Life Update #2: Spring 2017

I’m back with another life update! My last one was just before Christmas during Blogmas when I was just back from the stunningly beautiful Rome so I thought almost five months later, I was due an update. (If you want to read that update: it’s right here!)

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In December, I spoke about finding out about renting my first house before I went on holiday…

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(This was me the day I moved in, I was very excited!)

I moved in on 4th January and it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’m so unbelievably happy living on my own and it just proves that it really was something I needed to do. Of course I’ve been here a few months and my spare room is still a mess, I haven’t got a rug for the living room and I have a few pictures that I still want to hang up, but apart from that, I think I’ve settled in quite well.

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If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you’ll know that I went from being a vegetarian to eating a plant based diet permanently…

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(Just one of my obsessions from one of my favourite places in the world, Tony and Jen’s. Yep, gluten free AND vegan. Match made in heaven right?  )

I’ll not talk too much about why I changed to a plant based diet because I have talked about it a lot recently; I wrote a post about completing Veganuary (right here), I documented what I ate during Veganuary (right here) and I spoke about how I became vegetarian last March (right here) so you can check those posts out for more detail.

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Very very recently I also bought my first little kitten…

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I used to be terrified of almost all animals (except goldfish) but over the past year or so, things have changed. For the majority of the year last year, I lived with my ex-boyfriend and he had the cutest cat ever, and that was really my first experience of living with another animal. My Dad had dogs but because we were only ever there one or two nights a fortnight, I never felt like I lived with them. So that experience of living with a cat showed me that there’s nothing to be really scared of and I should embrace the love of a little furry munchkin (Even though when she does jump up on me, I still get a little scared) Plus my three best friends all have cats and they’re both adorable, so even more help to show me that I can do it.

So once I knew I was moving out of my family home, I told myself to wait a few months to get myself settled in before thinking about getting a cat and that’s what I did. I named her Audrey and when I got her, she was about nine weeks old.

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I’m very grateful to be who I am and where I am today…

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(Outstanding photography skills and credit goes to the wonderful photographer that took this during one of our lunch dates.)

I feel very supported by my lovely group of friends, my family have been fantastic since moving out (except for the change to my diet, they’re still coming to terms with that) and I’m very blessed to be in a new, happy and healthy relationship. I now believe everything happens for a reason and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

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I hope you enjoyed this little life update and if you want to keep up to date with me, you can follow me on Twitter or over on Instagram.

What I Eat In A Day: Veganuary Style.

In my New Year’s Resolutions, my first resolution was to complete Veganuary, and I did it! If you’re not sure what Veganuary is, it’s a movement within the Vegan community to encourage you to try eating vegan for the month of January. Of course, if you want to try it in March or August, you totally can too.

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I became vegetarian in March last year (which you can read about here) and I haven’t touched meat since. If you read my blog post, you’ll read that I was never passionate about eating meat so going vegetarian wasn’t a huge life change for me. The majority of my meals last year were vegan so trying out Veganuary this year wasn’t too difficult for me; I knew what meals I could make myself and I knew what changes I would need to make at certain restaurants if I wanted to make the meal vegan.

I’ll take you through a typical “What I Eat in a Day” gluten free vegan style. Full disclaimer, I’m not a nutritionist or dietitian, I’m not trained in any health or nutrition field so I’m not saying this is what you should eat, it’s just what I chose to eat. I just have to put that out there before I start…

To tie into this actually, I started Veganuary in my new place so it was nice not having to worry about anyone else’s food. I could cook when I wanted without disturbing anyone else and I think that helped, because when I was at home I always had to be cautious especially when it came to having enough room in the cupboards or the fridge. Seems really silly but it does make an impact when you cook a lot.

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So my meals are very simple and I tend to have the same thing every weekday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other people might get really bored with eating the same thing but I like the routine around it. For breakfast, I have porridge (My favourite is the Gluten Free Quaker Oats) with banana and maple syrup. Very very simple, but it warms me up on the early mornings and it takes less than five minutes to make, what more could you want from a breakfast? I normally use a coconut milk or a rice milk because they tend to have a creamier taste and it goes nicely with porridge.

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Next up is my mid-morning snack. I only tend to have this when I’m at work because I have my breakfast between 6am-6:30am so when it gets to about 10:30am, I’m pretty hungry again. This contains one apple (Green are my favourite!), Nature’s Path Gluten Free Granola and Koko Strawberry Yoghurt. Most granolas use honey but thankfully this one doesn’t, so vegan friendly. Just make sure you buy the Pumpkin, Raisin and Almond one (it’s an orange packet) because the Strawberry, Blueberry and Raspberry one uses honey, so be careful. I love the Koko yoghurts because most dairy free yoghurts use soy instead of milk so finding a yoghurt that didn’t use that was so great. I’ve tried the CoYo yoghurt before but I find it very expensive and it’s far too thick for me.

