Reading Bucket List

A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

A Child Called ‘It’ – Dave Pelzer

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Bourne Trilogy – Robert Ludlum

Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series – Rick Riordan

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain

The Hunger Games Trilogy -Suzanne Collins

  • The Hunger Games
  • Catching Fire
  • Mockingjay

The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

The Pixar Theory – John Negroni

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson


QOTD: What is on your reading bucket list? What books do you recommend?

 

Victoria Sponge (gluten free): Oat Flour Experiment

Recently, after a few messages my body was sending me, I had a thought that I may be intolerant to gluten, so I have decided to give it up for a few weeks to see if there is any difference to how I feel. Of course I decide this the day before I planned to make a Victoria Sponge cake.

Unable to do the shopping in time to get some gluten free flour, I decided I would experiment with using ground oats. I found a random recipe and, instead of all purpose flour, I replaced it with oat flour.

To make the oat flour, I got some porridge oats and ground them up to a fine powder. The recipe says to use 1 3/4 cups of flour, I used about 2 1/3 cups (a decision I would later regret) as I had read that using oat flour makes the cake more moist so you should use an extra amount to absorb the wet ingredients.

DSC00371           DSC00372

Results:

Structure: I wish I hadn’t put so much oats. It came out very dry and crumbly. One of the layers broke in half. Next time, I will put less and maybe use a different binding agent, like no egg or ground flaxseed, to make sure it holds together.

Appearance: It came out really bubbly. I’m not entirely sure why. For the filling, I just used a jam layer. I didn’t have any cream to put in it. Come to think of it, I was really low on ingredients when I made this; I’m not entirely sure why I went through with it today.

Taste: Funny enough, it had quite an oaty flavour. Although the outside was a little crumbly, the inside was moist and sweet and held together. I put the right amount of jam so that it wasn’t too sweet but also not too dry. I’d say this one was a pass.

DSC00373

In conclusion, I’m glad I tried this out. It wasn’t the best cake attempt but I have never been all that good at making cakes anyway. I appreciate the practice. I am willing to try out more experiments and see what works best for me and I will probably figure out my own recipes in the future.

 

Update: As it happens, I am not gluten intolerant. However, I will still be trying out more gluten free recipes for those who are.


QOTD: What are some of your favourite gluten free recipes?

In defence of Valentine’s Day

I do not know who St. Valentine was; I know nothing about him – what he did, when he was, or if he was even a real guy. All I know is he has a day named after him. Like a lot of other holidays and celebrations, this one has most definitely lost it’s meaning. I’m not sure what it started out as, but I have always known today is the day where we celebrate love. This day is generally recognised as the day couples get together and be all lovey-dovey while us single pringles are all alone and miserable. But I disagree with that.

I have never been in a relationship. I have never been anyone’s anything and that’s okay with me. I don’t feel like my life will only be complete if I have somebody to call my “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”. I’m just not interested in going out of my way to find that. What I am interested in, is love. Love is such an important emotion; it makes the world go round. I have so much (probably too much) love in my heart and I love every single person in this world, no matter what. I always see the good in even the worst of people.

A lot of cynical people want to claim that Valentine’s Day is just another reason to spend a load of money, “it’s propaganda”, they say. “You should do nice things on a random day and it will be more special”. That’s all true but the same can be said for all other holidays and occasions. We have this day because what other day of the year do you walk out the door and see hearts and chocolate everywhere you turn? Why is there a problem with celebrating love? You don’t need to spend money to have a good time. You can do DIY decorations, cook a nice meal, snuggle up on the sofa and watch a movie, the possibilities are endless. It doesn’t always have to be a grandiose gesture.

The message I want to deliver is that Valentine’s Day is a day to love. Whether that love is towards your significant other, your parents, your children, your family, your friend, your pet, or yourself – celebrate it. Even if it’s just to say how much you love them.

Love Each Other


QOTD: Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What do you do?

The Perfect Diet?

I know I’m not alone when I say this: I don’t really understand portion sizes. I’m not sure how big one portion is, I’m not sure how many portions go in each meal, I’m not even sure how many portions to eat in a day.  So I googled it.

I found this website called ChooseMyPlate and it basically breaks it all down for you. All you have to do is find out how many calories you are supposed to eat per day. To do that, just use a simple calorie calculator (like this one). It will tell you how many calories to consume whether you want to lose 1lb p/w, lose 2lb p/w, maintain your weight, gain 1lb p/w, and gain 2lb p/w.

This link will take you to chart (image below) with age groups and calorie amounts for that specific person (if you are under 18, you should really consult a doctor before doing any change to your diet, even if just to let them know).

weight track

From there, you will be taken to a .pdf page. The 2 pages below are for the Ages 14+, 1800 kcal. It tells you how much you should eat, and a tracker with some ideas.

p1p2

 

The last thing I did was create an account with ChooseMyPlate’s partner website thing called SuperTracker. I didn’t want to mention this site because it will be closed down on June 30th this year but I found it so incredibly helpful so I’m mentioning it anyway.

