Some of my favs 😊

It’s been almost 9 months now since I cut wheat and dairy from my diet – enough time to grow a baby! I haven’t done that though 😂. At first I thought that cutting two pretty major foods would be really difficult but that hasn’t been my experience. I thought I’d share some of my favourite quick food ideas and alternatives that I’ve discovered for anyone who is thinking about it and isn’t sure where to start.

Breakfast is often an egg on gluten free toast (GF) with sunflower spread but if I fancy a change then I go for home made muesli with dairy free yoghurt. If I’m really in a hurry then Rice Krispies with rice milk is also yummy. There’s always fruit or fruit salad as options too and avocado on GF toast is yummy too (Pret a Manger do a lovely one with chilli flakes on top). If you’re really hungry you can even have a full cooked breakfast as long as you check the sausages are wheat free and avoid the potato scones or hash browns etc.

Most days I take lunch with me to work so it has to be something I can pack. Soup or salads are easy options. If I’m making homemade soup with stock cubes I check that they don’t contain wheat (Knorr ones don’t). Tinned soups can be tricky but ASDA do a really nice chunky steak and ale soup which is wheat and dairy free. If I’m having a salad the best discovery has been that original mayo (not low fat varieties) and salad cream (despite the name) are both dairy free. You can also get a coleslaw that doesn’t contain dairy (like Scotty’s for example). Gluten free wraps are good too and I really like the sweet potato ones from BFree. Fruit is always an option or raw veggies with houmous (check for dairy) or salsa. My favourite is broccoli with houmous. Crisps are sometimes fine, especially salted or salt and vinegar ones. Kettle chips are the nicest I think. Then there’s left-overs from whatever was dinner the night before.

Dinner is easier in many ways as your staples like meat, veg, rice and potatoes are all fine and gluten free pasta is good too. Pre-prepared sauces are the hardest thing I think, but there are options. Some curry sauces are free from wheat and dairy and if you like a more creamy sauce you can just add some coconut cream. Yum! A quick pasta sauce can be made with pasatta and herbs and garlic. I’ve even discovered a way to make a cheesy flavoured sauce that I’m basically happy with. I use a soft cheese alternative called Sheese (which is made on the island where I grew up) and melt it down with a splash of soy cream and voila it’s done. For the junk food cravings there are GF burgers and sausages available and you don’t have to go for the shop’s free from range which is often more expensive. Lots of places do a 100% beef burger in their freezer section which are quite reasonable. Gluten and dairy free pizzas are harder to come by but they do exist. My favourite is Morrison’s own (and I usually add some extra toppings – like mushrooms of course!) Oven chips are often coated so you have to watch out for those but my favourite ones from Aunt Bessies are GF so I’m happy.

I’ve mentioned a couple of sweet treats in previous posts – not that I have a particularly sweet tooth but I think that I thought that this would be the hardest thing to replace so I focused on it first. It turns out that you can make alternatives for lots of things. If you don’t have time to make something there are some quick options too. Alpro yoghurts are pretty good and there are lots of free from cookies available. One of the best discoveries I made was this dairy free ice cream which is really yummy with edible (GF of course) cookie dough. Genius Double Chocolate muffins are also fab! Wish I was getting paid fo all this advertising I’m doing 😂.

For snacks I eat nuts, fruit, raw veggies with dips, crisps, bombay mix (way too much of that!), rice cakes with peanut butter on them – so many options really.

Drinks are mostly fine.  I usually just take coffee black and maybe a splash of soy or oat milk in tea. Fruit teas aren’t a problem unless you’re one of those strange types that puts milk in them! Yuk! 😜 Wine is okay and so is gin so I’m sorted 😉, just need to watch out for the odd cocktail that contains dairy. If you’re a beer drinker you’d need to try the GF ones but I don’t often drink beer so I’m not sure what they’re like.

Yes, I do cheat occasionally, I mean it’s not like I’m allergic, but on the whole I’m sticking to my new diet because I feel better for it. My gut is happier and I feel less sluggish in general. If you’ve been thinking about trying this then why don’t you have a go? I’ll be surprised if you don’t feel better for it.

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Should I Stop Apologising?

The other day I tripped over my hubby’s shoes when I came out of the toilet and I apologised to them! 😂 What’s that about? I actually laughed at myself when I did that. I do it all the time. I bump into tables at work and apologise to them too!

I saw a link to this TEDx talk a while back but I only just got round to watching it.