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Now for lunch, I don’t have a picture but I can promise you, it’s not very visually pleasing but I can show you the packaging of it (The picture below is not mine, here’s the source). I have three Nutribix and if you don’t know what Nutribix are, they are basically Weetabix without the wheat and gluten. They’re a little smaller than Weetabix so I have three mashed up with coconut milk and a banana. Yes, very boring, but it’s healthy and it ties me over for a few hours.

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Dinner time is probably my favourite meal of the day and with good reason, it’s so filling and it satisfies me for the rest of the night. It’s my vegan bean chilli that I’ve been making for probably almost a year; I first discovered the recipe last year in my Deliciously Ella book and I have loved it ever since. I’m always changing it up from the original so I’m going to put it up on the blog as my modified version, but it’s delicious! It uses lots of beans, some vegetables, a mix of spices, chopped tomatoes and a healthy helping of rice. I’ve started to add some tortilla chips to it and I normally have a wrap with mine too.

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In terms of snacks, I try and not snack but there are exceptions. On a Friday or Saturday night I treat myself to a few squares of my favourite chocolate, Ombar. It’s gluten free, vegan and it uses cacao rather than cocoa so it’s perfect for me. Other than that, if I need a snack, I’ll grab some fruit or if I have a Nakd bar in the house, I’ll grab that. I’ve found since moving out that I don’t tend to snack as much but that’s probably more to do with the fact that if I don’t buy it, it’s not in the house.

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For tea, I drink a lot of green and herbal teas. I’ve been doing that for well over two or three years now so not having a regular cup of tea with milk hasn’t bothered me too much. I used to love a good traditional English Breakfast tea, anyone that knows me knows I was always having a cup of tea. I have tried so many more tea brands (thanks to the Book and a Brew subscription) and because I got a lot of new tea for Christmas, I’ve been exploring new flavours and I haven’t thought about ‘regular’ tea. I have tried to use different milks for English Breakfast but it’s not the same so I don’t even try to make it similar now.

Of course, water has always been essential to me, I track it using my FitBit app and I always try and hit that target. I find that during the work week, I can hit it before finishing up at 5pm but the weekend’s are my downfall. I don’t drink any fizzy drinks so water is my only other drink of choice apart from tea.

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So that was a look at my traditional “What I Eat In A Day”, I did still go out for meals and lunches sometimes but if I wasn’t out, this was what I was eating a lot of the time.
My next blog post along the Veganuary lines will be my thoughts on the whole month and what’s next, but if you haven’t caught up on my “Becoming a Vegetarian” post, you should give it a read and I’ll link my “What’s Next” post here when it’s up. I hope you enjoyed a little insight into my eating habits during the month and if you took part in Veganuary, let me know below or over at @RetroSnowflake on Twitter.

Reflecting on 2016’s Resolutions.

I posted my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions yesterday and last year I reflected back on the previous year’s resolutions so I wanted to do the same thing this year too. There’s no point setting resolutions or goals if you don’t reflect back on them and see if you achieved them, right?

Go outside every day!
I didn’t do outside every day, I know that for a fact but that wasn’t really the point of the goal. I wanted to spend more time outside and I did that! For a few weeks, I walked home from work (it’s a two hour walk!), I walked around town more on my lunch break and because I went away on holiday twice this year, I walked so much to explore. So I think I completed this goal, I’m satisfied with that.

Further advance in yoga.
Yes! I did this! When you go to a class once a week most weeks, you do see yourself growing and advancing over time. I’m now doing poses that this time last year, there was no way I could even do at beginner level. It’s so motivating to see yourself get better at something you love.

Save money.
I did this but not for my original purpose. I was meant to be saving to take a trip to Canada, and I had started but then life stepped in the way for this one. However, I started saving towards the end of the year and I now have my first month’s rent saved so I don’t have to worry about that.

Write every day in my One Line A Day book.
The fact I stopped doing this actually does upset me. I loved that book but then I was never motivated to write in it and I always said “Oh I’ll do it tomorrow” Tomorrow essentially never came and I fell behind.

Read more books.
I read but I don’t think I read more than usual which is a real shame because I want to read more but I just can’t seem to push myself to do it.

Knit more.
I don’t think I knit one thing this year. I finished off a scarf at the very very beginning of the year then I tried to knit something for my Mum but I hardly started that.

Keep up with my blog!
I’m so happy that I kept up with the blog this year. I have loved having this platform and connecting with other bloggers, it makes the online world so much more exciting. I’m really happy with the content I put out this year and I hope that this year will be just as great.

Learn a new language.
I’m so disappointed that I didn’t do this! I wanted to learn Finnish for when Ryan and I went to Finland but we never got around to it. Definitely a missed opportunity!