You can create a weight goal and when you want to reach that goal, as well as a calorie goal, and an exercise goal. But the best part of all of it is it gives you sample meal plans which is exactly the thing I was searching for:

st

I am hopeless at organising my meals like this. So if you know any websites or apps that will set up a meal plan for me, please comment!

I hope some of this information helped you because it has definitely helped me.


QOTD: What has helped you reach your weight/fitness goals? What advice would you give to other people?

Getting Through a Panic Attack

Sometimes panic attacks are caused by overthinking and sometimes, you have no idea why it’s happening. These are some techniques to reduce anxiety and, hopefully, stop a panic attack in its tracks.

Disclaimer: Everybody is different so all of these might work for one person, while none of them work for another person.

Technique #1: Deep Breathing

Inhale for 3 seconds, exhale for 3 seconds. Repeat that 10 times. Regulating your breathing, lowers your heart rate, and automatically calms you down.

Make sure you breathe using the whole of your lungs. To do that, lay on your back and take deep breaths. Your tummy should expand as you inhale, and shrink as you exhale.

Technique #2: Redirecting Thoughts

What many people try to do is distract themselves with TV. The reason this doesn’t work is because watching TV doesn’t require a lot of brain activity, so you still think about the problem. You are telling yourself not to think about it, so you think about it more.

Redirecting thoughts is different. Instead of trying not to think about the problem, do an activity that requires your full attention. This way, your brain doesn’t have a chance to overthink things.

Some ideas: writing, painting, playing an instrument, sports, tidying the house.

Technique #3: Grounding Techniques

Grounding works well because most panic attacks are a worry about the past or the future. Grounding tries to bring you back to the present. There are 2 good methods.

The first is the 5-4-3-2-1 method. It works like this:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

The other method is to list 5 things to do with a certain category. The What’s Up – Mental Health App is good for this.

For example: 5 football teams, 5 colours, 5 songs by Madonna, etc…

 

QOTD: What method(s) do you use to get out of a panic attack?

 


 

Sources and further reading:

Apps and Websites for Mental Health

7 Cups Of Tea (website and app)

A personal growth path which gives you daily activities, such as, listing some things you are grateful for, a 5 minute meditation, motivational videos, and self-help guides that give you information on how to deal with whatever you are going through.

There are also forums where you can help people and share your progress, a 1-on-1 chat with a volunteer listener (kind of like an online helpline), and group discussions where you can talk to people in similar situations.

Headspace (website and app)

Guided meditation. Features include: 2 10-day meditation programmes. More is available with subscription.

Subscription fees: 1 Month = £9.99 ($12.95), 1 Year = £5.99 ($7.99) p/m, 2 years = £4.99 ($6.24) p/m, forever = £299.99 ($419.95)

Included in subscription: Specific meditation techniques for whatever issue you are dealing with.

What’s Up? – Mental Health App

Helpful for dealing with depression, anxiety, and stress. Features include: grounding techniques, breathing techniques, forums, and information about anger, anxiety, depression, self esteem, and stress.

This list will keep being edited and expanded as I find new apps and websites, so be sure to comment anything that works for you.

Artistic Ventures

Happy new year!

First off, I have been busy. I felt I owed it to this blog to work hard so that I would have something to talk about when I got back from my break.

Something unfortunate has happened to me recently. I don’t want to talk about this too much as I want to keep this blog as a positive environment but somebody that I liked (an acquaintance rather than a friend) said something really insensitive about my mental health and it has caused quite an important change to occur in my life. A positive change.

I got upset but then I realised, somebody who has no problem saying something hurtful for no reason, is not worth getting upset over. I am now feeling uplifted and determined to be the best version of me. Gone are the days where I would hide who I really was just to make other people happy. I realised that I will have critics no matter what I do.

I made a new set of goals for this year (which I will talk about in tomorrow’s blog). Today I’ve been focusing on drawing. I’m such a perfectionist so all my efforts to draw and make art, have always ended with me giving up. Not this time.

This time, I picked up my pencil, I picked up a piece of scrap paper and designed my very own chibi style. I did myself proud. I believed in myself and it paid off.

Way more art will be coming in the future. Keep an eye on instagram.

Most importantly of all, do not ever let somebody knock you down. Rise above them even stronger than you were before.

QOTD: What is your favourite art medium (if you don’t create art, what is your favourite to view)?

AOTD: I think my favourite is regular graphite pencil. It is so simple, yet so amazing what you could do with one pencil. I also like coloured pencil.