Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

It’s been lovely to read how other people have discovered how 2019 has effected them and reading their aspirations and hopes for 2020. I hadn’t intended on writing about my year but felt, considering I haven’t written a blog for a while, that I would be a nice reflection for me.

I must say for me, 2019 has been one of the better years for a while. It has been the year where I become a professional, discovered I can achieve higher than I ever contemplated, explored rural Wales and moved to a nicer location and finally, started to feel more in control than I have been in previous years. I’ve even gone back to being vegetarian (looking towards Veganism) and cooking a lot more.

Learning to cook more recipes has been an enjoyable pastime in 2019

Along the way, my self worth and value has increased, as well as, being more assertive than before, which has raised my confidence and belief in myself and I’m so pleased with this. Feeling more content with life and especially pleased at how our relationship has developed and grown is wonderful as we enter 2020.

2020 does look like it will be an interesting year since much of my work timetable has been fixed already. There will be a lot of juggling and movement around the South East/Wales/Lake District; hopefully, I will find the time to fit in a holiday overseas.

One of the best places I visited in 2019, Exmoor.

I don’t ask for much from 2020; I shall just continue to try and sort my finances – which, currently, looks very promising. I hope to continue improving and learning photography skills – hopefully, changing this website will continue to encourage that (still need to edited the pages and add content)- alongside this hobby, I will focus a lot more with the MA and hopefully pass the modules. At this point in time, nothing is certain, and it all looks optimistic.

So, I wish best of luck in 2020 to anyone reading this. I hope it’ll bring you all that you want and need for a happy and content life.

Joanne Christine

The loveliest teapot​​

When I was in North Wales I just KNEW that I wanted out of Swindon. I’ve never been enamoured with the town but the people and my hobbies kept me there… but really, I wasn’t there. We always took the opportunity to head out somewhere, anywhere to get away from it as much as possible.  I just felt it was time to go, we weren’t happy, we weren’t motivated nor did we like the attitudes of most.

Casually browsing one day, I spotted this tea cosy in Betws-y-Coed last year where I’d parked up with my van for a few nights. I told myself it was for our “new” house where ever that would be when I finished course…

It began a goal, a token, a physical commitment that action needed to be taken. Upon my return to Swindon for months, it sat in a visible place on our table to quietly remind me of the need to get away from this place that made my miserable… I would know when I’d have found the right place when I could find a tea pot to accompany it…

Fast forward to now, to today, to a surprise of a tea pot from my other half for my birthday – a sunflower yellow one infact that has already been put to use!

What a beautiful thing!

It feels like we’ve finally “made it“. The commitment to leave so desperately has been accomplished. We’ve gone, we’re not going back! This feels better than a medal at the end of a race!

My little tea pot is just perfect.

Just Joanne

 

 

Vegan Kind Lifestyle #71 Box review

This is going to be a very quick review of this box; mainly because I’ve lost to sheet with all the info on but also because I’ve just started an MA programme and trying to get the reading done!

‘Vegan Lifestyle Box’ from The Vegan Kind company.

This box really delivered on fantastic goods this month; truely good stuff I enjoyed eating and wanting more…

Let’s start with the Tenzing Drink (RRP £1.59). I am a big energy drink fan, but only the “high quality” stuff (RB) but hate the amount of sugar in it – whilst drinking one helps me get the house cleaning done quickly, I crash really badly and if I drink a can too close to bedtime I wake up during the night with an incredible thirst and dry mouth, not pleasant at all!

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I buy Tenzing when I can, but I’ve not tried this flavour before… it was delicious, but not a drink to be drunk all at once; the raspberry and yuzu flavour needs savouring. There was no unpleasant or strong after taste the amount of drink was just right. I didn’t feel like I was drinking pure sugar… there are no sweeteners in this either! Only 48 calories per can!