Spend more time with my boyfriend.
You could say this one did but didn’t work out. We spent a lot of time together and I practically lived with him for about six months, but we broke up in September. Reminder to self: do not make a resolution about a boyfriend, you don’t know what can happen in a year (and clearly I didn’t!)

Four out of nine isn’t bad, right? 

❤ My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions ❤

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to 2017! It’s the year we’ve all been waiting for. I hope you all have a lovely year this year!

It’s Sunday today which means there’s normally a Sunday Saves but I wanted to post about my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions instead. Next week Sunday Saves will resume, and if you come back tomorrow, you’ll see a reflection of my 2016 Resolutions. (I’ll link it here when it’s live!)

1) Take part in Veganuary.
First and fore most because this starts in January, I’ll be participating in Veganuary. I’m planning on doing a blog post later on in the week about what exactly Veganuary is and about how I became vegetarian because I haven’t talked about it on the blog yet.

2) Create a morning and evening routine.
Having a morning and evening routine is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle in my opinion but yet, I don’t have either. I want to get up earlier and achieve more with my morning before I go to work. I want to have a healthier attitude to ‘bedtime’ and have a set routine that can settle me down for the night.

3) Create a sleep routine.
This ties in with the morning and evening routine goal. Over the past nine months or so, on an average work day, I have lived on about four or five hours sleep a day. It’s not healthy, I know it’s not. Every part of me has felt the effects so I’m committed to going to bed earlier and getting up earlier too. I’m slowly killing myself otherwise.

4) Meditate more.
Ideally, I would love to do a ten minute meditation in the morning and in the evening but I don’t want to throw myself in to such a big task at first. One meditation every other morning would suit me at the beginning of the year at first and then I would want to build it up to once or twice a day.

5) Practice more yoga at home.
Okay, so I’ve covered getting into yoga and advancing yoga over the past few years but I want to take that even further by making sure I practice yoga at home rather than just in the studio once a week.

6) Live in the moment.
This is really important to me because I am either so stuck in the past or the future. I never take time to appreciate where I am right now and how far I have come. I always float back to my past and how I can’t change it or I race to the future thinking “Okay, I need to be here in the least amount of time”. I really need to take each day as it comes, go with the flow of life and take it in my stride.

7) Expand my knowledge on mindfulness.
Through therapy and reading mental health blogs, I have been really interested in learning more about mindfulness and the techniques behind it. I tend to participate in it quite often but I would like to make it a daily routine of mine because when I do, I genuinely feel better about myself. So I want to practice it as well as do my own reading and research into the ‘science’ behind it too.

8) Keep a Happy Jar for the year.
I love this idea! I featured a jar like this on one of my recent Sunday Saves but I found a post that explains it more, so if you click here, you’ll see it. I’ll do a blog post on mine once I have it decorated!


If you have a New Year’s Resolutions or Goals posts or videos, please send me them via the comments below or over on my Twitter, I love finding out about everyone else’s goals!

(Blogmas Day Eleven) Positivity Takeover Update #1

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Welcome to Blogmas Day Eleven!

So if you read my Life Update that I posted last week or you seen my Instagram, you’ll know that I was in Rome last week! That was a pretty perfect opportunity to take my Positivity Takeover cards from the Itty Bitty Book Company over to Italy with me. I only left two around the city (I was too busy sightseeing and then I kept forgetting) and they were both in the same place (but quite a distance from each other of course!)

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You’ll have seen this one above on my Instagram!

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Both photographs were taken at Ponte Sant’Angelo in Rome on a lovely sunny day (which is why I think the second card is so appropriate!)

I love being one of the many Positivity Takeover ambassadors and I’m going to be spreading more happiness and positivity throughout the New Year!

(Blogmas Day Eight) Life Update…

What I haven’t shared on social media… (yet)

So it’s Blogmas Day Eight, it’s Wednesday morning and at 2am, I arrived back in Belfast via the Dublin bus because I was in Rome!

Yes, I went to Rome and I went completely on my own. Maybe not such a huge deal to some, but I only went on my first adult holiday this year to Finland and Russia so going from my first adult holiday to my first holiday on my own, is quite a big step.

I booked it about a month and a half ago, I just needed something to keep my mind off what was going on in my own life. I wasn’t happy and I wanted something to distract me. Thankfully a month and a half later, my life is genuinely a lot better, I’m a lot happier and I couldn’t be more different to the person I was a few months ago. I still get my really down days and I even had one when I was in Rome which hit me really hard, but I made the most of my trip, and I had a lovely time.

Once Blogmas is over, I’m planning on posting my Rome Diaries because it would be really nice to reflect back on my trip. You know, places I went and food I ate; the two most important things in a trip!

