My 2015 round-up

Hello there. Now it’s safe to admit that Christmas is well and truly over. The decorations and trees in people’s houses have come down, and there’s talk of spring cleaning and resolutions everywhere you go.

In light of the New Year I feel a need to look back on it and reflect a little.

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2015 was an odd year. There were fantastic highs, and terrible lows, and not really much in between.

Let me explain.

2015 saw me finally accept I needed help for my depression and anxiety. Initially, this was a terrible situation. My anxiety was without a doubt at its worst. I found it almost impossible to leave my house without Drew. And when things got too much, I couldn’t bear to even bump into my housemates so I deliberately altered my sleeping pattern to avoid people. Of course, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, but things got so bad that every sound made my heart beat so fast. I’d wake up dripping in sweat, having been jolted awake by terrifying flashbacks to a traumatic time, and dealing with all this alongside chronic pain and third year was really very difficult. Though it was a definite low point, I’m pleased to say that things got better.

Because, what’s most important, is that I realised I needed help and made the decision to get it.

That’s a definite high point, because it was the best decision I ever made. Through a mixture of counseling and medication, I’ve managed to keep my mental illnesses under control.

2015 was also increasingly difficult with regards to chronic pain from my spinal condition and cerebral palsy. There were very bad days. So bad in fact that for a week or so my diet consisted of instant cuppa soup as getting up to cook things was just far too painful, especially when having to prepare things with my affected arm.

But, I am pleased to say that I made it through. And, in what feels like forever, I’m finally being listened to by doctors. For once I feel like people are listening. That people really do want to help. And as a result I’m seeing an orthopaedic consultant, neurologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapists, orthotists and having regular pain management. Though I know there will never be a cure for my cerebral palsy and spinal problem, I know I can look at managing their symptoms and getting the best out of my body. Slowly , and with the help of my occupational therapist, I’m learning to undo all that negative ableism that’s permeated my thoughts. I’m learning to accept that it’s okay when I can’t do certain things. I’m learning to accept that my best is more than good enough. I’m learning that I have achieved so much in spite of all these things and that I need to stop being so hard on myself. I’m finally learning to accept who I am.

It’s OK that I can’t always do things for myself. I’m doing my best, my absolute best , and that’s all I can ask for.

I certainly did my best in 2015 when I graduated from university with a BA hons degree in the summer. Those painful, long-winded nights in the library dosed up on codeine paid off. I did it, and for once I can admit that I did well. Here is a picture of Drew and I in our silly hats to prove it.

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I also got onto my MRes course at university, which is everything I hoped for and more. Fingers crossed I’ll be getting to wear that silly hat again once more!

2015 saw me getting more and more into my blogging. Blogging initially started as a way of achieving catharsis and discussing things I felt were important to me. 2015 saw my blogging continue to grow and I want to take the chance to say thank you for putting up with me! You’ve all been fabulous. You have no idea how much it means to me that people actually read what I write on here!

I also collaborated with some fabulous brands this year, which is absolutely amazing! I’d like to thank Personal Planner, Primula, Wren Kitchens, Al Porto, Ultradex, Nine to Five Heels and Stick to Stigu (just to name a few!) for the wonderful opportunities you have given me. It has been fabulous to work with you all and many thanks for your support!

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2015 also allowed me to continue making lots of friends through blogging. The summer event was absolutely fantastic and I’ve made some really lovely friends. I’m hoping that the #HullBloggers will go from strength to strength in 2016, and thank you all for being so lovely!

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It sounds a little silly but 2015 saw me get these two wonderful little things: my guinea pigs Smudge and Patch. They have provided so much joy through difficult times and I hope will continue to for as long as possible. They even made it into my doctors notes because they’ve helped with my well-being so much!

So though 2015 wasn’t the best in parts – there are some things perhaps a little too sensitive to mention on here that contributed to that – i am so thankful for the good times. I’m hoping to make 2016 much more positive now that my medication has been sorted out for everything and seems to be helping.

As always, thanks so much for reading if you have, and Happy New Year to you!

Look after yourself whatever you’re doing,
Heather X

Banana American pancakes

Hi there! It’s so good to be back blogging in 2015! Christmas and New Year was a great time to relax, see friends and family and just generally have an enjoyable time. I hope Christmas was a peaceful and relaxing period for yourself. I got some really lovely, thoughtful gifts, and it was lovely giving something special to those who have done so much for me this past year.

However, now it’s January, it’s back to work and the hustle and bustle of university life! I did say in an earlier post that I adore cooking and I love tweaking new recipes to make something really tasty. So, in light of this, I thought I’d share with you a really easy breakfast recipe to really set your day off to a great start. Something to keep you going until lunchtime…perfect for busy, work-filled days!

To make measuring easy, I use a cup. This isn’t strictly the American cup measurement system, however, if you use the same cup/mug to measure out your ingredients in, it works just the same and it’s far easier than getting your weighing scales out!

Serves 2 (makes 2 good-sized fluffy pancakes each)
You will need:

3/4 cup of self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
A pinch of baking powder
Half a teaspoon of white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of melted butter, cooled
Just over 1/2 cup of milk (whichever you like: I used whole milk)
1 large egg, beaten
Splash of vanilla extract (if you can get hold of some)
Butter and a splash of vegetable oil, for frying
1 banana, sliced (optional)
Runny honey (optional)
Toasted almonds (optional)
Greek yogurt (optional)

I find it’s far easier to make the batter mix in a jug. You can then pour out the mixture into a saucepan rather than using a ladle or something similar. Put all of the dry ingredients into the jug. Whilst stirring, add your wet ingredients until combined. Try to knock out some of the lumps, but don’t expect your batter to be completely smooth. It’s best not to overwork the batter so that it stays lovely and fluffy whilst cooking. I also cook my pancakes separately so that I don’t overcrowd the pan. I then just pop the pancakes in a low oven to keep warm whilst I’m cooking the rest, so pop the oven on a low heat (50 degrees centigrade or lower will suffice).

When the batter is combined, pour the batter into the buttered pan, on a medium heat. If you add a splash of oil to the butter in the pan, it will prevent the butter burning and becoming dark brown. That’s not the aim here: we want lovely golden pancakes, not burnt ones! I like my American pancakes to be fairly large, but not so big that they won’t fit onto a side plate.

Once you’ve poured the batter into the pan, place slices of the chopped banana (if using) into the wet batter of the top of the pancake. Cook the pancake until the top of the batter (the side you’ve put the banana on) is beginning to bubble. Turn the pancake over when it’s golden brown. The side with the bananas on will only take a couple of minutes (if that) to cook. Place in the oven to warm whilst you cook the rest.

When you have cooked your lovely pancakes, stack onto a plate and top with whatever you fancy! I had honey, toasted flaked almonds and Greek yogurt which I thoroughly recommend. Chocolate spread, peanut butter and other fruits would also make lovely toppings. If you don’t like banana, you can substitute it for a handful of blueberries, raspberries, or sliced strawberries. Delicious!

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Let me know how you get on with them. Happy cooking!
Heather