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I ate this Divine Organic chocolate (lemon flavour) (RRP £3.49) before I thought about that any photos of the product – whoops – but you can’t blame me once you’ve tried some! A smooth texture with a hint of lemon that wasn’t overpowering, this chocolate is a treat after a long day at work; better to eat slowly and bit by bit rather than all at once like I (almost) did! Savour it…

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After to Divine Chocolate I didn’t want any more for a while so I will be honest and say I gave away my Vego Dark Nuts and Berries chocolate bar (RRP £2.69) to my other half who, being a big nut and berries chocolate fan, said it was delicious and very rich in flavour. The chocolate bar itself in THICK and a good size to fit in your bag or pocket. Gluten, soya and palm oil-free as well as fairtrade and organic as well!

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I love products, such as this one, that doesn’t try to ensure all of its product is the same size etc., there’s a general shape to them but the different sizes makes it fun to match them up… 100g isn’t enough btw, you will be craving more of these! Mallow Puffs, salted caramel mallows in Belgian dark chocolate (RRP £3.49)… loving the product, maybe not sure much the price for the amount you get but it’s forgivable once you’ve has a taste! Both other half and I gave our approval and vowed to look out for more when we go shopping – hopefully, supermarkets will start stocking them as I’ve only seen them being sold online (please enlighten if you’ve seen them on the shelves!)

The gift with this book was this wonderful bamboo mug with this beautiful design on it! Absolutely loved it and I believe TVK have had more subscriptions because of it (I know I had to order a box!)

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What can I say other than it’s absolutely gorgeous! The design is dishwasher safe (mines been in a few times) and the lid screws on tightly. I’ve had a lot of different drinks in it and so far it’s been a very robust little colourful mug. Hopefully, they’ll begin to sell them on the supermarket so others can purchase.

This, by far, has been a fantastic box to receive. In this day of #plasticpolution though… will they try to find more Vegan/vegetarian goodies than don’t come in plastic packaging?!

If you’re interested in these boxes or any other Vegan product then I would highly recommend you visit: The Vegan Kind. Enjoy.

– Just Joanne

Cooking delights

When I was younger my mother would good a good meal each night – meat, potatoes and vegetables usually factored in each sitting; each nutritious and enjoyable; I recall being taught how to cook the more popular ingredients our family enjoyed – sausages, beans, bacon, eggs, chips and veg, such as peas and carrots etc.

When I left home at sixteen these lessons helped me well, but with fast food, microwave meals and dehydrated noodle packs the level of care to the food I was consuming was minimal; I viewed food as a “quick fix“; something that would take a lot of time out of my day to prepare and cook… and to do that three times a day? No thank you, I just wanted to run around and mess about in my twenties! If you were to calculate how much fast food I have purchased over the years it would easily be in the thousands of pounds from me…

So I am VERY surprised to find I have developed a sudden interest in cooking meals from scratch… and not the simple ones, some really nicely complicated ones full of different combinations of yummy ingredients – mostly plant-based as well (my body is wondering where all the vitamins and nutrients are coming from!), but mainly ones with ingredients I haven’t eaten for a while…

So, here are a few meals I have made recently and wanted to share:

Broccoli, onion and blue cheese quick quiche from The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer.  This was so easy to make and keep some for the next day’s lunch.

Dorset Apple Traybake by BBC Good Food (though this was cooked in a tin, not a tray). This was very tasty, so simple and quick to make and the portions lasted ages.

My first ever Sunday roast (cooked on a Monday…heh): Lamb (in accordance with label instructions), caramelised onions and carrots, honeyed parsnips, roast potatoes and boiled sprouts (as soft as mother used to make – lovely!). Proud of this! I had been baking a lot of vegetarian food, so this was a change recently…

My ultimate favourite: Crispy Chilli Tofu from the Bish Bash Bosh book. I’ve made this a couple of times since moving here and would make it more often once I discover where to find cheaper tofu from…

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…and, PANCAKES! Learning to perfect those pancakes for a quick morning treat… can’t ever eat enough pancakes, they are too delicious!

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I have cooked a lot more than this but neglected to take photos; I have several recipes in my list that I wish to cook; tonight I’m cooking a carrot Tarte Tatin from The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer and I’m eyeing up a Vegan ‘Big Mac’ from Bosh.tv... can’t believe I’ve waited this long to actually get cooking!!