One more thing…

About two days before my trip, I found out that I had secured a house I had been looking at to rent! So I’ll be moving out on my own for the first time in the New Year! Probably not the greatest time to move out, straight after Christmas when everyone feels the pinch but I would have been silly not to grab at this opportunity when it’s been something I have been wanting to do for the last few years.

I’m really excited, obviously I’m worried about the money aspect (because booking a holiday before Christmas, then having Christmas, then moving out seemed like such a great idea at the time right?! I didn’t know about the house when I booked the holiday!) but I have a great support network around me and I can’t wait to live on my own and have my own little house.

Why I didn’t post on social media about my holiday…

I know I don’t need to give an explanation but I want to. As much as I love posting on Instagram, checking in on Facebook and tweeting about everything I do; I didn’t want to do it at all and I have found myself over the past few months doing it a lot less. Sure, I was still on social media during the trip; I was still writing blog posts, I was still scheduling tweets in my hotel room and I was taking photographs for myself (but also for the blog) but I had no desire to share with the world at that very moment that I was away on holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I done the exact opposite on my last holiday. I checked in everywhere, there were loads of photographs on Instagram and I LOVED tweeting about it. I just didn’t want to do it this time. This trip was meant to be for me, and just me. I wanted to create memories for myself and have experiences for myself because I needed to get away from my ‘normal’ life for a while. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be Instagramming photographs and I’ll probably tweet about it, but I just didn’t want to when I was there.

I loved coming back to my hotel and writing another blog post though. That was something that filled my nights because I didn’t want to stay out late in a country I wasn’t too familar with, in the dark, on my own; so writing blog posts for Blogmas was a nice routine to get into each night.

This might have been a boring post for you to read, I don’t know but I’m really happy that I’ve had a few positive life updates recently and I can’t wait to see what the next few months brings. Oh, and remember to look out for my Rome Diaries in the New Year too!

Why I Take Myself Out For A Cup of Tea.

I know, I know, this could have had a better title, “Why I take myself out for coffee” sounds snappy and simple. However, I don’t like coffee but for this one purpose, I wish I did 😉

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Anyway, back to the original point of this post. Today I’m talking about taking myself out for a cup of tea. I was one of those people who didn’t like to spend money on tea when I was out (unless I was with my Mum or a friend) because I seen it as a waste of money. Why spend £2 on a cup of tea when I can make something just as good at home for free? It makes sense right?

However, I’ve went through a few big life changes at the minute so I’m always looking for ways to distract myself and keep my mind busy. So you might be sitting here and asking the same question I once did, “So is there any difference between having a tea or coffee in a coffee shop or a friend’s, compared to just in your own place?” I can’t emphasise enough how different it is.

  1. New scenery: You’re not as comfortable as you would be at home, sure. You can’t just jump into your sweat pants and stick your feet up on the sofa, but once you get settled down, you create your own little comfort bubble almost.
  2. Friendly atmosphere: The coffee shop I go to is one of the nicest places I’ve been in. The staff are just so lovely and the general vibe of the cafe is very relaxed and homely; that’s something every coffee shop should aim for. You don’t feel like you’re taking up space either, I can sit for a few hours and order a few teas and I still feel as welcome as I did from the minute I walked in.
  3. Different distractions: I normally try and do something that I wouldn’t normally do at home. I take my colouring book and my pens with me (as you can see from the photographs!) because I know I can get engrossed in it there but at home, I might think I have to do something else. I also try and take a book with me in case I want a break from the colouring. I took my laptop with me last Saturday but I didn’t use it. My plan with the laptop is to use it to exclusively write blog posts on it and that’s it; I won’t be tempted by their free Wi-Fi! But if you’re not into any of that, you can people watch!

The only “con” is the cost. Yes, you pay for your tea and I use my bus card to get to the coffee shop and back. There aren’t a lot of coffee shops in my area so I go half way between my house and Belfast City Centre. The way I look at it is I do it once a week, I don’t over do it, I stick to a budget and I make sure I can afford it.

The most important reason for me is this, it’s improving my mental health. We all have our “better than most” days, our “okay” days and our really bad days. Getting out of the house when these sad moments happen makes me feel better some of the time (Not all of the time, sometimes it’s just easier to be on your own in the house and have  a cry with no-one around!)

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I know some people would be worried that if they went into a cafe on their own, everyone would notice. Trust me, they really don’t care. No-one is sitting there judging you for being on your own! You’ll probably find if they do see that you’re on your own, most of the time people will want to have your courage, because they themselves might find it nerve wrecking to do it on their own. You might just give them the courage to do it next time.

In conclusion, taking myself out on, what is essentially a tea date, is one of the best things I have done for myself lately. It’s given me time to think, it’s given me a nice distraction from other negative thoughts and it’s given me a reason to be excited to wake up and go out on a Saturday (That sounds sad I know, but it’s true).