It’s by Maja Jovanovic and she’s specifically talking about women’s tendency to apologise. The more I think about it I realise it’s so true for me. In some situations (and I guess with some people more than others) I play myself down so much it’s almost as if I’m apologising for my own presence in a situation. I apologise for having an opinion or something to say. I think she’s right. I need to STOP it because it’s hurting my confidence.

I remember when I was quite young (maybe about 10 or 11) my sister and I were asked to sing at the Scottish conference of the church denomination where my dad was a lay preacher at the time. It was pretty daunting! All the pastors sat on the rather large stage and it was probably the biggest room full of people I had seen at that point in my life (with one possible exception). I can’t remember exactly what size the room was but I’m guessing that it probably held no more than 500 people. There was an overflow room too so maybe there were another 100 there, I’m not sure. At the time I remember feeling like it was thousands of people. Anyway, we sang our songs and I remember several of the pastors behind us on the stage had tears in their eyes. Maybe because we were little kids (my sister is a year younger) and they thought it was cute or maybe the Holy Spirit touched their hearts through what we sang. I really don’t know. Afterwards in the corridor I remember an older, grey-haired man coming over to me to compliment my singing. I don’t actually remember what the compliment was but I remember down playing it in some way – maybe I pointed out my mistakes or said I had done it better in the practice? What I do remember very clearly is that he gave me a lecture (in a kind way) and told me that when someone pays me a compliment I should just say ‘thank you’. That has stuck with me to an extent and I have remembered to do that on the whole (although I definitely do that thing she talks about in the TEDx talk where I tell people how cheap my clothes were 😂).

In the video Maja talks about a definition of being humble and it is pretty negative. I wonder if this is partly the struggle for Christian women ’cause the Bible teaches us to be humble? Thinking about it though, I don’t reckon that the biblical definition of humility is what she described. The Bible also teaches us to know who we are in Christ and about the authority we have as believers and so on. Jesus ‘humbled himself’ but that didn’t mean he lacked confidence. It didn’t mean that he thought he had no power or authority. He knew exactly who he was.

I guess there’s a balance to find where self confidence is concerned? It’s important to be able to acknowledge our own strengths as well as our weaknesses. It’s important to be able to put others first without losing our own identity. It’s important to understand our position in Christ Jesus without becoming full of pride.

That gives me some more stuff to be working on. Maybe if you catch me saying sorry without good reason you would pick me up on it? I think I need to do what I can to improve my confidence because I want to be bold enough to do what He wants me to do and that’s going to take me really grasping my true identity.

I LOVE tiny details!

I’m just in from a lovely long(ish) walk in the countryside.  I love where I live.  Scotland gets a bad rep for it’s weather and I know I’m probably biased but when the sun shines it is stunning.  Look at this pic I took early morning just a couple of days ago.

Anyway when I’m walking alone in the countryside I realise again how much I appreciate the tiny details in life and in creation. Maybe that’s partly why I get on so well with tiny people too? 😂

When I go for these walks I’m always stopping to take photos of the little things that I spot. It’s not always easy to capture exactly what you can see with your eyes though. One day I’d like to try a bit of macro photography and see if I can get better images of some of those details. Here’s a few pics that I’ve taken in the last couple of days.

These hawthorn flowers are no more than 10-15mm in size but each one is so perfectly created; right down to the tiny little anthers on the end of the stamens.

This tiny snail caught my eye when I was walking the other morning. It’s markings are so clear and uniform even though it’s so small. I have a bit of a soft spot for snails since I kept some in my classroom as pets for the children a few years ago. They’re quite fascinating to watch and easy to look after.

These cow parsley flowers are so minuscule. Each petal is only about a millimetre in size. They’re just so delicate yet so tough to withstand the wind and weather.

I saw this little guy on a wall today. He’s only about 7mm long. Isn’t he a fantastic colour though?

I love the freshness and the textures on these branches. I’ve no idea what variety of pine/fir it is but I love the way each little leaf is formed.

Anyway I suppose I should get some ironing done! Doesn’t do itself unfortunately. 😂

Silence is Golden?

img_1050Have you ever felt silenced?  Or censored?  I’ve been feeling a bit like that lately and I don’t know if that’s partly why I’ve not written anything in ages or whether I felt like that because I’ve not written.  When I feel silenced, I feel like a caged animal.  Like I’m not free to be myself.  Like I’m trapped and can’t get out.  Like it’s not safe to be myself.  I’m still trying to work out where that feeling originates and what triggers it but I did get some prayer recently that helped a lot.  Still, I don’t want to ignore it – I’d like to know where it comes from so that I can deal with it if I feel like that again.