– Just Joanne

New house, new location, new life, new start!

Since I was sixteen, I’ve often moved across the south of England every couple of years due to varying educational endeavours and Swindon has been the town I’ve settled in the longest – ten years in fact! It had opened up a lot of opportunities and we often were away from it at the weekend but, after returning from North Wales, it felt like our time here had come to an end and we wanted out; an adventurous and curious mind can only be saited for so long before over familiarisation becomes boring and the contempt has set in. My only disappointment is that we hadn’t done this sooner as the environment had turned sour years ago…

So, when a successful interview meant a move elsewhere we started packing straight away (well, I did… faster than Sonic!). Ten years of living in one place gathers a lot of memories and memorabilia…

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The organising and clearing up of personal items took a long while as I was very indecisive about what to keep or discard… but the matter most concerning and at the forefront was actually having a place to live! We’d been fortunate to be able to privately rent from a Scouting friend all these years so the process of estate agents, credit checks, references, deposits and protection schemes was new territory.

Combined with a couple of months of working on residentials and an inflexible timetable for Terry, time was short and getting shorter before a starting work date of the 2nd September beckoned.

I would miss the view from our old place…

I decided to take the proactive action of booking several viewings one Saturday within the middle of this humid August just passed. Properties within Winchester are not the cheapest to rent for the space they allow, but one did catch our interest (although at first, it had a ‘sixties’ vibe which I wasn’t too sure about). Situated within good travel distance of the areas I’ll be travelling to, it was ideal; the South Downs Way is only a short walk from the property and it was a lot bigger than our current property whilst remaining affordable.

A tense fortnight waiting for acceptance from the landlord and estate agents was uncomfortable – what if we were rejected? We were so close to my work start date that the thought of commuting over two hours a day wasn’t appealing and the thought of remaining where we were was gut-wrenching.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this had we not been successful. The previous tenants moved quickly, the landlord wanted someone renting as soon as possible and the estate agents were happy people were interested… so, over the bank holiday weekend, we begun to move.

Opting to pack, carry and transport our items ourselves, we thought we’d manage with just a couple of days and a large van and our cars… surprisingly we managed it well (but not without a few choice words!). As you can probably gather from the pictures we had a lot of items to manage in our new home.

For me, the number of clothes I owned, having taken them out of the storage boxes from the last house, was copious; I hadn’t been made aware of this until they were hung together in my new wardrobe (my other half has his own!)… I’d only taken a few with me to university, so seeing old clothing, unworn for years, brought back pleasant memories.

The unpacking, sorting, organising took several days (the garage items have still not be touched…); we sweated and toiled to rush through this to spend time, within my last week of employment, to allow for Bailey to settle into the property. Having known only one other house in his life (and he was less than 6 months old at the time), he’s never been elsewhere other than short holiday accommodation.

He was very confused, but excited when we had to return to our previous home to clean it before handed the keys back, but then the confusion came back at this new place…

I’ve always wanted a property where we didn’t have to worry about him being out of our sight; the area we used to live in wasn’t often safe for dogs, a couple had been taken from the gardens for horrific purposes or sold on, so Bailey was monitored when he was outside. This was heart-wrenching for me, as he loved to sit and bask in the sunlight, so this enclosed garden of the new property was perfect.

However Bailey, for the first few days, would stand at the conservatory door unsure what to do! He’d look to us for permission to go outdoors and didn’t want to relieve himself on this unfamiliar territory; it took a good week before we caught him slumbering in the sun but it’ll take a longer time for me to relax over him being out of my sight…

He’s still afraid of going in the shower though…

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So we’re unpacked and moved in; we have been for a few weeks now. I’m still getting used to the sheer size of the place and being firm with Terry over not trying to fill it with too much furniture; there are still a few things we need – seating for the conservatory, a dining table, bookshelf and desk – but these will come in time.

The next step is to settle into routines, explore the local area and decide whether to continue partaking in old hobbies or try new things. Yes, this chance has certainly been refreshing so far – it’s reignited a zest for life and a passion to be adventurous!

Things certainly have changed for us both in the space of a year!

– Just Joanne