive to post. I am plowing through and I have now completed three full weeks of second year at my new uni. I can’t quite believe it has already been three weeks, this term is already flying past, in nine weeks I will have written four assessments, have completed my first term of second year and be breaking up for my Christmas holidays! Absolutely crazy.

Despite the exhaustion I am actually ahead on my reading, I’ve done nearly everything for week 4 and I’m just starting William Godwin’s Caleb Williams and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I did do a couple of nice things this week, on Thursday afternoon I met in town with a friend from back at Sixth Form. We had a nice catch-up and it was lovely to see her again after, we hadn’t met in a couple of months. Then this weekend Tom came to stay which was wonderful as usual. Having him with me always perks me up, we went to the gym together on Saturday afternoon and had a great workout. We had a really relaxing evening and made a late morning trip into town for Sunday coffee 🙂

View on the way home from lectures | Blake reading | Home comforts – spaghetti bolognese

Breakfast magazine | Carbonara | Positive inspiration ❀

Vegetables, crackers and humous for lunch | Hot chocolate time | Pick-me-up treats

Vegetable couscous | Autumn leaves | Lemon chicken perfection

Bedtime snuggles | Sunday caramel latte | Bircher muesli brunch

This week I also decided to start my Christmas shopping – it always pays to be organised! The little mid-week indulgent purchases will probably be the last thing I buy for myself this term because I need to save and have enough money for presents. I already have ideas for each person I have to buy for so I’m quite pleased with myself. I don’t really have any plans for this week yet, I just want to write formative assessment, get to the gym three times and try to blog around four times…

I hope you’ve all had a great weekend 🙂

If you have Instagram too then you call follow me @loveliveandlearn to see my photos as I post them!

What have you been doing this weekend?
Any plans for the new week?

Do you do your Christmas shopping early?

Fitness – Getting Started!

Hey lovely readers 🙂

Today’s post is a little different from the norm. About a month ago I started writing for a lovely online blog called The Daily Quirk which is written by a great group of women, and covers all sorts of topics from films, music, and books to fashion, recipes, and now healthy living (me!). It’s a really good opportunity for me to practice writing in a slightly different style and to get my name out there as a writer.

Here is the first post I wrote for them, hope you enjoy!

We all know by now that fitness is an important aspect of our health and hardly a day goes by without new information concerning fitness being highlighted in the media. The experts aren’t lying, exercising really is key when it comes to a healthier life and on top of this it is also a pretty good tool for helping you feel a little better in your own skin. However for many people, the word “exercise” can be met with some dread. The thing is, working out should not be scary, nor should it be dull or become a huge chore. You just have to take the plunge, as nerve-wracking as that can seem, if you just get out there and start trying you’ll probably find you enjoy it!

Having been someone who danced for almost 12 years of my life, I had my exercise each week through that, and then when I stopped I had to try to figure out a way of working out regularly that I still enjoyed.

Here are a few of my tips for getting started and finding your feet:

1. Find something you enjoy doing. There is no point doing exercise you don’t enjoy doing because you won’t ever feel like working out. There are so many different fitness activities open to you and there is definitely something out there for everyone. You might prefer working out in the gym on the treadmill, jumping on your bike a few times a week, joining a sports team like a netball team, playing tennis, or you might like working out at home with some fitness DVDs. Whatever you choose, doing some exercise you enjoy a few times a week is great!

2. Get motivated. When you start exercising, have a reason in mind for why you are doing it. It definitely helps you to find the motivation to change into your workout gear if you know why you are deciding to exercise.

3. Make the time. When you have a busy week it is easy to end up making excuses for not finding the time to exercise. If you set aside time each week, maybe three or four times, to workout then you’ll know you’ve made the time for it. I find it sometimes helps to make an actual weekly workout plan.

4. Start small and build up. Something that can often set people back when they are starting to get into exercise is aiming too high and giving up quickly when they fall short. Fitness experts often recommend that you make yourself a fitness goal, or series of goals, which will give you something to work towards.

5. Reward yourself. Exercising should be fun but even when you have found a workout you enjoy doing there are sometimes days, and even weeks, when you just don’t really feel like working out. If you have given yourself a goal to aim for then it can be really great to plan a reward to give yourself if you reach your goal. Whether it is to workout weekly for a month, to lose a couple of pounds or to increase the time you can run for by five minutes, give yourself a little treat like a new piece of workout gear each time you complete a goal and you’ll definitely feel more positive!

So here are my five main tips for beginners starting to build up their exercise. Everyone has to start from somewhere and hopefully these tips have helped to show you that fitness is for everyone and it isn’t difficult to start working out!

Do you agree with my tips?
Do you have any advice for people looking to starting exercising?

This Week #7.

I probably say this pretty often but I honestly can’t believe how quickly this week has been. It’s just flown by and before you know it, I’m about to begin my third week at my new university! I am pleased to report that so far so good. I’m really enjoying the course, I have some great lecturers, I have already read some very interesting texts, and on top of that I have met some lovely people. Although this semester comes packed with at least four assessments (which I am soon going to start planning!) I am feeling extremely positive about this new stage of my life.

This week I have been quite busy, I’ve been to the physio, to the hospital, to a new choir, and to London! The hospital went well on the whole, I have been discharged from CBT, she basically said that it can’t help me much as I already do it all for myself haha. I will be writing an update about all things health-related for you sometime soon as there are a few changes. London this weekend was just wonderful. I took the train down on Saturday morning and I navigated all of the complicated tube line closures which can be irritating but I was pleased with myself for finding my way around it all without panicking 😛 We spent most of the evening snuggled up watching Quantum of Solace followed by Michael McIntyre which was just what I needed after a tiring week!

Stewed plums and Greek yogurt | My favourite courgette spaghetti | Pre-lecture reading

Physio leaflets | Conker collecting! | Curling up with Poppy

Spicy aubergine and tomato with noodles | Baking inspiration | Jamie Oliver’s Pregnant Jool’s Pasta

Field mushroom Welsh rarebit | Apple cake 🙂 | Discovering Marlowe’s Edward II

Burgundy nails and Edward II on the train to London | Noodles | Mini smarties treat

Meerkats! | Roast dinner perfection | My blackberry brulée success

Here’s hoping this week is as good as the last! It’s a little less busy which is a bit of a relief, it should mean I can get ahead with my reading too, I’m doing really well so far. I definitely want to bake this week as I didn’t have time to last week, any suggestions? I’m currently thinking peanut butter cookies…

If you have Instagram too then you call follow me @loveliveandlearn to see my photos as I post them!

What did you do this week?
Do you enjoy autumnal activities like collecting conkers?
Favourite Sunday dinner?