I wondered if it was something that was said to me in childhood (or maybe even adulthood)?  You know the kind of thing – ‘You talk too much’; ‘Get to the point’; ‘Sit down and stop talking’; ‘Will you please be quiet?’; ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ or ‘Nobody cares what you think’. If you know me as an adult you might think it’s unlikely because it’s not like I can’t shut up 😆  but all of these things have been said to me and then some.  Did any of that take root in my heart or is it something else?

I had a thought as I was processing this that maybe it’s about not being sure I’m good enough? I’m not sure I have anything worthwhile to say or that anyone wants to hear it? Maybe it’s a need for affirmation? Why do I need someone to tell me I’m enough? Isn’t it enough to know what God says about me? Maybe that’s a place I need to get to in my relationship with Him? I have all these random thoughts going around in my head.

I think I’ve often felt in the past like I was invisible and like I couldn’t be heard. Even if I spoke in quite a loud voice (and I can – ask my hubby 😂) I felt like people still didn’t hear what I said. Isn’t that weird? My cousin told me that she feels silenced if she doesn’t get to be creative so maybe it’s about freedom of expression? Maybe it’s about feeling like it’s safe to say and do what I want to say and do? I haven’t been that creative over the last few weeks – I’ve not done much writing or any craft stuff. I’ve barely even picked up my guitar. Maybe that’s it? 🤷🏼‍♀️

Maybe I’m just strange? I dunno. If you have any insight I’d love to hear it. Or maybe you’ve felt like this too? It would be nice to know I’m not the only one.

Pain, pills and a panic attack.

The last week or two has been tough. Not sure why I got so low again just when I had started feeling like I was getting somewhere. I guess I wondered whether it might be at least partly hormonal. Anyway it got pretty bad and in the end I gave up trying to fight it on my own and went to the doctor (with a little encouragement from a couple of friends). Thinking about it now I don’t know why I waited so long. If I had a stomach problem I wouldn’t wait 8 or 9 months to see someone about it. Anyway the doc gave me a low dose of anti-depressants to take (probably for a few months) to see if it helps. It took me a while to think about whether I was up for taking them – again when I reflect on that it’s a bit strange. I wouldn’t be averse to taking meds for a physical condition so why for this?

I’m kinda glad it was a low dose cause already the side effects aren’t very pleasant. On Day 1 I just felt a bit squeamish. Day 2 and 3 I had quite bad headaches to go along with that and palpitations at one point. Then Day 4 I felt lower, more pain and more anxiety than I have done in a long time and even had a full blown panic attack. I really hope these side effects are short lived. I hope the pills do what they’re supposed to and I can start to feel more like myself again.

Today I have work all day so I’m praying that I won’t have any of these yucky side effects while I’m there (or at all). I’ll let you know how things go.

10 Pet Peaves about Public Loos 😝

Okay. I know this is a weird thing to blog about but for some reason recently every time I use the toilets at my work, or in another public place, I keep thinking about all the things that are horrible about public loos 🚽; so I might as well get it out of my system 😜. Some of these probably apply more to females and ladies loos but I wouldn’t really know as I don’t spend a lot of time in the Gents myself. They aren’t in any particular order but I think a few of them are kinda horrible so if you’re squeamish you might want to give this post a miss. 😂 Also you should know that I’m not generally the sort of person who gets worked up over things like this so don’t take this post too seriously – I guess I just fancied writing about something a bit silly this time. 😉

My Pet Peaves about Public Loos:

1. Things that should have gone in the toilet anywhere but! – Why, why, why? I just don’t get this. I have been in many houses in my time, some where cleanliness is a priority and some where it takes more of a backseat for various reasons but I have never yet been in a house where there is poo (I’ll keep the language mild so as not to make this post any worse than it already is 😉) on the walls, blood or pee on the floor or even worse on the toilet seat!! Why do people do that?!!

2. No seat – this is almost as bad as pee on the seat when you’re female. It basically means you have to hover above the loo while you do your business (I’m not even gonna start on the actual holes in the ground I’ve used when I’ve been abroad 😝). This can cause even more mess as we females don’t have anything to aim at the bowl with. Picture that if you dare!

3. No paper – okay, so no paper is bad enough but what’s worse is when you don’t realise that there’s no paper until you’re finished using the toilet. Then you have to rummage around in your bag or your pockets hoping that you might have a tissue somewhere – even if it’s a used one. 😂  Or you have a very weird conversation with the stranger in the next cubicle who very quickly becomes your ‘lifesaver’ as she passes you a wadge of paper under the partition.

4. The door doesn’t lock – and usually also won’t stay closed so you’re sitting there, or worse hovering there, trying to balance with one foot out in front of you in an attempt to stop anyone from barging in and seeing you with your knickers around your knees. Either that or it’s one arm out while you make your body as long as possible so you can still reach the loo too.

5. The brush is there but not used – Come on! This is just gross! I get it if there’s no brush but if you make a mess of the bowl and the tools are provided to do something about it clean it up! Otherwise the next person either pops into the cubicle and promptly leaves or if they have to use it they come out saying ‘that wasn’t me by the way.’

6. The toilet doesn’t flush properly (or at all) – and of course you don’t find this out till you’ve been either. So you stand there waiting for the cistern to refill (which can take ages) so you can try again. Either that or you’re left apologising to the next person in the queue again.

7. They stink – I guess this is becoming less of a problem as designers of modern facilities seem to have discovered ventilation and air fresheners. There are still those wee toilet blocks or portaloos in parks or near beaches etc that haven’t been upgraded this century yet though. Enough said.

8. Poor handwashing facilities – Recently at my work (which has really nice modern toilets by the way) we had an issue with a lack of soap for about 3 weeks.  No idea what that was about other than someone didn’t do their job properly. I also dislike cold water for washing and no hand dryers or towels. In fact maybe cold dryers or ones that just have rubbish drying power are worse. For a while last year I was assessing the hand dryers I came across as I wanted to get new ones for our church loos and I was trying to find the best option. 😂  Made for a fascinating topic of conversation – not! 😝

9. Queues – and they’re always at the ladies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen guys queue up to wait for a toilet. I have been so tempted to leave the ladies queue and just walk into the gents before. What would actually happen if I did? Haven’t done it yet though. 😁

10. It’s locked – This one is worst when you’re travelling or you’re away from home.  You’re desperate to go and you eventually find a public toilet (probably one of those blocks from the last century that stink) and it’s locked.  You end up having to find a corner between a bush and a wall or something ’cause you just can’t wait any longer! That’s fine when you’re three years old but not so much when you’re a fully grown female. Thankfully I haven’t had to resort to this in a few years. 😜

Well if you’ve read this far thanks for sticking with me and letting me get that all off my chest. You now have a little more insight into how my slightly crazy mind works. I’m sure I’ll be back to posting more sensible stuff soon.

Cry me a river

Just so you know straight off this post has nothing to do with any song by the same name. I guess it just seemed like an appropriate title today. It’s been one of those days (do you ever get them?) when something sets you off crying in the morning and then you basically don’t stop.

This morning it was this Facebook post that set me off. As you know my kids are in their early twenties. My son is currently in Australia and my daughter is heading off to California in a few months. Like almost every mum on the planet I’ve poured everything I could into my kids – so much love and patience and encouragement. I’ve tried to teach them and train them and prepare them for life the best I could but they don’t come with a manual do they? I’ve tried to be everything they needed me to be as a mum but I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes and I wonder if I’ve let them down? Do they still love me as much now that they’ve grown and they know about my imperfections?

I didn’t understand ’empty nest syndrome’ when my kids were younger. I guess I always thought it would be nice to have your freedom back again and be able to do whatever you want without having to worry about looking after little ones. When the reality starts to hit though it’s pretty different. You realise that you’re not the same person you were before you had kids. Maybe your other half isn’t the same person either. You need to figure out what you like and what you want in life all over again. The house is too quiet and your friends are busy with their own lives. You have responsibilities like jobs and bills that restrict the freedom you dreamed of having once the kids were grown. I guess for me raising my kids was always the most important job I had even though I was only a stay at home mum until they started school. So maybe it’s also about an adjustment in how I think of myself.

I’m not quite at the empty nest stage yet but it’s definitely becoming more real and looking like the reality is getting much closer. I guess I’m beginning to process it now in the hope that I’ll be properly ready for it when it actually happens. To all the other mums and dads out there who don’t see as much of your kids as you’d like and wish you’d made more of the time you had, I feel your pain (if only a little bit of it right now). Change is the only constant in life as they say. Just gotta learn to deal with it I suppose.